What Happened to Ellen Choate?

Ellen Choate was ready to start her new job. So ready, that she hopped a train from Philadelphia to Boston just hours after she graduated to get a jump start on her journey to Maine. 

It was midnight when Ellen took her seat on that train heading north, hoping that once in Massachusetts, she’d find a ride to Bangor, where her house, car, and new role as a Montessori teacher was waiting for her. That was June 1, 1975. The last time anyone saw Ellen Choate alive.

Ellen’s name remains on the Maine State Police Unsolved Homicide list all these decades later, one of two long-standing cases without resolution in Newport, Maine. From the start of the investigation, detectives considered possible ties to numerous other homicides in the area. What was happening in Sebasticook Valley in the mid-1970s? Who is responsible for these violent crimes? And will these cases ever get the conclusion they deserve?

If you have any information about the death of Ellen Choate, please contact Maine State Police Major Crimes Unit North at (207) 973-3750 or leave an anonymous tip here.

About Ellen Choate

She was always very sure of herself – confident and independent. 24-year old Ellen Linda Choate knew what she wanted and was determined to get it, whatever hurdle may land in her path. As a high school student at Penncrest High School in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, Ellen was a high achieving student. She’d been inducted into the National Honor Society and was a member of the Junior Historian Club, and she’d received a Good Citizen award from the Daughter of the American Revolution. 

Ellen graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and went on to attend Ravenhill Academy in East Falls, Pennsylvania to study the Montessori teaching method. With Montessori education, the natural curiosity of children is encouraged through independent learning versus formal teaching methods. It makes sense that Ellen, who herself was quite independent, would be drawn to this style of education. 

As part of her education at Ravenhill, Ellen was assigned to a practice-teaching role at a Montessori school to get some real field experience working with children. Though based in Pennsylvania, she was placed at a school in Bangor, Maine, where she lived for a few months during her assignment. That practice-teaching work ended in a job opportunity at the Children’s House in Bangor. Ellen was scheduled to start on June 2, 1975. 

Before her new job in a new state began, Ellen returned to Pennsylvania to attend graduation at Ravenhill Academy and pack her belongings for a more permanent move to Maine. She was only home with her family in Pennsylvania for a week. Eager to return to Maine, Ellen made plans to leave immediately after graduation. The very same night, in fact. It was May 31, 1975. The last time Ellen was seen alive.

The original plan was that Ellen would ride to Maine with another girl who was also headed to the Pine Tree State. At the last minute, those plans fell through. Ellen was determined to get there, though, and so she resolved to buy a train ticket to Boston and hitchhike the rest of the way to Bangor, Maine. 

It’s a long ride from Philly to Boston, between 5 and 6 hours depending on the train. Ellen would be traveling overnight, with the train departing from Pennsylvania at midnight on May 31, 1975. Just to note, sources differ on Ellen’s official departure date from Pennsylvania, either May 31 or June 1, 1975. This is likely due to the midnight train that began Ellen’s journey to Maine through Boston. 

On Monday, June 2, 1975, the staff at the Children’s House in Bangor awaited the arrival of their new teacher. Miss Choate didn’t seem like the type to arrive late, but it was soon clear that Ellen wouldn’t arrive at all. The eager new Montessori school teacher was a no-call, no-show. As the day went on, Ellen’s would-be new co-workers were concerned, and reported the teacher missing. 

Ellen Choate’s story continues on Dark Downeast. Press play or find the episode on your favorite podcast app.

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