On the morning of August 22, 2005 Stacey Castor went to work at Liverpool Heating and Air Conditioning. She was the office manager for her husband, David Castor Sr, who owned the business. She made several attempts to call his cell phone but he refused to answer. When he still had not arrived at his business by 2 p.m. she decided to call the police and ask them to meet him at her residence because she was concerned about her husband's welfare. She claimed that her husband had locked himself in their bedroom. She also stated that he had been acting strangely for the last month and he kept a gun in the room.
When deputies from the Onondaga County Sheriff's department arrived at 4127 Wetzel Road, Stacey was waiting in the front yard for them. Sgt Robert Willoughby entered the residence and made his way to the bedroom door. Sgt Willoughby knocked on the door but after receiving no response he kicked the door in. David Castor was sprawled naked across the bed. On the floor next to the bed was a container of Prestone antifreeze. On the nightstand there was cranberry juice, apricot brandy, and a half full glass of a bright green liquid.
Sgt Willoughby summoned paramedics but it was already too late. Detective Dominick Spinelli arrived on the scene and observed David Castor's body on the bed and Stacey Castor outside seemly distraught. The house was searched and evidence collected. Including a turkey baster found in the kitchen trash.
Chief Deputy Medical Examiner Robert Stoppacher performed an autopsy and ruled that David Castor's had caused his own death by consuming antifreeze.
His family however, vehemently denied that David would ever consider taking his own life. And there was at least one other person who had his own suspicions about David's death. Detective Spinelli refused to close the case. Something just didn't sit right with him.
The following day Detective Spinelli sat down with Stacey Castor and she gave a nine-paged detailed statement as to the final days of David Castor's life.
Stacey felt that the recent death of his father and stress at work pushed David over the edge and led him to take his own life.
She claimed that they had been having frequent arguments in the four days leading up to his death. According to Stacey, David locked himself in the bedroom and spent the weekend drinking and vomiting. She cleaned up the vomit and rubbed his feet, gave him cranberry juice and water, and did whatever she could to try and make him comfortable. At one point during the weekend she came in the room and found David on the floor. She called a family friend to help her pick David up and put him back in the bed. She claimed she spent the weekend sleeping on the couch and tried to stay out of the house as much as possible. She gave a detailed account of her comings and goings for the entire weekend.
Stacey Castor volunteered one final piece of information prior to ending the interview. David and she had watched a "48 Hours" television show about a woman who had killed her two husbands by putting antifreeze in green jello. They watched the program again a month or two ago when it aired again.
The interview did not sit well with Detective Spinelli and as Stacey Castor buried her second husband next to her first husband, Michael Wallace, he helped launch an investigation that would take two years to complete.
One month after David Castor's death, Stacey convinced her longtime friend, Linda Pulaski and her husband to witness David's signature on a will leaving Stacey sole heir to his estate. The will was then backdated to two years earlier.
As the police police conducted their investigation it soon became apparent that Stacey's description of events did not match the evidence. She claimed to have repeatedly phoned her husband on the day of his death but a search of all her phone records showed that she only placed one call to David.
The half-full glass of antifreeze contained three fingerprints. All of which belonged to Stacey. The container of antifreeze found on the bedroom floor had no finger prints on it at all. And the turkey baster that was found in the kitchen garbage had traces of antifreeze and David's DNA on the tip.
The police were now certain that David Castor died by his wife's hands and not his own. The suspicious circumstances surrounding his death caused them to look more closely at the death of Stacy Castor's first husband Mike Wallace.
Michael Wallace died of a heart attack or so doctor's originally thought. The police were skeptical and made the unusual request to have the body exhumed. When an autopsy was performed the medical examiner found traces of antifreeze and rat poison in his remains. The official cause of death was changed to homicide.
Detective Spinelli again brings Stacey Castor in for questioning and asks her why the only finger prints found on the glass of antifreeze was hers she responds, " when I poured the antifree... I mean cranberry juice." Once she realize what she had done Stacey terminated the interview and requested to speak with a lawyer.
Stacey could feel the noose tightening around her neck. It was just a matter of time before the knock came on the door that would spell an end to her life as a free woman. Someone had to pay for the murders of David Castor and Michael Wallace and Stacey was determined that it would not be her.
Ashley Wallace, Stacey's oldest daughter from her first marriage, was visited by detectives on her first day of college in September of 2007. They informed her that her father had not died of a heart attack but had indeed been poisoned. A hysterical Ashley called her mother to tell her about the detectives. Stacey arrived at the college to pick Ashley up and suggested that the two of them go home and get some drinks. They were going through a stressful time and needed something to help them relax. 20-year-old Ashley, who had no reason to mistrust not only her mother but her best friend, readily agreed. Stacey bought some Watermelon Smirnoff Ice on the way home and Ashley drank with her mother until she became ill. The next day when Ashley returned home from school, Stacey was waiting for her with a mixture of Vodka, Sprite and orange juice. Ashley took a sip of the concoction but was put off by the awful taste. Stacey convinced her daughter to drink it quickly by using a straw, which Ashley did, because again, this was her mother.
Seventeen hours later, Ashley's younger sister Bree Wallace came into her room to check on her and found Ashley nearly comatose on her bed. She screamed for Stacey who came flying into the room, took one look at her daughter and called 911. She told the 911 operator that Ashley had swallowed a lot of pills along with a bottle of Vodka and that her sister Bree had found a suicide note. The typewritten letter was apparently Ashley's confession to the murders of her father and stepfather. The painstaking description of how the murders occurred could have only come from someone who had firsthand knowledge of the crimes.
When Ashley awoke in the hospital she was confused. She could not figure out how she had ended up in a hospital bed with her wrists tied down and most of all why police Sgt Michael Norton was yelling at her. She never took any pills, she didn't write any suicide note, and she sure as heck hadn't murdered anyone. Investigators also took note of the fact that the supposed suicide letter refered to antifreeze as "antifree" and during her interrogation Ashley always used the entire word unlike her mother, Stacey.
When news of Ashley's supposed suicide attempt reached Detective Spinelli he was appalled. He never thought for one minute that Stacey would go to such lengths to save her own skin. It was time to put an end to her murderous rampage. Stacey Castor was arrested soon after for the murder of her second husband David Castor and the attempted murder of her own daughter, Ashley.
In December of 2007, Stacey Castor was indicted on three separate charges: 2nd degree murder, 2nd degree attempted murder and 1st degree offering of a false document.
Stacey Castor went on trial in January of 2009. Prosecutors laid out the case against Stacey including the lack of David's fingerprints on the glass and antifreeze container, the turkey baster containing his DNA which prosecutors felt she used to force-feed the antifreeze to David. They also introduced evidence that Stacey's first husband, Michael Wallace, had also died of antifreeze poisoning. Also that Stacey and not Ashley referred to antifreeze as "antifree."
But what was the motive? Not surprising prosecutors felt it had to do with money. Stacey collected on her husbands life insurance policies and she forged a new will cutting out David's son from his previous marriage and leaving his estate solely to her.
Stacey Castor's computer was confiscated and there was found several drafts of the suicide note that Ashley was supposed to have written. The time stamp on the drafts showed they were written when Ashley was at school. Prosecutors also argued the attempted suicide was in actuality a murder plot in which to frame her own child for the murders.
Stacey Castor took the stand in her own defense. She maintained her innocence and insisted that her daughter Ashley had in fact murdered her father, even though she was only 11 years old at the time, and her stepfather. When asked what possible reason her daughter would have for the murders she would only imply that Ashley might be suffering from some sort of mental illness. She admitted on cross-examination that she never attempted to get any sort of help for her daughter.
On February 5, 2009, Stacey Castor was found guilty on all three charges and received a sentence of 51-1/3 years. As Judge Fahey handed down the sentence he had these parting words for Stacey Castor, "...I have to say Mrs Castor, you are in a class all by yourself. I had never seen a parent willing to sacrifice their child to shift the blame away from themselves. It's the most reprehensible crime I've ever seen."
Stacey Castor had no comment and showed no remorse. Given the length of her sentence, at her age it is very likely that she will die in prison.
On a final note, charges are pending against Stacey Castor for the murder of her first husband, Michael Wallace.
31-year-old John P. Dunning had the kind lifestyle that many people dream of. He was a well-regarded war correspondent and had a devoted wife, Mary, who was the daughter of former congressman John B. Pennington of Dover Delaware.
In 1891 the couple moved to San Francisco where Dunning took a position as the Bureau Chief of Associated Press' Western Division. A year later the couple welcomed the birth of their daughter.
