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Missing Persons, Spotlight

Disappeared: Edward Dubbs, missing 32 years.

edward dubbs 1981

At about 5:00 on the afternoon of Tuesday, June 9, 1981, the end of the work day, Edward Dubbs, an executive for a New York public relations firm, left his office and vanished into thin air somewhere between Madison Avenue and his home in Newtown, Connecticut. Dubbs had quite a distinctive appearance. He had blond curly hair, almost an Afro style, wore tinted aviator-shaped glasses and was wearing an expensive beige business suit. Dubbs worked for the PR firm of Hayes-Williams, Inc., one of the most well-respected PR firms in New York. He was also gay.

Evidently Dubbs was a creature of habit. Like many well-to-do New York executives, Dubbs didn’t live in the city but commuted by train from more fashionable addresses–Connecticut, in this case. He left his office about the same time every day to catch the train from Grand Central Station back to West Redding or Bethel. He spent much time in the bar car. (Hey, if i was on a train for hours every afternoon, I’d probably drink too). His live-in boyfriend, whose name has not been made public, took him to the station in the morning and picked him up every afternoon. This afternoon, the partner waited at Bethel station. No Edward. He checked another station and didn’t find him. Ultimately he went home, assuming Dubbs had stayed overnight in the city. He hadn’t. No one has seen him since.

dubbs office building

This is the office building that Edward Dubbs left on June 9, 1981. Hayes-Williams is no longer there; it has since moved to a Park Avenue address.

Dubbs was, at the time, reportedly trying to end his relationship with the young man he lived with, who was 20 years younger than him. (Dubbs was 44). They’d only known each other a couple of months. But Newtown police have interviewed the partner many times and never come up with anything. There is no evidence that Dubbs made it home that evening in June, and certainly no evidence that the partner had anything to do with it. The investigation began when someone at Hayes-Williams, noticing Dubbs didn’t show up on Wednesday morning, called the police.

What happened? We have no idea, but my hunch is that whatever happened to Edward occurred closer to New York than it did to Newtown, Connecticut. The universe of calamities that can occur on a commuter train sufficient to permanently “disappear” a person is fairly small, but that universe is much larger if we’re talking about Grand Central Station, or Manhattan in general. We don’t even know if Dubbs made it to Grand Central Station. His office at 260 Madison Avenue was only three blocks up and one block over from Grand Central, suggesting it was a short walk, but Manhattan in 1981 was a much wilder place than it is today. Was Dubbs mugged? Abducted? Spirited away by persons unknown? Whatever it was, my money is on it having happened during that four-block walk from Madison to Grand Central. That is, if he did leave his office with the intent to go straight to the train–perhaps he didn’t.

I note from this article (from 2012) that the main investigative responsibility for this case seems to have fallen on the police in Newtown, not in New York. That could be why it’s a cold case. I don’t think he disappeared in Newtown. I have no idea what the NYPD has done with this case or if it’s still in their files. All I know is that there has been little publicity in Dubbs’s case, and that all of his relatives are now dead, though the younger boyfriend is evidently still alive and living in the Northeast.

This is a pretty interesting case, but unfortunately one that I doubt will ever be solved. I do occasionally read over old cases (here’s Charley Project’s write-up, if you’d like to see it), and as I read over this one again for this article I found myself wondering. If I could take a time machine back to June 9, 1981 and stand on the corner of, say, Madison Avenue and 42nd Street at around 5PM that afternoon, might I see a man in tinted glasses and a beige suit striding by, perhaps glancing at his watch? Might I see him talking to someone who could shed light on the case? Might I see nothing at all? If I had only one hour to spend in the past I doubt that this time and place would be my first choice, but if I happened to have many hours to browse through time, I might well go back and take a look.

16 Comments

  1. Pity they didn’t have Google Street View back then.

  2. Jaclyn

    Right Meaghan, Or the many security cameras they have outside of buildings today.

  3. Kim

    Great article… wish we had a crystal ball to see into the past!

  4. angel

    Very sad! Its eerily similar to my uncle going missing in May of 1981 from PA. Just vanished one day. Never to be seen or heard from again and not one clue. Just like this man, he just vanished without a trace!

  5. BellasPaw

    Hi Angel – is your uncle’s case posted anywhere?

    Thank you Sean for the fascinating post and your attention to cold cases. I too am intrigued by them. Hope you might consider posting about Georgia Weckler some day.

    • They’ve called off the search for her. Again. I figured they would find nothing.

  6. I REALLY doubt that something happened during that four-block walk. That is one of the most crowded areas of NYC, AND it was rush hour, plus I’m willing to bet that there was a decent police presence even back then because it was a “rich” area (and had trains going to rich areas). There’s absolutely no way he could have been abducted or even mugged without someone (or more like, 50 someones) seeing something.

    My guess is that there’s a missing component here, that he didn’t go straight home that day for whatever reason, or he didn’t intend to go home that day at all. If he was murdered it was likely by someone he knew and trusted.

  7. ArisMuffin

    It might be a stretch, and I don’t presume to know anything about NYC, Connecticut, commuter trains OR this case, but is it possible that he got on the train and fell off of the train somwhere between NYC and his destination? I’m not even really making a suggestion here…just asking the question.

  8. BMC

    Ed was a coworker of mine when he disappeared. Is there any development on this case? I’d be interested in knowing if there was any ongoing investigation. Mr & Mrs Williams, who I believe reported him missing, have long passed. BTW his hair was not like that when he went missing, it was much shorter and tidier.

    • I know of no new developments in this case; I think it’s as cold as they come. That’s interesting that you were a co-worker. He seems like a very interesting person.

  9. casey

    You mentioned he usually hung out in the ‘bar car’ during his commute home; I wonder if he maybe had a little too much to drink that day while commuting home. Going with that possibility, he could have fallen while going into another train car. All that is there to protect you is a chain and it would be very easy, especially if one was a little tipsy, to be thrown off balance and fall onto the tracks. There was a case of a missing woman here in NYC a couple years ago- She went missing and was found 2 months later under a train. She’d fallen while passing between cars and as gruesome as it is, was drug around under the train for two months.
    If he was intoxicated, he could have gotten off at the wrong stop and met with foul play.
    If he was unhappy in his current relationship, maybe he was seeing some one else and something happened between them.
    Unfortunately, we’ll probably never know. It is spooky how some one can just vanish and is mostly forgotten within a few years.

    I love these missing persons posts, Sean! Was excited to see a new one up today. Thank you for keeping these people’s memories alive.

  10. This account is completely erroneous.
    Ed Dubbs disappeared in the 1970s, after he got on Metro North in Connecticut to go to work at Home Furnishings Daily (Fairchild Publications) in Manhattan. Ed and I were friends and colleagues at HFD. He was seen getting off the train, but didn’t arrive at work and was never seen again.
    I did not read your entire article because the lead was such “fake news” that the rest couldn’t possibly have credibility.

    • This account is drawn entirely from public information disseminated by the investigative agencies involved. Instead of accusing me of purveying “fake news,” perhaps you should contact the agencies involved and tell them what you know to set the record straight. Those of us who publicize missing persons reports can only go on what we’re told. Thank you for your comment, and my condolences on the loss of your friend. He sounds like a fascinating person.

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