On Saturday, November 10, 1951, Kenneth, David, and Daniel Klein – ages 8, 6, and 4 – left home to play at Fairview Park in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The park was only four blocks away from their home on Colfax Avenue North.
The boys’ nine-year-old brother, Gordy had to fix a broken shoelace, and then he walked to the park to join his brothers. When he arrived at the park, his brothers were not there. Gordy ran home and told his parents, Kenneth and Betty, who then called police.
A basic report was taken. However, police believed the boys simply lost track of time while playing, but nightfall arrived and the boys were still not home.
The first searches began.
The Search for the Klein Brothers
A thorough search of the boys’ neighborhood and the area around the park failed to produce any sign of the three brothers.
Police drove around with loud speakers in squad cars, blaring the boys’ names hoping the boys would hear them. The boys never responded.
Knowing kids loved to play near the Mississippi River, firemen unsuccessfully searched along the river’s edge, poking and prodding debris.
Water level from nearby dams was lowered. Edina Civil Air Defense pilots flew above the river to search for the brothers.
Two plaid stocking caps, positively identified as belonging to two of the brothers, were found about 150 feet upstream from the St. Anthony Falls spillway.
The search for the boys garnered extensive local media and national coverage. The tips started rolling in.
Sightings of the Klein Brothers
There were several possible sightings of the Klein Brothers by local residents on and after November 10, 1951.
- Margaret Goodwill saw three boys sitting on a curb near Third Street and 118th Avenue N. The boys appeared to be nervous and upset. One was calling for their mother. Police used a dog to track the boys scent by letting it sniff one of the boys’ underwear. The dog led police down to Lyndale Avenue, and then to Olsen Boulevard near the loop. The dog stopped when it reached the river.
- TC Whipps, who resided at 163 E. Island Avenue told police he saw three small boys playing in mud near his home on November 10th.
- Mrs. R.W. Johnson saw three young boys throwing clothing into the Mississippi River around 4:00 p.m. on November 10th.
- Twin City bus driver, Gregory Jahner saw three boys around 4:00 or 5:00 p.m. outside the Minneapolis Auditorium. Two kids were writing “Kenneth” and “David’ on the pavement in chalk. The boys asked him for a ride. The description of the clothes they were wearing did not match the Klein brothers’ clothes.
- A St. Paul resident thought he saw the boys around 7:00 p.m. on November 10th near Wheelock Parkway.
- A woman claimed she saw three young boys hitchhiking on Highway 65 in northeast Minneapolis on November 10th.
- On November 11th, three hunters saw three young boys matching the description of the Klein brothers get into a stalled truck on Highway 65, about five miles south of Cambridge. A sign that read “Coon Lake Sportsman’s Club'” was attached to the rear license plate. Deputies in Anoka, MN questioned members of the club who reported they had seen a truck matching the description in North Minneapolis, but not near Cambridge.
After a search in the Goodwill sighting led dogs to the river, police believed all three boys fell into the Mississippi River and drowned. The search for the boys stopped on November 15, 1951, and police closed the case. The bodies of the Klein brothers were never found.
After the boys vanished, memories of them in the Klein’s Colfax Avenue home were too much to bear for their parents. Kenneth and Betty moved to nearby Monticello. The couple had four more sons.
Kenneth and Betty Klein spent the rest of their lives searching for their sons. They often advertised in the local newspaper up until the 1990s.
The boys’ brothers continue searching for their lost siblings.
If alive today, Kenneth would be 74 years old, David, 73, and Daniel, 70.
Sources: MPLSzine – The Mystery Issue (December 4th, 2012); The Charley Project.
True Crime Diva’s Thoughts
I don’t believe the boys drowned. The Mississippi is large and the current can get pretty rough. However, I think at least one body would have been found, even some clothing. Also, this was on the weekend. I’m sure other people were by the river that day. Someone surely would have seen the boys fall in.
Reports said dogs tracked the boys’ scent to the riverbank, but in a 2017 post on Websleuths, someone named Donald, who claimed to be one of the boys’ brothers, wrote this about that, the searches and the case itself:
The dogs tracked my brothers three times, not always to the river, but always near the north side police station. The river was searched by boat, foot and air. The water level was lowered and the water clarity was good. Things like toilet seats, tires and other assorted trash were found. It was stated at the time that if they had been there they would have been found. Just too many to lose completely without trace and the trail the dogs followed didn’t actually end at the river.
Hats were found, but it looked suspicious to investigators.
My brothers case had been conveniently and wrongly closed by the Minneapolis Police department and other agencies though legally it should had remained open as a missing persons case.
The Minneapolis police have also managed to misplace or lose pretty much everything they had connected to this case which is kind of funny considering this case has been pursued by our family, retired officers, investigators, sleuths, writers and occasionally reporters for all these years and has appeared in the local media ever so often. Yet they claim they have no idea where any of the boxes or files could be, nor will they take the time to look.
I guess its all about who you are, not what the State or Federal Constitutions say our rights are or maybe there is a reason they don’t want it solved, who knows? We will keep trying to push on, obviously against the odds and we will keep trying to get justice for our family.
My parents are both deceased now. My Mom kept watching for them to the end. When my parents health made them move to town my Mom worried that they (our lost boys) may not be able to find them if they moved. After they moved to town every time a vehicle would slow down my Mom would hope it was one of her lost sons returning, I know this because I can still hear my Mom say in a excited voice, maybe one of the boys are here, wouldn’t that be something? I was also there to see the tears.
This makes what the Minneapolis police and other agencies have done or not done all these years all the more wrong to me personally. No wonder Minneapolis has a ugly history of human trafficking.
Donald continues in another post on the same thread. Below is part of the post that got my attention the most:
I will say there was a neighbor who was on the short list, he is dead now, but from what he said when questioned and by his alleged actions at the time he was certainly a person of interest and the residents he lived in is still of great interest to everyone except those who have the power to do something.
Who was this neighbor and why did police disregard him?
I believe someone abducted the Klein brothers. People are going to say it’s hard to kidnap three children at the same time. No, it isn’t. For one, the abductor could have lured the children into a car by using candy, puppy, or whatever. Kids, and even adults, were more trusting back then. Two, look at the Beaumont Children case in Australia. Three young siblings – all around the same ages as the Klein brothers – vanished together in the 60s, and police believe someone abducted and murdered them.
So, it is possible and it’s possible to do so in broad daylight.
The sightings mentioned above are interesting, but it was Saturday when the boys disappeared. The weather that day was mild. So, there were probably other siblings and friends playing outside together. Witnesses may have seen three boys together, but not the Klein brothers.
I think the Goodwill sighting is a good one. But if those boys were the Klein brothers, why were they on 118th Avenue North? Why did they leave Fairview Park?
Maybe the boys never made it to the park. Gordy showed up a short time later and the boys were not there. Did someone kidnap the boys on their way to the park?
This case is a mystery for sure.
What do you think happened to the Klein brothers?