Thursday, December 31, 2015

Beatrice Farmer, 13-Year-Old Would-Be Murderess – 1901, Australia

FULL TEXT: Beatrice Farmer, 13 years of age, was called upon at the Melbourne General Sessions on Tuesday to answer a charge of an unusual nature. The charge was that she did cause Henry Stanton Babbage to take cortain poison, with intent to injure and annoy the said Henry Stanton Babbage.

Accused who was on bail, entered the dock with her face buried in a handkerchief and weeping bitterly. When asked to plead she made no audible reply. A warder spoke to her, and informed Judge Chomley that she pleaded guilty.

Evidence was given on the girl’s behalf by two witnesses, who stated that she was quick tempered and self-willed.

Judge Chomley ordered that the girl be sent to the Reformatory Schools.

The depositions ot the evidence taken in the police court show that tho girl was in the employ of Mrs. Tuckwell, at Surrey Hills. The son of Mrs Tuckwell by a former marriage. On June 19 Mrs. Tuckwell told the girl to prepare some bread and milk for her son’s breakfast. When the milk was placed on the table peculiar smell was noticeable, and Mr. and Mrs. Tuckwell did not take any of it. The boy Babbage, however, had some of the bread and milk, and after eating a mouthful of it he remarked, “I can’t eat this, as it has a nasty taste, and burns my tongue.” Mrs. Tuckwell gave the accused a cup of tea with some of the milk in it, and then left the room. When she returned she noticed that accused had thrown the tea into a slop-basin. Subsequently she admitted that she put three-quarters of a teaspoonful of carbolic acid in the milk. Mr. C. R. Blackett analysed some of the milk, and found carbolic acid in it.

[“Remarkable Poisoning. - A Young Borgia Or Brinvilliers.” The Bendigo Independent (Victoria, Australia), Jul. 5, 1901, p. 4]

The Weeks Girl, 17-Year-Old Murderess – 1889, Georgia

FULL TEXT: Columbus, Ga., Jan. 21. – A special to the Enquirer-Sun from Mechanicsville, Ala., says: A seventeen year old daughter of Joe Weeks, colored, forced four of her younger sisters to eat rough on rats. Two of them have died, and the girl admits her crime.

[“Poisoned by Their Sisters.” [sic], The Wilmington Messenger (N. C.), Feb. 22, 1889, p. 1]

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

“Rouge Husband-Poisoners” – Austro-Hungarian Empire 1900

The village that is here spelled “Zlifet” has not yet been identified on any map. Although the article gives the nation as “Hungary,” it was common during the period in question to refer to any region in the Austro-Hungarian Empire outside Austria proper as “Hungary.”


FULL TEXT: Vienna, March 24. – Six peasant woman at Zlifet, Hungary, banded themselves together to free themselves from their husbands. They put poison concocted from face rouge in their  husbands’ drink. The affair might have been undiscovered had not one of the conspirators, happily for the husbands, boasted of what what was to be done. All the women have been arrested.

[“Poisoned Their Husbands. – Six Peasant Women Conspired to Murder, One Boasted and All Were Caught.” The Pittsburg Post (Pa.), Mar. 25, 1900, p. 8]



For more than two dozen similar cases, dating from 1658 to 2011, see the summary list with links see: The Husband-Killing Syndicates


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Celia Rose, 24-Year-Old Triple Murderess - Ohio, 1896

CHRONOLOGY: Newville, Ohio.

Jun. 24, 1896 – First poisoning by Celia; victims: father, mother, brother; arsenic laced schmierkaese (“smear case;” cream cheese).
Jun. 30, 1896 – David Rose, father, 69, dies.
Jul. 5, 1896 (circa) – Walter Rose, 31, brother, dies.
Jul. 19, 1896 – Second poisoning of mother; arsenic in bread and milk.
Jul. 20, 1896 – Mrs. Rebecca Rose, mother, dies. (5am Sunday).
Jul. 30, 1896 (around) – Celia confesses to Tracey Davis, adding false accusation about Guy Berry as deliberate instigator of the murders.
Aug. 1 – Celia retracts the false accusation about Guy.
Aug. 12, 1896 – Celia Rose (“Ceely”), 24, arrested; warrant issued by Squire Smith’s court.
Oct. 13, 1896 – trial begins.
Oct. 20, 1896 – verdict: “not guilty by reason of insanity.” Sentenced to Toledo asylum, later transferred to state hospital, Lima, Ohio.
Mar. 14, 1934 – Celia Rose dies at state hospital, Lima, Ohio.



FULL TEXT: Mansfield, O., Aug. 14. – Miss Celia Rose, a young woman 24 years old, is in jail here charged with killing her father, mother and brother with poison. Daniel Rose was a farmer and lived near Newville, O. He and his wife and son died recently within a few days of each other [Jun. 24; Jul. 5; Jul. 6]. It was evident that they had been poisoned. The daughter Celia was suspected and closely watched.

A young woman gained the confidence of the girl and it is claimed Celia made a confession to her. Miss Rose was in love with Guy Berry, a neighbor. He did not like her and considered her attentions a nuisance. He complained to his father and Mr. Berry complained to Mr. Rose. The girl’s parents took her severely to task and the poisoning was the result.

[“Jailed On A Fearful Charge. – A Woman Accused of Poisoning Her Family Near Mansfield.” The Salem Daily News (In.), Aug. 14, 1896, p. 1]



FULL TEXT: Mansfield, O., Aug. 15 – In the little churchyard of the Pleasant Valley Congregational Church, near Mansfield, O., there are three new-made graves, which contain all that earth could claim from David Rose and his wife and bachelor son. Celia Rose is in a cell in the County jail at Mansfield Walter. Rutland charged with poisoning them – all the relatives she had in the world. She spends her time sewing, embroidering and reading the Bible, a “Story of the Bible,” and the “International Sunday-School Lesson Leaf.” She talks freely of the death of her father, mother and brother, and is well aware of the charge against her. She shows no emotion whatever and greets visitors with a cheerful smile, and laughs half archly, half coquettishly at times when she is questioned about her relations to Guy Berry, the 17-year-old neighbor for love of whom she is said to have confessed to a schoolgirl friend that she caused the death of her parents and brother.

Celia Rose has no symptoms of insanity, and while not considered bright or wholly balanced mentally, is far from being an imbecile. Nordau would class her as a degenerate. She does not appear to know the difference between right and wrong. Her moral sense, if she has any at all, is defective. Yet this woman attained the age of 24 years without doing a criminal act so far as is known.

~ Seventeen Peaceful Years. ~

David Rose was a pensioner nearly 70 years old. He lived in the neighborhood known as Pleasant Valley during the last seventeen years. He had a snug property when he first came to the vicinity of Mansfield from the central part of the state. He bought a home of nine acres and built a pretty cottage and a substantial flour and grist mill. The family prospered until half a dozen years ago, when so many mill races began to choke up with weeds and mud owing to the destructive competition of the new English syndicate roller process mills. Since then the mill has been used only to chop feed and make cracked wheat and hominy for the neighbors. Rose worked during harvest time and at other busy seasons for various farmers, and cultivated his few acres of garden and corn land.

Walter, a son, 31 years old, was unmarried and he lived at home. He made a thrifty living as a huckster. He was below the average mentally, but was a good business man.

Mrs. Rose kept house, assisted by Celia, when the latter’s humor prompted, and wove to help keep the family from want.

The family was respectable and respected, differing little from hundreds of others in a country of prosperous, thrifty farmers. David Rose was known as a man of unquestioned probity, who attended strictly to his own business and was quick to resent interference of any kind. He was peace-loving, but no one cared to arouse his enmity. His son inherited these qualities in a heightened degree. He was fiery, of temper, passionate and vindictive, but not dangerous.

