Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Belle Witwer, Ohio Black Widow Serial; Killer - 1901


FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 4): Daytona, O., Oct. 14. – Mrs. Mary Belle Witwer, who has been held as a suspected wholesale poisoner, was arraigned in police court this afternoon on the charge of murder in the first degree.

The affidavit was sworn to this morning by Chief Detective Frank McBride, and it is charged that she did willfully, purposely, and by means of poison, kill and murder Anna C. Pugh by them and there knowingly, purposely, and unlawfully administering a large quantity of poison, arsenic. When arraigned before Police Judge Snelker, Mrs. Witwer entered a plea of not guilty.

The hearing was set for 9 o’clock Friday morning. Before then Professor Howard of Columbus will have reported in his examination of the remains of two alleged victims of Mrs. Witwer – Mrs. Anna C. Pugh and Frank D. Witwer.

~ Meets the Challenge Calmly. ~

Mrs. Witwer displayed little sign of emotion in court. The prisoner was told today of the Middletown report that she had been married five times instead of four, and that had deserted her after a brief time, taking $400 of her money. She denied the story. There has been little found by the police in their investigations.

The affidavit was filed today upon instructions from Coroner Hatcher and Chief of Police Whitaker, who, it is understood, had arranged with her attorney to either take this action or to release her.

Mrs. Witwer is seen by no one now except her attorney and the detectives. She declines all interviews.

~ Suspected of Causing Eighteen Deaths. ~

Although Mrs. Mary Belle Witwer is suspected of poisoning not fewer than eighteen persons – men, women, and children – among them four of her husbands, there is not at this

The analysis of telltale organs of two of the dead will be concluded within a few days, and then, if no poison is found, the woman must be set free. If these persons did not die of poison is found, then beyond all doubt all of the others died natural deaths.

~  Her Story of Her Career. ~

In Mrs. Witwer’s own recital of the facts of her career she has told of the deaths of seventeen persons with whom she came in contact, has acknowledged to four husbands, all dead. According to investigation, she had still another husband, who left her a few days after the marriage ceremony and is still alive. She also lived with a person not set down in her story, who also died suddenly.

Mrs. Stowe became the housekeeper for Witwer, and was married to him on March 10 last. On July 4 Witwer was a corpse, having succumbed to acute stomach trouble.

At the time of the illness of Witwer the doctor was puzzled over the strange actions of his patient. He would apparently grow better than worse. The afternoon of the night her died Witwer was seemingly so much improved that his physician expressed the belief that he would get well to Mrs. Witwer. When summoned again that night the suffering man in convulsions and passed away in terrible agony.

A grewsome incident that the investigation has brought out is that when her husband, William Stowe, died in Middletown Mrs. Witwer held the light for the doctor who made the autopsy, and she performed the same service for Dr. Broidenbach when he performed the autopsy on Witwer.

[“Mrs. Witwer Now Held For Murder – Arraigned in Dayton, O., on Charge of Killing Anna G. Pugh With Poison. – Other Crimes Suspected – Death of Seventeen Persons to Be Laid to Her if Present Case is Proven. – Woman’s Strange Career.” Chicago Tribune (Il.), Oct. 15, 1901, part 2, p. 1]

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FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 4): Hitherto the city of Dayton has been famous for its soldiers’ home, but now it figures in the newspapers as the home of Mrs. Mary Belle Witwer, who, if half the allegations made against her by professional and amateur sleuths are true, is the life destroyer par excellence of the beginning of the twentieth century, although some of the crimes she is said to have committed must be charged up to the nineteenth.

Mrs. Witwer has just had a hearing, preliminary in character, before the police court on the charge of having poisoned her sister, Mrs. Anna C. Pugh. A number of expert chemists testified in the case, and were emphatic in their statements that arsenic had been found in the stomach of the dead woman. On the strength of this testimony Mrs. Witwer was bound over to the court of common pleas, without bond, to answer to the charge of murder in the first degree. The accused maintained her composure when informed of the police magistrate’s decision and displayed a stoicism which amazed the authorities and confounded her attorneys. Many attempts have been made to entrap the prisoner, but they failed miserably, and it is quite apparent that she will make a good defense when her case is brought to trial before the court of record.

One fact must not be forgotten by those who are inclined to discuss this cause celebre. The evidence against Mrs. Witwer is purely circumstantial.

She is now, of course, charged directly with the murder of Mrs. Pugh, who was a professional nurse and lived with Mrs. Witwer, at No. 35 Liberty street, Dayton. Mrs. Witwer lost four husbands, and all died rather suddenly and under peculiar circumstances. In the wholesale charges informally made by police officials she has been accused of having caused the death of all, in addition to those of several children making a total of 14 deaths.

There is, however, no expectation that more than one crime can be fastened upon the prisoner; and even that is extremely doubtful, unless the authorities can produce much stronger testimony at the coming trial in the criminal court than they furnished before the police tribunal. Should the prosecuting attorney succeed in proving the woman’s guilt in the Pugh case, other charges may be taken up, but to the unbiased observer it seems as though the story of 14 mysterious murders will very likely evaporate in thin air. Moreover, even the most relentless pursuers of the defendant are unable to associate any evidence with the charges informally made.

A short outline of the Pugh case is necessary to understand the present position of Mrs. Witwer. Mrs. Pugh was ill not more than 48 hours and suffered great anguish. Prior to her death she summoned a lawyer and dictated the terms of her will. Mrs. Witwer was called in the room several times to refresh the patient’s memory for names and address of legatees. She herself was a beneficiary only upon the death of her mother, Mrs. Mary- Richmond, of Addison, Mich. Just as the lawyer handed Mrs. Pugh a pen with which to sign the document she sank back dead. Her estate, supposed to have been worth $4,000, has been reduced to $2,500, of which $500 is in personal property and $2,000 in real estate – a small farm near Franklin, O. Two applications for the administration of the estate have been made, one by an attorney, at the suggestion of the Witwer family, and the other by Mr. Nevis, on recommendation of the prisoner. The latter is an inconsequential beneficiary. Mrs. Richmond is more than 80 years old.

At her death the estate is to be distributed among Mrs. Lizzie Brown and Mrs. Witwer, of Dayton, O.; Nannie Parashot, of New York; Frank Richmond, of Addison, Mich., and John Richmond, of Nashville, Tenn.

Mrs. Witwer makes the assertion that her mother bought poison to kill rats which were eating potatoes, but Mrs. Richmond denies the charge. While the police were unable to find potatoes in the cellar when they made their first investigation, they made another search and discovered some sweet potatoes near a rat hole. These potatoes appeared to have been bitten by human teeth rather than by rats, and by the police Mrs. Witwer was at once given credit for the act in the hope that she might thereby deceive the detectives.

