Art 'Golden Boy' Aragon on the ropes
Woman vanishes with family 'fortune'
We don't know when Stella Collins started lying. Maybe it was in 1940, when she married Stanley. Or maybe it was later. We don't know why she started lying and we certainly don't know how she continued the act all those years. We don't even know how she got to Los Angeles. The only thing we know is that when Stanley finally learned the truth, the meek little man erupted in rage.
Stanley, 42, Stella , 41, and their two daughters lived with her parents in Philadelphia. For the last 18 years, they had lived on what she made as a waitress while banking everything Stanley earned as a welder. Whenever life was difficult, perhaps they took consolation in the knowledge that someday there would be enough money to buy a house of their own.
As far as Stanley knew, their nest egg was growing nicely in two Philadelphia banks until it reached $18,000 ($127,729.92 USD 2008). Then one day in the summer of 1958, it came time to buy their dream house. Stella went to get draw out their money--and vanished.
Police officers found her at 5th and Hill with no idea how she got to Los Angeles.
The Times' Jerry Hulse wrote:
She stared blankly through horn-rim glasses, words trembling on her thin, pale lips.
"I don't know," she answered softly. "I don't know."
She touched her straight, dark blond hair. "I've been trying to figure it out. I don't know how I got to Los Angeles."
"The only thing I remember is a man asking me, 'Are you sick?' I said I was. I was sick. This man called the police."
Could she remember her husband? Or her daughters?
"All I can remember is one daughter. That's all."
Reporters met Stanley at the airport at 2 a.m. Did he need a ride to the city jail? The newsmen happily offered to take him.
During the drive, "he rested his stubbly chin in his hands and sighed in weary bewilderment," The Times said.
"I don't know what happened to the money," he said. "I'd been giving her my paychecks since we were married. She told me we had $18,000 in the bank, but she told my mother there was only $10,000.
"She must have been playing the ponies. I can't understand it. It hit me right between the eyes when I found out the money was missing."
But when the mild little welder from Philadelphia saw his wife, he erupted.
"He flailed out with a suitcase and tried to hit a photographer between the eyes," The Times said.
"Hide! Hide!" he screamed to his wife as she stepped off the jail elevator.
Pulling his coat up over his face, he ran toward her but in his excitement, he went past her.
Stanley Collins of Philadelphia, still shielding himself with his coat, grabbed Stella by the arm and dragged her outside to catch a taxi to the airport as he punched and kicked at reporters.
After boarding the plane, "Stanley Collins, exhausted and discouraged, stared numbly out the window," The Times said.
All that was left of the mythical $18,000 was $2.67 ($18.95 USD 2007) that Stella had in her purse when she was picked up.