On Wednesday, January 2, 1935, around 1:20 PM, a man calling himself Roland T. Owens checked into The Hotel President in Kansas City. A few days later his body was found badly beaten and tortured in his hotel room. The events surrounding his death caused a lot of speculation:
Witnesses said he was aged anywhere between 20 to 35 years old and was nicely dressed.
The bellboy who helped Owens to his room, Randolph Propst, reported that Owens only packed a brush, comb, and toothpaste.
Throughout his stay, the hotel maid Mary Soptic said Owens allowed her to clean while he was in the room.
She recalled Owens keeping the shades tightly drawn and the lights off with the exception of one dim lamp. He also asked that she not lock the door on her way out because he was expecting company.
She told police that she believed that Owens was worried or afraid about something:
At 4 PM, Soptic returned with new towels and found Owens laying on the bed in complete darkness. She also found a note on the nightstand that read:
The next day Soptic came back to clean the room at around 10:30 AM. She noticed that the door had been locked from the outside, assuming that Owens locked it while leaving. However, Owens was sitting on his bed with the lights off, which meant someone else had locked the door from the outside.
While she was still in the room, Owens answered a phone call and said:
When Soptic came back at around 4 PM to deliver fresh towels she heard two male voices from inside the room. When she knocked on the door she heard a rough voice say, "Who is it?" She then explained she had fresh towels and the mystery man responded with, "we don't need any."
During the night a hotel guest staying on the 10th floor reported hearing loud voices.
The next morning at around 7 AM, the hotel phone operator noticed that Owens' hotel phone had been off the hook for awhile without being in use.
She sent a bellboy to check his room. Despite the door having a “Do Not Disturb” sign, the bellboy knocked a few times and heard a low voice say:
Around 8:30 AM, the phone was still off the hook. Another bellboy, Harold Pike let himself into the room with a passkey.
He only used the light from the hallway and noticed that Owens was naked in bed seemingly drunk. He also noticed that the bedding was darkened around Owen, so he placed the phone back on the hook and left.
At approximately 10:30 to 10:45 AM the phone was once again off the hook. The hotel sent another bellboy to resolve the situation. But when he opened the door, he stumbled upon a truly horrific scene.
Here was his statement to the police:
Owen was discovered with extensive injuries. He had been tied up with a cord around his neck, wrists, and ankles. His skull was fractured, he had been stabbed in the chest several times, and his lung was punctured.
Remarkably Owen was somehow still alive. One of the detectives that arrived at the scene asked Owen if anyone else had been inside the room, his response was:
He claimed that he fell against the bathtub.
After that brief exchange, he lost consciousness and was taken to the hospital. According to a doctor, his injuries had occurred 6-7 hours prior to him being discovered. Owen died the night of January 5, at the hospital.
Detectives found no weapons or any of Owen's belogings in the room and ruled out suicide.
Four fingerprints were found on the hotel telephone potentially from a female.
When Owen initially checked into the hotel, he mentioned he was from Los Angeles. But when Los Angeles authorities searched for a "Ronald T. Owens" they couldn't find any records.
His body was placed for viewing at Melody Mcgilley Funeral Home. As the story spread, more and more people reached out to Kansas City authorities to see if their missing loved one could be Owen, but there were no leads
When police tried to search for the mysterious man that was said to be in Owens' room the night of his death, Don they found no leads.
Owens' upcoming burial was announced by the Kansas City Journal Post on March 3rd to be in a Potter's Field. However, the Melody Mcgilley Funeral Home received an anonymous caller who said they would send money necessary for a proper funeral.
Sure enough, on March 23rd money bundled in a newspaper was delivered to the funeral home.
Anonymous flowers were also arranged along with a card that read:
About a year and a half later, in 1936 a woman named Ruby Ogletree found an article in the American Weekly about Owens' case. Upon looking at the magazine, Ruby correctly identified Owens as her son, 17-year-old Artemus Ogletree.
Ruby had received three letters from her son in the Spring of 1935. However, the letters were delivered after his death and were typed.
After some time it was revealed that Artemus stayed in another hotel in Kansas with another man, some suspected that man was the mysterious Don.
And in the early 2000s, Dr. John Horner, the author of an account of the murder case published by the Kansas City Public Library, received an out of state call about Artemus. The caller claimed to find a box of newspaper articles about the murder. After that, the case would have no other revelations.
The first theory is that the man referred to as Don beat Artemus to death and acted alone.
The second theory is that the unknown Don didn't act alone. This theory relates back to an observation by Charles Blocher, the elevator operator the night of the murder. The night of murder, Blocher saw a "commercial woman" go to the 10th floor.
Blocher claimed the woman was looking for Room 1026 to meet a man she couldn't find. Could it be possible this woman was looking for Artemus? And accidentally mistaken Room 1026 for Room 1046. This woman was also seen with a man and some speculate the man could have been Don.