News & Events

The Disappearance of Maud Crawford

The Disappearance of Maud Crawford

Thursday, March 12, 2-4 p.m.
ASI Room 124
401 President Clinton Ave.

Beth Brickell will speak about her book, The Disappearance of Maud Crawford, detailed below. Copies will be available for purchase, and Brickell will sign books after her talk.

Maud Crawford's disappearance in Camden on March 2, 1957, is the most widely-publicized mystery in Arkansas history. Crawford was an attorney and prominent civic leader in Camden who had been an associate of U.S. Senator John McClellen before he was elected to the senate. She disappeared from her home on a cold, rainy, foggy Saturday night for no apparent reason. No body, clue, trace or motive was found by the original police investigation.

At the time of Crawford's disappearance, Senator McClellan was the number one news story in newspapers and television screens throughout the world as chairman of a senate committee investigating alleged mob ties to organized labor. When the senator's former associate disappeared, he and his general counsel, Robert Kennedy, were grilling labor leaders, such as Jimmy Hoffa and Dave Beck, daily. The initial theory was that the Mafia had kidnapped her in order to intimidate Senator McClellan into backing off his investigation. When no ransom note appeared, however, and Senator McClellan assured law enforcement that the Mafia wouldn't dare do anything to try and intimidate him, the theory was dropped. Other theories about her disappearance were then developed, but none were ever proved, and the initial police investigation was declared at a "dead end" after two weeks.

In 1985, Beth Brickell returned to her former hometown of Camden with the intention of writing a screenplay for a movie about the mystery. She learned within a week that the case had not been properly investigated in 1957, and townspeople encouraged her to use her earlier journalism skills as a reporter to investigate the case. She discovered that people were still frightened to talk about the case 29 years later. All of the original police investigators were still alive and willing to give information to Brickell, including information they had been unwilling to divulge publically in 1957.

Following a 16-month investigation, Brickell wrote a 19-article investigative series that ran on the front page of the Arkansas Gazette in 1986 over a five-month period with the title, "Mystery at Camden." Brickell's book, The Disappearance of Maud Crawford, is an introduction and re-print of her Gazette investigative series.