My most puzzling questions as they relate to the Buddy Schumacher case are:
*Where did the handkerchief come from that killed Buddy? With such a fancy letter embroidered, it certainly didn’t belong to the first man questioned, Edward Vreeland, a hobo hanging around the outskirts of town. Not that he might not have used it to kill the boy, but he had to either have been given it or he stole it or found it somewhere. Back in those days, it was customary for men to have the first initial of their last names embroidered on their handkerchiefs. Mrs. George Abel, who once identified the handkerchief but later said she could not, said at one time she thought it might have belonged to her husband. However, sometimes men, especially those of power and social standing, might have their first initial embroidered. It is reported that Henry VIII had an “H” on his handkerchiefs, for example. Of course, this is many years and a continent away, but I can’t discount a man whose first or last names started with an “A” giving this handkerchief to Vreeland.
*Why did eye witnesses change their story about Edward Vreeland and the handkerchief? My guess is that these people were telling the truth at first. Then, someone got to them and told them for whatever reason, it would be better if they said they just couldn’t be sure. Could that have been because this handkerchief would link Vreeland to a man of power and upstanding in the community? Even if this gentlemen had nothing to do with the murder or mistreating of Buddy, he surely would not want his name associated with such a case. And it’s my guess they would have had the influence to get this done one way or another.
*Why was Buddy’s body not found for seven weeks? If he was killed within a day or so of his abduction and left in the same spot for all those weeks, surely someone would have spotted it much earlier. The news stories quoted people as saying this area had been combed through a dozen times. If a sole mushroom hunter can stumble across it, wouldn’t legions of searchers looking for just such a boy find it? Is it possible that Buddy, either dead or alive, had indeed been elsewhere for a time, while searchers combed this area? Then, after the searching died down a bit, his body was placed there?
The general assumption is that a “hobo,” “degenerate” or “tramp” committed this crime. But I can’t discount a man of some power having something to do with it either.
Considering what we have learned by such high-profile pedophilia cases recently, we know that some people and/or institutions will go to great lengths to cover up child sexual abuse committed by those in high positions. Such examples are the cover-ups of Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky’s years of sexual misconduct with minors, a prostitution ring involving children from Boys Town in Nebraska, and of many Catholic priests and Scout leaders.
When an organization is more concerned with its own image or reputation or with protecting one who has had much to do with the success of that organization than it is with protecting the very children it is charged with protecting, then that organization has failed.
In Buddy Schumacher’s case, I can’t rule out much of anything. Years ago, my neighbor said the police knew who killed Buddy Schumacher. If that’s the case, then either there was some sort of cover-up orchestrated by figures as yet undiscovered or there was some reason they were not able to bring the killer to trial.
Nobody would have covered up for a “bum” like Edward Vreeland unless he would have provided a link to someone of some authority. But under certain circumstances, I could see people covering up for a high-ranking official of some sort.
I’m still searching for the answers and would appreciate any input from anyone familiar with the book or the case