Saturday, August 6, 2022

Mrs. Southern's Sad Case.

In 1876, Bob Southern was the most eligible bachelor in Pickens County, Georgia. He was tall and handsome, from a prominent family, but somewhat wild and reckless. He was seriously courting two young women—Kate Hambrick, slender and beautiful with dark eyes and luxuriant auburn hair, and Narcissa Cowan (nee Fowler), pretty, plump, and blonde. Kate was popular but strong-willed and impetuous. Narcissa was more reserved but a divorcee with a somewhat shady reputation. The women were bitter rivals for Bob Southern’s affections.

That autumn, Southern proposed to Kate Hambrick, and the two were married. They lived happily for several months until Bob began staying out late without explanations. Kate began hearing rumors that Bob was still meeting with Narcissa. They had been seen walking together in the woods several times since the wedding. The news made Kate intensely jealous.

That Christmas, Kate’s father held a party at his house for the people of Pickens County. In accordance with the hearty hospitality of the country, Narcissa was invited to attend. Kate warned her husband that he must not dance with Narcissa or pay her any attention during the party. She went to Narcissa as well and told her she must not accept or encourage any attentions from Bob if they were offered. Her warnings were disregarded, and as the evening progressed, Bob led Narcissa to the middle of the floor for a dance. Kate tried to cut in, saying he had promised the dance to her. Narcissa refused to leave, and Bob took Narcissa’s side.

Kate left the room in anger. She went to her father and asked to borrow his pocket knife to pare her fingernails. He thought the request peculiar but gave her the knife. She opened the blade and concealed the knife in her dress. When the dance was over, she caught Narcissa by the arm.

“You have danced enough.” Said Kate as she whipped out the knife and plunged it into her breast. Narcissa staggered back as a stream of blood gushed from the wound. Kate sprang on her, caught her by the hair, then cut her throat almost from ear to ear. Narcissa fell dead.

The room erupted with excitement. Mr. Houly, one of the floor managers, saw the body and shouted, “What man did that?”

“I am the man who did it,” said Kate, “and I don’t regret it.”

Houly ran to the door, locked it, and said no one should leave the room until the matter was investigated and the guilty parties arrested.

Bob Southern, who had been silent to this point, drew a pistol, and, taking his wife by the arm, said, “Gentlemen, I’m going to leave this house, and my wife is going with me; I’m going to do it if I have to shoot through!”

No one stopped them as they went out the door and disappeared into the night. Accompanied by Bob’s father, William, and his brothers, James and Miles, Bob and Kate fled Pickens County and headed north.

Narcissa’s family offered a reward of $250 for their capture, and the governor of Georgia added another $100, but for more than a year, the Southerns remained at large. In February 1878, W.W. Findley, a private detective and ex-sheriff of Pickens County, learned that Bob and Kate, along with Bob’s father and brothers, had settled on a farm in Franklin, North Carolina. By the time Findley and his men got there, they had moved again. The Southerns were traveling by ox cart, and Findley soon caught up with them. They quietly went ahead and set up an ambush, and Findley was able to capture the fugitives without firing a shot. They found Kate Southern nursing a little baby who had been born during their flight.

Bob and Kate Southern were taken back to Georgia. At their request, the father, mother, and baby were held together in the same cell.

The grand jury charged Kate with first-degree murder and her trial was held that May. Kate pled not guilty and sat through the trial with her baby in her lap. Her attorneys were in such disarray that they could not make her case. They knew nothing of the prosecution witnesses so could not challenge them, and they introduced no witnesses of their own. At one point, they halted their case and proposed a plea of insanity. They soon withdrew it amid jeers from the prosecution. At another time, they tried to withdraw the plea of not guilty and plead guilty to manslaughter. This was also rejected. 

One observer said, “In making the arguments, the counsel disagreed, and I really believe if there had been no lawyer for the defense, Kate would have been cleared.”

But with all the eyewitnesses to the murder and all of those who testified to Kate’s animosity and the overt threats against Narcissa, a guilty verdict was almost a sure thing. Kate Southern was found guilty, and with her baby in her arms, she heard the judge sentence her to hang on June 21.

The public was against the execution. Outside of court, Kate has prominent legal advisors who collected affidavits to convince Governor Colquitt to pardon her. First—Kate’s character for chastity, modesty, good nature, religious professions, and practice was fully established by affidavits from the best ladies of the county and her minister. Second—Her nervous and unbalanced condition at the time of the killing was set forth, including one affidavit that showed she had three successive epileptic fits on the Monday before the killing. Third—It was shown that at least two of the jurymen had expressed themselves in favor of having her hung before they went on the jury.

Other petitions and affidavits spoke of Narcissa’s bad character. Her ex-sister-in-law swore that Narcissa “frequently spent the night alone in the room with men in her house and that she has positive knowledge of the fact that she was not only unchaste but grossly so.” Others spoke of the hypocrisy of the “unwritten law” of the South that considered a husband justified in killing his wife’s seducer but would hang a wife for killing her husband’s seducer.  

Governor Colquitt took all these arguments into consideration, but a Georgia correspondent of the Chicago Times summed up the situation:

“It is safe, I think to say in advance that she will never be hung. Gov. Smith, our last Governor, dug his political grave by allowing Susan Eberhart to hang, and if Gov. Colquitt is not impressed with the justice of commutation or pardon, he is too much of a politician to not interfere. A young married lady told me to-day that if Colquitt refused to pardon this woman, every married lady in the State would use her influence against him if he was ever a candidate for office again.”

Governor Colquitt commuted Kate Southern’s sentence to ten years in prison.



Sources: 
C.W. Alexander, The Sad Case of Mrs. Kate Southern (Philadelphia: The Old Franklin Publishing House, 1878.)
 “[Mrs.  Kate Southern; Georgia]” Daily Commercial, May 10, 1878.
“A Battle for Life,” New York Herald, May 21, 1878.
“The Fatal Dance,” Charlotte Democrat, February 22, 1878.
“The Fury of a Woman Scorned,” Springfield Republican, February 20, 1878.
“Kate Southern,” Chicago Daily News, May 24, 1878.
“Kate Southern's Crime,” Herald, May 6, 1878.
“Love, Jealousy and Murder,” New Orleans Times, February 20, 1878.
“Mrs. Southern's Jealousy,” Augusta Chronicle, May 12, 1878.
“Passing Events,” Cleveland Leader, February 21, 1878.
“A Romantic Murder,” New York Herald, February 14, 1878.
“A Woman to be Hanged,” New York Herald, May 3, 1878.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Phrenological Character of Reuben Dunbar.