~ Coolness Between Neighbors. ~

The nearest neighbors of the Rose family were George Berry’s family, consisting of himself, his wife, two sons, a daughter, and aged father. Three was little friendship between these neighbors. The Berrys are prosperous, open-hearted people, with broad acres of well-tilled land, who never quarrel with any one, and who never feared a quarrel with any one except the Roses. The peculiar temperament of the pensioner and his family was long known to Mr. Berry, and, though Rose’s mill is within twenty yards of Berry’s front porch and a conversation can be carried on without difficulty between the two homes, there had been no intercourse between the two families in five or six years – no known intercourse. Walter Rose did not speak to George Berry when they passed on the road, and a barely civil salutation sufficed to preserve the form of social amenities when members of the two families met in public – with one fatal exception.

Celia Rose from her childhood has been a puzzle to the simple, shrewd, practical country folk of this neighborhood. She would never work except when she was so inclined, no matter how busy or tired her mother might be. To children of her own age she displayed an unsocial disposition, building her doll-houses in the woods on the bank of a Tennysonian brook. There she would stay for hours at a time, and no one cared to disturb her.

~ Felt the Imprint of Her Teeth. ~

One who at once felt the imprint of her sharp teeth when attempting to force her to go home or do anything else that happened not to suit her fancy was quite willing to leave her to her own selfish way.

At the district school which she attended irregularly and where she studied just as much as she chose her progress was not marked. However she continued her studies until nearly grown and is as well educated as the most of her neighbors. She acquired a taste for reading and has read and reread many times the few books that composed the family library. Every newspaper that got into her possession was devoured from line to line and stored away for second reading at another time. Her father took one or two weekly newspapers and family papers. Next to reading, her interest centered in fancy work. She was skillful and quick and many beautiful children of her hands were among the family effects sold on Friday at public auction for the purpose of procuring the means for her defense.

Reading was a passion with this strange being and so far as can be ascertained the column about potato bugs was just as interesting to her as the weekly installment of the serial story.

~ Lived a Lonely Life. ~

She seemed to become more unsocial as she grew older and had no friends, few acquaintances but also no enemies. Many days and almost every fair evening, indeed, many nights of storm and rain were spent by her in the woods or perched upon a mossy stone by the roadside, where if possible she could see everybody that passed without herself being seen.

She grew to womanhood slowly and has been regarded as a callow girl until the last year or two. Her figure is stout, plump and well rounded, but lacks grace. She has a well shaped head and regular features, but her intelligence seems to be mechanical or animal like.

Dances rarely profane the religious atmosphere of Pleasant Valley, but social reunions of the young people are not infrequently held. Celia attended few of these “parties” during the last two years, but she never became popular with the young men. She was a perfect specimen of that very common plant, the wallflower. This fact caused her no annoyance and even hostesses ceased to care whether she received attention or not. Celia ceased to accept invitations and was in a fair way to become completely dead to all the world except her immediate neighbors and the members of the Sunday-school class she attended, when, some six months ago it began to be noised about she was in love with Guy Berry, her neighbor, whose downy face had just begun to be seen in social gatherings.

~ Beginnings of Celia’s Romance. ~

One day Guy was plowing in the cornfield Celia approached from the wood lot on a wreath of flowers, and shyly began to talk to him about her lonesome life.

“You surprise me, Guy, the way you grow,” she added, as she seated herself on the top of the low snake fence, and reached out to break off a twig from an overhanging tree.

This is the customary way of addressing little boys in rural neighborhoods. The young man was little flattered. Turning his team he plowed to the other side of the field, expecting the girl would be gone when he returned.

Young Berry seems to have been utterly surprised at the admiration evinced for him by his strange neighbor, and he listened often and long to her rambling conversation and her professions of love for him. Doubtless she did not use the word – she who had never loved her own mother – but the boy understood. He listened and was flattered. Since then hardly a day has passed but he would be sought by Celia, in the meadow, the cornfield, or beside the old mill. They were much in one another’s company, though Guy never seemed to care whether Celia came or not. Celia’s little affair of the heart remained unknown for some time, and it never became a subject of general gossip. The parents of the young people were the last to hear their clandestine meetings.

~ She Names the Date. ~

“We will be married in three years,” said Celia one day at dusk as she leaned over the fence that separated her father’s little home from the Berry farm.

“How do you know that?” asked Guy smiling. “I never told you so.”

The girl was not abashed. It had never occurred to her that it was unwomanly to make a proposition of this kind. It is scarcely probable either that she thought about this being a leap year. The next day when she reopened the conversation Guy seemed different.

“Never mind, the girl said, as she turned away. I have three other fellows, and every one of them tries to kiss me when they go home. Some of these days I may marry one of them and then you will be sorry you didn’t take me.”

“Do you think so?” was the answer. “Just try me.”

Celia was standing by the roadside the next morning when Guy opened the stable to feed the horses. She seemed harassed and anxious.

“O, Guy, she said with tenderness and half pleadingly. I am so sorry I said what I did last night. It wasn’t so what I told you that I would marry some one else. I do not care for any one but you.”

Claude Berry, Guy’s younger brother noticed the intimacy between Guy and Celia, but he thought nothing about the matter for awhile. One day he told his mother about a conversation he had had with Celia.

~ Guy Becomes Tired of Her. ~

“Celia. Guy isn’t going to marry you,” Claude said. “He has got another girl.”

This was unwelcome news to Celia, but she was quick to recover her composure, and to gather together the fragments of her heart.

“Then I will marry you. Claude,” she said.

“I am too young,” the 12-year-old lad replied.

“O, I can wait until you grow up.”

She would marry a 10-year-year boy on the spot if she got a chance,” was Mrs. Berry’s comment. She told her husband of her discovery.

Guy himself seems finally to have grown tired of the attentions of the girl, and he tried to avoid her. At least he told his father this and added that he had borne it as long is he could and that he intended to leave home unless something was done to put a stop to Celia’s visits. The story would probably have had another termination in Kentucky. Berry was afraid of complications, but realized that matters would not be helped by delay. He went to David Rose about a month ago, and told him all he knew.

Rose’s feelings and family pride were deeply wounded. but he parted peaceably from Berry simply promising to speak to her daughter and have her cease “annoying” Guy. The old man, who, though stern by nature had never undertaken to discipline Celia, upbraided her unmercifully for bringing reproach on the family name.

She promised to quit going with Guy if her father would not tell Mrs. Rose.

Whether the old soldier forgot this agreement or how Mrs. Rose learned of the conversation between her husband and George Berry is not known. At any rate she and Walter both added their reproaches to those of the father and life at home became unbearable. She seems to have reached the conclusion that nothing but the family feud stood between her and Guy and prevented him from asking her to marry him at once. Certainly she resented the nagging and constant reproaches of her relatives as a deadly insult. Revenge, riddance of tyrannical relations, and the hope of marriage became her controlling passions. She was heard to say, it is averred that she would marry Guy in spite of her father as he would not live always.

However she did not long remain in open rebellion and her mother. thought she had never been so dutiful and helpful. She ceased to go to the woods and fields and took part in the family life as she had not done in years.

On the morning of June 24 Celia helped her mother spare breakfast making a dish of cottage cheese. David and Walter Rose both ate heartily of this dish Mrs. Rose more sparingly. Celia did not taste it at all. After breakfast she placed all that was left in a plate and set it in a cupboard and later in the day threw it out into the yard.

Shortly after breakfast David Rose became sick and began to vomit. Walter started for a physician at Newville and fell in the road. He was picked up by a neighbor and carried home and several doctors were summoned. All agreed that the symptoms were those of arsenical poisoning. Mrs. Rose also got sick before nightfall but she suffered less than her husband or her son. David Rose was the first to die, succumbing after six days of intolerable agony. Walter followed at the end of five days more.

Mrs. Rose was apparently on the road to recovery, when she grew suddenly worse and died within two weeks of her husband’s demise.

Suspicion fell from the first on Celia, from the fact that she had not sickened too. Mrs. Rose was unaware of the death of the other sufferers until two days afterward. as the doctors were unwilling to allow her to be told while in a critical condition. She, too, suspected Celia, or, at any rate, knew the girl was under suspicion.

“Celia, could you have done such an awful thing?” she asked one day after she was able to sit up in bed. “God help you if you did.”

