Saturday, May 15, 2021

A Lovely Murderess.

The crack of gunfire startled the residents of 88 Merrimack Street, a boarding house in Lowell, Massachusetts, around 10:00, the night of  August 31, 1876. The boarders rushed to Lulu Martin’s room on the third floor, where the shot was fired. The door was locked; they heard a man inside shouting, “Go for the police! She has shot me! I will hold her! Break open the door!”

A group of men broke in and found Lulu being held by a man who was bleeding from a gunshot wound to the abdomen. He let go of Lulu and hurried out the door. Lulu tried to hide the pistol, but the men were able to wrest it away. Then Lulu grabbed a bottle of laudanum and drank about half an ounce, attempting suicide. 

A police officer and a doctor arrived soon after. Against her will, the doctor gave Lulu an emetic; he had to pry her mouth open with a toothbrush and she vomited up most of the laudanum. The officer arrested Lulu and took her to jail. She claimed she took out the pistol to kill herself, but the man grabbed it, and in the struggle, the gun went off and shot him.

The wounded man was Charles Ricker, a 35-year-old engineer for Merrimack Mills, a Lowell textile company. He managed to walk home to his room, where he was treated by a doctor, but it was soon apparent that he would not survive. Before he died, Ricker dictated a statement.

He said he had been keeping company with Lulu Martin but had recently broken it off. She became extremely jealous and handed him the following letter:

M.C.R. —I would like to have a talk with you once more, but I know you said you didn’t want to talk to a fool. I have nothing against you whatever. I know it will be better for you and me to make up again. It is all for the best. I don’t intend to be insane. I know I have done wrong—you done wrong first. I know very well I can’t live long. Our great God knows all things. Before three weeks more passes over my head I shall kill myself. I will if you don’t make up with me. I will treat you in the future frankly and sincere. I will never do anything wrong again as long as God gives me breath. I care not how many women you go with, that is all right. I can write better than I can talk.

Ricker read the letter and agreed to meet at her room at 8:00 on August 31. When he called on her, Lulu said she had no kerosene for the lamp, so they talked for nearly two hours in the darkness. At about twenty minutes to ten, Lulu locked the door and went to the sink for a drink of water. She returned and fired the pistol at him from about a foot away. He said he did not see the gun until she fired—there was no scuffle and no angry words prior to the shot. He grabbed her arms to prevent her from firing a second shot. Ricker died on September 2, and Lulu Martin was charged with murder. 

Lulu Martin was an alias she used, trying to hide her past, but it did not take the authorities long to learn that her real name was Lucy Ann Mink, and in 1873, she had been acquitted of murdering Dr. P.R. Baker in Warren, Maine.

The circumstances of the case were similar to those of Ricker’s murder. Lucy had been Dr. Baker’s housekeeper when he practiced in Thomaston, Maine; the two began an intimate relationship. When he moved west, she followed after him and told her friends that if he ever got a different housekeeper, she would be the death of him. When Dr. Baker settled in Warren, he hired a Mrs. Kirk as his housekeeper, and Lucy sent him several letters threatening to burn his house and kill him if he did not discharge Mrs. Kirk and employ her. 

Dr. Baker did not believe her, and one Friday night, he went to Lucy’s house. Later that night she ran to the neighbors’ house shouting, “I am shot; I am shot; Dr. Baker shot me.”

They examined Lucy and found that she had not been shot but appeared to be in a state of frenzy and great excitement. The next morning they found Dr. Baker dead in her room, with a bullet wound in the chest. 

Lucy denied shooting Dr. Baker, but her neighbors were convinced of her guilt. They believed she killed him because he refused to marry her. She claimed to have had a child by him,  said to have died under suspicious circumstances soon after birth. Lucy was tried for murder, but the pistol was never found, and there was no direct evidence against her, so she was acquitted. After that, she changed her name and moved to Lowell, Massachusetts. 

She was tried in Lowell, under the name Lucy Ann Mink (sometimes reported as Mank),  for the first-degree murder of Charles Ricker. Under oath, she repeated her story that Ricker was shot accidentally when he tried to stop her from shooting herself. The jury did not entirely believe her, but she raised enough doubt that they found her guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Lucy’s attorneys appealed the verdict to the Supreme Judicial Court on the grounds that since the pistol was discharged accidentally, she was not guilty. The SJW ruled that she was guilty of manslaughter because the shooting occurred during her attempt to commit suicide, which in itself was “criminal and unlawful.”  She was sentenced to nine years in the House of Correction. 

“Another Lovely Woman,” New York Herald, December 20, 1876.
“The Baker Murder Trial,” Lewiston Evening Journal, October 8, 1873.
“Courts,” Christian Mirror, October 21, 1873.
“Crimes and Casualties,” Troy Daily Times, September 6, 1876.
“General News,” Albany Evening Journal, September 2, 1876.
“Jealousy and Unrequited Love,” Lowell Daily Citizen and News, September 1, 1876.
“A Lovely Murderess,” Alexandria Gazette, December 21, 1876.
“The Lowell Murder,” Illustrated Police News, June 9, 1877.
“The Lowell Tragedy,” Boston Journal, September 4, 1876.
“Lucy Ann Mank,” Lowell Daily Citizen and News, May 28, 1877.
“Lucy Ann Mank,” Lowell Daily Citizen and News, May 29, 1877.
“The Martin-Ricker Tragedy,” Lowell Daily Citizen and News, September 4, 1876.
“Middlesex County,” Boston Daily Advertiser, September 2, 1876.
“Murder,” Portland Daily Press, May 19, 1873.
“News Article,” Press, September 6, 1876.
“News Article,” Ellsworth American, December 20, 1877.
“A She Fiend,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 8, 1876.
“Singular Affair,” Lewiston Evening Journal, May 17, 1873.
“State News,” Daily Kennebec Journal, November 29, 1877.
“Two Men Killed by a Woman,” Saint Paul Dispatch, September 5, 1876.


Midwest Mama says:
May 17, 2021 at 10:28 AM

She sounds like a head case. Jody Arias is similar.

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