Indian co-ed’s body found in Hudson River (5-18-44)

The Pittsburgh Press (May 18, 1944)

Indian co-ed’s body found in Hudson River

Officials believe death was accidental

Valsa Matthai

New York (UP) –
Valsa Anna Matthai, 22, wealthy, India-born Columbia University student, died within an hour after walking into a driving snowstorm two months ago never to be seen alive again, detectives decided today after the discovery of her body in the Hudson River at Yonkers, New York.

A wristwatch Miss Matthai wore was stopped at 5:15 and investigators pointed out she was last seen at about 4:45 a.m. ET March 20 as she left International House, a hotel for foreign students.

Seven miles away

The point at which her body was found last night is seven miles from the International House.

Acting Capt. John J. Cronin of the Missing Persons Bureau said he would request an autopsy on the chance that additional clues may be found. Dr. Edwin H. Huntington, acting medical examiner of Westchester County, however, listed the case as “possibly accidental” and intimated that Westchester authorities would not direct an autopsy.

He said he found no marks of violence and that the badly-decomposed state of the body indicated that it had been in the water about two months.

Had large allowance

Miss Matthai’s friends could advance no reason as to why she should have gone for a stroll in the storm.

Miss Matthai was the daughter of John Matthai, head of the Tata Chemical Company of Bombay. Investigators learned the dead girl was receiving an allowance of $1,000 a month for spending money, and a bankbook in her room showed deposits of $1,400.

The Pittsburgh Press (May 19, 1944)

Friends reveal ‘dance of death’

Indian entertained just before drowning

New York (UP) –
Less than eight hours before she drowned in the Hudson River, Valsa Anna Matthai, 22-year-old Bombay, India, heiress, wearing a luxurious native gown, danced a “dance of death,” her friends revealed today.

The girl entertained fellow students living at International House, and after the “dance of death,” consented to do her own improvised version of it in “jive.”

Her friends said she was cheerful as she went to the stage at a formal bazar.

As police traced the last hours of her life, they envisioned her returning to her room soon after 11:00 p.m. ET. Sometime during the early morning of March 20, she changed to slacks and brown polo coat at 4:35 a.m. She walked from the hotel into a snowy night never to be seen alive again. The body was found in the river Wednesday night after a two-month search.

Her watch stopped at 5:17 a.m., indicating she died 42 minutes after leaving the warm lobby of the hotel.

Dr. Alexander Gettler, city toxicologist, yesterday began an analysis of the internal organs, in an effort definitely to determine the cause of death, although pathologist Dr. Thomas A. Gonzales had announced the cause as drowning after an autopsy and said there were no indications of violence.

The Brooklyn Eagle (May 22, 1944)

Rites Wednesday for Indian heiress

Yonkers, New York – (May 21)
Funeral services for the late Miss Valsa Anna Matthai, Columbia University student, whose body was found floating in the Hudson River off Yonkers last Wednesday, will be held Wednesday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. ET at the Universal Funeral Chapel, 597 Lexington Avenue, Manhattan, it was announced here today by John J. Flynn, Yonkers undertaker. Burial will be in Mount Hope Cemetery, Flynn announced.

Miss Matthai, 21-vear-old daughter of John Matthai, wealthy industrialist of Bombay, India, disappeared from her rooms at International House in Manhattan, on March 20.