Reuben Dunbar murdered his two young stepbrothers to protect his inheritance. The root cause of his problem, said phrenologists in 1851, was the shape and size of his head. He had “an unfortunate organization” in which his moral faculties were not sufficiently large to balance his animal propensities.

Read the full story here:  An Unfortunate Organization.


Saturday, July 23, 2022

"Bad Tom" Smith.

Dr. John E. Rader was found dead in the house of Mrs. Catherine McQuinn in Jackson, Kentucky, on February 5, 1895. Two bullets had pierced Rader’s heart; either could have been fatal. The circumstances surrounding the murder are somewhat hazy. Tom Smith, Mrs. McQuinn’s paramour, approached Dr. Rader and told him he was subject to fits. He wanted the doctor to watch his symptoms when the fits were on him. Dr. Rader agreed, and on February 4, he went to Mrs. McQuinn’s house where Smith was staying. He brought along a gallon jug of whiskey.

When the police arrived, Catherine McQuinn confessed to the murder. She said they had all been drinking, and when Tom Smith was lying in a drunken stupor, Rader had assaulted her, and she shot him in self-defense. This explanation was not out of line with her reputation. She was a rough, coarse woman with black hair and a face and voice more masculine than feminine. Though she was sometimes referred to as “Widow McQuinn,” her husband was alive but had been committed to the Eastern Kentucky Lunatic Asylum. Catherine had an adulterous relationship with a store clerk from town, and when her husband heard of the affair, he became a raving maniac.

While Catherine could have committed the murder, the police were inclined to suspect her lover, Tom Smith. Better known as “Bad Tom” Smith, he had been indicted for murder seven times before. In most of his cases, charges were dropped for lack of evidence when crucial witnesses disappeared. His one conviction for first-degree murder was overturned on appeal.

The murders were connected to the French-Eversole feud, a bloody, vengeful war between two powerful families and their allies that dominated public life in Eastern Kentucky between 1887 and 1894. “Bad Tom” was a leader in the French family. He had been a thief from childhood and got his first taste of violence at 20 in a gun battle on election day in Hazard, county sear of Perry County. He began committing murders for the French cause but was not brought to justice until he ambushed and murdered Joe Eversole and Nicholas Combs. The County Judge, Zack Fugate, a relative of Joe Eversole, was afraid to hold court. The County Attorney was absent, and Smith had spirited away all of the witnesses. Fugate had no choice but to release him.

After he assassinated Ambrose Amburgy in broad daylight, the grand jury returned several indictments against Smith. One dark night Smith and his confederates set fire to the Perry County Courthouse in Hazard, destroying all indictments and court records. Following this, a reign of terror prevailed in Perry County, and those who had denounced “Bad Tom” Smith fled in terror.

In 1889, French and Eversole factions met in the streets of Hazard and commenced a gunfight. More than 2,000 shots were fired in what would later be called the Battle of Hazard, but only two men died—Jake McKnight and Ed Campbell, both Eversole men. McKnight was killed by “Bad Tom” Smith. Smith was convicted of this murder and was sentenced to life in the penitentiary. The verdict was reversed by the Court of Appeals. Smith jumped bail and was never retried. Leaving behind his wife and two children, Smith moved to Jackson and lived the life of “a libertine and general tough.”

In 1895, the grand jury indicted both Tom Smith and Catherine McQuinn for the murder of Dr. John E. Rader, and each was tried separately that spring. By that time, McQuinn had retracted her confession. Though neither testified in either trial, each defendant was now blaming the other. The motive of the murder was still unclear. One theory said that Smith had come home to find Catherine in the arms of Dr. Rader. Another said that Smith believed Dr. Rader carried large sums of money, and he lured the doctor to McQuinn’s house to rob him.

The murder could also have been connected to the feud. While Dr. Rader had been a prominent citizen of Jackson at one time, by the time of his death, he was seen as a desperado. John Hurst had murdered his brother in 1889, and Rader swore he would avenge his brother’s death. Hurst was sentenced to 16 years in prison but was pardoned before serving his time. Rader tracked Hurst to Lexington, went into the store where he worked, and fired five shots. Hurst survived, and Rader was sentenced to 2 years in prison. Rader was also pardoned and had only been out of prison a short time before his murder.

Tom Smith and Catherine McQuinn were both found guilty of first-degree murder. In both cases, the jury deliberated only a few minutes before returning their verdict. McQuinn was sentenced to life in prison; Smith was sentenced to hang on May 31.

It would be Eastern Kentucky’s first legal hanging, and for many, it signaled the dawn of a new era, free from the violence and corruption that had dominated their community. But there were still obstacles to overcome; Smith had been down this road before and would not go quietly to the gallows.

Publicly, Smith maintained the coolness he had shown throughout his trial. He told reporters he was not afraid to die and was sure of God’s forgiveness:

I do not fear whatever fate is in store for me. I have prayed to God for aid, and He has given me assurances of his help. I am the happiest man in Breathitt County today, I reckon, yes sir, the happiest man. No, I’ve got noting against the men that swore against me. I ain’t no murderer. Yes, I’ve killed men, but I always killed ‘em when they wuz tryin to kill me…Yes, I feel like God has forgiven me for all my sins, and I’m happy. Yes, sir, happy.

Behind the scenes, though, he was working hard for his release. Smith’s attorney was appealing the verdict and had obtained a respite of 60 days to work on the appeal. Smith knew from experience that any delay increased the chances of his release, and 60 days could stretch into many months or even years. Meanwhile, someone had smuggled saw blades into the jail, and Smith was caught sawing the bars. One way or another, he was determined to be free.

The police in Jackson were prepared for any attempt to spring Smith from jail. “Jackson is as well guarded as if it were under martial law,” said Detective George Drake, “Nearly every man in the place capable of bearing arms is supplied with weapons and is ready at a moment’s notice to march to the jail and protect it from a mob.”

As a last resort, the jail was packed with dynamite. If the mob could not be stopped, the police would blow up the jail and Smith with it.

The appeal process only took six weeks. The court reaffirmed the verdict, and Smith was sentenced to hang on June 28.

In the days leading up to the execution, Smith met with two Protestant ministers who urged him to confess to the murder of Dr. Rader. He finally agreed to confess and also requested to be baptized before his execution. At 7:30, the morning of the hanging, the sheriff led Smith, under heavy guard, to the river where he was baptized by Reverends Carpenter and Kelly.

