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MA JOAN RISCH: Missing from Lincoln, MA - 24 Oct 1961 - Age 31

Discussion in 'Missing 1900 to 1979' started by ~Lyric~, Jul 7, 2015.

  1. ~Lyric~

    ~Lyric~ Bronze Member


    • Date Of Birth: August 4, 1931
    • Age at Time of Disappearance: 31 years old
    • Height and weight at Time of Disappearance: 5'7"; 120 lbs.
    • Distinguishing Characteristics: White female. Blue eyes; brown hair.
    • Clothing: She was last seen wearing was a skirt, sweater and gray coat (she carried no purse).
    • Fingerprints: Available
    • Other: Blood Type "O"
    Charley Project:

    Joan Risch disappeared from her home in Lincoln on Oct. 24, 1961, leaving behind a phone ripped from the wall, a phone book open to the emergency numbers section, and a trail of blood leading from the kitchen to the end of the driveway. That afternoon, several people told police they’d noticed a dazed-looking woman covered in blood walking alone along a road near Route 128, which was then under construction. But no further sightings were reported, and Risch, a wealthy socialite who worked in New York publishing before giving up her career to raise a family in Lincoln, was never heard from again, and was presumed to have been abducted.

    “Mommy is gone and the kitchen is covered with red paint.” With those words, Joan Risch’s 4-year-old daughter kicked off an investigation that haunted police officers decades later, and remains unresolved to this day.

    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 24, 2018
    KareBear, Whatsnext, spike and 7 others like this.
  2. ~Lyric~

    ~Lyric~ Bronze Member

    The Doe Network:

    Joan Risch was last seen by neighbors on October 24, 1961. Her 4-year-old daughter was playing at a neighbor's house, her 2-year-old son was napping in his crib, and her husband was away on a business trip in New York. Her daughter left the neighbor's house at 16.00, but returned a half hour later stating that her mother was gone and that the kitchen was covered with red paint.
    The paint turned out to be Joan Risch's blood.

    The telephone was ripped from the wall and tossed in a nearby wastebasket. A chair had been overturned. The phone book lay open to emergency numbers. Police lifted a bloody left thumbprint next to the telephone mount. Over 5,000 sets of fingerprints were processed in an effort to identify it, but to no avail. No weapon was ever found. A trail of blood led from the kitchen to the driveway, ending abruptly. Droplets of blood were found on the side of Risch's parked car. However, investigators found no footprints on the bloody kitchen floor.

    Investigators disclosed that someone had made the effort to clean up the blood with paper towels and rags. They also determined that the amount of blood found probably came from a superficial wound and it appeared that Risch had not been shot or stabbed, although hemorrhaging or a blow could not be ruled out.

    Neighbors said they saw a bluish-gray Sedan in the driveway about an hour before Risch disappeared, but police determined that it was probably an unmarked cruiser. Another neighbor said she had seen Risch outside the house that afternoon, running and looking dazed. She had assumed Risch was chasing one of the children. A few motorists said they had spotted a bloody woman looking dazed near the site where Route 128 was being built, but no one had stopped to help her.

    An air and ground search was conducted of the surrounding wooded area, reservoirs, and buildings, but no clues as to Joan Risch's whereabouts were found.
    KareBear, Whatsnext, spike and 6 others like this.
  3. ~Lyric~

    ~Lyric~ Bronze Member


    The case took a surprising turn when a local reporter discovered, by chance, that not long before Risch vanished, the 31-year-old had checked out a book about the mysterious disappearance of a woman who had been married to Brigham Young.

    After some digging, it was ascertained that Risch had recently checked out something like 25 books from the library, almost all of them about murders and disappearances.
    A theory emerged that Risch had staged the incident in her kitchen out of a desire to escape a life she no longer wanted, and had been reading the books in an effort to do it right.

    Today, there are those who think Risch, perhaps in a state of confusion following an attack, fell into a pit in the ground that had been dug as part of the construction of Route 128, and was buried there by accident. But nothing has ever been proven. “It’s still an open case and an active investigation,” said Lieutenant Kevin Kennedy of the Lincoln Police Department, where officers are still accepting tips.

