Eugene Simon Karpe – Captain, United States Navy

Captain Karpe, Rumanian Attaché, Was Friend Of Vogeler – Police Hold Death Was Accidental

VIENNA, Austria, February 24, 1950 – A track walker found the body of Captain Eugene Simon Karpe of the United States Navy, a friend of the imprisoned Robert A. Vogeler, in a railroad tunnel south of Salzberg yesterday.  His passport was missing.

United States Army investigatorsan Austrian police said they believed that Captain Karpe's death had been accidental. American officials in Washington said they were not eliminating the possibility that the officer had been slain.

Austrian police said that Captain Karpe, en route to the United States after three years as Naval Attaché in Rumania, evidently had fallen from a door of the Arlberg-Orient Express on a curve.

He suffered from gout, which made it difficult for him tost and erect.  Despite thea bsence of the passport police insisted there was no indication of foul play.  Captain Karpe's other papers were found in the civilian clothing he was wearing.

Captain Karpe, 45 years old, was sent to Rumania in 1946 as a Naval member of the Allied Control Commission.

He was a classmate at Annapolis of Mr. Vogeler, an American businessman sentenced by a People's Court in Budapest Tuesday to fifteen years in prison on charges of sabotage and spying.

Captain Karpe visited the Vogeler home in Vienna Wednesday night.  The Belgium born Mrs. Vogeler and her two young sons live in this city, where Mr. Vogeler had his headquarters as a roving Eastern European representative of the International Telephone and Telegraph Company.

“He was one of Bob's very dearest friends,” Mrs. Vogeler said.  “His death is a terrible shock to me.”

The Naval officer left Vienna on the express yesterday morning for Paris.  Passengers on the train were questioned by police at Feldkirch, near the Swiss border.  French police made another check when the train reached Paris.

Officers said all of the passengers appeared to be legitimate travelers and that there was no reason to suspect them of having had any part in Captain Karpes death.

The officer's home was in Delhi, Louisiana, where his father has been a pioneer merchant.  His sisters, Mrs., William Crawford and Mrs. George Koutzky, live in Delhi.  A bother, ALbert Karpe lived in Holly Bluff, Mississippi.

Mrs., Crawford said she had received a letter last week from Captain Karpe saying he would be in Delhi in march.

“I had lost my little daughter and he was returning home because of that,” she said.  “His letter said that he had left his post in Rumania and was turning his affairs over to his aide in Vienna.”

Captain Karpe was a destroyer commander in the Pacific in World War II.  He won the Legion of Merit and Navy COmmendation Ribbon.  He was graduated from the Naval Academy in 1926.

Interior Minister Holds Captain Karpe Met With Foul Play -Autopsy Is Inconclusive

VIENNA, Austria -February 25,1950 – Interior Minister Oskar Helmer said today that the death of Captain Eugene S. Karpe, United States Naval Attache in Rumania, probably was murder.

The dead man as a close friend of Robert A. Vogeler, United States businessman who was convicted as a spy in Hungary earlier this week.  Captain Karpe had just visited Mr. Vogeler's family in Vienna and was en route to Paris when he plunged from the speeding Orient Express Thursday.

Sources here hinted that Captain Karpe's death was linked with Mr. Vogeler's trial.

W. P. Crawford, Captain Karpe's broher-in-law told the United Press in Delhi, Louisiana, that the Naval officer had said on his last visit home, “I kind of hate to go back to Europe.  They are always keeping a close watch on me, and know every move I make.”  He said “they” apparently were Communists.

An unofficial report on the autopsy performed at an Army General Hospital in Munich, Germany, said that “no positive proof of foul play can be ascertained” because of the mutilated state of the body.

Herr Helmer recalled that Captain Karpe had been the second high-ranking American mysteriously killed in Austria since the war.  The first was Irving Ross, an official of the Economic Cooperation Administration, who was found stabbed and beaten to death soon after having been seen in the company of four men wearing Russian uniforms.

United States Army investigators, who combed the rail tunnel where Captain Karpe's body was found for clues, said today that the Naval officer had clung frantically to a compartment doorway on the speeding train before having finally fallen under its wheels.

They said that close examination of the ground in the Hallein Tunnel showed that he had been dragged for some distance by the train before he lost his grip and was swept beneath the wheels.

Herr Helmer, chief of Austria's security forces, said that there was little likelihood that the death had been an accident.

“No trained criminal investigator can lend much credence to the theory that he dies by accident, since it was established that his sleeper-car door opened to the inside,” Herr Helmer said.

“Careful interrogation of the train attendants established that none of the windows of the car was open at the time of the incident,” he aded. “Karpe was over six feet tall – too tall to fall through a window, and you do not look out of windows when a train is passing through a tunnel because you only get a lot of dirt blown in your face.”

The Interior Minister quoted train attendants as having said that “Karpe was perfectly well before his disappearance,” and that “he had not been drinking alcohol.”

He added: “On the basis of circumstantial evidence, I think we must strongly assume the death came as the result of foul play.”

The influential non-Communist newspapers Arbeiterzeitung and Neue Wiener Tageszietung commented that the American officer's death apparently had been a “political murder.”

VIENNA, Austria – February 25, 1950 – United States Army investigators announced today that they had word from a British traveling companion that Captain Karpe has complained of dizziness before his fatal plunge – saying “it must be the altitude.” – and had limited his luncheon to a bottle of mineral water.  The Briton is Olvier Wright, Second Secretary to the British Legation in Bucharest.

Mr. Vogeler's Belgian born wife said she was convinced the Captain had been slain.

She told of three mysterious telephone calls to her home yesterday by a woman, speaking good English – each before any Austrian newspaper or radio station had carried the story of Captain Karpe's death. Mrs. Vogeler was not accessible for the first two calls, but  answered the third.

The woman asked: “Have you heard about your friend?”

Believing the caller to be an acquaintance, Mrs. Vogeler replied that she had.

“You just keep jim in mind,” the called said, and hung up.

March 2, 1950

Five government investigators boarded the Cunard White Star liner Queen Mary late yesterday when the ship arrived at quarantine and spent two hours questioning Milburn Richard McKichanm, 21 years old, regarding the mysterious death of captain Eugene S. Karpe, former United States Naval Attaché in Rumania.

The agents, three of them from the Army and two from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, declined to comment on the results of the questioning.  Mr. McKichan, a biochemistry student whose home is in Forest Grove, Oregon, likewise refused to discuss the case.

The young man was reported to have had breakfast and lunch with Captain Karpe aboard the Orient Express last Thursday, before the Naval officer was thrown from the train in a tunnel sear Salzburg, Austria.

VIENNA, Austria, March 1, 1950 – United States Army investigators said today that it was possible that in the darkness of a Salzburg tunnel, United States Navy Captain Eugene S. Karpe would have been thrown “accidentally” from the Arlberg express.


WASHINGTON, March 16, 1950 -Navy Captain Eugene S. Karpe, 45, who fell or was pushed to his death from a train near Salzburg, Austria, February 23, was buried with full military honors today in Arlington National Cemetery.

Captain Karpe was a close friend of Robert A. Vogeler, United States businessman, who was convicted of spying by a Hungarian court.

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