Saturday, June 5, 2021

She Killed the Beast.


Bob Ramsey, a waiter at a resort hotel in Murphy, North Carolina, was standing in a lower hallway he heard a scream coming from the stairway. He recognized the woman running down the stairs as Lillian Gould, a pretty blonde Englishwoman about 30 years old. She was screaming because her husband, Charles, ten years older, tall and strong, was chasing her with a riding crop. 

Charles Gould had gone hunting the morning of July 8, 1890, and as usual, had returned quite drunk. When sober, Gould was a loving husband, but when intoxicated, he became abusive and quick to anger. The couple had an argument in their room over some trivial matter which escalated until Charles tried to hit her with his heavy, silver-tipped riding crop. At the foot of the stairs, Ramsey interceded and advised Charles not to strike his wife. Charles turned and went back upstairs; Lillian went into the kitchen, lay down on a lounge, and began crying.

A few minutes later, Charles came back downstairs and went into the kitchen. He grabbed his wife’s arm and pulled her off the lounge onto the floor. Charles got a bucket of water and poured it over Lillian’s head. Then he raised his foot as if to stomp on her face when Ramsey interceded once more. Charles went back upstairs. About half an hour later, Lillian went upstairs as well.

Soon they were loudly arguing again, and Bob Ramsey went to their room. Charles shouted profanities and threatened Lillian with the riding crop.

“If you dare strike me,” she said, “I will defend myself as best I can.”

He hit her with the crop, knocking her against the wall. Lillian sprang at him and plunged a dagger into his side. She continued stabbing him again and again, in the neck and chest. Charles lay bleeding but would not let Ramsey send for a doctor. The bitch had not hurt him, he said, and he did not want their affairs made public.

Lillian Gould later described her state of mind. “Like one crazy I moved around. While my husband lay wounded, I played merry music on the piano. My brain was in a whirl.”

By the time a doctor arrived, Charles Gould was dead. As they removed the body, Lillian begged for one last look at Charles.

"My husband dead by my hand!" She exclaimed, “My husband whom I once loved and who adored me.”

The Goulds had arrived from London, England, several months earlier and stayed at the Mackham House hotel in Atlanta, Georgia. The couple made quite a splash in Atlanta. Charles was spending money with reckless abandon. He claimed to have been a planter in Ceylon, and although he had been unsuccessful in that venture, he came from a wealthy family and had valuable properties in England. His numerous checks for large amounts drawn on the Bank of England were honored without question.

Lillian Gould made an impression in Atlanta for her eccentric wardrobe. Her gowns were all made of the finest fabric but designed in a way that was new and puzzling to the ladies of Atlanta. Most notably, she wore a dagger in the belt of her dress. Lillian was nervous and excitable, but she made friends easily. When her husband was sober, Lillian and Charles appeared to be a loving couple, but when he drank, she would run and hide for fear of his abuse.

As summer approached, they moved to Murphy, North Carolina, where Charles would go hunting. There, his drinking and abuse grew worse.

After being arrested for her husband’s murder, Lillian was released on bail. That August, she was about to leave Murphy for Buffalo, New York, when a man named Harrison arrived from England. Harrison, representing the interests of Charles Gould’s brothers, had her arrested again and made sure she was indicted for his murder.

Lillian Gould was tried in October for the murder of her husband. There was no question that she had killed him; the trial would decide whether or not the murder was justified. As the details of the case became known, public opinion was soundly in her favor. When the jury returned a verdict of not guilty, a collective sigh of relief filled the courtroom.

“I hardly know why I did it,” said Lillian Gould, “but I married him only to find my heaven a hell and my dream of bliss one of sorrow. He drank without ceasing and was cruel and abusive in ways which I dare not describe.”

“Killed by his Wife,” Intelligencer Journal, July 9, 1890.
“Killed by His Wife,” Evening Star, July 9, 1890.
“Killed the Beast,” Denver Rocky Mountain News, July 9, 1890.
“Mrs Gould in Jail Again,” Wheeling Register, August 23, 1890.
“Mrs Gould Re-Arrested,” Daily State Chronicle, August 21, 1890.
“Not Guilty,” Cherokee scout, October 21, 1890.
“Stabs Her Husband,” Evansville Courier and Press, July 11, 1890.
“With Her Dagger,” Illustrated Police News, July 26, 1890.


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