The Strange Disappearance Of Ronald Tammen

On the evening of April 19, 1953, 19-year-old Ronald Tammen, who was a student at Ohio's Miami University, returned to his dorm room to find a dead fish in his bed. According to the Miami University Alumni Association, Tammen left his room at approximately 8:00 p.m. to get some clean bedding from the Fisher Hall manager. He was seen walking back toward his room with the clean bedding. According to reports, he planned to spend the remainder of the evening studying psychology.

Approximately 30 minutes after returning to his dorm room, The Charley Project reports that Tammen heard a noise in the hallway outside of his room. After walking into the hallway, he was never seen again. Tammen's roommate returned to the dorm at approximately 10:00 p.m. Although he noted Tammen was gone, it was not unusual for his roommate to spend time at the Delta Tau Delta fraternity house, where he was a member. However, when Tammen failed to return the following morning, the roommate reported him missing.

As reported by the Miami University Alumni Association, the roommate said that when he walked into the room, the lights and radio were on, and Tammen's psychology textbook was open on his desk. A further search of the room revealed Tammen also left his identification card, keys, wallet, watch, and several other personal items behind. According to The Charley Project, his 1938 Chevrolet sedan was left in the school parking lot with his bass violin in the back seat.

He behaved strangely prior to vanishing

As reported by The Charley Project, Ronald Tammen had an estimated $10 to $15 in his possession on the evening he vanished. He also had $200 in his bank account, but the money was never withdrawn.

Although Tammen left his personal belongings behind and was not believed to have enough money to start a new life, authorities did not find any indication that the college student was abducted. Detectives did not find any signs of a struggle in or around the dorm room, and they noted Tammen was a member of the university's varsity wrestling team and would have been difficult to overpower.

There were also several unusual circumstances that suggested Tammen may have been experiencing personal difficulties in the months and weeks prior to his disappearance. Five months before he vanished, the Miami University Alumni Association reports Tammen visited the office of the Butler County Coroner to request a test to determine his blood type. The coroner thought the request was highly unusual, as nobody had ever approached him requesting bloodwork. As reported by The Charley Project, it is unknown why Tammen wanted the test done, as he did not discuss the test or the results with anyone.

Although Tammen said he was studying for his psychology class and his psychology textbook was left open on his desk, he withdrew from the class three weeks before he vanished (via The Charley Project).

There are multiple theories about about his disappearance

On the same evening he disappeared, a woman living approximately 12 miles east of Oxford in Seven Mile said a man matching Ronald Tammen's description came to her door. According to The Charley Project, the woman said the man was on foot and appeared to be disheveled and confused. Although it was a cold night and there was snow on the ground, the woman said the man was not wearing a coat — which matched reports that Tammen left his coat in his dorm room.

The woman said the man asked her for directions to the nearest bus stop. However, he could not have taken the bus that night because it had finished its route for the day. Tammen's parents, who still lived in his hometown of Maple Heights, Ohio, last saw their son one week before he vanished. As reported by The Charley Project, Tammen's parents said he seemed to be fine and did not discuss anything that was troubling him when they saw him.

There are numerous theories as to what actually happened to Tammen. Some people believe he voluntarily left the campus and started a new life elsewhere, while others believe he was abducted and murdered. It has also been suggested that the college student may have been injured and suffered amnesia or simply suffered a psychotic break. However, one of the most intriguing theories suggests Tammen became involved with the CIA via his psychology professor.

Tammen and the CIA

Jennifer Wenger, who is an alumni of Miami University, believes Ronald Tammen was either recruited to join the CIA or "targeted ... as an experimental subject" by his psychology professor St. Clair Switzer. Wenger suggests Tammen was either bisexual or homosexual and struggled to accept his attraction to men. Wenger believes Tammen eventually consented to hypnosis, conducted by Miami University's psychology department. According to Wenger, the hypnosis was likely meant to reduce or vanquish Tammen's attraction to other men.

At the time of his death, Wenger claims Tammen was struggling with his studies and had dropped so many classes that he was no longer considered a full-time student. As Tammen's deferment from the military draft was reliant on his status as a full-time student, he would have been facing the possibility of mandatory enrollment in the U.S. Army. Assuming Tammen was bisexual or homosexual, Wenger said being drafted "would have been devastating for him."

Wenger believes Tammen's psychology professor, St. Clair Switzer, was aware of his dilemma and either encouraged or forced him to become involved in the CIA. Wenger believes a CIA operative picked Tammen up and transported him to "some CIA training facility." Although Wenger's theory is intriguing, authorities denied accusations that Tammen was involved in the CIA. It is also unlikely that Miami University, local law enforcement, the FBI, and the CIA, all conspired to fake the disappearance of one student.

Ronald Tammen's disappearance was never solved

A native of Maple Heights, Ohio, Ronald Tammen was born on July 23, 1933. As reported by, he had four siblings and was the second oldest of his parents' children.

Since childhood, Tammen was driven and determined to be successful. Prior to entering college, he worked numerous jobs, including delivering newspapers for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, caddying at the Hawthorne Valley Country Club, and setting pins at a local bowling alley. While attending Miami University, Tammen was a member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity, the Miami University jazz band, and the wrestling team, and he also served as a residence hall counselor. At the time of his disappearance, The Charley Project reports that Tammen was 5-foot-10-inches and approximately 175 pounds. He had brown hair and brown eyes. If he were alive today, Tammen would be in his late 80s.

According to, Tammen's friends and family said he was patient and kind and was not the type of person who would voluntarily disappear without telling anyone. Although there have not been any legitimate sightings of Ronald Tammen since the evening he vanished, the unusual nature of his disappearance ultimately led to rumors that Miami University's Fisher Hall was haunted by Tammen's ghost. As reported by Anomalien, the so-called "Phantom of Oxford" was first sighted seven months after Tammen vanished. In November 1953, students were reportedly returning to campus following the Thanksgiving break when they heard what sounded like singing. 

Some people believe his ghost haunted Fisher Hall

Several of the students allegedly went outside to try to figure out who was singing. According to witness reports, the students saw what appeared to be a ghost-like figure in the bushes. As reported by Anomalien, the students said the figure, which was tall and thin, then proceeded to run with "superhuman speed" toward the woods. Although the figure ultimately vanished, the students were convinced it was the ghost of Ronald Tammen — which they dubbed the "Phantom of Oxford."

As reported in the February 6, 2003 edition of the Journal-News, a Miami University student organization invited a California-based spiritualist to the campus to conduct a seance. During the event, which took place in Fisher Hall and was attended by an estimated 200 students, the spiritualist claimed to have a vision involving a young male student. According to the spiritualist, he saw the student leave his dorm room to investigate loud noises coming from the basement. When he entered the basement, the spiritualist said the student was physically assaulted by two men and ultimately dragged out of the building.

Through the years, Tammen's ghost was reportedly blamed for unexplained footsteps, voices, and other sounds, along with sightings of shadowy figures and the unexplained movement of objects throughout Fisher Hall. According to The Charley Project, Fisher Hall was ultimately destroyed in 1978. Although authorities conducted an extensive search of the debris, no sign of Tammen's remains was ever found.