Missing Cadet—Disappearance of Richard Colvin Cox
In the early 1950s, Richard Colvin Cox, a West Point Cadet, stated he was going out to eat with a friend, leaving the school grounds only to never be seen again. The friend he went out with was only called “George” and it is unknown as to who he really was
Cox was born and raised in Ohio in a family of six. After finishing high school, Cox joined the United States Army in 1946 and worked in the Constabulary. This group was to be sent to the allied controlled territory of Germany and more or less serve as a police or security force. While working there in 1947, Cox received an appointment to West Point, arriving in 1948. During his time at West Point, Cox was an exemplary student with high class rankings and performances. Cox was also performing in the athletic team, set to compete nationally. He even found love, having plans to marry Betty Timmons after he graduated from West Point. His overall academic success, as well as future facts, suggests that he may not have left with intent to disappear (Though it cannot be ruled out). Nobody had suspected Cox to have a secret or much darker life prior to his disappearance.
On January 7, 1950, a phone call came in to Cadet Company B-2 at around 4:45 PM. Peter Hains, a classmate, answered the phone to a rough-sounding man wishing to speak to Cox. Cox was not in his room at the time, and when Hains explained such, the man on the other line explained that he met Cox while the two were in Germany, then said his name was George and that he was staying at a hotel and that he’d like to head out with Cox to eat somewhere. However, Hains’s job at the company required that he take many calls, and he wasn’t sure if the man on the line had called himself George. Less than an hour later a visitor came for Cox at 5:30. He was described as being a fair-haired man with fair complexion who was a little less than six feet tall, weighing about 185 pounds.
When Cox met the visitor he signed off with others under the impression the two were leaving to find a place to dine at, as described over the phone. Notably, Cox had never referred to the visitor by name. The two did not go out to eat, and instead they drank whiskey, as Cox would later admit. When Cox returned he signed in to the departure book before going to sleep, although it is not confirmed, it may have been at this time Cox set back the time in the departure book to make it appear as if he was there and ready for cadet supper formation, when in reality he had missed it. This little detail had gone unnoticed until a couple years after his disappearance, so others who knew of Cox’s and “George’s” experiences would have known that as the only shady or dishonest thing at that time.
Things would take a more interesting turn when Cox talked about “George,” even though he still had not given a name. Cox claimed that George was an army ranger, detailing how he would talk about the slaughter of Germans with glee, and having no problem discussing how he killed a German woman he lived with. Despite this, Cox had arranged to meet “George” again, returning at around 4:30. A week later, Cox seemed to have grown apart with his visitor, commenting on how he hoped the two would not have to meet again. He had even expressed some worry about being a witness in a court-martial regarding the visitor.
On January 14th, however, a cadet witnessed Cox speaking with someone who was a dark-haired rough-looking individual. This description is notably different from the one described a week earlier. That night Cox stated he was going out with the visitor again, despite his earlier comments. His roommates commented on his somewhat disgusted look, thinking that he may have left to just eat out at the hotel. Nobody saw him dining at the hotel, however, and that night Cox had vanished.
Official investigations could not produce much in the way of whereabouts for a couple reasons. For one, while Cox had violated an 11pm curfew, it didn’t raise any suspicions, as it was not uncommon for cadets to return late at night. It went on longer than that, nothing was done even when he was nowhere to be seen by 2:30am. The investigation had begun Sunday morning after the roommates explained everything. One potential lead had not been followed up on, and that was Cox leaving by his own will. Their reason for believing Cox didn’t do it came from the fact that his civilian clothes and $87 were left behind. This was criticized by some later on as they did not consider the fact “George” may have been able to provide necessities if the two left together.
Another significant factor comes from the mysterious George himself. No military record at the time correctly aligned with the given description, service in Germany, and name of George. Hains may have, then, given the wrong name, but it is also possible George was not a soldier at all, and his background was made up. Some have questioned who George is, whether or not he is the man on the phone, the January 7th visitor with light hair, or the darker haired man Cox spoke to on January 14th. With all that considered, it is hard to figure out who to look for specifically. The case has concluded with Cox being declared dead in 1957 without a body or proof of death surfacing.
One theory is that he did leave on his own to start with a new life, regardless of whether “George” was a part of it or not. A common sub-theory of this is that they were secretly a homosexual couple. If this is the case, then it might explain why George could not be found in military records regarding German service. He would have lied about service so as to not raise suspicion, as homosexuality was taboo at the time. The gruesome and brutal tall tales Cox lied about would have added to this, making it seem less like a homosexual affair. And if his roommates were suspicious, Cox expressing that he did not like the visitor would keep up the ruse. It would also explain why Cox never referred to the visitor by name, and that is so that his partner would not be located easily. It is also why Cox left money and clothes behind, as George would be able to provide for the two in some way.
This theory, however, does assume Cox would not be willing to wait for graduation and would be willing to abandon an overall successful academic and athletic career. If this theory is true, then Cox and George are most likely living under new identities.
Another is that Cox got caught up in something he should not have and suffered because of it. This branches into two paths: the first being that George saw or knew something regarding George (Which is why he was worried about the court-martial) and the second being that George was a malicious person who murdered Cox and has, up until this point, gotten away with it. As for the first, Cox could still be alive, but living under a new identity. Whatever he knew would have required a new life, even if he wasn’t the one deciding it. This does assume a great deal about what happened in the past, but nothing suspicious has turned up when his German service was being investigated (Unless that’s just said as a cover-up). As for the second, the identity of George would be a mystery, still. But some speculate that Cox met George out of Germany and knew him in service by some other extent. Regardless, Cox still would have trusted George enough to continue going out with him despite the bad impressions. In this theory, George would have killed Cox and hid his body somewhere.
There is a theory that is not widely believed but may be considered. Some believe that Cox was, for some reason, pulled and recruited into a secret government organization or special force and had to be given a new identity. This would mean that Cox lived a life serving his country proudly but under another name. What he did exactly that was so secret varies from espionage, CIA, and some more top secret Cold War stuff. This theory does not explain much in the way of how Cox was able to sneak out, and if he didn’t need to sneak out of West Point, then what made him so special that he could no longer live a normal life.
In the end these are only theories built off speculation and rumor. In reality there is not evidence pointing in any direction. No bodies have been found, no significant evidence has surfaced, and nobody has come forth claiming to know George, Cox, or to be either one.