"...we should pass over all biographies of 'the good and the great,' while we search carefully the slight records of wretches who died in prison, in Bedlam, or upon the gallows."
~Edgar Allan Poe

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

Via Newspapers.com

As I've mentioned before, Wales has produced many of my favorite ghost tales, and the following is a wonderful example of the breed. From the "Paducah Sun," October 31, 1983:
Conwy, Wales - The ghost of a knight bent on revenge supposedly stalks a bedroom.

The moans of a young doctor he swore to kill are said to issue from deep within walls.

A mysterious child appears, only to vanish.

It's all part of the haunted heritage of Plas Mawr, a stone-walled triple-storied manor house with 365 windows and 52 doors that's long been a landmark in this castle-town on the Irish Sea. Some of the ghostly goings-on are recounted in the guidebook to the house, built in 1577. The rest is happily told to visitors by Leonard Mercer, curator of the dwelling now headquarters for the Royal Cambrian Academy of Art. Mercer's story about the mystery child is the spooky stuff of which Halloween is made.

"Two or three years ago, a woman who visited the house became visibly upset," he began.

"She suddenly saw this girl dressed in blue in the reception room and claimed that what she saw was herself as a child."

Shaken by the child who uttered not a word, the woman went for her husband, who was in another room. The couple returned. The girl was gone. About three weeks later, according to Mercer, another woman said she, too, saw a small child, dressed in blue. Again, witnesses were summoned. Again, no girl. More sightings were reported, one by a teenager who worked for a while at the old Elizabethan house hung with paintings and adorned with ancient antiques.

"She saw this figure go by one day and looked to see a girl dressed in blue, with a blue hat.

"She thought it was my daughter, Sharon, but Sharon wasn't in the house," said Mercer.

He says neither the first woman nor the second woman to report sightings knew each other. Nor did the teen know the women.

"They were independent sightings," said Mercer. "But in all cases, the description of the girl was the same. She was dressed in blue and appeared to be about three or four years old."

So who or what is the ghostly girl? The age may offer a clue. The knight's pregnant wife was holding their three-year-old child when she slipped and fell down some stairs, causing a doctor to be summoned to the house. That ghost story is told in the guidebook, which says it happened in mid-November toward the end of the 16th century.

The knight a descendent of the fierce Welsh warrior-prince Owain Gwynedd, had been away at war for six months. His spouse was in the watch tower of Plas Mawr, hopefully scanning the horizon for any sign of his return.

The knight did not know she was with child.

Darkness had descended the woman ventured down from her lofty station. She stumbled and fell, seriously injuring herself and the little girl.

Immediately, the housekeeper had them brought to a bed in the Lantern Room and sent for the family doctor, an elderly, experienced physician. The doctor came and left, telling the housekeeper to keep a close watch over the woman and her child.

Later, the housekeeper became worried and called for the doctor again. He wasn't in. His young assistant, Dr. Dick, was available and came instead. The guidebook says Dr. Dick possessed "a highly nervous temperament" and was doubtless excited about such a dangerous case. Alarmed, he decided to fetch the old doctor. The housekeeper refused to let him go, bolted the door and sent another man.

"In a short time, after momentarily expecting his return, she became aware of an awful stillness in the Lantern Room," says the book. A storm swirled around the old gray stone house, adding more eeriness to the episode. The housekeeper called out through the door. There was no reply. Then she heard heard heavy footsteps cross the banqueting hall and ascend the stairs.

It was the knight, who just then arriving home, brushed the housekeeper aside and rushed into the room. The dying embers of a fire in the hearth and a flickering lantern exposed a terrible sight. The little girl was dead on a couch by the window. Her mother was dead on the bed, a baby, prematurely born, lay dead beside her.

"Who has been here?" the guidebook says the knight pleaded.

"Dr. Dick is somewhere in the room," the old woman replied, tears streaming down her cheeks.

Enraged, the knight drew his sword. But Dr. Dick was nowhere in sight.

"Leave me, leave me! I'll never leave this room again until I've been revenged on Doctor Dick. Daylight will tell the story!"

With that cry, the knight pushed the housekeeper out of the room.

"He shut the door and paced the room heavily for hours with repeated exclamations of sorrow and anger, till at last, with one wild cry of bitter anguish, he expired at the foot of the bed on which his dead wife lay," quoth the guidebook.

When the poor housekeeper opened the door at daylight she saw the lord, his lady and their children, all dead. The windows were shut tightly, too, but still no Dr. Dick.

"He may have tried to escape up a chimney or through various passages from the chimneys that run throughout the house," said Mercer. "He may have become lost or overcome with smoke and died. At any rate, he was never seen again."

