Betty Lee Campbell-Ross


Mrs. Leonard Ross Disappears Mysteriously.

The mysterious walk away disappearance in Horton Saturday night of a 25 year old Kansas City, Kans. mother was still unsolved today after a two-day search by officers, relatives, and volunteers.

Although an extensive hunt was conducted and a state-wide alarm broadcast by radio, officers said this morning they had no clues as to the whereabouts of Mrs. Leonard Ross, who left the home of Roy Baxter here early Saturday evening and apparently vanished into the cold winter night.

Mr. and Mrs. Ross, former Horton residents, were here on a weekend visit at the Baxter home on East Tenth Street, Sheriff Virgil Kill said. According to the story related to Horton and Brown County officers, Mrs. Ross stepped out of the house, apparantly going to an outside toilet, and failed to return.

They told Sheriff Kill she threw a blue zipper jacket belonging to Baxter around her shoulders. She was wearing a red silk dress, but her coat was left in the house. When she did not reappear after some minutes, her husband went to look for her. He returned to the house, reported her abscence, and was joined by Baxter in the search.

Left a Young Baby.

After following her footprints in the now half a block west and a block north -- where they vanished -- Baxter and Ross, following more than an hour's search, came uptown to notify Horton police.

Officer Lars Larson, on duty, called in Officer Rola Wallingord, and they aided the two men in a longer search. No traces, except the footprints which ended abruptly at Eleventh street and Third Avenue East could be found.

Mrs. Ross is the mother of two sons, one five years old and a nine months-old baby, which is being breast-fed. The children were at the Baxter home Sunday and were taken to Mrs. Ross' sister, Mrs. Claude Talley of Grenada, who came here when notified of the disappearance.

After searching sheds and vacant lots Saturday night and Sunday morning, the officers and volunteers spent two hours Sunday afternoon dragging a small lake adjacent to the water and electric plant. Calls were placed to Kansas City, Kans. where the Ross family lived at 1010 Central. All known friends and relatives were contacted, here and elsewhere.

The lack of clues as to here whereabouts corresponded with the lack of possible motive. Sheriff Kill said neither Ross nor the Baxters could give officers any reasons the young woman might have for leaving. They said there had been no argument of any kind, that Mrs. Ross was apparently in her usual good spirits and that she said nothing when she left the house, Sheriff Kill said.

Just a Slim Clue

Officers who participated in the search included all three Horton officers, W. L. Clark, Larson, and Wallingford, both Sheriff Virgil Kill and Undersheriff Homer Kipp of Hiawatha, and State Highway Patrolman Noel Coleman.

Mr. Ross, son of Marion Ross of Horton, had been living in Kansas City about six months. The family frequently came here on weekends to visit, the officers were told.

Officer Larson said there were no automobile tracks in the snow Saturday night where the woman's footprints ended, casting doubt on the possibility that she might have entered a motor car. She left no note, so far as investigation has yet been able to determine.

Only possible motive, Sheriff Kill said, was Mrs. Baxter's statement that Mrs. Ross once said she would die before she had another child. The officers did not know, however, if she was an expectant mother.

On this slim clue, which led to her relatives to believe she might have taken her own life, the investigators were asked to drag the lake. With volunteers from the fire department and several city employees, hooks and poles were raked along the bottom of the little lake for two hours Sunday afternoon without any tangible results.

Active searching by the sheriff's office and police was abandoned Sunday night, although the investigation is being continued.

From the Horton Headlight - 11-14-1941 p. 1


Body of Mrs. L. Ross Is Found in Road Ditch

Body of Mrs. Leonard Ross, 25, of Kansas City, who disappeared from the home of friends, Mr. Mrs. Roy Baxter at Horton, Saturday night, was found 5 o'clock Monday evening by Calvin Plummer, of Horton, who had visited his mother, Mrs. Bessie Sutton, a Sutton home about 30 yards from where the body of Mrs. Ross lay face down in the roadside ditch. Mr. Plummer was getting in his car when he saw the body.

Brown County officers, Sheriff Virgil Kill, Undersheriff Homer G. Kipp, Coroner Paul E. Conrad, Rob't M. Finley, county attorney, were summoned to Horton to make investigation before removal of body to undertaking parlors. Pictures were taken of the body before it was removed to be used at coroners inquest held Tuesday afternoon.

