Disappeared: Connie Smith, missing 61 years.

connie smith

Connie Smith, age 10, was attending a summer camp called Camp Sloane in Salisbury, Connecticut. Sixty-one years ago today, on July 16, 1952, Connie got into a fight with some other campers, winding up with a bloody nose. She told some friends she was going to the camp dispensary–not for her nose, but to drop off an ice pack she’d used to ice a minor injury the previous evening. She did not go to the dispensary. Instead she seems to have run away from the camp.

Here’s what the Charley Project file on Connie says:

Connie was seen picking daisies along the roadside and asked several people how she could get to Lakeville, Connecticut, about half a mile from Camp Sloane. She was apparently homesick and with only one week left of her stay at Camp Sloane, she decided to leave the premises. Connie was last seen walking on U. S. Route 44 in Salisbury later in the day. She had her thumb out and was apparently attempting to hitchhike, perhaps to Lakeville. Connie was never heard from again. She may have been carrying a black zippered purse containing photographs of friends at the time of her disappearance, but she didn’t have any money or any extra clothes.

Camp counselors discovered Connie was missing in the afternoon hours when they found the dispensary ice pack still inside her tent. An extensive search did not produce any clues as to her whereabouts. There have been many suspects in Connie’s disappearance throughout the years, but no one has been charged in her case. One theory is that she attempted to run away from camp and go to one of her parents, who were divorced. Neither of her parents saw or heard from her after her disappearance, however. Her mother last saw Connie when she visited her at camp two days before her disappearance; Connie was in good spirits at the time and asked for permission to stay at the camp longer, but she didn’t seem to mind when her mother said no.

Some suspicion has fallen on a man named William Henry Redmond, who was charged with the 1951 murder of a young girl and was suspected in others (including the famous Beverly Potts case). Redmond allegedly confessed to having committed four murders in his lifetime, but there was no evidence linking him to Connie Smith’s disappearance.

What happened to Connie Smith on that summer morning, 61 years ago today? We have no way of knowing. Her case is one of the more mysterious ones in New England history, and will likely never be solved.

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9 Comments

  1. Thank you Sean, for highlighting Coonie’s case, it’s an old one to be sure, but one that is very much alive with researcher who continue to dig for bits and pieces.

    There is a chance someone out there remembers something, we just need a few bread crumbs of clues and we might be able to pull the puzzle together. Or at least get a clearer picture of what happened that day.

  2. Thanks Sean,

    Connie’s case is a fascinating and tragic one.

    A bit of background. My mom’s brother Raymond Becker, his wife, and their six children, lived on Under Mountain Road just off Route 44 in Salisbury. Lakeville is a southern subsection of Salisbury. The small village had a few shops and a gas station back in 1952. My late uncle was part of the first search effort. I was four when she vanished and when my older cousins first told me about her a few years later I felt it was more akin to a boy scout campfire horror story, then real life.

    I agree with you on a very important aspect, Connie left the camp because she had gotten into a fight with her tent-mates. Connie was from Sundance, Wyoming. However most of the kids at Camp Sloane were from New York City or Westchester County, New York.

    In the days before she vanished some kids went home and new kids arrived. I believe that one or more of the new kids took a dislike to the girl who according to her original CSP flyer “loves all animals, especially horses; likes to swim and is a fair swimmer; likes to color with crayons and read funny books; makes friends very easily with youngsters; can handle a baton but is not very good at it; and has a vivid imagination, especially about her animals friends. Some of her creations are about a rattlesnake pet and her horse “Toni” (a white mare) that can twirl a baton. Hand written on the CSP poster: ‘she likes to play dress up.’”

    I think this period account is a fabrication. “During the early morning giggling and romping, Connie had got a bloody nose when a tent-mate climbing down from the bunk above her accidentally kicked her in the face.” Instead I think there was a schoolgirl confrontation.

    Two very different worlds collided, and Connie, who had been happy up to a few days earlier, now felt she was a outcast.

    That’s why when Connie asked directions at Mrs. William Walsh’s house she was crying. I believe she was heading for a public pay phone at the gas station in the tiny hamlet of
    Lakeville and was planning to call her mother and ask for her to pick her up..

    “Near Belgo Road, Connie tried to hitchhike a ride from Mr. and Mrs. John Brun, heading for their Lakeville business establishment. They became no. 7 and 8 to regret because they passed her by as she stood on the right (South Side) of the road. Through the rear view mirror Brun could see her walking along towards Lakeville.”

