Solved with no body: The case of Evelyn Scott
The greater Los Angeles area conjures up a certain image in our minds — lush lifestyles led and enjoyed by wealthy, influential and often famous people. But as we discussed in my recent video on the Chillingworths, power and influence often have huge drawbacks. Let’s talk about Evelyn Scott, who hasn’t been seen or heard from in over sixty years.
early life/marriage to Ewing Scott
Evelyn Throsby was born on May 11, 1892. She had a brother named Raymond, but not much information on her early life is readily available.
Over the years, Evelyn tried to find love, like many people, but seemed to have a bit of trouble with it. Her first two marriages ended in divorce, and both a third and fourth left her widowed. With her last two husbands, however, she did inherit a substantial amount of money upon their deaths. Sources vary on just how much Evelyn’s estate was worth; some said it was $250,000, others said it was $600,000. Either of these amounts would have been a lot of money in the 1950’s, and Evelyn easily could have been set for life. Unfortunately, when you have something that a lot of other people want, there will always be people who want to take advantage of you.
In the summer of 1949, when Evelyn would have been about 57, she met Leonard Scott, who was about four years younger than her and went by the name “Ewing.” Ewing Scott was very charming and a ladies’ man, and apparently swept Evelyn off her feet. The couple married just a few months later in September, and moved into a mansion in the wealthy Los Angeles neighborhood of Bel Air.
While Ewing Scott reportedly told people he was an investment broker, there are several different details and reports on just what he did for a living. One source said he was a retired stockbroker, but another said the only job he’d ever had was working at a paint store. Yet another said he didn’t have any sort of income during his relationship with Evelyn. Whatever he did, he seemed to want to at least appear to his new wife that he knew something about money — or, rather, he wanted to control hers. He convinced her to fire her secretary and took over paying her bills and dealing with her banking business. He also told their maid that he didn’t really love Evelyn and only married her for her money.
But it doesn’t stop there. Friends and acquaintances reported seeing Evelyn with bruises while she and Ewing were married. Many of her friends, as well as her brother, didn’t like her new husband very much. Unfortunately, Raymond Throsby’s dislike of his new brother-in-law led to a pretty bad rift between the siblings.
Evelyn was last officially seen on May 16, 1955 in Los Angeles, when she and Ewing went to test drive a car. While they were there, Ewing told told the car salesman that he and Evelyn were thinking about moving to Spain or maybe Portugal.
The next day, Evelyn’s hair salon received a call from a man who said she wouldn’t be coming in anymore. She’d been going to this salon once a week for years, so this was probably strange to them.
Evelyn’s friends and family didn’t see her again, and they looked to Ewing for answers — but the stories he told them were all over the place. At one point, he told people that she’d gone out shopping and never came back and that he assumed she’d left him. But he also claimed she had been sent to a sanitarium for alcoholism or that she may be “somewhere in the East” (I assume the Eastern United States). When people asked how they could get in touch with her, he refused to answer.
A friend of Evelyn’s checked with all the sanitariums in the area but Evelyn wasn’t a patient in any of them. This friend also offered rewards for info leading to Evelyn’s whereabouts. Still, the weeks and months went by with no sign of her.
In early March of 1956, Raymond Throsby filed for guardianship of his sister’s estate, and her disappearance became public knowledge. He officially reported her missing on March 7. At this point, her bank accounts hadn’t been touched since she was last seen.
On March 10, the Scott’s Bel Air mansion was searched. Investigators found a pair of glasses, a pair of dentures, a hairbrush, a cigarette holder, cigarettes and a few pieces of jewelry. The dentures and glasses were later identified as Evelyn’s. Investigators thought all these things they found had been there for awhile because of the way they’d been covered by dirt and leaves — the dentures were partially buried. A charred pair of women’s underwear was also found in an incinerator.
Ewing Scott was questioned a few days later. He said Evelyn had gone missing before and called her “a very peculiar woman.” He also alleged she’d tried to kill him before by putting arsenic in his drinks, and he said he’d burned her underwear because it smelled bad.