If looks count for anything, the average observer would certainly not connect the accused with any crime whatsoever. She is what women call a “good dresser,” and does not look her age – 47.  Her hair is slightly tinged with gray and she has the bearing of a woman of intelligence and refinement. In Dayton church circles she has long been well and favorably known, having since her residence in the city been a member of the Hartford street and Riverdale United Brethren congregations. She has been an active member, taking a lively interest in home and foreign mission, and other church affairs. While all of her friends are loathe to believe the charges against her, yet none of them came to her aid after she had been formally accused, and it devolved upon her neighbors to take an interest in her case, or she would probably have been unrepresented at her preliminary trial.

Mrs. Witwer’s marital history certainly is unique. Frank D. Witwer was the last of her husbands who died suddenly. She was married to him last March, and on July 4 he died. Like all her husbands, he had stomach trouble a short time before his death. He was taken violently ill some time after eating a luncheon which, according to the sleuths, his wife sent to him. Mrs. Witwer’s first husband was Frederick Sweinger, who died near Nashville, Tenn., in 1877, supposedly from smallpox. The second husband was Frank Brown, of Middletown, O., with whom she lived for several years. Soon after his death she married William Stowe, in Middletown, and his death was strange and startling. Mrs. Witwer admits that he died from morphine poisoning, but says a clergyman administered the fatal dose.

John Williams, her next matrimonial venture, deserted her two days after the wedding. She then came to Dayton and served as housekeeper for John E. Wenz, who died from poisoning and a complication of diseases. While in the woods he was poisoned by ivy, but there is a suspicion that poison was given to him while in bed, as several physicians were unable to diagnose the ease. Mrs. Witwer also acted as housekeeper for Mr. and Mrs. John Gabler, and both died apparently from heart trouble within the few months she was in their employ. George D. Keller, who resided in the east end of Dayton, died apparently from cerebral meningitis, though his case puzzled two doctors, and it is asserted that he was one of Mrs. Witwer’s victims. In Middletown, the police allege to have found a woman who was intimate with the prisoner and who pays that, while discussing their husbands one day, Mrs. Witwer remarked that to get rid of hers “she would poison him.”

There is no doubt that the police officials who have had charge of the case against Mrs. Witwer have been honest and governed by the best of motives, yet the impression prevails here that they have gone out of their way to create a sensation. The woman may be guilty of the crime for which she is soon to be tried, but the rumors upon which her notoriety as an American Lucretia Borgia has been established are rather flimsy and hardly susceptible of being introduced as testimony in a criminal court. Every town that has a little local excitement nowadays has the ambition of making it a national episode, and the peace officers of Dayton, swayed by this craze, would, some think, like to surprise the world by weaving a web in which the most cruel murderess of the age is to be caught.

And while all this has been going on Mrs. Witwer has kept up an indifferent attitude and asserted her innocence in terms forcible and logical. – Franklin B. Betts

[Franklin B. Betts, “Faces Fate Boldly. - Mrs. Mary Belle Witwer, Ohio’s Alleged Wholesale Poisoner. – Held to the Grand Jury After as Examination is Police Court.- Evidence Against Her Purely Circumstantial.” The Richmond Planet (Va.), Jan. 11, 1902, p. 3]

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FULL TEXT (Article 3 of 4): A few weeks ago Mary Belle Witwer of Dayton, Ohio, was arrested upon suspicion of poisoning her sister, and is now held for trial. Since her nearest neighbors and acquaintances of the woman have reported the sudden death of twelve persons who have been associated with her, including three husbands, five persons in whose families she had served as housekeeper, and four children. It is due to Mrs. Witwer, however, to say that she stoutly protests her innocence.

Close upon the heels of the Witwer case follows the arraignment of Jane Toppan at Barnstable, Mass., a professional nurse, upon the charge of murdering Mary D. Gibbs, suspicions also resting upon her of murdering Mrs. Gordon, sister of Mrs. Gibbs, and Mr. and Mrs. A. P. Davis, their father and mother, all of whom had been attended by Jane Toppan in the capacity of nurse. She is also suspected of the murder of three other persons. The evidence in this case seems stronger than that against Mrs. Witwer. The accused woman shortly after their decease attempted to commit suicide.

There is an apparent lack of motive in the first case. Mrs. Witwer does not seem to have profited in any way by the numerous deaths of which some think she may have been the cause, nor does there appear to be any special reason way she should have removed people in such a wholesale manner. Miss Toppan had been employed as nurse in the Davis family for years, and in the Brigham family, three members of which died suddenly, she was regarded almost as a daughter. It is said that she owed Mr. Davis money and that some money which was on the person of one of the women she nursed could not be found after her death. If money was her motive her crimes got for her only about $1,200.

It Is not safe yet to assume that either woman is guilty. If their guilt shall be established, and if it shall appear also that Miss Toppan did not benefit in a pecuniary way by the deaths laid at her door, it will have to be assumed that both these, women had an abnormal love of killing, induced by that same species of insanity which inspired Nero and Lucrezia Borgia in their alleged butcheries.

[“Alleged Poisoning. - The Cases of Mary Belle Witwer and Jane Topnan [sic].” Yjr Morning Sun News-Herald (Io.), Nov. 14, 1901, p. 3]

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FULL TEXT (Article 4 of 4):  Dayton, O., Jan. 27 – The grand jury, because of lack of evidence, yesterday ignored the case of Mrs. Mary Witwer, who was charged with poisoning of her sister, Mrs. Pugh. The case attracted considerable attention last fall [due to the] deaths of a number of persons were because of the allegation that [they were] caused by Mrs. Witwer who had acted as a nurse. She will go to her home in Michigan.

[“Drop Dayton Poison Charges. – Grand Jury in Ohio City Ignores Case of Mrs. Witwer, Accused of Killing Patients.” Davenport Daily Leader (Io.), Jan. 22, 1902, p. 1; missing words in the original have been instated]

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18 suspected victims, including:

Anna C. Pugh, sister (case leading to investigation);
Frank D. Witwer, fourth husband, married Mar. 10, 1901;  died Jul. 4, 1901
Frederick Sweinger, first husband, died 1877
Frank Brown, second husband
William Stowe, third husband
Albert D. Wenz
John E. Wenz
Albert Wenz, child
Mr. and Mrs. John Gabler
George D. Keller
Patients in her capacity as nurse, including Mrs. Mary Richmond (over 80)

Disposition of case: Jan. 22, 1902, Grand Jury refuses to return true bill

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http://unknownmisandry.blogspot.com/2011/12/champion-black-widow-serial-killers.html

More: Champion Black Widow Serial Killers

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For links to other cases of woman who murdered 2 or more husbands (or paramours), see Black Widow Serial Killers.

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Monday, December 30, 2013

The Petrovics, Yugoslavian Serial Killer Couple & Their Mostly Male Victims - 1939


FULL TEXT: Sixteen peasants, each one accused of poisoning husband or wife or relative in order to marry a lover or get at an inheritance, are on trial in the district court of Passarovic [in Serbia]. Sketchy or even non-existent medical supervision in backwoods areas made possible the long series of mysterious sudden deaths.