The hanging was scheduled for 11:20 that morning, but Smith begged for more time. He explained that he knew God had forgiven his previous murders, but since he had just confessed to Rader’s murder, he needed time to ask God’s forgiveness. The sheriff gave him until 1:00 to make peace with the Lord. Tom Smith’s brother Bill used the extra time to telegraph the governor:

Gov. John Y. Brown, Frankfurt, Ky.—Would like a few days’ time, as I am an orphan boy and have no friends. “TOM SMITH”

At noon he received a reply:

Tom Smith, Jackson, Ky—I must decline to interfere. “JOHN YOUNG BROWN”

At 1:45, a crowd of 5000 spectators watched as “Bad Tom” Smith was hanged. Just before Sheriff Combs pulled the lever that released the trap, Smith screamed, “Save me, God, save me.”


“"Bad Tom" Smith,” Hazel Green herald, May 30, 1895.
“"Bad Tom" Smith,” Illustrated Police News, July 6, 1895.
“"Bad Tom" Smith Hanged,” Chicago Daily News, June 28, 1895.
“"Bad Tom" Smith Respited,” Commercial Appeal, June 1, 1895.
“Bad Tom Smith Dead,” Daily intelligencer, June 29, 1895.
“Confessed His Crime,” Age-Herald, June 29, 1895.
“Conversion of Gallows Birds,” Weekly Democratic Statesman, April 25, 1895.
“Desperado Murder,” Scranton Tribune, February 9, 1895.
“Dr. Rader Killed,” Commercial Appeal, February 7, 1895.
“Drake Talks,” Cincinnati Post, March 26, 1895.
“Eastern Kentucky Brethes Easier,” New York Herald, May 12, 1895.
 French-Eversole Feud -“Gallows Being Made Ready,” Daily Inter Ocean, June 19, 1895.
“His Dead Body,” Cincinnati Post, February 9, 1895.
“Indicted Eight Times for Murder,” Washington Times, March 14, 1895.
“A Kentucky Tragedy,” Oregonian, February 7, 1895.
“May Die,” Cincinnati Post, May 4, 1895.
“Murderer of Eight,” Birmingham age-herald, April 21, 1895.
“Sentence Affirmed,” Daily Jeffersonian, June 15, 1895.
“Urged Witnesses to Leave,” Chicago Record, April 24, 1895.
“Wicked Tom Smith,” Evansville Courier and Press, May 16, 1895.
“Wickedest Man in the West,” Commercial Appeal, April 21, 1895.
“With Dynamite,” Cincinnati Post, March 25, 1895.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

The Mysterious Murder of Bessie Little.


A swimmer in the Miami River outside of Dayton, Ohio discovered the body of Bessie Little in September 1896. It took two autopsies to determine that she died from gunshot wounds. The pistol could not be found so it was unclear whether she had committed suicide or was shot by her lover, Albert Frantz. The police used twelve three-pound magnets to search the river bottom for the missing pistol.

Read the full story here: The Bessie Little Mystery.

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Mad Infatuation.

After attending the early service at St. Sylvester’s Church in Chicago on June 23, 1895, Mary Linnett went to the home of her friend Frances Sharman. Both women were bright and attractive but quite different in appearance. Mary, age 17, was exceedingly slender with a ruddy complexion; Frances, about 38 years old, was plump and fair. The two were close friends, but Frances began to worry that Mary’s affection for her was becoming obsessive.

Mary went to the back door and asked Frances to come outside and talk. Frances refused, and as she turned to leave, Mary drew a revolver and fired four shots. Three of them missed, but one struck the back of her head, wounding her scalp. Frances hurried upstairs while her sister sent for a physician. A neighbor who heard the shots summoned the police.

“I have been expecting something like this for some time.” Frances told her sister, “Mary has had a deep affection for me ever since we first met, and I must say that I liked her equally well. Some time ago, she told me that if I did not give her more of my attention, she would take my life and end her own existence. Lately, she has not been herself, and if I would talk with any one of my friends, she would chide me, then implore me to give her all my love, for if I didn’t, she would die of a broken heart. I feel confident that my friend has done away with herself.”

Mary returned home and rushed into the house with the pistol still in her hand. She threw the weapon to the floor and cried in an agonized voice:

“I have killed her as I said I would, and I’m now going to end my own miserable life.”

She ran from the house and disappeared down an alley.

Mary did not kill herself; the police arrested her the following day and charged her with assault with intent to kill. They brought her before Justice Doyle at the Desplaines Street Police Court, who continued the case until the city physician could examine Mary and determine her sanity.

Mary had a history of obsessive attraction to women. She was said to have written passionate letters to three or four young ladies, in which she told them of her love and related how she watched them through the windows as they retired for the night and almost died with a desire to embrace and kiss them. The press compared this case to that of Alice Mitchell and Freda Ward in Memphis three years earlier, where a romantic relationship between two young women ended in murder.

Mary’s father, James Linnett, put the blame on Frances, saying, “It’s not my girl’s fault. She acted under hypnotic influence.”

The city physician determined that Mary was not sane and committed her to the Northern Illinois Hospital and Asylum for the Insane in Elgin, Illinois.

The following December, physicians at the institution determined that Mary Linnett was cured, and discharged her. However, the physicians there did not notice that Mary had developed a passionate attraction to Elizabeth Trowbridge, her attendant at the hospital. 

On April 13, Mary approached Elizabeth Trowbridge on South State Street in Elgin. Mary tried to persuade Elizabeth to go with her to Chicago, where the two would live together. When Elizabeth refused, Mary drew her revolver once more and fired two shots. The first shot instantly killed Elizabeth; the second ended Mary’s life. The police found both women lying dead on the sidewalk in a pool of blood, the revolver still in Mary’s hand.



Sources: 
 “Day's Doings in a Big City,” Chicago Chronicle, June 24, 1895.
“Hypnotism The Cause of It,” Indianapolis Sun, June 25, 1895.
“Infatuated,” Cincinnati Enquirer, June 24, 1895.
“An Insane Deed,” Lawrence Daily Journal, April 14, 1896.
“Mary Linnett Arrested,” Daily Inter Ocean, June 25, 1895.
“News Notes and Comments,” Arizona weekly journal-miner, April 22, 1896.
“Strange Love of a Girl,” Hamilton Daily Republican, June 24, 1895.
“Was Bent on Murder,” Daily Inter Ocean, June 24, 1895.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Strang Shooting Whipple.

 

1n 1827, Elsie Lansing lived with her husband John, in Cherry Hill, the stately mansion overlooking the Hudson River near Albany, New York. Jesse Strang was a servant living in the basement. When Elsie and Jesse fell in love, their torrid affair led to the murder of John Whipple.

Read the full story here: Albany Gothic.



Saturday, June 25, 2022

Murder by Mail.

