In 1961, 31-year-old Joan Risch lived in Lincoln, Massachusetts, with her husband, four-year-old daughter, and two-year-old son. On October 24, Joan’s husband was out of town, and her daughter went to a neighbor’s house. When the girl returned home, Joan was gone, and her infant son was sleeping unattended. There was blood in the kitchen, and a trail of it ran outside to Joan’s car in the driveway. The phone was ripped out of the wall, and the phone book was open to the emergency numbers section. A bloody fingerprint was also found, which could not be matched to anyone. All signs pointed to an abduction, but some strange eyewitness sightings complicated this scenario.
That afternoon, a neighbor saw a dazed-looking Joan running outside her house but assumed that she was chasing one of her children. Later that day, motorists saw a woman resembling Joan walking along Route 128. Even though the woman appeared to be bloody and disoriented, no one assisted her, and she was never found. Since Route 128 was under construction at the time, there was some speculation that she fell into an excavation pit and was eventually buried under asphalt.
Things got even more complicated when investigators discovered that Joan had checked out over 25 library books about murders and disappearances throughout the summer. One of the books chronicled the story of a woman who disappeared and left blood smears behind. Since the Risch family had moved to Lincoln from New York City six months earlier, and Joan gave up a publishing career to raise her children, one theory was that she became unhappy with her domestic life and decided to stage her own disappearance. If that theory is true, Joan Risch has managed to stayed off the radar for decades.
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