Real Name: Unrevealed
Case: Lost Heirs
Date: April 24, 1978
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
Details: Walter "Curly" Green was a quiet, frugal resident of a small Omaha, Nebraska apartment. In 1978, he had a heart attack and died while working in his yard. Curly's friends were surprised that he had left behind a fortune of more than $200,000, and that he had even owned the apartment building that he lived in. They were also surprised that he had no known relatives or beneficiaries. Ten years after his death, Curly's fortune remained the largest unclaimed estate in Nebraska history.
Little is known about Curly's life prior to the age of seventeen, when he hopped a train to Omaha. He ended up in a small farming town called Schuyler. Curly began looking for work in town; he met Al Rominger, a local tavern keeper. Al offered Curly not only a ride, but a home cooked meal with his family. Al had two daughters, Catherine, then nine, and Jessamyn. At dinner, Curly was secretive about his personal life, but did say that he was originally from Montana and that his mom and stepfather lived in Denver, Colorado. Curly immediately became smitten with their older daughter, Jessamyn.
Al found Curly work at the local garage; at the time, the automobile was still a new machine. Soon, he earned enough money to move into a boarding house. Curly and Jessamyn began dating, but their relationship was put at a halt in 1917 when Curly enlisted in the army to fight in World War I. Curly's job in the war was to transport dead and wounded to a makeshift army hospital. This experience scarred Curly, but when the war was over, he was eager to return to Schuyler, Nebraska, to see Jessamyn. However, when he arrived there, Catherine told him that Jessamyn had moved to Omaha and no longer wanted to date him. Curly followed Jessamyn to Omaha; he first got a job as a mechanic at a newspaper office, and then a nightwatchman for the Union Pacific Railroad. However, Jessamyn eventually married someone else. Curly would never fall in love again.
Curly spent the next sixty years alone; he never told anyone who is real family was. His only close friends were Catherine and Riley Marr, his barber and fellow member of the Masonic lodge. Curly often invited Riley to his apartment; one night, Riley noticed some postcards and pictures displayed in the apartment. One postcard came from Brooklyn, New York, but Curly refused to talk about it. Over the years, Curly amassed his fortune, but kept a secret. Some of his wealth may have came from a rare coin collection. However, Catherine believes that Curly simply saved every penny that he made. He told Catherine that every morning after breakfast, he would put a can on the pilot light, and by the time he would come back for lunch or dinner, it would be just warm enough to eat.
Most of Curly's fortune was held in real estate, stocks, and bonds. So far, no legitimate heirs have claimed Curly's estate. In 1986, heir investigator Josh Butler took on the case to locate Curly's heirs. Josh learned from one of Curly's friends that Curly claimed he had a brother who was killed in a shootout. Josh discovered a man named "Al Green" who was shot and killed on July 4, 1921. However, he was unable to find a clear connection between the two men. The main issue was that Al Green's father was a man named Joseph Green, while Curly's father was Harry Albert Green. Josh believes that Curly and Al were actually cousins, not brothers. Josh believes that Curly's actual brother was killed several years earlier.
There is still not much known about Curly's early life and family. He said that he was born in Kendall, Montana. He had a collection of rare gold coins that he may have obtained in Mexico. He received postcards from someone in Brooklyn, New York. He claimed to have had a brother killed in a shootout. He stated on a 1938 birth certificate that Albert Harry Green, born in England, and Ann Maureen Green, born in Latvia, were his parents. None of these relatives have been traced.
Finally, at Curly's funeral, a mysterious wreath of flowers were sent. A card came with the flowers, signed Mrs. Joel Greener of Denver, Colorado. It is possible that Mrs. Greener may have a clue to Curly's past. However, his case remains unsolved.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the November 2, 1988 episode.
Results: Unsolved. Josh Butler now believes that the stories Curly told about his past were exagerations or lies, and that he was actually from Wisconsin. He believes that Curly and seven of his siblings grew up in a Wisconsin orphanage; however, a lack of records from the orphanage prevented him from tracking down any heirs.
- Walter Green on Unsolved.com
- 1940 Census Omaha Nebraska
- Walter Green on Find A Grave
- 2002 Article about Josh Butler