Real Name: Clifford Edward Sherwood
Location: Montreal, Canada
Date: October 21, 1954
Bio[edit | edit source]
Occupation: Minor (at time of disappearance)
Date of Birth: March 30, 1945
Weight: 65 pounds
Marital Status: Unrevealed
Characteristics: White male. Brown hair; brown eyes.
Case[edit | edit source]
Details: Nine-year-old Clifford Sherwood is the son of Frances and Nephi "Tex" Sherwood. In 1951, Nephi walked out on her, taking their four daughters with him. She became a rarity for her time period: a single working mother, raising Clifford alone in Montreal. On October 21, 1954, Clifford left for school and vanished. Although decades have passed, Frances still lives in the same house, hoping that he will come home one day. His disappearance is the oldest registered missing child case in Canada. The investigation into the case ended years ago, with the assumption to he was dead. However, Frances is convinced that he is alive and that Tex was responsible for his disappearance.
Tex and Frances met in 1940 while he was stationed with the Canadian Army in Ontario. They were married less than a year. When they met, he was very nice. However, everything changed when they got married. Over the next five years, they had five children: four daughters and Clifford. As the children grew older, the marriage began to disintegrate. According to Frances, Tex would go out drinking with his friends until 10pm. When he returned home, he expected his dinner to still be on the table. When it wasn't, he would beat her and accuse her of infidelity.
Frances stayed with Tex for the children's sake. She hoped that he would get better, but that never occurred. In 1950, she became pregnant again. In her fifth month, she was admitted to the hospital after suffering from a serious abscess. Because of complications, the doctor advised her that she should terminate the pregnancy. On January 1, 1951, she did so; Tex left her because of it. On the day she was released from the hospital, he bought her a one-way ticket to Montreal to stay with her mother. He had already sent Clifford there. Before leaving, he allowed their daughter, Colleen, to say goodbye to her.
While Frances was on her way to Montreal, Tex packed up their four daughters and took them 3000 miles away to Vancouver, British Columbia. Four months later, they were placed in foster care, where they would remain for the rest of their childhoods. Tex was often away from home and left them in the custody of a housekeeper who was arrested for drug addiction. Meanwhile, on the other side of Canada, Frances was raising Clifford on her own. Tex, however, was not completely out of their lives. He visited often and she allowed him to take Clifford during the visits.
On the day Clifford disappeared, he left home early in the morning as usual. While walking to school, he ran into his best friend, Butch. They were soon joined by another friend, George Gumbly. As they walked to school, George and Clifford stopped to talk about something. They then told Butch to go ahead and that they'll meet him at school. They never arrived and were never seen again. By 8pm, where Clifford still had not returned, Frances called the police. However, they told her that they couldn't do anything until 48 hours had passed.
Frances searched the neighborhood but found no trace of Clifford. The police speculated that he and George had probably run away from home. However, she did not believe it. One year after they vanished, the police called Frances after finding the lower torso of an unidentified young boy about 100 miles from Montreal. They asked her to come to the morgue and sign a statement saying that the remains were Clifford's. After being given their description, she had a "feeling" that they were not his. She did not sign the statement.
Frances believed that Tex was responsible for Clifford's disappearance. When questioned by police, he claimed that he had no knowledge of his whereabouts. For the next eight years, he maintained contact with his four daughters. It was obvious, however, that Clifford was not to be discussed. According to Colleen, he would immediately drop the subject. If they tried to bring it up again, he would get "wild" and smash TVs and walls in anger. In 1962, he completely dropped from sight.
Fourteen years later in 1976, Tex resurfaced in a run down hotel in Chilliwack, British Columbia. When Colleen visited him, she made an unsettling discovery: he was registered under the name "Edward Thorne". He then told her that he had been using that name in order to get into the military. He claimed that he wanted to serve in World War I, but he was only fourteen at the time. He used his neighbor's name and birth date to register. He claimed that he had to continue using the name because of his VVA pension.
In 1987, Tex passed away without ever revealing what he may have known about Clifford's whereabouts. Frances and Colleen believe that he may have used his double life to create a new identity for Clifford. Four years after he died, Colleen was looking through old pictures when she found two that stood out to her. One was of Clifford and Tex; it appeared to her that he was older that nine in it. Another was of him alone. Frances did not recognize the clothes that he was wearing. She also felt that he looked older in the pictures. She believes that they were taken between six months and a year after he vanished.
Colleen contacted the Department of Veteran Affairs, but was not allowed to examine Tex's file. When she glanced over at a computer print-out of the document, she noticed that he had written down that he never married or had any children. Since she could not prove that "Edward Thorne" was him, she was not allowed to view his military records. They will remain sealed until 2006, twenty years after his death.
Clifford's family still hopes to find out what happened to him. One interesting footnote to the case was that a driver's license had been issued to a man named Edward Clifford Sherwood in Edmonton, Alberta with the same birth date as Clifford's: March 30, 1945. However, when police tried to locate him, he had left town without leaving a forwarding address. Sadly, neither Clifford nor George have ever been found.
Suspects: Frances believes that Tex was responsible for Clifford's disappearance. He was reportedly abusive towards her and wanted to have control over their children. Following Clifford's disappearance, he refused to speak about him. He would become violent if the subject was brought up.
Years after Clifford vanished, Tex dropped from sight without explanation. Over a decade after that, his daughter, Colleen, discovered that he had been living under the alias "Edward Thorne". The Sherwoods believe that he used his double life to create a new identity for Clifford. A few years after his death, Colleen found photographs of Clifford that appear to show him at an older age. A relative also recalled Tex saying that he had met with Clifford years after he vanished.
It is important to note, however, that investigators do not consider Tex a suspect in the case. He was able to prove that he was on the West Coast of Canada when they disappeared; he was ruled out as a suspect.
Shortly after the boys vanished, witnesses reported seeing them hitchhiking in the Vaudreuil area. It has been suggested that they may have been killed by someone who picked them up or that they voluntarily disappeared.
In 1955, a year after they vanished, police received an anonymous letter claiming that their case was related to the disappearance of a middle-aged female florist who lived in Verdun at the time. They apparently worked for her as messengers. All had apparently been seen together shortly before they all disappeared. Her name and further details about her connection to the case are not known.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the October 7, 1992 episode. For unknown reasons, George's disappearance was only briefly mentioned in the segment.
Results: Unsolved. After the broadcast, there were reported sightings of Clifford in the United States. However, they were never confirmed. In 2006, Tex's military records became public property, but no information about Clifford was found. However, it was discovered that Tex's real name was actually Edward Walter Thorne. Also, it was discovered that he had been married to another woman before Frances and had four children with her. Sadly, Frances passed away in January 2009 after searching for Clifford for over 50 years. She was ninety years old. Colleen passed away in 2003. If Clifford is still alive, he would be seventy-five years old.
George's relatives have stated that they believe he and Clifford may have accidentally drowned in a lake about a mile from their homes. It was a popular fishing spot for children in the area. They also speculated that the boys may have fallen into the St. Lawrence River, which was also nearby. However, no trace of them has ever been found and the cases remain unsolved.
- Clifford Sherwood at the Doe Network
- Police Given Clue to Lost Verdun Boys
- Forty-year-old missing child case has a Chilliwack connection
- Mom's forty-year vigil - waiting for her lost son
- Parental abductions decrease in 2001
- Mother held out hope for her missing son
- Edward Thorne (Tex Sherwood) on Find a Grave
- Post by Clifford's Niece
- SitcomsOnline Discussion of Clifford and George (includes comments from George's cousin)