The strange mystery of James Edward Tedford

The strange mystery of James Edward Tedford who vanished from this bus
The strange mystery of James Edward Tedford who vanished from this bus

The man the vanished into thin air!

James E Tedford (often referred to as Tetford) was born around 1884 in Vermount.

Not much is known about his early life, but by 1940 he was resident in Fletcher Town, Franklin, VT with his younger wife Pearl (she was aged 28 and he was 56)

Things started to get strange following Tedfords return to Vermount the end of his second spell of military service at the end of WW2.

He returned to find his wife Pearl had vanished, no trace of her could be found – the property they rented in Fletcher Town had been left abandoned. Tedfords family claimed no knowledge of the whereabouts of his missing wife. They said they had last seen her as she was heading to the Amoco store in Franklin, but they never saw her again.

Missing : Pearl Tedford
Missing : Pearl Tedford

Desperate and lonely, Tedford checked into a soldiers home in Bennington sometime around 1947.

Without a trace

On December 1, 1949 Tedfords remaining family reported him missing.

Police investigations and reports show he boarded a bus in St Albans a few days earlier, but that he had not arrived at his destination.

Tedford had vanished mysteriously during the last part of the trip.

Tedford, was on his way home to the retirement home in Bennington from a trip to see family in St. Albans, Vermont. The scheduled bus trip should have taken the best part of 8 hours, but heavy snow caused a long delay. The route also passed through the Green Mountain National Forest, an area renowned for disappearances and strange events during the 1940’s.

Tedford was seen sitting on the bus by 14 other passengers. They all testified to seeing him there, sleeping in his seat. When the bus reached its destination, however, Tedford was gone, and the driver and other witnesses all testified that they had not seen the old man leave the bus.

Tedford was seen getting on the bus in St Albans by multiple witnesses, and was seen still on the bus at the last stop before arriving in Bennington.

Somewhere between the last stop and Bennington, Tedford vanished.

Strangely all his belongings were still on the luggage rack, and a local bus timetable lay open on his empty seat.

Snow delays - missing James Tedford
Snow delays – missing James Tedford

Tedford has never returned or been found.

Tedford is just one of a number of mysterious cases of missing people from around the Bennington area in the 30’s & 40’s

Bennington Mysteries

The case of Middie Rivers (1945)

Between 1945 and 1950 five people disappeared in the Bennington area.

The first occurred on November 12, 1945 when 74-year-old Middie Rivers disappeared while out hunting. Rivers was guiding a group of four hunters up the mountains. On the way back, Rivers got ahead of the group and was never seen again. An extensive search was conducted and the only evidence discovered was a single rifle cartridge that was found in a stream.

The speculation was that Rivers had leaned over and the cartridge had dropped out of his pocket into the water. The disappearance had occurred in the Long Trail Road area and Vermont Route 9. Rivers was an experienced hunter and fisherman and was familiar with the local area.

The case of Paula Welden (1946)

Paula Welden, 18, disappeared about a year later on December 1, 1946. Welden was a sophomore at Bennington College. She had set out for a hike on the Long Trail. Many saw her go, including Ernest Whitman, a Bennington Banner employee who gave her directions. She was alleged to have been seen on the trail itself by an elderly couple who were about 100 yards (91 m) behind her.

According to them, she turned a corner in the trail, and when they reached the same corner, she had disappeared. An extensive search was conducted when Welden didn’t return to the college campus, which included the posting of a $5,000 reward and help from the FBI. However, no evidence of her was ever found.

Unconfirmed rumors speculated that she had moved to Canada with a boyfriend or that she became a recluse living in the mountains.

The case of Paul Jephson (1950)

The fourth person to vanish was eight-year-old Paul Jephson. On October 12, 1950, Jephson had accompanied his mother in a truck. She left her son unattended while she fed some pigs. His mother was gone for about an hour. When she returned, her son was nowhere in sight. Search parties were formed to look for the child. Nothing was ever found, though Jephson was wearing a bright red jacket that should have made him more visible.

According to one story, bloodhounds tracked the boy to a local highway, where, according to local legend, four years earlier Paula Welden had disappeared.

The case of Frieda Langer (1950)

The fifth and last disappearance occurred sixteen days after Jephson had vanished. On October 28, 1950, Frieda Langer, 53, and her cousin Herbert Elsner left their family campsite near the Somerset Reservoir to go on a hike. During the hike, Langer slipped and fell into a stream. She told Elsner if he would wait, she would go back to the campsite, change clothes and catch up to him. When she did not return, Elsner made his way back to the campsite and discovered Langer had not returned and that nobody had seen her since they had left.

Over the next two weeks, five searches were conducted involving aircraft, helicopters and up to 300 searchers. No trace of Langer was found during the search. On May 12, 1951, her body was found near Somerset Reservoir, in an area that had been extensively searched seven months previously. No cause of death could be determined because of the condition of her remains.

Langer was the last person to disappear and the only one whose body was found. No direct connections have been identified that tie these cases together – other than general geographic area and time period.

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