“Why, Ma,” the young woman answered, “what makes you ask me such a question? If you had not said anything about the rat poison nobody would have suspected me at all.”

“Look me in the face, child,” Mrs. Rose is reported to have said, a woman of the neighborhood being in the next room, “and tell me the truth.”

~ Celia Hung Her Head. ~

Celia is reported to have hung her head and quietly left the room.

The death of the two bread winners of the Rose family, as reported in Mansfield but for some was not thought to be serious Mrs. Rose is said to have grown strangely silent after this conversation with Celia and when questioned about the fatal breakfast said she had no idea how the poison could have found its way into the food as she had prepared it all by herself. It has been understood that Celia helped to get this meal. No, Mrs. Rose insisted that this was a mistake Celia is said to have openly admitted she did assist in its preparation until she knew she was suspected.

After Mrs. Rose’s death Prosecuting Attorney Douglass ordered an inquest by the Coroner Dr. Baughman. Various facts were learned which threw suspicion on Celia. She was put under but was not arrested. Prosecutor Douglass asked Mrs. John Ohler a neighbor of the annihilated family to take charge of Celia so she would have a home while the matter was being investigated.

Coroner Haughman caused a chemical and microscopic analysis of the stomach of David Rose to be made and traces of arsenical poisoning were found. This finding was agreed to by fix or eight reputable physicians of Newville a village two or three miles south of Pleasant Valley, Perrysville and Mansfield.

Prosecutor Douglass took the matter up with the determination of finding out whether Celia was guilty before he began criminal proceedings against her. He has a tarot called Green Gables not far from John Ohler’s house. He and his wife went there and sent for Miss Theresa Davis of Newville the only person that had ever been an intimate of Celia’s. Prosecutor Douglass asked Miss Davis in the interest of justice to ingratiate herself with Celia and worm the truth front her. This, according to the prosecutor and Miss Davis was accomplished.

Miss Davis went to see the orphaned girl at Mrs. Ohlers and expressed sympathy for her. Celia’s complete lack of emotion or pretense of sorrow gave Miss Davis an excuse to begin her work. She frankly told Celia of the suspicions that were current in the neighborhood and begged her to unbosom herself.

“I am your friend and you might as well tell me,” she pleaded.

“I believe you are my friend,” was the answer

“O, I have known others that did such things because people treated them mean never anybody urged Miss Davis.

On the night of July 30, as Miss Davis relates, Celia made a partial confession, implicating Guy Berry, saying her told her to put the poison in the schmierkaese in order that they might get married.

The next day  Celia expressed regret that she had said anything about Guy, admitting he had nothing to do with the poisoning and that he had never asked her to marry him. The confession was repeated on another occasion, according to the Prosecutor and Miss Davis, in the presence, or hearing, rather, of someone who was hidden in a closet. The name of this person has not been made public.

Celia is related to have confessed to the following:

She found some rat poison which had recently been purchased by her brother on a shelf in the pantry and put it into a pepper box and sifted it into the schmierkaese. preparing the mixture in the spring house where he dairy products were kept. She took some of it on her plate and pretended to eat of it, but did not touch it. A hen and seven chickens ate what she threw away and soon died. The bones are in the possession of the prosecutor.

Celia heard a physician say that Mrs. Rose was out of danger. She got the pepper box. which she had hidden under a dock weed and waited for a chance to administer another doss to Mrs. Rose. Mrs. Rose prepared herself a large bowl of bread and milk and ate heartily of it. The remainder was set in the cupboard. Celia watched her chance and sprinkled in some of the ratsbane.

“This milk tastes very funny,” Celia is said to have quoted her mother as saying.

I was afraid mother would detect the poison. the young woman continued in her alleged confession to Miss Davis, but she did not. After she ate all the milk she got sick and began vomiting very bad. I could hardly help laughing the poison was working so well.”

Miss Davis reported regularly to Prosecutor Douglass and he finally on Aug. 12. secured a warrant for Celia Rose’s arrest. She accompanied Constable Pluck who went to Ohlers home for her the next day without objection. She was driven to the office of the public prosecutor where she had a conference with her attorneys. L. C. Mengert and I. M. Reed. Later she pleaded not guilty and waived preliminary examination before a Justice of the Peace and was held to the grand jury without bonds. She broke down during the examination and cried but before the sympathies of those present were fully roused she was laughing heartily.

All the household effects of the Rose family were sold on Friday. The sale was at tended by crowds from all the neighboring towns and hamlets. Mrs. Rose was evidently thrifty housekeeper and a good provider. The larder was filled with large quantities of made preserves, pickles, and canned good, apparently enough to supply the needs of the family for a year or two.

~ Berrys Are Indignant. ~

Miss Theresa Davis was present. She related how she had secured Miss Roses’s confession. Guy Berry did not attend the sale. He was seen at his father’s home. Mrs. Berry a sylph-like figure of delicate health and spirituelle countenance, expressed the greatest indignation at the stories told by Celia connecting her son with the tragedy.

“There’s not a word of truth in her statements that they were engaged,” said Mrs. Berry. “She is sill on the subject of marrying and bothered Guy so much that he complained to his father and threatened to leave home unless Mr. Berry requested Mr. Rose to put a stop to the annoyance of Celia’s trailing alter him all the time. He did not like her, never did. Guy has a nice sweetheart and would not have thought of marrying Celia if he had been of age as he is not. He knew that we did not like her and he is a good son.”

Guy is a handsome lad and apparently wholly. worthy of his mother’s pride and love. He talked freely of his acquaintance with Miss Rose. His bearing was frank and his whole demeanor inspired confidence in the truth of what he said. The public prosecutor has told Mrs. Berry that Guy will not be needed as a witness.

The poisoning of the three oldest members of the Rose family has caused a sensation second only to that which followed the suicide of Congressman M. D. Harter last spring. The neighborhood gossip hardly penetrated to Mansfield until the public prosecutor gave out the history of the case.

~ Prosecution Has Ample Evidence. ~

He is said to have all the evidence he thinks necessary for the trial. In addition to the evidence mentioned in the foregoing, the rat poison bought for Mrs. Rose shortly before June 24 could not be found anywhere, though Mrs. Rose immediately told where she had put it the day before. However, the pepper box which had just been scoured was found under a large dock weed close to the house. The prosecuting attorney expects to be able to prove the confession without any trouble.

Of all who have heard the horrible recital of Celia Roses crime as it was related yesterday to the correspondent of THE TRIBUNE the young woman seems to be least concerned. One day while she was at Mrs. Ohler’s she said she was homesick and asked for permission to go back to her fathers cottage. As she had never expressed any sorrow over the death of her relatives. Mrs. Ohler asked what made her homesick.

“O, I want to see the little chickens and the old mill,” she answered.

Miss Davis accompanied her on the trip. The road leads past the church and the graves of her father mother and brother are so close to the road that one cannot help seeing them. Celia glanced at the fresh earth indifferently and made no comment.

It was on this occasion that Mica Davis was able for the first time to secured half promise of a confession. They sat down on a big, smooth waterworn limestone rock on the roadside by the little red brick school house which was the only bond of association between the two young women and after a long struggle Celia said the would think over the matter and tell the next day if she felt able to do so.

Celia expressed relief when the jail doors closed behind her. I have been working so hard at Mrs. Ohler’s she said.

Mrs. Ohler said the extent of her labors was to lie at length on a sofa until the bell rang for meals. As soon as the young woman arrived at the jail she took off her black sailor hat, and sat down to read one of her favorite books. She varies the time with needlework.

When seen yesterday forenoon she was stretched out at full length reading the international Sunday-School Lesson Leaf. She had on no shoes or stockings and was clad in a coarse black woolen dress with red bands in the bodice. Her thick neutral blond hair was done up in a neat knot, and the front curls were in papers. She did not rise when addressed, but let her pamphlet drop, and leaned forward long enough to adjust her skirt. She made no apology for her lack of shoes. They were tucked under the cot.

