On February 3, 1927, Katherine Volz disappeared.
The circumstances were unusual.
Katherine, a well-respected member of the community, was 29 years old, 5'6" tall with light hair and blue eyes. She lived with her husband, Ernest, and their two sons, Ernest Jr. (age 11) and Carl (age 8), in a house on their Simi Valley ranch. The Volz family was known to be hardworking and thrifty, and Katherine was, according to her friends and neighbors, "happy and in good health" and "fond of her home life."
Rain was forecast for the evening of the 3rd, a Thursday. At around 7:30 p.m., Ernest and his sons went outside to perform some evening chores, to include milking the family's cows. The family had just finished dinner, so Katherine remained inside to clean up.
According to later newspaper reports, soon after Ernest and his sons began their routines, the anticipated rain arrived, so they finished what they were doing and plodded back to the house, dripping wet. They had been outside for only thirty minutes.
They found the house empty. Katherine was gone.
Her body was never found, though the search for her began no less than an hour after she was last seen. She could only have wandered a short distance in so short a time, especially in the inclement weather and darkness. The search parties were large and their searches exhaustive.
There was no reason for the woman to voluntarily abandon her family, and even if there had been, she certainly wouldn't have left without her purse or any possessions, at night, on foot, in middle of a storm.
As weeks passed, it became clear that Katherine was probably abducted. It was learned that she was seen stepping into - or being pulled into - a large black car. It was a car like the one owned by May Otis Blackburn, "High Priestess" of the newly arrived Divine Order of the Royal Arms of the Great Eleven, which had just established its new colony a few miles away.
The fact that Katherine vanished within a very narrow window of time – just 30 minutes – argues for a planned abduction. It's unlikely that she wandered onto the road just as a deranged stranger happened to be driving by. This was not downtown Los Angeles. This was the Simi Valley. A more plausible scenario is that the abductor or abductors were already parked nearby and watching the house, knowing that Ernest and his sons routinely left Katherine alone to perform their chores. Or perhaps they knew nothing of the Volz routine and waited for an opportune moment to move in. Whatever happened, happened quickly.
In any event, it wasn't until 1929, two years after Katherine's disappearance, that all eyes turned toward the Great Eleven...