In the summer of 1895, Dunning was riding his bike to work through Golden Gate Park when it broke down near a bench where the woman who would tragically alter his future was sitting enjoying the morning sun. As he fixed his bike the two struck up a conversation and although she was 10 years his senior Dunning soon found himself captivated by her ill disguised, raw sensuality and they were soon embroiled in a torrid affair. She was Cordelia Botkin, wife of wealthy businessman, Welcome A. Botkin from Stockton California. Although they were separated, Cordelia's husband still supported her financially with a monthly stipend. Cordelia introduced Dunning to the seedy side of San Francisco and before long he was caught up in a sordid lifestyle of drinking, partying, and gambling.
Mary Elizabeth Dunning had suffered the ultimate humiliation. Her husband was openly cavorting with a woman of obviously loose morals. To add to this he had been fired from his position at Associated Press when it was suspected that he had embezzled company funds in order to pay his gambling debts. And due to his heavy drinking he was unable to maintain employment. Fed up, Mary Elizabeth packed up herself and her daughter and moved back to Delaware with her parents.
Still caught up in the clutches of Cordelia, Dunning moved into same hotel where she was staying and for the time being was content to let Cordelia support the both of them with her husband's money.
During one of their conversations the subject of Dunning's wife arose and he let it slip about her love of candy and that she had a close friend in San Francisco named Mrs Corbaley.
Eventually Dunning grew tired of his life of debauchery and jumped at the chance when Associated Press offered to rehire him as a war correspondent to cover the Spanish-American war in Cuba. He informed Cordelia of his plans and turned a deaf ear to her impassioned pleadings for him to stay with her. Dunning also informed her that he had no intentions of returning to San Francisco and upon completing his assignment he would be returning to Delaware in the hopes of reuniting with his wife and child.
Mary Elizabeth received letters signed "A Friend" postmarked San Francisco. They informed her that her husband was still constantly seen in the company of an attractive woman and warned Mary Elizabeth not to reconcile with her husband. She turned the letters over to her father for safe keeping.
On August 9, 1898, a small package arrived at the Dover, Delaware addressed to Mary Elizabeth Dunning. Inside the box was chocolate bonbons resting atop a lacy handkerchief with the price tag still attached. The note enclosed with the package read, "With love to yourself and baby. Mrs. C."
Later that evening after dining on trout and corn fritters, the family retired to the veranda in a effort to cool off from the summer heat. Thinking the chocolates were from her friend, Mrs. Corbaley, from San Francisco, Mary Elizabeth had no reservations about indulging in her love of chocolate or passing the box around for her family to share. Mary Elizabeth's parents passed but her older sister, her daughter, her niece and two young neighbors who had stopped by to visit.
Hours later all six of the unfortunate people who ate the candy experienced stomach pains and vomiting. The physician who came to examine them diagnosed their illness as cholera morbus, a common ailment due to lack of refrigeration. He claimed it was probably from the corn fritters they had eaten at dinner. The problem with that theory was the two neighbors had not eaten the fritters. Nonetheless everyone eventually recovered with the exception of Mary Elizabeth and her sister. Having eaten the bulk of the candy they progressed to severe stomach spasms and their father called in a specialist who's grim suspicion spelled doom for the two women. He feared that they had been poisoned and by then it was too late to save them. Mary Elizabeth and her sister died a day later.
Mr Pennington began to suspect that his daughters had been poisoned by the candy and he had the uneaten candy analyzed. The chemist reported that a few of the chocolates had indeed been tainted with arsenic.
Mary Elizabeth's father dispatched a telegram posthaste to John Dunning informing him of the death of his beloved wife. When he reached the home of Mr. Pennington, Mary's father, he was immediately shown the letters and handwritten note that accompanied the box of chocolate. It took only one brief glance for him to instantly recognise the handwriting. There was no doubt as to the identity of the writer in his mind. He broke down and told Mr. Pennington the details of the sordid affair with Cordelia Botkin.
The Dover Police were contacted who then referred the case to San Francisco since the candies were sent from there. The remaining candy, the paper it was wrapped in and the handkerchief were sent to San Francisco in the custody of Dover Police.
San Francisco Police Chief Isaiah W. Less spearheaded the case against Cordelia and immediately set to work building the evidence against her. The sensational story was soon front page news and the Examiner "assisted" the police with the investigation. The paper that was used to wrap the candy was traced back to the George Haas confectionery where the clerk recalled selling the chocolate bonbons to a woman fitting Cordelia's physical description. The price tag on the handkerchief led directly to the City of Paris department store. A clerk who remembered selling arsenic to a woman who resembled Cordelia was eventually located at the Owl Drug store. Finally Less had the note that accompanied the chocolates and the anonymous letters sent to Mary Elizabeth analyzed by a handwriting expert who conclusively matched them to samples of Cordelia's writings.
In October, 1898, Chief Less appeared before the grand jury, confident that he had a strong, albeit circumstantial case. The only potential problem was the fact that an autopsy had not been performed on the two women so there was no proof that they had died from arsenic poisoning. In response the grand jury returned with an indictment for two counts of first-degree murder against Mrs. Cordelia Botkin.
Her trial began in December, 1898 before Judge Carroll Cook. Given the strength of the prosecutions case, the defense had no choice but to put Cordelia on the stand. She admitted that she bought the arsenic in June but hers was powdered not the crystalline type that was found in the candy. Furthermore she claimed she had bought the arsenic to bleach a straw hat. She also produced alibis to prove that she did not purchase the candy or mail the package. However her alibis could not be substantiated.
After four hours of the deliberation the jury found Cordelia guilty and recommended life in prison. As recommended Cordelia was confined to the Branch County Prison to serve her life sentence. One Sunday a few months after being sent to prison Judge Cook spotted Cordelia shopping in downtown San Francisco. He immediately launched an investigation and uncovered evidence that Cordelia had exchanged sexual favors for lavish comforts in jail and the freedom to leave the prison grounds.
Meanwhile Cordelia's lawyer appealed her conviction and was able to have it overturned based on a procedural error. Her second trial commenced in 1904 and on August 2, 1904 she was again sentenced to life in prison.
Cordelia Botkin was transferred to San Quentin State Prison where she remained until her death on March 7, 1910. The official cause of death was "softening of the brain due to melancholy." She was 56 years old.
Thomas Neill Cream was born in Glasgow Scotland May 27, 1850. At the age of 4 his father moved the family to Canada where he opened a prosperous lumber mill. His siblings eventually joined their father in the family business but Thomas was more interested in scholarly pursuits. Thomas dreamed of becoming a doctor and in 1872 he attended McGill College in Montreal from which he graduated with honors.
While attending McGill Cream met Flora Elizabeth Brooks. Teenage daughter of wealthy hotel owner, Lyman Henry Brooks. He seduced her and soon found himself cast in the unwanted role of father-to-be. Cream convinced Flora to allow him to abort the baby and nearly killed her in the process. When Flora's father learned of the abortion he showed up at Cream's residence brandishing a shotgun and forced him to marry Flora on September 11, 1876.
Cream had big plans for himself and they did not include remaining shackled to a woman he did not care for. The following day while most couples are enjoying their honeymoon Flora woke up to an empty bed and a note from Cream on the pillow next to her promising that he would keep in touch.
Cream fled to London, England and attended St Thomas Hospital Medical School. The glittering social life proved to be to much of a lure for Cream who more often than not could be seen courting wealthy young women rather than attending to his studies. He failed to earn his certificate. Cream moved to Edinburgh Scotland and completed his studies at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons.
In August of 1877 Flora contracted bronchitis and died from what was assumed to be consumption. But not everyone was convinced that her death was anything but natural. Prior to her demise Flora admitted to the town's physician, Dr Phelan, that she was taking medicine that her husband had sent her. The doctor managed to extract a promise from her that she would not take anything else unless he prescribed it but by then it was too late. Dr. Phelan was never able to obtain any of the medication for examination and an autopsy was not performed.
As for Cream, he no longer had to pretend that he was unmarried. He returned to Canada in 1878 and set up his practice in London, Ontario. He opened a small shop above a clothing store and specialized in obstetrics. Cream's career was quite promising until he derailed it in May of 1879 when the body of a young woman was found in the outhouse in the alley behind his shop. She was identified as Kate Gardner and the overwhelming scent of chloroform wafting from her made it quite simple to surmise cause of death. When the authorities questioned her roommate, Sarah Long, she confided to them that Kate had gotten herself in "the family way" and had gone to the new doctor to seek an abortion.
A Coroner's inquest was held at which time Cream admitted Gardner had come to his office but he refused to give her the drugs to induce an abortion and went so far as to suggest her death had been a suicide.
