Birth Name: Camilla Lowell Lyman
Aliases: Cam Lyman
Location: Hopkinton, Rhode Island
Date: July 1987
Details: Camilla Lyman was a wealthy heiress; her parents were old money Boston aristocrats. She shared her father's passion for show dogs. She was popular in the show dog world. According to her sister Mary, she was a good handler and a good breeder of clumber spaniels. She never dated or married; her dogs were her life. A solitary spinster, she lived with her parents on their hundred-acre estate. Her father Arthur died in 1968. When her mother died five years later, her world seemed to fall apart. Her behavior became more and more bizarre.
Starting in the mid-1970s, Mary noticed that the estate was not being taken care of properly. Camilla became an eccentric recluse and spent more time with her dogs than she did with people. Her appearance began to change as well. She bought animal steroids and began taking them herself. Her voice deepened, she began to develop facial hair, and she began wearing men's clothing. Between 1978 and 1985, she underwent a transformation to being a man, legally changing his name to Cam Lyman.
Around 1981, he started to associate with a fellow dog owner named George O'Neil. George was eventually hired by Cam, becoming the caretaker of his estate. He took care of paying Cam's bills and arranged rides to dog shows. O'Neil also fed and showed his dogs. Eventually, he became Cam's sole confident; he associated with no one else but O'Neil. He continued to become more eccentric, carrying a briefcase with thousands of dollars worth of jewelry. He also took thousands of dollars in cash to go to the grocery store.
In 1984, O'Neil helped Cam sell his Massachusetts home and buy a 40-acre property in Hopkinton, Rhode Island. Cam vanished sometime in 1987; his disappearance was discovered when his relatives and friends failed to receive Cam's customary Christmas card. The family was especially concerned because checks that had been sent to Cam were being endorsed with an account number for a bank account in Rhode Island instead of his signature. In December of 1988, his family contacted the police and reported Cam missing; they also contacted the law firm in charge of the Lyman trust. They hired Charles Allen to investigate the disappearance.
Allen discovered that O'Neil had been depositing Cam's trust fund checks. He was surprised to find that O'Neil held Cam's power of attorney. He was also Cam's sole beneficiary and stood to inherit his estate. O'Neil was asked about Cam, who was not concerned about the disappearance, claiming that he had done it before. He also claimed that in July of 1987 he and Cam had an argument over the phone about the dogs. The next day, O'Neil went to Cam's house and found the phone ripped out of the wall and the dogs unattended. He never saw Cam again.
O'Neil claims he believed that Cam had gone to Europe to undergo a sex-change operation, but gave no reason as to why he thought this or why he neglected to inform anybody about Cam's disappearance. Meanwhile, O'Neil acted in a suspicious manner, refusing police to search Cam's property, showing Cam's dogs as his own and cashing checks coming in for Cam and keeping the money for himself. Much of Cam's net worth, from bank accounts to family heirlooms, had disappeared. This was between $3 and $5 million. Allen did not believe that Cam would have gone to Europe for the operation because he was afraid of even going to the doctor or dentist. Cam's sister Mary does not believe that he would ever leave his beloved dogs behind.
In December of 1994, Cam's family asked the probate court to declare him legally dead. The judge declared him dead in July of 1995. The judge noted that she did not believe O'Neil was credible and was suspicious of him. In 1997, a new police chief re-opened the case and began searching Lyman's property. On September 24, 1997, Cam's remains were found inside the sewer system near her home by Greg Siner, who had bought and lived in the house. He located the remains after noticing a strange smell from the sewer. Coincidentally, investigating were searching other parts of the property at that time. In October of 1998, dental records confirmed that the remains belonged to Cam. The medical examiner concluded that Cam had been murdered, probably around the time he disappeared. Cam's murder remains unsolved.
Suspects: George O'Neil is the prime suspect in the disappearance and death of Cam. His actions prior to and following the disappearance were extremely suspicious. He never reported Cam missing or told his family about the disappearance. He also became Cam's sole beneficiary and would inherit the estate. After his disappearance, O'Neil began showing Cam's dogs as his own. He also cashed Cam's checks and kept the money for himself. Finally, he refused to let investigators search the Lyman property, where Cam's remains would later be found.
Other suspects in the case include: O'Neil's cohort, Robert Ragosta, who is also Cam's attorney; and John and Judy Weekes, caretakers on the Lyman property.
Extra Notes: This segment originally aired on the June 11, 1999 episode of Unsolved Mysteries.
Results: Unresolved. After the broadcast, investigators received several leads from viewers. One viewer was an associate of Cam's who knew about goings-on at the Lyman estate. Investigator Charles Allen noted that this information "could be a break in the case". It is unknown what the information was or how it may have helped the case. In 2003, a grand jury indicted George O'Neil, the prime suspect in Cam's murder, for embezzling $15,000 from his trust. He was sentenced to just one year probation and fined $450 for court costs. Recently, he reported, "She's dead. I don't know anything about it." Unfortunately, O'Neil died in 2011 without ever being charged.
- Cam Lyman on Unsolved Archive
- Cam Lyman at Wikipedia
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- Camilla Lowell Lyman at Find a Grave