Yet the the guidebook says on "stormy nights when the wind and rain, thunder and lightning are fightinh for mastery with each other, the tormented moans of poor Dr. Dick may be heard coming from within the walls.

And why didn't the old doctor come back? The man the housekeeper sent for him "was seized by a press gang and hurried off to a vessel in the harbour, which immediately put to sea."

He didn't return to Conwy until 50 years later. Only then did he learn what had happened that horrible night.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Murder in Muncie: The Curious Case of Fred Oland

Muncie Morning News, November 17, 1898, via Newspapers.com

On November 16, 1898, Muncie, Indiana was shocked when the body of 5-year-old Antonia "Andy" Bodenmiller was found in a gravel pit just outside of town, clumsily hidden inside a fruit box. Someone had shot him to death with a 32 caliber revolver. A short distance away from the body, a hole had been recently dug, suggesting that his murderer had intended to bury the body, but was frightened away before completing the job. The sense of horror only increased when two small brothers named Michael and Robert Betts, aged only 5 and 7, went to the police with a very unchildlike story: They claimed that they had witnessed a neighbor boy, 12-year-old Fred Oland, kill the other child.

When questioned, young Oland first said that while shooting at a rabbit, he had accidentally killed the boy. Afterward, he denied that this was what had happened, offering various confused and contradictory stories to explain the child's death.

The possibility that Bodenmiller had been shot unintentionally, by Oland or someone else, was shattered when the post-mortem revealed that the bullet had entered the child's head at very close range. For whatever unimaginable reason, someone had deliberately killed little Andy execution-style.

Fred Oland was arrested, and lodged in the county jail while the police struggled to make sense of this unsettlingly unusual situation. Young Fred responded by simply refusing to talk. This 12-year-old instinctively knew how to "lawyer up" like the most experienced adult recidivist. A contemporary newspaper account noted rather incredulously that "Just as he seems on the point of telling something, a hard set look comes over his boyish countenance, and he says nothing to the queries that are propounded. In the opinion of the officers the child has been coached by some one, and he is merely obeying instructions to say nothing." It was also recorded that whenever the murdered boy was mentioned, Oland paled and looked visibly frightened--an understandable reaction, whether he was guilty or innocent. The Betts boys continued to insist that Oland was a precociously cold-blooded murderer.

A search of the Oland house revealed a small revolver hidden in the outhouse. Another revolver was found inside the house, hidden behind a dressing table. The family could offer no explanation why these weapons had been concealed.

A grand jury was called, and after hearing the testimony of over 60 witnesses, the panel returned an indictment of murder against Fred Oland. He was released on $2,000 bail to await his trial.

In April 1899, the now 13-year-old stood trial, charged with "feloniously, purposely, and with premeditated malice" mortally wounding the Bodenmiller child. Oland's original confession was admitted as proper testimony. Aside from the testimony of the Betts boys, the evidence against Oland was purely circumstantial, but highly suggestive. Apparantly, blood had been found in several places near the Oland residence. Samples were taken, but, as one witness said, "in some unaccountable manner they had disappeared." (Newspapers reported that this man "was not able to advance a theory as to the disappearance.") Testimony was introduced asserting that young Oland was known to habitually carry a revolver, and that at about the time of the murder he had been seen shooting his gun near the gravel pit where the murdered boy was found.

When "Freddie" himself took the stand, we are told he "preserved a coolness which baffled the severe cross-examination by the state." The "Muncie Morning News" related that "He spoke slowly, his manner was collected, and his evidence was given in a direct and convincing way." Oland stated that the police had frightened him into making his initial confession. He claimed that he had never owned a revolver, had not seen Bodenmiller all the day of the child's death, and had no knowledge of who had killed him.

The mother of the Betts boys, somewhat surprisingly, testified for the defense. The "Morning News" quoted her as saying of her sons that "Mikey was not bright, and that neither he nor Robbie had the slightest regard for the truth, hence their statements were calculated to get somebody into trouble." Backing up her testimony was a Mrs. Agnes Cowgill, who boarded with the Olands. She asserted that "Mikey" Betts had been in the house all of the day young Bodenmiller was killed. However, other witnesses asserted with equal certainty that they had seen both the Betts boys playing in various parts of town at the time the shooting was supposed to have occured.