Miss Rose has blues eyes straight nose slightly thicker than usual small and delicately shapen ears a large eight mouth rosy complexion and a fine, rounded head, neck and chin.

Her eyes are expressionless even when she laughs which is not infrequent. Her laughter is not silly nor momentarily timed. She did not laugh while one was talking about the death of her parents, but was likely to in the next breath, if she thought anything at all amusing. She talks intelligently about what she has read but seems to be deficient in ideas. Her memory is retentive and her stock of facts is larger that that of the average reading woman. Her face sobered barely perceptibly whenever the tragedy of the family was mentioned but she did not pretend to express sorrow by her looks.

When asked directly if she were sorry she said, without looking up:

“Of course I feel bad and all that. I am all alone.”

She seemed to have nothing more to say on that subject though her tone betrayed to resentment at the question.

Of Guy she had little to say, but she smiled or laughed gleefully whenever his name was mentioned.

“Are you going to marry Guy when you get out,” she was asked.

“I don’t know,” she said. “He has some other girls and he may marry one of them.”

On being asked if he had ever asked her to marry him she said he had not. Later she added that he had treated her respectfully whenever they met.

~ Resents Questions on the Crime. ~

This was said in a low tone with bowed head and a flushing face. Miss Rose stutters painfully when at all confused or excited. Sometimes her utterance is wholly inarticulate. Once she thought a question was intended to touch upon the charge against her and the question of her guilt. She seemed to be slightly indignant and looking her visitor straight in the eyes said.:

“You know you are asking a question you have no right to ask.” My lawyer told me to be very careful in what I said, and I am trying to be.”

Her tone was reproachful. It seemed to say it was hard to be careful when so many people asked questions.

Once or twice a train of thought would be started by something that was said and she would start up, murmur something indistinctly, whether intended to be understood or not could not be seen, and fall limply forward on the cot and sit several minutes lost to her surroundings. It was a pitiful sight.

Careless observers here say she is insane. It is morally certain that her punishment, if any be meted out to her, will be light.

It is believed the public prosecutor will not ask for a sentence but will recommend that she be provided for as an imbecile.

[“Awful Peril Of A Girl. - Celia Rose Awaits Trial For Poisoning Three Persons. - Her Father, Mother, and Brother Die from Poison and Evidence Is Offered That She Administered It – May Be a Degenerate – Strange Story of Her Lonely Life and Its Bit of Romance – Love May Hare Led Her.” The Chicago Tribune (Il.), Aug. 17, 1896, p. 2]


FULL TEXT: Mansfield, O., October 14. – The trial of Celia Rose for the murder of her father, mother and brother by poisoning was begun before Judge N. M. Wolf yesterday. Coroner Bauerhman was called and told the story of the post-mortem and the inquest.

Miss Rose, the accused, had confessed to a girl friend, Miss Tracey Davis, that she had committed the deed; and Miss Davis was sworn. She told the story of the confession: how the girl had done the poisoning by placing “rough on rats” in the cream cheese, and had done it because her father scolded her for going with Guy Berry, a young farmer who had betrayed the girl. Miss Davis’s father had concealed himself in the barn and had heard a second confession, to which he testified. The matter of allowing these confessions to go before the jury was argued at some length, and the court finally decided the evidence competent.

Drs. Allan and Budd testified to having made a post-mortem and to conclusive evidence of poisoning by arsenic. The State will rest within a short time and the defense will endeavor to establish the plea of moral and legal irresponsibility.

[“Celia Rose’s Trial. – She Confessed To the Murder of Her Father, Mother and Brother.” Oct. 14, 1896, p. 4]


FULL TEXT: Mansfield, O., Oct. 21. – In the case against Miss Celia Rose, on trial here for having caused the death of her father, mother and brother with poison, the jury yesterday after being out an hour brought in a verdict acquitting the accused on the ground of insanity. She will probably be adjudged insane and be sent to an asylum.

[“A Girl Declared Insane.” The Bronson Pilot (Ka.), Oct. 22, 1896, p. 1]


EXCERPT: Sometime, while she was under treatment, Rebecca Rose realized that Ceely was responsible for the deaths of her father and brother and for her illness. She began talking of moving away, her one thought being to save her daughter from the gallows. Ceely, who had no intention of going away and leaving her beloved Guy Berry behind, took action; she gave her mother more arsenic-laced coffee, and Rebecca died. [by Faire, “Ceely Rose,” Fairweather Lewis, May 13, 2010]





Saturday, December 26, 2015

Marie Breysse Martin, Serial Killer Robber – France 1831

It must be noted that there have been challenges to the guilt of the parties made by scholars in recent years.


Wikipedia EXCERPTS: L’auberge rouge (The Red Inn) is an inn, originally named L’Auberge de Peyrebeille (“the Inn of Peyrebeille”), in the commune of Lanarce in Ardèche, bordering Issanlas and Lavillatte. In the 19th century, it was the site of a notorious French criminal scandal known as “the Red Inn affair.”

The owners of the inn, Pierre and Marie [née Breysse] Martin, and their employee Jean Rochette were arrested in 1831 after a customer, Jean-Antoine Enjolras, was found dead by a nearby river, his skull smashed in. They were later charged with his murder. During the subsequent trial, numerous witnesses testified to other crimes committed by the accused, including up to fifty murders at the inn, and to aggravating circumstances of rape and cannibalism. There were rumors that the owners used to serve their intended victims meals containing cooked body parts of previous victims.

The accused were only convicted of the murder of Enjolras, and were sentenced to death. They were executed by guillotine in front of the inn, with a crowd of 30,000 on-lookers.

~ Trial ~

On June 18, 1833, the trial of the “four monsters” began at the court of Ardeche in Privas. The accused were linked to the death of Enjolas by the testimony of Claude Pagès, who said that Pierre Martin, Rochette, and a stranger had used a cart to move the body from the inn to the river. A local beggar, Laurent Chaz, testified in “patois”; his testimony, as translated into French, was that on the night in question - unable to pay for a bed - he had been thrown out of the inn. He had hidden in a shed only to find himself witnessing the murder of a solitary traveller, Enjolras.

More than 100 other witnesses were called to testify at the trial, mainly indirect witnesses relaying rumors of the time. The Code Napoleon permitted hearsay evidence to a much greater extent than Anglo-Saxon common law, but even so much of the evidence given was clearly inadmissible. Claims included:

• The landlady would use the best bits of the corpses to make pâtés and stews for customers to eat
• Certain farmers had seen human hands simmering in the cooking pot
• Others reported having seen bed sheets or walls stained with blood
• Others recounted that sickening smoke frequently came from the chimneys
• The innkeepers would burn the corpses of their victims, including children, in the bread oven or pretend they were found dead from cold on the snow of the plateau

~ Verdict & Execution ~

On June 29, after a hearing lasting 7 days, Andre Martin was acquitted; Pierre Martin, Marie Martin and Rochette were found guilty of only one murder, that of Enjolras, and were sentenced to death. After the rejection of their appeal, and of a plea for clemency to King Louis Philippe, they were returned to the scene of their crime in order to be guillotined in front of their inn by the executioner Pierre Roch and his nephew Nicolas.

The execution took place on October 2, 1833, at noon as the bell of Lavillatte rang the angelus. When Rochette was about to be executed, he cried, “Cursed masters, what have you not made me do!”

These last words of the accused raised suspicion as to the true nature of the innkeepers. It was said that a crowd of approximately 30,000 attended the execution. Paul d’Albigny reports in his book about the Red Inn that, on the day of the execution, a ball was organized in front of the premises.

~ Modern Questions ~

Some historians think that the culpability of the Martins in the “assassination” of Enjolras is far from being proven, arguing that the latter simply died of a heart attack after having too much to drink, and that this would explain why Marie Martin tried to make him drink herbal tea.

[Excerpts from “Auberge rouge,” Wikipedia, Aug. 31, 2015]


Location of crimes: Peyrebeille, in the commune of Lanarce, Ardèche, France.