Mrs. Cordelia Botkin
On Tuesday, August 9, 1898, Mrs. Ida Deane held a dinner party for friends and family in Dover, Delaware. After dinner, they all retired to the front porch and passed around a box of chocolates provided by Ida’s sister, Mrs. Mary Dunning. Shortly after retiring, Mrs. Deane complained of feeling sick to the stomach. After the usual household remedies proved ineffective, the family sent for a doctor. Several others complained of stomach illness which grew steadily worse.

Ida Deane died on Thursday. By Friday, four other members of the party were dead, including Mary Dunning. The cause appeared to be some form of food poisoning, but only those who ate the candy were stricken, the rest experienced no illness. A chemist analyzed the chocolates and found that they contained a large amount of arsenic, with some grains as large as coffee grounds.

Mrs. Dunning received the candy in Tuesday’s mail, and she did not know who had sent it at the time. The package also included a  handkerchief and a note which read:

With love to yourself and your baby, Mrs. C

The postmark was smeared but appeared to say, San Francisco, California. This was a useful clue, as Mrs. Dunning had lived for a time in San Francisco.

Both Mary Dunning and Ida Deane were daughters of former congressman John B. Penington. He took charge of affairs for the family, and his prominence prompted serious investigation in Delaware and California. The Secret Service joined the search and the governor of Delaware offered a $2,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the sender of the poisoned candy.

The San Francisco police began their own investigation, but many in Delaware, including Ida’s husband, Joshua Deane, believed that the poison was added after the package arrived in Dover. Though Deane was thoroughly convinced that the crime was the work of someone closer to home, Penington had reason to believe that the poisoner was in San Francisco.

Mary Dunning’s husband, John P. Dunning, a reporter for the Associated Press, was in Puerto Rico at the time of the murder reporting on the war in Cuba. He left for Delaware as soon as possible. John and Mary Dunning had lived together in San Francisco, but there appeared to be stress in the marriage. He was away on overseas assignments for long periods. Around 1895, Mary returned to Delaware and lived with her parents.

After his wife left, John Dunning’s fortunes began to falter. He lost his position with Associated Press and began spending time at the racetrack, racking up severe losses. He had been seen in the company of three married women in San Francisco—Mrs. Seely, Mrs. Abrogast, & Mrs. Botkin. He was particularly close to Mrs. Cordelia Botkin, a former vaudeville actress, estranged from her husband. She often accompanied Dunning to the racetrack and gave him a room in her house. His fortunes reversed again. He had regained his position at Associated Press and planned to return to his wife after covering the war in Cuba.

When Dunning arrived in Dover from Puerto Rico, he had a long meeting with his father-in-law and brother-in-law and later with the Attorney General. Dunning would not talk to the press, but newspapers reported that he identified the handwriting on the note as Cordelia Botkin’s, confirming what the state’s handwriting experts contended.

John Pennington had a collection of anonymous letters that had been sent to Mary Dunning informing her of her husband’s connection with Cordelia Botkin. One theory of the murder said that Botkin was angry that Dunning planned to return to his wife. Another theory said that two women were in love with Dunning; one killed Dunnings’s wife and threw suspicion on the other.

The San Francisco police uncovered a web of circumstantial evidence against Cordelia Botkin. Drug store clerks said they had sold her arsenic. Clerks at Haas’ candy store identified Mrs. Botkin as a woman who bought candy there. The poisoned chocolates were Haas’ put into a box of candy from Wave Confections. The clerk at Wave remembered the unusual transaction of adding her own candy to their box and identified Mrs. Botkin as the customer. A clerk at the City of Paris store remembered selling Mrs. Botkin a handkerchief similar to the one in the package.

Mrs. Botkin at her second trial.
The grand jury in Delaware indicted Cordelia Botkin for murder in Dover, and Delaware authorities attempted to have her extradited for trial. However, they had trouble drafting a request that the governor of California could agree to, and her attorneys questioned the right of California to extradite her to a state where she had never set foot. Finally, they indicted her for trial in San Francisco.

Her trial for the murder of Mary Dunning began on December 5, 1899, and lasted a month and a half. The jury found Cordelia Botkin guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced her to life in San Quentin Penitentiary.

Botkin continued to profess innocence and immediately began an appeal. The appeal process took four years and ultimately ended with the U.S. Supreme Court granting her a new trial due to errors in the judge’s instructions to the jury.

She was tried again in March 1904 and was, once again, found guilty. It was reported that nine members of the jury at first favored hanging before ultimately agreeing to a life sentence.




Sources: 
“Botkin Defense Maligns Living and Dead to Account for Poison,” San Francisco Chronicle, March 24, 1904.
“Botkin Extradition Papers,” Oregonian, October 2, 1898.
“Death in Candy,” Middletown transcript, August 13, 1898.
“Death of Mrs. J.P. Dunning,” The Wilmington daily Republican, August 13, 1898.
“The Dover Case,” Evening journal, August 22, 1898.
“Family Poisoned by Candy,” Evening journal, August 12, 1898.
“Grand Jury Acts in Botkin Case,” St. Louis Republic, October 29, 1898.
“Law's Net for Two Women,” The Wilmington daily Republican, August 23, 1898.
“Life Imprisonment,” Paducah sun, April 8, 1904.
“Mr. Dunning Gives No Clue,” The Wilmington daily Republican, August 22, 1898.
“Mrs. Botkin Plans a Desperate Defense,” San Francisco Chronicle, August 26, 1898.
“Mrs. Botkin Will fight for Liberty,” Oakland Tribune, August 26, 1898.
“Mrs. Botkins' Arrest,” Evening journal, August 24, 1898.
“Mrs. Dunning Dead,” Evening journal, August 13, 1898.
“A Mysterious Letter,” Evening journal, August 18, 1898.
“New Trial for Mrs. Botkin,” Jersey Journal, August 17, 1900.
“Reward For Poisoner,” Evening journal, August 19, 1898.
“Sentenced for Life,” Daily Ardmoreite, February 7, 1899.
“State Has a Clue,” The Wilmington daily Republican, August 20, 1898.
“Women are Watched,” The Wilmington daily Republican, August 24, 1898.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

The Meierhoffer Murder.

 

Who murdered John Meierhoffer of Orange, New Jersey? Was it his estranged wife Margaret, or her lover, Frank Lammens?

Read the full story here: Who Shot Meierhoffer?

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Murdered in Church.

Ferdinand Hoffman, a German immigrant, arrived in Canton, Ohio, in 1864. There he met Caroline Yost, and after a brief courtship, he proposed to her. Caroline’s parents opposed the marriage because they did not trust Hoffman and knew nothing of his background. Predictably, their opposition only drove Caroline closer to Ferdinand, and the couple eloped.

