Real Name: Unrevealed
Case: Lost Heirs
Location: Sacramento, California
Date: May 8, 1987
Details: Seventy-six-year-old Charles "Charlie" Scheel ran a newspaper stand for twenty-five years on the corner of 10th & K streets in Sacramento, California. He worked seven days a week, even on holidays. While there, he became friends with everyone in his community. However, on the morning of May 8, 1987, he failed to open his stand. Police were called to do a welfare check; they discovered that he had died of a heart attack in his tiny hotel room. For years, he had lived in $150-a-month room at the Golden Hotel, which was a half block from his stand. As the authorities searched his room for information about his relatives, they realized he had in his possession more than $67,000 in a white paper sack.
Unfortunately, no one knew much about Charlie. After his death, a search began for his closest heirs. A search of his past revealed no clues to his family. He was friends with quite a few people, but he rarely socialized with anyone about his family members. Ray Turner, manager at a bank next to the stand, brought coffee and doughnuts to Charlie every day for twelve years. However, he knew little about Charlie, including his last name.
On May 7, the day before he was found dead, Charlie left the stand around 11am and got lunch at McDonalds. He went to the hotel with his lunch, which he shared with manager Linda Jenssen. She was one of the last people to see him alive. She recalled that he was a loner who did not talk about his background or where he came from. She noted that he normally stayed to himself, eating his lunch by himself in his room. However, she also noted that he was a dependable, kind man.
After Charlie's death, investigators searched his room for any other clues that could lead to his family. The only personal belongings found were a pen knife, some keys, and six photographs of Charlie. It is not known who took the pictures; it is speculated that the photographer may have clues about Charlie's past.
Investigators have discovered that Charlie did not have a birth certificate, driver's license, bank account, or social security number. They also do not know where he was born. Furthermore, they are not sure if his birth date is accurate. The date placed him at seventy-six years old. However, he told friends that he was fifty-eight. The only clues to his identity were that he apparently had a sister in the Eastern United States and was formally a boxer in the Navy.
Today, a marker commemorates the place where Charlie's stand once rested.
Extra Notes: This segment was featured as part of the February 5, 1988 episode. It was excluded from Amazon Prime episodes.
Results: Solved. In November 1987, heir investigator John March learned from one of Charlie's customers that he may have originally been from Pennsylvania. They traced him to Pittsburgh, where they discovered that he had been arrested for disturbing the peace and deserting his wife in March 1957. Through this arrest record and other sources, they learned that he was from Sharon, Pennsylvania, and had married forty-year-old divorcee Mary Agnes Wysokie in December 1956. They also discovered that he had a daughter, Jacquelyn Sweet, who was born in 1957. For unknown reasons, he abandoned her and her mother before her birth and moved to California. He never contacted them again.
Strangely, after leaving for California, he also never contacted his parents again. However, he did stay in contact with and visited several cousins (he had twenty-two in total). His cousins had no idea that he was married or had a daughter. Finally, it was discovered that Charlie was born on March 30, 1928, and was fifty-nine when he died, not seventy-six as records indicated in San Francisco.
Mary Agnes died in 1987, a few weeks before Charlie. Jacquelyn received about three-quarters of his estate. She and her husband used the money to buy a new house for them and their three children. She has since got in contact with Charlie's relatives. She also traveled to San Francisco to meet his friends and learn more about him.
- Street vendor leaves behind bag of money - May 16, 1987
- Vender dies with $67,000 - May 16, 1987
- Frugal newsstand operator leaves $67,000 in paper bag - May 16, 1987
- News vendor's cash - May 16, 1987
- Man Left $67,000 Cash In Paper Sack - May 18, 1987
- He was a mystery man: News vendor had secret past - January 25, 1988
- Cash can't buy memories of father - July 26, 1988
- Dad left $67000 but no memories - July 26, 1988
- News Vendor Had Secret Past - November 30, 2006
- 7 of the Freakiest ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ Set in the SF Bay Area - October 24, 2016
- SitcomsOnline Discussion of Charlie Scheel (includes articles)
- Charlie Scheel at Find a Grave