Mrs. Sutton near whose home body was found said she heard screams after she had retired Saturday night. Mrs. Sutton said the screams continued intermittantly about 20 miutes, finally growing fainter, but she was not alarmed, did not investigate Saturday night, and did not see body at any time Sunday or Monday until found by son.

In a roadway a few feet from body of Mrs. Ross her wrist watch was found, oxfords were found near her feet as if kicked off in a fall.

Brown County officers were called on the case at 9 o'clock Sunday morning. Mr. Ross, Mr. Baxter had searched for Mrs. Ross Saturday night when she failed to return to Baxter home, they called upon Horton city officers for assistance. Late Sunday afternoon small lake near municipal water-light plant at Horton was dragged in effort to locate body if she had fallen in water.

The Ross family moved only 6 months ago to Kansas City from Horton, members of family were visiting over week end at Baxter home. The 2 small children of Mrs. Ross were being cared for by relatives Tuesday. The 9-months old baby boy was at the home of Mrs. Claude Talley, of Grenada. The 5-year old son was being cared for at M. E. Claflin home in Horton.

Mrs. Ross told officers that he thot[sic] his wife had merely left the house to go to an outside toilet, but when she did not return within a few minutes, he became alarmed, started search for her. Footprints of Mrs. Ross were followed from the house for a few blocks, but blowing snow soon obliterated footsteps. City officers were called to assist in search, then Sunday morning county officers were called, but it was not until 5 o'clock Monday afternoon that body was found in ditch.

From the Brown County World



Sheriff Believes Woman a Victim of Exposure to Cold

Horton, Kas., Nov, 25. -- An inquest was to be held here late today into the death of Mrs. Leonard Ross, 25 years old, 1010 Central avenue, Kansas City, Kansas, found dead in a roadside ditch last night. Sheriff Virgil Kill said there appeared to have been no violence in the death, that Mrs. Ross apparently had wandered into the snowy night and succumbed to the cold. Mr and Mrs. Ross and their two sons were visitors at the home here of Roy Baxter, a friend. The Ross Family formerly lived here.

From the Kansas City Star, 11-25-1941




The body of Mrs. Betty Lee Ross, who walked away from the home of her friends here Saturday evening was found about 5 p.m. Monday in a shallow ditch near the end of East Thirteenth Street.

Mrs. Ross was lying face down, with her head resting on her right arm. Her hair and clothes were only slightly disturbed. Her shoes were off her feet, but a few inches away. Her wrist watch was found in the street, about nine feet distant.

Calvin Plummer, 1520 Euclid Avenue, found the body after leaving the Zelfel home at 520 East 13th, where his mother, Mrs. Bessie Sutton, is employed. Snow which fell during the storm into which she vanished Saturday night, had melted away from the young woman's body.

The discovery ended a two-day search, in which Horton police, the Brown County sheriffs office, State Highway Patrolman Noel Coleman, and many volunteers had participated.

Mrs. Ross, for no reason yet learned by investigators, left the home of Mr. and Mrs. Baxter at 426 E. 10th about 9:45 o'clock Saturday night. Clad only in a red silk dress and a light zipper jacket belonging to Baxter, she had merely stepped out to an outside toilet, her husband, Leonard Ross, and the Baxters believed.

After following her tracks for about a block and a half, and finding no other traces, Baxter and Ross notified Marshal Lars Larson, who called Marshal Rola Wallingford to join the search. They looked until early Sunday morning without success.

The hunt was continued Sunday and Monday, but no clues had been turned up when the body was found.

Plummer had driven his mother to the Charles Zelfel home and was starting to enter his car to leave. Standing in front of the hose, he saw a body in the south ditch, about 30 yards east. He called his mother, Mrs. Sutton, to watch the body while he notified officers.

Dr. Paul Conrad, Brown County coroner, Sheriff Virgil Kill and County Attorney Robert Finley arrived at the scene within a few minutes. After taking statements from witnesses, Dr Conrad ordered an inquest for Tuesday.

The reason for the disappearance Saturday night had not been learned by investigating officers. Mr. and Mrs. Ross, who now live at 1010 Central, Kansas City, Kas., were here for a week-end visit and where spending Saturday evening at the Baxter home, where they frequently stopped on trips here.

Without saying anything to explain her leaving, Mrs Ross stepped out the door and vanished.

The young woman was 25 years old and the mother of two children, both of whom were at the Baxter home that evening. The youngest, Larry, is nine months old, and was a nursing baby. He is being kept now by her sister, Mrs. Talley, of Granada. Ronald, five years old, is temporarily at the Ed Claflin home in Horton.

