Paula Jean Weldon
Paula Jean Weldon was a sophomore at Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont in the fall of 1946. On December 1st, she told her roommate, Elizabeth Johnson, that she was “through with studies; I’m taking a long walk” . Dressed in a red parka coat with a fur lined hood, blue jeans, Top-Sider shoes with thick soles, and a gold Elgin wristwatch with a black band, she made no indication she planned on staying gone for very long.
She was supposed to walk part of Vermont’s Long Trail. Danny Fager, who owned a gas station near the college gates, said he spotted Paula. He said he had seen her run up then down the side of the gravel pit near the entrance of the college around 2:45 P.M.
15 minutes late, Louis Knapp claimed to have picked up a young girl matching Paula’s description on Route 67A and let her out on Route 9, near the Long Trail. Just after 4 P.M., she was spotted by several people in Bickford Hollow, seemingly headed toward the trail.
When Paula did not come home later that night, Elizabeth was not yet worried, and did not warn anyone. The next morning when Paula had still not come back by the next morning, she contacted College President Lewis Webster Jones. Jones then phoned Paula’s parents to ask if she had gone home for the weekened.
Mrs. Welden collapsed with worry. Her father, W. Archibald Welden immediately left the family home in Stamford, Connecticut. He helped organize a massive search party, but their search turned up empty. He then called the New York and Connecticut state police forces, as VT did not have a state police force at the time.
Days passed and Paula was still missing. Then, a waitress in Fall River, Massaschusetts claimed to have served dinner to a “disturbed” women fitting Paula’s description. Strangely, after hearing this, Mr. Welden vanished for 36 hours. After his return, people began to suspect that he had something to do with his daughter’s disappearance. It came to light that Mr. Welden did not approve of a boy Paula had been seeing. He claimed this boyfriend had to be the responsible party, but his only proof came from a clairvoyant. He then began to trash the police for their lack of professionalism and lack of records. Mr. Welden soon returned to his home in Stamford.
Poor weather eventually halted the search for Paula, but 9 years later, a lumberjack came forward saying he knew where her body was buried. After being questioned, he eventually admitted making it up for publicity. Then, in 1968, a skeleton was found. It was later determined it was far too old to be Paula.
There have been many theories as to what happened to Paula that fateful December day. Did she simply get lost in the woods and die in the elements or did she run off with her boyfriend? Or did the so called Bennington Triangle, where 5 people vanished between 1945 and 1950, have something to do with it?
Sadly, as more and more time passes, it seems very unlikely the case of what happened to Paula Jean Welden will ever be solved.