Lake Erie's Coldest Cases: What Happened To 10-Year-Old Beverly Potts?

On August 24, 1951, ten-year-old Beverly Potts went out for a bike ride a few blocks from home – and vanished without a trace.

January 25, 2019

Beverly Potts [Investigation Discovery]

Beverly Potts [Investigation Discovery]

By: Catherine Townsend

On August 24, 1951, ten-year-old Beverly Potts went out for a bike ride a few blocks from home – and vanished without a trace. She has never been found.

Beverly’s disappearance became one of the most notorious cold cases in Cleveland and, almost 68 years later, families in the area still remember being haunted by the incident. Her story is the subject of a new episode of "Lake Erie's Coldest Cases" on Investigation Discovery.

On the night she disappeared, Beverly and her friend and neighbor Patsy Swing were given permission to see the Showagon, an annual summer children's performance event being held that evening in Halloran Park. The two girls headed to the park, which was only around a quarter mile from their homes, on their bicycles at around 7 pm. At 8 pm they went home to drop off their bikes, having decided that it would be easier to navigate through the crowds at the park on foot. Police say they came back at the show sometime before 8:30 pm. At about 8:45 pm, Swing suggested that they head home – but Potts said that she had permission to stay until the show ended at after 9 pm. As she left, Swing saw her friend still watching the show.

When Potts failed to come home, the police launched a massive manhunt. They canvassed the neighborhood, searched suspicious cars and investigated thousands of tips. Potts' family members were quickly cleared, and authorities say she had a happy home life. Investigators developed a theory that she could have been enticed into a nearby home or car by someone offering her a babysitting job – since according to her family, she was regularly hired to watch children in the neighborhood - or a ride home. Over the years, several theories – and suspects - emerged. Some believed that Potts might have been killed by a neighbor and buried in or around one of the nearby houses on Linnet Avenue.

In 1955, Harvey Lee Rush told police in California that he had killed Potts after luring her to a nearby bridge with candy. But he got several details about the murder wrong, including the year, and later recanted. In 1980, two retired Cleveland police officers located a man who admitted that he lived in the same area as Potts and had molested young girls there. They considered him a viable suspect, but the prosecutor’s office declined to press charges.

William Henry Redmond, a former carnival worker, was another potential person of interest. He was indicted in 1988 for the 1951 Pennsylvania murder of eight-year-old Jane Marie Althoff, and while in prison he reportedly told a cellmate that he had killed three other girls.

In 2000, there was a potential break in the case when letters were sent to a reporter at the Cleveland Plain Dealer from an elderly man who claimed that he wanted to confess to Potts’ murder. He promised to meet the reporter in Halloran Park on the 50th anniversary of the murder, and to turn himself in. But he never showed.

Potts' mother died in 1956, still heartbroken over her daughter’s disappearance. Potts’ sister Anita continued to search for her until her own death in 2006.

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