Mrs. Betty Ross was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jess Campbell, who are employed at the Atchison County farm, near Atchison. She was born at Skidmore, Mo., March 20, 1916. The family lived southwest of Horton, near Whiting, and Mrs. Ross attended New Hope school, southwest of Powhattan, as a child.

She married Leonard Ross of Horton seven years ago. Mr. Ross has an uncle, John Ross, here and his grandfather, Perry Ross lived here until recently.

Surviving the young mother, besides her husband, children, and parents are three brothers -- Robert Campbell, Delphos Kans.; Kenneth Campbell, North Dakota; and Sam Campbell, Whiting; and four sisters, Mrs. Claude Talley, Granada; Mrs. Ella Strang, Kansas City, Mo., Mrs. Rose McGinnis, East Moline, Ill., and Mrs. Alice Sowers, Portland Ore.

From the Horton Headlight 11-27-1941 p. 1


Betty Ross 'Met Death by Freezing' Jury Says



Mrs. Betty Lee Ross died from "exposure and freezing to death," a Brown County coroner's jury decided Wednesday night after deliberating evidence offered at an inquest here.

Testimony was completed at the first session Tuesday. The inquest was then adjourned until Wednesday in order that results of laboratory tests on stomach contents, a urine sample and tissues and excretions might be obtained from the University of Kansas hospital.

The hospital wired Dr. Paul E. Conrad, coroner, that "No poison found in stomach contents and urine specimen."

After hearing that report, examining X-rays taken on the young woman's body and looking at clothing she was wearing when found lying in an East Thirteenth street ditch, the jury retired at 5 p.m. Wednesday to deliberate.

The verdict, reached after 45 minutes, read as follows: "The said Betty Ross, deceased, met her death by exposure and freezing to death."

Members of the six-man coroner's jury, all Horton men, were: Tom Fisher, George Wilson, Pete Strahm, C. B. Houts, Robert Gorham, and Lorin Clark.

Before adjourning late Tuesday afternoon, the jurors heard the testimony of six witnesses concerning the case. As Dr. Conrad presided, questions were asked by County Attorney Robert Finley. A stenographer, Mrs. Wm. McCabe recorded a word-for-word account of the inquest.

Mrs. Inez Sadler, 422 East 13th, colored, was the first to take the stand. She identified photographs of the body in the ditch, establishing the presence of the body there. She then told of hearing dogs bafk Saturday night and of hearing screams.

Her husband was home at 11 p.m., Mrs. Sadler said, when the screaming started. It was a woman's voice, laughing hysterically and crying, with outbursts being spaced 15 minutes apart, she stated. The cries lasted about four hours, or until 3 a.m., she said. They sounded like the orgin was the city park -- east of the Sadler home -- and appeared to get nearer toward the last the witness said.

Leonard Ross, the husband, then was called. After sketching how he met and married Betty Campbell, their moving to Kansas City, and other preliminary details, he told how he brought his family to Horton about once a week during good weather. They would stay with his grandfather, Perry Ross, and an uncle, John Ross, on Third Avenue West. Always, he said, they saw or visited, too, with their close friends, the Roy Baxters.

The Rosses arrived in Horton about 2 p.m. last Saturday, stopping at the Baxter home to arrange for the evening. After eating supper with John Ross, they went to the Baxter's arriving about 7 o'clock, Ross said. He said they had brought a quart and one-half of wine from Kansas City and that the two couples drank it. He and Baxter later bought a half pint of whiskey, but Ross said he draken none and saw no one drink any. He delcared emphatically that his wife was not intoxicated.

In describing her departure, the husband told the coroner's jury: "Well, she got up and I really wasn't paying much attention. I hear her say something to Roy (Mr. Baxter) about his jacket and then she went out."

Attorney Finley asked him what time she left.

"Mrs. Baxter said she put the children to bed about 10 o'clock," Ross testified. "My wife had gone and were out looking for her then so it must have been about 9:45."

Ross then told the details of the search, notification of officers and the subsequent official hunt.

He said his wife was not happy in Kansas City but that they got along "swell." The past month, he said, she believed she was going to have another child and "acted really worried about it." Her nervousness and fretfulness, he said, and John Ross's affection for the children were the reasons for their frequent trips to Horton.

Following Ross to the stand, Roy Baxter told a similar story of Mrs. Ross's leaving. He too declared he saw no one drink any whiskey and knew Mrs. Ross was not intoxicated when she left his home.

