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A Connected Crime?

       Just as all possibilities seemed used up, a new lead appeared. In Bucks County, Pennsylvania, another girl was found dead under very similar circumstances.

       Her name was Candace Clothier, and she was sixteen when she disappeared from her home in Philadelphia at about 8:30 pm on Saturday, March 9, 1968. Although more than three-hundred people participated in the search for her, she was not found until shortly after 5 am on April 13th, when three fishermen -- Matthew Porpora (41) of Penns Park, and Paul Franklin (47) and Jim Franklin (28) of Furlong -- discovered her body in Neshaminy Creek in Bucks County, just a few miles north of Philadelphia. The body was tied up in a bag that had washed up on a small island in the creek.

       Clothier’s body was taken to Lower Bucks county Hospital for an autopsy. The canvas bag had been tied around her neck, and she had a wool sweater wrapped around her head. From her state of decomposition and the mud encrusted on the bag, it was obvious she had been dead for some time. According to a newspaper article the body was never directly identified, but the clothing was identified by her father, Elmer, and her sister, Susan.

       By late June, Philadelphia detectives had interviewed over a thousand people, but still had no good leads as to who had killed Clothier. But when they saw reports about the Tent Girl case, there was too much of a resemblance in the circumstances between the two murders to be ignored. In early July, Chief Fergione of Philadelphia drove to Kentucky to compare notes.

       Not only had both girls been tied up and disposed of in the same manner, but both matched closely on comparisons of weight, height, hair, and body structure. Unfortunately, while it was undeniable that the two cases were probably linked, knowing that still didn’t help solve either one. As the months dragged on, and the case files for each grew larger and larger, the leads continued to run into dead ends. By November 1st, there were very few possibilities left to be explored. A second sketch of the Tent Girl was requested from Harold Musser; this new portrait was distributed and produced leads; but these, too, failed to help the investigation.

       In May, 1969, Scott County police tried one last time. An article detailing the Tent Girl case was run nationally along with the new portrait in Master Detective magazine, in the hopes that a reader might have information that would help the dying investigation. But any possible leads that were produced must have also proven useless, for the young woman remained unidentified for a further 29 years; she was buried in a county-owned section of the Georgetown cemetery with a gravestone that identified her, simply, as “Tent Girl.”

Gravesite of the Tent Girl.