The Coroner disputed Creams theory stating that her face had been badly scratched implying force. Secondly it would have been impossible for her to hold a chloroform-soaked sponge over her nose long enough to cause her own death. She would have passed out before then.
Her death was ruled a homicide by person unknown. Although Cream was able to escape a murder indictment his reputation had been ruined. He pulled up stakes and decided to try his luck in the United States.
Cream ended up in Chicago, Illinois where he began the unsavory practice of terminating pregnancies for prostitutes. It wasn't long before one of those prostitutes ended up dead. When Mary Anne Faulkner was found dead in a tenement apartment police eventually tied her to Cream and he charged with murder. He managed to again avoid the executioner because he had the good sense to hire a suave and persuasive attorney who was able to convince jurors that Cream tried to save the unfortunate woman after a midwife botched her abortion.
Within a year Cream would again find himself on the wrong end of a murder charge and because of his own stupidity even Johnny Cochran would not have been able to get him off.
In addition to performing illegal abortions, Cream manufactured his own special concoction of anti-epilepsy drugs. One of his patients was Daniel Stott, a retired railroad agent. Since he was for all intents and purposes an invalid, he would send his beautiful young wife, Julia, who was 30 years his junior to collect his medicine. Her visits to Cream became more frequent and it soon became obvious to her husband that they were having an affair. On June 14, 1881 Cream mixed an extra special concoction for Mr. Stott, including a liberal dose of strychnine and he died within a half an hour of consuming it.
His death was originally attributed to epilepsy and would have never been questioned if Cream hadn't grown nervous. He attempted to divert any possibility of suspicion falling on him in the death of Stott by trying to implicate the pharmacist. Cream sent several telegrams to the coroner's office claiming that the pharmacist had mixed strychnine with Cream's concoction causing Stott's death. Cream's telegrams raised enough suspicion to have the district attorney order an exhumation of Stott's body. And just as Cream had implied, Stott's stomach contained a lethal dose of strychnine.
Cream had one major problem though. He did not know when to quit ( a fact that would ultimately lead to his final downfall). Thinking himself safe he actually identified himself as the writer when he sent the telegrams. Cream literally wrote himself into a conviction for murder. He was sentenced to life at Joliet State Penitentiary. Unfortunately for his future victims, his life would not end in that American prison. Thanks to corrupt politicians and prison officials Cream walked out a free man 10 years later after purchasing a pardon. He eventually returned to England and the slums of South London with a new practice and a new name, Dr. Thomas Neill.
His first known victim was 19-year-old prostitute Ellen "Nellie" Donworth. Prior to her death witnesses placed Nellie with a well-dressed gentleman. She would later be found lying on the bed of her rented room convulsing and writhing in agony. She would tell police that the man gave her something to drink with some white stuff in it. Nellie died on the way to the hospital. A postmortem exam revealed a lethal dose of strychnine in her stomach.
One week later Matilda Clover, 27, a prostitute and alcoholic, returned to her rented room with a well-dressed gentleman. Around 3 am the household was awaken to the sound of ear splitting screams. Matilda was found convulsing on her bed. She claimed a man gave her pills and had poisoned her. Unfortunately her death was attributed to excessive drinking and no autopsy was performed.
Lou Harvey was in search of a client for the night. When Cream approached her and introduced himself she agreed to accompany him to a hotel where they remained until the following morning. Before parting company the arranged to meet again later that evening for drinks. Cream gave Lou two capsules that he claimed would improve her complexion and insisted that she take them in his presence. Lou instantly became suspicious and pretended to swallow the pills and when Cream was not looking tossed them away. Her instincts saved her life.
Cream's last know victims were 21-year-old Alice Marsh and 18-year-old. He spied them in St. George's Circus and accompanied them to their residence and promised to give them pills to keep them from contracting sexual diseases.
By 2:30 the following morning, both women were convulsing and screaming in agony. Alice Marsh lived long enough to tell police a tall well-dressed man gave them pills.
During his killing spree Cream set in motion the series of events that decide his fate. Cream decided to try his hand at extortion. He flooded the city with letters accusing wealthy, prominent people of the murders he himself had committed. He offered to destroy the proof against them if they were willing to pay for it. This time at least Cream had the sense not to sign his own name to them.
So sure was he that he was not going to get caught, Cream befriended John Haynes, a New York detective who was now living in London. When the talk between the two men turned to the murders of the prostitutes Haynes was surprised at the amount of knowledge Cream had about the case. Cream had even brought up the names of two women that had not been named in the newspapers, Matilda Clover and Lou Harvey. One night after they had met for supper Cream took Haynes on a tour of the murder spots. Cream's detailed description of the murders left Haynes in no doubt that he was face-to-face with the man who had committed the murders. So Haynes relayed his suspicions to a friend of his, Inspector Patrick McIntyre, who worked at Scotland Yard.
Police soon launched an investigation and began tailing Cream. They soon found out that he was in the habit of visiting prostitutes. They had also obtained copies of his handwriting and had matched it to the blackmail letters that had been turned in to them. His passport which contained the named Dr. Thomas Neill had been forged and he was in reality Dr. Thomas Neill Cream from Canada. Further investigation uncovered the mysterious death of his wife, suspicion of murdering prostitutes, and his conviction of murder in the United States. The body of Matilda Clover was exhumed and the results led to the arrest of Thomas Neill Cream and the charge of murder.
Dr. Cream went on trial on October 17, 1892. Throughout the start of the trial Cream maintained his innocence. He showed little emotion in court convinced that he would be cleared of the charge. That is until the prosecution uncovered the most damning piece of evidence against him. When the bailiff called Lou Harvey to the witness box, Cream's composure cracked.
The trial lasted 5 days and when the case was turned over to the jury it took just 10 minutes to return with a guilty verdict.
On November 15, 1892 Dr. Cream was hanged at Newgate Prison. What happened next would spark a heated debate for years to come. As the trap door sprung open Cream is purported to have shouted "I am Jack..."before the snapping of his neck cut off the conclusion of his boast.
This led to the immediate supposition that Cream was confessing to being Jack the Ripper. A highly unlikely fact seeing that he was in Joliet at the time. Also Cream was a poisoner while Jack was a mutilator. Nevertheless Dr Thomas Neill Cream's remains on the long list of suspects thought to have been Jack the Ripper.
On the night of July 1, 1997, the fire department responded to a 2-alarm fire in the 2100 block of 50th Ave in Oakland, California. Just moments earlier a woman ran from her burning house; the bottom of her dress ablaze. One of her neighbor's poured water on the woman's legs and called 911.
The woman identified herself as Stevie Allman, 52, an unemployed secretary. She had suffered first- and second-degree burns to her arms and legs. She told authorities that she suspected the fire had been set by drug dealers she had crossed.
An investigation as to the cause of the fire proved it was indeed arson and fire officials confirmed that they had been to the same residence twice before for firebombs that had been set off outside of the home.
Allman was also known to the Oakland Police. For over a year she had been secretly video taping drug dealers doing business on her street and she passed the tapes, along with tips, to the police.
When news surrounding the events of the third firebombing became public knowledge, Allman was hailed a hero and an anti-drug crusader. The lure of the ovewhelming media coverage proved too strong for Ms. Allman. She issued two statements from her hospital bed in which she condemned the drug dealers whom she claimed no doubt intended to murder her.
Police vowed to apprehend those responsible for what was described as a "cowardly act." Then Govenor Pete Wilson offered a $50,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the perpetrators. A donation was set up in Allman's name to help cover her hospital costs and local contractors offered to rebuild her home.
Shortly after her appearance on television police would receive their first hint that things weren't as they appeared. Police were alerted that there were two women living in the house not one and one of them was missing.
Tips poured in from neighbors and Allman's oldest sister, Leotta Belleville, that the woman claiming to be Stevie Allman was in reality her younger sister, Sarah Mitchell.
The sisters had been living in the same house for twenty years and the two were often mistaken for twins as they closely resembled each other. But there the similarities ended.
Whereas Stevie was a quiet, somewhat reclusive secretary, Sarah had a history of drug and alcohol abuse and had been arrested for prostitution and fraud.
The police reopened the investigation and decided to search the home again in order to find clues as to the whereabouts of Stevie Allman. Officers searched the house with a dog and came upon a charred freezer that had been sealed with duct tape close to the point of origin of the fire. When officers opened the freezer they immediately uncovered the dismembered and decomposed body of who would be later as Stevie Allman.
Mitchell was arrested after she cashed the check made out to Allman consisted of donations received while she was in the hospital. When police confronted her with the fact that her fingerprints proved that she was Sarah Mitchell she admitted to impersonating her sister.
