Sunday, July 31, 2011

July 31st 2011 - The Rainwood Incident

This past month I've been busy with work and my social life, but I did manage to squeeze some time in to research some things for Chris and Alex. The first thing I found information on was Rainwood Day Camp & Learning Center, located right across the street from their late friend Greg's home.

Founded in the late 1950s by a Mr. Lawrence Rainwood, the Day Camp was a complex where children would stay during the summer months. It had large dining halls, a full kitchen, craft rooms as well as a large swimming pool. The camp was in operation from the mid 50s until the summer of 1958, when something called the "Rainwood Incident" occurred.

According to police reports dating back to June of 1958 all the way to May of 1960, every single child staying at the Day Camp disappeared on the evening of June 19th, 1958. This coincided with the first double-homicide committed by a serial killer, who was dubbed by the police as "The Tall Man". The murders occurred just two miles from the camp. Many speculated that the disappearances were the work of the Tall Man, though there was no evidence to back this claim. All adults who worked at the camp were institutionalized shortly after the incident, labeled clinically insane by physicians after claiming that a monster came and took the children away.

The largest missing persons case in the history of the State of New Jersey during the 50s, the Rainwood Case became a nation-wide story. For nearly three years, the police searched for the 72 missing children to no avail.

Shortly after the case surfaced in the media, however, it was forgotten. Newspapers no longer talked about it --merely days after the story arose-- and it did not become a media firestorm like so many expected it would become. Despite this, even after the three-year search for the children ended, family members of the missing children continued their search. The children to this day have not been found.

Strangely, just weeks after the Rainwood Incident first occurred there was a fire at the Day Camp. The building suffered a lot of structural damage and all documents in the building, including personal information about the children, were lost. The building was scheduled to be torn down the next year, but instead was bought by an anonymous landlord who refurbished it. It was then in use again from 1965 to 1998, when it was closed again for unknown reasons. The building has been abandoned ever since. 

The history of the Day Camp prior to the Rainwood Incident is very foggy due to the severe lack of documentation, all lost in the fire.

All but one photo, that is.

This mysterious photo resurfaced a few years later, supposedly by a family member of one of the missing children who found it in the debris of the fire. No one knows who took the photo, or why.

Another thing to note about the photo, both striking and startling, is the figure. No one knows who the figure is, or why the photographer did not notice the figure while taking the picture. Some speculate it is a forgery, made by a family member of a missing child to perpetuate the legend of the Tall Man and to pin the disappearances on him in order to re-invigorate the search for the Rainwood children.

The person who resurfaced the photo was given this response by the police:

"The sad truth of the matter is that, after three years, the Rainwood children will most likely never be found. We give our sincerest condolences and heartfelt sympathy to the families of the lost children. As far as the [serial] killer, the Tall Man... that issue is being handled by the federal government. We have our best boys working on that case. He will one day be brought to justice." - Chief of Police, Ronald White

- Daniel