Article: Dorothy Forstein
In 1941, Dorothy Cooper marries Jules Forstein. They were childhood sweethearts who had only recently reconciled after Jules’s first wife died during childbirth the year before. Jules brings two children with him into the marriage, ten-year-old Merna and toddler Marcy. In 1943, the couple have their first child together, a boy they named Edward. The family were well-liked and respected and living in suburban Philadelphia. And by all accounts, the marriage was a happy one, and Jules’s professional life, his career, had taken off when he was made a city magistrate in 1943.
And then on January 25 1945, Dorothy leaves the children with her neighbour, Maria Townley and goes out to do some shopping. She reportedly jokes with the butcher and chats with friends as she goes about her errands. She planned on coming home from shopping, putting away her groceries and then going next door to get the children from the baby-sitter. Her neighbour sees her walk up to her house and thinks she sees someone had either come home with her or was walking behind her, following her. As Dorothy opens the front door, an unknown man jumps her and beats her until she was unconscious. He beats her with his fists and some sort of blunt instrument. When she falls, she knocks down the phone and, and in those days, there were live operators and the operator on the other end of the line hears the commotion and quickly alerts 911.
The police found her seriously injured with her nose and jaw broken, a fractured shoulder and a concussion. And they label the attack as an attempted murder. Robbery was not a motive because nothing was taken. Initially, Jules himself was investigated but he is ruled out as a suspect because he has an airtight alibi. And the children were considered too young to be involved. The police also questions Jules and try to figure out if he was actual the target. Had he gotten any threats or if there had been any adverse judgements that may have meant this was a revenge attack. But there was nothing. No theories are formed and the police have no leads. And since Dorothy didn’t see her attacker and as there was no other witnesses or evidence, the attacker was never found.
As for Dorothy, she recovered physically from her injuries. And before long the family had moved on from the attack, except for Dorothy. She was so shaken by what had happened that she was never the same again. She was fearful, paranoid and constantly on guard. She had a ritual of checking and then rechecking the locks on all the doors and the windows. She would jump at every noise in the house. She wouldn’t leave the house because of her anxiety. She was just obsessed with the idea that someone was out to get her. She just wasn’t able to overcome her fears and move on from the attack.
Then five years later, on October 18 1949, Jules calls his wife and tries to convince her to go to a political banquet but she didn’t want to go. Dorothy seemed to be in good spirits though and tells him to go on his own. He, of course, wasn’t sure but agrees to go to the dinner by himself and assures Dorothy that he wouldn’t stay late. Dorothy says his being silly, that she’ll be fine and She even jokes with Jules saying, ‘don’t forget to miss me’, before ending the conversation. Dorothy then calls a friend at 9pm to confirm their weekend plans.
When Jules returns home from the dinner at about 11.30pm, Dorothy is gone. Now 18-year-old Merna is away from home for the night, but 9-year-old Marcy and 7-year-old Edward are found huddled together in an upstairs bedroom. They tell him that Dorothy was taken. Marcy tells her father she woke up to a noise and went into her mother’s room. She sees a man coming up the stairs. She sees Dorothy lying on the carpet, face down. This man picks up Dorothy puts her over his shoulder and tells Marcy to go back to bed and that her mother was sick. She describes Dorothy, that she was wearing red satin pyjamas and red slippers. And the stranger, he was wearing a brown cap and a brown jacket with ‘something stuck in his shirt’. He takes Dorothy downstairs and out the door which he locks behind him. Marcy runs into her brother’s room, wakes him up and they wait together in the bedroom where Jules finds them. Marcy says she had never seen the man before and had no idea who he was.
However, Jules doesn’t immediately call the police claiming to believe that she had left to go stay with a friend. It isn’t until two days later, on October 20, Jules decides to report Dorothy missing to the police. The police don’t believe the out there story of a 9-year-old. But as bizarre as all this sounds, there was no other logical explanation for Dorothy’s disappearance. The police find her keys and purse to home. None of Dorothy’s personal belongings are missing and the front door was locked. Nothing was disturbed in the house and there weren’t any fingerprints. There were no signs of a struggle and there is no sign that anyone else had been there. And then there is the point that no one noticed a man walking down the street with a woman in pyjamas over his shoulder. And how did he get into the locked house anyway?
And we don’t know what Marcy missed. How long had the man been in the house? Just because she sees him coming up the stairs at that point doesn’t mean he hadn’t already been up the stairs before this. Or if he hadn’t already done something to Dorothy before Marcy came out of her room and saw anything.
I’m not sure why he would think she would voluntary just take off and abandon her kids like that. And if he thought she would do that, but why would she? What was going on in that relationship? I would hope the fact he didn’t report her missing for two days, it would raise some suspicion and these questions were asked. It is possible he may have waited two days thinking someone was going to make a ransom demand for money.
Or could it be a stalker? Someone who wanted Dorothy and she rejected him. He may have tried on a few occasions and his anger built up. After the first attack, she was rarely alone so he took his chance when he could and took her.
And the fact this unknown man locked the door behind him. Did he have a key to lock it behind himself? Why did he lock it? Was he concerned for the safety of the children inside? Or was he instructed to make sure the children were safe?
The only sighting was by a police officer in Camden, New Jersey who believes he saw her in a phone booth but by the time he went back to the booth to investigate, she was gone.
Jules Forstein died of a heart condition in January 1956 at age 49. His death certificate lists him as married rather than widowed or single.
What happened to Dorothy Forstein?