On July 3, 1929, Russell and Blanche Warren vanished without a trace. Their disappearance frustrated family members, baffled law enforcement and caused much speculation for 75 years. The story of their vanishing is full of twists, heartache, and mystery – so much so, that when the case was solved 18 years ago this month, the tale was covered by the Seattle PI, the LA Times, and CBS News. There are even a few documentaries recounting the events.
It’s been 93 years since Russell and Blanche Warren were reported missing and the story still captivates those who hear it for the first time.
The Warrens lived in a cabin near the town of Forks, Washington on the Olympic Peninsula. They had two sons. Russell was a logger, an experienced woodsman, and had a lot to live for. In June of 1929, his wife Blanche became very ill, so ill it required her to be admitted to a hospital in Port Angeles, Washington, about a 50-mile trip from their home. Before leaving for the hospital, Blanche promised their two boys she would return in time to celebrate the 4th of July with them.
A month passed and on July 3, 1929, Russell Warren jumped into his 1927 Chevy Sedan and drove along the Olympic Highway to Port Angeles to pick up Blanche from the hospital. The plan was to bring her home in time for the holiday. She was released at around 3:30 p.m. They were never seen or heard from again. After a few weeks and much concern, the paper in Port Angeles reported the couple’s mysterious disappearance.
A possible lead is reported by a motorist.
It had been about 2 months when a motorist reported to the local sheriff that he saw what appeared to be tire tracks running off the edge of the Olympic Highway. The highway (now known as US 101) was very curvy, had steep edges, no guardrails, and bordered Lake Crescent. And, it was the highway the Warrens would’ve been using to return home.
Intrigued by the tire tracks the sheriff brought in divers to explore the lake in the area. They descended about 80’ before giving up. It was too dark and deep to go further. That area of the lake is reportedly 400 feet deep. The case was put on the shelf with no answers or proof the tire tracks were from the Warren vehicle.
72 years later a divers fluke discovery would break open the case.
The mysterious disappearance of the Warrens lasted for 72 years – until a clue would appear through the mask of a diver. It was late 2001 and a group of divers who were making their descent into the lake discovered the lid of an old washing machine.
What does a washing machine have to do with the Warrens?
Police records from 1929 showed the Warrens had purchased a new washing machine just after Blanche Warren was released from the hospital. The lid of the washing machine matched the brand the Warrens had purchased on the day of their disappearance.
Divers Return and Went Deeper into Lake Crescent
In mid-2002, divers returned to the site, determined to solve the mystery. They went deeper, and at approximately 170’ the Warren’s 1927 Chevy appeared in the lights of the divers. The mystery had been solved, at least the location of the vehicle. Where were Russell and Blanche? There were no human remains or actual proof the couple had died in the vehicle.
Two years later divers returned and searched about 20 feet deeper and discovered part of Russell Warren’s remains – a skull cap, and other bones. After 75 years the mystery had finally been completely solved. Russell and Blanche Warren died horrifically in the depths of Lake Crescent.
In 1960 another vehicle crashed into Lake Crescent and it was found in the same area only deeper.
The same curvy highway which took the lives of the Warrens also claimed the life of Dale Steele. Dale and his passenger, 20-year-old Beverly Sherman, drove off the highway into Lake Crescent on a cold night in 1960. Beverly was able to break out a window and escape. The 1950 Dodge Sedan Dale was driving was discovered at a depth of around 200’ (pictured above and below).
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