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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Caught in the Act.

Little Murders

Caught in the Act.



Edward Newton Rowell and Johnson L Lynch had been neighbors in Utica, New York. Both were successful family men; Rowell a partner in a box manufacturing company and Lynch an attorney. In 1881, the firm of Palmer and Rowell relocated their offices and Newton Rowell moved with his wife and two children to Batavia, New York.

Mrs. Rowell was a beautiful and flirtatious blonde, eight years younger than her husband. The gossip in Utica said that Mrs. Rowell was seeing other men behind her husband’s back; Johnson Lynch among them. Their affair did not end when the Rowells moved away. Newton Rowell suspected his wife of cheating and had a plan to catch her.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

“Thus She Passed Away.”


In 1872 George Wheeler met and married May Tillson in Boston. He made a home for May and her younger sister Della, first in New York, then in California. Along the way George fell in love with young Della and when she planned marry someone else he was faced with a dilemma: he could not marry her himself and he could not bear to see her wed to another. The solution he chose pleased no one.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Insurance and Arsenic.

Little Murders
 
Frankie Morris Loveland
In 1884, Kansas attorney A. A. Hurd took out a $5,000 policy with the Mutual Life Insurance Company, on his mother-in-law, Mrs. Nancy Poinsett, naming his wife Frankie as beneficiary. Frankie Hurd liked this idea so much that, on a visit to Kansas City, she stopped at the Equitable Insurance office and took out another $10,000 policy on her mother’s life. It was reported that during the same trip she bought a supply of arsenic.

Soon after, Frankie and her husband were divorced, and she took the name Frankie Morris. Her mother, who was also estranged from her current husband, J. M. Poinsett, came to live with Frankie in Chanute, Kansas. On November 5, 1884, Mrs. Poinsett died from a sudden and painful illness; she was buried the following day. The circumstances of the death were so suspicious that both insurance companies refused to pay the policy claims. Frankie sued them, with her former husband A.A. Hurd handling the case.

The County Attorney was also suspicious, and began an investigation. Mrs. Poinsett’s body was disinterred and delivered to Professor Baily, a chemist at the State University at Lawrence, for analysis. He found crystals of arsenic in her stomach and signs of arsenic poisoning throughout the body. A witness claimed that Frankie gave her mother a large dose of arsenic in a glass of beer, while they were celebrating the election victory of Grover Cleveland. The chemist believed that Mrs. Poinsett had also been given smaller doses, before and after this.

Frankie was arrested in July, 1885; the matter was brought quickly to trial, and Frankie Morris was convicted of first degree murder. Before her arrest, Frankie had been engaged to be married to a commercial traveler from Wichita, named H. D. Loveland. He had left is wife and family for Frankie. The night of her conviction, probate judge H. F. Cory was called to marry them, in the presence of witnesses, including her ex-husband A. A. Hurd. Frankie Loveland was then taken to jail. Meanwhile, her attorneys filed an appeal for a new trial, citing, in addition to “the usual law points,” a charge that the verdict was obtained by jury tampering and witness suborning.

Frankie Morris Loveland was granted a new trial, primarily due to prejudicial statements made by the County Attorney outside of court. The second trial ended in a conviction and it was also successfully appealed. While the defense was alleging a conspiracy against their client, the prosecution, for the third trial, had amended their indictment, to include Frankie, A. A. Hurd, and J. M. Poinsett, the murdered woman’s husband in a conspiracy to commit murder and insurance fraud.

On November 17, 1885 the case was called, but postponed until December 7. On December 3, the prosecution declared nollo prosequi – the case against Frankie would be dropped and she would be set free. Two of their witnesses had left the state and the prosecution no longer had the evidence needed to win the case. While the state dropped the case against Frankie, the insurance companies stood firm, and it was reported that they had no intention of honoring her insurance claims.


"Another Chance for Her Life." New York Herald 10 Sep 1885.
"Arsenic in the Body." New Haven Register 8 Jul 1885.
"As Bad as a Bender." Kansas City Times 7 Jul 1885.
"He Believes Her Innocent." Kansas City Times 16 Aug 1885.
"Her Third Trial for Matricide." New York Herald 17 Nov 1885
"Proved His Love." Daily Illinois State Register 12 Aug 1885.
"The Frankie Morris Case." Rocky Mountain News 9 Dec 1885.
"This Wicked World." National Police Gazette 12 Dec 1885.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Remarkable Murder Trial in Florida.

Little Murders
 
(From St. Albans Messenger , St. Albans, Vermont, October 22, 1875)


Remarkable Murder Trial in Florida.
 
 
A somewhat remarkable murder trial has just ended at St. Augustine, Fla., with the conviction and sentence to death or Mary Ann Keech, alias Newton, and her nephew, William Newton. Three yeas ago, Mary Ann and her husband Henry Keech, then living in Wisconsin, after a quarter or a century of married life quarreled and were divorced, when Keech to escape carrying out a decree of the court settling certain property on Mrs. Keech skedaddled to Florida, where he has since lived with a woman name Ellen Hunt, who passed as his wife. Last May, Mary Ann, learning his whereabouts, induced her nephew, William Norton, by promise of a share of the spoils, to go to Florida and murder Keech and the woman Hunt and obtain the title deeds which the Wisconsin court had decreed her. William went, and while out fishing with Keech shot him, mashed his head with a rock and, to made sure, cut his throat; then going to the house put there pistol balls through the woman Hunt’s head, and getting the desired papers fled. The murder was soon discovered and young Newton captured.

And now comes the estrange part of the affair. Keech, the victim, turned out not to be dead, and recovered to testify against his murderer; a letter which the murderer had written informing his aunt of his success, and which the officers mailed for him without opening it, brought the projectress of the murder to Florida, and another letter, as acidentally got hold of by the officers and opened proved the guilty part of the woman, and she and her nephew were, last week, convicted and condemned to be hanged, while to complete the confusion of this intricate tangle of crimes, the grand jury has sent a true bill against Keech, the half-murdered man, for living in concubinage with Ellen Hunt. The woman’s counsel have appealed to the supreme court, but there is no probability that the appeal will be allowed. The murderess is a burley woman, with a countenance that does not belie her nature. She received her sentence with the most stolid indifference, gazing at the judge with a defiant look, and seemingly anxious to get upon the platform and wring his neck.






"Remarkable Murder Trial in Florida." Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio, October 22, 1875