Details of Disappearance
Maud was the first female attorney in Camden, Arkansas. She "read for the law", meaning she studied law without attending law school, then took the bar exam with University of Arkansas School of Law graduates and passed with the highest score in the class. She was regarded as one of the top title and abstract attorneys in Ouachita County, and she was also was very skilled in estate management.
United States Senator John McClellan was a partner in the law firm where Maud was employed. A photograph of McClellan is posted with this case summary.
Maud was last seen at her residence on northwest Clifton Street during the evening hours of March 2, 1957. Her husband, Clyde, a cabinetmaker, went to a local movie theater and a liquor store during the night. Maud was sitting on her couch shelling beans when Clyde left their home. At 8:30 p.m., her cousin called and spoke to Maud briefly. This is the last time anyone has heard from her.
Clyde returned home several hours later, at approximately 11:30 p.m. and saw that the lights were on inside the residence and on both porches. Their television set was turned on and Maud's pan of beans sat on a table. Her purse was inside the home and over $100 was inside her wallet.
None of Maud's clothing was missing. Several legal files were placed on a table. All of the doors were unlocked and Maud's vehicle was parked in their driveway with the keys in the ignition, the way she normally left the car for the evening. The Crawfords' dog was lying undisturbed on the floor.
Nothing seemed amiss near the residence, but there was no sign of Maud at the scene. She has never been heard from again.
Maud was very active in Camden's civic affairs in 1957 and did not have a reason to leave without warning. She was highly respected in the town at the time and there initially seemed to be no evidence to suggest foul play was involved in her case. Maud's disappearance was highly publicized due to her association with Senator McClellan.
Maud's disappearance remained shrouded in mystery until reporter Beth Brickell returned to her hometown of Camden in 1986. She wrote a series of articles for The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that exposed some of the intrigue surrounding Maud's case.
Brickell found that many of the people involved were still frightened about the circumstances over 30 years after Maud vanished. She apparently received threats herself while researching the story.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette was threatened with lawsuits from individuals after the first segment of Brickell's story was published. The newspaper ignored the efforts to stop the story and continued to run the entire series of articles.
Brickell learned that Maud was working on the estate of Rose Berg at the time of her disappearance. Rose's husband, Henry Berg, died in 1950 and left her three-quarters of his $15 million estate and one-quarter to his nephew, Henry Myar "Mike" Berg. A photo of Mike is posted with this case summary.
Henry and Mike's fathers were partners in a venture called Berg Brothers, which was apparently quite profitable for both of them. According to Brickell's sources, Mike believed that his father was the main contributor to Berg Brothers and thought Henry should have left him the entire interest of the estate. Rose and Henry did not have children and Henry named Rose and their accountant, George Bowers, as co-executors of his estate.
Rose had reportedly shown indications of mental incompetence during the 1940s and was not able to make decisions of her own ability by 1957. Rose depended on Maud, who was her friend and neighbor, to take care of her estate issues.
Maud created a will for Rose in 1957 that specified her portion of Henry's estate and her own property, which was valued at $5 million, would be divided among her three nieces.
There was no mention of Mike in Rose's will. He was allegedly angered by her decision, as he did not want to lose all rights to Henry's fortune and manage his portion of his uncle's estate with her relatives. Maud apparently supported Rose's decision and fought Mike's attempts to subvert Rose's wishes.
A signed copy of Rose's will was reportedly placed inside of her bank safety deposit box. Other signed copies were allegedly handed to Maud and to Bowers. Bowers told Brickell that he did have one of the signed documents in 1957. Rose's nieces apparently held unsigned documents in their possessions.
Rose required full-time nursing care by 1957 and showed symptoms of what is now regarded as Alzheimer's Disease. Maud, who had by then been appointed her legal guardian, was taking Rose's wishes very seriously and was fighting to keep her nieces listed as her beneficiaries.
This placed Maud in disagreement with Mike and his attorney, Thomas Gaughan, who was a partner in Maud's firm at the time. A photo of Gaughan is posted with this case summary.
Ethics prohibited Maud from taking any action against clients of her firm, which meant that she was forced to tread lightly around Mike. Their disagreement was never made public until the publication of Brickell's articles in 1986.
Brickell's sources told her that Mike moved bonds from Rose's safety deposit box prior to Maud's disappearance. According to the source, Gaughan had to convince Mike to return the items before anyone noticed they were missing and contacted authorities. There were many accusations flying back and forth between Rose's family and Mike's associates.
Three deeds were created for Rose's estate in 1950, but not recorded until 1954. Many people do not believe that Rose could comprehend what she was signing and that the deeds were inaccurate.
Rose handed over 21,000 acres of valuable land to Mike in the documents. Maud apparently believed Mike took advantage of Rose and was attempting to make the deeds null and void at the time of her disappearance by allowing Rose's will to stand on its own.
It is theorized that Maud's case is connected to the Berg estate matter. All of the suspected participants and witnesses are deceased and no charges have been filed against anyone. Mike, who was a member of the Arkansas State Police Commission, died in 1975.
Maud's remains have never been located and her case remains unsolved.