The mysterious disappearance of Andrew Carnegie Whitfield
On the morning of Friday, April 15, 1938, a wealthy, influential young man boarded a private plane. This was something he’d done dozens, if not hundreds of times before, but this time would be very different. This is the strange disappearance of Andrew Carnegie Whitfield.
Not much information is readily available on Andrew Carnegie Whitfield’s early life. He was born in 1910, graduated from Princeton University and later went to work in business. In June of 1937, he married a woman named Elizabeth Halsey, who went by the nickname Betty.
Andrew also had another major thing associated with him that you might have already figured out from his name. Andrew Carnegie, the famous steel tycoon and philanthropist, was his uncle. Possibly because of this, at least in part, Andrew was described by many sources as ‘high society.’
Note: A couple of sources said Andrew went missing on April 17, but most said April 15.
On the night of Thursday, April 14, 1938, 28-year-old Andrew had an argument with his wife. According to his brother John, Andrew said during this argument that he was “going to disappear.” Elizabeth Whitfield would later tell investigators that her husband said the following that night:
“I am going away and I won’t tell you where or why. I can’t tell you when I will be back. I am just going to disappear.”
Following this argument, Andrew left home. he checked into the Garden City Hotel on Long Island under the false name Albert C. White. Just after midnight, he reportedly called his wife from the hotel and told her “I’m going to carry out my plan.” It’s not clear just where this information came from, with some sources saying it was a telephone operator and others saying it was from a bellboy at the hotel who overheard the conversation. But a lot of the talk and speculation about this case hinges on this quote.
The next morning was Friday, April 15. Around 9 am, Andrew, an amateur aviator, set off in a private plane from Roosevelt Field. He was supposed to land in Brentwood, about 25 miles east — but his plane never showed up.
On April 19, the Nassau County Police began a search for Andrew’s plane, and other pilots were told to keep an eye out for it. There was an allegation that he’d taken a ship to Europe, but the ship was searched and he wasn’t found on board. In early May, a report surfaced of a plane sputtering and dying over the Long Island Sound on the day Andrew was last seen. That report was later dismissed. Other alleged sightings of sputtering or crashing planes occurred in Oakdale, Schenectady, Fire Island, Darien, Connecticut and Newton, Connecticut. But searches in all these places, as well as in the Long Island Sound, turned up nothing.
The Whitfield family had already called off their own search in late April, saying they thought Andrew left voluntarily. One of Andrew’s brothers wondered if he ran off to start a new life because he found his to be too boring.
In June of 1938, Elizabeth Whitfield filed for separation from Andrew and sued him for abandonment — though she reportedly only did this to get more publicity for his case. In August of that year, a man in the alcoholic ward at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital said he was Andrew. This claim was debunked by a physical examination. Andrew was declared legally dead in 1946 and his case is no longer being investigated, ultimately leaving far more questions than answers.
theories and speculation
The first theory is that Andrew left voluntarily. This is the theory that many of his family members believed early on, thinking he was in hiding and/or had cut off all his loved ones to start a new life. Other, more modern speculators have suggested he had plans to do this but met with foul play at some point.
The next theory is that Andrew took his own life. Two life insurance policies were found in his luggage, with his wife being the beneficiary of both. This is the main detail that seems to fuel this theory. Many speculating about this case have also interpreted his quote about ‘carrying out my plan’ as meaning suicide.
However, this isn’t the case for everyone. One person suggested the “plan” was less nefarious and could have been something a simple as planning to go fly his plane. Another wondered if the quote was entirely made up by a hotel employee to gain attention for themselves.
The last theory is that Andrew’s plane crashed and the wreckage has never been found. This is the theory that police and Andrew’s brother John initially believed. There was also early speculation that he flew very far out and ran out of fuel. Andrew’s plane had enough fuel to go over 100 miles, but there has also been speculation that he decided not to take a straight shot and meandered awhile, possibly taking his time or just enjoying the so-called ‘scenic route.’ Andrew’s route wasn’t supposed to take him over any water, but did he decide to fly over water anyway, just for fun, only to crash into it? Large, commercial planes go missing even today, so it’s certainly conceivable that a smaller, private plane could disappear as well. Whatever happened, Andrew Carnegie Whitfield hasn’t been seen in almost 85 years. Whether he took his own life, crashed his plane or started a new life somewhere remains a mystery to this day.
Andrew Carnegie Whitfield was 28 years old when he was last seen on Long Island, New York on April 15, 1938. Andrew is a white male who was 5 feet 8 inches tall at the time of his disappearance, with blue eyes and dark hair streaked with gray. He was last seen wearing a dark gray Brooks Brothers suit, black shoes, a white collared shirt and a gray fedora. He also had on a watch and gold ring with a dove engraving.
In life, Andrew had an appendectomy scar and went by the nickname A.C. His case is currently closed by law enforcement, and he would be over 110 years old if alive today — so he likely is not.