Mrs. Annie Brownlee and her daughter, Mrs. Mary Marean, were two widows living together in a house on Dana Street, in a fashionable section of Cambridge, Massachusetts. In the fall of 1892, both women were both unwell. Mrs. Marean had suffered from the grippe two years earlier and had never fully recovered; Mrs. Brownlee, who was nearly 80 years old was probably suffering from the effects of old age.
The morning of October 31, Mary leaned over her mother who was lying in bed, and asked, “Do you love me?”
“Yes,” her mother replied, “of course I love all my children.”
|House where the murder was committed.|
Mary washed the blood off the shaker and took it back to the basement. Then she went next door to her neighbor, Mrs. Endicott, and calmly told her that she had killed her mother. When Mrs. Endicott realized that Mary was telling the truth, she sent for the police.
While the murder appeared to have been somewhat premeditated, there was no motive, and it soon became clear to everyone that Mary Marean had lost touch with reality. When asked why she did it, Mary responded, “I don’t know; I had to do something. Every night for the past two weeks I felt something within me urging me on to a desperate undertaking. Oh, I had to do it, that’s all. What could I do when there was something that kept biting and knawing at my very brain.”
Neighbors told the police that Mary had lately been obsessed with the fear that she would die first leaving no one to take care of her mother. They believed that her brain had been affected by her bout with the grippe.
Mary Marean was never brought to trial. The police physician declared Mary insane, and Dr. Jelly, a Boston expert, confirmed his diagnosis. She was committed to the Worcester lunatic hospital.
"A Matricide." Boston Journal 1 Nov 1892.
"Awful Act of a Cambridge Woman ." Springfield Republican 1 Nov 1892.
"Dr. Jelly as an Expert." Boston Daily Globe 5 Nov 1892.
"Killed by Her Daughter." National Police Gazette 19 Nov 1892.
"Killed Her Mother." Boston Daily Globe 1 Nov 1892.
"Murderess Adjudged Insane." Boston Daily Globe 18 Nov 1892.
"The Murder in Cambridge." Boston Herald 1 Nov 1892.