On Saturday, October 25, 1952 Robert Nugent, Ramapo Town Clerk and resident of Sloatsburg was murdered on the Rockland and Orange County border. Mr. Nugent was a veteran of World War II. He participated in many major battles of that conflict and lost both of his legs. He was married and had two children. On the morning of October 25, he and his friend Charles Simpson went hunting in the nearby woods. As evening approached, he had not returned from the hunting expedition. Concern turned to fear and then to panic. A massive search was undertaken, and the next morning his body along with that of Charles Simpson was found. They had been shot in the back. It had been generally assumed that the men had come upon a poacher and the motive for the murder was that Mr. Nugent recognized him. State and local police conducted investigations but no arrests were made. Theories, speculation, and conjecture were abundant as to the real motive for the killings and the individual or individuals responsible. As the years and decades past it appeared that the mountains would not disclose the secrets of that autumn day.
In the early winter of 1981, John Youmans, a former Sloatsburg resident was arrested and charged with the murders. Billy Youmans Kessler, one of John’s sisters, informed the Sloatsburg police that her brother had committed these terrible murders. The family maintained this horrible secret for 30 years. Mr. Youmans went to trial and the jury found him not guilty of the crime. During the past six decades this tragic event continues to be a mystery of intrigue, family feuds, disputes between authorities, etc. On the evening of October 9 a distinguished panel consisting of Craig Long, Suffern Police Detective and County Historian, Frank Dailey, former Sloatsburg and Harriman Police Chief, Harrison Bush, Sloatsburg Historian, Bob Baird and James Walsh, retired Journal News Reporters, Chuck Stead storyteller and environmentalist will conduct a discussion on this event. The validity of several theories will be analyzed and perhaps a conclusion will be reached as to who is responsible for these murders.
Mayor Carl S. Wright