Who are the heirs to an estate worth nearly a quarter-million dollars, left by a mysterious recluse?
Walter Green, nicknamed “Curly”, lived a quiet, frugal life, alone in a small apartment near downtown Omaha, Nebraska. He was friendly to his neighbors, but kept mostly to himself.
On April 24th, 1978, Curly had a heart attack and died while working in his yard. Everyone who knew him was surprised to find out that he had left behind an inheritance of more than $200,000. But he left no will and his relatives could not be located. Catheryn Saalfeld was one of his old friends:
Josh Butler, a professional heir investigator, was assigned to locate Curly’s next of kin:
It is extraordinary that a man who lived as simply as Curly Green could have accumulated such a large sum of money. But even more extraordinary is that the inheritance remains unclaimed.
Much of Curly’s early life is a mystery. What is known is that when he was only 16, he hopped a train heading for Omaha. Curly jumped off outside the city near a small farming town called Schuyler. He immediately began looking for work. Al Rominger, a local tavern keeper, offered him a ride and a home-cooked meal with his family. Catheryn Saalfeld, the younger of the two Rominger girls, was only nine years-old when she met Curly:
At dinner, Curly didn’t say much about his family or his birthplace in Montana. Catheryn Saalfield:
Al Rominger found Curly a job working at the local garage and he earned enough to move into a boarding house. Now that he was a working man, Curly began to court Catheryn’s older sister, Jessamyn. From the moment he first saw her, Curly was in love. He would never feel the same way about anyone else.
In 1917, when the United States entered the First World War, Curly enlisted in the Army. After serving on the European front, he returned home to Schuyler, and to Jessamyn. Catheryn remembers Curly’s ill-fated relationship with her sister:
Jessamyn ended up marrying another man. Curly never married or had a family of his own. He’d spend the next sixty years alone. In that time, he never talked about his family.
Over the years, Curly saved a considerable fortune. Some suspect the money came from the sale of his rare coin collection. But Catheryn thought he just saved every penny that he ever made:
When he died, Curly left behind more than $200,000 in real estate, stocks, bonds, and cash. So far, no legitimate heirs have claimed the estate. Investigator Josh Butler has researched the case of Curly Green extensively:
Curly said he was born in Kendall, Montana, and had once lived in Denver. He was known to have a collection of gold coins, some of which he might have obtained in Mexico. Apparently, he once received postcards from someone in Brooklyn, New York.
Curly claimed he had a brother who was killed in a shoot-out. He stated that his father, Albert Harry Green, was born in England and that his mother, Ann Mauren Green, was born in Latvia. Neither of Curly’s parents have been found.
Nearly ten years after his death, Curly’s fortune remained the largest unclaimed heir in Nebraska’s history.
Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season one with Robert Stack and season seven with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.SUBMIT A TIP
I think with $200,000 it was the exact same amount D.B Cooper stole, I think he was him, the perfect person to carry put the perfect crime is someone no one would suspect or even know.
Did any one ever follow up on Mrs. Greener? There are two Joe Greeners of Co. who have passed since this aired. The gent who passed last year, has a widow still very much alive.
My heart goes out to Curly. He and Jessamine were over by the end of WW2, yet she didn’t marry her husband til 1938. I wonder if a DNA test was ever done or if they discovered the identity of the woman that sent the flowers.
Yeah, I’m really curious about who sent the flowers.
This sort of thing was pretty common back in the early twentieth century. I had a great uncle who left England in 1914 to fight in the War, then he moved to Canada and, apart from an occasional postcard to his mother (who died in the early 1950s), no one ever heard from him again. He died in the 1970s and eventually they tracked down his family to tell us that he had never married and had left an estate in excess of $6million. He’d invested in mining back in the early 1920s, led a very quiet life and just focused on his business interests. Whether it was the trauma of the War, homosexuality, or just his personality, we’ll never know.