The Yosts' suspicions of Hoffman’s character proved justified. Before coming to Canton, Hoffman was an “unprincipled vagabond” who engaged in counterfeiting and horse stealing. Caroline learned firsthand of his bad character when he began to abuse her and engage in criminal activities. He was caught stealing from her father and sentenced to prison, but he was released early when he agreed to join an Ohio regiment fighting for the Union. He soon deserted and returned home with a head wound that he claimed resulted from a rebel guerilla gunshot. It was later revealed that he received the wound in a Cincinnati gambling hell.

Hoffman was arrested again in 1866 for counterfeiting and sentenced to a year in prison. Caroline had enough, and she did not wait for him. She obtained a divorce, and by court decree, she restored her maiden name.

On his release from prison in October 1867, Hoffman returned to Canton and looked for his wife. Caroline managed to avoid him until Sunday, October 13, when he followed her into the German Reformed Church. Caroline hurried to the choir gallery, then behind the belfry door. Hoffman broke in and demanded that she return to him. She refused. Then he asked for a kiss, and she agreed out of fear.

Hoffman put his arms around her, then pulled out a Bowie knife and stabbed her in the chest and abdomen. Caroline screamed and fell to the floor. Hoffman continued stabbing, inflicting eighteen wounds. Women screamed and men shouted as Hoffman fled the church, his hands still covered with the blood of his victim.

Outside the church, a crowd of men pursued Hoffman as he tried to reach the railroad. They caught him and were ready to lynch him when some prominent citizens intervened and took Hoffman to jail.

The tip of Hoffman’s knife had broken off when his first thrust struck bone, and the following stabs were not as damaging as they would have been if the blade were intact. Caroline was taken to her father’s house, where her wounds were dressed, but she remained in critical condition. The police waited to see if she would recover before charging Hoffman. In jail, he expressed no remorse, declaring his regrets that he did not kill his ex-wife on the spot. 

Caroline lingered for nearly a week, never losing consciousness, but she died the following Saturday. Hoffman was charged with murder. The next morning, the jailer found Hoffman dead in his cell. He had fashioned a noose from a bed sheet and hanged himself. They left him hanging and opened the jail doors to the public. A constant stream of people passed through that afternoon to see the dead killer.


Sources: 
“An Atrocious Murderous Assault,” National Police Gazette, November 9, 1867.
“A Bloody Tragedy,” Canton Repository, October 16, 1867.
“The Canton Horror,” Gold Hill daily news, November 11, 1867.
“Death of Caroline Yost,” Canton Repository, October 23, 1867.
“Dreadful Murder At Canton,” Plain Dealer, October 15, 1867.
“A Horrible Deed,” Chicago Tribune, October 15, 1867.
“News Summary,” Weekly Marysville Tribune, October 30, 1867.

Friday, June 10, 2022

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Saturday, June 4, 2022

Tragedy on 30th Street.

Residents of West 30th Street, New York City, were startled on the night of October 26, 1858, when a servant ran from the house in her nightclothes, screaming, “Help! Help! Oh, my God! Frank is murdering the whole family. Rouse the neighbors!”

Read the full story here: The Thirtieth Street Murder.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

The Neosho Murder.


Lewis Wright was an Indian trader who smuggled whiskey across the border between Missouri and Indian Territory. On December 19, 1871, he left Neosho, Missouri with a loaded wagon, that was owned and driven by Sam Smith of Granby, Missouri. The following day, Smith returned to Neosho alone with the empty wagon. 

Smith spent the next two days drinking in Neosho. He was trying to sell a gold watch and chain but a young lady recognized both the watch and the boots Smith was wearing as the property of her fiancĂ©, Lewis Wright. Smith told a rambling story about what had happened on their trip; she didn’t buy it and accused Smith of murdering Wright.

When Wright’s black velveteen hat, covered with blood, was found in a field in McDonald County, her suspicions of foul play were confirmed. Smith had left town and police in Neosho organized a posse to look for him. They went to the home of Rocky Smith, Sam’s father, and began a search of the property. They found a bloody blanket and wagon cloth soaking in a tub. The wagon had blood across the wheel and the front portion of the box had recently been sawed off. 

Rocky Smith professed ignorance of the crime, saying his son told him he had a nosebleed in the wagon, and he sawed off the end of the box because it was broken. The posse then employed a “strangling process” to get the old man to talk. He was hung by the neck, to the brink of death, five times before confessing to knowledge of the crime.

They went to the mouth of an old mine shaft where they believed the Smiths had thrown the body. By now a crowd of over a hundred men had gathered to watch as a man with his foot in a loop of rope fished the mine shaft with grappling hooks. The search was successful and Lewis Wright’s body was pulled out of the shaft. He had a great purple wound through the forehead into his matted hair.

The posse took Rocky Smith to jail and began the search for his son. The following day they found Sam Smith in Marshfield, Missouri. When he refused to surrender, one of the men shot and killed him. "Thus has been brought to a tragic end, a misspent life."


Sources: 
“Letter from Mr. Bliss,” Mineral Point Weekly Tribune, January 4, 1872.
“Murder of an Indian Trader,” Commercial Advertiser, December 27, 1871.
“The Neosho Murder,” Chicago Daily Tribune, December 25, 1871.
“Thrilling Search for the Body of a Murdered Man in McDonald Co, Mo.,” Illustrated Police News, January 4, 1872.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Mashing Murderer Maxwell.

National Police Gazette, June 5, 1886.

A young woman attempted to flirt with Hugh Brooks (alias Walter Maxwell) at his 1886 murder trial in St. Louis, Missouri. She was barking up the wrong tree—Brooks was accused of murdering his male lover and stuffing his corpse in a trunk.

Read the full story here: The St. Louis Trunk Tragedy.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Shot by His Sister-in-Law.

In 1871, Patrick Sullivan lived with his brother James and sister-in-law Jane, in Bay Point, California. As they sat down to dinner on Saturday, October 28, James noticed a coldness between his brother and Jane. As the dinner progressed, some unpleasant words passed between Jane and Patrick. James paid it no mind and after dinner, he went outside. As Patrick rose from the table, Jane grabbed a shotgun placed the muzzle within inches of his head, and fired. 

Jane Sullivan was arrested for murder and held on $5,000 bail. At the inquest, she told her side of the story. On three different occasions, Patrick “attempted to take undue liberties of the most insulting character.” The night before the murder Patrick entered the bedroom and attempted outrage, but Jane fought him off. The next morning, he tried again, and she defended herself with a butcher knife. He said if she told James he would kill her. 

The Daily Inter Ocean said, “She bore her burning mortification and indignation in silence until it could no longer be endured and then sought relief in the fatal avenging act.” 

