Here are the basic facts of my father’s disappearance, which
I have been researching and writing about off and on for the past three
My father, John Lake, the sports editor at Newsweek, was separated
from my mother. Our family lived in New Jersey; he worked in New York
City. My parents had been living apart for two years, although there
were two brief failed reconciliations during that time.
He often stayed with a girlfriend, Jean (his boss’ secretary),
who lived in Greenwich Village, or with other friends. He traveled
quite a bit for his job. He ALWAYS managed his professional affairs
well. In fact, he wrote a book during this time and won a couple of
awards for his work. He was well-regarded by everyone at Newsweek.
Three weeks prior to his disappearance, my father suddenly agreed
to a divorce, something he had been resisting prior to that. He rented
a studio apartment in Greenwich Village. He wrote and called friends,
informing them of the development and indicating he would have to do
a lot of free-lance work to keep up with his bills.
John Lake was last seen by a woman – a ‘friend of a friend’ – with
whom he’d just had dinner, in Manhattan. It was early evening
on Sunday, December 10th, 1967. The weather was gray with intermittent
rain, in the 30’s. He dropped her at her apartment, dismissed
the cab, and walked away. He had had several drinks at dinner. This
information comes from the woman, Sandy.
(Although he was last seen the evening of December 10th, a missing
persons report was not filed until December 14th. The NY Police didn’t
do much, nor did the Pinkerton Detective Agency, hired by Newsweek
to locate my father.)
He had finished the sport section for the coming
of Newsweek the previous day. He had an appointment to meet the PR
guy for the Kansas City Chiefs, who were in town to play the Jets,
on Saturday night. Also to attend was Pete Axthelm, a writer from Sports
Illustrated, who six months later was given John Lake’s job as
sports editor of Newsweek. Lake never showed for the appointment – this
was extremely out of character because he was known to be scrupulously
professional and serious about his job.
On the Sunday in question he apparently called a few people to get
together, but no one could. Jean, who had been away for the weekend,
told me she found a list of people, mostly women who worked as researchers
at Newsweek, in his handwriting. A friend of Jean’s told me he
called her husband to see if he’d want to go to a football game.
(A Giants’ game, she thought – both NY teams were in town
that weekend.) The husband had already gone, so Lake said, “Can
I come over and talk to you for a while?” She declined, because
she was busy. Apparently, he later settled for Sandy.
Sandy, a nurse, was the roommate of a former Newsweek employee, Stephanie.
My father and Stephanie had a brief fling when he was first separated
from my mother. Stephanie was jealous when my father and Jean got together.
From everyone in a position to know, I’m told that Jean and my
dad were truly in love, although they were not getting along at the
time he disappeared. Jean was shocked when I told her that my father
had agreed to a divorce. She said it would have made a difference.
Jean died two years ago and I am extremely grateful that I had the
opportunity to meet and talk with her before she passed away.
There are obviously many other facts, undercurrents and opinions.
Please feel free to contact me with questions, comments and observations.