The sophomore’s disappearance in 1953 remains perhaps Miami’s biggest unsolved mystery

In the following excerpt from the Summer 2006 Miamian article “It was a dark and stormy …,” written by Sue MacDonald ’77, President Emeritus Phillip Shriver tells of the mysterious disappearance of sophomore Ron Tammen. He has never been found. As far as we know.

Except for the unusual late-spring snow, almost everything on the 19th of April 1953 was the same as any other evening at Fisher Hall.

As far as anyone can tell, 20-year-old sophomore Ronald Tammen was studying in the second-story, northwest-corner room of the East Quad dormitory (site of today’s conference center).

Newspaper clipping of Ron Tammen disappearance

About 8 p.m., Tammen left to pick up new linens from the hall manager because someone had left a fish on his bed. Ninety minutes later, when Tammen’s roommate returned, the door to Room 225 was still open, the lights on, the radio was playing and Tammen’s psychology book was open on his desk. Tammen’s 1929 Chevy, with a year’s worth of insurance recently paid, was parked outside.

But Tammen, a resident adviser, wrestler and musician from Maple Heights, Ohio, was nowhere to be found. Assuming Tammen was spending the night at a fraternity house, his roommate didn’t report him missing until the next day.

Local police searched the campus extensively for the next few weeks and months. In June, more than 400 students combed a three-mile radius of the university for any sign of their fellow student. The FBI was called in.

A woman in Seven Mile, Ohio, recalls a young man knocking on her door about midnight on April 20th, asking directions to the nearest bus station.

But no one ever saw or heard of Tammen again, and his disappearance remains perhaps Miami’s biggest unsolved mystery to this day.

The unsolved mystery has led to numerous theories, sightings and ghostly stories over the years.

In November of 1953, when students returned to campus, voices were heard in the night near where the Formal Gardens are today. Students who ventured outside to follow the voices claimed to see strange, ghostly figures – one all in white, another dark and hairy – running speedily toward the area where Millett Hall now stands, only to vanish in the trees.

Archive photo of Fisher Hall
Fisher Hall

When Fisher Hall became a campus theater in 1958, students and faculty reported similarly strange phenomena … lights dimming for no reason, chandeliers swinging, objects moving, visions of a body dragged and buried in the hillside. Even after the upper levels of Fisher Hall were closed and tightly barricaded for safety reasons, professors working late at night would hear footsteps on the upper floors.

Did Ron Tammen run away to escape something? Was he murdered, his body buried or hidden, never to be found? Did he suffer from amnesia?

What did happen to Ron Tammen?


This concludes our three-part Halloween series on some of Miami’s spookiest legends and lore. More “Miami Mysteries,” from Thobe’s Fountain to the Ghost Biker, are out there to explore!

One thought on “Ron Tammen? Where are you?

  1. I was a freshman in Fisher Hall, along with roommate Richard Farmer, when Ron Tammen, a sophomore counselor disappeared. As a member of the ROTC program I recall searching the nearby woods for any trace of Ron, resulting in nothing. The sights and sounds later to come from the nearby Fisher Hall Formal Gardens were mysterious and spooky. It has remained a sad and mysterious memory throughout these many years.

    Jack Ellis, Vice President Emeritus for Development, Ohio University

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