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.