Here’s the story I remember:
My dad’s cousin ran away to Louisville and disappeared. She had a name but was called Babyface because the metal work in her mouth made her cheeks puffy. Everyone assumed that she had gotten into drugs and probably become a prostitute. But, years later, her body was discovered on the grounds of Waverly Hills Sanatorium during landscaping. She was identified by her dental work.
I think I first heard this story when I first learned about Waverly Hills Sanatorium.
Here’s what I’ve found out, all from a single, wonderfully written, Courier Journal article from April 1, 1967:
Her name was Carolyn Crain Wooden. She was 19. She was last seen by her mother, Mrs. M. L. Revell who lived in this house in Camp Taylor.
Her skeleton was discovered near Waverly Hills in 1965 – specifically, the skull first. She was, as my dad had told, identified by her dental work, but not for another two years. One of the county patrolmen, Donald Hillenbrandt, who discovered the body (or perhaps answered the call when the body was discovered) worked through a list of 150 missing women who fit the general description of the skeleton. Between 22 and 25, between 105 and 115 lbs, and about 5’3″. He apparently did much of this search on his own time.
Her wedding ring, discovered with the body, was the first clue. Her aunt was able to positively identify it because it was identical to her own. After that, Hillenbradnt went to Carolyn’s dentist for the records that finally identified her body.
She wasn’t a prostitute. She was on her way to work as a waitress on May 22, 1965. She didn’t make it to work. She wasn’t reported missing until five days later. No foul-play suspected, no real search made. She was married, but living with her mother. Her body was discovered in August of 1965, but not identified until May of 1967. Her maternal grandmother was Delia Thompson of Glendale, apparently the connection to my dad. She was buried on April 1, 1967 in Cave Hill Cemetery.
Here’s my questions:
How did the story become she ran away and became a prostitute (was this some warning to young women in the family about moving to the big city)? Did she leave her husband and this was his revenge (isn’t it always the husband)? What drove Donald Hillenbrandt to search for this skeleton’s identity, another dead woman amongst how many? What did she look like? What did she dream about?
The chances I’ll get many answers are pretty small.
Here’s my next steps:
Visit Cave Hill Cemetery and visit Carolyn’s grave. Sit with her. Contact LMPD Cold Cases to see what’s available (I’ve sent a message, will call later this week). Figure out how she fits in my family tree. Figure out if there’s anyone alive I could talk to about his. Who was Donald Hillenbrandt?