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[00:00:05]

Louis Le Prince stood on the train platform in DeJohn, France. He was furious, still shaking from a screaming match with his brother about his work just weeks before he had perfected what would become the most important invention of the early 20th century. The motion picture camera. But his brother still called him a failure to his face. Well, Louis was going to prove him wrong. He would travel from Paris to New York City, show his invention to the world and write himself into the history books.

[00:00:36]

He'd be rich and famous and his family would never want for anything again. The train pulled into the DeJohn station at two thirty nine p.m. and Louis Leprince stepped on. But the weird thing is, no one actually saw him on the train. In fact, no one ever saw him again. This is supernatural apar cast original. And I'm your host, Ashley Flowers. Every Wednesday, I'll be taking a deep dive into a real unexplained occurrence to try and figure out the truth.

[00:01:22]

You can find all episodes of Supernatural and all other Paşa cast originals for free on Spotify. And if you like what you're hearing, reach out on Facebook and Instagram at par cast and Twitter at par casts network. This week we're looking at the 1890 disappearance of inventor Louis Augustan Leprince. We'll have that and more coming up. Stay with us. So to get to the heart of this story, I'm going to need you to bear with me for two minutes while we talk about a little of history, because today we're going back to kind of a strange time.

[00:02:02]

The latter half of the 19th century and the second industrial revolution. It was a time of invention, photography, electrical wiring, automobiles, the telephone, the light bulb. All these monumental leaps emerged in a span of a few decades. But underneath the surface, the world of invention looked more like the Wild West than the image of the dutiful scientists toiling away in his workshop. This was because of one thing alone ownership. Inventing something meant nothing if you couldn't prove it was your idea.

[00:02:37]

In a court of law, one poorly worded patent and years of hard work could go down the drain because some other opportunists swooped in for decades. One man was the most successful outlaw in the Wild West of invention, Thomas Edison. Today, we credit Edison with an obscene amount of inventions. The light bulb. The motion picture camera. The modern telephone. Just to name a few. But Edison wasn't necessarily in some laboratory tinkering away with his brilliant original ideas.

[00:03:09]

In reality, he had a secret weapon patents because half of those inventions I just mentioned. Edison didn't actually come up with them. He used other people's ideas as a jumping off point and put his own spin on them. Then once he improved on someone's invention, he filed as many patents as he could so that he didn't just own the technology.

[00:03:31]

He owned every piece that made up that technology. He even patented future ideas that weren't yet possible, just so that if someone came up with it down the road, Edison could say that he thought of it first.

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But Edison wasn't just tenacious in filing patents. He was also ruthless about enforcing that. He chased down anyone and everyone who infringed on his filings. It didn't matter if the inventor was brilliant, if they were bankrupt or whatever the consequences. The result was always the same. If you stand in Edison's way, you will face his wrath. And all of this brings us to today's story and the motion picture camera. Obviously, when it's first being developed, Edison wants in.

[00:04:18]

But Edison didn't actually invent the video camera. Louis Le Prince did. Louis didn't start out as an inventor. He was actually an artist. But his family was well off. So he was raised with a complete education. Eventually studying chemistry at Leipzig University. This combined background of art and science made him a natural inventor. At one point, he took a job working on panoramic paintings. And these were kind of a fad of the time. Basically, it's this giant painting that was the size of an entire room.

[00:04:51]

Viewers stood in the middle of the room and from their vantage point, it felt like they were immersed in a very lifelike scene. And this planted a seed in Louis. What if you could actually relive something? What if you could capture a moment in time and replay it for someone else to experience? Now, obviously, what Louis was imagining is a video camera or in Victorian speak, a motion picture camera. He's not the only person trying to invent this at this time.

[00:05:23]

But he does have a pretty revolutionary way of going about it. We don't need to get into all the science, but basically it has to do with frame rate. Louis is trying to capture 16 frames per second, which is a totally radical idea for 1885. But to do this, Louis has to develop a camera that is capable of capturing 16 images every second. Then he has to make a projector that can display 16 images a second. Nothing like this existed at the time.

