Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: May 4, 1937 from Delaware, Ohio
Classification: Endangered Missing
Age: 22 years old
Height and Weight: 5’5, 110 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Blonde hair, blue/gray eyes. Baumgardner has an irregular light streak in the hair on the left side of her head and a dimple in her chin. Her nickname is Ruthie. Baumgardner has had bridgework done on her teeth.
Clothing/Jewelry Description: Possibly a brown suit, a sport hat, and brown suede gillie shoes which tied at the ankle.
Details of Disappearance
Baumgardner was a senior at Ohio Wesleyan University in 1937; she was an art major. She belonged to the Delta Delta Delta (or “Tri-Delt”) sorority and lived alone in room 319 in Austin Hall on the Ohio Wesleyan campus. She resided with her parents in the 2000 block of Arthur Avenue in Lakewood, Ohio when she was not at college.
On the evening of her disappearance, Baumgardner practiced for a singing competition, then studied in her dormitory for a test which was scheduled the following day. Her sorority sisters last saw her shortly after 11:00 p.m. on May 4, 1937. She had her hair up in curlers and pins and was behaving normally at the time. Sometime before midnight she said goodbye to her friends. She has never been seen or heard from again.
The Tri-Delts alerted campus authorities about Baumgardner’s disappearance at 10:30 p.m. the following day, when they realized she had not attended any of her classes. Subsequent investigation revealed that someone, probably Baumgardner herself, had left her dormitory room key on the back corner of an Austin Hall staircase between the second and third floors. Her new red Dodge was found parked undisturbed in its regular garage; the key was in the ignition.
Baumgardner’s room was in perfect order, which is uncharacteristic of her. Her bed did not appear to have been slept in, her hair pins had been put away, and her pajamas and robe were hanging in the closet. The alarm clock had been set for 6:00 a.m. and had run down, indicating that she got up at that time on May 5 and left Austin Hall without being seen. She is believed to have been carrying an old handbag at the time, and probably no more then $5 in cash. Baumgardner’s watch, sorority pin and some loose change were left behind in her room.
Initially it was believed that Baumgardner had suffered an amnesiac episode and wandered away from campus. The theory was bolstered by several reported sightings of her in the Delaware area in the days following her disappearance. None of the sightings were confirmed, however. At the time she went missing, Baumgardner was worried about whether she would get enough credit hours to graduate on schedule, and in the last letter she wrote to her parents she stated that she had many things to and did not know how she was going to do them all, and she was “very, very tired.” However, she was never located, which is unusual in cases of amnesiac disappearances.
Authorities investigated the possibility that Baumgardner left of her own accord, possibly with a boyfriend, since several of the reported sightings placed her with a young man. However, Baumgardner was happily engaged to her boyfriend in Lakewood and her friends did not believe she was seeing anyone else. There is also no evidence of foul play in her case, although a local resident living near the Ohio Wesleyan campus reported hearing screams between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m. on May 5.
Little evidence is available in Baumgardner’s case. Her disappearance is no longer being investigated by police due to the passage of time, but her case remains a mystery.