Police surmise that Mitchell had been assuming Allman's identity for almost two years. Mitchell's siblings confirmed this fact when they told police that Mitchell had been stealing from them for years. She had also posed as Stevie at least once before that the family knew of when she used Stevie's identity to cash a stolen inheritance check. Further investigation revealed that Stevie had last been seen alive in April of 1997 and when questioned by family members Mitchell would tell them that Stevie was in Lake Tahoe or Reno looking for a new home for them.
Stevie was about to cut Mitchell off. She was through with Mitchell stealing from her and was no longer willing to support her. Mitchell was about to lose her gravy train. Mitchell apparently bludgeoned Stevie while she slept and stuffed her dismembered body into the freezer. She then tried to cover up the murder by burning down the house and blaming it on drug dealers. Mitchell then assumed Stevie's identity in order to gain the deed on Stevie's house and access to her trust accounts.
Sarah Mitchell was convicted of first-degree murder with the special circumstance of financial gain. She was spared the death penalty when the jury recommended life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Marie Alexandrine was a woman with passable looks and big dreams. She was born in 1877 in Liege Belgium. At age 33 she settled into the role of a virtuous and proper housewife when she married Charles Becker, a cabinetmaker.
By age 53 she was thoroughly bored with her staid lifestyle. One day when she was out buying vegetables at a street stall, she was propositioned by a smooth-talker named Lambert Bayer. The sexual attraction between the two was immediate and they were soon engaged in a passionate affair.
Marie Alexandrine eventually grew tired of pretending to be the faithful wife. She wanted to flaunt her relationship with Bayer openly. So she decided that the only way to be free to live as she wanted was to get rid of her husband. Her drug of choice; Digitalis. Charles Becker was dispatched to the hereafter with a lethal dose in his cup of tea.
Marie Alexandrine collected on Becker's life insurance policy and after observing the proper period of mourning she married Lambert Bayer.
And again it was not long before married life palled. Unfortunately for Bayer it was sooner rather than later. For Marie Alexandrine their relationship no longer held the same appeal as it did when they were involved in an illicit affair. Less than two months after the wedding, Bayer was dispatched posthaste; but not before making sure she was named as sole beneficiary in his will.
If Marie Alexandrine had been a pragmatic female the money that she received from her spouses would have been enough to allow her to live quite comfortably for her remaining years. How ever she was far from pragmatic. She fantasized about a life of luxury and decadence and she was determined to live out her fantasy.
Her nights were spent in dance halls and nightclubs surrounded by men half her age. And it was not unusual for her to buy sexual favors from these men.
In order to maintain some semblance of respectability, Marie Alexandrine opened a small couture dress shop in a fashionable district of town in the hopes of attracting the grand dames of society.
Unfortunately her fortune could not keep pace with her extravagant expenses and though popular, her dress shop did not generate enough income to continue her elevated lifestyle.
Marie Alexandrine had to come up with another scheme and quick. In early July 1935 one of her friends, Marie Castadot began suffering from nausea and dizziness. Marie Alexandrine graciously offered to care for her. Not surprising under Marie Alexandrine's ministrations Madame Castadot became gravel ill and by July 23rd she was dead.
It was not long before she was again searching for more victims. Through her store Marie Alexandrine became acquainted with a number of society's matriarchs. By earning their implicit trust she was able to arrange for private showings in their opulent homes. When the inevitable refreshments were served she would whip out her ever-present vial of digitalis and managed to slip a lethal dose in her hostess' tea. As the victim lay dying Marie Alexandrine would help herself to anything of value that she could stuff in her pockets before she summoned help.
Though she was never got red-handed eventually her actions aroused enough suspicions and the police received anonymous letters accusing her of being involved in the deaths of several elderly women.
But it was her own mouth that would cause her downfall. When a friend complained about her aggravating husband, Marie Alexandrine offered to supply her with a powder that would leave no trace. Appalled the woman went to the police and this latest incident along with the letters were enough for them to launch an investigation. With each suspicious death looked into the police noted that they all had one thing in common, they were in the company of Marie Alexandrine during the last hours of their life.
When the police arrived at Marie Alexandrine's residence they searched her rooms. They found clothing, jewelry, and personal items belonging to the victims. They also discovered her vials of digitalis. Marie was taken into custody immediately and the bodies of several of her victims were exhumed. They found high levels of digitalis in all.
During her trial witnesses testified how she would attend the funerals during the day and by nightfall she would be in the nightclubs spending the money she had stolen from them. She failed to show any remorse about the murders going so far as to make scandalous statements as to how her victims looked when they died. She was convicted of murder and fortunately for her she was spared the death penalty because Belgium rarely executed women. Died in prison during World War II.
For over two years Marie Alexandrine Becker poisoned at least 10 victims. Many fear that her deadly spree claimed many more before she was caught.
Hollywood is no stranger to scandal. There is no question that under all the glitz and glamour lies a world filled with greed and degradation. Hopefuls arrive daily in search of fame and fortune and are willing to sell their souls in order to attain their goals.
One such hopeful was Julia Jean Mildred Frances Turner. She was born on February 8, 1921 in Wallace, Idaho. Hard times forced the family to relocate to San Francisco, California where her father, John "Virgil" Turner, tried to earn a living by gambling. In 1930, after a night of good luck, Virgil stuck his winnings in his left sock and struck off for home. His body was found in the Mission District with his left sock and shoe missing. His murder was never solved.
When Julia's "Judy" mother, Mildred Frances Turner, developed health problems, she was advised by a doctor to move to a drier climate and they moved to Los Angeles, California. Mildred tried to support herself and Judy by working as a beautician but Judy was often forced to live with her mother's friends and acquaintances in order to save money.
Judy attended Hollywood High School and one day in 1936 she decided to ditch her typing class. She went to the Top Hat Cafe on the corner of Sunset Boulevard and bought a soda. William R. Wilkerson, publisher of the Hollywood Reporter, walked into the cafe and immediately spotted the 15-year-old beauty sipping her soda and decided to approach her. He uttered the fateful question that would forever change her life, "Would you like to be in the movies?"
Wilkerson referred her to talent agent Zeppo Marx who agreed to represent her.
Film director Mervyn LeRoy was having a difficult time finding someone to cast in the role of Mary Clay in his upcoming film They Won't Forget. When Marx introduced Judy to LeRoy he knew he had filled the part.
Her walk-on role consisted of her walking down the street wearing a form fitting skirt, tight sweater and high heels. Even though the film was forgettable, Judy's small role caused an overnight sensation and earned her the unwanted nickname of "The Sweater Girl." She went on to sign a contract with MGM who set at work to reinvent her image. They created a new persona for her, complete with platinum blonde hair and a new name.
The sweater girl became Hollywood's latest sex symbol, Lana Turner. She is best known for her sultry performances in "The Postman Always Rings Twice", "Imitation Of Life", "Peyton Place" and "The Bad And The Beautiful".
Unfortunately Lana Turner's success on the big screen did not spill over into her personal life. She was married eight times to seven different men.
Her first marriage was to band leader, Artie Shaw who she had met while rebounding from her affair with Mickey Rooney. The marriage lasted only four months. Shaw was an arrogant man with a huge ego. He felt he was intellectually superior to Lana and was verbally and physically abusive to her.
Lana's second marriage was to Stephen Crane, a restaurateur. The marriage was annulled shortly after the nuptials when it was uncovered that Crane's Mexican divorce from his first wife was not recognized in the United States. Meanwhile Lana became pregnant with her only living child, a daughter named Cheryl. The two married again after Crane obtained a legitimate divorce but this union fared no better than her previous marriage and the two parted company for good.
Husband number three was millionaire Henry J. Topping Jr. whom Lana divorced when he lost his lost a substantial portion of his fortune due to excessive gambling and poor investments.
She next married actor Lex Barker. They divorced after four years when it was revealed that he was molesting her daughter, Cheryl.
She went on to marry and divorce three more times before throwing in the towel.
Lana had reached a low point in her life when she met Johnny Stompanato in 1957. She had just divorced Barker and her career was in a downward spiral. He went by the name of John Steele and his dark good looks and muscular physique and his persistent wooing, proved to much for Lana to resist.
When their relationship became public knowledge one of Lana's closest friends broke the news to her about Johnny's real identity.
Stompanato was a small-time hood and reputed gigolo. He preyed on women with money and once that was gone so was he. She learned that he had ties to the mob and he worked as bodyguard for gangster Mickey Cohen. Fearing bad publicity Lana tried to break off the affair but the attraction between them had deepened and Lana would later claim that she was afraid of what he would do to her and her daughter if she tried to leave him. Over the course of the following year their relationship was fraught with violent confrontations which Turner strived to keep hidden from the public eye.
