The strange case of Rudolph Fentz: The mysterious man who travelled to the future and was run over

One evening in mid-June 1951, at about 11:15 pm, a man of about 20 years of age dressed in Victorian fashion appeared at Times Square of New York City. According to the witnesses, he seemed a bit confused. No one paid more attention until, a few minutes later, he crossed the avenue and was hit by a car.

Rudolph Fentz new York
“One night in June 1950 an oddly dressed man was seen in Times Square – which led to the most baffling mystery in the history of the New York Police department ©

The officers who found the body checked it to identify, but what they found seemed to make no sense: a small metal token for a beer worth 5 cents, bearing the name of a saloon, which nobody, not even the oldest men of the city knew about.

Upon further searching, they found:

  • A receipt for the care of a horse and the washing of a carriage in a barn on Lexington Avenue, which did not appear in any address book, for about $70 in old bank notes.
  • Business cards with the name Rudolph Fentz and an address on Fifth Avenue.
  • A letter sent to this address in June 1876 from Philadelphia.
  • A medal for coming 3rd in a three-legged race.

Most intriguing was that, despite their antiquity, none of the objects showed signs of deterioration. Intrigued, Police Captain Hubert Rihm decided to carry out an extensive investigation to untangle the case of Rudolph Fentz.

First, the agent contacted the address of Fifth Avenue, which turned out to be a business in which no one had heard of Rudolph Fentz. Frustrated, he decided to look for the name and actually found an address in the name of a Rudolph Fentz Jr. When he was called, they told him that the man no longer lived there.

However, he was on the track. He managed to find the bank account of the man, which led him to ask in the bank offices where he was informed that he had died 5 years ago, but that his wife was still alive.

The agent communicated with her, who informed him that her father-in-law, after whom her husband was named had disappeared in 1876, at the age of 29. He had left the house for an evening walk and never returned. All efforts to locate him were in vain and no trace remained.

Captain Rihm checked the missing persons’ files on Rudolph Fentz in 1876. The description of his appearance, age, and clothing corresponded precisely to the appearance of the unidentified dead man from Times Square. The case was still marked unsolved. Fearing he would be held mentally incompetent, Rihm never noted the results of his investigation in the official files.

The case of Rudolph Fentz is presented as a common example of temporary or interdimensional journeys that happen without the will of the person.

However, today many say that Rudolph Fentz was nothing but a fictional character of a 1951 science fiction short story written by Jack Finney, which was later reported as an urban legend as if the events had truly happened. While others believe Fentz was a time traveller; Was he? What do you think?