    KareBear, Whatsnext, noZme and 8 others like this.
  4. ~Lyric~

    ~Lyric~ Bronze Member

  5. Takeitfromme

    Takeitfromme Professional Journalist/News Reporter

    It is sad that this case has been cold all this time. What happened to her? Where did she end up? No one knows.....
    Sunburst, noZme, Akoya and 4 others like this.
  6. DaisyChains

    DaisyChains Bronze Member

    (snipped for space)

    it drives me insane when I hear these stories where multiple witnesses see someone in obvious distress, but no one stops to check.
    Mel70, Whatsnext, Sunburst and 6 others like this.
  7. Scorpio

    Scorpio Bronze Member


    No Clues To Go On, No Trail To Follow: Massachusetts' Most Baffling Cold Case
    Bloody fingerprints and a trail of books never led to a conclusion in the 1961 disappearance of a Lincoln wife and mother.
    By Taylor Rapalyea (Patch Staff) - October 25, 2016 4:18 pm ET

    LINCOLN, MA – Joan Risch disappeared 55 years ago today. The clues known to the public remain the same: Bloody fingerprints, a telephone ripped out of the wall, and a telling library card. And while the case remains open, it seems that authorities are no closer to solving Lincoln's most baffling mystery.

    On Oct. 24, 1961, between 2 and 4 p.m. and in broad daylight, Risch – an "attractive 31 year old wife and mother" according to an issue of the Fence Viewer from the time – disappeared from her home on Old Bedford Road in Lincoln. Her young son was asleep upstairs, her daughter was playing across the street, and her husband was in New York on a business trip. More than 1,000 law enforcement agents were working on the case soon after, analyzing fingerprints, dental records, and – thanks to the research of a local reporter – Risch's library card.

    In the days after her disappearance, authorities, headquartered at the Middlesex District Attorney's office in Cambridge according to an Oct. 28, 1961 article in the Boston Globe, investigated the theory that Risch was kidnapped and murdered. There was blood, of Risch's type, on the walls and floor of the kitchen, and it didn't seem that Risch has fled because she took nothing with her. Fingerprints were found on the telephone receiver and on the kitchen wall, but they were not Risch's and were never identified.

    In February of 1963, the DA's office got its "biggest break to date," according to a Boston Globe article from the time. Sareen Gerson, the Lincoln editor of the Fence Viewer, investigated Risch's reading habits by compiling the books taken from the library under the Risch family library card. The card showed Risch checked out books that detailed a wife's disappearance, a man running away to escape his problems, and a story about a woman who "flees her home to start life anew," according to the Globe article.

    Risch reportedly worked in publishing before she met her husband. Police sent fliers to libraries and bookstores across the East Coast with the theory that Risch either couldn't resist her love of books, or would seek work at a bookstore.

    Get free real-time news alerts from the Waltham Patch.

    "If she is still alive – and neither police nor her husband have ever given up hope that she is – then she must still love books." – The Boston Globe, Feb. 21, 1963

    One theory on Risch's disappearance came from a British author, whose book "Put Out That Star," U.S. title "Into Thin Air," was among those checked out by Risch. Risch's disappearance mirrored the book, according to a Globe article, leading some to believe she used it as a map to guide her disappearance. Leopold Ognall, pen name Harry Carmichael, told the Globe in 1964 that he suspected Joan Risch was alive, living somewhere between Boston and New York.

    The case is still open under the Middlesex District Attorney's Office, and the Lincoln Police department is still accepting tips.

    Photos courtesy of the Charley Project
    Whatsnext, noZme, CatFancier and 4 others like this.
  8. SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

    SheWhoMustNotBeNamed Administrator Staff Member

    CRIME HUNTER: Missing persons website a heartbreaking eyeopener

    Joan Risch was a 31-year-old mother of two from Lincoln, Mass.

    On Oct. 24, 1961, her four-year-old daughter was on a playdate at a neighbour’s and her two-year-old son was having a nap.

    When her daughter returned, she discovered the kitchen plastered with red paint. It was the blood of Joan Risch.

    A telephone had been ripped from the wall, a chair overturned and the phone book open to emergency numbers. Detectives lifted a single print. It went nowhere.

