Saturday, October 10, 2020

A Night of Debauchery.

In 1880, Mrs. Anna Hayes was the landlady of a house at 396 State Street in Chicago. The newspapers referred to it as a “house of ill-fame,” but it was not a brothel, it was a house of assignation, renting rooms to prostitutes. On Sunday, November 7, 1880, Eva Lloyd rented room 6 on the top floor; one week for $3.00. Eva did not have the money but she had a revolver worth $4.00, and Mrs. Hayes took that as security.

The following Tuesday night Eva Lloyd went out, and some time after midnight returned to the room with a strange woman. They were both extremely drunk. Ida Donegan, who was in the room next door, heard the stranger crying, then she began to scream and wail and Eva told her to shut up. Around three a.m. Eva knocked on Ida’s door and asked if she had any snuff. Ida said no and sent Eva away.

Wednesday morning Eva Lloyd took some clothes to Mrs. Hayes. They were stained with blood and Eva told Mrs. Hayes she could wash them and give them to her daughter or throw them away. Then Eva went out and did not come back. On Thursday Mrs. Hayes checked the room to see if Eva had left anything and found that her trunk was still there, so she assumed Eva would be returning. 

On Saturday, Eva had still not returned. Two women came in to rent a room, and with the rest of the house fully booked Mrs. Hayes decided to rent them room 6. The two women went to the room, but were replulsed by an overpowering stench emanating from the closet. When they forced open the closet door, the decomposing body of a woman fell out, wearing nothing but a chemise, torn as if in a struggle. She had been killed by a blow to the back of her head; her face had been pounded as well and was bloated beyond recognition. It was either Eva Lloyd or her strange friend but when it was first discovered it was impossible to tell which.

The body was identified as Dora Clarence, (alias Marks), by Isaac Marks, the dead girl's “protector.” He identified the deceased by her features, feet, clothing, and mole on the left breast. She had previously been married and divorced; married name Coffey, maiden name Abell. Ada Abell, who had not seen her sister in five years, came to Chicago from Danbury, Illinois, and also positively identified Dora.

Eva Lloyd was not hard to find. She had been arrested for drunkenness and was being held in Bridewell, the Cook County prison. She was attractive, but looked somewhat boyish with black, close-cropped hair, and big dark eyes. Like Dora Clarence, Eva Lloyd was known by several different names. She was born Annie Miriam Mackey, in County Kerry, Ireland, and orphaned at a young age, she came to America with a neighboring family. By age fourteen she was on her own and had a baby who died soon after birth. In New York City she lived with a man named Handley and took his name though they were not married (Handley was an assumed name as well, he having deserted from the British Army).

When she learned that Handley had been unfaithful, she left him and traveled west, stopping in Chicago where she found work as a servant. There she took up with another young man. He deserted her as well, and Eva turned to prostitution, and began drinking heavily. She cut off her hair “in a drunken freak” and would sometimes don men’s attire, earning her the nickname “Charley Lee.” It was also reported that she was a famous thief known as “Brooklyn Lil” but that proved to be untrue.

Now going by the name Annie Mackey, she admitted that she must have killed Dora but could not remember doing it. They had met Tuesday night on State Street and drank together in a saloon there until they were thrown out. They went back to Annie’s room with a bottle of gin and soon began quarreling. Dora had asked for snuff and became angry because Annie hadn’t any. Annie went out and got her some and for a while Dora was pacified. They quarreled again when Annie said she would take Dora’s man away from her. That was all that Annie remembered until the next morning when she found she was lying next to Dora’s corpse. She dragged the body into the closet, shut the door and locked it. Then she took clothes to Mrs. Hayes, and left. 

The trial of Annie Mackey began on February 11, 1881. All of the evidence was circumstantial but strong; the real question before the court was whether Annie Mackey intentionally murdered Dora Abell or whether the death had been accidental. The jury ruled the latter and Annie Mackey was acquitted.

Annie Mackey moved further west and the following May she was briefly in the news once more. Once again using the name Eva Lloyd, she was arrested for intoxication in Omaha, Nebraska.

Origionally posted January 31, 2015.

"A Ghastly Mystery." Daily Inter Ocean 9 Nov 1880.
"A Horrible Murder in Chicago." Cincinnati Daily Gazette 10 Nov 1880.
"A Woman on Trial for Life Waiting in the Criminal Court Yesterday for the Commencement." Daily Inter Ocean. 11 Feb 1881.
"Annie Mackey." Daily Inter Ocean 26 Nov 1880.
"Dora Abell's Death Was Eva Lloyd (or Mackey) the Cause or was it Accidental." Daily Inter Ocean 12 Feb 1881.
"Dora Clarence." Daily Inter Ocean 11 Nov 1880.
"NIght of Debauchery." The National Police Gazette 27 Nov 1880.
"State News." Daily Illinois State Journal 14 May 1881.


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