[00:05:55]

Film didn't even come in strips yet. So Louise thinking is light years ahead of what everyone else is doing. And he knows it. So to protect his idea, Louis keeps everything he's working on completely under wraps. He doesn't let anyone into his workshop, not even his own children. And he won't file a patent mentioning the 16 frames per second until he's certain of his unique design. He works on it for over a year. Then finally, in November of 1886, Louis feels confident enough to move forward with the patent.

[00:06:29]

The machine isn't perfect, but it's close enough that he feels protected. But for months, Louis battles with the patent office. His lawyers go back and forth with the agency, rephrasing an amending clause after clause of the patent. It's just basically a series of delays. And by the spring of 1887, Louis still doesn't have his patent. And at first he thinks, OK, well, you know, this is a complex idea. Maybe they're just not getting it.

[00:07:01]

But as the months drag on, Louis becomes more and more suspicious. After being so careful for so long, he realizes the horrible truth. Someone at the patent office is beating his idea to a rival inventor. Now, he'd heard rumors about this, that for the right price, agents in the patent office would slip. Other inventors copies of new patent applications that looked promising but hadn't actually been approved yet. Then they would delay the original filings until the competition could complete their own paperwork.

[00:07:36]

Louis knew that he was sitting on a gold mine here and it made him insanely paranoid about being scooped. So fearing the worst. He packed up his workshop and sailed to England in April of 1887, leaving his wife Lizzie and his kids back in New York. He could stay with some of Lizzie's family in Leeds while he finished tinkering with the machine. He'd file another set of patents with the British government and hope that that would be enough to protect himself.

[00:08:04]

Once he was in Leeds, Louis only became more secretive about his work. He made sure that his workshop was far away from where he was living so that he couldn't be easily followed from one to the other. He installed heavy shutters on every window of the shop to keep unwanted eyes out, and he put extra bolts on the workshop door. The whole time he's looking over his shoulder, keeping an eye out for spies. In January of 1888, the pieces are finally falling into place for Louis.

[00:08:35]

The U.S. Patent Office issues his patent. He had to make some adjustments in the language to get it through, but he lets it go. The UK patents will back him up if push comes to shove. But Louis feels like his real protection is in the invention itself, because by that fall, his motion picture camera is working beautifully. Louise actually able to shoot three short films, the first motion picture films ever made. They're simple, not even a minute each.

[00:09:04]

But the camera works and we have the surviving filmstrips. As proof, he writes, Lizzie back in New York. It won't be long now, but his optimism was short lived. It was one thing to shoot the films. It was an entirely different matter to project them. And again, this whole experiment was about creating an immersive experience. Until Louie could project Life-Size images of his films. He wasn't done.

[00:09:32]

So he goes back to his workshop. It takes another two years before the projector comes together. But Louis is persistent. In the summer of 1890, he writes again to Lizhi. He plans to sail to New York at the end of September and arrive in the US the first week of November 1890. When he gets there, they can finally toast his success. After five long years of work. But first he decides to travel to. Wants to see his brother, Al Baer, you see, their mother had passed away three years earlier.

[00:10:05]

But the brothers hadn't had a chance to execute her will. So before he went back across the Atlantic, Louis wanted to properly settle the inheritance with Alvare at the end of August. He goes to France. Now he's traveling with some friends. The Wilsons and they part ways. On Friday, September 12, 1890. Louis heads to DeJohn to see his brother and the Wilsons go to see a cathedral in Borsch. They agree to meet back in Paris.

[00:10:30]

On Tuesday the 16th, and together they'll take the night boat from Paris back to London. A man named Christopher Rawlence research Lucila Prince's disappearance extensively in his book The Missing Real. He highlighted this trip to DeJohn as a key moment in solving the mystery because according to him, the visit didn't go well for three days. Alber avoided Loui, claiming that he was too busy with work to meet with him. It wasn't until the final day of Lui's visit the 16th that the brothers actually spoke.

[00:11:04]

Louis insisted that Alboher make time for him before he took the noon train to Paris. When they sat down for an early lunch, Louis immediately brought up the will. Their mother had left him 1000 pounds and he was here to collect the money. Albir knew that this was coming. This is why he'd spent the whole weekend avoiding Louis. He wanted to wait until the last possible moment to refuse him. As far as Al Baer was concerned, Louis had already gotten more than his fair share of their mother's money when she was still alive.

