West Point… If you live in New York, there’s a good chance that you’ve probably already heard of this military academy located in our Downstate region. While this particular military academy has some pretty significant names tied to its history, one name you may not be so familiar with is Richard Colvin Cox. On January 14th, 1950, the 21-year-old cadet went missing from West Point – the only person to ever completely vanish from this New York academy. So, what exactly happened here?
First, let's go over some of Richard Cox's background...
After attending high school in Mansfield, Ohio during Wold War II, as soon Richard Cox graduated in June of 1945, he instantly enrolled in the Army. Working his way up to the top of his class, Cox was said to be considered great soldier material.
On June 7th, we have our first strange incident occur.
A fellow cadet of Richard Cox answers a phone at West Point Military Academy, only to find a strange man's voice waiting for him on the other end of the telephone. The caller, who claimed his name was George, asked if a man by the name of Richard Cox was at the academy and told him to relay a message to the cadet for him. "George" told the cadet him and Cox knew each other from their tour in Germany, and that he would be staying at the nearby Hotel Thayer, interested in buying his old friend dinner.
When Cox is told of the message left through the phone call, he carelessly dismisses it, saying he doesn't recall any German war buddies by the name of George.
Less than an hour after the mysterious phone call takes place, a man shows up to West Point requesting to see Richard Cox. While it was not unusual for the cadets to have visitors, the man asking to see Cox had blonde hair and a significant tan. Considering that this all took place in New York during one of its winter months, the overall appearance of the stranger was odd.
While the person running the front desk at the time never asked for the man's name, witnesses say that as soon as Richard Cox saw the visitor, he immediately recognized him and the two shook hands.
Besides the academy's mess hall, Hotel Thayer was the only other place any cadet at West Point was allowed to dine. Signing out to go have a supposed dinner, the two friends never actually made it to the hotel. After arriving back to West Point considerably intoxicated, Cox explained to his roommates that his friend forced him to drink in his car and reported that the man went on to tell out-of-the-normal stories that made Cox feel uncomfortable.
After going back to his room, the cadet's roommates explained that later that evening after Cox had fallen asleep studying, he was abruptly woken up by the academy's bugle, signaling lights out.
While no one enjoys being woken up by a loud horn, especially not after a night of unusual drinking, the events that happened next were a bit puzzling. Leaping from his bed, Cox ran over to the nearby stairwell and is believed to have shouted "Alles Kaput!" While onlookers originally thought the cadet shouted the name Alice, the German phrase overheard actually translates to "all is over" or "everything broken." Creepy!
The following day when his roommates questioned him about the strange happenings of the previous night, he went on to speak of his strong dislike for "George."
Richard Cox told his roommates that "George," a man he was never extremely close with, had come off very strange and spoke of impregnating a German girl and then later murdering her. This was clearly not the most appropriate topic for a couple of old buddies to catch up over.
Oddly enough, the next day after these series of strange events took place, "George" once again showed up to West Point to visit with Cox.
It may come across as a bit bizarre to hang out with some man you claim to have barely known and spoke of terrible stories the entire time you reconnected, but Richard Cox' friends claim he was merely trying to get rid of some of his "it's winter and I've been cooped up inside for too long" boredom. Cue the part where I think of 900 other things I'd rather do than hang out with a creepy stranger. Eek!
On June 14th, just a week later, we have another string of peculiar events take place at West Point.
Near the east entrance of the academy, Cox was seen speaking to an unknown man. Quick to jump to the conclusion that the man seen speaking with Cox was "George," the witness explained that he saw the cadet speaking with a dark-haired, pale male. So, who was this second mysterious man Cox had been seen with? To this day no one knows.
Later that evening, Cox tells fellow cadets he is going to meet a friend for dinner, but never specifies who.
While it's true the cadet signed out of West Point, strangely no one actually
saw him leave. Fully dressed in his military attire, no one in the surrounding area or at West Point could ever recall seeing the noticeably dressed Richard Cox on the night of the 14th.
After being reported missing the following morning, over the next several weeks an extensive search for the missing cadet took place.
Eventually calling in the help of the state police and FBI, the people of West Point quite literally left no stone unturned in hopes of finding the 21-year-old cadet. Determined to find the missing man, one of the nearby ponds was fully emptied, taking over two weeks to drain. Wow!
For the two months following the disappearance of Richard Cox, his name was shouted every night at roll call only to be eerily met by a reoccurring and saddening silence.
In 1986, after a retired teacher began a personal quest to find out what happened to the only person to ever vanish from West Point Military Academy, a tip was received from a detective in California. The detective went on to say that through an anonymous tip, he was able to find out that Richard Cox and a man formerly known as Robert Dion had been stationed at Fort Knox together. The man known as Robert Dion coincidentally matched all the descriptions of the man going by "George." Another unsettling fact found out? The two friends had apparently been involved in a fake ID scandal that took place in New York.
So, what are the rumored theories as to what happened to the missing cadet?
Over the years, discussed through whispers, many began to speculate on what happened to Richard Cox and how he managed to vanish without any trace. Some believe the man going by "George" was really his buddy Robert, and that he ran off with him that night to start a new life outside of the military. Never actually proven true, some said the cadet had relationships with other cadets and his sexuality caused him to grow a distaste for the military academy, knowing it would interfere with his career.
Other wild theories said to be true?
If you don't believe that Cox was feeling pressured by the engagement to his hometown sweetheart Betty and ran off with a new identity to start a different life, then these theories may interest you! Many speculate that the cadet actually secretly joined the CIA and died of cancer back in 1999, no one ever having known his new alias. Could the unidentified man seen at the east entrance on the 14th have been from the CIA? Others stories also told are that he had some connection to the year-later West Point cheating scandal or that he had even been transported to a Siberian prison as espionage punishment.
While no one from Richard Cox's family ever heard from the cadet again, there were allegedly later sightings of the missing man.
At a Washington D.C. bus station in 1954, a man who knew Richard Cox from the army allegedly ran into the flustered soldier. Not knowing he had been declared a missing person, the friend said the two spoke but that Cox was clearly unhappy to see him and that he quickly ended their conversation. Another alleged sighting was made just four years later in 1960, by an undercover FBI agent. The agent said he met a man who was going by the name R.C. Mansfield but later told the undercover agent that his real name was Richard Cox. While later attempts were made to make contact the man again, the FBI agent unfortunately never heard from him.
After reading about this incredibly strange unsolved mystery, what do you think happened to the only man to ever vanish from West Point Military Academy? Find us on our Facebook page,
New York Only and tell us in the comments below if you’ve ever heard of this unusual story! If you’re still curious to learn more about the events surrounding this cadets disappearance, check out this book written about the mystery of the missing West Point cadet.