CHILDHOOD- born June 29, 1915
- lived at Rose Cottage, one of Leonardtown's oldest residences
- Attended St. Mary's Academy in Leonardtown
- Director, St. Mary's County Choral Group, played piano for Leonardtown Lions Variety Show.
MARRIAGE AND FAMILY- lives with mother along with husband Frances Patrick Ragan until mother's passing in 1957
- parents are Lemuel A. Wilmer, Sr. and Henrietta E. Knight
- sisters are Mrs. Christine G Gardner, Mrs. Maria E Hunt, and Miss Eleanor Greenwell, and Mrs. Wilhemina G Howard
- brother Lemuel A. Wilmer, Jr.
FEBRUARY 14, 1959- Husband Frances Patrick Ragan, Civil Service employee at Pax River, passes away from a heart condition and kidney failure
DECEMBER 4, 1959MORNING
- landscaping finished on Ragan home in the morning
- Ragan has lunch with a friend
5pm - ST. FRANCES XAVIER CHURCH, COMPTON
- attends Mass with Christine Gardiner
6:30pm - GARDINER HOME, LEONARDTOWN
- Ragan returns to Gardiner home for dinner
- invites John Gardiner to home to watch TV while sister Christine attends card party
7:30pm - LEONARDTOWN SQUARE
- Ragan stops at County Trust Bank and orders new checks
9pm - RAGAN HOME, LEONARDTOWN
- John Gardiner arrives at Ragan home
- watches television while Ragan addresses Christmas cards
BETWEEN 10pm AND MIDNIGHT
- State Medical Examiner makes final determination that Henrietta Ragan is murdered between these hours
10:30pm - RAGAN HOME
- John Gardiner leaves Ragan home
- Gardiner states he leaves Ragan addressing Christmas cards
11pm - RAGAN HOME
- neighbor Olive G. Camalier notices lights on at Ragan home
DECEMBER 5, 195912 MIDNIGHT - 2:30am - RAGAN HOME
- Dr. William Boyd initially places time of death between these hours. Autopsy discounts this and places time of death between 10pm - midnight on 12-4-1959
2:15am - ACROSS FROM RAGAN RESIDENCE
- Ragan neighbor William G. Holley Jr. notices vehicle parked on the hill, pointed towards Leonardtown Wharf
- vehicle described as a 2 tone 1955 Ford, dark green with light green / cream / white top and light color license plates
3am - HILL TO LEONARDTOWN WHARF
- Mary Agnes Buckler sees similar car driving up the hill towards Leonardtown Square
9:30am - RAGAN HOME, LEONARDTOWN
- Ragan employer Maurice T. Thrift notices Henrietta is late for work. As "she always calls when she is late," Thrift calls Ragan home twice and gets no answer.
- Thrift gets a key from Henrietta's office desk. He goes to the back door of the Ragan residence and finds it unlocked. Walked in and called to Henrietta. Thrift discovers Ragan in her bed "covered neatly." Stating "she didn't look right to me," Thrift returns to his office and calls for a doctor and police.
"I didn't stay there long enough to find out if there was a breath of life left. I wanted to get out of there as fast as I could."
- law enforcement questions an unknown suspect for 4 hours. Suspect is reported to have scratches on his neck. Suspect is released
"He has not been eliminated as a suspect" - Deputy Sanger, Enterprise 12-10-1959
DECEMBER 6, 1959AUTOPSY OF HENRIETTA WILMER RAGAN
- completed by Dr. C.S. Petty
- cause of death is strangulation
- bruises on victim's neck and ear
- blood on bedsheets is different that than of Henrietta Ragan
- Investigators await "more complete report" to identify any matter under the fingernails or about the body.
- Leonardtown Elks have a long planned memorial service honoring Henrietta Ragan's husband Frances Patrick Ragan and Ernest Slusser
- Henrietta Ragan made plans to attend this event the day before she was murdered
DECEMBER 7, 19598pm - MATTINGLEY FUNERAL HOME
- Viewing and prayers for Henrietta Ragan
DECEMBER 8, 1959MORNING - RAGAN HOME
- crime scene is processed by MSP Crime Lab Technicians, Sheriff and MSP officers. Lasts almost 12 hours
MORNING - LEONARDTOWN
- Maurice Thrift is questioned by MSP Lt. Smith
- Investigators plan to question John and Christine Gardiner
11:30am - ST. ALOYSIUS CATHOLIC CHURCH, LEONARDTOWN
- Funeral Mass for Henrietta Wilmer Ragan
- Henrietta Ragan is buried.
- Plumbing contractor responds to the Ragan home to search plumbing and toilet traps for evidence
- man at St. Mary's Hospital for a cat bite. Examined by Dr. Boyd and released
DECEMBER 9, 1959MORNING - TUDOR HALL ESTATES
- MSP troopers canvas Ragan neighborhood
- "full scale operation" to fingerprint and interview Ragan's associates begins
- The Enterprise 12-10-1959
- lookout broadcast for 1955 Ford to "four counties"
- Description is updated to a tri color 1955 Ford, dark green top and bottom with a cream center
- Mirror or a mirror/spotlight on the drivers side
- Car has light colored license plates, and diamond shaped reflector tape on the bumper
- The Enterprise 12-17-1959
DECEMBER 10, 1959THROUGHOUT THE DAY
- several drivers stopped regarding the broadcast for the 1955 Ford. All are released.
