by Ruth Ann (CJ and Billy’s mom) Ruth Ann (Gotliebson) Vosseler in 1985
Ruth Meets Charlie
My first encounter with Charles Martin Vosseler was in late 1980 through a shared interest in a magazine, Mother Earth News. I liked to pick up a copy from time to time. The articles in it were about how to grow organic vegetables, how to build a chicken pen in your back yard from an old pallet, etc. It was about going back to nature, dedicated to a simpler life. This was also a theme in Charlie’s personal ad in that magazine –a simple life. Man, was that a dream or what!! Because life after I met Charlie was not at all simple.
You see, Charlie is a complicated man. He was raised in Stafford Springs, CT. He could have gone to East Coast Ivy League schools but instead went to Coe College, a small school in Cedar Rapids, IA. He majored in Economics. He tried working in a bank for a year or so, taught Elementary School for awhile, worked for his Uncle’s company, Becker Construction, for awhile but nothing really grabbed his interest and made him commit to a career path. When I met him he was buying, subdividing, and selling small plots of land. He also was buying and selling some antiques, collectibles, and yard sale items.
But he also dabbled in penny stocks, krugerrands, and selling long and short in the stock market. He religiously watched the Nightly Business Report with Louis Rukeyser and had a subscription to the Wall Street Journal. He also bought health food and grew his own vegetables. He drove a Peugeot but wore faded flannel shirts, blue jeans, and work boots. He was an only child but talked of wanting 28 children because that was “a classroom”. He had lived in Elizabeth NJ, Saint Petersburg, FL, and Earlimont CA, but had chosen to move to rural New Hampshire because there was no sales tax and no income tax. I already understood the Mother Earth side of him but he insisted I read the book, Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand so I could understand his philosophy of life and vision of the world.
We Are Married
After I moved to Newton, NH and we were married, life for us continued to be constantly evolving. Charlie decided to sell our home in Newton, NH and buy a small farmette in Lubec, Maine. It was on a bay and we could dig for clams in our front yard as we had while on vacation in Prince Edward Island (PEI), Canada one of his avowed “favorite places on earth”. I was pregnant with CJ (Charles Jason, born December 9, 1982) and he “worried now about me traveling with him on visits with his family in Connecticut or his parents in Florida. He would visit with his cousin, Pat Amidon, who was more like a sister than a cousin as they had spent summers together growing up with her parents, Adel and Charles “Mac” Amidon. I had some company when Christopher Bechler, then age 16, came to live with us for the summer. Christopher and his older brother Douglas Bechler were sons of Charlie’s friends, Audrey and Charlie Bechler.
But Charlie’s love of remote Maine dimmed as did his plans of owning a blueberry growing and harvest operation and we moved back to New Hampshire. Charlie became a fan of harness racing and standardbred horses. Through friends, Beverly and Lowell Cartwright, Charlie became a trainer and bought both a trotter and a pacer. He raced both horses at Scarborough Downs in Scarborough Maine. Neither horse made any big money but Charlie’s name was in the program as an USTA Owner/trainer. Our second son Billy (William Martin, born April 21, 1984) was born during this time so again I did little traveling. Charlie cut back on the racing dates as his interest in real estate returned. We had always “rehabbed houses” as he called it. He would buy a “fixer upper”. We would move in and work on the home until it was ready to sell. Then we would move on to another.
Charlie’s parents, Charles Leon Vosseler and Blanche Vosseler lived in Saint Petersburg, FL during the winter. They had owned and managed a couple of hotels, included one by the name of the Anchor Hotel, but had now semi-retired and were licensed real estate agents. During the summer, they would move to a small lakefront cabin they owned just out of East Kensington, NH. This was close to Exeter, NH, home of the Phillips Exeter Academy that Charlie was determined that CJ (our oldest son) would attend some day. Charlie then decided to get a broker’s license and open his own real estate company which he named after a road we lived on when he got his license. Onway Realty was located in Rochester, NH.
The last place we were to rehab was also in Rochester, NH. It was the most distressed property we had lived in. I did not see this property before purchase and was told that his father had mistakenly purchased it and we needed to help him out as he had helped us. But nothing in this house got repaired. The day Billy tried to pull himself up by the cabinet door and the whole face of the cabinet wall came off showing nails and holes to the outside is the day I told Charlie the boys and I were moving. He found us an apartment and we separated. All the things we had in storage because of the condition of the “rehab” house never made it to the apartment for various reasons.
Charlie takes CJ and Billy
In October of 1986 Charlie took the boys for a weekend visit with his family in Connecticut. When he failed to return the boys on Sunday and could not be reached by phone, I went to the Onway Realty office and found it closed. An employee coming out of the building told me Charlie had suddenly closed the business and let all the employees go. When I legally got into the storage building, it was empty, the contents having been sold at auction, months before. Our bank account was gone, my car payment had not been made and was close to repossession but most importantly, my boys were gone. I have not seen them since the day they left for that visit.
Seen in Oklahoma
The only official sighting of Charlie and my sons since that time was in Stilwell, Oklahoma in 1987. He was using the name of his friend in college, Dr. Charles Wilson. A woman Charlie was dating recognized CJ & Billy from a Child Find poster in a doctor’s office. But before the FBI could retrieve the children, Charlie burned the house and his vehicle and he and the boys disappeared again. He had been in Tulsa, OK, and Fort Smith, AR while in the area. They also have possible sighting in Omaha NE, Lehigh Valley PA, Naples FL, and Michigan.
Charlie and Atlas Shrugged
So just like John Galt, Charlie’s favorite character in his favorite novel, Atlas Shrugged, Charlie has disappeared for a time. Actually 24 and ½ years. I am sure my, then 2 and 4 year old sons had no choice in the matter, but were innocent victims of Charlie’s devotion to the principals of Objectivism. When Atlas Shrugged, the movie, is released on 4-14-11, I am sure that Charlie will be watching it somewhere still convinced that there is such a virtue as enlightened selfishness.
Have you seen Charlie?
Charlie has some distinguishing physical features. He worries about his health often, especially his heart. He tilts his head to the right and his head bobs slightly up and down when he concentrates. He wears contacts but still has a twitching in his right eye from right to left when he is stressed. This condition is called Horizontal Nystagmus.
My grandmother always told me that life is it’s own reward. And now Charlie’s life and life’s choices will have a reward courtesy of the FBI. Recently, the FBI added to their wanted poster a reward of up to $25,000 for information leading to the location of either Charles Martin Vosseler or my sons, CJ and Billy.
About Ruth Ann
My name is Ruth Ann Gotliebson. I grew up on a dairy farm in Colfax, Wisconsin along with my five siblings, Gaylon, Marion, Earl, Sharon and Stan. After graduation from the University of Wisconsin (Madison) I continued to live and work in the Madison area. I moved to New Hampshire after meeting Charlie and we were married. After the clues and trails in my search for CJ and Billy cooled, I returned to Colfax to help nurse my parents. My father, Gisle Gotliebson, made a plea to the local media that he wished to see CJ and Billy again before he died. His wish was unfulfilled as he passed away in 1987 without knowing the whereabouts of his grandchildren. My siblings and many nieces and nephews continue to help me in my search for CJ and Billy. Contact Sharon.