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Evelyn Hartley

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Nationality  American
Weight  between 126-128 lb
Height  5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)
Parents  Richard Hartley
Evelyn Hartley Evelyn Hartley Wikipedia

Full Name  Evelyn Grace Hartley
Born  February 21, 1937 (1937-02-21) La Crosse County, Wisconsin
Disappeared  October 24, 1953 (15 years old) La Crosse County, Wisconsin
Status  Missing for 63 years, 4 months and 14 days
Residence  La Crosse County, Wisconsin

Evelyn Grace Hartley (born November 21, 1937) is a missing woman from La Crosse County, Wisconsin who disappeared on October 24, 1953. Her disappearance sparked a search involving 2,000 people. In the first year following her disappearance investigators questioned more than 3,500 people. As of 2016, no trace of her had been found.


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Evelyn Hartley La Crosse Public Library Archives Evelyn Hartley

On October 24, 1953, Viggo Rasseum, a professor at La Crosse State College (now University of Wisconsin–La Crosse), hired Evelyn Hartley, the daughter of a fellow professor, to take care of his 20-month old daughter. That evening her father, Richard Hartley, called the Rasseum house several times after his daughter failed to check in as planned at 8:30 PM, but he received no answer. Concerned, he drove to the Rasseum house, but did not find her.

Evelyn Hartley La Crosse Public Library Archives Evelyn Hartley

When he arrived, the doors were locked, the lights and radio were on, and items were scattered all over the house. The living room furniture had been moved around to different places, as were Hartley's school books. He found her shoes in different rooms, one shoe upstairs, and one downstairs. He also found his daughter's broken eyeglasses upstairs. Hartley did not find his daughter in the house. He also found every room in the house locked, except one in the basement that was located at the back of the house. An opened window there was missing a screen, and the screen was found leaning against an outside wall. He also found a short stepladder belonging to the homeowner positioned at the opened window. Pry marks were found on some windows, and footprints had been found in areas of the house. Blood was found both inside the house and in the yard, with bloody hand prints about 100 feet away in a garage and in a nearby house. The child was found asleep, and unharmed.


Evelyn Hartley La Crosse Public Library Archives Evelyn Hartley

The police believe someone took Hartley through the yard, but dropped her on the ground before carrying her further. They used dogs to pick up her scent in a trail that led for two blocks, ending at Coulee Drive. The police believe that she was most likely put into a vehicle there and driven away. The police were told by one neighbor that they had seen a car repeatedly driving around the neighborhood, and another person who lived nearby claimed that they had heard screams an hour earlier. The witness thought it was just children playing. Two days after the incident, Ed Hofer, a local resident, told police that while driving his vehicle, he was almost hit by a Buick that was speeding in a westerly direction. Inside the vehicle he says that he saw two men and a girl; one man was driving and the other was in the back with the girl. He didn't think anything about it, thinking the threesome was just going to the game.

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Several days later various items of clothing including underpants, brassiere, shoes, jeans, and a jacket, many of which were stained with blood, were found in different areas. Blood found on the jacket matched Hartley's blood type.

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Over 1,000 members of the community participated in search operations in October 1953. Searchers included law enforcement officers, the National Guard, Boy Scouts, La Crosse State College students and faculty. Civil Air Patrol and Air Force planes and helicopters were also used in the search. A vehicle inspection program was also undertaken with the intent of searching every vehicle in the county. Gas station attendants were asked to check cars for blood stains. Recent graves were reopened to determine if her remains were placed with a recent burial.

In May 1954, mass lie detector tests were conducted on La Crosse area high school boys in an attempt to find more information about Hartley's disappearance. Authorities planned to test 1,750 students and faculty, but the lie detector testing was controversial and was halted after around 300 were tested.

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After his arrest, Ed Gein was considered a suspect in Hartley's disappearance since he was visiting relative a few blocks away from the area of Hartley's disappearance at the time. However, police found no trace of Hartley's remains during a search of his property. Gein denied involvement in Hartley's disappearance and passed 2 lie detector tests. In November 1957, authorities announced that Gein had been cleared of any connection to the disappearances of Hartley and Georgia Weckler, an 8 year old that disappeared in 1947. After being committed to a mental institution, Gein was later declared insane, and died in 1984, yet some still consider him a suspect.


Hartley's kidnapping led to one of the biggest searches in the history of Wisconsin. Public efforts to find Evelyn Hartley have included the Charley Project and the Soddy-Daisy-Roots Project. A reward fund established in the immediate aftermath of the event reached $6,600 ($59.1 thousand today). Hartley's parents moved to Portland, Oregon in the 1970s, and are now both deceased.


Evelyn Hartley Wikipedia