Blegrade, July. 30. – A sensational poison trial has just begun in the district of court of the city of Passarovic, Yugoslavia, a trial with few precedents in the history of all crime. Sixteen peasants, men and women, have taken their places on the benches reserved for the accused. They are variously charged with having expedited the death of a husband or wife or close relation [note: all victims mentioned in this article are male] by administering strong doses of poison.

The mere reading of the indictments would offer pointers to the most dramatic of detective stories. Young peasant women having allied themselves by marriage with rich, old men, then gave way to a strong temptation to rid themselves of their burdensome husbands in order to inherit their fortune and then marry their lovers. In other cases children administered poisonous food to their fathers and thus entered quickly into possession of their long-coveted patrimony.

~ MYSTERY ILLNESSES ~

Such horrible facts have been revealed by the inquiry.

It had been noticed that the small district of Krepoinija during 1936, 1937 and 1938 an unusual number of men in perfectly healthy and robust condition died in strange and mysterious ways after remarkably short illnesses. Suddenly they would be taken with terrible pains, and, after a few days, would die in horrible suffering. Since medical supervision is almost non-existent in the country districts of Yugoslavia, the deceased were buried before anybody could establish the real causes of their deaths.

Then one day Farmer Dragomir Pasojevic presented himself at the local police station with a story for the chief.

~ POISON PLAN ~

“I have just overheard a conversation between my brother Krsta and his wife, Persa Kolarcevic,” he said. “They are planning to poison her father, who is eighty. He recently decided to get married again. They wouldn’t stop at anything to keep from losing the inheritance. Something must be done quickly.”

The police immediately started an investigation. Soon they found that a couple of providing poison to the inhabitants of the locality.

A search was made of the Petcovic household. In the clothes-closets the detectives discovered much arsenic and numerous pots and boxes of dried, poisonous plants, and vials of snake venom. The quantity of noxious material discovered at the Petcovics was sufficient to end the lives of the entire population of the district.

~ MANY CLIENTS ~

Investigations revealed that the couple had cleverly extended the circle of their acquaintances among the peasants of the locality until they had gained the confidence of a large number. In this way they had been able to line up possible clients who would pay well.

There is the case of Irina Pitic, now 22 years old, married at 18 to a rich peasant of 68. nut everyone knew she loved a young shepherd who would not marry her because she had no dowry. Irina had hoped that the old peasant would die soon and leave her his fortune, but the old man was strong. Meantime it was suggested to the young woman that she get rid of him with a strong dose of arsenic. She finally agreed to the plan and at the end of the week she was a widow.

A peasant woman, Militza, is charged with having put a powder she got from the Petrovics in the soup she served her father, who was 76. she was his only heir and her husband was eager to get the inheritance immediately, so as to be able to straighten out his financial situation.

Naum Novacovic, another peasant, and his wife are charged with having poisoned their nephew, who had land from his father and mother. His uncle, Naum Novacovic, had been named his guardian and trustee and they wanted the boy’s fortune.

After eating the poisoned food he was served, the boy collapsed with violent stomach pains, and developed a burning thirst.

He asked for a drink but his aunt refused him. The suffering boy still had the strength to drag himself as far as the courtyard, where he drank from a bottle of stagnant water. The next day he was completely recovered. Naum Novacovic and his wife denied having tried to poison him.

Another woman is charged with having poisoned her husband with whom she had lived for 42 years, with a powder obtained from the Petrovics. She had for many years been the mistress of a young laborer on the farm. Immediately upon the death of her husband, she began living openly with this young man.

But among the cases listed in the indictment, that of Jagoda Jeftic, 29, is without any doubt the most tragic. She is also accused of having given her husband poison. On the day the funeral was taking place, the house was full of mourners. Somehow the vial containing the remainder of the poison fell into the hands of her son, who was only seven years old. The child drained the vial and died two days later in the most terrible suffering. His funeral was celebrated just four days after his father’s.

[Francis Bourg, “Poison Is Way Out For Bored Yugoslav Couples - Sensational Trial Of Sixteen Peasants,” World’s News (Sydney, Australia), Sep. 30, 1939, p. 17]

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Cases mentioned in this article:

Krsta Pasojevic & Persa Kolarcevic (perps), Elder Pasojevic (intended victim)
Irina Pittic (perp), husband
Frau Militza & husband (perps), father
Naum Novacovic & wife (perps), nephew (survived)
Unnamed woman (perp), husband)
Jagoda Jeftic (perp), husband, son (accidentally)

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For more than two dozen similar cases, dating from 1658 to 2011, see the summary list with links see: The Husband-Killing Syndicates

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http://unknownmisandry.blogspot.com/2012/07/serial-killer-couples.html

Links to more Serial Killer Couples

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Female Psychopath Elucidated


Want to understand  the absurdity of institutionalized misandry and the public’s apathy toward epic governmental corruption and towards violence by women?

Listen the this video (about 14 and a half minutes) on Youtube by spetsnatz called  "The Female Psychopath.”


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MORE: 

Katherine Ramsland, “Women Who Kill: Part One - Female Psychopathy,” Crime Library, trutv.com,  (2001)

Cultural Denial of Female Psychopathy,”  Jun. 2013, by No More Echo, on website psychopathyfree

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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Husband-Beater Slices Up Preacher for Condemning Her Violence – Oklahoma, 1902


FULL TEXT: Over at Enid a colored preacher cited one of his flock, a husky dame with a temper like a buzz saw, to appear before the church board to answer for whipping her husband. On the appointed day the Amazon showed up on time, but the dominie had got scared and had taken snap judgment on her and had dropped her name from the church roll. She objected to being churched in this manner, and when she got done carving that preacher with her razor it took three doctors to keep him from bleeding to death. The woman is in jail, and the preacher is in the hospital.

[Untitled, The Guthrie Daily Leader (Ok.), May 16, 1902, p. 8]

Friday, December 20, 2013

Wife Defends Herself from Husband’s Oppressive Abuse (Abused = not always getting your way; Defense = initiating violence) - 1909


Why men’s shelters are needed: anecdotal evidence from the dark ages of institutional patriarchal oppression, incessant rape and wife-beatings (i.e.: before women’s suffrage).

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EXCERPT (Article 1 of 2; excerpt from article on several cases): Two true bills were returned yesterday in the case of Mrs. Josephine K. Eversich, who on July 25 twice shot her husband because, it is said, he insisted on playing the gramophone. She first fired a 22-calibre rifle, inflicting a slight wound in the arm, but later in the day she shot him with a 32-calibre revolver, the ball entering Eversich’s left leg just below the knee and shattering a bone. Eversich was in the hospital several weeks and his wife was held a prisoner at the city jail until he was able to get about and arrange bail for her. This case was set for trial tomorrow.

