Grandview Heights Moment in Time

Wayne Carlson
Grandview Heights/Marble Cliff Historical Society
Lola Celli (inset) was reported missing from near her family home in Grandview Heights in February 1946. Still a cold case, it was called “the red shoe mystery.” The case has been featured on network television cold-case shows. The boys in the photo were among the more than 150 high schoolers from Grandview and Upper Arlington who had been recruited to help look for Celli.

Feb. 23 marks the 75th anniversary of the disappearance of 24-year-old Lola Celli.

Celli was a 5-foot-4 teacher from Logan County who could speak in five languages and who was visiting her parents in Grandview Heights in 1946.

She was going shopping in downtown Columbus for nylons and some fabric for her mother that fateful morning. She last seen was leaving her parents' home on Third Avenue, walking several blocks toward the bus stop at Cambridge and Third avenues. She never boarded the bus. 

A massive search in eight states turned up no clues. Locally, more than 150 high school boys from Grandview and Upper Arlington were recruited to search along the Scioto River and in the quarries. This newspaper photo is of Grandview Heights High School boys walking down Grandview Avenue to search for Lola (inset). 

The day she disappeared one witness riding a motorcycle reported seeing someone who resembled her in a car on Olentangy River Road arguing with a man. During the spat, a red shoe was either thrown or dropped from the window.

Celli was wearing red suede shoes that day. No shoe was ever found on that stretch of road, and the case remains open, with Celli officially listed as missing.

Grandview police Chief Robert Livingston issued this short report:

“At the suggestion of Chief of Police, Village of Marble Cliff, Ohio, GV reporting officer organized a search of area from Grandview Avenue north to Trabue Pike, along the Scioto River, and bordered on the north and east by the Pennsylvania Railroad. This search was conducted by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Upper Arlington Police Department, Grandview Heights Police Department, and approximately 150 Upper Arlington and Grandview High School students. This search was conducted with negative results. This search was conducted and concluded on March 1, 1946.”

In the months and years after her disappearance, numerous reports on this mystery were filed. In most cases, they were about alleged sightings and evidence that first inflamed and then put off the hopes of family members and acquaintances who still had held out hope that she would be found safe.

Instead, her disappearance remains an unresolved mystery.

This historical narrative from the Grandview Heights/Marble Cliff Historical Society was provided by Wayne Carlson.