Oct. 12, 1831 – a local horse-dealer, Antoine (Jean-Antoine) Enjolras (or Anjolras), went missing.
Oct. 25, 1831 – Étienne Filiat-Duclaux, magistrate arrived at the Martins’ to investigate.
Oct. 26, 1831 – Enjolras’ body found on the banks of the Allier River a few kilometres from the inn, his skull smashed and his knee crushed.
Nov. 1, 1831 – arrest of Pierre Martin and his nephew André Martin.
Nov. 1831 – Marie arrested several days after “Marie Martin was not arrested until later because the authorities did not believe at first that a woman could be a murderer.” (Wikipedia).
Jun. 18, 1833 – trial of 4 defendants began at the court of Ardeche in Privas.
June 29, 1883 – trial ends.
Oct. 22, 1833 – 3 guilty parties (including Marie) executed by guillotine in front of their inn at Peyrebeille.





For more cases see: Cannibal Murderesses


Links to more Serial Killer Couples


Thursday, December 24, 2015

“Wife Murders Child Of Eleven Years Because She Kissed Father Too Much." - 1915


Apr. 21 – Mrs. Steele murders Evelina.
Apr. 22 – body found; fake story about Evelina being pregnant and the attempt to perform abortion told to police.
Apr. 23 – Arraignment in circuit court.
Apr. 26 – funeral, Acorn Street Mission Sunday school; thousands attended; Mrs. Steele pleads not guilty.
May 17 – trial begins.
May 21 – Mrs. Steele convicted of murder.
May 22 – Mrs. Steele admits, after much coaxing, to having lied about Evelina being pregnant.
Jun. 2 – Mrs. Steele sentenced to life in prison; falsely accuses husband of telling her to strangle their daughter to death; he is arrested then quickly released.


FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 11): Muskegon, Mich., April 22. – “I tied her hands behind her, blindfolded her, pulled her tongue out of her mouth and threw a spoonful of muriatic acid down her throat. Then I held her in my arms until she died. I next pulled up two boards in the woodshed floor and buried the body.”

Without a trace of emotion and speaking in an even voice, Mrs. Albert Steele, aged 32 years, this afternoon confessed to the murder of her 11-year-old stepdaughter, Evelina, whose nude body was found in an alley back of her home at 9:20 o’clock this morning.

“At 3:20 o’clock this morning,” continued Mrs. Steele, “I became afraid the body would be found, so I dug up the body and placed it in the alley.”

~ Jealous of husband’s Love. ~

A charge of first degree murder has been placed against Mrs. Steele by Prosecuting Attorney Galpin. Jealousy of the father’s affection is given as the motive. The father. Albert Steele, formerly of Pentwater, is heartbroken.

“I knew she would do it,” he said. “I suspected her from the very first. I never want to see her again.”

Little Evelina was last seen alive yesterday morning. The father believing she was visiting an aunt, did not miss “her until 9 o’clock last night. Then after a search, when it developed that Evelina had not been at her aunt’s, the police were notified. The body was found this morning by John Vanderlaan, Sr.

~ Charged Criminal Operation. ~

When the discovery of the body was reported, Mrs. Steele and her husband wdere immediately arrested. At Balbirnie’s morgue, an autopsy was performed, which failed to reveal the criminal operation which the stepmother said had been performed on the girl.

Across the dead body of the child, Coroner Balbirnie confronted the woman.

“You might as well confess, Mrs. Steele,” he said. “Someone saw you put something in the alley early this morning.”

Then Mrs. Steele broke down.

It developed that she purchased the muriatic acid a month ago and the authorities say it was for the purpose of murder.

Mr. Charles Anderson, of Niles, the mother of Evelina, arrived tonight. She was divorced from Steele about a year after Evelina was born. Steele has been released. Mrs. Steele will be arraigned tomorrow morning.

[“Tells of Pouring Poison In Throat Of Stepdaughter – Mrs. Albert Steele, of Mukegon, Confesses Over Body of Child. – Jealous Of Husband’s Love, Planned Crime. – Discovery Follows Fear Corpse Would Be Found in Barn; Hides It in Alley.” The Detroit Free Pree Press (Mi.), Apr. 23, 1915, p. 2]


FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 11): Muskegon, Mich., April 23. – Mrs. Martha Steele, who yesterday confessed to the murder of her 11-year-old stepdaughter, Evelina M. Steele, this afternoon was bound over to the circuit on a charge of first degree murder.

~ Made Up Confession. ~

The police say that Mrs. Steele’s first confession, that of an attempt to perform an illegal operation on the child, was evolved while she was aiding in the search for the girl, whose dead body she had buried in the coal shed.

Further evidence obtained by the physicians who performed the autopsy over Evelina’s body has disclosed, it is alleged, that the mother mistreated the body after death, to give an appearance of truth to her first purported confession that the child died while she was attempting a criminal operation. The physicians who performed the autopsy are agreed that the alleged mistreatment took place after death, not before.

~ Father’s Grief is Tragic. ~

The most dramatic feature of the sensational murder is the tragic grief of the father, Albert Steele. He made frequent visits today to the coal shed where the body was hidden.

Steele said this afternoon that jealousy was the sole motive for the crime. “My wife never liked little Evelina. The child was of a loving disposition but would only come to me for a kiss or a pat on the head when my wife was not in the room.

“For hours my daughter would sit quietly when my wife and I were together, fearing to show any affection for me when her stepmother was there.”

~ Woman Appears Indifferent. ~

Meanwhile, Mrs. Steele, at the county jail, maintains an attitude of complete indifference. She sings and conducts herself in such a manner that the authorities suspect she may be mentally unbalanced.

The funeral of Evelina will be held Sunday afternoon from the Acorn Street Mission Sunday school, of which she was a member.

[“Father Mourns At Spot Where Slain Child Was Hidden – Albert Steele, Heartbroken, Paces Shed of Muskegon Home. – Stepmother, Murderesses, Sings At County Jail – Doctors Say Evidence of Criminal Operation Was Manufactured After Slaying.” The Detroit Free Press (Mi.), Apr. 24, 1915, p. 1]


FULL TEXT (Article 3 of 11): Muskegon, Mich., April 24. – Abandoned by her mother and brothers and still without an attorney, Mrs. Albert Steele, who on Thursday confessed to the deliberate murder of her 11-year-old stepdaughter, Evelina, will be brought into circuit court Monday morning to plead to a charge of first degree murder.

A further examination of the body of the little girl this afternoon by Coroner James F. Bahlinire revealed four fingernail prints in the child’s throat. The authorities now believe that the woman may have strangled the girl, as an analysis of the contents of her stomach has failed to reveal any traces of muriatic acid.

Police reserves will be on duty at the public funeral of Evelina to be held tomorrow afternoon at the Acorn Street Mission church.

[“Stepmother May Have Choked Girl – Fingernail Prints on Throat of Muskegon Murder Victim; Woman to Face Court Monday.” Apr. 25, 1915, p. 18]


FULL TEXT (Article 4 of 11): Muskegon, Mich., April 26. – Surprising the authorities, Mrs. Albert Steele, alleged to have confessed to killing her 11-year-old stepdaughter, Evelina M. Steele, this afternoon pleaded not guilty in circuit court to first degree murder.

Mrs. Steele appeared unmoved by the curious throng which crowded the court room and the corridors.

Attorneys R. W. Gale and Harry W. Jackson were appointed to defend Mrs. Steele. Her trial will be the last on the criminal calendar of this term.

In anticipation of a plea of not guilty, the officers took photographs of marks on the child’s throat that seem to indicate that she may have been strangled.

Thousands of persons yesterday jammed the neighborhood of the mission chapel where the Sunday school, of which Evilina was a member, conducted a memorial service. Pinned on her burial dress is the reward of merit pin which she had earned for faithful attendance and which was to have been presented to her yesterday.