[“Thirteen True Bills – Grand Jury Has Busy Day on Opening of Term. – Mrs. Eversich Indicted – Woman Who Twice Wounded Husband Will be Tried on Two Charges of Felonious Shooting.” Daily Press (Newport News, Va.), Dec. 14, 1909, p. 3]

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FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 2): Mrs. Josephine Eversich who twice shot her husband, Antonio Everisch on July 25, and who is now out on bail pending her trial for that crime, attacked her husband again last night with a hatchet and drove him away from the family home, 512 Thirty-fifth street.

After being driven out of the house, Everich went to the police station to seek lodging for the night and while »here he related to the officers the latest chapter of his domestic troubles, he says that the row last night started over an apron his wife was wearing When the supper dishes had been washed. Mrs Eversich announced that she was going to visit her cousin, who lives nearby. Eversih told her to take off the apron before she left the house.

~ Sets Fire to Her Apron. ~

It seems that this request or demand angered the woman and she set fire to the apron, burning it up This provoked a quarrel which terminated when the woman grabbed up a hatchet and made for her spouse. Remembering the graphophone incident, Eversich decided that discretion was the belter part of valor and he did a “hot foot" for the front door. Mrs. Eversich followed brandishing the weapon, and when she found that her quarry had made his escape she told him that he had better spend the night out as it wouldn't be healthy for him to return to the house.

~ Their Happiness Not Complete. ~

Eversich also told the police that since he was released from the hospital and his wife from jail their happiness has been broken. They have quarreled frequently and she has accused him on numerous occasions of having left the hospital, where he was suffering from a pistol-bullet wound in the left leg, and gone to the family home and made off with the $32 which was taken from the place on the night following the shooting. Everslch says that the charge is absurd as the bone in his leg was shattered by the bullet and he could not walk a step. This accusation, he says, together with other peculiar acts on the part of his wife has led him to the conclusion that she is crazy.

~ Graphophone the Cause. ~

The original trouble between Evetsich and his wife started over a graphophone. On the morning of Sunday, Julv 25 he wanted to play the machine and she wanted to sleep She told him to stop the machine and when he refused, she shot him in the arm with a 22-calibre rifle, inflicting a slight flesh wound. Again in the afternoon he wanted to play the machine when she wanted to take a nap and on that occasion she used a 32-calibre revolver and Eversich went to the hospital.

~ Couldn't Stand the Jug. ~

Eversich was limping slightly from the effects of the wound when he appeared at the police station last night. He was dressed in his working clothes, consisting of a suit of overalls, and he told the police that he would not he admitted to a hotel in that garb. The station keeper said he could not sleep at the station unless he wanted to be locked up in the "jug." Eversich declined this kind offer and left the station house, stating that he supposed would have to lodge in a dry goods box all night.

Mrs. Eversich's case was called for a preliminary trial before Justice Christian yesterday morning in the police court, but if had to be continued on account of the illness of an important witness she was not arrested last night.

[“Mrs. Eversich Again Attacks Her Husband – Armed With Hatchet, Woman Runs Her Spouse Way from Home. – Man Asks Police for Shelter - Eversich Goes to Police Station to took For Lodging For Night and Relates Latest Chapter of His Domestic Troubles to the Officers. – Says Wife is Crazy.” Daily Press (Newport News, Va.), Sep. 11, 1909, p. 2]

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

“For Protection of Men”: Against Being Murdered - 1895


1895: back then it was called chivalry, today it is called feminism: the assumption that a woman has a right to kill if she claims afterwards, even without a shred of evidence that she was “abused” (a term that includes, according to professional domestic violence operatives, virtually anything and slight that upsets a woman, including a boyfriend (or non-boyfriend she regards as a boyfriend) who does not return phone messages regularly enough).

In 2013, we have, in Canada, the spectre of law professor Elizabeth Sheehy calling for the legalizing of pre-meditated homicide (provided that the killer provide to the government a standard allegation of “abuse” of some type, or even a statement she felt “afraid” for some reason or other – no need to prove or justify or support with evidence of any kind).

It becomes clear then that the “boring” old stuff that goes by the name of “history” is increasingly pertinent value for those seeking to understand and resist the authoritarian irrational cult called gender ideology.

Here is an account from the mid-1890s showing how, despite the typical chivalric inclinations of the average man (chivalry being a particularly strong ethos in the South of the US South), a group of men organized themselves for the purpose of formally demanding respect for the rights of males, despite the ages-old tradition of female privilege that pervaded their nation.

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FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 2): Macon, Go., Aug. 8. – The voters of Twiggs County have passed resolutions calling on the Governor not to interfere with the hanging of Mrs. Dibble Nobles, who has been convicted of the murder of her husband."

~ THE USUAL THING. ~

Several weeks ago, when sentence was pronounced the women took up the idea that Mrs. Nobles had been driven to her crime by the exactions of her husband, and they started a petition to the Governor to commute her sentence. They wrote to sister societies in other States, and already letters are coming in from New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, and other States protesting against the death sentence for a woman. So strong has the move become that the male citizens of the county held a meeting and issued the following call for the protection of men by the execution of the female murderess:

~ CURIOUS PROTEST. ~

"Whereas public sentiment is such in this country and vicinity that if executive clemency is granted under, each circumstances it would be difficult in future to prevent lynch law for murderers,

"Therefore, we earnestly protest against the extension in any form of executive clemency for this murderess, polluted with the lifeblood of her husband, and do hereby declare our perfect confidence in our chief magistrate and the belief that he will not swerve from the performance of his sworn duty by a desire to cater to a weak sentimentalism or transient public feeling, inspired, as be is, by a desire for equal justice and the sacred execution of our laws."

~ THREE FORMER EXECUTIONS. ~

There have been three women executed previously in Georgia a husband poisoner, about 100 years ago; a girl accomplice in a murder, about twenty years ago, and a negro woman who was active in the notorious Eastman riot.

[“For The Protection of Men – Georgians Protest Against Clemency for a Woman Man-killer. – She Must Die The Death - Curious Resolution by Citizens of a Georgia County Looking to the Better Protection of Men From the Vengeance of Women Who Are Murderously Inclined.” The Evening Times (Washington, D.C.), Aug. 8, 1895, p. 2]

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FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 2): What shall be done with the women who murder with the knife or pistol pr poison?

In a Georgia case where a woman murdered her husband, the governor is overwhelmed with petitions for her pardon, but it will be noted that the people of the county where she lived have held a mass meeting to protest against executive clemency.

In New York a strong effort will be made to save Marie Herbert, the slayer of her seducer, from the death penalty.

Speaking of these cases in The New York Press says:

Generic man is more chivalrous than he is credited for being. In recent years only one woman has been put to death for murder in the state of New York. Three or four others have been sentenced to capital punishment, since 1887, but their lives have been saved, mainly through popular protests. “Protect the woman!” is the first sentiment heard when she becomes involved in the meshes of law. indeed, the greater the crime, the more severe the threatened punishment, the louder is raised the demand that she go scathless or inadequately punished. In short, man practically has two codes – one for rigorous punishment of male offenders, one of redress and rectification for women who do wrong, save it be one in.

