Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

Arthur Frankford

Real Name: Harry Fielding Donaldson
Aliases: Arthur Frankford, James Wallace Ferguson and Andrew E. Kearns
Wanted For: Theft, Fraud, Burglary, Forgery
Missing Since: July 29, 1988


Details: Seventy-seven-year-old Arthur Frankford is known as a "Sweetheart Swindler". He meets and romances women, stealing their hearts and then their possessions. He often targets widows and divorcees who have sizable fortunes. On May 20, 1988, a widow, "Mrs. K", went to a Friday night singles' dance at St. Mary's Church in West Palm Beach, Florida. There, she met Frankford and the two danced with each other all night. Frankford told Mrs. K that he was a geologist who worked for the government in Alaska. He told her that he had just retired after twenty-one years of service. He also claimed that he owned several houses and rental properties in nearby towns. He said that he lived off of that income, in addition to his retirement pay.
Within just a few weeks, Frankford had moved into Mrs. K's home. She was happy because he cooked dinner, went grocery shopping, and cleaned the house for her. A few weeks after moving in, Frankford came to the home, telling her that he had sold one of the rental properties. He apparently was paid in cash and Mrs. K offered to give him the combination to the safe so that he could put the cash in there. At first, he refused that offer. Eventually, he changed his mind and she gave him the combination.
By the end of July, the couple had lived together for one month and their relationship seemed to be going well. While playing cards one night, Frankford asked her if she loved him, and she said yes. He then responded, "Well I guess that means that I can get away with anything". Mrs. K assumed, at that time, that he was talking about the card game.
The next day, July 29, 1988, Mrs. K returned home from work to find the bed unmade, which was unusual as Frankford always made it for her. When she went into the closet, she noticed that all of his clothes were gone; she assumed that he had left her. She found a note he had written, which said "Sorry, things too possessive". Mrs. K then remembered that she had given him the combination to the safe. When she went to open the safe, she discovered that her valuables and jewelry (valued at $4,500) had been stolen. Also missing were several items belonging to her late husband, including his wedding ring, handgun, work ID card, and driver's license renewal form. Despite feeling embarrassed, she immediately contacted the police.
Authorities discovered that Frankford was also wanted for check forgery and burglary. They also learned that at least three other women had been victimized by him. Authorities believe that he may now be with another woman, preparing to steal from her.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the January 11, 1989 episode.

Art Frankford aka Harry Donaldson after his arrest

Results: Captured. Within minutes of the broadcast, some viewers contacted the Unsolved Mysteries call center to say that they recognized Frankford. The first caller said that he was his ex-brother in law. The caller noted that Frankford performs magic tricks; this was a detail not released to the public. The second caller said he was her neighbor in Whitley City, Kentucky under the name James Ferguson. He was arrested at his home by county sheriffs and Kentucky policemen. He had been married for two months.
Police went to search his house and found credit cards and identifications with different aliases and even a gun which belonged to one of his victims. Police also received calls from more women, claiming to be victims of his scams. Ultimately, it was determined that Frankford's real name is Harry Fielding Donaldson. Records show Donaldson was born in 1927 in Iowa, where he did prison time in the 1940s and 1950s for motor vehicle theft and forgery. Donaldson pleaded guilty to fraud and was sentenced to two years in a Florida prison. Donaldson passed away six months after his sentence was completed, July 24, 1998 at age 71. His victim "Mrs. K" passed away in 1993.