Judge crater was an Associate Justice of the New York Supreme Court for New York County (Manhattan). He was appointed on April 17 or 18, of 1930, by Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt. Only two of his decisions were published.
On August 6, 1930, Judge Crater disappeared. He had summered with his wife, Stella Mance Wheeler, at their Belgrade, Maine summer cabin. Late in July he received a phone call. He informed his wife that he had to return to New York, "to straighten those fellows out." He offered no further information on the content of the call or who the caller was to his wife.
He promptly returned to his 40 Fifth Avenue apartment, and then went on to Atlantic City with his Mistress, Sally Lou Ritz, a showgirl. By August 1, Crater was back in Maine, again returning to New York on August 3, promising to return by August 9, Mrs. Crater's birthday.
On August 6, Crater went through his files at the courthouse for a few hours. As he finsihed that task, he sent his assistant Joseph Mara to cash two checks totalling $5,150 (roughly $70,954.36 in 2012 dollars according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics). By noon, he and Mara brought two locked briefcases to Crater's home, and Carter gave Mara the rest of the day off.
The same evening, Crater obtained a seat for Dancing Partner, which was a comedy playing at the Belasco Theatre. Before actually attending the show (he had obtained the tickets from a Broadway ticket agency), he went to dinner at a Chophouse with Ritz, and a friend, William Klein, who was also a lawyer. They finished dinner shortly after 9, which was after the show started.
As the trio left the restaurant, Klein and Ritz entered a taxi, leaving Crater to presumably walk to the show. Crater was last seen by his companions walking down the street, and was never positively identified again.
It was not until ten days later, when he had not returned to Maine, that Mrs. Crater started making inquiries of their friends in New York. On August 25, his colleagues becamed concerned when he did not appear for the opening of the courts. A private search was conducted, but no trace was found. Almost a full month after his last known sighting, the police were informed, and Crater's disappearance became front-page news.
In 1939, the Judge was finally declared dead for legal purposes. This allowed Mrs. Crater to receive the $20,561 in life insurance payout ($340,343.72 in 2012 dollars).
There are a number of theories as to what happened to him. Some theorized he was murdered, others that he ran off with yet another woman. There was even speculation that the judge was crooked, and was about to be exposed. There have been alleged leads, but none have gone anywhere, and some have even been contradicted.
For a period after his disappearance, "To pull a Crater" was a popular expression meaning to disappear. It became a routine during nightclub acts, and used on public address systems as a joke, in the form of "Judge Crater, call your office."