Our contemporary, The Memphis Commercial-Appeal, discusses the question on the same line with the following illustrations:

Some of the most depraved criminals, some of the most conscienceless homicides, have been females. The Druse woman, who was hanged in New York a few years ago for killing her husband – chopping him to pieces with an ax and secreting his remains – deserved her fate. The Georgia woman, Mr. Nobles, who is now under sentence for hiring a negro to kill her aged husband, went about her work with the coolness and premeditation of a fiend, and should not be allowed to escape the severest punishment. These are instances fresh in the mind, but the criminal calendar is foul with such cases of female wickedness. In the Forum for August Major Griffiths, her majesty’s inspector of prisons, mentions as cold-blooded and callous murderesses as Catherine Hays, who caused her husband’s death and wished to cut off his head with a penknife and boil it; Mrs. Mrs. Manning, who dug the grave for her victim three weeks ahead, in front of her kitchen fire, where she roasted and ate a goose the afternoon of the crime; Kate Webster, who dismembered the corpse of her mistress and boiled it piecemeal; Mrs. Browning, who flogged her two apprentices to death after starving them shamefully; Sarah Malcolm, the charwoman, who committed a triple murder, incited thereto by the sight of her mistress’s wealth in coin and silver plate. Mothers have murdered their children fror the insurance money, while the typical poisoner, Anna Zwanziger, followed poisoning for a livelihood. Any number of examples might easily be placed in evidence where women are heartless as the “Mr. Williams” whose crimes are written up by de Quncey. But the foregoing will suffice to substantiate the position taken, that while but few woman are “born” criminals, as contended by the Italian savants, Lombroso and Ferraro, some of them have been so lost to humanity and committed crimes for which execution on the gallows or in the electric chair could not be tortured into “outraging humanity.”

The Memphis paper holds that it is going a little too far to exempt a woman from the penalty for a fiendish murder simply because she is a woman. In the clear, cold light of justice and reason this conclusion seems to be the right ones. If women wish to escape the death penalty, they should not commit murder.

[“When Women Commit Murder.” The Atlanta Constitution (Ga.), Aug. 9, 1895, p. 6]

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For more on this topic, see Chivalry Justice Checklist & Links

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“Alimony has become a racket.” Says Actress and Activist Spring Byington - 1937


FULL TEXT: Hollywood, Feb. 20 – From Hollywood – no less – pretty Spring Byington of the films set out today on a campaign to revise California’s divorce laws with the declaration:

“Alimony has become a racket.”

The actress – she isn’t married – is campaigning for introduction of a bill in the state legislature which would make the term of alimony payments the same as the lenth of time the woman lived with her husband.

“If alimony were awarded a woman only for a period of time equal to the length of her married life, it would tend to fulfill the purpose for which it was created.

“That is, a woman who has given the best years of her life to a man would find financial protection, if she sought it. Conversely, these marriages that last only a few months, or at the most a year, would not turn out so profitably for the woman.”

She said that under no stretch of imagination could she see “the justice in saddling, for perhaps many years, a man with alimony payments who discovered after a comparatively short time that he had been married specifically for his money.

“After all, the theory of alimony is to protect a woman who has relinquished her ability to support herself. She deserves this protection. But like many other laws that were well conceived, the alimony law is being abused.

“It not only is providing thousands of undeserving ex-wives with a comfortable living, but it has been twisted into a weapon by which women vent their hatred on the men they once loved.”

[“Picture Star Who Is Unmarried Proposes New Plan for Alimony,” syndicated (AP), The Evening Independent (St. Petersburg, Fl.), Feb. 22, 1937, p. 10-A]

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For more revelations of this suppressed history, see The Alimony Racket: Checklist of Posts

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Monday, December 16, 2013

Public Husband-Killing Lessons Under Attack by Detective Hattie Barnett - 1919


FULL TEXT: “Women must be barred from criminal trials in Fulton county [Georgia],” stated Mrs. Hattie Barnett, female detective, who has been subpoenaed by the state.

“The courtroom of the average murder trial is merely the training school where wives learn the tricks used by other women in killing their husbands, and then go home, talk them over with their neighbors and then use said tricks in ridding themselves of their husbands.”

Mrs. Barnett had a conference with Judge John B. Humphries in regard to having the female of the species barred from sensational trials. Mrs. Barnett stated further that she saw during the Abbott trial women offering cooked chicken legs to court attaches in order to have the attaches reserve seats for them.

“Women of this class brought their lunches and spent the day, often bringing their children of various ages with them. If I have to go to the legislature, I shall get morbid women barred from such trials,” she completed.

[“Murder Case Trials Called Schools For Women Slayers – Mrs. Hattie Barnett, Female Detective, Asks the Judge to Bar Members of Her Sex From the Courtroom.” The Atlanta Constitution (Ga.), Mar. 8, 1919, p. 1]

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Why Are So Many Wives Killing Their Husbands? - Headline from 1911


FULL Headline & Sub-headlines:

“Why Are So Many Wives Killing Their Husbands?

Ten Cases, With Such Unusual Features as to Attract National Attention, Within a Few Weeks, Emphasize a Remarkable Condition Which May Be Both a Development of the New Woman Movement of the Baleful Fruit of the Extraordinary Leniency Shown in the Courts of Women Accused of Murder

Public Attitude in Such Cases Shown When St. Louis Coroner’s Juries Weep With Two Fair Defendants and Texas Judge Has to Force Indictment of Another.

ARTICLE FULL TEXT:


~ Wives Recently Accused of Killing Husbands ~

– Following is a summary of the status of cases against wives in the United States recently accused of killing their husbands.

– Matheson, Mrs. Lucy: Shot her husband in the home of a negress. Indictment found with difficulty and jury acquitted her in 10 minutes.

– Stannard, Mrs. Laura: Accused of poisoning her husband with a drug intended to stop him from drinking liquor. Acquitted.

– Mollicone, Mr. Assunta: Held for trial in Denver jail for the murder of her husband.

– Valentine, Mrs. Eleanor: Held for trial in Denver jail for the murder of her husband.

– Patterson, Mrs. Gertrude: Held for trial in Denver jail for the murder of her husband.

Quinn, Mrs. John M.: Two of her husbands mysteriously murdered in homes. Wife says burglars committed crime. Held in Chicago for investigation.

– Felton, Mrs. Moses: Shot her husband as he lay asleep. Exonerated by Coroner’s jury on her statement man had threatened to kill her before morning.

– James, Mrs. Alma Palmer: Shot her husband as he lay asleep. Defense theory is it was a somnambulistic killing.

– Murray, Mrs. Clara: Shot her husband with cat rifle. Held on daughter’s statements she threatened to kill man if he went to keep engagement with another woman.

Vermilya, Mrs. Louise: Held on charge of murdering policeman Arthur Bisonette by poison. Suspected of  poisoning Richard Smith and two husbands. Pleaded not guilty and is in Chicago jail awaiting trial.

