Details of Disappearance
Poyntz was last seen in the New York City borough of Manhattan sometime during June 1937, possibly June 4 or 5. She left her room in the American Woman’s Association Clubhouse in the 300 block of west 57th Street and vanished. She was not reported missing until December of that year.
Poyntz left behind all her personal belongings, including her clothing, luggage, passport, unfinished manuscripts, and a savings account containing $10,500 which has not been touched since her disappearance. Authorities judged from the appearance of her room that she planned to return within a short time.
Poyntz is a former history professor at Barnard College and was one of the founding members of the American Communist Party, which came into existence between 1919 and 1921. She was listed in the New York Police Department files as one of the top ten principal Communist leaders in the United States. She ran for public office several times as Communist candidate but was never elected.
Poyntz dropped out of the Communist Party in 1934 to work for the OGPU, the Russian secret police and predecessor to the KGB. She was assigned to gather information about chemistry and physics from the United States.
She traveled to Moscow, Russia in 1936 for additional instructions but became disillusioned with Joseph Stalin's regime and was unwilling to spy for the OGPU anymore. She told friends she planned write her memoirs and expose the Communist Party.
It is believed that Poyntz was murdered by the OGPU to silence her. Several people confessed to killing her after her disappearance, but no one was ever charged. She was declared legally dead in October 1944 and her estate was given to her sister, her sole surviving relative.