Paul Rudolph Alwardt

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Above: Paul, circa 1978

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Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

  • Missing Since: March 31, 1978 from Falmouth, Massachusetts
  • Classification: Endangered Missing
  • Age: 17 years old
  • Height and Weight: 5'10, 150 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian male. Brown hair, blue eyes. Paul has a one-inch surgical scar below his left ear from lymph node removal.
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    Details of Disappearance

    Paul was last seen in Falmouth, Massachusetts on March 31, 1978. He was supposed to testify against his employer, Melvin R. Reine Sr., before a grand jury, but disappeared the night before he was scheduled to give testimony. Paul was a ward of the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services and was last seen when a police officer put him on a ferry bound for Martha's Vineyard, where some of his relatives lived. He has never been heard from again.

    A photograph of Melvin is posted below this case summary. He ran a successful trash hauling business, Five Star Enterprises, and has had a history of contacts with local law enforcement over the years. He is considered the prime suspect in the March 1971 disappearance of his wife, Wanda Reine. Eighteen-year-old Shirley M. Souza, the family babysitter, moved into the Reine residence in 1972. A photo of Shirley is posted below this case summary. That same year, one of Shirley's other boyfriends, 16-year-old Charles "Jeffrey" Flanagan, was found shot to death in a bog across the street from the Reine home. Shirley was one of the last people known to have seen Flanagan alive, and Melvin is a suspect in his murder. No one has been charged in connection with Flanagan's death, however. In 1978, the same year Alwardt disappeared, John Busby, a police officer who had had run-ins with the Reine family, was shot twice in the face while on his way to work. He survived. Melvin was a suspect in Busby's shooting, but there was insufficient evidence to charge him at the time. Melvin was later charged with rigging bids to get the city contract for Five Star Enterprises. His business partner testified against him, but Melvin was acquitted in 1985.

    In 2001, Melvin was committed to Taunton State Hospital after threatening to shoot a woman. He was diagnosed with Pick's Disease, a form of dementia characterized by personality changes, poor judgement, forgetfulness, social ineptitude. Shirley took over the running of Five Star Enterprises after her husband's committal. In 2002, Melvin's two children, Todd and Melvin Jr., told police their father and their uncle, John Reine, had shot Busby. When interviewed in 2003, John admitted that he drove the car while Melvin shot at Busby out the open window. John stated that Shirley was also present in the vehicle at the time. No charges were filed in the shooting, as the statute of limitations had expired. John also implicated Melvin in Flanagan's murder, but no charges have been filed in that case either, as Melvin was legally incompetent. He died in November 2013, at the age of 74.

    Shirley was murdered in May 2005; she was shot to death in her garage. At the time of her death, she was involved in a legal battle with her stepsons over Melvin's estate. Melvin was granted a divorce from Wanda in 1997 and married Shirley in 1999, after over two decades of cohabitation. In 2001, he wrote a will disinheriting his sons and turning over his business and all his property to his wife. Melvin Jr. and Todd alleged that their father was mentally incompetent when he wrote his will and Shirley had taken advantage of him, and that Melvin's business and property should rightly belong to them.

    Shirley was reportedly afraid for her life because of the lawsuit and told others that if anything happened to her, her stepsons were probably responsible. The case was expected to go up for trial the week after Shirley's murder. Authorities stated that it appeared Shirley had been ambushed and murdered by someone who knew her daily routine. In December 2011, John Rams Jr. was charged with her murder. At the time of his indictment, he was already in prison for stealing documents from Shirley's home. He was acquitted of murder at his trial in August 2014.

    Both Paul Alwardt and Wanda Reine are missing and presumed dead.

    Shirley Melvin
    Left: Shirley Reine, circa 2005;
    Right: Melvin Reine, circa 2001

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    Investigating Agency
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    Falmouth Police Department
    508-457-2527

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    Source Information
    The Cape Cod Times
    Porchlight for the Missing and Unidentified
    The Falmouth Enterprise
    Cape Cod Today
    NamUs

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    Updated 1 time since October 12, 2004.

    Last updated October 27, 2015; casefile added.

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