Whither Judge Crater?

The case of Judge Crater has stirred much interest and curiosity over the years. Why would a man just step into a taxicab and disappear for no apparent reason, never to be seen again? Many outlandish and sensational theories have been proposed, but until now, nobody has actually solved the mystery behind the disappearance of Judge Crater.

The diligent, tireless work of a private investigator from Levittown, Pennsylvania has changed this. Working on his own time with no corporate sponsorship of any sort, Mr. Frank Benjamin has now pieced together the final days of Crater's life, and most important, he has a completely rational and sensible explanation of what happened to the judge.

Benjamin spotted a seemingly routine case on Crater's docket two weeks before he vanished-- the case of Myrna Slattery, who appeared before Crater to answer a charge of indecent exposure for wearing a miniskirt in public. She pleaded guilty and Crater sentenced her to thirty days in jail. Nothing more is said of this incident, but apparently, this was not the end of it. Miss Slattery was the niece of Timothy Plummer, a wealthy industrialist and garment manufacturer-- and the largest producer of miniskirts at the time.

Apparently, Crater's action was noticed by Plummer-- and not too well liked-- and Plummer decided to mobilize his forces. Benjamin also found another case on Crater's docket that may have sealed his fate. Three days after Slattery was sent to jail, Mr. Paul King appeared before Crater to be tried for disorderly conduct. The evidence presented at the trial showed that King was caught clearly wearing sneakers in plain sight, as attested by three sworn witnesses and the arresting officer. Crater found King guilty and sentenced him to ten days in jail and a $10 fine. A story about this case appeared in a local newspaper; it noted that a Victor Harper was present and commented, "This miscarriage of justice will not go unchallenged." Benjamin learned that Harper was the executive vice president of Flerie, Inc.-- the third largest manufacturer of sneakers in the country at the time.

From here, the story becomes even more chilling. Plummer had already begun to hatch a plot against Judge Crater, but after Harper reported King's imprisonment and fine to Fred Quillery, the owner of Flerie, Quillery decided to take action of his own. Quillery's men spoke to Crater two days before his disappearance, according to Benjamin's research. Crater left that meeting visibly disturbed but did not explain to anyone exactly what had happened. The following day, Quillery and Plummer met in an abandoned warehouse in Paterson, New Jersey and had a long discussion about what to do about Crater, who that very day further infuriated them by sentencing Winifred Cutler to five days jail and a $5 fine for wearing a halter top as she walked down Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Although they had no personal financial interest in halter tops at the time, they apparently took this as a signal that Crater would not be intimidated and would continue to issue rulings unfavorable to their cause.

Two days later, Judge Crater stepped into a taxicab and disappeared. The following week, Plummer and Quillery formed the Quillery-Plummer Corporation to acquire a manufacturer of halter tops. Benjamin is now certain that Crater was abducted to prevent him from fighting the spread of grunge. "The facts are clear," he said in a recent interview to promote his new book, Judge Crater: Grunge Fighter. He was forced to go to a vanity press when no traditional publisher would even consider it, and six vanity presses also refused to publish it for fear of what might happen if they did-- even though Benjamin literally waved a $10,000 bank check in front of their owners as an inducement.

Also worth noting is that shortly after Crater disappeared, jeans, t-shirts, and sweat pants started to pollute the American scene, according to Benjamin. "Crater's disappearance gave everyone the green light to start producing the worst kinds of clothing," he said. "With Crater gone, and other judges of like mind frightened, everyone knew that the production of grunge could proceed unfettered by ordinary standards of human justice. Afterward, the media started promoting all that stuff as being chic, and this began to create a demand to consume all the supply that folks such as Plummer and Quillery had started stockpiling. The rest is history," he said sadly.

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