Begin New Search
Refine Last Search
Cemetery Lookup
Add Burial Records
Help with Find A Grave

Top Contributors
Success Stories
Community Forums
Find A Grave Store

Log In
Joseph Force Crater
Birth: Jan. 5, 1889
Northampton County
Pennsylvania, USA
Death: Aug. 6, 1930
New York
New York County (Manhattan)
New York, USA

New York Supreme Court Judge. Born in Easton, Pennsylvania. Joseph was one of four children born to his father, Frank E. Crater, an orchard owner and operator of a produce market and the former Leila Virginia Montague. Joseph began to show a passion for music during his youth, and was encouraged by his mother to play the piano. Even though his family never struggled financially, Joseph still put in long hours working for his father at a young age and learned what it was like to work hard. He was educated at Lafayette College the class of 1910 and Columbia University. During his time at Columbia, Joseph met a woman named Stella Wheeler. He and Stella began spending a lot of time together, and he helped her get her divorce. They married shortly thereafter in the spring of 1917. Joseph began his career as a low paid law clerk in New York City. Looking for extra income, he started teaching legal classes at the City College of New York, Fordham University, and New York University. He decided to go into politics. He earned his first political appointment as a secretary to New York Supreme Court Justice Robert F. Wagner, Sr. in 1920. Joseph set up his own law practice in 1927. He was an immediate success and was able to afford a better lifestyle. With their new found money, Joseph and his wife hired a maid, a cook, and a chauffeur; they began to entertain lavishly. His successes continued, and in April of 1930, Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Crater to the New York Supreme Court to fill the spot of a jurist who had resigned. Shortly after Joseph was appointed to the New York Supreme Court, inquiries were beginning into the corruption of the Democratic Party in Tammany Hall. Tammany Hall was the Democratic Party political machine in New York City. There were rumors of large-scale bribery, improper property transactions that allowed politically connected owners to make large profits at the taxpayers' expenses, and selling of high-placed municipal jobs. During the late summer of 1930, Judge Crater and his wife, Stella were spending time at their vacation cottage in Belgrade Lakes, Maine. In late July, Joseph had to return to the city to sort out some business but returned to Maine shortly after on August 1. Again, on August 3, he went back to New York City, promising his wife that he would return by her birthday, August 9. On the morning of August 6, Joseph's law clerk said that he spent all morning in his State Supreme Court Chambers destroying documents and stuffing several others into briefcases. Later that evening, Joseph went to a Broadway ticket agency and bought one seat for a comedy called Dancing Partner at the Belasco Theatre. He then went to Billy Haas's Chophouse, where he ate dinner with Ritzi, his mistress and William Klein, a lawyer friend. Klein later told investigators that Joseph was in a good mood that evening and gave no indication that anything was bothering him. The dinner ended a little after 9 pm, shortly after the curtain rose on the show for which Joseph had bought a ticket, and the small group went outside. Joseph's dinner companions entered a taxi outside the restaurant. Both later testified before a grand jury that they last saw Joseph walking down the street. On September 4, 1930, newspaper headlines announced Joseph's disappearance to New York City. During the next few weeks his disappearance made national headlines. For several months numerous reports of sightings and rumors about Judge Crater circulated. His case was the most famous missing persons case in the nation's history for decades after his disappearance. Despite massive publicity, no trace of him was ever found, and nine years later on June 6, 1939, he was legally presumed dead. After 55 years, the New York City Police Department declared the case officially closed in 1985. At the time of his disappearance he was 41 years old. (bio by: Shock) 
Family links: 
  Frank Ellsworth Crater (1863 - 1942)
  Lelila Virginia Montague Crater (1865 - 1951)
  Joseph Force Crater (1889 - 1930)
  Margaret Crater Henry (1890 - 1993)*
  Douglass Montague Crater (1892 - 1922)*
*Calculated relationship
Body lost or destroyed
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Anonymous
Record added: Dec 03, 2002
Find A Grave Memorial# 6984692
Joseph Force Crater
Added by: Anonymous
Photos may be scaled.
Click on image for full size.

- Suzy E.
 Added: May. 26, 2015
Happy Heavenly Birthday, Judge Crater. Rest in eternal peace, where ever you may be.
- sjm
 Added: Jan. 5, 2015
Judge Crater Where Are You?
- J Spencer
 Added: Aug. 3, 2014
There are 50 more notes not showing...
Click here to view all notes...
How famous was this person?
Current ranking for this person: (3.9 after 36 votes)

Privacy Statement and Terms of Service