[00:11:34]

She'd paid for his education. She'd given him several loans over the years. Albert didn't think Louis deserved any more money. He was just going to waste it on more failed experiments. Naturally, Louis was pissed. It wasn't Alberich decision to keep his inheritance. He was legally entitled to it. But Albert stood his ground. He wasn't giving Louis a dime. The brothers argued all through lunch. They were so engrossed in their fight, Louis actually missed the noon train to Paris.

[00:12:04]

He'd have to take the next one, leaving two and a half hours later, when Albert delivered Louis to the train station that afternoon. They were still arguing their disagreement was so loud and heated that they drew stares from the other travelers waiting on the platform. But at two thirty nine, the train arrived at the station, letting out a great cloud of steam. By the time it cleared, the brothers had gone their separate ways. And that was the last time anyone saw Louis Le Prince.

[00:12:35]

We'll follow the Leprince family's search for answers right after this. Hi, supernatural listeners. I wanted to take a quick break from our episode to tell you about a brand new audio check podcast that is coming out on July 7th. It's called Park Predators. This limited true crime series will take those of us still stuck inside and unable to travel out into some of North America's most beautiful national parks. And we'll tell you about some of the most sinister crimes that happened in them.

[00:13:07]

Here, take a listen to the trailer. And please go follow the show on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. So you don't miss the first two episodes that come out on July seven. In the woods, the desert and mountains, the natural world is balanced. There's predators and there's prey. A vast landscape like a national park is the perfect place for a predator. There's endless places to hide remote spots. Only a few people know how to get to and ground.

[00:13:39]

No one will ever stumble across. But sometimes the breathtaking beauty of these national parks mask the evil lurking within. And both the natural environment and swarms of tourists visiting these parks every year allow killers to blend in and go undetected.

[00:13:58]

Park Predators is an eleven episode audio check original series hosted by me Delia Tambra in each week starting July 7th.

[00:14:06]

I'll be bringing you a new story of human predators in park lands across North America who chose to defy nature and use the beautiful landscapes around them to cover up unspeakable crimes.

[00:14:19]

Subscribe to Park Predators for free on Apple podcast Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

[00:14:25]

To be sure you don't miss the first two episodes and I'll see you in the park. Let's get back to the story. The night of Tuesday, September 16th, 1890, the Wilsons arrived at the dock in Paris, ready to board the night boat back to London. They waited and waited for Louis le Prince to show up. But when it's time for the boat to leave, he's still not there. It's odd. I mean, they've all been pretty clear about their plan.

[00:14:58]

But the Wilsons kind of shrug it off. They knew Louis was on the verge of debuting his new invention. So they think maybe he just got tied up with business or something. So they get on the boat home and figure that Louis will follow after on his own. But of course, we know he doesn't. No one hears from him for weeks. But even then, they don't really realize he's missing because he is supposed to be sailing across the Atlantic to join his family in New York.

[00:15:25]

So his wife, Lizzie, doesn't think it's odd that she's not getting any letters or telegrams. I mean, she thinks he literally can't send any right now. And it's during this limbo when no one yet realizes Louis is missing, that Lizzie gets a visitor about a week before he was expected to arrive in New York. A strange man rang the doorbell. He introduced himself as Mr. Rose and he wanted to speak to Louis. Lizzie apologized and explained that her husband wasn't home.

[00:15:54]

He's in Europe. And Mr. Rose seemed surprised by this. Like he didn't believe her. He kept kind of like shifting in the doorway, trying to look over Lizzie's shoulder down the hallway. Well, when would Louis be back? He asked. He needed to speak with him. The whole thing made Lizzie really uncomfortable. She knew how much Louis worried about spies. And now, right before he's going to unveil his work, this weird guy shows up on their doorstep.

[00:16:19]

So she keeps her answers kind of vague. Louis won't be back until November. She tells him Mr. Rose frowned. Took another look over her shoulder. And then finally just turned and left. Lizzie was rattled by the whole situation, but she let it go for now. When he got home, she would tell him all about it. Louis was supposed to arrive on November 3rd, 1890. So Lizzie and the children all went down to the dock to greet him.