Things finally came to a head on the night of Good Friday, April 4, 1958. Turner had been nominated for an Oscar for her role in Peyton Place. Determined not to be seen in public with a known gangster, she refused to allow Stompanato to escort her to the awards ceremony. A fact that did not sit well with him. When Turner returned from the ceremony Stompanato was waiting for her and the two became involved in a violent argument.
On this night Turner decided to finally end the relationship with Stompanato for good. Unfortunately for her Stompanato had other ideas. As the fight escalated in Turner's bedroom her 14-year-old daughter, Cheryl, could hear everything from her room next door. She heard Stompanato threaten to cut her mother's face and kill her and her grandmother.
At that moment Cheryl's only thought was to protect her mother. She ran downstairs to the kitchen and grabbed a carving knife. She ran back to Turner's bedroom, banged on the door and pleaded with her mother until Turner opened the door. Cheryl claims that Stompanato rushed towards her with his arm raised, holding what she thought was a weapon, straight onto the carving knife in her outstretched hand. The wound was fatal and within minutes Johnny Stompanato was dead.
Turner phoned a physician and her mother. Cheryl called her father, Stephen Crane. Eventually all three arrive at Turner's home. After pronouncing Stompanato deceased the physician suggested that Turner contact a lawyer. She immediately procured the services of Jerry Giesler. Only after he arrived at her residence were the police notified.
Giesler escorted Turner and Cheryl to the Beverly Hills Police station where they gave a formal statement about the events of that night. Cheryl was detained at the police station until being transferred to the county Juvenile Hall the next day. She remained there until the Coroner's inquest one week after the killing. Geisler was able to convince the authorities to excuse Cheryl from testifying. Citing that doing so would further traumatize her. It didn't really matter though. The only person that everyone wanted to hear from was her mother.
The Coroner's inquest was destined to be one of the most highly publicized events ever.
120 of the 160 seats in the court room were reserved for the press. Television stations ABC and NBC broadcast the inquest live.
Lana Turner was about to take center stage in the most important performance of her life. At stake was her daughter's future. And what a performance she gave! It was truly Oscar-worthy.
After Lana left the stand investigators testified that there were details of the event that confused them: the knife that was supposed to be brand new was chipped and scratched and there were no fingerprints on it; there was no blood on Turner's clothes or in the bedroom; there was no evidence of a violent fight in the bedroom; and finally there were unidentified hair or fibers mixed in the blood on the knife.
The jury deliberated for approximately a half-hour before reaching a decision. They ruled that it was a case of justifiable homicide. Cheryl Crane was justified in using deadly force against John Stompanato because she feared for her mother's life.
The district attorney decided not to pursue charges against Cheryl but he did initiate legal proceedings against Lana to determine whether or not she was a fit parent. As a result Cheryl became a ward of the state and eventually went to live with her grandmother.
To this day however, questions and rumors still surround the death of Johnny Stompanato. There are some people who insist that Lana Turner was the one who killed Stompanato and then after staging the scene got her daughter, Cheryl, to take the rap because she was a juvenile.
Wikipedia - Lana Turner
Tru TV.com - Lana Turner and John Stompanato
Although Vera Renczi was without question one of the most prolific female serial killers in history, her motives were not based on greed but rather a pathological need for unerring devotion from her men.
Born in 1903 in Bucharest, Romania into wealth and privilege, by the age of 15 she had already engaged in numerous affairs, many of which involved men who were significantly older than she. Her childhood friends described her as being extremely jealous and overly possessive.
Vera's first marriage was to a wealthy business man several years her senior. She was pregnant with her son, Lorenzo, at the time. Unfortunately it did not take long for the marriage to sour. Spending time home alone with her son led to her conjuring up all manners of scenarios which involved her husband cheating. One evening, blinded by jealously, she decided to put an end to his imagined infidelity by spiking his dinner wine with arsenic. She covered up his absence by claiming that he had abandoned her and her son.
After observing the socially correct period of mourning, during which time Vera claimed to have received word that her first husband had been killed in an automobile accident, she remarried. This time the gentleman was closer to her age. In a matter of months Vera would again claim that her husband had abandoned her. After a year Vera supposedly received a "letter" declaring that her second husband had no intention of returning.
After two failed marriages, due entirely to her ingrained belief that all men were untrustworthy, Vera made the conscious decision not to remarry. However it did not stop her from continuing to take lovers. The men came from all types of social classes; rich or poor, married or not, it did not matter to Vera.
As was the case with her two husbands, if Vera had even the slightest hint of infidelity, and she inevitably did, the men disappeared months and in some cases even days after becoming romantically involved with her. If the missing men were connected to her she would simply say that they had either been unfaithful or had abandoned her.
Vera's downfall came at the hands of the wife of one of her lovers. The woman became suspicious about her husband's clandestine activities. She followed him one evening and watched as he entered Vera's residence. When her husband failed to return home the woman returned to Vera's residence to confront her. Vera denied that she knew the woman's husband and dispatched her post haste.
It was not long before the authorities showed up at Vera's front door. Apparently the woman did not take kindly to Vera's treatment of her and went to the police.
During a search of Vera's house the police entered her wine cellar and stepped straight in to what can only be described as a scene from the macabre. The cellar contained thirty-two zinc lined coffins which held male corpses in various stages of decomposition. Vera was arrested and taken to police headquarters at which time she confessed to having caused the death of each of the men in the cellar. If she suspected that they were being unfaithful or if their attraction to her was waning, the men were quickly dispatched with a dose of arsenic. She would spend time sitting in the wine cellar surrounded by her former lovers. Vera had finally achieved with their murders what she could not have while they were alive. Their undivided attention.
In addition, Vera confessed to killing her two husbands and her son, Lorenzo. There was obviously no love loss between mother and son. One day while visiting his mother Lorenzo happened upon her secret in the basement and attempted to blackmail her, thereby sealing his fate.
Vera Renczi was convicted on thirty-five counts of murder and spent the rest of her life in prison.
In the early nineteen hundreds there was a large concentration of Polish Americans on the north side of Chicago, Illinois. One of those residents was Ottilie (Tillie) Gburek. In addition to being a master in the kitchen,Tillie had gained a reputation in the community as a psychic. She had an uncanny ability to foresee the future with amazing accuracy, or so her neighbors thought. She claimed her visions came to her through her dreams. Her first predictions involved stray dogs in the neighborhood. She correctly predicted the day that they would die and her neighbors were astounded when right on cue the mongrels managed to cock up their toes.
Her next prediction involved her husband of twenty-nine years, John Mitkiewicz. She revealed to a friend that she dreamed she would be finding his corpse in three weeks. Her prophecy proved accurate and Tillie found herself widowed but one-thousand dollars richer when John's life insurance policy paid off.
However, Tillie did not remain alone for long. Within a few months Tillie exchanged vows with John Ruskowski. Sadly within three months of the wedding Tillie reported that she was having dreams that her husband would be dead in two weeks. When John obliged Tillie by succumbing at the aforementioned time, Tillie gained some small measure of comfort from the insurance money she received.
Husband number three was Frank Kupszcyk and barely six months later he joined his predecessors in their eternal slumber after Tillie foretold of his impending death.
Husband number four was Joseph Guszkowski. Somehow he managed to last several years longer before Tillie told anyone who would listen, including Joseph, about her "visions". In the meantime one of her neighbors, Rose Chudzinsky, was very vocal in her suspicions about Tillie's gift and her seemingly bad luck with husbands. When Tillie claimed that Rose's days were numbered no one was surprised when she turned up dead. So convinced were they that she was a true psychic, people in the community began to avoid Tillie for fear that she would predict their own demise.
When visiting a fabric store to purchase black material to make a dress for Joseph's funeral, the clerk offered her condolences and asked Tillie when her husband died. Tillie blithely replied, "ten days from now!" A fact to which Joseph complied.
Three young children on Tillie's block died agonizing deaths weeks after she foretold that a plague would strike the family. What she failed to disclose was that she had had words with the family before her "dreams" started.
Despite the warnings of his family and friends, Anton Klimek decided to chuck caution to the wind and exchanged vows with Tillie. Once his life insurance policy was in place and the couple had signed a last will and testament making each other sole beneficiaries, Anton's health seemed to decline overnight.
His family became even more concerned when Tillie did not insist that he seek medical advice and decided to step in and take Anton to the hospital themselves. When doctors examined him they began to suspect that he had been poisoned. They pumped his stomach and his gastric contents were sent to the lab for analysis and their suspicions were confirmed. Anton had managed to thwart Tillie's prediction.