Police wanted Ewing to take a polygraph, but his lawyer said not to do it until litigation over Evelyn’s estate was done. On March 30, 1956, a court named the Citizens National Trust & Savings Bank as the administrator of Evelyn’s estate. I couldn’t find any information on whether Ewing ever ended up taking a polygraph.
Ewing skips town
In late April or early May of 1956, Ewing Scott was charged with grand theft and forgery for “mishandling his wife’e estate.” (California’s Desert Sun newspaper.) He was supposed to enter a plea on May 1, but never showed up to court. A few days later, his car was found abandoned in Santa Monica. A bullet had been shot through the window, but there was no blood in the car or the surrounding area. From there, police believed he might have gone to Bishop, about 270 miles north, but didn’t find him there.
For the next year or so, there were sightings of Ewing all over the United States and Canada. While on the run, he used the pseudonyms Lewis E. Steward and Leonard Spencer and proposed marriage to several women. He reportedly told one of these women he wanted to marry her in seven years — when Evelyn (or any missing person) can be declared legally dead. On October 16, while still on the run, he was indicated for Evelyn’s murder.
On April 16, 1957, he was finally caught and arrested while trying to cross the Canadian border after going to the United States to buy a car. He was extradited to California and pled innocent.
In December 1957, Ewing Scott went on trial for his wife’s murder. Prosecutors claimed he’d killed Evelyn to gain control of her estate. They also said the murder was premeditated and that he’d been planning it since not too long after he and Evelyn met.
The defense said Evelyn was still alive and had simply left her husband. Earlier that year, Ewing said there was no motive for him to kill Evelyn because he wasn’t actually set to inherit anything from her.
The defense also called several witnesses who said they’d seen Evelyn after May of 1955. One of them, a railroad ticket agent, said Evelyn had bought a train ticket from her in July and said she was leaving her husband but that he didn’t know it.
But the jury apparently didn’t buy these stories. On December 21, 1957, Ewing Scott was convicted of first degree murder. The following month, he was sentenced to life in prison.
Ewing was granted parole in 1974, but didn’t agree to the conditions of parole and couldn’t be released until he did. In his words, he said he didn’t want parole because:
“To accept the parole means I was guilty, and I’m not guilty.”
“Scott is an old man, 78. He has no friends, no family, no real profession. If he accepted the parole, where would he go? What would he do? How would he live?”
Ewing Scott was released from prison — not on parole, just released — in 1978. After being released, he said the first thing he was going to do was divorce Evelyn.
After being released, a journalist named Diane Wagner wanted to write a book about the case and began talking to Ewing from time to time. At first, he denied having anything to do with Evelyn’s disappearance. Finally, in 1984, he told Wagner that he’d hit his wife over the head with a rubber mallet and buried her body in the desert near Las Vegas. He said he killed her because she was a bad person and deserved it.***
(***this source says he confessed in 1987, but since her book was published in 1986 and includes the confession, I think this is an error)
It’s not clear whether Ewing’s story is true, and I couldn’t find any information on whether this area was ever searched; admittedly, it is a pretty large area to have to search.
Wagner’s book, Corpus Delecti, was published in 1986 and included Ewing’s confession. He died in 1987 at the age of 91.
You can purchase Corpus Delecti here. (affiliate link; I earn a commission from each sale)
Evelyn Throsby Scott was 63 years old when she was last seen in Los Angeles, California on May 16, 1955. Evelyn was a white female, 5 feet 6 inches tall and 135 pounds with white hair and blue eyes. She was last seen wearing a tan suit and her gold wedding ring. She’s no longer believed to be alive and would be over 120 years old if she was.
This reminds me a little bit of the case of Holly Maddux, just in the sense that they were both killed by controlling romantic partners who later skipped town. The major difference, of course, is that Holly’s body was found about and Evelyn’s never has been. Frankly, I have no idea if it ever will be. Like I said earlier, if she is buried in the Las Vegas desert, that’s a very large area to search; if she’s buried somewhere else, that would make it even harder to pinpoint her location.