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FULL TEXT: Not since the dark days in the Middle Ages [Renaissance, actually, 1656] when 366 women are said to have formed a Roman Sisterhood of Death, and most of them poisoned husbands, has the world been shocked by so many deaths caused by women as in the United States in the latter days of the year 1911.

Within a few months writers for the press have been called upon to recount an appalling series of crimes. If the cases that obtain extensive publicity are criteria, they force the conclusion that more husbands are being killed by wives by husbands.

It is cited, merely as a curious coincidence, that this increase in the number of women’s crimes comes at a time when women are more active in public affairs than ever before in history. Doubtless it would be unfair to hint at any connection between the two conditions. The fact they exist simultaneously is given for what it is worth. But it cannot be denied that while some women are showing – rather convincingly, it must be admitted – the right of the sex and political leadership, other women are showing with equal conclusiveness the truth of Poet Kipling’s recent dogma, “The female of the species is more deadly than the male.”

~ Women in History Often More Ferocious Than the Sterner Sex ~

The long list of recent crimes committed by women or attributed to them bears out a theory held by the criminologists from Lombroso down. And that is that while women are less inclined to acts of violence than men, on account of their physical weakness, when they do become criminals their crimes are characterized by a cruelty and relentlessness not found in male offenders. [Editor's note: In my view, events and crimes, subsequent to 1911, show that men can be as cruel as women: full sex-equality is demonstrated in sociopathy. (St. Estephe)]

When a woman turns to murder she becomes ferocious. The bloodiest murders of the French revolution were not half so cruel as the fierce-eyed, wolfish females that urged them on. [Note: What this sentence identifies is now known as “Proxy violence,” a mode particularly favored by women (as well as political leaders), whereby males are used to do the work.] Mme. Defarge, who sat at the guillotine with her knitting and counted the heads as they fell into the basket, was a true characteristic of them.

In the early biblical days Jael lured Sisera, the friend of her house, to sleep, promising to shield him from his enemies, and as he slept she took a nail and drove it through his temples and into the floor below. And from that day until the last husband murder in today’s paper such crimes when committed by woman have been unspeakably brutal and inhuman.

The idea of a woman turning murderess is so repugnant to the average man that he scarcely can believe it possible. And the story of society’s leniency to women criminals is as old as the mountains of India, as old as the Ganges or the Nile, old as the pyramids with all their secrets. And back of all of it is unwillingness of one man to believe that the women he knows to be infinitely softer, more tender, more abhorrent of violence than he could dabble her delicate hands in human blood. And some singer spoke the truth when he said such things as this:

Cold eyelids, that hide like a jewel
Hard eyes that grow soft for an hour;
The heavy white limbs and the cruel
Red mouth like a venomous flower.
When these are gone by with their glories,
What shall rest of thee then, what remain,
O mystic and somber Dolores,
Our Lady of Pain?

~ Perhaps Leniency Toward Women Murderers Account for It ~

Whether this characteristic leniency of society toward women malefactors is responsible for the Amazing increase of husband murders of late is a matter, of course, of speculation. That criminologists should think so is not to be wondered at.

The Anglo-Saxon people are pretty thoroughly convinced, as a general thing, that capital punishment is a great deterrent of murder. The thing is easy enough to demonstrate, the advocates of the extreme penalty say. Switzerland abolished it and murders increased so rapidly that it was restored as an experiment. Murders immediately decreased in number.

Practically the same thing has been found true in France. For years the guillotine was in disrepute. And while its knife rusted in idleness France gave to the world some of the most appalling murders in the history of crime. The restoration of the death penalty was demanded by popular necessary.

Even in the United States murders have increased in commonwealths that have abolished the gallows. There is a great city on the border line of the two mid-Western states in one of which hanging in the extreme penalty for murder and the other life imprisonment. Newspaper men of that city say they have had to record many more atrocious murders in the latter than in the former.

If this be a true test, as it appears to be, justified by the fact, the criminologists strengthen their theory by applying it to women murderers. In late years but one woman has been put to death by process of law for murder. This woman’s crime was committed in a [sic] Eastern state and was most atrocious. She wished to be rid of her husband, with whom she had quarreled. She sent word she wanted to make up and named a trysting place of their sweetheart days.

~ Texas Case May Become an Issue in Political Campaign ~

After they had kissed and made up they spent several house there. The woman playfully picked up a rope and asked her husband to tie her hands. He did so. She then said she bet she could tied his hands so he couldn’t get away. Laughingly he let her try. She called a half-breed Indian boy to her aid, when they had secured the man’s hands they deliberately murdered him and threw his body into a stream.

Never was a more treacherous-crime committed. But when it was announced the woman was to hang, the Governor of her State was swamped with letters of protest. He withstood the pressure, however, and the sentence of death was executed.

That case was an exception. Everywhere jurors simply refuse to pronounce sentence of death against the women. In the rare cases when they do, popular sympathy compels an executive commutation of sentence. Within the last few weeks, readers of the Post-Dispatch will remember, at least two Coroner’s juries have wept in sympathy with women who have killed their husbands.


In the Forty-Eighth District Court of Texas the action of a judge in compelling the indictment of a woman who had killed her husband will be made a political issue. It is not impossible that the Judge will be defeated for re-election on the strength of it. Popular sympathy is with the woman, and, it must be admitted, that if murder is ever to be justified, the woman had a claim upon his sympathy.

Mrs. Lucy Matheson was a child of 11 years when she met Charles Matheson. She became betrothed to him a year later and was married to him at 15. she was very pretty, a typical, well-bred Texas girl of good family connections. She discovered that, 15 years before, Matheson had married a negress in New Mexico, pretending that the woman was an Indian.

The influence of the negress continued after he married her. One day the wife went to the Black woman’s home, found her husband there and shot him to death.

~ Everything Done at Trial Is Favorable to Accused Women ~

Judge Blanton, at Fort Worth, called a grand jury together and instructed them to look into the case. The jury reported it had no indictments to return. The Judge sternly reminded them of the Matheson affair and ordered them to do their duty, with a hint at citations for contempt if they failed.

Tardily they returned an indictment. The woman was immediately served with a warrant and 100 Abilene citizens, some of them millionaires, offered to sign her bond. Two leading attorneys volunteered to defend her.

The trial was altogether favorable to her. The jurors were selected from the first 20 men called to the box. None was asked if he opposed capital punishment. The woman told her story. There was a hint that the negroes had shot at her and that she fired to protect her own life. It took the jury about ten minutes to reach a verdict of acquittal.

This, of course, is an extraordinary case. If conditions were reversed and a man stood in the same place, he also would have been acquitted in short order by a Texas jury, for the South still recognizes pretty clearly the right of every man – or woman – to preserve the sanctity of the home.

A jury at Ontonogan, Mich., a few days ago returned a verdict of acquittal for Mrs. Laura Stannard, charged with murdering her husband. The woman is a believer in Spiritualism and is convinced that her husband’s spirit was with her throughout the trial.