The hospital immediately notified police and Tillie was arrested. Rather than risk the exhumation of her other husbands, she confessed to poisoning Anton.
Tillie Gburek went on trial at the Cook County Courthouse. She was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. On a side note, there was one major stipulation to her sentence. She was never to be allowed to cook for the other inmates!
At a time when there was wide spread belief in the validity of dreams, in Polstead, Suffolk, these would prove to be prophetic and deeply disturbing.
In late December Mrs. Ann Marten dreamed that her stepdaughter, Maria, had been murdered and was buried in a red barn approximately one mile from their cottage. After having the same terrifying dream for three consecutive nights, Mrs. Marten became convinced that Maria was dead and she pestered her husband, Maria's father, until he agreed to apply for permission to search the barn.
On April 19, 1828, armed with a spike, Thomas Marten, a labourer and molecatcher, and a friend entered the red barn and searched the area where Mrs. Marten had insisted that Maria was buried. They immediately noticed that the ground had been disturbed and began to dig. After some eighteen inches they uncovered a body in a sack with a silk green man's scarf protruding from it. They immediately summoned the constabulary. The coroner was also sent for and he quickly summoned a jury. The inquest was held at the Cock Inn in Polstead. The post mortem examination was performed by Dr. John Lawden. He concluded that her death had been the result of foul play. The green handkerchief had been tied tightly around the woman's neck and there was a wound in the orbit of the right eye. At that time the body was identified as that of Maria Marten by her sister.
Maria Marten was Thomas' oldest daughter. She was described as an attractive and very intelligent young woman. Unusual for a country girl at that time, Maria was able to read and write. Unfortunately in an effort to better her circumstances through a good marriage, Maria bartered with, to no avail, her most precious commodity, her virginity. At age 17 she became involved with Thomas Corder, son of wealthy farmer James Corder. Knowing that his family would disapprove, Thomas insisted on keeping their courtship a secret. When Maria became pregnant Thomas refused to marry her and provided very little in the way of financial support. The child would not live past infancy.
She next embarked on a relationship with a Mr Peter Matthews, a well-to-do gentleman who had relatives in Polstead. In time Maria would again become pregnant and Mr. Matthews also made it painfully clear that he had no intention of marrying her. However, he did provide Maria with an allowance when their son, Thomas Henry, was born.
Undeterred Maria was determined to marry well and by all accounts her wish was finally going to come to fruition. She formed an attachment with William Corder, Thomas Corder's youngest brother, he seemed to be openly courting her and frequently spoke of making her his wife. As with her previous liaisons, Maria again allowed herself to become pregnant. When the infant was barely a month old however, it mysteriously died. Corder claimed that he and Maria had taken the child to Sudbury to be buried, a fact that Maria never disputed, however when no official record of burial was ever found he refused to disclose the location where the infant had actually been interred.
William Corder was the youngest son of John Corder. He was described as being 5ft 4in in height, with a fair complexion and freckles, and extremely poor eyesight. Although he was not handsome by any means he seemed to have done quite well with the ladies. During his school years he earned the nickname Foxey because he was not adverse to stealing and lying when it suited his purposes. He was also caught several times in fraudulent and dishonest dealings which caused a rift between himself and his father and brothers. He did, however, remain extremely attached to his mother. At one point his father attempted to ship him off to sea, but his eyesight was so bad no one would employ him. So William was banished to London in disgrace. That changed when his father and eldest brothers all died within 18 months of each other and he returned to Polstead to help his widowed mother run the family farm.
With each postponement of their official union Maria grew more anxious. Perhaps she knew something about the death of their infant that would have destroyed William and used it to coerce him into committing to a firm date for the ceremony.
On Friday morning , May 18 1827, Corder came to the Martens cottage to speak with Maria. According to him a warranted had been issued for her arrest and she was about to be prosecuted for having illegitimate children. No proof of this was ever uncovered.
Maria was afraid to leave in broad daylight in case the constables were watching the cottage. William had already considered that possibility. He had brought along a suit of his clothes for her to change into and told her to meet him at the red barn. Corder left with a bag containing her clothing and personal items after promising to meet her at the barn with a carriage and from there they would travel to a church at Ipswich where they would be married by special license.
When Maria left the cottage to meet Corder it would be the last time she would be seen alive.
Several days later Corder returned to Polstead without Maria. He was confronted by Maria's family as to her whereabouts. He told them that she was staying with a friend of his near Yarmouth and that he could not bring her home yet as his wife because his relatives did not approve of her. And when asked why she had not written he claimed that she was unwell, or had hurt her hand, or that the letter had been lost. When Corder could no longer evade the probing questions of the Marten's, Corder left Polstead for reasons of poor health. He wrote letters to the Martens claiming that he and Maria were married and living on the Isle of Wight. The Martens could not help but notice however that although Corder claimed to be on the Isle of Wight all of the letters bore a London postmark.
In actuality Corder was living in London with his wife, a Miss Mary Moore, whom he had married in November. They had become acquainted when he advertised for a wife in the Morning Herald and the Sunday Times.
After the discovery of Maria's body suspicion immediately fell on William Corder. James Lea of the London police was sent to arrest him. When Lea explained to him that he was being charged with the murder of Maria Marten he denied any knowledge of her even after his house had been searched and the bag belonging to Maria had been found.
Corder was taken back to Suffolk and was tried at Shire Hall, Bury St Edmunds. The trial commenced on August 7 1828 and because of the considerable interest in the proceedings it was determined that women would not be allowed to attend and admittance to the court was by ticket only.
Since the exact cause of death could not be determined because of the level of decomposition the indictment was carefully drawn up to encompass all the possible causes of her murder, a total of nine charges.
In his defense, Corder claimed that when he met Maria at the red barn the two had argued and he retracted his promise to marry her. He left the barn and as he was walking away he heard a gun shot. He ran back to the barn and found Maria lying dead on the floor with one of his pistols next to her. According to him he panicked fearing that he would be blame and decided to bury her body.
The jury returned after 35 minutes with a verdict of guilty and Corder was sentenced to hang.
The day prior to his execution Corder confessed to killing Maria but he claimed that he had accidentally shot her in the eye while they were arguing.
Shortly before noon Corder was led to the gallows in Bury St Edmunds and hung before a crowd of thousands. When he was taken down the body was dissected and parts were preserved. The scalp with one ear attached is on display at Moyse's Hall Museum along with a copy of his death mask. A copy of the judicial proceedings was bound with Corder's skin after the surgeon had it tanned.
Described as "ethereal and hypnotically pleasing", Mary Cecilia Rogers would come to be known in New York as the "Beautiful Seegar Girl." But it would be her brutal and unsolved murder that would catapult her into history and the literary world when she was immortalized by Edgar Allen Poe in his book, "The Mystery of Marie Roget."
Mary Cecilia Rogers is believed to have been born in Lyme , Connecticut around 1820, although there are no official records of her birth. Her mother, Phoebe Rogers would have been 42 at the time which led to the speculation that Mary was actually the illegitimate daughter of Phoebe's oldest daughter from her first marriage and that she was taken in by Phoebe and her second husband Daniel Rogers to be raised as their own.
At the age of 17 Mary and her mother moved to New York to live with Phoebe's sister in 1837 after Daniel Rogers died in a steamboat explosion three years earlier.
In 1838 Mary came to the attention of John Anderson, a young entrepreneur who was looking for a gimmick to place Anderson's Tobacco Emporium ahead of it's rivals. He hired her at a generous wage to work behind the cigar counter, confident that her raven locks and attractive features would lure more patrons into the shop.
In October of 1838, Mary left her home and disappeared. It was reported by her mother Phoebe that she had left behind a letter bidding her "an affectionate and final farewell." She returned home a short time later claiming that she had gone to visit a friend in Brooklyn. The papers dismissed her disappearance as a hoax. More than likely a publicity stunt cooked up by her employer, John Anderson.
Mortified by the attention she received upon her return to the tobacco shop, Mary soon resigned her position at the shop to help her mother run her new boarding house at 126 Nassau St. in Manhattan.
Unfortunately Mary's next disappearance would be her last. On the morning of Sunday, July 25, 1841, knocked on the door of her intended and one of her mother's boarders, Daniel Payne. Daniel Payne was a cork cutter by trade who was also known to be a heavy drinker. Mary's mother heartily disapproved of him as a suitor for his daughter. A witness would later testify at the coroner's inquest that she had overheard Phoebe extract a promise from Mary that she would break off the engagement. Payne would later testify that Mary knocked on his door that Sunday morning to inform him that she was going to visit her relative, Mrs Downing, uptown on Jane St. and would be spending the day with her. They made arrangements for him to come and collect her later that evening. Daniel Payne left the boarding house later that morning to visit his brother, John at 33 Warren St and they spent the day together.
