In 1961 George Carroll disappeared from his Long Island home — and, according to his family, he was never to be seen again. It was a mystery that haunted George’s four children, who desperately hoped that one day they would get closure. But as the decades passed with no sign of the dad, that hope began to dwindle. Then, almost 60 years after George had vanished, his youngest son, Mike, made a shocking discovery in the basement of the Carroll family home.
A seemingly ordinary life
There was nothing in George’s past to suggest he’d ever become the focus of a decades-long mystery. After fighting in — and surviving — the Korean War, he had settled in Lake Grove, Long Island. There, he lived in a little house on a suburban road named Olive Street. It seemed like he pretty much had it made.
Growing a family
George had grown his family, too. With his wife, Dorothy, he had four children: Patricia, Jean, Steven, and Mike. And the Carroll kids were all fairly small in 1961. The eldest, Patricia, was nine years old, while the youngest, Mike, was less than a year old. They were just babies, really — too young for the life-defining change that would soon hit them.
A year to remember
In many ways, 1961 was a year to remember. President John F. Kennedy was inaugurated as the United States’ 35th president in January. Just a few months later, in April, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel into space. It was an era of prosperity in the U.S. — but not everyone was having a good time.
So many unanswered questions
In 1961 George apparently disappeared from his family home — never to return again. And all that the man left in his wake was a trail of unanswered questions. Had he been having an affair and run off with another woman? Was he tired of his idyllic domestic life? Or was something more malevolent at play?
Explaining it away
After George went missing, Dorothy apparently told their children that their father had left the house to buy cigarettes one night and had never come home. Mysteriously, though, he had forgotten to take his wallet. And son Mike — who was just eight months old at the time of his dad’s alleged disappearance — never quite bought this explanation.
But while they dogged their mom with questions, Mike and his siblings got little in the way of answers from Dorothy. Revealing his mother’s reluctance to talk about his supposedly missing dad, Mike explained to the New York Post, “I was always told, ‘Don’t ask’... So, I stopped asking.” Some things were just meant to be kept under wraps.
Rumors run amok
In the meantime, rumors ran rife among the Carrolls. Some relatives reportedly believed that George had fled his family and traveled to Korea. Then a more sinister story apparently suggested that George was dead and buried beneath the family’s basement. It was being constructed around the time of his vanishing, so the timeline fit — but it seemed unlikely.
No missing person report filed
Even stranger, it was later alleged that no one had filed a missing person report in the wake of George’s departure. That meant no police forces had been looking for him. And in the years that followed, his family slowly began to move on — despite the many unanswered questions they had about George’s whereabouts.
Another man enters the picture
Then, not long after George had vanished, a man called Richard Darress moved into the Carroll family home. He became Dorothy’s second husband, and the pair would welcome a baby boy together. Yet this wasn’t a happy ending for the mother of five, as her marriage to Richard would eventually fall apart. It was another upheaval for the Carroll kids.
Vanishing from their lives
Dorothy filed for divorce from Richard in 1983. She apparently suspected that he had been unfaithful to her, and at some point in the late 1970s she had asked him to pack his bags. Another father figure was vanishing from the Carroll kids' lives — although, this time, they were at least able to stay in touch with him.
Richard moves on
After his divorce from Dorothy, Richard reportedly moved to Nuevo Laredo in Mexico. He also remarried. However, Fox News obtained court records that allegedly reveal this woman requested a temporary protection order against Richard in 2000 — before their separation. Had something more sinister been going on in Dorothy's marriage, too? And did he have anything to do with George's disappearance?
Kept to her story
As the years passed, however, Dorothy apparently maintained her theory that George had abandoned the kids. So, they stopped asking questions for a while. “There really wasn’t much talk about it,” her son Steven told WABC in 2018. “But we became curious as adults as to where he might be.” And soon, the hunt was on.