Stannard died at Greenland, Mich., last March and a post-mortem examination proved that he had died of strychnine poisoning. He was a habitual drinker and his wife was very anxious to break him of this habit. A servant girl testified at the trial that Mrs. Stannard told her she had intended to give her husband a tablet in his coffee to stop his drinking.

~ Three Women in One Jail for Causing Husbands’ Death ~

The theory of the defense was that Stannard took the poison as a stimulant alter he had been on a spree, that he took an overdose and that it killed him. The jury seem to hold to this theory also.

Three women are awaiting trial in adjoining cells in a Denver (Colo.) jail for the murder of their husbands. They are Mrs. Assunta Mollicone, an Italian; Mrs. Eleanor G. Valentine and Mrs. Gertude Patterson. In each case the alleged motive is jealousy or cupidity.

Of these three the Patterson case is the most celebrated. Mrs. Patterson was a poor girl of Sandoval, Ill., when she first met Emil Strouss, a Chicago millionaire. Strouss took a fancy to her because she was extremely beautiful, and arranged to educate her, sending her away to Paris. When she had finished her schooling he called for her and they traveled about Europe together.

After the return to America she met Charles A. Patterson, a former collage athlete. He fell in love with her, she went to Los Angeles, Cal., sent for him and he married her. Chance revealed to him her relations with Strouss.

She confessed everything and he promised to forgive and help her live down the past. She charges that, when they became hard up, he sold her to Strouss for a monetary consideration. She charges that she finally refused to hold up her benefactor for more money and that, in a quarrel, Patterson attacked her and she killed him in self-defense. The killing took place in Denver, where the Pattersons were keeping a select boarding house.

~ Her Two Husbands Killed as They Lay Sleeping Beside Her ~

Several days ago John M. Quinn was shot in his house in Chicago and was killed. His wife, who called the police, said that a burglar had committed the crime. When she was questioned by detectives she said that Quinn was her second husband and that her first was a man named McDonald.

Subsequently it was found that she had been married twice before. Her second husband was a man named Warren Thorpe. Investigation revealed that Thorpe also was shot in his sleep when he and his wife were living in Jackson, Mich., and that the woman said a burglar had done the crime. Her two stories of the two crimes were remarkably alike in detail.

A thorough search was made of the Quinn home. Behind a bathtub was found a revolver, one chamber of which had been discharged.

On the morning of Nov. 9 Moses Felton, a farmer of Macon, Mo., was found dead in bed with a bullet hole through his head. His wife notified the neighbors and said she had killed her husband. She told a pitiful story and the Coroner’s jurors, in exonerating her, wept when they returned the verdict.

She said she and Felton had quarreled about their daughter the night before and that he had threatened to kill her. He had shown her a revolver, she said, laid it near his bed and told her he was going to kill her in the morning.

He lay down and went to sleep the wife added, leaving her to pass the night awake and in terror. Once he awoke he reminded her that she had but a few more hours to live. She waited until he dropped off to slumber again, she said. Then she slipped out of bed, got the revolver and killed him.

~ Two Recent St. Louis Cases of Interest to Criminologists ~

St. Louis has produced two recent cases. Early on the morning of April 28, Mrs. Alma Palmer James shot and killed her husband. Leo James, as he lay asleep in their flat at 4457A Lexington avenue. The affair has never been satisfactorily explained. When asked about the killing the woman had but one answer, which she repeated over and over again in a dull way: “I don’t care.”

At that time the theory was that Mrs. James killed her husband because she had been infected with a serious disease and thought he was responsible. This was disproved later, and the theory of the defense today is that it was a somnambulistic crime, that she intended to kill herself, sat down by her husband to think it over and fell asleep. The report of a pistol awoke her and she found that, while she slept, she had shot her husband instead of herself.

A St. Louis Coroner’s jury wept when it held Mrs. Clara Murray for the death of her husband, who was shot while in his home, with a Christmas gift cat rifle [nickname for a .22 caliber rifle]. The woman’s daughter, 9 years old, was the principal witness. She said her mother learned her father had made an engagement with another woman, that her mother told him if he went out she would shoot him, that he went out and the mother did shoot him.

A doctor who was passing the house told the jury that when he reached the place soon after Murray fell, his wife had her arms about him and was kissing him, saying, “Darling, wasn’t it all in fun?”

“No, the dying man said, “you shot me deliberately.”

Neighbors testified Mrs. Murray had been drinking whisky on the afternoon of the killing.

~ Recent Cases Show Difficulty of Convicting Accused Women ~

The difficulty in getting convictions when women are defendants was shown in the recent trial of Mrs. Zoe Runge McRee at Oplousas, La. Mrs. McRee, a married woman, shot and killed Allen Garland, a young neighbor, who was calling at her home. Her story was calling at her home. Her story of it was that Garland made improper proposals to her and that she shot in defense of her honor.

The prosecution contended that she and Garland had been friendly for a long time. It offered evidence tending to show that Garland was shot from behind as he sat in a chair. The trial resulted in a hung jury.

Taking these cases in connection with the recent accusations against Nurse Vermilya in Chicago, accused of using poison for half a dozen murders, more or less, and of another nurse, in New Orleans [Annie Crawford], accused of poisoning members of her own family, the criminal activities charged to women within the last few weeks present an amazing and startling ensemble.

[“Why Are So Many Wives Killing Their Husbands? -- Ten Cases, With Such Unusual Features as to Attract National Attention, Within a Few Weeks, Emphasize a Remarkable Condition Which May Be Both a Development of the New Woman Movement of the Baleful Fruit of the Extraordinary Leniency Shown in the Courts of Women Accused of Murder. – Public Attitude in Such Cases Shown When St. Louis Coroner’s Juries Weep With Two Fair Defendants and Texas Judge Has to Force Indictment of Another. ” St. Louis Dispatch (Mo.), Nov. 19, 1911, part 2, p. 1]

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For more on this topic, see Chivalry Justice Checklist & Links

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Ten Serial-Killer Moms – Finland, 1750-1896


A new article lists ten female serial killer cases which took place in Finland from 1750 through 1896.

The article, whose abstract is copied below, appears in a special issue of the academic journal The History of the Family, which is dedicated to exploring “patriarchal values.” The author’s use of an obsolete definition of serial killers as being exclusively of the male sex (which runs contrary to current U. S. classification of serial killers, such as that used by the FBI) allows her to develop a “non-patriarchal” term for the serial murder of newborns by a mother through the invention of an innocuous and vague new classification term “birth controller.” It might be argued that this proposal has a distinctly gynocentric quality to it.

