The box, filled with yellowing papers that detail a life cut short and a trail long cold, languished for decades in a dusty quadrant of the basement beneath Police Headquarters in Lower Manhattan. It contained a jumble of leads and theories, pieces of a 75-year-old puzzle that has intrigued generations of New Yorkers. None ever led to an answer in the most storied disappearance in the city's history, that of a State Supreme Court justice named Joseph Force Crater.
Abe Reles in 1937. The assassin known as Kid Twist died while being guarded by the police.
But the death of a 91-year-old woman in Bellerose, Queens, this year, and notes she left to be read by her family upon her death, prompted New York City police detectives to retrieve the file and begin reinvestigating the mysterious disappearance as a murder, one perhaps authored by a city police officer and his cabdriver brother, both now dead.
While theories on the fate of Judge Crater - a denizen of Tammany Hall, a man of punctual habits, a bon vivant and a fancier of chorus girls - have abounded over the years since his disappearance on Aug. 6, 1930 the notes put forward a new one that detectives have been pursuing but have not fully assessed.