A gruesome theory
Dorothy ultimately passed away in 1998, but Mike had purchased the Carroll family home on Olive Street before her death. He had lived there for almost two decades, in fact, before he began to consider those old family rumors. Could his father really could be buried below his house? There was only one way to find out.
Talked about for years
Speaking of the rumors regarding his dad’s final resting place, Mike told WABC, “It didn’t just come up overnight. It’s something that’s been talked about for years.” He added more detail about the theory, too, saying, “This is something as we grew up, you know, we heard multiple stories.” And as there were no other clues about his dad's location, Mike pondered even the most outlandish theories.
So, Mike decided that he would search for some answers by excavating the basement. Shortly after the work began, however, he was forced to abandon his plans. “I was actually digging in the wrong spot,” Mike told News 12. “I got to the point where it became dangerous because I was afraid my house was going to cave in. So I stopped digging.”
Getting to the truth
Still, Mike and his family never gave up on their quest for the truth, and they later resumed their search for George’s rumored remains. This time around, they employed a range of experts to help them locate any clues. And all the while, Mike did the hard labor himself, painstakingly lifting the heavy concrete basement floor piece by piece.
Among the experts Mike enlisted was someone who worked with ground-penetrating radar. This uses electromagnetic radiation, which scans below ground to build a picture of what lies below. And when used in the Carrolls’ basement, the equipment detected a mysterious mass six feet under the concrete floor. Could it really be the missing dad? Or was this a red herring?
Turning to a psychic
Following advice from one of his sisters, Mike also turned to a psychic for help. And while, as a professional respiratory therapist, Mike is certainly a proponent of science, he was willing to hear the clairvoyant out. “There is, of course, premonitions, gut feelings — things like that,” he admitted to the New York Post.
Speaking to News 12, Mike also revealed that he’d seen “spirits” in his home as a child. “My friend came from Georgia, and he said, ‘Mike, I came out of your bathroom, and I saw a guy standing there, like, you know, a shadow of a man, standing and walking down the stairs,’” he said. However, cementing his status as a skeptic, Mike concluded, “But that’s neither here nor there.”
“The energy is here”
Explaining what had happened during the paranormal investigation, Mike told the New York Post, “There was a guy who came to my basement. And he went to the right spot and said, ‘The energy is here.’” By this point, though, Mike had unfortunately suffered a stroke. He had his adult sons, Christopher and Michael Jr., take over the search instead.
And in late 2018 Mike told News 12 exactly how his sons had become involved in the mission. “I told my kids, ‘Guys, come on over here and help me out. You’ve been watching me do this; you get in there,’” he explained. “I think they felt bad for me because they knew this was important to me.”
A big breakthrough
Then, while Mike’s sons were apparently digging in the spot that had been picked out by the psychic, they finally made a breakthrough. There, several feet under the ground, Christopher and Michael Jr. found something that they believed to be of interest. And they alerted their father, who came rushing down to the basement from upstairs.
A chilling realization
Mike later told News 12, “It’s not easy for me to get up and down the stairs.” But despite his limited mobility, he was eager to get a closer look. “I actually did get into the hole where they were digging,” he revealed. And upon closer inspection, Mike made a chilling realization. What he saw could very well be the remains of a human being.
“Down and twisted in the dirt”
Later, Mike described the grim sight of the bones to the New York Post. “They were twisted in a knot, weird-looking,” he explained. “It was down and twisted in the dirt… not totally exposed, either.” Mike ensured his siblings were the first to know about the gruesome discovery. And the day afterward — which, incidentally, happened to be Halloween — they informed the police.
The cops investigate
The Suffolk County Police Department couldn’t immediately confirm the origin of the bones, although they did say that they looked human. But the cops would need to carry out DNA testing and potentially analyze dental records before they could say for certain who — or what — the bones belonged to. Could they have belonged to George?
