Saturday, May 25, 2019

Forgery, Murder, and Suicide.

Anne C. Chapman went to the First National Bank of Warsaw, Indiana, in September 1880, to cash a check for $300. The cashier did not hesitate; the check was signed by her father, the director of the bank. During the course of business that day, her father came across the check and immediately pronounced the signature a forgery. He reported the crime and had his daughter arrested, refusing to bail her out of jail. 

Mr. Chapman was a wealthy man who kept a tight hold on his money. The Daily Inter Ocean said he was “as penurious as a man could be and not starve to death.” Reportedly, Annie needed money because her father denied her the basic necessities of life. When friends of the family tried to persuade Chapman to release his daughter from jail, he refused, saying she would only elope if he let her go.

After three days in jail, Annie Chapman broke down and confessed that G.L. Smith, an agent for the Singer sewing-machine company had been the forger. Smith was a married man and the nature of their relationship was unclear. Public sympathy was on Annie’s side and some believed he had forced her to cash the check under threat of death.

G.L. Smith was arrested for forgery but after four days he was released on bail. When he left jail, he vowed to have his revenge on Annie for “squealing.”

Smith proved true to his word. On September 28, he climbed the high board fence that surrounded the Warsaw jail and waited for Annie to enter the jail yard. When she entered the yard, Smith rushed her, revolver in hand, and shot her once in the heart and once in the head. As Annie Chapman collapsed, Smith raised the revolver to his own head and fired. Their bodies were found lying side-by-side, “the blood and brains of both mingling in one common, sickening pool.”

“A Banker's Daughter,” The National Police Gazette, October 16, 1880.
“Criminal Bulletin,” The Indiana Herald, October 13, 1880.
“Forgery, Murder, and Suicide,” The Inter Ocean, September 29, 1880.
“Murder and Suicide,” The Cincinnati Enquirer, September 29, 1880.
“The Warsaw Tragedy,” The Inter Ocean, October 1, 1880.
“Warsaw, Ind,” Hagerstown Exponent, October 6, 1880.


Graham Clayton says:
May 26, 2019 at 9:54 PM

Forgery, murder and suicide - a trifecta in one case!

Invgjan says:
June 1, 2019 at 10:02 PM

Sad story. I enjoy reading about more obscure cases like this. Some cases are written about endlessly. Perhaps the name Anne Chapman has a bit of a curse on it. Annie Chapman was one of Jack the Ripper victims.

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