Mrs. Mary Nye, who lived with her family in the same building as the Olands, corroborated Mrs. Cowgill's statement. However, the prosecution was able to show that her testimony differed in some respects from what she had said before the Grand Jury. She answered defiantly that she could not remember what she had said back then, but she was telling the truth now. During her testimony, the prosecuting attorney interrupted her by exclaiming, "Mrs. Nye, don't you know that Fred Oland killed Andy Bodenmiller back of Oland's barn, and that your husband helped to dispose of the body; and do you not know that he afterward left the city, and is now absent because fearing a subpoena to appear as a witness in this trial?" Mrs. Nye admitted that her husband was out of town, (she said he had fled an affidavit in a liquor case,) but denied all the rest of the lawyer's statement.

Was the prosecutor merely picking these words out of his hat, or did he have some solid reason to believe this is what really happened? The newspapers did not say.

Either the jury did not find any of these witnesses convincing, or they simply could not bring themselves to convict a 13-year-old of murder. Oland was acquitted. He listened to the verdict with the same indifference he had shown throughout the whole investigation. After the decision was read, he picked up his cap, walked over to his parents, and said calmly, "I won't go to school till Monday. I want to rest until then."

And here our story ends. Young Oland evidently did return to school, and disappeared back into obscurity. He seems to have spent the rest of his life in Muncie. It would be interesting to know what his townspeople thought of him. As far as I know, he had no further brushes with the law. In 1908, he married a Lulu Acton, but before many years passed, the couple divorced. In 1915, he took Adeline Merkel as his second wife. This marriage also failed. Oland initially worked as a bartender, but as the world moved into the moving-picture era, became a theater owner in Muncie. He died sometime after 1940.

And the murder of little Andy Bodenmiller remained an unsolved mystery.

This is one of those cases where the newspaper reports, however complete they may have been, are irritatingly unsatisfactory. They give only facts, with no sense of the personalities involved. The intangible, but crucial questions remain unanswered: Before the murder, did Fred Oland show any sign of being the sort of deeply disturbed child who might be capable of cold-blooded murder? What sort of person was he after the trial was over? How trustworthy were the little Betts boys? Was there any reason to suspect some adult might have a motive to kill this innocent little child?

Lacking such background information, it is hard to say whether Fred Oland was a horribly wronged little boy, or a junior psychopath who got lucky.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Weekend Link Dump

Renoir, "Luncheon of the Boating Party"

This week's Link Dump thanks you for not smoking during our show.

[Note: I happened to come across the Renoir, and I decided I fancied it for my regular WLD header more than the Hogarth I've been using.]

What the hell wiped out this ancient civilization?

Why the hell do we dream?

A skeleton mystery in California.

J.S. Bach was quite the bad boy.

You'll be glad to know that Cornwall still has witches.

The theory that Christopher Marlowe faked his own death, and other theatrical links.

The medieval manuscripts of John Bagford.

Shorter version: Malaysian ghosts are weird.

How to eat like George IV. Assuming you want a George IV waistline.

Yet another busy day at Tyburn.

True tales of premature burial.

A look at Britain's massive 1926 General Strike.

This week in Russian Weird looks at Soviet hippies.  Oh, and in Russia, vodka buys you.

The lawyer and the Martian princess.

Egypt just uncovered 30 ancient mummies.   Yes, it's "cue the spooky music" time.

Exercise programs from the 18th century.

The Dead Man of Clerkenwell.

Ghosts of the Georgian era.

Before there was the Twitter online mob, there was the coffin threat.

An astronaut claims to have seen some mighty weird things in space.

The Witch of Moorgate.

Why it was a pain in the neck to paint Napoleon's portrait.

Two more articles for the "We don't know jack about human history" file.  It's a mighty big file, too.

The often-sad fate of WWI-era Indian military widows.

A very unlucky chemist.

A Slovenian water spirit.

Pictish cryptids.

The cats who swam in milk.

The world's oldest pearl.

Victorian introductions.

The ghosts of Antarctica.

The controversial UFO of Trindade.

Why booze and jealousy do not mix well.

That's a wrap for this week! See you on Monday, when we'll look at a case where a child murdered a child...or did he? In the meantime, here's another autumn song:

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

via Newspapers.com

In which an opera house gets an unusual gate-crasher. The "Ottawa Citizen," December 20, 1930:
LONDON (By mail) A ghost-floating over the heads of a thousand dancers at Covent Garden opera house one night recently brought the music to an abrupt stop, while Mr. Herman Darewski, the conductor, sank into a chair horrified, and the baton slipped from his fingers.

The light had been subdued for a waltz, and a rotating ball of mirrors in the center of the hall cast a thousand shimmering spots of light on the ceiling, walls, and floor.

"A ghostly figure in armor resembling Wagner's Siegfried suddenly emerged from the solid wall opposite the band," declared Mr. Darewski, "and floated just over the heads of the dancers right across the hall in the direction of the stage door, and then faded mysteriously into nothing.