[“Pleads Not Guilty To Slaying Child – Mrs. Alberta Steel, of Muskegon, Must Stand Trial; Many at Services for Stepdaughter,” The Detroit Free Press (Mi.), Apr. 27, 1915, p. 16]


FULL TEXT (Article 5 of 11): Muskegon, Mich., May 15. – An important exhibit in the Mrs. Albert Steele murder case, which will come to trial in the circuit court Monday, the bit of rope found in the shed addition to the rear of the Steele home has disappeared. It was with this rope, prosecution contends that the child’s hands were tied before she was first poisoned, and then strangled by her stepmother. The rope was dug up by members of the sheriff’s force. What has happened to it since no one knows and everyone disclaims responsibility.

[“Muskegon ‘Murder Rope’ Missing On Eve Of Trial – Cord With Prosecution Alleges Stepmother Tied Child’s Hands Disappears.” The Detroit Free Press (Mi.), May 16, 1915, p. 10]


FULL TEXT (Article 6 of 11): Muskegon, Mich., May 17. – Her face showing the pallor of one confined in prison for years. Mrs. Albert Steele, slayer of her 11-year-old stepdaughter, Eveline Mary Steele, walked into the court room this morning at the opening of her trial.

The stir following her appearance seemed to have no effect upon her. She calmly took the chair pointed out by a deputy, immediately back of the table used by her attorneys.

Anton Beilgart was the first juror called. The box was rapidly filled. Mrs. Steele showed no interest.

Before the case opened, the prosecutor announced he would endeavor to prove that Mrs. Steele strangled the girl. The defense will be along the lines that Mrs. Steele was insane at the time of the slaying.

Six of the first 14 jurors examined by the prosecution openly admitted they had positive opinions as to the guilt or innocence of Mrs. Steele, some saying that they believed the woman was guilty. These expressions visibly affected Mrs. Steele.

Questions of the defense attorney, R. R. Gale, to the jurors, plainly revealed that insanity was to be the defense.

[“Murder Trial Of Mrs. Steele Opens – Muskegon Woman Charged With Slaying Stepdaughter, Stolid in Court . – Temporary Insanity Will Be Plea Of Defense – Many Talesmen Express Positive Convictions of Woman’s Guilt.” The Detrot Free Press (Mi.), May 18, 1915, p. 16]


FULL TEXT (Article 7 of 11): Muskegon, Mich., May 18. – Details of the life of Mrs. Albert Steele, facts which she and her relatives will expose to the public eye in a desperate effort to save her from life imprisonment for the slaying of her 11-year-old stepdaughter, Evelina Mary, will be the basis of the defense in the most heinous criminal case ever tried here.

Mrs. Steele’s story, for she will take the stand in her own defense, will not only turn the public loathing against her in sympathy, it is said, but the sympathy, but the sympathy for some of the principals in the case will instead be altered to disdain.

The defense has already requested Judge Sullivan to bar all women and children from the court room.

An even greater crown than has attended the Steele case since it began, was present in the court room this afternoon. Women outnumbered the men about nine to one.

~ Says Girl Was Strangled. ~

Dr. W. A. Campbell, former city physician, who examined the girl’s body, testified that the blood showed positively that death was the result of strangulation and not poisoning. Mrs. Steele sat as yesterday, her glance never varying from a distinct line ahead.

After Judge Sullivan announced that the afternoon’s proceedings were over a curious crowd gathered outside. Through this crowd Mrs. Steele had to walk. She stepped between two deputy sheriffs and began the two blocks walk to the jail, reading horror, loathing and anger in every face.

[“‘Insanity, Victim Of Society,’ To Be Steele Defense – Relatives Flop at Last Moment to Aid Woman Who Killed Child. – Feminine Spectators Crowd Muskegon Court – Attorneys Plan to Bare Past of Defendant and Threaten to Thrill Town With Revelations.” The Detroit Free Press (Mi.), May 19, 1915, p. 9]


FULL TEXT (Article 8 of 11): Muskegon, Mich., May 20. – With Mrs. Martha Schrebe Steele, accused of strangling her step-daughter, appearing more lifeless and morose today than any time during her trial in the local circuit court, the evidence was concluded late this afternoon and preparations made for the beginning of arguments by attorneys at 9 o’clock tomorrow morning.

It is expected that the arguments and Judge James E. Sullivan’s charge will occupy both sessions of court tomorrow, the case going to the jury late in the afternoon.

~ Asks Judgment of Alienists. ~

The defense made its last desperate attempt for acquittal today with a hypothetical question. In this were listed the alleged sorrows of Mrs. Steele’s life, her vicious habits, her tainted heredity and the black side of her married life. The sentence ended with: “Would such a woman be insane?” This hypothetical question was the one dock on which the defense pinned its hopes. Everything also. Everything else was thrown aside today.

In the question the defense admitted that Mrs. Steele strangled her step-daughter, Evelina Mary.

“The killing of a child, her own step-child, without motive or cause by a woman who endured what the defense claims Mrs. Steele had to endure, would be evidence of insanity,” Dr. Frank B. Marshall testified. He was backed by a number of local physicians in his contention.

The expert medical witnesses disagreed, however. The prosecution, in rebuttal, placed on the stand Dr. Charles W. Hitchcock, professor of mental discusses at the Detroit College of Medicine and an expert alienist. He examined Mrs. Steele at the county jail, May 3, a few days after the crime. He declared himself positive today that she was sane. This testimony concluded the evidence.

~ Mrs. Steele Wears Mourning. ~

When Mrs. Steele came into court today, she was dressed in mourning. The scarlet bow on her black velvet turtan was entirely covered with a heavy black veil. The crowd noticed it immediately.

Mrs. Steele appeared to be more vigorous than at the session yesterday afternoon when Judge Sullivan ordered her cross-examination halted because of her apparent physical exhaustion. After answering a few questions well, however, her memory again failed her, it appeared, and the constant reply became “I don’t know,” or “ I can’t remember.”

Women gathered at the court house as early at 6:20 o’clock this morning waiting for the doors to open. More than 300 persons remained in the courtroom during the noon recess, friends going out and purchasing them a luncheon.

[“Steele Attorneys Admit Slaying In Quiz Of Alienists – Muskegon Lawyers Risk All On Hypothetical Question. – Women Gather At 6:30 For Good Seats In Court – Sensational Murder Case Expected to Reach Jury Late Friday.” The Detroit Free Press (Mi.), May 21, 1915, p. 18]


FULL TEXT (Article 9 of 11): Muskegon, Mich., May 22. – The one last service that Martha Schrebe Steele, convicted last night of the murder of her 11-year-old step-daughter, Evelina Mary, could do the child from whose frail body she strangled the breath of life, she did today at the county jail.

In her cell, as she lay on her cot suffering, she declared, from a terrific headache, she admitted that her girl victim had never been attacked by boys, had not been in a delicate condition and was, as other girls of her age, wholly innocent.

Thus, with a term of life imprisonment in the Detroit house of correction facing her, the convicted woman cleared the child’s name of the stain she herself had cast upon it, making the feeble but only reparation she could to the child now in her grave at Pentwater.

The confession did not come willingly. It was the result of long persuasion. Harry W. Jackson, her attorney, demanded that she make it in return for the fight he had made to save her from prison, appealed to save her from prison, appealed to her gratitude, to her sense of honor. He pointed out that since the jury had pronounced its verdict, all evasion was futile. Captain Phillip Lawton, head of the Salvation Army branch here, and her chief comforter, added his entreaties.

“You want to clear the little girl’s name,” Mr. Jackson implored. “You want to clear it of the stain that has been brought upon it by you, don’t you?”

No answer.

“You don’t want this little girl’s name blackened, do you?” said Captain Lawton.

“The story was a lie!” cried Mrs. Steele as she burst into tears, “Evelina was a good little girl. She was good and clean, just as any girl of her age might be. She never was attacked. That story was what first came to my mind when the officers arrested me.”

All that happened during the last week – the trial, the crowds, the courtroom – Mrs. Steele asserts is a blank to her. This morning she asked what the jury’s verdict was.

“What does guilty mean?” she inquired.

“Have you anything more to say,” asked Captain Lawton, “in regard to the happening the day of the crime?”

