With no clues, did any­one know who he was?

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He signed the ho­tel guest­book Roland T Owen and gave a Los An­ge­les ad­dress.

Later, the re­cep­tion­ist would guess he was about 25.

Good-look­ing, smartly dressed in a black coat.

A cau­li­flower left ear. So maybe he was a boxer.

He paid up­front for the room.

And he had no lug­gage. Just a hair­brush, comb and tooth­paste in his pocket.

It was just af­ter lunchtime, on 2 Jan­uary 1935, at The Ho­tel Pres­i­dent, Kansas City.

Roland T Owen was handed the key to room 1046.

Two days later, staff found him naked and beaten, on his hands and knees. He also had knife wounds, had been res­trained with cord and he looked like he’d been tor­tured.

Every­thing had been taken. The ho­tel’s tow­els, bed­ding, toi­letries – even Roland’s comb and tooth­paste. His clothes, too, had van­ished.

In agony, Roland said he’d ‘fallen against the bath­tub’.

He was rushed to hos­pi­tal but later died of his in­juries.

Kansas City po­lice were deal­ing with a mur­der.

But no-one knew who the vic­tim was...

There was no record of a Roland T Owen liv­ing in Los An­ge­les.

A mem­ber of the house­keep­ing staff claimed the man had asked her not to lock the door. She also said that shortly af­ter he’d checked in,

she’d heard voices com­ing from room 1046. Two men. A guest claimed she’d also heard two voices com­ing from the room. Raised, ar­gu­ing. A man and a woman’s. And sev­eral oth­ers claimed to have seen the man the evening be­fore his death. Some said he’d been with an uniden­ti­fied man. Oth­ers, an uniden­ti­fied woman.

The an­gry voices, the man, the woman… in­ves­ti­ga­tors started to won­der if the guest had been caught up in a deadly love tri­an­gle.

A few days later, in a last at­tempt to iden­tify him, the man’s pic­ture was run in a lo­cal news­pa­per, along with an article say­ing he was to be buried in an anony­mous, pau­per’s grave.

Im­me­di­ately, some­one called the fu­neral home where the man’s body was be­ing kept.

The caller wouldn’t iden­tify him­self, just said po­lice were ‘on the wrong track’.

He asked if he could pay for the dead man to have a de­cent fu­neral.

The fol­low­ing morn­ing, the cash ar­rived.

A lo­cal florist had re­ceived an anony­mous pay­ment, too. For a bunch of red roses to be sent to the fu­neral, along with a card.

The mes­sage, sim­ply, Love for­ever – Louise.

But not a sin­gle per­son came to the man’s fu­neral and the case went cold.

Un­til, a year later, when an article ap­peared in Amer­i­can Weekly mag­a­zine.

This time, some­one recog­nised the dead man in the photo. His sis­ter Eleanor. She told po­lice the un­known man in room 1046 was ac­tu­ally Arte­mus Ogle­tree.

The year be­fore, in 1934, he’d gone trav­el­ling. He’d sailed to Europe, crossed into Africa and vis­ited Egypt.

There, he’d fallen in love, and mar­ried an Egyp­tian woman.

The wed­ding was held in spring 1935.

But that was months af­ter he’d died in room 1046.

Eleanor knew this be­cause of the letters Arte­mus had sent her, dated from then.

No trace of his mar­riage could be found. And the letters he’d ap­par­ently sent to his

Had he been caught up in a deadly love tri­an­gle?

sis­ter were writ­ten on a type­writer. No hand­writ­ing anal­y­sis was pos­si­ble.

Per­haps some­one had typed the letters pre­tend­ing to be him. If so, why? And where had Arte­mus been af­ter he’d told his fam­ily he was go­ing trav­el­ling, and be­fore he turned up at the Ho­tel Pres­i­dent in Kansas City?

Was it a love tri­an­gle? A spy ring?

Who killed the man in room 1046? The man he’d ar­gued with? The woman? Or nei­ther?

And did the mur­derer pay for his fu­neral?

The case re­mains un­solved. A case with no known mo­tive, and no real clues.

Just the body of a young man.

Arte­mus Ogle­tree – and the his­toric Ho­tel Pres­i­dent build­ing

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