Real Name: Unknown
Case: Lost Heirs
Location: Portland, Oregon
Details: In 1941, Katherine met a soldier named Gilbert Bennett and they were married six months later. After the war, they moved to Portland, Oregon, where he worked as a photographer; she was often the subject of his photographs. They would often go fishing in the Pacific Northwest and usually spent all of their free time together.
In 1980, after thirty-eight years of marriage, Gilbert passed away. Katherine told his relatives that she had none and was raised in a Catholic orphanage. Eventually, she lost contact with them as well. She became an eccentric recluse and rarely left her home. In June 1990, she passed away at the age of eighty.
After no biological relatives could be found, representatives of the Oregon Department of State Lands went to Katherine's house to find anything of value, a will, or any heirs. It was in a great state of disrepair, with garbage and other items cluttering it. They found that with social security checks, rare coins, money from bank accounts, and the house, altogether she had an estate of over $125,000. Without a will, it goes to her closest surviving relative.
However, little is certain about Katherine's past to determine who her relatives might be. What is known is that she was born in 1910 in Kansas City, Kansas, and that she told her in-laws that she grew up in a Catholic orphanage after the death of her parents. However, a document from 1945 (three years after her marriage) said that her father died before she was born but that her mother was still alive and married to someone named "Joseph Fabac". It also stated that she had a brother named Martin Juratovich.
Before her marriage, Katherine went by "Katherine Juratovich" but in Gilbert's family Bible, her maiden name is "Bernard". With all of the conflicting information, it has been difficult for the Oregon Department of State Lands to locate any known heirs.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the March 18, 1992 episode.
Results: Solved. A distant relative of Katherine's eventually came forward and received half of the money from her estate. No other relatives came forward, so the remaining money went to the Oregon State Treasury.
Research has indicated further parts of Katherine's childhood. She was born Katherine Juratovich in Austria on May 2, 1910 to Barbara Juratovich, and her father died likely before she was born. Around 1912, Barbara immigrated to the United States and met Joseph "Joe" Fabac in Kansas City, Kansas. His previous wife, Katherine, had died in 1916 and left him to raise their four children. He and Barbara married on July 4, 1917 in Kansas City. Katherine and her brother, Martin, immigrated to the United States in 1924. By 1935, she was in Kansas City, Missouri where she might have met Gilbert, who was also living there. Joe died in 1951 and Barbara died a year later in 1952. Martin died in 1968. All three are buried at Mount Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Kansas City, Kansas.
- Katherine Bennett on Find a Grave
- Gilbert Bennett on Find a Grave
- Joe Fabac on Find a Grave
- Barbara Juratovich-Fabac on Find a Grave
- Martin Juratovich on Find a Grave
- Katherine Bennett on FamilySearch