[00:16:47]

By now, I mean, it had literally been three years since they had last seen him. They were so excited. The ship door opened and hundreds of people streamed down the gangplank. Lizzie and the children scanned the crowd for Louis. He's 64, so he's fairly easy to spot in a crowd. But person after person keeps filing out and they don't see him. But Lizzie reassures the kids. Lizzie's father, Joseph, was supposed to be traveling with him and he was in bad health and used a wheelchair.

[00:17:16]

So she says, you know, they're probably waiting to come out until all the crowds clear. And just like she says, when the crowd dies down, she spots her father in a wheelchair on the gangplank. Lizzie and the kids rush over to greet him, but they see that the man pushing Joseph's chair isn't Louis. It's one of Lizzie's cousins. Apparently, he'd made the journey in Louie's place to take care of Joseph and Lizzie stunned by this.

[00:17:43]

Where is her husband? Joseph tells them not to worry. He says that Louis was delayed in France on business. Basically, he's right behind them on another ship and he should be here in a matter of days. So here's this explanation again. He's delayed on business. It's not clear why Joseph is convinced that this is what's going on. We don't know if he just thinks that because that's what he heard from the Wilsons or if he actually got some kind of message from Louis himself.

[00:18:12]

Whatever the source of the explanation, Joseph took it as fact. He packed up as planned and sailed for New York, fully believing that his son in law would be on the next boat right behind him. But Lizzie doesn't accept this explanation at all. If Louis had been delayed, he would have written her. It doesn't make any sense. Two weeks go by and still there's no sign of Louis. By this point, Lizzie hasn't heard from her husband since the middle of August, right before he went to France.

[00:18:44]

She sends an emergency telegram to his address in Leeds. Come immediately. Father gravely ill. No matter how busy he is with work, that's something that he'd definitely respond to when Lizzie still doesn't hear anything from him. She knows without a doubt that something terrible has happened to Louis. She sent another emergency telegram to her brother, John, who lives in London. Louis is missing. She needs his help. John Inless Lou's brother, Alber Leprince to help.

[00:19:14]

Together, they systematically check every hospital, morgue and asylum in Leeds, London, Paris and DeJohn and everywhere in between. They place ads in every French newspaper. They even check with the office of the French Legion. Maybe Louis lost his mind and tried to enlist, but they're all dead.

[00:19:33]

Ends with Louise Assistant. Here's what's going on. He immediately suspects that this has something to do with the invention. He needs to check Lou's workshop to see if the camera is missing. But he doesn't have a key. So he goes to lose apartment and ask the landlady to let him inside. There's a spare key to the workshop in the apartment. And initially, the landlady's like, no way. I'm not letting some stranger in to rummage through my tenant's stuff.

[00:20:01]

But he begs her and begs her until she finally lets him in. The assistant goes to Louise Workshop fearing the worst, but he finds everything in order exactly as it should be. The camera, the projector, the short films, they're all neatly packed up, waiting to be shipped to New York. But this doesn't make Lizzie Leprince feel any better. It actually makes her feel worse. If someone was after the camera but they hadn't been able to find it.

[00:20:31]

Maybe they took something else instead, like the person who built the camera. In mid-November, she finds something that might support this theory. While John and Baer have been scouring England and France, Lizzie has been desperately combing through the passenger manifest of every ship that docked in New York from Europe. Eventually, on one of the lists, she finds a passenger listed as El Leprince.

[00:20:59]

The manifest says that he's a 27 year old farmer by trade, but that doesn't deter Lizzie. To her, it's more proof that this El Leprince is her husband. Listing a fake age and occupation was exactly the kind of thing he would do to throw potential spies off his trail. So she goes to the barge office register to check their list as well. Any U.S. citizens who arrive at the dock have to pass through the Register's office before they're allowed into the country.

[00:21:28]

The register makes a list of everyone that comes through each day. Now, the boat manifest that she had just seen his name on had only just docked that morning. So it should be fairly easy to find Louie on this list.

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But his name isn't there.

