Home » The Phantom of Fisher Hall: Where is Ronald Tammen?

The Phantom of Fisher Hall: Where is Ronald Tammen?

It’s been over 70 years since college sophomore Ronald Tammen Jr disappeared on a literal dark and stormy night in 1953. Tammen, by all accounts, was an average and popular student. He was an R.A. (resident hall advisor) at Oxford, Ohio’s Miami University. He played string bass in the University’s band, the Campus Owls, belonged to the Delta Tau Delta fraternity and was an asset on the school’s wrestling team. He was close with his family, dated casually and was known for being a levelheaded, responsible young man; certainly not the kind of person who would take off without warning.

Sunday, April 19th, 1953, appeared to be a typical day for Ronald. It is unknown how he spent his morning but by the afternoon he was spotted studying psychology in his dorm room, located in room 225 of Fisher Hall. Curiously, he had actually dropped his psychology course three weeks earlier. There were several other sightings of Tammen throughout the evening studying, eating in the dining hall, helping a friend with their homework, getting ready for a shower. Friends would later remark that Ronald appeared in “good spirits”.

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At around 8PM, Ronald requested new bedsheets from his Hall Manager because a friend, Richard Titus, had put a dead fish in his bed. A short time later, at approximately 8:30PM, Ronald heard “something outside his room that disturbed him” and he went outside to investigate. Tammen was last seen on foot and not wearing a coat, despite it beginning to snow that evening. By 10PM or 10:30PM, when his roommate Chuck Findlay returned for the evening, Ronald was gone without a trace.

His clothes, car keys, wallet, identification, watch, high school class ring and other personal items were left behind in his room, and he also left the lights on, the radio playing, and his textbook lying open on his desk, as if Ronald intended to come back. His car, a gold 1938 Chevrolet sedan, was still in the school parking lot. 

Numerous theories regarding the disappearance of Ronald Tammen Jr. have been explored over the years. Some have suggested Tammen walked away from his life to start over somewhere else. Others believe the reason for his disappearance could have been a simple case of a prank gone wrong. Ronald was an active member of the Delta Tau Delta frat and had already been pranked earlier that night with a fish in his bed and by way of a ‘drop off,’ a hazing ritual where brothers will blindfold newer members and drop them off several miles away from campus with the mission of getting themselves back home. Could Ronald’s fraternity brothers have dropped him off in a location so remote, he became more lost? Or could there be a more convoluted explanation?

Per the Charley project: “Jennifer Wenger, a Miami University alumnus, began researching the Tammen case in 2010 and spent nine years trying to solve his case. She doesn’t think Tammen died around the time of his disappearance and thinks he lived for an extended period, perhaps as long as 42 years, which would place his death sometime in 1995. She bases this conclusion on the fact that the FBI discarded Tammen’s fingerprint records in 2002; regulations allow them to destroy fingerprint records seven years after a person’s death. Wenger believes Tammen’s psychology professor was involved with the CIA and that Tammen may have been recruited into the agency.” Interestingly, approximately five months before his disappearance, Ronald traveled to the Butler County Coroner’s office in Hamilton, Ohio and asked for a test to have his blood typed. When interviewed by police, the coroner remembered the interaction so well because he claims this was the only such request he ever got in 35 years of practice.

Ronald was scheduled for a physical examination by the Selective Service for induction into the army, but he would not have needed to know his blood type for this examination. To this day, it is unknown why Ronald went to have this testing or why he wouldn’t have gone to the Oxford University hospital to have it done.

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In the years following his vanishing, residents of Fisher Hall reported numerous cases of paranormal activity that students and faculty alike believe is the restless spirit of Ronald Tammen. Lights dimming randomly and for no reason, chandeliers swinging, objects moving; the rumors of a ghost ran rampant until 1978, when Fisher Hall was demolished. An extensive search was conducted in the rubble after the building was torn down but nothing relevant in Ronald’s case turned up.

Ronald, dressed for his High School prom

Ronald Tammen Jr. was only 19 years old when he disappeared in 1953. He is described as a white male with a dark/ruddy complexion. He is known to have short, dark brown hair and brown eyes. He was athletic with a muscular build and stands between 5’9″ to 5’10” and weighs approximately 175 pounds. One of his front teeth slightly overlaps the other tooth and he has an acquired deformity of the ear called “cauliflower ear.” His blood type is O positive. Ronald was on foot when he was last spotted and was not wearing a coat despite the snow that night. Ronald’s parents are now deceased, but his two youngest siblings are still alive and hope to know what became of their brother. If he were to resurface today, he would be 90-years-old. Authorities have never found any indication of foul play in his disappearance.

Anyone with any information about the disappearance of Ronld Tammen Jr is encouraged to contact the Oxford Police Department at 513-524-5240.

Research Sources:

The Charley Project

A Good Man is Hard to Find Blog by Jennifer Wenger

Miami University Alumni Association: Ron Tammen Disappearance

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Written by Fallon Gannon
True Crime stuff. Way too much coffee. Great with other dogs.
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