The Trail Went Cold – Episode 19 – Artemus Ogletree

January 4, 1935. The nude body of a young man named Roland T. Owen is discovered inside Room 1046 of the Hotel President in Kansas City, Missouri. He has been tied up, beaten and stabbed and dies after being taken to the hospital. It turns out that “Roland T. Owen” is not the victim’s real name and after a mysterious anonymous benefactor sends money for his funeral, he is buried without anyone uncovering his true identity or the story behind his murder. Nearly two years later, a woman in Alabama recognizes the victim as her missing son, Artemus Ogletree, but then reveals that she was receiving letters from him months after he was murdered! In this week’s episode of “The Trail Went Cold”, I shall examine the “Mystery of Room 1046”, one of the most bizarre stories we’ve ever featured on this podcast.

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The Trail Went Cold is produced and edited by Magill Foote.

All music is composed by Vince Nitro.

13 thoughts on “The Trail Went Cold – Episode 19 – Artemus Ogletree

  • I grew up in Jonesboro, Arkansas which is in the northeast section about a 50 minute drive from Memphis and 2 hours from Little Rock. There is a small town of Egypt, AR not too far from us. In addition there is a township of Cairo, AR about 45 minutes north of Little Rock which in the 1930s would have been an actual town so perhaps they were referencing places a little closer to places we know he’s been?

    • Ah, I didn’t know that, that’s an interesting possibility. However, I’m still inclined to think they wanted to give off the impression that Artemus went to Cairo, Egypt, so that his family would believe he was as far away as possible. But the caller could have used the name of that township as inspiration for his Cairo story.

    • Roland T. Owen. That was my mistake, as there was some confusion with his name on some of the sources I used. I’m going to re-record the lines on the podcast where I call him “Roland T. Shaw” the moment I get to a microphone.

  • I’m wondering about the mysterious woman who allegedly went to Ogletree’s room. I agree with you that it sounds like she was a prostitute. I wonder if she was hired by the murderer to see if Ogletree was in the room at the time. Ogletree was traveling light, used an alias, left the phone off the hook, and may have left the hotel, using the stairs to avoid detection in the elevator. It sounds like he was keeping a low profile, maybe hiding from somebody. Of course, this doesn’t explain his communications with “Don”; I’m not sure how “Don” fits into this. Anyway, since he was taking steps to be undetected, the murderer may have had to send someone who would not be suspected to see if it was really Ogletree. She may not have known she was assisting the murderer and may have thought someone hired her to see his buddy or something.

    Alternatively, if this was a jilted lover scenario, she may have been sent to see if he would cheat on his lover with a prostitute. Given the short amount of time she was up there, I would assume that he either did not open the door or did not accept her services. However, this did not seem to convince the murderer, since they killed Ogletree anyway. I think her second appearance was likely to be a client, after she struck out with Ogletree. What do you think?

    • I considered the possibility that someone hired a professional prostitute as a “test” to see if Artemus would cheat on his fiancee. The problem is that the woman never specifically stated she was going to Room 1046, so I have a feeling she’s nothing more than a red herring. However, nothing would surprise me with this case.

  • My gut feeling is that the story about the victim cheating on or jilting someone’s sister was completely made up, just like the Cairo story, and there wasn’t any actual sister. That sounds like someone making up a somewhat narcissistic lie portraying himself as the honorable one, or making his actions about honor. But I doubt it was at all. This had more to do with some kind of criminal activity, and perhaps combined with a sexual motive (a teenager, nudity and bondage). Artemus could have been a prostitute himself

  • Thanks for including the bit about “Don Kelso” Robin. Most true crime podcasts leave it out entirely because it sucks the wind out of their sails as far as done 3 of the mystery goes, but everyone wants to have all the information, and it’s nice to get a complete picture from you. Always appreciated.

    The only real questions that leaves me are “what did Ogletree do to get killed?” The calls to the funeral home afterwards certainly lend credence to the idea that Don overreacted and killed Ogletree over jilting his sister that his sister, but his sister didn’t want him killed for that…. But it’s also entirely possible that the death is more directly related to dope dealing or some other shady business. We’ll never really know at this point unless the relative who called the library steps up.

    In any case, fantastic podcast.

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