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1930s & Earlier / Ambrose Small Case 1919
One of the most intriguing missing persons cases is that of Toronto theatre magnate Ambrose J. Small. Small was last seen alive on December 2, 1919 after selling his theatre chain for $1 million--a fantastic sum in those days. He lunched with his wife Theresa at the King Edward Hotel, gave her the check to deposit in their bank account, bought some newspapers from a young street vendor--and vanished forever. Small's disappearance was not reported to the police by his wife for nearly two weeks, leading to speculation that she was involved. Theresa was well known in Toronto for her charitable deeds and was used to Ambrose vanishing without warning for extended periods while away on gambling binges. To spare Theresa embarrassment, the Toronto Police did not formally announce Small was missing until his disappearance was reported in the Toronto Star in January 1920. Small had made his fortune in the theatre business staging low-brow plays often with risque themes. After his disappearance it was discovered that Small had a secret 'love nest' above his Grand Opera House in Toronto where he often 'entertained' chorus girls. Not long after Small vanished, his bookkeeper John Doughty vanished too with $105,000 in bonds taken from Small's safe deposit box. Doughty was later found in Oregon and arrested for theft. He was given a five-year prison sentence. Despite international headlines and a $50,000 reward, no trace of Small was ever found. An elderly Grand Opera House employee claimed to have overheard a violent argument between Small and Doughty on the afternoon Small vanished. The case was officially closed by Toronto police in 1960. Modern investigators recently found a memo written by an investigating officer in 1936, a year after Theresa died. The memo stated there was ample evidence that Ambrose Small had been murdered and that both Theresa Small and John Doughty were guilty of the crime--indicating that the Toronto Police were somehow involved in a major cover-up. The ghost of Ambrose Small is said to haunt one of his old theatres in London, Ontario.