Convinced it’s dad
Even without such confirmation, Mike was convinced that the remains were those of his father. “It’s going to be my dad,” he confidently told the New York Post. And revealing that he was able to look at the discovery positively, Mike added, “This is going to be a great thing for him — to be emancipated from that place where he didn’t belong.”
“I felt vindication for my dad”
In fact, the discovery of the unidentified bones left Mike with a feeling of “total peace.” Elaborating on his emotions at the time, he told News 12, “I felt vindication for my dad. I felt like he was dancing in heaven.” His sense of closure must have only been strengthened when experts confirmed the remains did indeed belong to his father.
The police confirmation
In December 2018 officials from Suffolk County announced that the skeleton was in fact George’s. And Michael Caplan, a medical examiner for the county, told Newsday, “The DNA was extremely well-preserved within the skeletal remains, even after almost 60 years.” Six decades after George’s disappearance, it seems Mike and his siblings had finally found their father.
Glad he took a chance
Mike was happy to have found answers to some of the questions that had haunted him for so long. He explained to News 12, “I took a chance. I could have done this whole thing and found nothing, and then I would have had a whole messed-up basement.” He added, “I have a messed-up basement. But I’m really glad we found what we found. It puts my family at ease.”
It wasn’t a natural death
And while it’s likely that the Carrolls will never know the full story behind their dad’s death, an autopsy has provided some clarity. According to the medical report, George was murdered, and his remains show signs of blunt impact trauma on his skull. Experts have explained, however, that this could have happened after George had already died.
Psychic told him
But while the injuries George reportedly sustained may have shocked some families, the news didn’t come as a total surprise to Mike. “I was told by the psychic it was blunt force trauma,” he told the New York Post in 2018. “She actually said to me that it was a pipe — that he got hit in the head by a pipe — and he was buried alive.”
So many open ends
Given the evidence that Mike and his sons uncovered, the family’s hunt for their missing father has apparently morphed into a police homicide inquiry. Commenting on the revelation, Mike later told News 12, “There’s so many open ends here. There’s a story behind the story behind the story.” After six decades, though, the killer may very have passed away, too.
The police have their suspicions
Meanwhile, the police have their own theories. They apparently would have liked to have interviewed Mike’s former stepfather, Richard, but he has since passed away, too. And perhaps because there’ll be no questioning of Richard, Mike has kept an open mind on the matter, “I’m trying to avoid pointing a finger at this point,” he told Newsday.
Just happy to have found George
And the Carroll family has decided not to speculate on what may have happened to George — or who may have been responsible for his death. Instead, they were simply happy to have found him after all that time. “I feel great that my dad is finally free from that... hole,” Mike told Newsday.
“There will be no justice”
Besides, given that many people around at the time of his father’s disappearance have since died, Mike isn’t confident that his dad’s murderer will be found. “There will be no justice,” he told the New York Post. “The justice happened when we dug him up because we just interrupted the perfect crime. They almost got away with this.”
Finally has closure
And by looking at the discovery of his father’s remains from this point of view, Mike has been able to celebrate the fact that his family finally has some closure. “I tell my sons… we hit a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth — two outs,” he told the New York Post. “We found our dad, so we win.”
“He has been here the whole time”
It was a sentiment shared by Mike’s older brother Steven, who had been five years of age when his dad had gone missing. “It just struck me that he has been here the whole time, and it’s wonderful,” he told the New York Post in 2018. “The grandchildren can now say Grandpa was found.”
But though he is happy that his father’s remains have finally been located, Steven is still haunted by the thought of George’s final moments. “How does something like this happen?,” he asked in an interview with Newsday. “How do you dispose of someone and bury them in the basement and pour concrete over them, and nobody knows about it?”
“I want him to get what he needs”
Even though there are so many questions yet to be answered, the Carrolls can now start to think about finally putting their father to rest. They hope to bury him in Calverton National Cemetery on Long Island, accompanied by a military service. “I want him to be a soldier,” Mike told WABC. “I want him to get what he needs.”