An unsolved rape and murder in Leonardtown Maryland
  • CHILDHOOD
    - born June 29, 1915

    - lived at Rose Cottage, one of Leonardtown's oldest residences

    - Attended St. Mary's Academy in Leonardtown
  • MARRIAGE AND FAMILY
    - lives with mother along with husband Frances Patrick Ragan until mother's passing in 1957

    - parents are Lemuel A. Wilmer, Sr. and Henrietta E. Knight

    - sisters are Mrs. Christine G Gardner, Mrs. Maria E Hunt, and Miss Eleanor Greenwell, and Mrs. Wilhemina G Howard

    - brother Lemuel A. Wilmer, Jr.
  • FEBRUARY 14, 1959
    - Husband Frances Patrick Ragan passes away from a heart condition and kidney failure
  • DECEMBER 4, 1959
    DECEMBER 4, 1959

    MORNING

    - landscaping finished on Ragan home in the morning

    AFTERNOON
    - Ragan has lunch with a friend

    5pm - ST. FRANCES XAVIER CHURCH, COMPTON
    - attends Mass with Christine Gardiner

    6:30pm - GARDINER HOME, LEONARDTOWN
    - Ragan returns to Gardiner home for dinner
    - invites John Gardiner to home to watch TV while sister Christine attends card party

    7:30pm - LEONARDTOWN SQUARE
    - Ragan stops at County Trust Bank and orders new checks

    9pm - RAGAN HOME, LEONARDTOWN
    - John Gardiner arrives at Ragan home
    - watches television while Ragan addresses Christmas cards

    BETWEEN 10pm AND MIDNIGHT
    - State Medical Examiner makes final determination that Henrietta Ragan is murdered between these hours

    10:30pm - RAGAN HOME
    - John Gardiner leaves Ragan home
    - Gardiner states he leaves Ragan addressing Christmas cards

    11pm - RAGAN HOME
    - neighbor Olive G. Camalier notices lights on at Ragan home
  • DECEMBER 5, 1959
    DECEMBER 5, 1959

    12 MIDNIGHT - 2:30am - RAGAN HOME

    - Dr. William Boyd initially places time of death between these hours. Autopsy discounts this and places time of death between 10pm - midnight on 12-4-1959

    2:15am - ACROSS FROM RAGAN RESIDENCE
    - Ragan neighbor William G. Holley Jr. notices vehicle parked on the hill, pointed towards Leonardtown Wharf
    - vehicle described as a 2 tone 1955 Ford, dark green with light green / cream / white top and light color license plates

    3am - HILL TO LEONARDTOWN WHARF
    - Mary Agnes Buckler sees similar car driving up the hill towards Leonardtown Square

    9:30am - RAGAN HOME, LEONARDTOWN
    - Ragan employer Maurice T. Thrift discovers Ragan murdered

    EVENING
    - law enforcement questions an unknown suspect for 4 hours. Suspect is reported to have scratches on his neck. Suspect is released
    "He has not been eliminated as a suspect" - Deputy Sanger, Enterprise 12-10-1959
  • DECEMBER 6, 1959
    DECEMBER 6, 1959

    AUTOPSY OF HENRIETTA WILMER RAGAN

    - completed by Dr. C.S. Petty
    - cause of death is strangulation
    - bruise on victim's neck and ear
    - blood on bedsheets is different that than of Henrietta Ragan


    EVENING
    - Leonardtown Elks have a long planned memorial service honoring Henrietta Ragan's husband Frances Patrick Ragan and Ernest Slusser
    - Henrietta Ragan made plans to attend this event the day before she was murdered
  • DECEMBER 7, 1959
    DECEMBER 7, 1959

    8pm - MATTINGLEY GARDINER FUNERAL HOME

    - Viewing and prayers for Henrietta Ragan
  • DECEMBER 8, 1959
    DECEMBER 8, 1959

    MORNING - RAGAN HOME

    - crime scene is processed. Lasts almost 12 hours

    MORNING - LEONARDTOWN
    - Maurice Thrift is questioned by MSP Lt. Smith
    - Investigators plan to question John and Christine Gardiner


    11:30am - ST. ALOYSIUS CATHOLIC CHURCH, LEONARDTOWN
    - Funeral Mass for Henrietta Wilmer Ragan

    AFTERNOON
    - Henrietta Ragan is buried.
    - Plumbing contractor responds to the Ragan home to search plumbing and toilet traps for evidence

    EVENING
    - man at St. Mary's Hospital for a cat bite. Examined by Dr. Boyd and released
  • DECEMBER 9, 1959
    DECEMBER 9, 1959

    MORNING - TUDOR HALL ESTATES

    - MSP troopers canvas Ragan neighborhood
    - "full scale operation" to fingerprint and interview Ragan's associates begins
    - The Enterprise 12-10-1959

    EVENING
    - lookout broadcast for 1955 Ford to "four counties"
    - Description is updated to a tri color 1955 Ford, dark green top and bottom with a cream center
    - Mirror or a mirror/spotlight on the drivers side
    - Car has light colored license plates, and diamond shaped reflector tape on the bumper
    - The Enterprise 12-17-1959
  • DECEMBER 10, 1959
    DECEMBER 10, 1959

