Real Name: Ray Curtis Hickingbotham Jr.
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: Arlington, Virginia
Date: October 14, 1947
Occupation: U.S. Army
Date of Birth: 1920
Marital Status: Married
Characteristics: Caucasian male
Details: Lt. Ray Hickingbotham was a decorated war hero after World War II. After the war, he, his wife, Dorothy, and their daughter, Carol, settled in the Vint Hill Farms Army Station outside of Arlington, Virginia. With the Cold War beginning, Ray was reassigned to Army Intelligence monitoring radio operations as a code-breaker in a group later acclimated into the CIA.
Ray often worked long, hard hours as a result of his new assignment. In late summer 1947, he was transferred to another top secret group at the Arlington Hall Intelligence Station. He did not tell Dorothy about his new assignment. She noticed that he was becoming more tense and tired, not paying much attention to her or Carol.
Three weeks later, Dorothy and Carol went on a two-week visit to her parents on Long Island; Ray did not go with them. When Dorothy called their Arlington apartment, she was told that he had gone on leave. A former neighbor discovered that a military moving crew had cleaned out and packed up their belongings.
Two weeks later, a moving van showed up at Dorothy's parents' home. There was not a single item in the boxes and trunks that belonged to Ray. A month later, a man claiming to be from the army visited Dorothy and told her that on October 14, 1947, Ray had been classified AWOL. Thirty days later, he was dropped from the military rolls and classified as a deserter. The man, however, could not tell her anything else. She later tried to contact him, but the army said that they had never heard of him. After this, she and Carol lost all their military benefits as a result, struggling to make ends meet.
Years later, Carol moved to Oklahoma and became a private detective, rejoining relatives and families. Most of her clients are children looking for parents, which is ironically similar to her situation. She has refused to give up on her own search. In 1979, she requested and later received Ray's military records under the Freedom of Information Act. She was surprised to find that no investigation had taken place into his disappearance. When she went to the media about it, it reportedly rattled cages at the CIA.
Three hours after a newspaper article about Ray appeared in an Arlington newspaper, Carol received an intriguing call. The informant called himself Archangel and claimed that Ray had been investigating leaks about atomic energy and an attempt had been made on his life. His death had been staged in order for him to go underground. The informant claimed that he lived in Washington D.C. for years before going to live in a NATO company under another name. His name is now "Nelson" and the country he lives in has high mountains, crystal clear lakes, and a long-time democracy. The informant could not say anything else to Carol and has never called back.
Carol is unsure if the information is genuine, or if it was fabricated by a person trying to give her false hopes. To this day, she and her son, Ian, are still searching for the truth.
Suspects: There are no known suspects in this case nor an identity for Archangel.
Ray's family suspects that he may have been killed on a secret mission in Asia or Europe. A former CIA operative did state that there had been several cases where military personnel died mysteriously or disappeared and their families were not told the truth by the army.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the January 17, 1990 episode.
Some sources spell his last name as "Hickenbotham".
Results: Unsolved. After the broadcast, the telecenter received over 250 tips relating to this case. Two of the calls received were from men claiming to be former CIA members. They gave information similar to what Carol received from Archangel in his call. However, it is not known if either one was ever confirmed to be him. Interestingly, the FBI requested transcripts from the calls that the telecenter received about this case.
When this case was reaired in June 1990, a tipster from New Hampshire contacted the telecenter, claiming that Ray was alive and living in South America. He claimed to have seen the picture of Carol and her parents on Ray's wall in his South American home. However, it is not known if this information was ever confirmed.
Sadly, Carol passed away in 2014, and in her obituary, Ray was listed as pre-deceasing her. However, it is not known if his true fate was ever determined.
- Ray Hickingbotham on Unsolved.com
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- Ray Hickingbotham and Carol Solstad on Find a Grave