"It is my custom while conducting my band to turn from side to side to watch the dancers. We had almost finished playing the waltz when I noticed my drummer had ceased to play and was staring fixedly with a look of horror across the hall.

"I glanced round and saw what for a moment I thought was a patch of light from the revolving ball. I bent forward aid saw that it was a clearly-defined figure of a man helmeted and in armor, which was moving slowly immediately over the heads of the dancers. I was so dumbfounded that I scarcely noticed that my band had stopped. The dancers stared in amazement around them; wondering what had happened. A number ran over to me, thinking that I had been taken suddenly ill, and at that moment the floating figure, which had almost reached the stage door, faded away.

"I felt weak from shock. Members of the band crowded round, and two of them told me that they, too, had seen the armored figure pass through the hall."

Mr. Darewski wiped his forehead and added, "Even now I can scarcely speak calmly about what I saw. I am still shaken and unnerved, and I am still fearful that the apparition may prove to be an omen of tragedy.

"It was lucky that the dancers were looking at me when the music stopped, and not at the back of the hall. I fear that if they had seen what 1 saw there would have been a panic."

It has been a common rumor for more than 100 years that Covent Garden theater is haunted. The ghost of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, whose "Rivals" and other famous plays were produced there, has from time to time been met with in various parts of the older portions of the structure. The appearance of Sheridan has been said to coincide with some incident of importance, and a former Duke of Bedford, who was freeholder of the theater, always dreaded to hear that Sheridan had been seen. Other London theaters which are supposed to have been haunted include Drury Lane, where the ghost of the famous Dan Leno was seen by Stanley Lupino, the comedian, many years after Leno's death; the Haymarket theater, where the ghost of the late J. C. Buckstone is stated to have been seen on more than one occasion; and the Royalty theater, which is said at times to be visited by the ghost of a "White Lady."

Monday, October 21, 2019

The Dead Pig War

Via historic-uk.com

It is, of course, common knowledge that one of the precipitating factors of World War I was the murder of Franz Ferdinand and his wife. However, it is largely forgotten that another cold-blooded assassination very nearly sparked an armed conflict between America and Great Britain.

This week, let us remember the Great Dead Pig War of 1859.

The main stage for our little drama was San Juan Island, just off the coast of Washington state. The Donation Land Claim Act of 1850 granted 160 acres of the island to any white male citizen over the age of 21. One of the men taking advantage of this bounty was one Lyman Cutler. Cutler's efforts to prospect for gold in California had ended in failure, and he saw San Juan as his second chance to strike it rich on the West Coast.

Although he didn't know it at the time, when Cutler arrived on the island in April 1859, he was walking into an international hornet's nest. Both the United States and Great Britain were claiming San Juan as their territory, which was seen as a vital military strategic point. This led to a very irritable state of affairs between American settlers and the British Hudson Bay Company, who ran a sheep ranch on the island. Cutler, as well as most of the Americans on the island, were also unaware that legally, the Donation Land Claim Act did not apply to disputed areas such as San Juan. They may have believed they were rightful landowners, but, in reality, they were just squatters.

The land claimed by Cutler just happened to be in the middle of an area used by the Bay Company as a sheep run. Resenting this latest example of what they saw as brazenly illegal encroachment by the Americans, the Company opted to simply ignore Cutler's presence and continue to use the land as they pleased.

Matters reached the crisis point on June 15, 1859, when Cutler was greeted by the sight of a pig owned by Bay Company employee Charles Griffin merrily foraging through the settler's potato patch. This was hardly the first time his garden had been raided by Griffin's pigs, and for Cutler, this was the last straw. He grabbed his rifle and shot the intruder dead.

The Bay Company was as thoroughly sick of the sight of Cutler as he was of them. They indignantly demanded $100 from him as compensation. Cutler told them to pound sand. The British called for Cutler's arrest. Insults and threats began to fly from both sides. It was a perilous moment in the relations between their two countries. It was a situation that called for an objective mediator, a calming presence offering clear thinking and exquisite tact.

Instead, what everyone got was General William S. Harney.

Harney was the commander of the U.S. Army's Oregon Department. When he arrived on the island a few weeks later, the Pig Assassination was at the top of the many complaints the American residents leveled against the British. Harney was a protege of Andrew Jackson, and fully shared his mentor's hot temper, impulsive nature, and fiery antipathy towards the British. He saw the incident as a perfect opportunity to settle a number of scores. He summoned a detachment of infantrymen from Fort Bellingham, led by the equally hotheaded Captain George Pickett. Harney and Pickett made it clear they were out to teach the Bay Company a lesson. "We'll make a Bunker Hill out of it," Pickett boasted. They considered San Juan to be American territory, under American laws, and they dared the British to make something of it.

