April 14, 2021

As soon as Hotel President guest Roland T. Owen arrived at the hospital after presumably undergoing torture in room 1046, he died, recalling nobody being in the room with him. Kansas City police had the unfortunate job of piecing this puzzle together, which proved to be a lot harder than originally thought.

Throughout the day when Owen’s mutilated yet living body was found, the phone was off the hook, resulting in the hotel receiving several calls from the operator to place it back. This first happened at 7 a.m., which is around the time frame police suspect the torturing took place. They also figured the phone was off the hook so many times because Owen was attempting to call for help, but due to extreme blood loss, he was only strong enough knock the phone to the floor before passing out.


After that, the police searched the room.


One of the things hotel staff noticed immediately about Owen is how he arrived with no luggage, leaving investigators unable to gather information through his belongings. There were also zero hotel amenities in the room. Of course, hotel staff was unable to provide towel changes because of the door being locked and other excuses that occurred throughout the day. What’s odd is there was no amenities provided by the hotel that one would find before their arrival like shampoo bottles and soap. Owen also didn’t carry any clothes to change into during his stay.


Furthermore, investigators found four fingerprints (whom they believe came from a female) on the phone stand, an unlit cigarette, and a tie label. Due to lack of forensic techniques, this was of little help to police.


Remembering Owen says he was from Los Angeles, they checked his name there, but had no luck. In fact, after some more research, they say that Roland T. Owen was an alias and never a real person. There was no one in the entire United States with that name during that time.


The hotel next to the Hotel President soon came forward and gave some information about “Roland T. Owen,” or rather, Eugene K. Scott when he checked in there, which explains why during much of his stay, Owen complained about the outrageous prices at the neighboring hotel. After more searching, investigators saw that Eugene K. Scott never lived in the United States either.


Owen was also thought of using the names Cecil Werner and Duncan Ogletree. Because of these many pseudonyms, police circulated a sketch of Owen around Kansas City, the thinking being maybe he was actually from the area. After nothing came of that, police shift their focus on this Don person Owen mentioned a few times, but with the endless possibilities–was Don a shortened version of Donna? a man Owen was in cohorts with? perhaps a mafia term or title?–they had no luck.


Originally, Owen was to be buried in a potter’s field, but an anonymous caller told the funeral home they’re sending money for a proper funeral. Money arrived along with flowers and a card with the words, “Love forever, Louise,” written on it.


In 1936, about a year and a half later after the incident, Ruby Ogletree read an article on the room 1046 case, seeing that her son was the victim. She told police his name was Artemus Ogletree and that he left his home in Birmingham, Alabama, the year of his demise. More members of the family agreed it was him, recognizing the scar above his left ear from an accident from his childhood. Police believed and talked more with them, filling in some of the gaps. For example, they found out Owen was only 17 when he died.


Oddly, Ruby received letters from her son in 1935, but they caused suspicion. The writing style didn’t match that of her son’s, and the letters were typed. Ruby never recalled her son being able to type. Furthermore, someone called her that same year and “talked wildly,” tipping off that her son was in Cairo and could contact her due to losing his thumb in a fight which saved the caller’s life. Authorities looked into it, and there was never an Artemus Ogletree in Cairo, Egypt.


Decades later, and we still don’t know who tortured and killed Artemus Ogletree and why. It turns out his death was the first death in 74 deaths in Kansas City that year, and his among 16 others went unsolved. As more evidence slowly turns up, the case is opened every year, but as time passes on, this seems to be a case that’ll forever remain a mystery to the world.

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About the Writer
Erin Brody is a Writing and Publishing senior from West Homestead and is the Editor-in-Chief/Director of Operations of The SIREN Media Group. She particularly enjoys investigative journalism and crime... writing and researching it, of course.

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