Real Name: Camilla Lyman (birth name), Cam Lyman (legal name)
Nicknames: Cam Lyman
Location: Hopkinton, Rhode Island
Date: July 1987
Details: Cam Lyman (born Camilla Lyman) was a wealthy heir(ess) who was born as a woman in 1932. His parents were old money Boston aristocrats. He shared his father Arthur's passion for show dogs, becoming popular in the show dog world. According to his sister, Mary, he was a good handler and a good breeder of clumber spaniels. He never dated or married; his dogs were his life. A solitary recluse, he lived with his parents on their hundred-acre estate. However, Arthur died in 1968, and when his mother died five years later, his world seemed to fall apart with his behavior became more and more bizarre.
Starting in the mid-1970s, Mary noticed that the estate was not being taken care of properly. Cam became an eccentric and spent more time with his dogs than with people. His appearance began to change as well. He bought animal steroids and began taking them himself. His voice deepened, he began to develop facial hair, and he began wearing men's clothing. Between 1978 and 1985, he underwent transitioning from his birth identity to being a man, legally changing his name to Cam Lyman.
Around 1981, Cam started to associate with a fellow dog owner named George O'Neil. O'Neil was eventually hired by Cam, becoming the caretaker of his estate. He took care of paying Cam's bills and arranged rides to dog shows. O'Neil also fed and showed his dogs. Eventually, he became Cam's sole confidant with Cam associating with no one else but O'Neil. Meanwhile, Cam continued to become more eccentric, carrying a briefcase with thousands of dollars worth of jewelry. He also took thousands of dollars in cash to go to the grocery store.
In 1984, O'Neil helped Cam sell his Massachusetts home and buy a 40-acre property in Hopkinton, Rhode Island. Eventually, Cam vanished sometime in 1987; his disappearance was discovered when his friends and family failed to receive his customary Christmas cards from him. His family was especially concerned because checks that had been sent to him were being endorsed with an account number for a bank account in Rhode Island instead of his signature. In December 1988, they contacted the police and reported him missing; they also contacted the law firm in charge of the Lyman trust. They hired Charles Allen to investigate the disappearance.
Allen discovered that O'Neil had been depositing Cam's trust fund checks. He was surprised to find that O'Neil held Cam's power of attorney. He was also Cam's sole beneficiary and stood to inherit his estate. O'Neil was asked about Cam, who was not concerned about his disappearance, claiming that he had done it before. He also claimed that in July 1987 he and Cam had an argument over the phone about the dogs. The next day, O'Neil went to Cam's house and found the phone ripped out of the wall and the dogs unattended. He never saw Cam again.
O'Neil claims he believed that Cam had gone to Europe to undergo a sex-change operation, but gave no reason as to why he thought this or why he neglected to inform anybody about Cam's disappearance. Meanwhile, O'Neil acted in a suspicious manner, refusing police to search Cam's property, showing Cam's dogs as his own and cashing checks coming in for Cam and keeping the money for himself. Much of Cam's net worth, from bank accounts to family heirlooms, had disappeared. This was between $3 and $5 million. Allen did not believe that Cam would have gone to Europe for the operation because he was afraid of even going to the doctor or dentist. Mary does not believe that he would ever leave his beloved dogs behind.
In December 1994, Cam's family asked the probate court to declare him legally dead. The judge did so in July 1995. She noted that she did not believe O'Neil was credible and was suspicious of him. In 1997, a new police chief reopened the case and began searching Cam's property. On September 24, 1997, his remains were found in the septic tank near his home by Greg Siner, who had bought the property and lived there. He located the remains after noticing a strange smell from the sewer. Coincidentally, investigators were searching other parts of the property at that time. In October 1998, dental records confirmed that the remains belonged to Cam. The medical examiner concluded that he had been murdered, probably around the time he disappeared. His murder remains unsolved.
Suspects: George O'Neil is the prime suspect in Cam's disappearance and death. His actions prior to and following the disappearance were extremely suspicious. He never reported Cam missing or told his family about his disappearance. He also became Cam's sole beneficiary and would inherit the estate. After his disappearance, O'Neil began showing Cam's dogs as his own. He also cashed Cam's checks and kept the money for himself. Finally, he refused to let investigators search Cam's property, where his remains would later be found.
Other suspects in the case include: O'Neil's cohort, Robert Ragosta, who is also Cam's attorney; and John and Judy Weekes, caretakers on Cam's property.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the June 11, 1999 episode.
Every effort has been made in this bio to respect Cam/Camilla's sexual identity; no further editing or vandalizing of this bio should be attempted without further contacting the editors of this Wikia site.
Results: Unsolved. After the broadcast, investigators received several leads from viewers. One viewer was an associate of Cam's who knew about goings-on at his estate. Charles Allen noted that this information "could be a break in the case". It is unknown what the information was or how it may have helped the case.
In 2003, a grand jury indicted O'Neil for embezzling $15,000 from Cam's trust. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to just one year probation and fined $450 for court costs. Later, when asked by a report about Cam, he said "She's dead. I don't know anything about it." Unfortunately, he died in 2011 without ever revealing anything else he may have known about the case.
Sadly, Cam's sister, Mary, passed away in 2018 at the age of ninety-one.
- Cam Lyman on Unsolved Archive
- Cam Lyman on Wikipedia
- Millionaire dog lover’s disappearance is still a mystery - December 28, 1994
- Mystery Shrouds Millionaire's Disappearance - December 30, 1994
- Did Cam Lyman die - or just change her sex? - December 31, 1994
- Body found at R.I. estate may be that of eccentric heiress - September 26, 1997
- Curious chief reopened millionaire mystery - September 27, 1997
- Strange happenings puzzle Rhode Island authorities - December 25, 1997
- Skeleton in septic tank gives new life to probe - December 27, 1997
- The strange case of the millionaire transvestite - December 27, 1997
- Death of an heiress - December 28, 1997
- Septic tank gives clue to heiress's death - January 2, 1998
- Skeleton in the Septic Tank Reopens Mystery of Missing Millionaire - January 11, 1998
- Missing Heiress's Remains Identified, But Puzzle Lingers - October 16, 1998
- Camilla Lyman can finally rest in peace - October 17, 1998
- A year after discovery, millionaire identified - October 18, 1998
- A soul finds rest after ten years - October 18, 1998
- Museum is at center of case of murdered heiress - December 16, 1998
- Murder still a mystery - January 20, 2002
- Man Pleads Innocent to Embezzlement - March 12, 2002
- The Strange Case of Cam Lyman - October 20, 2016
- Websleuths Discussion on Cam's case
- Cam Lyman on Find a Grave