“No sir, I don’t remember. I do know, though, that Evelina did not leave the house the morning she met her death, as the prosecution claimed she did. That was the morning before. I know Evelina was dressed this morning. I don’t remember whether she had had her breakfast or not.”

Mrs. Steele, through her attorney, Mr. Jackson, this afternoon sent to Circuit Judge James E. Sullivan a letter containing her final request before she is to be sentenced. What was included in this letter Judge Sullivan refused to reveal. She will be sentenced some time next week.

[“Mrs. Steele, From Cell, Clears Name Of Child Victim – Confesses She Lied in Blackening Reputation of Step-Daughter. – Says Mind Is Blank On Events Of Trial – Muskegon  Slayer, Facing Sentence, Asks What What Verdict of ‘Guilty’ Means.” The Detroit Free Press (Mi.), May 23, 1915, p. 12]


FULL TEXT (Article 10 of 11): Muskegon, Mich., June 2. – Lying in a cot in Hackley Hospital, Mrs. Martha Schrebe Steele, convicted two weeks ago of the murder of her stepdaughter, Evelina Mary, eleven, today accused her husband, Albert Steele, of complicity in her crime. The man was immediately placed under arrest by sheriff’s deputies.

Mrs. Steele’s told officers today that her husband advised her to “get rid of the child,” so there would be nothing to interfere with their marital happiness and that he even suggested the method of killing the girl – strangulation.

Later in the day Mrs. Steele was taken before Judge Sullivan and received sentence to life imprisonment.

[“Causes Arrest of Husband – Murderess Tells Authorities That He Counselled Her to Kill Girl.” Lincoln Daily News (Ne.), Jun. 2, 1915, p. 2]


FULL TEXT (Article 11 of 11): Two women descended from a Pere Marquette train in the Union station Wednesday afternoon, closely followed by a spare, bronzed men who seemed to accord them more than the ordinary attention.

The leader of the group and the taller of the two women was Mrs. Albert Steele, of Muskegon, convicted strangler of her 11-year-old step-daughter. She was muffled in a long blue coat, a scarf was wrapped about her head, and she made the trip from the train to the building like a person asleep, oblivious of the rain. The attentive man with her was Sheriff Fred J. Collins, of Muskegon. His wife was the third member of the group.

~ In Hospital Since Trial. ~

Mrs. Steele was being taken to the Detroit house of correction, to begin a life term. She was removed from the hospital in Muskegon Tuesday, the sheriff said, where she had been confined since the trial. Upon her arrival here she had no word to say of the past or the future. Her dull eyes kept upon vacancy, and there was no shade of color in the sunken cheeks. Mrs. Collins, an alert, capable little woman, hovered about her like a nurse.

No person on the train save the officials knew her identity and the trip was without incident. The slight, pale figure in the veil was not a person likely to attract attention.

The trio hailed a taxicabs Mrs. Steele was placed within, between the sheriff and his wife. She evinced not a shade of interest in the proceedings.

~ Will Work When Well. ~

She was received at the house of correction at 6:16 o’clock, registered and assigned quarters. Inmates are permitted their identity in the institution and the formula of giving her a number was absent. She will be given garments such as are worn by other inmates and as soon as their health permits will be set to work in the shops.

Sheriff Collins said Mrs. Steele had made him illuminating comment on the care since the trial, save to reiterate that the murder was performed at the instance of her husband. He was arrested Tuesday [June 1] as a result, but was later released.

[“Life Term In Jail For Mrs. Steele, As Slayer, Begins – Sentenced for Strangling Child, Muskegon Woman Brought to Detroit. – Rides From Station To Cell Like Person Asleep – Guarded by Sheriff and Wife; Has No Comment to Make on Past or Future,” The Detroit Free Press (Mi.), Jun. 3, 1915, p. 1]


Evelina’s Mother – Mrs. Charles Anderson, Niles, divorced circa 1906








ALSO SEE: Maternal Filicide: Spousal Revenge Motive for similar cases


For more examples, see Step-Mothers from Hell.


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Chicago’s Women Who Got Away With Murder – 1935 Report

Cases discussed or mentioned: Dorothy Pollak, Beulah Mary Annan, Belva Gaertner, Cora Orthwein, Catherine Cassler, Sabelle Nitti Crudelle, Maggie Titter, Mrs. Tillie Klimek, Mrs. Kittie Malm, Mts. Elizabeth Unkafer, Mrs. Eliza Nusbaum, Mrs. Margaret Summers, Mrs. Wynekoop, Mrs. Kittle Maum, Florence Stokes, Mrs. Elizabeth Unkafer, Mrs. Florence Leeney, Mrs. Rose Franks (alias Emerich), Bertha Hellman, Bernice O’Connor, Mrs. Lillian Schaede, Mrs. Katie Kraft, Mrs. Mary Kuna, Mrs. Bernice Zalimas, Mrs. Blanche Dunkel & Evelyn Smith, Mrs. Margaret Rose.

FULL TEXT: A woman still can commit murder in Cook county and stand a better than even chance of escaping punishment, especially if she chooses her husband as the victim, more especially if she is young and attractive. The statement is borne out by records of the Criminal court, which shows that only two out of every nine women tried for murder in Cook county since 1906 have paid any penalty. The greater number of these women killed their husbands. The few who were sentenced to prison were either old, unattractive, or both.

The extreme penalty for conviction on a charge of first murder in Illinois is death, but no woman ever has been hanged or electrocuted in Cook county. Since 1840 three women ever has been hanged or electrocuted in Cook county. Of the three, two were subsequently given freedom. Sixty-three women tried for murder in this county since 1906 were freed, the majority by jury acquittals.

A typical case, revealing the ease with which a young nd fairly pretty woman quickly won an acquittal after shooting her husband, Joseph Pollak, a death, was that of Mrs. Dorothy Pollak. The prosecutors in this case realized that their greatest difficulty in securing a conviction was not the evidence, but the attractiveness of the defendant. They demanded that several women be chosen for the jury, believed that women would be less susceptible to the defendant’s charms. Defense attorneys adroitly blocked this move by waiving their client’s right to a jury trial and trusting her fate entirely to the ruling of the presiding judge, Harry Fisher, who then (1932) was chief justice of the Criminal court. The hearing was the quickest murder trial on record in Cook county. When the judge read his decision, acquitting the comely defendant, there was a wild burst of cheering from scores of men and women who had packed the courtroom to hear the proceedings. Afterward Mrs. Pollak said: “Judge Fisher is a nice man. He looked at it sensibly.”

At the time of the murder Mrs. Pollak had characterized the shooting as “the dirty trick I did to poor Joe,” and both before and after the trial she had killed her husband in self-defense, which the judge characterized “the law of nature and the right of every human being.”

~ Keep Drunken Vigil Over Victim as Phonograph Blares Her Favorite Tunes ~

Probably the most sensational similar case in the annals of Cook county’s woman slayers was that of Beulah Mary Annan, who was widely publicized as “Chicago’s most beautiful murderess.” Beulah shot and killed her lover, Harry Kalstedt, during a drinking bout in her in her apartment in 1924.

After shooting Kalstedt, whom Beulah entertained in her home while her husband was at work, the slayer kept a drunken vigil over him while a phonograph blared out her favorite tunes until he died in her apartment in 1924.

At the time of her arrest Beulah told police she had killed Kalstedt because he threatened to leave her. But at her trial, dressed in a fashionable gown and frequently smiling at the jury, she testified that she was a virtuous wife who had been wronged. At times during the recital she sobbed. The jury acquitted her, and within a few weeks she left her husband. It was reported she had gone to Hollywood in search of a movie contract.

Another woman slayer who received kind treatment from a jury was Belva Gaertner. She shot and killed Walter Law, married salesman, following a gin party. Her case was similar to that of Miss Cora Orthwein, who shot and killed her married sweetheart, Herbert Zeigler, in 1921. Cora’s explanation was she “loved him so.” On the witness stand she said she fired in self-defense and was acquitted.

