Interested People And Theories

By Amelia Carpenter

Lieutenant Daniel Umbstead at Oxford Police Department is currently reviewing the history of the Ronald Tammen case.

“I looked at (the Tammen case) back in the early 90s and reopened again a couple years ago,” Umbstead said.

Umbstead said the most recent incident was two or three years ago, Georgia officials had found the body they thought could be Ron Tammen, which automatically reopened the case.

Umbstead said Marcia Tammen had contacted an organization in Philadelphia to ask them to look into her brother’s disappearance. Oxford Police Department received a letter offering their assistance in their investigation.

Umbstead said he and Smith were working ‘separately together’ on the Tammen case.

“(Detective Smith) has done did what he could,” Umbstead said. “(I’m trying) to decide if there’s anything more I need to do.”

Umbstead suggested Tammen may have been homosexual and was the victim of either a hate incident, or a fraternity prank.

“It’s safe to assume (Tammen) is deceased,” Umbstead said. “Probably by unlawful means.”

Umbstead plans to re-interview individuals surrounding the Tammen case.

“Not having talked to these people myself I’m not really satisfied,” Umbstead said. “Once I’ve talked to people, then I get a good feel on where it needs to go – I have some questions about his fraternity affiliation.”

Smith said the Cold Case Unit receives calls monthly on the Tammen case from people who want to suggest theories, or who are just fascinated with his story.

“Some suggest he was killed, some suggest his involvement with the government and other suggestions — I can’t really get into that,” Smith said.

The Cold Case Unit has received numerous letters over a period of about ten years about Ron Tammen, according to Smith.

“Usually they would come within a few months of the date he went missing,” Smith said.

Smith believes the same person sends the letters, all of which are typed. The letters started coming to the Cold Case Unit in the late 90s around the time of Tammen’s disappearance. The letters arrive before or after the time of his disappearance each year.

Marketing professor David Rosenthal uses the Ronald Tammen mystery as a class activity to challenge students to theorize about what might have happened.

“I want them to look at the evidence – what do we know for certain?” Rosenthal said. “What do we think we know that maybe is not quite so certain?”

Rosenthal gave the example that Tammen had exchanged his linens the evening of his disappearance with the residence hall ‘house mother.’

“What happens if he saw her doing something that she shouldn’t have been doing and she calls up her boyfriend or her husband…” Rosenthal said.

Rosenthal said another apparent ‘fact’ was Mrs. Carl Spivey’s sighting of a young man looking for a bus stop in Seven Mile at midnight. Spivey said she was sure Ron Tammen was the individual at her door that evening.

“Perhaps she was seeking ten minutes of fame,” Rosenthal suggested. “People like to act important. Mrs. Carl Spivey easily have made this up, or could’ve had a visitor that was not Ron Tammen but thought that it was.”

Rosenthal said he uses the exercise as an extrapolation tool.

“It is a creativity tool to find out or help people to think through opportunities and potentials,” Rosenthal said.

Joe Cella, a reporter for the Hamilton Journal, was also heavily involved in the Tammen case through his reporting and writing. Cella vowed he would find Tammen. He carried Tammen’s photo in his wallet for 25 years.

Smith said Jim Blount, retired Hamilton Journal-News reporter and local historian, kept the case alive. Blount still stays in touch with the Tammen case.

“He was really involved in (the case),” Smith said. “He said most inept police investigation he had ever seen.”

Nodding his head, Smith said, “He was right. He was right.”

Smith agreed there was more law enforcement should’ve and could’ve done in 1953 despite the limited resources.

Braden suggested that April 19 was near enough to finals week at Miami University that Ron could’ve been facing family expectations or expectations of his own for not making the cut on grades, and therefore wanting to run away. She also suggested that if he were to have gotten his girlfriend pregnant, that could’ve been a situation where he would shame his family and he wanted to get out. Braden thought that seemed logical for why Ron would’ve gotten a blood test from the county coroner, Garrett J. Boone, in Hamilton. Ron could’ve gotten a blood test at school, but perhaps he felt he couldn’t have anyone close to school know if that was the case.

Braden questioned Boone’s coming forward with Tammen’s visit two weeks after the investigation began in 1953.

Smith assured that Boone would not have lied.

“I personally knew Garret J Boone,” Smith said. “He was an honest, truthful man. When he issued that statement out that Tammen had come, there is no reason not to believe that.”

Braden thinks the amnesia theory is the least likely.

“It takes such a huge event to cause that sort of mental state that I just would almost think if he had been found wandering, someone would have picked him up and put him in a hospital,” Braden said.

Braden agrees with the theory of a college prank gone wrong.

“It was probably situation where good-natured stuff somehow went wrong, they panicked and disposed of the body,” Braden said.


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