However later that day, a violent thunderstorm swept through New York and Payne, assuming that Mary would want to stay put, failed to show up at Mrs Downing's residence to collect her.
But by Monday morning when Mary failed to come home or show up for work, Phoebe and Daniel Payne became alarmed. Payne immediately went to Jane St. to speak with Mary's aunt and was informed by Mrs. Downing that not only had she not seen Mary but had not been expecting her to visit. He began a frantic search hoping that someone had seen her without success and he and her mother eventually placed an ad in the New York Sun asking for any information on her whereabouts.
Word that Mary was again missing traveled quickly and soon reached the ears of Arthur Crommelin, former boarder and suitor for Mary's hand. He too decided to join in the search for Mary.
. As they looked out over the water they spotted what appeared to be a body floated in the river approximately 200 yards from the Hoboken shore. They raced to the docks where they procured a boat and rowed out to the body and discovered that it was the body of a female. After several failed attempts to pull the body into the boat they tied a rope around the midsection and towed the young woman's body to the shore, where they placed it on a bench.
Shortly thereafter Arthur Crommelin arrived on the scene, after having stepped off one of the three steamboats that connect New York and New Jersey. When he gazed upon the young woman's body reposed on the bench he recognized her almost immediately. It was Mary.
Dr Richard Cook, the Hoboken coroner, took possession of the body and performed an cursory exam at the scene. He initially concluded that Mary had been raped and brutally beaten sufficiently enough to cause her death. In a more detailed report he stated: "her face was bruised and swollen, the veins were highly distended. About the neck there were bruises that appeared to be from a man's thumb and fingers. It appeared as if the wrists had been bound and a piece of lace trimming was tied tightly around her neck indicating she had died from strangulation. She had been horribly violated by more than two or three persons. Since there was not the slightest trace of pregnancy, she had evidently been a person of chastity and correct habits."
The papers played a large part in the mystery that surrounded Mary Rogers death. They whipped the public up into a frenzy with their constant half-truths and fake suspects.
Various newspapers immediately cast suspicion on Daniel Payne whom they called a liar when they learned of the statements he had given to police as to his whereabouts at the time of Mary's murder. In order to prove his innocence Payne brought in sworn affidavits from witnesses who had seen him throughout the day to the news offices of the New York Herald and the Evening Star. He was exonerated at least for now in the eyes of the press.
The next persons to fall under the suspicions of the press was Arthur Crommelin and John Anderson, Mary's former employer, and all of Mary's other suitors. Each man was arrested, questioned and then released by the police. With no new clues and very few leads the police were stymied in their investigation and the stories began to fade from the headlines.
That is until late August when a Mrs Frederica Loss contacted the police with an incredible story. Mrs. Loss ran Nick Moore's House, a tavern located in the woodlands in Hoboken, New Jersey near where Mary's body had been brought to shore. She claimed that she had sent two of her three sons out to collect some firewood and that when they had entered a thicket and found several articles of a woman's clothing in a handkerchief monogrammed with the initials M.R. She also recalled that a young woman fitting Mary's description had entered her tavern with a tall, dark man around 4 p.m. on Sunday, July 25. They left after finishing their refreshments. Mrs. Loss claimed that sometime later that evening she heard a woman scream and thinking that one of her sons was in trouble rushed to his aid but found him safe and unharmed. She thought nothing more of the scream until her sons found the woman's clothing.
The press was divided as to the validity of Mrs Loss' story. The Herald felt that it proved that Mary had been murdered by a gang of ruffians. Whereas the Evening Tattler concluded that Mrs Loss was trying to cash in on the sensational murder and had her sons plant the clothing.
Plunged into a deep depression after the death of his fiance, Daniel Payne's alcoholism spiralled out of control. He even claimed to have been visited by the ghost of Mary Rogers on several occasions. On the morning of October 7, 1841 Payne visited several neighborhood bars, drinking heavily at each one. He also paid a visit to an apothecary's shop where he purchased a small vial of Laudanum. Next he boarded a ferry bound for Hoboken. He made his way to the spot where Mary had been brought ashore and sat down. He pulled a piece of paper from his pocket and scribbled a note, "To the World here I am on the very spot. May God forgive me for my misspent life." He shoved the paper back in his pocket and pulled out the vial of Laudanum and downed the entire contains. The poison took some time to take effect.
Since his alibi statements had exonerated him, the press viewed him as a man so consumed with grief that he could no longer live without his beloved.
And in another strange twist in this bizzarre case, on October 26, 1842, Mrs Frederica Loss was "accidentally" shot by one of her sons. She lingered on her deathbed for two weeks during which time she sent for the justice of the peace in order to give a final confession: On the Sunday of Mary Rogers disappearance she came to the tavern in the company of a young physician who brought her there to perform an abortion. However the operation was botched and Mary bled to death. Later that night her body was taken to the river by one of Mrs Loss' sons and tossed into the river.
Given the previous lies she had told and the coroner's report, many did not believe this latest story from Mrs. Loss. Still Mrs Loss' version of Mary's death became the accepted version of the facts. Especially after Poe hinted at the abortion attempt in his book. They felt that the coroner had lied in his report in order to protect Mary's reputation.
So who really killed Mary Cecilia Rogers? Was it a gang of miscreants, a jilted lover, or an unscrupulous physician? To this day the answer still remains a mystery!
They met in 1935 in the city of Orleans, France. Pierre Chevallier was a promising young medical student at Orleans Hospital where Yvonne Rousseau worked as a midwife.
Theirs was an instant and passionate attraction that overcame their immense social inequalities. He was from an old and distinguished family. She was raised on a peasant farm.
Yvonne's love and passion for Pierre would never waiver during their time together. Unfortunately over time her feelings would no longer be reciprocated and would bring forth the tragic consequences that would forever change their lives.
Four years later the two were married and their first son, Mathieu was born in 1940 during the era of Adolf Hitler and the invasion of France.
Pierre joined the French resistance and quickly rose to become a leading figure. He received the French Legion d'Honneur and Croix de Guerre for his heroism during the war. After the war he was elected Mayor of Orleans and in 1945 Yvonne gave birth to the couples second son, Thugal.
Pierre threw himself into politics and spent more and more time in Paris while Yvonne was left behind in Orleans to care for their children.
Pierre was described as handsome, dashing and socially adept. Yvonne, on the other hand, was described as dull, witless, and socially unacceptable.
Pierre began to look on her with growing contempt and at one point told her, "you disgust me."
Yvonne was desperate to win back her husband's love. She read about art, literature and politics. She frequented fashionable beauty salons and bought more flattering clothes. All to no avail. She eventually turned to drugs and booze to provide the comfort that was denied her by Pierre.
In the spring of 1951, Mrs Chevallier received an anonymous letter suggesting her husband was having an affair.
As she searched Pierre's closet for evidence she found a love letter in the pocket of one of his suits. It read, "Without you life would have no beauty or meaning for me." The letter was signed "Jeannette."
In her heart Yvonne knew "Jeannette" was none other than her neighbor Jeanne Perreau, wife of Leon Perreau, owner of one of Orleans' most prestigious department stores.
Jeanne Perreau was beautiful, intelligent and ultra sophisticated. The sort of woman Pierre should have married.
Yvonne left the children in the care of a maid and boarded a train bound for Paris to confront Pierre. But she returned home utterly humiliated when she was turned away from the National Assembly by an usher who was under strict orders not to allow her admittance and Pierre refused to meet with her.
When she returned home she confronted Jeanne Perreau and engaged in a shouting match that brought no resolution to her dilemma.
Pierre eventually returned to Orleans to face his wife but refused to discuss his affair with her claiming it was a private matter and continued to treat her with contempt.
Yvonne tried to force Pierre to return her affections by attempting suicide. When that did not work she went to a police station and applied for a handgun license claiming she needed protection due to her husband's political prominence.
Once she obtained the permit she went to a gun shop and eventually purchased a Mab 7.65mm, a semiautomatic handgun, and ammunition.
In August of 1951, Pierre was appointed government minister for education, youth and athletics. While he was in his dressing room changing his clothes for a public appearance, Yvonne decided to make one last ditch effort to save their marriage.
Pierre's dismissal of her was brutal. He coldly explained to her that he no longer wished to have anything else to do with her and had another woman he wanted to marry.
She fled from the room and retrieved the gun from the linen closet where she hid it and returned to Pierre's dressing room.
She turned the gun on herself and threatened to kill herself if he tried to leave her for another woman. But Pierre mocked her, telling her to go ahead and shoot herself but wait until he left the room.