[00:21:45]

The only explanation that the register has for this is that for some reason, Louie never got off the boat. He must still be on board. It's going to set sail again the next morning. So Lizzie has to move fast. She goes home and grabs every picture she has of Louie. She brings her oldest son, Adolph, back with her to the dock. And they show the photos to every crew member of the ship that they can't, desperate to find someone who recognizes Louie, but no one does.

[00:22:13]

They're just met with shrugs and annoyance. And the next morning, the ship sails back to Europe. Lizzie is understandably crushed by this development for a brief moment. She'd found her husband and now he'd been ripped away again. And she's overwhelmed by this emotional whiplash from another dead end. Then a few days after this incident, someone rang the bell at the La Prince's home in New York. Lizzie hoped that whoever was at the door had news about her husband.

[00:22:44]

But it was. Just a man selling milk. She politely declined. No, thank you. No milk today. But the milk pen just stood there on the steps. He wouldn't take no for an answer. Then he said, I want to see Mr. Leprince. Suddenly, Lizzie, recognize this man. It was Mr. Rose back again.

[00:23:09]

We'll dig into this second encounter with the strange Mr. Rose right after this. Let's get back to the story.

[00:23:19]

Mr. Rose had disguised himself as a milk man, but once he asked about her husband's whereabouts, Lizzie Leprince immediately recognized him and she was dead set on not telling him anything about Louis, not where he was or not even where he wasn't, for that matter. She gave the same vague answer as before. He's in Europe. But Mr. Rose demanded again. Where is your husband? Lizzie told the man to leave immediately or she was going to call police.

[00:23:50]

But he insisted. Where is Mr. Leprince and what is he doing now? What did he mean? Did he know about the camera? How is that even possible? Terrified. Lizzie yelled into the house for her children, telling them to come quickly when they appeared in the hallway. Mr. Rose fled. The second appearance of Mr. Rose was too much for Lizzie to ignore. It was time to go to the police. But as it turned out, the law wasn't on Lizzie's side.

[00:24:21]

When she explained the situation to an officer named Captain Williams, he said there was only one way they could help her. She had to accuse Louis of a crime. And Lizzie was baffled, like, did she not explain what's going on correctly? Her husband was missing. He was the victim, not a criminal. And Captain William said, no. I understand that just fine. But apparently during the time it was against the law for police to look for someone unless their mug shot was hanging on the wall of suspected criminals and they couldn't put up a picture until he was accused of something, Williams assures Lizzie, listen, this would just be a formality.

[00:24:58]

You don't need to accuse him of a felony. Maybe just accuse him of desertion. But Lizzie outright refused. Her husband was missing and now they wanted her to drag his name through the mud. She walked out of the police station feeling like everyone in the world was conspiring against her. Then a few months later, the conspiracy was all but confirmed in May of 1891. Just over six months after Louis disappeared, Thomas Edison unveiled a new invention. It was a motion picture camera for the entire Leprince family.

[00:25:34]

It felt like the other shoe had finally dropped.

[00:25:38]

For years, they'd worried about spies, about rival inventors, about how far one of these cutthroat competitors might go to get their hands on this revolutionary technology. Now, only six months after Louis Le Prince disappeared, one of the most notoriously ruthless men in the game debuted a rival camera. There could only be one explanation. Edison had to be connected to Louie's disappearance years earlier when he was packing up his work to move to Leeds.

[00:26:08]

Louis had given Lizzi instructions on what to do if it seemed like a spy had gotten their hands on his invention. He told her that if anything unusual happened, she needed to go to his patent lawyer, Clarence Seward.

[00:26:21]

So the morning after Lizzie first heard about Edison's motion picture camera, she went to Seward's office just like Louis had instructed. But he wasn't there. He was actually in court that day. The clerk told Lizzie that Seward was in the middle of a big case. He was defending Thomas Edison. That realization punched Lizzie in the gut. Seward was in bed with the enemy. He was supposed to be her lifeline. But now, I mean, was it possible that he was the leak?

[00:26:51]

She left Seward's office immediately and never returned. Everything that Louis predicted, everything that he'd feared had come true. A few days later, Lizzie decided that she was going to take on Edison and make sure her husband got credit for his invention. She brought all his paperwork to a different patent lawyer, feeling confident that it would all be resolved soon.