The Illustrated Police News had a different point of view: “The women of the interior of California possess an Amazonian spirit, which is partly owing to the wilderness of their surrounding and partly to the lack of proper training. We sincerely hope Mrs. Sullivan may suffer the full penalty of her crime without regard to her sex.”



Sources: 
 “Antioch Items,” Daily Evening Herald, November 4, 1871.
“A California Tragedy,” Daily Inter Ocean, November 20, 1871.
“A Man Shot by his Sister-in-Law at Bay Point California,” Illustrated Police News, November 16, 1871.
“Murder,” Evening Termini, November 2, 1871.
“Pacific Coast Items,” Sacramento Daily Union, October 30, 1871.
“Pacific Coast,” Commercial Advertiser, October 31, 1871.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

The Codman Murder.

 

James Nowlen murdered George Codman by cutting his throat from behind. Then he chopped the body into pieces which he threw into the snow as traveled down the road in his sleigh.

Read the full story here: Massachusetts Butchery.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

The Nathan Murder.


A mysterious intruder brutally murdered Benjamin Nathan in his room while his family and servants slept soundly, hearing nothing. The luxurious Manhattan home was the scene of a classic locked-room mystery. Though theories of the murder abounded, none could be proved and the 1870 murder of Nathan remains one of New York City’s great unsolved crimes.

Read the full story here: Who Killed Benjamin Nathan?

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Shot Man and Wife.

William and Jeanette Nibsh, aged 72 and 70, lived in the outskirts of Ironton, Pennsylvania. The couple had six children, eighteen grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. William was retired from work in the iron mines, and they were spending their twilight years in a one-story log cabin.

On November 18, 1891, their neighbor, William Keck, aged 50, stopped by for a visit. He was carrying a double-barreled shotgun and said he had been out shooting. They invited him to stay for dinner, and Keck accepted. After dinner, William was sitting by the window watching the chickens when, without provocation, Keck grabbed his shotgun and emptied one barrel into William’s back. Jeannette ran from the house screaming, and Keck dragged her back into the cabin, threw her on the floor, and fired the second barrel into her head. 

She died immediately, but William was still alive. Keck went to the woodpile, seized an axe, and struck William on the side of the head. Though badly wounded, William was able to wrestle the axe away from him. Keck grabbed a piece of firewood and beat William unconscious. 

A few days earlier, Keck had borrowed twenty-five cents from William Nibsh and saw that there was more money in a bedroom drawer. After knocking William unconscious, Keck went to the drawer and took all the money—six dollars, mostly in silver. Relations between Keck and the Nibsh family had always been friendly; robbery appeared to be the only motive for the murder.

Keck left the cabin and stopped to buy some coal before going home. He paid with silver coins, believed to be from the stolen money.

When William regained consciousness, he began crawling to the house of his neighbor, Mr. Druckenmiller, about a hundred yards away. He arrived at the door about two hours after the murder. Druckenmiller spread the word, and a party of men went back to the Nipsh cabin. They found that Keck had returned, possibly to look for more money. The men grabbed him and held him under guard until policemen from the city could arrive.

Before the police arrived, a vigilance committee of at least a hundred men amassed at the cabin and took Keck outside, intending to hang him from the nearest tree. Mrs. Joseph Masonheimer, daughter of the victims, intervened and persuaded the men not to wreak their vengeance on the murderer but to let the law punish him. The police came and took him to jail in Allentown. 

William Keck had a bad reputation in Lehigh County and had served several terms in jail. Most recently, he was sentenced to six months in Easton Jail for threatening to kill his wife and daughter. He claimed he was innocent of the Nibsh assault and murder, but when brought to jail, he begged the police to shoot him and end his miserable life.

Under heavy guard, Keck was taken back to Ironton for the coroner’s inquest. William Nibsh, still in serious condition, was sworn in to testify. With great deliberation, he kissed the Bible, then, pointing to Keck, said, “This is the man who shot me, struck and hit me with a club and axe and shot and killed my wife.” Nibsh died shortly after testifying. Keck was charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

When Keck’s trial began the following January, the vigilance committee had grown to 200 men, and they occupied seats in the courtroom. They made it known that should the verdict be acquittal, they would mob both Keck and the jury. Keck was still pleading not guilty and now claimed that William Nibsh shot his wife and attempted to shoot Keck. Keck then killed Mibsh in self-defense. When the jury came back, the vigilantes did not have to mob anyone—the verdict was guilty of first-degree murder.

After an appeal and a temporary reprieve to go before the board of pardons—both of which failed—William Keck was sentenced to hang on November 11, 1892. On November 10, Keck cheated the gallows; the guard found him lying dead in his cell. There were no marks of violence and no traces of poison, so the coroner’s jury found that Keck had died of “nervous prostration superinduced by the fear and terror of execution imminent.”

A week later, after a toxicological examination of Keck’s body, the jury had to revise their verdict. Keck had died from ingesting arsenic, probably smuggled in by one of the relatives or friends who visited the jail before the scheduled hanging. They now called the cause of death “arsenical poison, self-administered with suicidal intent.” The jury blamed laxity of prison discipline and called for prompt action and reform.



Sources: 
“Almost a Lynching,” Daily intelligencer, November 20, 1891.
“An Aged Woman Murdered,” Watertown Daily Times, November 19, 1891.
“Daughter's Act,” Evening Herald, November 20, 1891.
“Died of Arsenic, Not Fright,” Pittsburg Dispatch, November 20, 1892.
“Jury and Prisoner to be Mobbed,” Freeland Tribune, January 7, 1892.
“Keck Cheated the Gallows,” Evening Herald, November 11, 1892.
“Keck Murder Trial,” Patriot, January 11, 1892.
“Keck's Poisonous Dose,” Freeland Tribune, November 28, 1892.
“Murderer Keck Convicted,” Philadelphia Inquirer, January 15, 1892.
“Murderer Keck in Great Glee,” Patriot, September 2, 1892.
“A Murderer Narrowly Esca[es Lynch,” Patriot, November 20, 1891.
“Nibch Dies from Wound,” Patriot, November 30, 1891.
“The Nipsh Murder,” Patriot, November 23, 1891.
“Shot Man and Wife,” National Police Gazette, December 12, 1891.
“Wife Dead, Husband Dying,” Philadelphia Inquirer, November 20, 1891.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Rare Photo of America's Youngest Serial Killer.

This week we have a guest post from Donna Wells, a former employee of the Boston Police Department who made a rare discovery—a previously unknown photograph of “The Boston Boy Fiend,” Jesse Pomeroy.