Women accused of murder in Cook county and who were later freed were not all attractive or young. The case of Mrs. Catherine Cassler is illustrative. This woman, portly, past forty, and unromantic looking, was the principal figure in a murder conspiracy case. With a Mrs. Lillian Fraser and a younger man, Loren Patrick, she was charged by the state with having murdered William Lindstrom, a cabinetmaker, in order to collect a share of Lindstrom’s $7,500 life insurance, of which the Fraser woman was beneficiary. When the three were arrested Patrick and Mrs. Fraser confessed and were granted separate trials. They both testified for the state of Mrs. Cassler’s trial. She was found guilty and sentenced to death. Within forty-eight hours of the data of execution her attorneys won a stay. Later the state Supreme court ordered a new trial, but the state did not retry the case and Mrs. Cassler was freed.

It was a case similar in some respects is that of Mrs. Sabelle Nitti Crudelle, who, with her second husband, Peter Crudelle, was accused of murdering her husband, Frank Nitti, owner of a small truck farm near Stickney. Crudelle at the time of the murder was the hired hand on the farm. Both defendants were found guilty. Two of Mrs. Crudelle’s sons by her first marriage testified for the state. Mr. and Mrs. Crudelle were given death sentences. The state Supreme court, however, ruled that they had been convicted on insufficient evidence and the state dropped the case. The Crudelles went back to the truck farm.

~ Some of the Few Who Found Juries Unsympathetic to Their Pleas ~

The only other woman ever sentenced to death for murder in Cook county was a Creole, Maggie Titter, who killed her husband. The sentence, however, was committed to life imprisonment.

In the last twelve years the number of women convicted of murder has not increased. Among the few who found it impossible to sway juries were Mrs. Tillie Klimek, Mrs. Kittie Malm, Mts. Elizabeth Unkafer, Mrs. Eliza Nusbaum, Mrs. Margaret Summers, Mrs. Wynekoop. [Note: Klimek and Summers were serial killers.]

The case of Dr. Wynekoop is still fresh in the memories of most newspaper readers. It was a sensational murder because of her age and previous record as a useful citizen. Dr. Wynekoop was found guilty of killing her daughter in law, Rheta, and was sentenced to serve 25 years in prison. Her trial was complicated because of her weakened physical condition, which caused a postponement. Dr. Wynekoop was brought into the courtroom each day in an invalid chair and was constantly attended by physician a nurse. She was sentenced in 1933.

Another woman who used arsenic as a lethal weapon was Margaret Summers. She poisoned her nephew Thomas Meyer. She was convicted and given a 14-year prison term. It may be noted that the pictures of Mrs. Summers and Mrs. Cassler bear a resemblance.

~ Four More Who Were Given Prison Terms ~

Mrs. Nusbaum was tried in 1926 to the murder of her husband, Albert. It was a particularly brutal and revolting crime, and her accomplice, John Walton Winn, was convicted and hanged. But the jury which heard the evidence against the woman in the case did not break the precedent that women are not executed in Cook county. Mrs. Nusbaum, found guilty, was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Mrs. Kittle Maum, who died in the Joliet pententiary in 1932, was given a life sentence in 1924 for the murder of Edward Lehman.

Florence Stokes was given a sentence of one year to life on a manslaughter charge, and Mrs. Elizabeth Unkafer was given life imprisonment for killing Sam Belchoff.

The great majority  of Cook county’s woman slayers were adjudged not guilty not guilty in court. Mention of some of the more sensational cases follows:

Bernice O’Connor, youthful and attractive, who had been employed as a cabaret cigaret girl, was arrested for the murder of her divorced husband, Edward, 1931. O’Connor was shot killed killed in his former wife’s apartment. Witness testified that he had threatened to kill Bernice, who did not take the stand. She was acquitted.

Mrs. Florence Leeney shot and killed her husband following a New Year’s day party in 1930. The state charged that she shot the husband, Maurice, a contractor, while he was sleeping on a couch in the parlor. The defense maintained that Mrs. Leeney fired in self-defense when her husband attacked her. The jury deliberated for many hours, finally returning within a not guilty verdict. Mrs. Leeney fired in self-defense when her husband attacked her. The jury deliberated fir many hours, finally returning with a not guilty verdict. Mrs. Leeney, beaming, said: “I just know it couldn’t be anything else. I am going back home and start life all over again.”

The prosecutors in the case and afterward: “It is just the same old story, it is almost impossible to convict a woman for killing her husband. This jury, however, deliberated much longer than is unusual for juries in such cases.”

~ A Few Members of the Majority Who Won Speedy Acquittals ~

Mrs. Rose Franks, alias Emerich, shot and killed her common-law husband, Policeman Paul Emerich, in 1927. The state charged that Emerich was shot while seated at the dining table. The defense denied this and charged that Mrs. Franks fired because Emerich abused her. When both sides had concluded the jury retired. Fifteen minutes later later the jurors returned with a verdict of not guilty.

Another quick verdict of not guilty was returned by the jury which heard the case of Mrs. Bertha Hellman, who in 1926 shot and killed her husband, Herman. Her defense was that her husband and attacked her with a butcher knife. She choked him to death. The jury found her not guilty in 27 minutes.

Mrs. Hellman did not typify the usual husband slayer.  When she was preparing to leave the county jail she said: “I’m sorry to leave. Everyone was so good to me, and I had plenty of time to sew and make some nice things.”

Mrs. Lillian Schaede shot and killed her husband in 1926. The bullet entered his back. In court Mrs. Schaede pleaded self-defense. A jury of business men required only 13 minutes to reach a verdict of not guilty.

“I’m surely ticked at the verdict,” was Mrs. Schaede’s comment as she walked from the courtroom a free woman.

A little unusual was the case of Katie Craft. She was accused of the murder of Frank Falato, a 14-year-old boy. He had entered her apartment to retrieve a ball. Mrs. Craft asserted the shooting was an accident and that she had not intended to fire the gun. The jury agreed and acquitted her.

Mrs. Mary Kuna, who stabbed her husband to death in 1925, was worried when her trial opened. A plain woman, she had heard that juries were only kind to young and pretty slayers. “I wonder if the jury will let me go as they do pretty women?” she was heard to ask her daughter. The jury took three ballots and Mrs. Kuna was freed.

The case of Mrs. Bernice Zalimas was full of sensations. After her first trial she was found guilty of killing her husband with arsenic and was sentenced to serve 14 years in prison. Then the Supreme court reversed the verdict and ordered a new trial.

In the second trial a defense attorney, Eugene McCarthy, asserted that he believed the amount of arsenic found in the victim’s vital organs could not have caused his death. At the suggestion of a prosecutor McGarry then took a dare to swallow some white powder alleged to be poison, an exhibit in the trial. The courtroom was in an uproar a few minutes later when McGarry collapsed, sobbing, but it developed that he had merely been overcome by his own emotions.

~ Prosecutor Says Juries Today Are Growing More “Hard-Boiled” ~

The next sensation occurred when the jury returned and pronounced its verdict of not guilty. Mrs. Zalimas shrieked and ran forward to the jury box. Wildly she embraced all of the jurors in the front row.

The latest murder case involving a woman is that of Mrs. Blanche Dunkel. She has confessed hiring another woman, Evelyn Smith, to kill Ervin Lang, Mrs. Dunkel’s son-in-law. Lang’s body, minus the legs, was found in a Hammond swamp. The legs were found near by in a trunk.

“Juries are considerably more ‘hard boiled’ toward woman slayers today than they have been in the past,” said Wilbert Crowley, first assistant state’s attorney, who pointed to the fact that in recent months convictions have exceeded acquittals.

Mr. Crowley’s statement, it might be pointed out, was made prior to the night of July 24 last, when Mrs. Margaret Rose, comely 22-year-old toe dancer, was acquitted of the murder of her husband, Walter, stabbed to death with a butcher knife on July 4.

[Joseph Dugan, “Find Cook County Juries Kind to ‘Lady Killers’ – Seven of Every Nine Women Tried for Murder Since 1906 Are Acquitted,” Chicago Sunday Tribune (Il.), Jul. 28, 1935, Part 7, p. 5]









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