    There was no weapon, no breaks, just a trail of blood to the driveway and a single sighting of a bloody woman in traffic.

    Joan Risch had joined the others on a frightening roster of tears.


    Mel70, Whatsnext, Akoya and 3 others like this.
  9. Sunburst

    Sunburst Bronze Member

    So why would an unmarked police cruiser (allegedly) be in the driveway an hour before she disappeared? Was that ever explained?

    Who in their social circle/neighbors knew her husband was in New York and she was alone with the kids ?
  10. Sunburst

    Sunburst Bronze Member

    and it didn't occur to ANYONE to go home, call the police, and report they had seen a blood-covered woman wandering along a road?!

    One more thing- if Joan had staged this so she could disappear ( and I am not saying she did that- it looks more like foul play), could she have saved menstrual blood and spilled it on the floor deliberately?
  11. Kimster

    Kimster Director Staff Member

    That would definitely be an elaborate plan, but stranger things have happened!
  12. guess who

    guess who Bronze Member

    I can only imagine what people would think if they saw my reading list.
    Whatsnext, DaisyChains, Akoya and 3 others like this.
  13. Sunburst

    Sunburst Bronze Member

    That " someone had made the effort to clean up the blood with paper towels and rags" caught my attention. Would a male have taken the time to attempt to clean up, or would a female be more likely to clean up?
    Could Joan, unbeknowst to her, have been in the very early stages of another pregnancy and she began hemorrhaging/spontaneous miscarriage, tried to clean up the floor, call for help (no 911 system back then-you had to dial an entire number) then staggered outside to try to get help, and went into shock from blood loss and wandered away?
    Just thinking out loud.....
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2018
  14. guess who

    guess who Bronze Member

    Except the report says it wasn't a significant amount of blood to create a life threatening problem.

    this is definitely a weird case.
  15. DaisyChains

    DaisyChains Bronze Member

    those unidentified fingerprints lifted - I believe either Joan was murdered by someone else that was in the house OR Joan staged her death ALONG with another person who helped her in the house. There was the presence of an unknown person in the home the day she disappeared and that is a fact. Why would they have her blood on their hands and touch the receiver and walls to leave evidence IF this was a planned disappearance?

    Or were the prints present from the unknown because he kept her from picking up the phone to call the emergency services after/while injuring her (her blood on the prints)? I mean if she was really planning out a full proof disappearance act she wouldn't have allowed for those unknown fingerprints to have been discovered. I am thinking more than she was murdered and IF she was seen running bloody down the road her attacker actually caught up with her.

    it is very possible that since she had a baby in the home she was trying to control the situation in order to keep the child safe. In fact she could have ran from the house in hopes that her attacker would follow and get away from her child.

    He already accomplished keeping her from getting the receiver to call for help. Best chance would be to run and ask for help.

    I think this was a murder. Maybe a stranger. Maybe an acquaintance of the family. But possibly beautiful Joan was what they wanted.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2018
    Akoya likes this.
  16. DaisyChains

    DaisyChains Bronze Member

    Perhaps he attacked her sometime between getting the phonebook and trying to get police on the phone, she passed out due to a lack of blood (sure couldn't kill her, but fainting is possible - my sis faints at the first sight of blood), and then while he was trying to clean up the scene before getting her body out of the home she came to and ran out?
    Akoya and Sunburst like this.
  17. Mel70

    Mel70 Bronze Member

  18. SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

    SheWhoMustNotBeNamed Administrator Staff Member

    5 Creepy Missing Persons Cases

    Joan Risch

    On October 24, !961police entered Joan Risch’s residence to find blood and a roll of paper towels in the kitchen. Joan’s daughter originally had found the blood and exclaimed to a neighbor “Mommy is gone and the kitchen is covered in red paint!”

    Some suspect that the disappearance was staged because police discovered that Joan’s library records were all books about fictional disappearances. One in particular detailed the exact same crime scene found in the Risch’s home.

    1000eyes and Mel70 like this.
  19. Mel70

    Mel70 Bronze Member

    I think the "Blood Staging" is pretty impossible.

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