That was the final straw. With deadly precision she pointed the gun at Pierre and fired four shots, hitting him in the chest, forearm, thigh, and chin.
As she stood over him their oldest child, Mathieu burst into the room and saw his father lying on the floor. Yvonne calmly led him back downstairs and handed him over to the maid. She returned to Pierre's dressing room and shot him a fifth and final time in the back.
Minutes later she called the Orleans police station and spoke with Commissaire Gazano simply stating, "Please come here at once. My husband needs you urgently." She was patiently waiting in widow's weeds when the gendarmes arrived and arrested her.
Yvonne Chevallier went on trial November 5, 1952. In those days the French penal code included a love-triangle provision that absolved from punishment any man who committed homicide after finding his wife in the bed with another man. Albeit the roles were reversed, the Chevallier case was widely viewed throughout France as a crime-of-passion which fell under the provision.
When Jeanne Perreau was called to the witness stand it was clear that the sympathy in the courtroom rested solely with Yvonne. Her approach to the stand was accompanied by hissing from the gallery. She testified that the affair began in 1950 and continued up until the day Pierre was killed. They met in Paris two to three times a week. When asked if she was ashamed of the affair she proudly replied, "Not at all." She went on to state that even though she felt pity for Mrs. Chevallier, she had no intentions of ending the affair.
Before handing the case over to the jury, the presiding judge, M. Raymond Jadin gave Yvonne a fatherly lecture for failing to conquer her "animal passion" she felt for her husband. He said, "this passion overwhelmed your whole life, without any attempt on your part to control it. I understand your cavalier action, but do not condone it."
After deliberating for 45 minutes the jury returned with a verdict, "Not Guilty", much to the relief of the crowd that had gathered to show Yvonne their support.
Even though she had been absolved of the crime by the church, Yvonne could not rid herself of the overwhelming guilt she felt. So she devised her own form of penance by moving to French New Guinea with her sons where she worked as a volunteer nurse in a hospital for the poor until her death in the 1970's.
21-year-old Bella Wright was considered a very attractive and self-assured young lady. She was the oldest of seven children of an illiterate cow herder and his wife. She lived with her parents in a cottage in Stoughton, England and worked the night shift at Bate's rubber mill. She was often seen riding alone through the country side on her bicycle.
In Saturday July 5, 1919, she set out on her bicycle to post some letters in the village of Evington. She returned home and then proceeded on to the village of Gaulby to visit her uncle, George Measures.
When she arrive at her uncle's she was accompanied by an unknown male. He was riding a green BSA bicycle and wearing a raincoat, even though it was a clear night.
Measures expressed concern about the stranger but Bella did not seem alarmed. When she left her uncle's cottage an hour later she again met up with the stranger and the two rode off together.
Around 9:30 that night, a farmer, Joseph Cowell, came across the body of a young woman lying in the road as he was driving his cattle along the Via Devana. There was a pool of blood around her head and her face was covered in blood. He noticed her bicycle lying nearby. When he lifted her up he quickly realized that she was dead and moved her to the side of the road. He arranged for two farm labourers to guard the body while he left to summon the police.
When the police arrived with Dr. E. K. Williams he made a cursory examination of the body and concluded that the young woman had met with an accident while riding her bike. The body was then taken to a nearby chapel in Little Stetton.
But not all of the police were convinced her death was an accident. Police Constable Alfred Hall returned the next morning around 6:30 to conduct a closer inspection of the scene and discovered a .455-caliber bullet lying approximately 17 feet from where the body had been laying. Next he returned to the chapel where the body was and washed the dried blood from the woman's face. It was then that the real cause of death was determined. She had been shot. The bullet had entered her face just below the left eye and had exited on the right side of her face near the temple.
It was not long before the murdered woman's identity was made known, it was Bella Wright and she had last been seen in the company of an unknown man riding a green bicycle.
The police investigation uncovered few leads and the murder was destined to remain unsolved until the following year when an important clue turned up quite by circumstance.
On February 23, 1920, Enoch Whitehouse was guiding a horse drawn barge full of coal along the River Soar when he noticed the towrope dip below the water and then tighten up as if it had snagged on something. Slowly he noticed an object emerge from below the water. The towrope had become tangled around the frame of a green bicycle.
Soon the banks of the river was crawling with police searching the river for more evidence. When they examined the bike frame they noticed that someone had gone through great pains to destroy any identifying evidence from the bike. However eventually they uncovered a faint serial number inside the front fork. They traced the serial number back to the agent who had sold the bicycle. A search of his records showed that a green BSA bicycle had been sold to a Mr. Ronald Light of Derby on May 18, 1910.
Ronald Light was born in October of 1885. He lived a privileged life. His father was a successful inventor of plumbing devices. Unfortunately, Light's life consisted of a series of misfortune, mostly of his own making. In 1902 he was expelled from Oakham School at the age of 17 for lifting a little girl's clothes over her head. At age 30 he attempted to make love to a 15-year-old and admitted to improper conduct with an 8-year-old. In addition, after graduating from Birmingham University as a civil engineer he was employed at Midland Railway Works in Derby. He was fired in 1914 when he was suspected of setting fire in a cupboard and drawing indecent pictures on a lavatory wall.
When war broke out in 1914, Light was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Royal Engineers in 1915. For reasons not disclosed he was court martialed and relieved of his duties in 1916. During this time his father fell out of a two-story window, an apparent suicide. He returned to Derby to live with his mother but rejoined the army as a gunner in the Honourable Antillery Company. He was demobilized in 1919 and sent home suffering from shell shock.
Light had begun teaching mathematics at Dean Close School when on March 4, 1920 his life changed forever. Police arrived at the school and arrested him for the murder of Bella Wright.
Police continued to drag the River Soar searching for clues and on March 19 they dredged up an army holster and a dozen live .455-caliber bullets. The revolver was never found. When examined the bullets were a match to the one PC Hall had found. They were eventually proven to belong Light.
Press coverage of the trial was sensational but it was clearly biased towards Light. His sordid past never made it into print. He was honored as an ex-Army Officer, an engineer, and a teacher. Bella's character, on the other hand, was reduced to a mere factory girl with questionable morals.
Attorney General, Gordon Hewart opened for the prosecution. He laid out the facts of the case as follows: It was proven that Light bought an enamelled green BSA bike. The day before the murder he took the bike in for repairs. The day of the murder when he picked up the bike the mechanic noticed that he was wearing a raincoat. After the murder he was never seen riding his bike again. He was known to be in possession of a revolver. He contended that after leaving Gaulby, Light made an inappropriate advance towards Bella and she fled. In her haste she mistakenly took a longer route home leaving Light the opportunity to take a shorter route in order to overtake her. He laid in wait until she appeared and then shot her.
The prosecution called ballistics expert Henry Clarke to draw a connection between the bullets found in the river and the one found near Bella's body.
However Sir Marshall-Hall was brilliant in his cross-examination of Clarke. He was able to get Clarke to concede that bullet could have easily come from a rifle. He went on to make the case that the fatal shot had been accidentally fired from some distance away. Base purely on conjecture he cast doubt on the fact that Bella had been shot at close range which would have been necessary if Light had shot her with his revolver. He all but got Clarke to admit that the damage to Bella's face would have been more severe if this had been the case.
Light took the stand in his own defense and admitted that the green bike was his. He claims that after he read about the murder he hid the bike in his closet for 5 months. He didn't want to go public out of fear of worrying his ailing mother. He decided that it was best to get rid of the bike instead. He went to the River Soar, dismantled the bike and threw it into the river piece by piece. Unbeknownst to him the entire event was witnessed by a laborer named Samuel Holland. He also admitted that the holster and bullets were also his and that he had disposed of the clothes he was wearing that day. As for the revolver he claimed he was not in possession of the revolver at the time of the murder because it had been taken from him when he was in France during the war.
According to him he met Bella on his way to Little Stretton. She was stooping over her bicycle and asked if he had a spanner so she could tighten up her loose freewheel. He told her no but offered to accompany her which she accepted. When they reached Gaulby he went to have a flat tire mended while she visited her uncle. He met up with Bella again as she left the cottage and they parted ways shortly after leaving Gaulby when his tire and flattened again and he realized he would have to walk.
Throughout his entire well-rehearsed testimony he remained poised and in control and during his cross-examination the prosecution was unable to rattle him or shake his testimony. A fact appeared that to have impressed the jury.
They deliberated for three hours before returning their verdict, Not Guilty! Immediately afterwards there could be heard loud cheering both inside and outside the courtroom.
When asked about the verdict members of the jury declared that they were confident that Light was innocent. They also expressed the opinion that there had been no murder at all.