Press Hunt for Girl Feared Held in a Greek Monastery (Milwaukee Journal, 1951)

NOTE: The following article about Simela Spyrides is taken from the Milwaukee Journal, January 5, 1951:

Milwaukee Journal January 5, 1951 (Simela Spyrides)

Athens, Greece (A/P)—Authorities hunted Friday night for a young raven haired American woman whose father charges she was lured from her Toledo (Ohio) home to imprisonment in a Greek monastery by a nun of the Julian Calendar sect. The search followed an appeal to court officials in Athens from Christo Spyrides of Toledo for the return of his missing 22 year old daughter, Simela. He charged that, against his will, Simela was enticed from her home to a Greek monastery in 1949 by a nun identified as Maria Zaphriopoulos. The nun was said to have been in the United States at the time on a mission to collect a $10,000 estate left an inmate of the Karatea monastery.

Spyrides said he was married in 1926 in Greece but that he and his wife parted and he returned to Toledo in 1927. He said he was “fairly certain” that his former wife was a member of the monastery, but that he had no way of knowing whether his daughter had joined.

Police say they suspect she is hidden in some monastery.

Currently in jail here on charges of abduction, unlawful detention and fraud are Mother Superior Miriam Soulakiotis and 10 nuns and monks of the monastery, located on the Aegean sea coast east of Athens. Police were reported seeking five “bogus bishops.”

Court officials asserted that scores of men and women who entered the Karatea monastery had been defrauded of their estates. Their properties were reported turned over to the mother superior.

Toledo Blade January 6, 1951 p. 1 (Simela Spyrides)

NOTE: The following article is taken from the Toledo Blade, January 6th, 1951, pp. 1 & 3:

Daughter ‘All Right,’ Not Prisoner In Greek Monastery, Father Decides

Toledoan’s Offer To Pay Girl’s Fare Back To U.S. Stands

A Toledo father today reversed his earlier contention that his daughter is an unwilling prisoner in a Greek monastery, asserting that she is “probably all right.”

Christ Spyrides, 58, of 1511 Woodville St., pointed out his 22-year-old daughter, previously reported by the father as being imprisoned, is an American citizen, and could, if she wanted, return to Toledo. His offer to pay her expenses for the return trip is still good, he added.

However, since the daughter, Simela, asked for return plane fare, Mr. Spyrides said he wrote her last Saturday asking her to return by boat because of the money difference involved.

First reports of the abduction were made by the press wire services from Athens. They reported Mr. Spyrides had contacted officials there to help find his daughter who he believed had been “tricked” into returning to Greece.

Mr. Spyrides said today he had written to the authorities but gave no reason other than he “wanted his daughter to return.” Prosecutor George Velouzos in Athens confirmed that he had received the appeal and that Athens police were trying to find the girl.

A dispatch from the United Press reported the raven-haired girl “eluded a police hunt today by skipping from one mountain convent to another.”

In halting English, Mr. Spyrides, aided by a neighbor, Tom Tokles, 1506 Woodville St., acting as an interpreter, told a reporter for The Blade the following story:

Mr. Spyrides, who came to this country in 1913, returned to Greece in 1926 and was married. The following year, Simela was born in Corinson, Greece, and he returned alone to the United States. His wife and child followed in 1932, but remained only a few months. That year, Mr. Spyrides and his wife were divorced.

The return of his wife and daughter 14 years later, in 1946, was “unexpected,” Mr. Spyrides said. He said he first knew they were in the country when he received a wire from them saying they needed money to make the trip from New York to Toledo.

 Probable Reason For Visit

He assumed they decided to visit the United States because war had left Greece poverty-stricken, and were taking advantage of a United States ruling that dependents of American citizens could enter the country.

In January, last year, Mrs. Spyrides was sent back by immigration authorities, he said.

Mr. Spyrides would not comment when asked why his daughter did not then return with her mother. In the meantime, Simela had been a student in East Side Central School.

Sometime between January and March, 1950, “some nuns who wanted money” visited the Spyrides home, Mr. Spyrides said. He asserted they had obtained his name from some church “in Detroit.”

Girl And Nuns Friendly

Believing they were asking funds for legitimate charities in Greece, Mr. Spyrides said he had permitted them to remain several days in his home. At that time, Simela and the nuns were “very friendly,” he added.

The Associated Press reported the nuns were believed to be of the Julian Calendar Sect, affiliated with the Karatea monastery. They have been jailed on charges of abduction, unlawful detention, and fraud, the wire service said. The monastery is on the Aegean Sea coast, east of Athens.

Mr. Spyrides said that in March, 1950, the girl, having learned her mother was ill, decided to return to Greece with the nuns.

Paid Fare To Greece

“I paid her fare; what are you going to do?” Mr. Spyrides said.

Since that time he has had several letters from her, although she was vague about expressing any desire to come back, he added.

He wrote his brother to check up on her whereabouts in Athens, but the latter could not afford to make the trip from his home, the father said.

Why Mr. Spyrides contacted consular authorities in Athens is not clear. He commented only that he wanted to know whether she was coming home.

Doubt Girl Wants To Leave

The United Press said that police believe the girl does not want to leave the sect. The dispatch said further that police were acting under a Greek law which says that a father, as “male protector,” has legal rights over his unmarried daughters regardless of age.

About a week ago, Mr. Spyrides said, he received a cablegram from his daughter, in which she said, “Daddy, please send me money for plane fare home.”

The father said that in his letter reply to her on Saturday, he told her that it would be cheaper for her to come by boat.

He said flatly today that he was waiting for her reply.

“If she doesn’t want to come back, it’s all right,” he said. “There’s no mystery. She’s probably all right.”

Mr. Spyrides has been employed 23 years in the East Broadway plant of the Libbey-Owens-Ford Glass Co.