Irene Shoukair, age 39, disappeared in February 1914 from Chicago, Illinois.
She was born Irene Forner, in Buffalo, NY in 1875. She traveled to the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893, where she met David Shoukair, a native of Syria. The two married in Chicago in 1894.
David and Irene owned and operated a rug importing business, and were involved in the business of carpet cleaning as well. Both David and Irene worked long hours at the business, and they prospered. They employed a live-in servant.
The couple had five children. When not working, Irene was kept busy tending to the children and sewing clothes for the whole family.
Shortly before she disappeared, Irene had talked being tired of needing a vacation. She told a friend she planned to travel to California, but said she planned to return. She referred to an elderly friend who might accompany her on the trip.
A life insurance policy was issued on Irene in April 1913, less than a year before she vanished.
David Shoukair died in 1919.
In 1930, one of David and Irene’s daughters discovered the life insurance policy while going through a desk. She attempted to have Irene declared dead so she could collect on the policy, but her request was denied.
During the court’s proceedings, it came to light that Irene had left a note for her daughter, stating that she would be leaving. In the letter, she said “Don’t worry about me, everything will be fine. I will write to you.” She also said “If Papa makes much of a fuss, try to calm him down; he will get over it in a few days.”
It also was mentioned that Irene had made a phone call to one of David’s cousins, telling him goodbye. He said that he’d tried to convince her not to go, but that she cut him off, saying she had only three minutes to catch her train.
Interestingly, the recipient of this phone call stated that his brother had disappeared a couple months earlier, and had never been heard from again. This prompted some speculation that the two may have run off together.
According to Irene’s daughter, she took ‘a complete wardrobe’, at least $100 in cash, and several articles of jewelry.
She was never heard from by any of her family or friends again.
Irene was eventually declared dead in 1954.
Some accounts state that she went out to buy bread and never came back.