    “At 8:45 Mrs. Frank E. Barnett, a housewife, was driving from Millerton, NY on Route 44 and just before turning into Belgo Road said she saw the little girl walking east on the north side of Route 44”

    Its at this point, on the north side of Route 44, after being observed hitchhiking, that Connie Smith vanishes.

    Who took her? No one knows. Back then if a child was taken the automatic assumption was kidnapping for ransom. Especially if the child’s parents were wealthy. Today were know different.

    I think someone picked Connie up and…, she was probably dead before the state police learned she was missing.

    Just the other day I got a e-mail asking if I knew of any milk deliveries that day.

    Litchfield County was dotted with dozens of dairy farms back in the ’50’s, so the general answer is yes, on any given day trucks would be collecting milk all over the county. And yes route 44 would be used to go south to places like Conn’s Dairy in my home town of New Milford. Now were Conn’s milk truck drivers collecting milk from the Salisbury area? I have no idea.

    I feel sure there were other dairy’s in places like Torrington, Ct. and across the boarder in Great Barrington and Pittsfield, Mass. Route 44 would have been uses at one point or another to get to all those locations for tucks collecting milk in the Salisbury area or by intersecting with it if the trucks were coming up Route 41 from Sharon.

    Did a milk truck driver take her? Well its as good a theory as any other.

    .

    1. This is very interesting, and amazing to have the input from someone with a real world connection to the case. From my uninformed opinion, it sounds like your surmises are very logical and make sense.

      I sense, from the little information given in the Charley Project case file, that there was tension between Connie and her camp-mates. I also thought it likely that she left the camp to try to get away from them, and was possibly abducted while attempting to make her escape.

      Thanks so much for commenting.

    2. Very interesting. I know a little about the case because I am a fan of the “the charley project” website. Its good to see a post from someone who has a close connection to Connie’s story. It provokes thought and theories.

  3. I find it very disturbing how someone can easily disappear without a trace. You would think that some evidence such as bones, clothing etc.. would turn up eventually. Does anyone know if all the wells were checked in that area?

  4. For some reason, this disappearance is listed in the book “Death in Grand Canyon” by Michael Ghiglieri and Thomas Myers, and the authors write that a crazy confessed to taking her to Arizona and killed there. They further state that a body was found in 1958 and positively identified via dental records. The authors have been quite loose with the facts in a number of the cases in this book, so I assume they blew this one as well. Anyone know what would lead them to that particular story?

    1. I never could get an answer from the two authors on why they continue the incorrect information on the Smith case. The information should be corrected. With that being said, the information about Connie Smith seen picking daisy’s is incorrect, there has never been any police report stateing that. The Daisy came in from a newspaper account her mother said “Connie likes to make Daisy flower necklaces” as lots of girls do.

      While it is true about a “confess” to her murder it was determined he wanted to return to a mental institution which released him. The information he included in his confession were taken from a missing person poster on Connie Smith. It just happens to have been a young girls remains discovered in AZ. But the forensic exam DID NOT identify the dental jaw as Connie Smith conclusively. There was a Native American girl missing about that time and the thoughts are it could be her, or Donnis Redman who’s boyfriends car was discovered abandon in Williams, AZ. Both Donnis and her boyfriend, Michael Griffin, have never been located since leaving California. It’s thought they headed East to elope.

      Unfortunately, the AZ remains have not been located. So far there have been no court records located on the original exhumation and reburial and until then we hope for pieces and parts of the Connie Smith case to surface. The location in Salisbury has overgrown with forestland.

      Connie Smith is not forgotten and research continues.

  5. OK, here’s a clue for me. I should’ve looked deeper. From http://kidnappingmurderandmayhem.blogspot.com/2008/02/still-missing-after-all-these-years.html “In 1958, a young girl’s remains were found near Williams, Arizona. Police, who were never able to identify her, called her “Little Miss X.” Four years later, a letter received by the Connecticut State Police claimed that Little Miss X was Connie Smith. The remains were taken to the Smith ranch in Wyoming and then to Connie’s dentist in South Dakota. A comparison of the Arizona child’s teeth with Connie’s dental records was inconclusive. From there, the remains were taken to Denver where a team of forensics experts attempted to match them to Connie. Again, they were unable to definitively link the two. In 2004, the Connecticut State Police collected DNA from the Smith family, hoping to match the Smith DNA with that from Little Miss X. But, lo and behold, no one could locate the grave of the Arizona girl.” It appears the authors jumped to some conclusions.

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