Mary Frances Avery was a domineering, manipulative and deceptive woman who would have definitely benefited from some serious anger management.
Orphaned at the age of 14 she moved to Newark, N.J. where she met her future husband, John Creighton. They moved in with his parents, Walter and Anna Creighton, after the wedding and Mary began weaving her path of destruction.
John was the quintessential henpecked husband, a fact that did not sit well with his mother. Mary ran roughshod over anyone who crossed her path which led to constant battles with her mother-in-law. On the pretext of making amends, Mary insisted on making Anna a cup of hot cocoa. After drinking the cocoa Anna became violently ill. A week later she was dead! Her death was attributed to ptomaine poisoning.
Knowing that he did not approve of her either, Mary next set out to rid herself of her father in-law, Walter. He became stricken with the same symptoms as his wife. Within 5 days he too was dead!
Living in the same house with Mary, John, and his parents was Mary's 18-year-old brother Raymond. She insisted that he buy an insurance policy and name her the sole beneficiary. Shortly after obtaining the policy Raymond was seized with agonizing stomach cramps. Mary "lovingly" tended to him as she had her in-laws. She remained at his bedside and fed him coffee and chocolate pudding. Three weeks later Raymond joined Anna and Walter in eternal slumber. This time however the family doctor was suspicious, about time too! An autopsy was performed and the cause of death was ruled a homicide due to arsenic poisoning. Both Mary and John were charged with first-degree murder and put on trial. Unfortunately the prosecution could not conclusively prove that either of them caused Raymond's death leaving the jury with no choice but to acquit both of them. Their suspisions aroused the police exumed the bodies of Anna and Walter Creighton. Trace amounts of arsenic were found in Anna's body tissue. Mary Creighton found herself on trial for again. This time she was charged with the murder of Anna Creighton. Again the prosecution was unable to prove that it was indeed Mary who had poisoned Anna and again she was acquitted of the charge. Mary Creighton had covered her tracks well and had outwitted the police.
They may have been aquitted of the crimes but the public let them know in no uncertain terms that they were guilty as sin. The Creightons fled the state of New Jersey and moved to New York.
John and Mary "Frances" Creighton and their daughter Ruth settled in the Long Island area of New York. John, a World War I veteran joined the American Legion and it was here that he met and befriended Everett Applegate.
Everett, along with his wife Ada and their teenage daughter, lived with his in-laws. Ada was a hefty woman weighing in at approximately 280 pounds. She spent the majority of her time in bed rising only to eat and fight with Everett.
It was the height of the Depression era and like most Americans the Creightons and Applegates were struggling. John Creighton approached Everett Applegate with a proposition. He invited Everett along with his family to move in to his home as long as Everett contributed to the household bills. Everett, having nefarious plans of his own quickly agreed.
Shortly after moving in Everett and Mary began an affair that lasted six months. In addition to sleeping with Mary, Everett also seduced and carried on an illicit affair with her daughter Ruth. Ruth was 14 at the time. Everett was 36. When Mary discovered the truth about their relationship she confronted her daughter who admitted that they were sleeping together and had even had sex several times in same bed with Ada, while she slept. Or so they thought! Rumors concerning the raunchy affair between Everett and Ruth were beginning to circulate around Baldwin. It would appear that these rumors had been started by none other than Ada Applegate herself. Something had to be done!
In late August of 1935 Ada Applegate had to be hospitalized for a severe stomach ailment. She was released one week later. Immediately following her release she was dead! Given her obesity and sedentary lifestyle her death was originally attributed to heart failure. Unfortunately for Mary she pissed off the wrong person. The police received a package containing old newspaper clips from an anonymous source. The clips revealed how Mary how been on trial for murder twice before. Suspicious the police interupted the funeral and seized Ada Applegate's body in order to have an autospy performed. The medical examiner found that her body contained enough arsenic to kill three people.
Even though they only had her word to go on, a confession that she changed as often as she change her undergarments, Everett was arrested and charged with not only statutory rape but first-degree murder.
John Creighton was also interviewed by the police and either he was one heck of an actor or he was totally clueless because no charges were ever brought against him.