About Dorothy Harriet Camille Arnold
Dorothy Harriet Camille Arnold (1884?–presumed dead 1910) was an American socialite who disappeared while walking in New York City in 1910.
Arnold was the daughter of wealthy perfume importer Francis Arnold and the niece of the magistrate Rufus Wheeler Peckham. She had graduated from Bryn Mawr College and unsuccessfully tried her hand as a writer.
Disappearance in Central Park
Arnold left her parents' home in Manhattan, New York City on the morning of December 12, 1910, intending to go shopping for a party dress. Acquaintances she met on Fifth Avenue later described her as cheerful. She was last seen in Brentano's bookstore on 26th Street, where she purchased a book of epigrams; before that, she had visited Park & Tilford's store at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 27th Street and charged a pound of candy to her account. At the bookstore she met a female friend, who later reported that Arnold had intended to walk home through Central Park. That night, she failed to come back for dinner.
The Arnolds feared that the case could be socially embarrassing — Arnold had eloped and spent a week with George Griscom, Jr., a month before. Instead of calling the police, they made discreet enquiries through John S. Keith, a family friend, and hired Pinkerton detectives to investigate the disappearance. Keith searched hospitals, morgues and jails in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia for three weeks until giving up.
The Arnold family turned to police six weeks after their daughter had disappeared. In a press conference, Francis Arnold said he believed that Arnold might have been attacked and killed in Central Park and her body thrown into the reservoir. Although he refused to mention Griscom's name, journalists tracked him down.
Griscom, who was in Naples at the time, sent a telegram where he stated that he did not know where Arnold was. In January 1911 Arnold's mother and her brother John travelled to Italy to forcibly interrogate him, without results. Griscom could only hand over a letter where Arnold had mentioned her depression over a story she had written and which had been rejected by a magazine. Intrigued by the disappearance, and probably to quell any suspicions he might have something to do with it, Griscom later spent thousands of dollars searching for Arnold — without results. He paid for ads in major newspapers asking her to come home.
Rumors, theories, and sightings
Arnold was rumored to be in a hospital somewhere with total amnesia, but there was nobody who matched her description. Others suggested she might have died during a botched abortion. Some of her friends suspected that she might have committed suicide because Griscom had refused to marry her. The most widespread rumor was that she had become pregnant out of wedlock, the family had banished her to Switzerland, and the search was a very elaborate ruse to hide the scandal. Others said that she had simply decided to disappear.
When Dorothy's room was being searched for possible clues, her family found information and promotional materials from different steamship lines that travel to Europe. The companies were contacted to find out if she had sailed aboard one bound for Europe. Pinkerton's agents in Europe were instructed to meet every steamship that arrived from New York to see if she had made the transatlantic crossing. Although some women resembling Dorothy had disembarked, the information proved to be a false lead.
There were numerous "sightings" of Arnold all over the United States, but all of them proved to be false. In 1916 a Rhode Island convict claimed that somebody resembling Griscom had paid him $150 to dig a grave for Arnold in a cellar of a house near West Point. Police found no sign of a corpse. During a lecture in New York in 1921, Captain John H Ayers of the Bureau of Missing Persons claimed that Arnold's fate had been known to the Bureau, but refused to say if Arnold was either alive or dead.
Francis Arnold died in 1922, having spent more than $100,000 trying to find his daughter. In his will he stated that he had come to believe she was dead. His wife died in 1928.
In popular culture
In her 2009 young adult novel 'Lost' ISBN 978-0-7614-5535-6, author Jacqueline Davies combines the story of Ms. Arnold's disappearance with that of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.