Baxter said he had driven twice Monday afternoon over the Thirteenth Street road, passing withing a few feet of the spot where the body was found. He said neither he nor his brothr-in-law[sic], Clyde Lacy -- who was hauling straw with him -- ever saw the body here until Plummer made the discovery and they returned to the scene.

Mrs. Baxter related also how the Rosses came to spend the evening, and was unable to explain the woman's leaving. She told a similar story of their drinking wine, and, like the two men, asserted Mrs. Ross was not intoxicated.

The mother had previously told her "that she'd rather kill herself than have another baby," Mrs Baxter testified. Mrs. Ross then told her Saturday that she thought she was pregnant, Mrs. Baxter said.

The testimony of Calvin Plummer, wh found the body followed. His mother, Mrs. Bessie Sutton, who works at the Charles Zelfel home, described how she heard screams Saturday night -- "shrill, struggling screams that lasted 20 minutes." She, like Mrs. Sadler, was not unduly alarmed, and did not investigate.

Dr. Conrad then adjourned the hearing until Wednesday afternoon.

From the Horton Headlight 11-27-1941 p. 1



Saturday night a young married woman, apparently in normal health, walked out of the home of Horton friends where she was enjoying a pleasant visit with her husband and two small children -- and disappeared completely!

A frantic search was started within a short time. Relatives, police, and other searchers drove up and down practically every street in town during most of the night. It was bitterly cold, about 10 degrees above zero. Snow had been falling and a sharp wind blew out of the northwest.

Not the slightest trace of Betty Lee Ross was found. Her footprints had been obliterated by snow only a block from the house. She left wearing a thin silk dress, fragile pumps, with a light zipper jacket thrown over her shouldlers. A blue ribbon was in her auburn hair.

Sunday the small lake near the light plant was dragged, without results. There were many rumors of no consequence, but not a single clue as to her whereabouts. The search continued Sunday and Monday.

Shortly before dark Monday, her body was found in a shallow ditch almost opposite the Zelfel home in the northeast part of Horton. People had used the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street for two days. Trucks had riven right by the spot. For two days and nights the body had apparently laid there, in plain sight.

The young woman lay, fully clothed, in the shallow ditch as if asleep, stretched out and relaxed. Her head on one arm. There were no marks of violence on her body. Death apparantly came the easiest of all ways, by freezing.

At the inquest, two nearby neighbors told of screams they heard Saturday night. That was the only meager evidence unearthed.

What happened to Betty Lee Ross probably never will be known. With an electric light on every street corner, how could she wander down an unlighted street? Did she fall into the ditch and then exhaust herself in the struggle to get out? Was she running away from some malicious person who had made advances to her? Was it some sort of temporary amnesia?

Tragedy stalks everywhere. Why she walked out of the house, where she attempted to go, and how she met her unfortunate death may ever remain an unsolved mystery.

From the Horton Headlight 11-27-1941 p. 1


Mrs. Ross Died of Exhaustion Freezing Cold

Horton -- Coroners jury at inquest decided that Mrs. Betty Lee Ross, whose body was found in a ditch, Monday about 5 p.m. after she left the home of her friends Saturday evening, died from "exposure, freezing to death." There was no mark of violence on her body, examination of stomach contents at KU hospital showed no trace of poison. The inquest was completeed by thoro[sic] investigation, complete testimony of all who were with here previous to her disappearance from a party at Roy Baxter home Saturday evening. Coroner Dr. Conrad, County Attorney Robert Finley, Sheriff Virg[sic] Kill directed the inquest. The jurors were Horton men, Tom Fisher, Pete Strahm, C. B. Houts, Robert Gorham, Sam Clark. County Coroner Dr. Conrad presided at inquest.

County Attorney Robert M. Finley announces that coroners jury verdict at inquest held in connection with the death of Mrs. Leonard Ross at Horton closes the tragic happening. Jury returned verdict of "death from exposure, freezing." Wednesday evening after resuming inquest at 4 o'clock Wednesday afternoon. Jury convened Tuesday afternoon at 1 o'clock, adjourned Tuesday evening until 4 o'clock Wednesday afternoon to allow time for analysis of contents of stomach by University of Kansas hospital specialists. Coroner Paul E. Conrad was notified by specialists that there was no evidence of poisoning analysis on the body of Mrs. Ross.

From the Brown County World - 12-5-1941