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.

On Wednesday, July 28, on the New Jersey side of the North (Hudson) River, James M. Boulard and Henry Mallin were strolling along the river path in the Elysian Fields, near

. 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.

Ronald Light went on trial at Leicester Castle in June of 1929. He was defended by the Honorable Sir Edward Marshall-Hall and the trial lasted 3 days.

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.