In the early 1970s, Cardiff resident Rick Crocket met the love of his life in a physics class at Encinitas’ San Dieguito High School. The couple went to prom, dated for a year after his graduation, and were engaged to be married.
In the summer of 1973 — exactly 40 years ago — Rick’s life changed forever: his fiancée and her family seemed to have disappeared off the face of the earth.
Rick had graduated a year ahead of his Class of 1973, to be able to start college and eventually marry Kathy B. (last name withheld). It was agreed that the couple would finish college before tying the knot. While Kathy went off to St. Thomas Aquinas College in New York, Rick was a welcomed guest around the large Rancho Santa Fe home of the B’s.
Three weeks after the engagement announcement, Rick says he showed up to the family’s home. A strange man answered the door. The man said he had just bought the house and referred Rick to the realtor — at the time, the only realtor in the Rancho Santa Fe village.
The realtor claimed no knowledge of the former owners and then directed Rick to the local attorney who handled the private sale and brought the deal to the real estate agency. According to Rick, the attorney stated, “We we’re told to expect you.” He offered Rick a 3˝ x 5˝ index card and said he could write a short note. The attorney would not disclose any information about the family or their whereabouts. If Kathy or her family wanted to reach Rick, they could, from his note. He’s never heard from them again.
Rick suspected perhaps a witness-protection program was involved.
Mr. B. was a big contractor in the early development of Carlsbad’s La Costa Resort. At the time, several news publications reported La Costa was built and run by Chicago mobsters using Teamsters pension funds. Names associated with eastern organized crime families maintained hillside homes in La Costa. Other than a few arrests for prostitution in the resort’s lounge, the mobsters kept a low profile while in SoCal.
In the mid-1980s, with increased state and federal law-enforcement scrutiny, the mob reputedly divested itself of their collective interest in the La Costa Resort. Just like the mob’s exit from Las Vegas, large corporations have owned La Costa ever since.
Rick contacted St. Thomas Aquinas College numerous times. The first year Kathy would have been at the school, his phone messages were taken, supposedly to be passed on to her. In what would have been her sophomore year, when his letters started being returned, he was told no one was there by “that name.” However the reaction from the dorm’s mother superior, threatening to call the authorities if Rick didn’t stop calling, was an indication to Rick that Kathy B. was actually there.
Rick assumes Kathy took vows to become a nun before her sophomore year and assumed her Catholic name, which he believes is Mary Catherine (thus, he reasons, the mother superior wasn’t lying when she stated “Kathy B.” was not there.)
“It’s affected my entire life,” says Rick. “It took marriage, family, and children off the table for me.” By the time he was ready to start dating again, almost a decade later, Rick says most of the female acquaintances from his church were already married or engaged. He admits he’s limited his chances of finding true love by keeping to his strict Christian values, which doesn’t allow for relationships with those that have been divorced. If he were to find love again, “It’s the widows now,” he jokes.
Years later, a fellow San Dieguito High classmate informed Rick that he might have traced Kathy to a convent in Kansas City, under the name Mary Catherine. The convent would not allow Rick to try to communicate with the possible former Kathy B.
Most recently, about ten years ago, a nun named Mary Catherine posted an entry on another classmate's website.
Rick, a computer systems designer who most recently worked as a rocket payload engineer for a NASA-funded project, now lives on a large plot of land in the high desert, about two hours northwest of Palmdale. He still keeps an expensive set of dishes, purchased for Kathy almost 40 years ago, in a hope chest.
Although he's attended two previous San Dieguito High School reunions, he’s been unable to get any additional information from other classmates. At the school's tenth reunion, he found out one of Kathy's best high school friends had died. He says he is looking forward to attending the upcoming San Dieguito Class of 1973 40th reunion, slated for this fall. He’s hoping someone will know something more about Kathy B.
“I just would like to know what happened,” he says.
Disclosure: The writer is a fellow classmate of Rick Crocket and knows the other classmates that provide Rick with information. The writer does not remember Kathy B.