I just saw this episode. I forget how many seasons there are on Tubi TV at the moment. I just found out about a 78 year half sister I have after my dad married her mom hastily before serving in World War 2 from 1943-47. When he returned they were divorced. She was 4 years older than dad and he moved on. He never knew that his quick marriage produced a child. Anyway his daughter contacted my sister and they got along so well her and her daughter, my half cousin flew into LaGuardia for a week. She looks exactly like my older sister. We got along great. I did hear my dad was married before over 30 years ago but my dad was good at keeping secrets and I never heard it brought up again. He passed away in 2003.
I hate that this is still unsolved
We’ve (my family)tried but never could track down any relatives for Curly. The love of his life Jessamyn was my Aunt and his friend Catherine was my grandmother.
With all due respect, your grand aunt was a terrible person. Your grandmother seemed lovely though, and I’m glad he had her as a friend.
A bit harsh to call the woman a terrible person. He didn’t love her because she was a terrible person. She didn’t love him, but you can’t force that.
I am related to Elizabeth Green she would be my 3 great grandparent. If there is a way for DNA testing for Curly I would be interested. I don’t know my grandfathers family because they all passed away before I was born. I’m on 23& me.
He left his family and never contacted them again for reasons unknown. He didn’t leave a living will so I’d say he probably didn’t want them to have it. Donate it to a good cause!
THIS in 2020 should be solved no excuses … sometimes lack of answers is from ppl who simply give up and or dont care..
What episode and season. Number is Walter curly green story lost heirs on unsolved mysteries on Pluto
Season 1 Episode 6
Season 1 Episode 6
Try putting his DNA into gedmatch
A simple DNA test should help solve the puzzle. My DNA test has reveled over 50,000 DNA related “cousins”. In order of closest to most distant. I found out my sister had a child out of wedlock. NB should use the fortune to get Curly’s DNA sample then trace closest kin.
why would they use his fortune to get a dna sample? They have no rights to that money and also if they spend it then whats the point in find his family? They wont have anything to give but a death notice smh
I did some searching on Ancestry.com and there are a number of people who claim him as a relative and he is included in their family trees, along with the name of his brother who was murdered in 1921. Even the photo used as his profile picture is the same as one shown on Unsolved Mysteries. From all that I would assume that yes, relatives have been located or relatives have contacted the Nebraska treasurer. Whether or not anyone received any money, however, is unknown.
Most people make up stuff on their trees.
My grandmother was a Green and she had a brother that ran away and was never found! I have done some research on this but never finished! I plan on picking up where I left off and try to see if this man could possibly be him! Also, I will make the contact to Nebraska as was suggested to others!
Debra L Green
Is this case still open for claim. Just saw an episode of Unsolved Mysteries and my. Father and grandfather came out of Denver, Colorado and the Green family in general lived in this part of the country. How do I find out if this could have been a family relative.?
Thank you for any help,
Debra L. Green
Unsolved Mysteries Post author
Hi Debra – as far as we are aware the case is still open. You can find out more by contacting the Nebraska State Treasury: https://treasurer.nebraska.gov/contact.aspx
Try doing ancestry DNA and trace it
I don’t know if he would be from my family or not but my father is James green sr. Born November 4 1958 his father’s name was Floyd green. I was in foster care most my life and trying to find all my family
Unsolved Mysteries Post author
Hi Jessica – for more information on this case, please contact the Nebraska State Treasury: https://treasurer.nebraska.gov/contact.aspx
To whom it may concern: I am replying to this because I was wondering if he was related to my late Uncle Pharos Green. He was married to my late aunt Charlotte, her maiden name is Schuuman. I don’t much about my uncle or his family so would you be able to find out this information. I would really appreciate it. Thank you
Unsolved Mysteries Post author
Hi Rebecca – the Nebraska State Treasury is handling this case. Please contact them here: https://treasurer.nebraska.gov/contact.aspx
DOes anyone know if any heirs were ever found? Just curious.