[00:27:13]

But the lawyer's hands were tied.

[00:27:17]

To protect the interests of inventors, there's a mandatory waiting period of seven years in a missing persons case until Lilly was legally declared dead. He was the rightful owner of the patents, which he couldn't act on his behalf until the waiting period expired in 1897 or until they found Louie's body. Lizzie couldn't believe this. It felt like Edison had beaten her at every turn with the police, with the lawyer, with the patent. She'd been able to hold it together for the last six months because she had a purpose.

[00:27:48]

She had to find Louis. She had to protect his vision and keep fighting. But now she just felt broken. Not only had she lost her husband, she lost everything they'd been working toward for years. How much had they sacrificed for this? And in a blink, it was all just gone. No one ever found any trace of Louis Leprince when the seven year waiting period elapsed, Lizzie hired the best patent lawyer she could find and tried to prove that her husband was the rightful inventor of the motion picture camera.

[00:28:21]

But by that time, Edison wasn't the only rival that she had to contend with. Several other men had developed cameras and projectors. By this point, the legal battles that followed became known as the war of the patents. As it happened so many times before, Edison and his army of lawyers eventually came out on top and Louis was denied any credit. Lizzie went to her grave in 1925, convinced that Thomas Edison was somehow responsible for her husband's disappearance.

[00:28:51]

So what actually happened was Louis Le Prince the victim of just cut throat tactics? I mean, it's a compelling theory. And the timing alone has to make you suspicious. But it's not actually very likely. The fact that Edison debuted his own camera soon after Louis went missing was probably just a coincidence. There were a ton of people trying to develop a motion picture camera in the late eighteen hundreds. Louis had a unique approach, but it wasn't a unique idea.

[00:29:21]

It was very much in the Zeit Geist. In addition to Louis Leprince and Thomas Edison, there were the Lumiere brothers, Robert Paul and William Free's Green, all working on the same kind of camera. It isn't just made more noise about his. So what about the fact that Louie's lawyer, Clarence Seward, was working with Edison?

[00:29:42]

Well, Edison worked with most patent lawyers in the city. He was constantly in court for his various inventions. We don't know what Seward was defending Edison on because Lizzie never asked him. She was too convinced that he was the enemy. It was easier for Lizzie to believe that Edison was responsible because he had an established reputation for ruthlessness. If anyone was going to do something to harm her husband for profit, it was him. But there are two things to keep in mind.

[00:30:10]

First, Edison had literally hundreds of patents to his name. The camera was just one of them. And frankly, it was one of the ideas that he was the least interested in. He didn't see much commercial value. Most of the work on Edison's camera was done by another inventor in his lab, William Dixon.

[00:30:27]

And Dixon eventually left Edison's company because he didn't think his work was being taken seriously enough. So the idea that Edison was so invested in the future of movies that he would track down Louis Leprince, kidnap him, ship him back to America and keep him. What, like squirreled away in his lab until he made an Edison version of his camera? Just it doesn't seem super likely. The sheer amount of manipulation involved is kind of impossible. I mean, Louis was traveling all over the French countryside before he went missing.

[00:30:58]

Had Edison's men tailed him the entire time. And remember, Lizzie had showed her husband's picture to every crew member of the ship that she could find. What are the odds that Edison could have managed to keep them all quiet if Louis had actually been on that ship? I think this rumor persists because it's just a neat explanation. We understand greed. It gives us closure to the story. But I don't think it's likely. So what other explanations do we have over the years?

[00:31:29]

A lot of theories have been proposed, but none of them really fit the whole picture. I mean, remember Mr. Rose Lizy thought that he was a spy for Thomas Edison, but others have proposed that he was Lui's secret lover. They don't think Louis disappeared. But basically, they think he abandoned his family to avoid being outed as gay.

[00:31:50]

But this is based on the claim of one historian. So I'm not sure how much weight we can put on it. It doesn't really match the picture we have of Louis and Lizzie's relationship. Some people think that Albert Le Prince murdered his brother after their fight over the inheritance.