Discovery of Previously Unknown Photograph of America’s Youngest Serial Killer, Jesse Pomeroy

I have a very strange story to tell you. I call it my strange little serial killer story… My name is Donna Wells. I graduated in 1997 from Simmons College in Boston with a master’s degree in library and information science. Several months later, I accepted a position with the Boston Police Department as their first records manager and archivist. I was tasked with establishing and managing the Department’s records management program and also with the day-to-day running of the Department’s records center and archives. I served in this position until 2007 when I took early retirement due to health and personal reasons.

Jesse Pomeroy Carte de Visite
During the time that I was with the Department, I read everything I could get my hands on regarding the history of the Department and Boston crimes. 

I now live in Central Maine with my husband. I am disabled, but I buy jewelry, buttons, and other items at auctions, flea markets, and thrift stores and sell them on eBay.  

One day, some time ago, I grabbed a tin of buttons from the shelf and took it downstairs to sort. I opened the tin and, lying on top of the buttons, was an old envelope, all folded up. There was nothing written on the envelope, so I opened it and inside there was an old photograph (a carte de visite) of a young boy. He was kind of creepy looking because the irises of his eyes appeared to be without color – they were a dead white. I put the photograph aside and continued with the buttons. Over the next several days, I was drawn back to the photograph over and over again. It just seemed like I should know who this was – that I had seen a similar image somewhere. And there was something tickling my brain, something about a white eye. 

As I was looking at the picture one day, it just came to me about a book that told the story of a young Boston serial killer that I had read when I was with the Department about a young man who had committed some truly horrifying acts—about a young man who had at least one white eye— I couldn’t remember the name of the book or his name, but I googled “Boston serial killer 1800s,” and Jesse Pomeroy came at the top of the list.

When fourteen-year-old Jesse Pomeroy was arrested in 1874 for the murder of Horace Millen, he was thought to have tortured at least six children and tortured and murdered two more. The two murder victims, ten-year-old Katie Curran and four-year-old Horace Millen had both been stabbed and nearly decapitated. Katie also had a fractured skull and several broken bones. Horace had also been nearly castrated, had one eyeball deeply pierced, and been set on fire. The victims that had managed to survive his attacks had suffered whippings, stabbings, beatings, which included broken noses and split lips, vicious bites to the face and buttocks, attempted castration, and attempted scalping. At the time of his arrest for Horace Millen’s murder, Jesse’s reputation in Boston as the “Boy Torturer” was firmly established. 

In the course of my research, I found out that the title and author of the book I had read was Fiend: The Shocking True Story of America’s Youngest Serial Killer by Harold Schechter. I no longer possessed a copy of the Schechter book because I had donated it to the BPD Records Center & Archives. I know my successor at the archives, Margaret Sullivan, so I called her and told her my story. I sent her a scan of the image that I had found and asked her to compare it with the drawing in the book. Margaret thought that the image could be Jesse. She pointed me to some resources, and I dove back into the internet.

On the back of my photograph, there is a partial photographer’s name. The last name is Dunshee, and there is an address given as 323 Washington Street, Boston. There is also what I assume is the date of the print – 1875 in the lower left corner. There is a very useful database online that lists Boston’s photographers and provides the dates that they would have been at a particular address. The approximate dates that this database gives for when E.S. Dunshee was at the address on the back of my photo are 1873-1874.

Back


I had ordered another copy of the Schechter book and had read it again to see if I could find anything that would help me to authenticate the photograph. On page 92, I found a quote from a journalist from the Boston Herald:

“He does not look like a youth actuated by the spirit of a fiend, and, with the exception of a peculiarity about the eyes, he has no marked expression in his face from which one might read the spirit within. The idea that he is insane is not supported, except by the extraordinary character of his conduct.” 

Contrary to what many reporters of the time of the murders claimed, the image in my photograph does not show a wild-eyed lunatic, neither is there any indication of the monster that he could become, but shows a seemingly normal, although sad and confused, boy with, admittedly, very strange eyes. Looking at my photograph, I am forced to speculate that Jesse’s very normality made it possible for him to succeed in deceiving and assaulting his victims. I mean, if he truly looked like a monster, he would not have been able to get close to his victims.

In my photograph, there does not seem to be any great differences in the visible portions of his actual eyeballs, however, because the photograph is black and white, any differences of color between his irises would not be obvious. I have examined the image under magnification, and the only difference that I can detect is a slightly more “flattish” look to the iris of his right eye. There are, however, several much more obvious external differences – his right eye is more slanted and smaller than his left. Also, there is a dark area around his right eye. It appears to be a bruise of some kind, but whatever it was, it was permanent because it remains in all of the future photographs of Jesse. In later photographs, he does appear to have developed some kind of clouding of his right eye, but in my early photograph, that is not evident.

     1870s Drawing -- Found Photograph


There are some pretty striking similarities between my photograph and the drawing of Jesse that is reproduced in the Schechter book. The pose is the same. The hairstyles are identical. The costume is similar. I speculate that the artist who created the drawing might have depicted Jesse in a collar-less shirt without the bowtie of my image because he didn’t want Jesse to look too “normal.” The features, especially the shape of the ears, jaw, and nose, are alike. The eyes are very similar, except the artist had drawn Jesse’s right eye as clouded. Perhaps Jesse’s right eye had become clouded by the time that the artist drew his portrait. However, I believe that it is an inescapable conclusion that the drawing was based on another copy of my photograph. The photograph of Jesse in 1920 that is in the Schechter book is probably the best to compare with the earlier photograph. Following is the text of an email from Harold Schechter in response to my email to him: 

Dear Donna--

    My agent forwarded your email to me.

    After closely studying your photograph, I think you may, in fact, have found an early portrait of Jesse Pomeroy. I base that conclusion by comparing it not only to the newspaper engraving of the adolescent Pomeroy reproduced in my book but on the photograph of the elder Jesse that served as the frontispiece of his 1920 book of poems, which I've attached. Take a close look at the right eye in both your photo and the later one: they are virtually identical--weirdly shaped, slightly slanted, distinctly different from the left, and surrounded by a strange dark shadow as if he had a permanent shiner.

    It's an exciting find, and I would certainly consider writing it up and trying to get it published somewhere. Thanks for sharing it with me, and let me know if I can be of further help. Best, Harold S.

Jesse Pomeroy, 1920

I hired Maureen Taylor, a nationally-known historical photograph expert, to assess the photograph. I told her my story and emailed her high-resolution images of the photograph. She replied, saying that it was “an 1870s image of a man in a pretty typical suit for the period [and that] the card stock used agrees with that time period.“ She added that it was “an incredible random find [and] an astonishing discovery!”   

