Details of Disappearance
Evelyn was last seen on the afternoon of May 16, 1955 in Los Angeles, California. She and her husband, Leonard "Ewing" Scott, test-drove a new car that day. A photograph of Ewing is posted below this case summary. He told the car salesman he and Evelyn were thinking of moving out of the country, either to Spain or Portugal.
Aside from her husband, the car salesman was the last person to see Evelyn before her disappearance. Evelyn had met with her hairdresser weekly for years. On May 17, a man called the salon and said he was canceling all her future appointments. He hung up without giving his name or an explanation.
Ewing was Evelyn's fifth husband. Her first two marriages ended in divorce and her third and fourth husbands predeceased her, leaving her with a sizeable fortune which she invested skillfully with the assistance of a financial management firm. She was worth nearly $1 million by the time of her marriage to Ewing. Her assets included a share in a Milwaukee apartment house which provided an income of $1,400 to $1,500 a month, more than $220,000 in stocks that yielded annual dividends of about $8,000, and $200,000 in her bank accounts. Her passion was traveling and she had been all over the world. Whenever she went on a trip, she left her itinerary with her attorney in case he needed to reach her.
Evelyn met Ewing in the early summer of 1949 and married him in September. Following their marriage, Ewing gradually assumed control of Evelyn's finances, telling her he could manage her money better than her investment counselors. He identified himself as an investment broker and land developer, but he had no source of income. He urged her to convert her assets to cash. Evelyn cashed about $223,000 worth of securities and drew $180,000 in income from her estate during her marriage, and left behind a substantial amount of money in bank accounts and safe deposit boxes.
Many of the couple's acquaintances reported seeing bruises on Evelyn, and Ewing told the family's live-in maid that he had hit his wife. He also confided that he didn't love Evelyn and had married her only for her money. He asked the maid to eavesdrop on Evelyn's telephone conversations and monitor her mail. The maid refused, and was subsequently fired.
Evelyn also dismissed her longtime secretary and friend at Ewing's urging; he told her he would be taking over her bills, banking and correspondence, so she no longer needed a secretary. Evelyn's brother openly loathed Ewing and became estranged from his sister for a time as a result. Many of her friends also disliked him. Ewing told several of Evelyn's friends that her physical and mental health was deteriorating, but none of her friends saw any evidence of this.
After Evelyn went missing, Ewing refused to file a missing persons report and, when people asked about her, he said she had vanished while he was out buying tooth powder. He said she had left him without warning before and variously stated she was a lesbian, was an alcoholic, was mentally ill and/or had cancer. He suggested she may have gone to a sanitarium, possibly on the East Coast, for treatment of her medical conditions. At times he stated he knew which sanitarium she was in, and other times he said he had no idea where she was.
Evelyn's friends contradicted Ewing's description of her: they stated Evelyn didn't have emotional problems, wasn't a lesbian, and rarely drank alcohol, and when she did it was never to excess. She received psychiatric treatment for anxiety for several months in the late 1940s, but had been in good mental health for years prior to her disappearance. Evelyn did have some small growths removed from her face years before her disappearance, and afterward she was checked for cancer twice a year. She did not have cancer at the time of her disappearance: her only medical problem was diverculitis.
Evelyn's friends and brother were puzzled and alarmed by her uncharacteristic absence and their inability to get in touch with her. Several times they asked Ewing for contact information for her, but he never provided any and gave evasive and contradictory answers to their questions as to what had happened to her. In late July 1955, two and a half months after her disappearance, Evelyn's friends asked the district attorney's office to begin a quiet investigation into her disappearance. She wasn't officially reported missing at that time, however.
The district attorney's investigators discovered Ewing had been forging his wife's signatures on checks and financial documents and spending her money on himself. He was also seeing other women and gave them several of Evelyn's things, including clothing and jewelry, as gifts. He even proposed marriage to one of his girlfriends, although he was still legally married to Evelyn. One of Evelyn's friends checked with every sanitarium and mental hospital on the eastern seaboard and discovered Evelyn wasn't a patient in any of them. The friend also offered awards for information on her in newspapers all over the country, with no results.
Evelyn's brother made her disappearance public in March 1956, when he filed for guardianship of her estate. He reported her missing on March 7. When police searched the Scott property, they found two pairs of eyeglasses, an upper front denture plate, some of Evelyn's diverticulitis medicine, and some women's toiletries lying on the ground in the next-door neighbor's yard, just over the wall that divided the two properties. It appeared as if the items had been there for a long time.
Evelyn's dentist identified the denture plate as hers, and her optometrist identified the eyeglasses. Authorities could not find the dental retainer Evelyn wore when she was asleep, however. There was no indication that Evelyn's body had been burned in the backyard incinerator, but some charred remnants of women's undergarments were found in the incinerator. Ewing stated he had burned the underwear because it was soiled and had a foul smell.
Police became convinced that Ewing had killed his wife and wanted to indict him for murder, but he was charged with thirteen counts of grand theft and forgery instead in April 1956. He fled the area several days later rather than face the charges, and traveled to Canada. Five months after Ewing became a fugitive, he was indicted for the murder of his wife. He was arrested in April 1957, after nearly a year on the run: he'd crossed back into the United States to buy a car, and was apprehended when he tried to return to Canada. He was extradited to California to stand trial.
At Ewing's murder trial, he maintained his innocence and said Evelyn had left of her own accord and probably wasn't even dead. Prosecutors theorized he murdered his wife to gain control of her estate. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. He initially refused parole, saying accepting it would be tantamount to admitting guilt. He was unconditionally released from prison, without parole, in 1978.
Journalist Diane Wagner wrote a book about the Scott case, titled Corpus Delicti, in the 1980s. She interviewed Ewing extensively and claims he confessed the murder to her during their last interview, in 1984. Ewing allegedly told her he'd killed Evelyn by hitting her in the head with a rubber mallet, then buried her body in the desert six miles east of Las Vegas, Nevada. The story has never been confirmed. Ewing died in 1987.
Evelyn's body has never been located. Foul play is suspected in her case due to the circumstances involved.
Above: Leonard Ewing Scott