Like most intriguing small towns Park City has had its share of mysteries. Some of those mysteries were solved, though most were not, and others simply resolved themselves.
One such mystery, though resolved on its own, leaves more questions unanswered than determined. On April 14, 1930 Phillip Jensen asked his son Carl Leon, age 19, to take their business truck to the Park City Garage for repairs. Carl never returned home, and the town began investigating his mysterious disappearance.
Conspiracy quickly took over the case. Some believed that Carl ran off and joined the Navy, however, with a check of military records it was proven that he did not. Phillip Jensen had fears that his son had been murdered, and after a year of failed searches contacted the Salt Lake police to aid in the hunt. According to Park City police chief W.D. St. Jeor, he had been working on the case for some time but was unable to track down any evidence explaining Carl’s ‘mysterious disappearance.’ He would not back the theory of murder, however, without substantial proof. Many towns’ people saw the lack of evidence as even more of a reason to believe that the young man had fallen prey to murderous hands.
Though it would seem curiosity plagued the town, not much was published in 1930 after Carl initially went missing. In fact it took nearly a year for the Park Record to take notice of what was believed by then to be a case of foul play. In an article published on March 12, 1931, Mr. Jensen told police that he is “of the opinion…that the youth was kidnapped and spirited away from the mining community while returning to his home, and that he was murdered by someone holding a grudge against certain members of the family.”
So with no evidence and no suspects what became of the Carl Leon Jensen case? Well in Park City’s usual fashion (for the time) they filed it under unsolved and moved on. No other articles were written in regards to the outcome of Phillip’s efforts and it seems as if all went quiet. That is until August 19, 1932 when one sentence in the Park Record informed the community that, “Carl Jensen, who at one time was reported murdered, returned to Park City last Saturday, after a two year’s absence in California.”
Although it must have been nice to count this case a victory and move it from unsolved to resolved, several questions remain unanswered. How did his family and the town react to his reappearance? What did he do with his time in California? Unfortunately these questions will likely remain unanswered forever. The Park Record reported only a single sentence at the time, and although Carl Leon Jensen is mentioned several other times in the newspaper for a variety of reasons none report on the mystery. He lived a long life passing away in 1991 at the age of 81 in Salt Lake City.
The Park City Historical Society & Museum is celebrating 30 years of preserving, protecting, and promoting Park City’s history and heritage.