[00:32:05]

But this theory falls apart for me when you consider the motive. They were arguing over a thousand pounds. Now, that's an insignificant number. They'd be close to like one hundred and thirty thousand pounds today. But after Louis went missing, Alber launched an extensive, exhaustive search. He traveled all over France for months. And that must have been expensive. If he killed him for that money, he'd have almost immediately spent it. But the inheritance does also play into another theory.

[00:32:35]

By 1889. Louis was swimming in debt. Some researchers estimate that it was close to eighty five thousand dollars today. He needed the inheritance money to dig himself out, and Abair refused him. Maybe he was forced to disappear so that he could get away from creditors. But if that was the reason. What about the invention? I mean, again, he had a gold mine sitting back at his workshop. He just needed to get it to America so he could cash in, especially because we know the machine worked.

[00:33:05]

I mean, we have surviving short films as proof. In 2003, a researcher in Paris thought that they had finally solved the mystery while digging through the archive of the police station. They reportedly found a photograph of a man who was pulled out of the Cen river a week after Louis went missing in 1890. To the researcher, this dead man looked a lot like Louis le Prince. So maybe Louis had been dead this whole time. Remember, on the day he disappeared, Louis was supposed to take an earlier train and sail back to London that night.

[00:33:40]

But he missed the train and the boat. He didn't get to Paris until just before midnight. Maybe in the dark streets of Paris, he got mugged or murdered. But we'll never know for sure. So why are we still wondering where Louis went after all these years? Why does this case still target us first? It means the circumstances. He disappeared right after completing the camera. He was about to literally write his name into history books.

[00:34:09]

And there's also the fact that he seemingly disappeared into thin air. People remember seeing him on the platform in DeJohn. But no one saw him get off the train in Paris. And we're not just talking about the passengers, we're talking about the attendants, too. I mean, these people's jobs to make note of everyone on the train. So the question becomes, where could he have possibly gone beyond that? You can't help but ask the more romantic questions about his disappearance.

[00:34:38]

What if he'd been able to present his camera to the world? What other inventions would he have made? I think it's kind of a wistful longing that keeps people hunting for answers. We want Louis to be rewarded for his hard work.

[00:34:52]

Ironically, one of the hallmarks of Thomas Edison's career was his knack for taking credit for things even when he had nothing to do with them. Even today, he's still deeply woven into Louis Leprince story, even though he probably had nothing to do with his disappearance. But just to play devil's advocate, I'll leave you with one final thought from Lizzie. Once she was able to use her husband's patents in court, she was involved in a big case against Thomas Edison.

[00:35:21]

The American Muda Scope Company was trying to prove that Edison wasn't the first person to invent the motion picture camera. They didn't so much want Louis Le Prince to get credit as they wanted Edison to lose control over the patents so they could produce cameras at all. Flip prints worked with Amesys lawyers to help build a case. He testified about his father's work and even showed stills from his short films.

[00:35:45]

In the end, AMC lost the case and Edison retained his iron grip on the industry, and Adle felt like he had failed his father's cause all over again.

[00:35:55]

A year after the case concluded, Adult died from a gunshot wound. It was determined to be a hunting accident. But that explanation never sat right with Lizzie at all. Was an experienced gunman, and he'd never had any kind of accident in all of his years of hunting. Now it is possible that he could have taken his own life after the disappointing outcome of the trial. But to Lizzie, it felt like retribution from the Eddison camp. One more reminder to the Leprince family that the ruthless Thomas Edison was always watching.

[00:36:29]

And he held their fate in his hands forever.

[00:36:47]

Thanks for listening. I'll be back next week with another episode. You can find all episodes of Supernatural and all other Paşa cast originals for free on Spotify. Spotify has all your favorite music and podcasts all in one place, and they're making it easier to listen to whatever you want to hear for free on your phone, computer or smart speaker. And if you like this show, follow app podcasts on Facebook and Instagram and at Park Network on Twitter. Supernatural was created by Max Cutler and stars Ashley Flowers and is a podcast studio's original.

[00:37:20]

It's executive produced by Max Cutler Sound, designed by Carrie Murphy with production assistance by Ron Shapiro and Carly Madden. This episode of Supernatural was written by Abigail Canon with Writing Assistants by Drew Cole. To hear more stories hosted by me, check out Crime Junkie and all audio check originals.