    THROUGHOUT THE DAY

    - several drivers stopped regarding the broadcast for the 1955 Ford
  • DECEMBER 11, 1959
    DECEMBER 11, 1959

    MORNING - LEONARDTOW
    N
    - Ragan's missing sweater is turned in to the Sheriff's Office
    - Sweater was found on 12-5-1959, the day after the murder
    - Finder washes the sweater, unaware that it was being looked for
    - Finder tells Sheriff Miedzinski that the sweater was not stained or dirty when found

    - Sweater is sent to Medical Examiners Office in Baltimore
    - Two hairs found "apparently from a male or a female"
    - The Enterprise 12-17-1959

    EVENING - LEONARDTOWN

    - Capt. E.W. Magaha, MSP, speaks to a local high school about the case. Reviews case with investigators
  • DECEMBER 12 and 13, 1959
    DECEMBER 12 & 13, 1959
    - Troopers and Sheriff's Deputies canvass the area of the found sweater to look for Ragan's missing wallet
    - This effort fails to locate Ragan's wallet

    - "50 clear fingerprints found in the home." - Lt. Smith, MSP
    - Hagerstown Daily Mail, 12-14-1959
  • DECEMBER 15, 1959
    DECEMBER 15, 1959
    - MSP Lt. Truman Moon, Commander of Waldorf Barrack, reviews case with investigators
  • DECEMBER 17, 1959
    DECEMBER 17, 1959
    - MSP and the Sheriff's Office release a joint statement denying the rumor of an arrest in the Ragan murder
  • FIRST TWO WEEKS OF THE INVESTIGATION
    DATES AND TIMES UNKNOWN
    - Ragan family offers $5000 reward

    - Ragan associates, friends, family, neighbors, delivery and repair men and persons of questionable character are interviewed
    - The Enterprise 12-10-1959

    - 35 persons fingerprinted. Some prints not identified
    - blood samples taken from several persons to compare with blood found on bed sheets
    - The Enterprise 12-17-1959
  • WEEK OF DECEMBER 21, 1959
    WEEK OF DECEMBER 21, 1959
    - lookout is broadcast for a paint splotched 1949-1950 Plymouth seen the night of the Ragan murder
    - occupants are two sandy haired "rough looking" men
    - car is described as having rust colored primer and blue or green license plates

    - polygraph test given to several individuals in Baltimore by MSP

    - "we are questioning people daily" - Deputy George Sanger

    - Deputies Sanger and Burroughs start canvass of homes where Ragan sweater was found

    - The Enterprise, 12-22-1959
  • WEEK OF JANUARY 3, 1960
    WEEK OF JANUARY 3, 1960
    - MSP and the Sheriff's Office make a public appeal for "anyone who has ever been at that house (Ragan home) to contact the Sheriff's Office" to eliminate as yet unidentified fingerprints

    - Two third of fingerprints have been identified from the Ragan home
    - Cpl. Wiemer and Deputies Sanger and Burroughs bring in people "daily" to be fingerprinted

    - more lie detector tests given and blood samples taken

    - The Enterprise, 1-7-1960
  • JANUARY 5, 1960
    JANUARY 5, 1960
    - Sheriff Miedzinski directs Hollywood and Leonardtown VFD to canvass area where sweater was found in an attempt to locate Ragan's wallet
    - four miles of roads were covered to include: the length of Cedar Lane and St. John's Road

    - $5000 family reward is still valid

    - The Enterprise 1-7-1960
  • MARCH 1960
    MARCH 1960
    - Grand Jury gives a "vote of confidence" to the Ragan investigators, but returns with no indictments
    - "all law enforcement authorities have diligently worked on this case and have throughly explored every lead."

    - Grand Jury recommends that "should there be any future cases of suspected murder, the authorities insure by a guard or other means, that the premises not be disturbed prior to a complete inspection for clues."
  • JUNE, 1960
    JUNE 1960
    - Serial killer Melvin D. Rees to be questioned in Ragan murder
    - Later ruled out as suspect
    - The Enterprise, 6-30-1960
  • DECEMBER 3, 1970
    DECEMBER 3, 1970
    - The Enterprise publishes an 11 year anniversary article on the murder of Henrietta Wilmer Ragan
    - "over the years Grand Juries have looked into the case, but no one has ever been named."
  • 2012
    The St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office takes another look at the case, interviewing surviving family, friends and associates of Henrietta and others involved in the initial investigation.

    In an odd twist, an interesting “what if” revealed itself when a niece of Henrietta’s, age 15 at the time of the murder, was interviewed. She clearly recalls her father (Henrietta’s brother) stating the mortician in Leonardtown told him that the funeral home received Henrietta’s body with her two front teeth knocked out, held in with chewing gum.

    In 1959, there was no “CSI” or “DNA.” Had today’s technology existed then, the killer of Henrietta Ragan may have been revealed in short order.

    Is the chewing gum still there? If so, the answer to “Who Killed Henrietta” may have been taken to her grave.
  • 2017
    Fifty eight years later, the rape and murder of Henrietta Wilmer Ragan remains unsolved.
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Who Killed Henrietta Ragan? - CRIMELINE