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Abstract: This article examines multiple infanticide in early modern Finland in which the same woman killed several newborns after repeated hidden pregnancies and childbirths. A well-documented case in Lohja, Nummi and Pusula Court of Assizes in 1874 is compared with nine other recurrent infanticides in Finland in the period 1750–1896. The context of the series of crimes and the reasons why it took so long to apprehend the murderers differed from the majority of reported infanticides, which were quite unplanned and the perpetrators of which were apprehended within days of the act. These offenders were serial killers who experienced a need to kill even if they were not literally serial killers according to modern conceptions of male-oriented serial killing. They did not deliberately get themselves pregnant with men in order to obtain psychological gratification from killing newborn babies. Rather, they resorted to killing several of their illegitimate babies as a solution of birth control because their first such crime went unreported or unprosecuted, probably as a result of the complicity of others. Such a perpetrator in the early modern age is labeled a ‘love-child murderess’ or a ‘burker of newborns’, depending on her relationship with the father or fathers of the victims. Serial killings of newborn babies as a solution of birth control continue to exist in modern times as serial neonaticide. It is suggested that a perpetrator of this category of crime in all ages be labeled a ‘birth controller’.

[Mona Rautelin, “Female serial killers in the early modern age?Recurrent infanticide in Finland 1750–1896,” The History of the Family, Volume 18, Issue 3, 2013 (Special issue: Domestic Disturbances, Patriarchal Values: Violence, Family and Sexuality in Early Modern Europe)]

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For more cases of this type, see Serial Baby-Killer Moms.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Life in New York City’s Alimony Jail in 1903


FULL TEXT: When the good woman of Ludlow street died last week the debtors in the county prison mourned. Two score of there are victims of their own mistakes or the vengeance of their ex-wives The warden’s wife, Mrs. Sullivan was a woman with a big heart. Her acquaintance with the prisoners consisted only of seeing them at exercise. In the hollow square made by old Ludlow’s walls. Sometimes prisoners fell ill and she sent dishes from her kitchen to them Now that there is no woman in the jail they miss the sight of her moving about in her dining room the windows of look out on the court

One-fourth of the civil prisoners there have found  that there is one woman too many for comfort in their worlds. These are the five alimony prisoners locked up because they have failed to pay the weekly or monthly allowance which the court has fixed for their divorced wives.

Each of the five subject to three months’ imprisonment. Then he may go free. It happens that the alimony due from each of the five is under $500. If it was more than that sum he could be kept in custody for six months

The debts for which a man may be put in prison for a limited period now may be classed as follows:

For alimony due being adjudged in con tempt of court for not having paid it.

For breach of promise, of a debt of honor which has so often been paid by a wedding in court of Ludlow Street Jail.

For a debt shown by execution where a conversion of property or a charge of fraud is involved

For wages to a domestic servant.

For fines imposed by National Guard on its members.

These five classes of debtors constitute the little colony which occupies the cells set aside for civil prisoners in Warden Sullivan’s gloomy household.

Most of the prisoners remain in jail because they cannot got bail demanded or pay the judgments them. Some really can pay but have sequestrated their property and are content to stay out the time of their important as a matter of spite or obstinacy. Serving the period of imprisonment does not release their property from the execution that stands against it but a man cannot be made to serve more than six months at the outside for a debt if an ex-wife waits until the alimony exceeds $500 she can imprison her former husband for six months. If the amount be under $500 she can only put him away for three months.

The life of the civil prisoner differs from that of prisoners accused or convicted of crimes They are expected to pay for their own sustenance if they are able. In order to get his meals at the expense of the county the civil prisoner must make affidavit that he is unable to support himself during his imprisonment. If he has money of his own or his friends have some at his command he may have as many luxuries as he wants to buy; that is everything but liquor. The law says that only cider and that quality of beer called table beer may be brought into a jail for the use of a person confined therein, unless on the prescription of a physician who declares that other liquor is necessary to the health of the prisoner.

All the civil prisoners now in Ludlow Street Jail are county fed. They have made oath that they cannot support themselves, and just now the jail has not a single star boarder of the type it has held to often. But they have some luxuries bought with money sent to them by friends. Jars of preserves and jellies are found in some of the cells. One of the prisoners is very fond of potted chicken and always has several cans of it. Another has a friend who indulges his taste in good cigars and keeps the Havana article in hermetically sealed jars, in which the cigars retain their moisture and freshness.

Selling liquor to the civil prisoners was common not so long ago. The saloon-keeper who did the bulk of the business made a very clear trail for the officials to follow when they discovered what was going on. For advertising purposes this saloonkeeper had his name blown into the glass of the flasks which he supplied to the prisoners. When the cells were ransacked all those bottles were witnesses against him. At present the rule against liquor is strictly enforced. A conviction of permitting it to be smuggled in would be equivalent to the forfeiture of the Sheriff’s office.

The dean of the prisoners’ corps at present is William Real de Krafft, who has been there since there since June 20, 1903. He is an exceptional case. The action against him has not been brought to trial. As a charge of fraud is involved in the civil suit he was required to give ball for his appearance The bond was fixed at $1,000 but he has been unable to get it and has stayed in custody. If judgment should be taken against him in the action he can be kept in jail for not more than six months. Krafft is 62 years old. He wants to get his case to trial oven if he loses it,  because that will limit the time of the imprisonment. The plaintiff is Otto F. Besse of Jersey City who says he entrusted $50 to Krafft to invest in stocks for him.

Mr. Krafft tried to get out a while ago and made a letter which he got from the plaintiff the basis of an appeal to the court. Mr. Besse’s niece was about to be married and he sent an invitation to Krafft. Krafft was hurt at this method of exulting over his loss of liberty. But he didn’t succeed in winning the decision of the court.

Krafft is chairman of the committee which welcomes newcomers to the prison. The alimony crew flock by themselves, as they have common sympathy to exchange.  Vincenzo Golletti is the senior of three. He has been in since Dec. for falling to pay $120. Then came William J. Shaw to join the colony row Years was just over when William T. Mealy arrived Paul A. Perry came next. The latest arrival was John W. Ball who has in just a month.

Of those are in because of executions unsatisfied by their property and for which there are E. Cosgrove has the largest sum against his name. He is related to an influential Tammany politician but an the judgment was for a $15,000 was demanded and in lieu of it  He is serving six months. He’ll get out time for the Saratoga season.

A slender boy of 22, who is raising a black beard during confinement is James A Garfield a nephew of the late President Garfield a fortune. One of his transactions with Benjamin L. Turner resulted in an execution against him for $2,500. Friends have been to get him out. If they do not succeed he will not be liberated until Aug. 17.

The soldiers might called transient guests are usually out in three days at the longest arrests am to failure to fine imposed for delinquencies. Last week Warden Sullivan entertained two soldiers from the Ninth Regiment and one from the Twelfth.

In former administrations it was extraordinary for the star boarders who could afford to pay their way to eat at the warden’s table. The rate of board was pretty big sometimes, the prisoners was mulcted for all he could pay. Amendments to the code and a stricter enforcement of rules have done away with the table. A warden may not charge any fee for sending for food which a self-supporting prisoner may want.

[Theodore Roberts, “Ludlow St. Jail as I saw It From the Inside,” The World (New York, N.Y.), Jul. 6, 1913, magazine section, p. 5?]

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For more revelations of this suppressed history, see The Alimony Racket: Checklist of Posts

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