DECEMBER 11, 1959MORNING - LEONARDTOWN
- Ragan's missing sweater is turned in to the Sheriff's Office
- Sweater was found on 12-5-1959, the day after the murder
- Finder washes the sweater, unaware that it was being looked for
- Finder tells Sheriff Miedzinski that the sweater was not stained or dirty when found
- Sweater is sent to Medical Examiners Office in Baltimore
- Two hairs found "apparently from a male or a female"
- The Enterprise 12-17-1959
EVENING - LEONARDTOWN
- Capt. E.W. Magaha, MSP, speaks to a local high school about the case. Reviews case with investigators
DECEMBER 12 and 13, 1959- Troopers and Sheriff's Deputies canvass the area of the found sweater to look for Ragan's missing wallet
- This effort fails to locate Ragan's wallet
- "50 clear fingerprints found in the home." - Lt. Smith, MSP
- Hagerstown Daily Mail, 12-14-1959
DECEMBER 15, 1959- MSP Lt. Truman Moon, Commander of Waldorf Barrack, reviews case with investigators
DECEMBER 17, 1959- MSP and the Sheriff's Office release a joint statement denying the rumor of an arrest in the Ragan murder
FIRST TWO WEEKS OF THE INVESTIGATIONDATES AND TIMES UNKNOWN
- Ragan family offers $5000 reward
- Ragan associates, friends, family, neighbors, delivery and repair men and persons of questionable character are interviewed
- The Enterprise 12-10-1959
- 35 persons fingerprinted. Some prints not identified
- blood samples taken from several persons to compare with blood found on bed sheets
- The Enterprise 12-17-1959
- MSP leave in the county is cancelled. The Sheriff's Office is "working it's men full time toward solution of the murder."
WEEK OF DECEMBER 21, 1959- lookout is broadcast for a paint splotched 1949-1950 Plymouth seen the night of the Ragan murder
- occupants are two sandy haired "rough looking" men
- car is described as having rust colored primer and blue or green license plates
- polygraph test given to several individuals in Baltimore by MSP. Several prints found in the Ragan home are not yet identified.
- "we are questioning people daily" - Deputy George Sanger
- Deputies Sanger and Burroughs start canvas of homes on St. John's Road where Ragan sweater was found
- The Enterprise, 12-22-1959
WEEK OF JANUARY 3, 1960- MSP and the Sheriff's Office make a public appeal for "anyone who has ever been at that house (Ragan home) to contact the Sheriff's Office" to eliminate as yet unidentified fingerprints
- Two third of fingerprints have been identified from the Ragan home
- Cpl. Wiemer and Deputies Sanger and Burroughs bring in people "daily" to be fingerprinted
- more lie detector tests given and blood samples taken
- The Enterprise, 1-7-1960
JANUARY 5, 1960- Sheriff Miedzinski directs Hollywood and Leonardtown VFD to canvass area where sweater was found in an attempt to locate Ragan's wallet
- four miles of roads were covered to include: the length of Cedar Lane and St. John's Road
- $5000 family reward is still valid
- The Enterprise 1-7-1960
JANUARY 7, 1960- 13 state BOLO broadcast for two "rough looking" white men in a 1949 sedan with Tennessee plates.
- Frederick Maryland Post, 1-7-1960
MARCH 1960MARCH 22 - 23, 1960
- Ragan case presented to the St. Mary's County Grand Jury.
- Grand Jury gives a "vote of confidence" to the Ragan investigators, but returns with no indictments
- "all law enforcement authorities have diligently worked on this case and have throughly explored every lead."
- Grand Jury recommends that "should there be any future cases of suspected murder, the authorities insure by a guard or other means, that the premises not be disturbed prior to a complete inspection for clues."
JUNE, 1960- Serial killer Melvin D. Rees to be questioned in Ragan murder
- Later ruled out as suspect
- The Enterprise, 6-30-1960
1966- Ragan investigator Ben Burroughs is elected St. Mary's County Sheriff.
1969- Ragan investigator, Lt. Thomas Smith is named Superintendent of the Maryland State Police
DECEMBER 3, 1970- The Enterprise publishes an 11 year anniversary article on the murder of Henrietta Wilmer Ragan
- "over the years Grand Juries have looked into the case, but no one has ever been named."
1974- Ragan investigator George Sanger is elected St. Mary's County Sheriff.
2012The St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office takes another look at the case, interviewing surviving family, friends and associates of Henrietta and others involved in the initial investigation.
In an odd twist, an interesting “what if” revealed itself when a niece of Henrietta’s, age 15 at the time of the murder, was interviewed. She clearly recalls her father (Henrietta’s brother) stating the mortician in Leonardtown told him that the funeral home received Henrietta’s body with her two front teeth knocked out, held in with chewing gum.
In 1959, there was no “CSI” or “DNA.” Had today’s technology existed then, the killer of Henrietta Ragan may have been revealed in short order.
Is the chewing gum still there? If so, the answer to “Who Killed Henrietta” may have been taken to her grave.
2023This December will mark 64 years that the rape and murder of Henrietta Wilmer Ragan remains unsolved.