I am still, even now, pretty freaked out about the fact that this photograph, a previously unknown photograph and the only known photograph of Jesse during the period in which he was active, ended up in my buttons, given the fact that I am probably one of the few people who might be able to recognize the subject.




Donna Wells can be reached at TonyMay2021@gmail.com for questions and comments. 

Saturday, April 9, 2022

A Triple Tragedy.

Martin and Mary Curley ran a small saloon connected to their house in Broderick Patch, Pennsylvania, about three miles west of Wilke-Barre. The morning of December 29, 1890, Mary’s mother was bringing some soap to help her daughter do laundry when she saw John Thralle (sometimes spelled Tirello or Tralla), a Hungarian immigrant, enter the barroom.  Five minutes later she heard a pistol shot. Mary came running out the front door crying “murder!” and received another shot in the back of the head. She fell onto the stoop.

The neighbors became alarmed and rushed to the saloon as two more shots were fired. They found Martin Curley lying in a pool of blood with a bullet wound over his left eye, a revolver lying on his breast. Mike Haddock (aka Anton Stanovitch), another Hungarian, lay three feet away with a wound behind his ear. Haddock was dead but both the Curleys were still alive. The neighbors brought them into an adjoining room and summoned physicians. Mary lived another hour and Martin lived for two hours but neither regained consciousness before dying.

It was first believed that Martin Curley had shot both his wife and Mike Haddock then shot himself. Haddock owed $70 in unpaid rent and Mary was rumored to have an intimate relationship with Haddock. Martin had a bad reputation and was known to be a fiend when drunk.

The theory changed when reporters learned that 5-year-old Mamie Curley witnessed the shootings. She said, “There was an awful noise when I was rocking the cradle. I rushed out into the barroom and saw papa and another man falling down. I cried ‘mama,’ but mama didn’t hear me. I saw another man in the backyard.” She did not recognize the other man, but he was believed to be John Thralle. The County Commissioners offered a $500 reward for his arrest and the search for Thralle began.

The police captured Thralle and on January 1, a coroner’s inquest was held. The story changed again when two new witnesses testified. Mathew Daley and Robbie Warner both saw Martin Curley shoot his wife. Thralle testified through an interpreter that he was in the saloon and invited Curley to have a drink of whiskey. Curley said he was not feeling well and did not care for it. The remark led to a dispute resulting in tragedy. 

The jury determined that Curley murdered his wife and Haddock, then shot himself. Thralle was released.  



Sources: 
“Awful Triple Murder,” Philadelphia Inquirer, December 30, 1890.
“The Broderick Tragedy,” Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, January 1, 1891.
“Four Victims of One Gun,” Chicago Daily News, December 29, 1890.
“Triple Tragedy,” Columbus Dispatch, December 29, 1890.
“A Triple Tragedy,” National Police Gazette, January 17, 1891.
“Wyoming Valley Tragedy,” Delaware Republican, December 30, 1890.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Who Killed Lottie Morgan?

Hurley, Wisconsin, a tough iron mining town, was the scene of many brutal crimes, but none more startling than the 1890 murder of Lottie Morgan. She was an actress who performed in variety theaters in Hurley and the surrounding area. Though she lived with Johnny Sullivan, a Hurley politician, she was known to have many lovers who kept her supplied with money and jewelry. Her arrangement with Sullivan may have been more about business than romance.

Lottie Morgan was well-known, well-liked, and reportedly one of the prettiest women on the range. Lottie was a prostitute, but newspapers used euphemisms to soften her notoriety—she was a courtesan, a sporting woman, one of the demimondes, of more than doubtful reputation. The Montreal River Mine and Iron County Republican said, “She carried herself with all the propriety possible for her class, was vivacious, sprightly, well informed, and was universally known here and at Ironwood and Bessemer.”

On the morning of April 12, 1890, the mutilated body of Lottie Morgan was found in the filthy alley between two low dives on Hurley’s main drag. She lay in a pool of coagulated blood with a deep gash in the side of her head, about 4 inches long, from the temple back. At her feet was her own 32 caliber revolver. A reporter found a bloodstained axe in a nearby shed, believed to be the murder weapon.

None could find a motive for the murder. Lottie was fully clothed when found and had not been molested. The police ruled out robbery because Lottie was still wearing her diamond earrings and other jewelry, valued at more than $5,000.

One of Lottie’s lovers was an ex-policeman, and some speculated that she was working as a police spy. The criminals who discovered her secret took their revenge.

The police and public favored another, more specific, theory. A recent nighttime robbery at the Hurley Iron Exchange Bank netted the thieves $39,000. Lottie had been subpoenaed to testify at the trial because the bank’s interior could be seen from the window of Lottie’s apartment. The court found Ed Baker and Phelps Perrin guilty of the robbery even without Lottie’s testimony, but they became the prime suspects in her murder.

Lottie Morgan’s elaborate funeral included a beautiful display of flowers and a procession featuring a brass band. The town raised nearly $200 to investigate the crime. A grand jury was convened to uncover the mysterious plot that led to Lottie’s murder.

But nothing was uncovered. In May, the County Board of Supervisors offered a $500 reward for the apprehension of the murders, but nothing came of this either. As time went on, the police and people of Hurley faced newer crimes and Lottie's case went cold. Lottie Morgan’s name disappeared from the newspapers and her unsolved murder was eventually forgotten.



Sources: 
“All over the State,” Vernon County Censor, April 13, 1892.
“Brained with an Ax,” St Paul daily globe, April 12, 1890.
“Brevities by Wire,” Aberdeen Daily News, April 12, 1890.
“Domestic,” Daily Inter Ocean, April 12, 1890.
“Found Murdered,” Erie Morning Dispatch, April 12, 1890.
“The Hurley Murder,” Bay City Times, April 12, 1890.
“A Hurley Murder,” Duluth News-Tribune, April 12, 1890.
“Lottie Morgan Murdered,” Montreal River Miner and Iron County Republican, April 10, 1890.
“Lottie Morgan's Murder,” Portage Daily Democrat, April 14, 1892.
“Murdering a Woman,” Milwaukee Journal, April 11, 1890.
“News of Wisconsin,” Boscobel Dial, May 26, 1892.
“To Cover a Crime,” Argus-Leader, May 17, 1890.
“Was She an Important Witness?,” Milwaukee Journal, May 14, 1890.
“Who Killed Lottie Morgan?,” Illustrated Police News, April 26, 1890.
“Who Killed Lottie Morgan?,” Detroit Free Press, April 12, 1890.
“Why Lottie was Murdered,” Wisconsin State Journal, May 14, 1890.