The Murder Mystery In Room 1046



The Hotel President is home to one of the most notorious murders in the 1930’s. The hotel is located in Kansas City, Missouri. In 1935, a man that went by the name Rowland T. Owen, was murdered. But who did it? 

On January 2nd, 1935, Owen checked into the Hotel President. Rowland Owen was said to be around his early twenties, and a very mysterious man. He had brown hair, and a distinct scar on his scalp. What stood out the most about him was the fact that he had cauliflower ear, which is an acquired deformity of the outer ear. A bell boy named Randolph Propts escorted Owen to his room. On the trip in the elevator, Randolph noticed that the man he was escorting, had no bags at all. It seemed to be that all of the items Owen bought were on his person. Within his pockets, he carried only a hair brush, toothpaste, and a toothbrush. Owen appeared to have no other clothes with him. The bellboy reported that he felt this was odd, but continued to walk him to room 1046. 

Once Owen entered his hotel room, he left within five minutes. He was said to have been gone all day, and did not return until late that night. When he did finally return, there was a maid named Mary on his floor. Mary continued to clean his room, and when she was going to leave she asked if she could leave the door unlocked for him. Owen went on to explain to his maid that it would be easier for his friend to come in. She agreed and continued her day as normal. 

Mary described Owen as paranoid and frightened by something. She claimed that he always seemed to be on edge. Around 4pm Mary came back to the hotel room to give him fresh towels. As he requested, the door was still unlocked, so Mary took it upon herself to walk in. When she entered, she saw Owen laying in the dark on his bed, staring blankly at the ceiling.  As she was in the room she ended up seeing a note in the corner that said “Dear Dawn, I will be back in 15 minutes. Wait.”

The next morning Mary came back to room 1046 at 10:30 in the morning to change Owen’s sheets. This time, the door was locked. She found this strange, considering his request, but proceeded to unlock the door. When she entered, Owen was sitting in the corner of the hotel in the dark. Mary continues to make the bed, until she heard the phone ring. She explained that Owen slowly reached for the phone and answered. She claims to hear him say “No Don, I don’t want to eat. I am not hungry. I just had breakfast! No, I am not hungry.” Mary left the room not thinking much about it. 

Mary again went back at 4pm to bring towels to his room, but this time, when she went to open the door, she heard another man’s voice in room 1046. When she knocked on the door she heard the man’s voice asking “Who is it?” She could tell that it was not Owen’s voice. She explained that she was only dropping off fresh towels, but was denied by the mysterious man on the other side of the door.  

That same night, a taxi driver named Robert Wayne was working. He reported picking up a strange man just a few blocks away from the hotel. Robert claims the man was only wearing boxers and a t-shirt and looked beaten down.  The man in the taxi was telling Robert how he was going to “kill that guy tomorrow”. Confused, Robert let the man out of his taxi and never heard anything about the man again. The next day, there was a woman next door to room 1046 and she claimed that she was kept up all night by a female and male voice fighting with each other. The following night the elevator blocker said there was a woman going to the 10th floor who he described as a commercial woman. Could this be the same woman that was visiting room 1046?

The morning of January 4th, around 7 am, one of the hotel staff noticed there was a phone off the hook in room 1046. They could tell that the phone had been off the hook for several hours and decided to send someone up there. To solve this problem, the staff sent the bellboy, Randolph, who had escorted Owen, up to talk to him. When he got to the room, there was a do not disturb sign on the door, but he knocked anyway. No one was answering, but he continued to knock until eventually someone said to come in and turn the lights on. Randolph tried to open the door, but couldn’t because the door was locked. Randolph spoke to Owen through the door and explained that he had to plug the phone back into the wall. Figuring that Owen received the message, he left. 

After an hour, the phone was still off the hook so they sent a different bellboy. The door was still locked, but this bellboy had a master key so he let himself in. The bellboy claimed to see Owen in his bed naked and drunk, but there was a large dark spot around his body on the bed. Next to the bed, the phone stand was knocked over along with the phone. The bellboy quickly fixed the stand and phone, and exited the room. 

A few days later around 10:45 am the staff realized the phone had been taken off the hook again. To fix this problem once more, they sent bellboy Randolph to talk to Owen. When he walked in, Randolph witnessed Owen on all fours, with his head in his hands, with blood surrounding him, including on the wall and the ceiling. Owen was tied up with a telephone cord around his neck, hands, and feet. He also had several stab wounds to his chest. One of his lungs was completely punctured and he had many marks on his head, and neck, likely from being strangled. Randolph rushed to his aid and realized he was still alive. 

The police arrived within minutes and Owen was still able to speak to the police when they approached him. The authorities questioned him about his attack and the person who did it to him, but he claimed that no one attacked him. Owen lied and told the police he had fallen in the bathtub. 

During the investigation, the police found no weapon, or sign of forced entry. With the amount of damage done to Owen’s body, the police concluded that someone had to have attacked him. Room 1046 was swept for fingerprints. Four different fingerprints were found on the phone in the room, but the prints were unable to be identified. During the investigation, Owen fell into a coma and passed away on January 5th, 1935. After his death, the police had to identify the body and notify the family of his passing, but they were unable to identify Owen, due to the fact that they could not find a Rowland T. Owen. 

Since Owen had no form of ID, the police put his body up for display for people to claim, which was very common back then. Unfortunately, no one was able to identify this nameless man. To further the investigation, authorities were looking for the man named Don, that Mary heard Owen speak to on the phone. They suspected that Don was the man who was talking to Mary when she was trying to deliver Owens towels. Unfortunately, the police were unable to get a single lead. 

Owen’s body was placed in a funeral home to be held. The home received an anonymous phone call from someone who wanted to pay for Owen’s funeral in full. On March 23rd, money was sent to the funeral home. After he was buried there were flowers that someone had left on his grave anonymously. The flowers were sent from the Rock Flower Company and attached to it was a greeting card that read  “Love forever, Louis”. A year passed and there was still no leads on the case and no identification of Owen. 

Within that year, a woman named Ruby was reading a magazine and an article about Owen’s death, to her surprise, she realized that this man was her son. Ruby explained how her son had left Birmingham, Alabama in 1934 to travel the United States. Rowland T. Owen’s real name was Artemis Ogletree. Artemis was only seventeen years old when he was murdered. When he first left, he would send letters to his mom very often, but as time went on, the letters were getting sent less and less. She was completely heartbroken by the fact that she had no idea something had happened to her son. 

Ruby explained that she would usually receive handwritten letters from her son, but in the spring of 1935 she received three letters that were all typed out. To her knowledge, she predicted that Artemis did not even know how to use a typewriter. Ruby looked back on the dates the typed letters were sent to her, and discovered she was receiving letters from her son after he passed away. In August of 1935, Ruby received a phone call from a long distance phone number.  When she answered, there was a man on the phone who called himself Jordan. Jordan told her how he had met her son and how they were good friends up until he passed away. He also told Ruby that her son was actually married and shared all of their adventures experiences with her. 

Today, people are still working on this case. In the early 2000s, there was a doctor named James Horner, who was working on Artemis’s case. For some, they can not live with the idea of a murdered 17 year old being a mystery, and for others, they would rather not know. Who could have killed this young man? Was it Don? And why was he murdered? Why was he acting so strange in the hotel? We may never know, but the theories, and his stories will go on for a lifetime.