Did Kenneth Plaisted Just Walk Away?

 

I am fascinated by the unsolved disappearance of Kenneth Plaisted in 1971. He was a lawyer from New Holstein, Wisconsin with a wife, Priscilla, and six children.

On November 16, 1971, Plaisted traveled to Milwaukee with his wife by car. He dropped his wife off downtown so she could do some shopping. He was planning to attend a business meeting, and later meet up with his wife and daughter, Donna, a student at Marquette University, to go shopping for a new car for her.

Plaisted attended his meeting, and the last person to see him was a grocer, who said he gave him change for a five dollar bill.

He never arrived at his daughter’s apartment, but his car was found parked on her street, unlocked. Donna spotted the car around 1 p.m., but when her father didn’t show up the door, she assumed it was someone else’s car.  Several hours later, she became worried, and went outside to the look at the vehicle.

The keys were missing, the windows were rolled down, and there were gifts sitting in the back seat. I can’t find any information on these gifts: I would love to know if they were purchased the day of, or brought from New Holstein. His hat was found nearby, trampled on. His family confirmed he was carrying about 350 dollars in cash at the time he disappeared.

KENNETH HAD A SECRET

It turns out Plaisted had a wee bit of a financial problem. After he disappeared, investigators discovered that he had taken more than 79,000 dollars from a trust fund where he was acting as trustee. He was using that money to cover his own bank account.

It was later discovered, he owed over 178,000 dollars to clients and the IRS. I have noticed that the facts and figures vary wildly depending on the newspaper source, but it is safe to say, he took a butt load of money from clients that he wasn’t authorized to take.

One judgement against him was also for a portrait and passport studio.

OTHER CLUES

In 1973, a mink rancher informed police that Plaisted was living in Milford, Connecticut, and had placed an ad looking for a room in a Tampa, Florida paper.

Police investigated the lead, but didn’t find Plaisted. According to the Sheboygan Press, the FBI ceased searching for him, acknowledging that Plaisted could be anywhere, including a foreign country.

CONCLUSIONS

There are a few options here. Was Plaisted despondent over his growing debt to clients and his inability to pay it back, and chose to take his own life? Or did he walk away to start a new life, free from the weight of his criminal acts?

I think foul play is unlikely here, since his car was found outside his daughter’s apartment. Not impossible, but unlikely.

I am curious why he changed a five dollar bill at a grocer. Was it to pay for parking meters downtown? Did downtown Milwaukee have parking meters in 1971?

Or was it change for a bus? Maybe he hopped a bus for a new location. Or change for a payphone, to call someone to pick him up?

Of course, we have no answers. As this case ages, it is unlikely that Plaisted is still alive. However, there could still be clues somewhere as to the fate of Kenneth Plaisted.

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