Never Solved Murder in Hotel President, Room 1048

Posted on 02/23/2018
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Mystery which is still unsolved even though there are a lot of witnesses and evidences. Room 1046 in the Hotel President in Kansas City downtown will remain known as a bloody room. Who tortured this poor man, and who was he?


The mystery murder which happened in room 1046 of the Hotel President in downtown Kansas City remains a big puzzle and unsolved to this day, despite of endless evidences. 

On Jan. 2, 1935, at 1:20 p.m., a lone man checked into the Hotel President, in downtown Kansas City.

What was immediately interesting about this man is that he had no luggage besides a comb and a toothbrush and asked for an interior room on a high floor of the hotel. He checked in under the name Roland T. Owen and complained to the bellboy about the outrageous prices of a neighboring hotel. After checking in and receiving his room, room 1046 on the 10th floor, he left the hotel, only to be seen intermittently throughout his stay.

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Though the man’s behavior struck the Hotel President’s staff as odd, they didn’t think much of him. After all, the hotel often played host to out of towners and businessmen, looking for some late night company, and the less the staff got involved, the better.

The staff didn't gave to much attention to him until six days later, when the man turned up dead, his hotel room was a brutal bloodbath. The brutal scene arose a lot of questions about this mysterious man's behavior, which just confirmed how strange his  prior behavior was.

On Jan 3, one day after Owen checked into the hotel, the hotel maid, Mary Soptic, stopped by to clean his room. It was around 12 o’clock, and most of the hotel’s residents were out for the day. However, upon reaching Owen room, Mary found the door to be locked from the inside.

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She knocked, and Owen opened the door. After insisting she could come back later, Mary eventually entered. She found the room in almost complete darkness, with the shades tightly drawn and the only light coming from a small, dim table lamp.

While Mary was cleaning, Owen suggested that he had a friend coming to visit him shortly, and asked her to leave the door open. The cleaning lady agreed with Owen and he left the room.

Four hours later the cleaning lady returned with fresh towels, and to her surprise she found the door still open, and Mr Owen laying fully clothed on top of his still-made bed. he looked like he was asleep. There was a not on his bedside table: "Don, I will be back in fifteen minutes, Wait."

Next morning the strange things related to room 1046 continued.

When Mary came back next morning to make the beds, she found Owen's door locked from the outside, which made her thinking that was not inside, so she opened the door with her master key. She was up for a surprise when she found Owen sitting in complete dark in the corner of the room. As she was cleaning, Owen got a phone call. The thing she heard was: "No, Don, I don't want to eat. I just had breakfast."  and after a minute he repeated, "No, I am not hungry."

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After he finished his phone call, he started interrogating Mary about her job ad about the hotel. This was the first time he really spoke to her. He seemed interested about the rooms she was in charge, about the people who lived in Presidential Hotel, complained about the price of the hotel in the neighborhood.

Mary hurried to finish the room and left quickly the man to himself. It crossed her mind that someone had to have locked Owen in this room since the door was locked from the outside, but this was after she left the room.

Later that day, Soptic returned with fresh towels, having taken the ones from the room that morning. However, as she knocked this time, she heard two voices in the room, rather than just Owen. When she announced that she had fresh towels, a loud, deep voice told her to leave, claiming that they had enough towels.

Even though she new that there was no more towels on the room, since she removed them this morning, Mary left two men alone. She didn't want to interrupt a clearly private conversation.

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That same afternoon, the Hotel President got two more guests, whose presence would contribute greatly to the mystery of what happened in room 1046.

The first was a Jean Owen (no relation to Roland.) She had come to Kansas City to meet her boyfriend for the day and decided that rather than drive all the way back to her hometown on the outskirts of the city, she would stay for the night in a hotel. Upon checking into the Hotel President, Jean Owen was given the key to room 1048, right next door to Roland.

That night, according to police statements, she heard a repeated commotion.

“I heard a lot of noise which sounded like it (was) on the same floor, and consisted largely of men and women talking loudly and cursing,” she said in her statement. “When the noise continued I was about to call the desk clerk but decided not to.”

The other hotel guest was not quite a guest all. The bellhop who had been on duty that night described her as a “commercial woman” who often frequented the rooms of the hotel’s male patrons late at night.

The evening of Jan. 4, she came into the hotel searching for a man in room 1026. However, despite being a “very prompt” customer, the woman couldn’t seem to find the man she was looking for. After searching for well over an hour, on multiple floors, she gave up and went home.

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Both of the women’s statements would raise more questions about the fate of the man in room 1046.

Next morning the bellhop got a call from the hotel telephone operator who told him that the phone in the room 1046 was off the hook for more than 10 minutes without anyone using it. What the bellhop went up to check on Owen, he found "do not disturb" sign on the doorknob. He knocked on the door, and Owen told him to come in. Since the door was locked, he asked Owen to let him in, but there was no response. He just assumed that the man was drunk and he asked him to hang up the phone.

Since Owen was just lying naked on his bed, he just confirmed his theory about the man being drunk. He didn't want to get into any argue with him so he just straighten up the phone and reported Owen to his manager.

To his surprise, an hour later the telephone operator called again. The phone was again off the hook, though not in use.

This time, when the bellhop opened the door, he found a bloodbath. Owen was sitting curled in the corner of the room, his head in his hands, suffering multiple stab wounds. The bedsheets and towels were stained with blood, and the walls were splattered with it.

The bellhop immediately called the police who took Owen straight to the hospital, where doctors discovered that Owen had been tortured viciously. His arms, legs, and neck had been restrained by some kind of cord, and his chest sustained multiple stab wounds. He also suffered a punctured lung and a fractured skull.

Roland T. Owen was pronounced dead at the hospital shortly after arriving.

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The wounds on Owen were inflicted well before the bellhop's first visit to Owen's room. Poor man had tryied to call help several times, but he was just able to pick up the phone due to his injuries.

When investigators searched the room, the strangeness continued. There were no clothes in the room at all, nothing matching the description of Owen when he checked in. The hotel amenities such as soap and toothpaste were also missing, as well as anything that could have been the murder weapon. The only thing of note that detectives found were four small fingerprints on the telephone stand, though they were never identified.

Furthermore, detectives found that Roland T. Owen never existed. There was no record of any such man having lived anywhere in the U.S., and they implored the public to come forward with any information they had about the mysterious murder victim.

Shortly thereafter, the neighboring hotel that Owen had complained so much about came forward, claiming that a man matching the description had stayed at the hotel on Jan 1. He had checked in under the name Eugene K. Scott. However, upon further investigation, the police reached the same dead end they had with Owen — no man named Eugene K. Scott had any record of ever existing.

Over the next couple of months, various people identified the body as a loved one, though none of the identifications stuck. Finally, the case ran cold, and the detectives decided to bury the body. As they arranged for a small funeral, a bouquet of flowers, and a donation to cover the funeral costs showed up at the funeral home with a letter that read only: “Love for ever– Lucille.”

A year later, a woman named Ogletree claimed that Owen/Scott was her son, who had been missing for years. She claimed his name was Artemis Ogletree, and that he had been staying at another Kansas City area hotel at the time he went missing.

Though there wasn’t any more evidence to her case than any of the others, police were eventually inclined to believe her, though experts claimed it was only based on lack of evidence in the rest of the case.

To this day, the case remains unsolved, opened yearly by the Kansas police as new pieces of evidence unfold. For the time being, however, it seems that the mystery of room 1046 may never truly be solved.


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