Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Newspaper Clipping of the Day
Today's mini-mystery took place in Pasadena, California, on December 12, 1931. While 29-year-old Marie Galloway Baker slept in her bedroom, only a few hours after the end of a "gay bridge party" at her home, an explosion went off that hurled her bed nearly through the roof. It half-demolished the house, and killed her instantly. Her 60-year-old husband, a wealthy oil man named W.A. Baker, was sleeping in the den at the time. He "escaped without a scratch," although he was only about 20 feet away from his wife's room.
Investigators were utterly baffled by what caused the explosion. Gas was ruled out early. Bomb experts found no trace of detonation materials such as dynamite or powder. The Associated Press reported that "the full force of the explosion was concentrated almost beneath [Mrs. Baker's] room." Although other sections of the large one-story home were damaged, the area where Mr. Baker slept was untouched. (No explanation was given why the couple slept apart.)
Baker said he had been involved in several contentious oil transactions, and conceded "It looks as though someone was after someone." However, no one had any idea who that "someone" may have been, and the cause of the blast was never discovered. The jury at Mrs. Baker's inquest had no choice but to return an open verdict.
The Bakers had been married only five years. Two years before they wed, Mr. Baker's first wife hanged herself following a long illness. Charles Fort, who took note of this strange tragedy in his book "Wild Talents," slyly hinted that the baffling death--murder?--of the second wife may somehow be traceable to the restless, unhappy spirit of the first.
But, of course, we all find such speculations utterly ridiculous.