The British did. They retaliated by sending three warships to the island, with guns pointed squarely at the American camp.

Both nations entered into a game of "chicken." The Americans responded to these ships by bringing in artillery and an additional 400 soldiers. The British answered this with two more warships. Fortunately, everyone lacked any higher authority to go any further, so they held off on actually firing any shots. The British Rear Admiral Robert Baynes moaned that he could not believe the two nations were going to war "over a squabble about a pig." Both sides merely stared each other down uneasily, hoping that their own show of force would intimidate the other into backing down.

This uncomfortable standoff lasted until September, when word of the conflict finally reached the American President, James Buchanan. He sent to San Juan General Winfeld Scott, a man with a reputation for wisely managing sticky diplomatic situations.

It was a wise move. Scott managed to negotiate a joint occupation of the island. Each nation had 100 of their troops occupying different ends of the island, with the tacit agreement to just stay well out of each other's way.

Once the provocative influences of Harney and Pickett had been removed, peace gradually returned to San Juan, with the representatives from both nations learning to live in harmony with each other. In 1872, the long-simmering issue of who owned the island was finally resolved, with the United States legally securing the territory.

What became of Griffin's other pigs seems to be lost to history. One would think the very least they deserved was a memorial statue.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Weekend Link Dump

This week's Link Dump is sponsored by the Strange Company Riding Club!

What the hell was the Sword in the Stone?

Watch out for those second-hand mourning clothes!

The byways of Old London.

The life of Matilda of Flanders, aka "Mrs. William the Conqueror."

Jane Austen was not a fan of dentists.

That time Britain came out in droves to see a decomposed whale.  And keep your Royal Family jokes to yourself.

The life of the "Dandy King."

The NASA scientist who believes we've already found life on Mars.

Why Jim Buchanan begged to be hanged.  Fast.

In search of Chateaubriand.  The person, not the cut of meat.

Wager of law and the Elizabethan Star Chamber.

Scotland's "Falkirk Triangle."

This really might be more than you ever wanted to know about George Washington.

Thomas Edison's spirit phone.

The memoirs of the first English ambassador to India.

The Preston Poisoner.

Yes, they're still looking for Amelia Earhart.

Why we don't have the 1890 census.

The night Britain's Parliament burned down.

A look at pre-Peninsular War Spain.

An unsolved occult murder.

A brief history of dance halls.

A brief history of gnomes.

A brief history of menopause.

The execution of a Conventioner.

The first plays, and other theatrical links.

A 3,000 year old toolkit.

A barber is taken to court.

The hitchhiker killer of Santa Rosa.

The maps of Alexander von Humboldt.

The collapse of the Knickerbocker Theater.

The famed tragedian Edmund Keen.

A ghost in the archives.

Melanie had a little lamb...

The actor who was too sexy.

That's it for this week! See you on Monday, when we'll look at pig warfare. In the meantime, here's another autumn musical interlude:

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

Via Newspapers.com

The love lives of some people are...complicated.

Especially when ghosts are involved. The "St. Louis Post-Dispatch," August 4, 1909:
Mrs. Bessie Mendelsohn of 4457A Cottage avenue said Wednesday she was feeling fine spiritually and otherwise, now that her divorce suit against Jacob Mendelsohn, who has a spirit affinity, is on its way to trial in the materialistic Circuit Court.

Spirits disembodied, not alcoholic; yet spirits as loquacious as liquor sometimes makes embodied beings came between the Mendelsohns a dozen years ago, after they had enjoyed 15 years of wedded life. Ever since then the spirits have been causing trouble in the Mendelsohn household.

When poverty comes In at the door, love files out the window. It's just the same way as to spirits, or perhaps different in that when the spirits fly in at the window, love walks out at the door. Such is the Mendelsohn experience.

Jacob Mendelsohn associated with spirits so much that in time he came to have a spirit affinity. Not to appear selfish, however, he announced that his wife also had a spirit affinity. There was a difference In the qualities of these affinities which made Mrs. Mendelsohn sufficiently curious to attend a seance and find out about her affinity, though she scoffs at spiritualism. Hers was Irish.

"My husband told me," she said to a Post-Dispatch reporter, "that my spirit affinity was an Irishman. We, you know, are not Irish. I thought I'd go to a seance and try to find out something about this affinity of mine, whom I never had met and didn't really want to meet, you know.

"So Jacob took me to a seance over In East St. Louis, about three months ago. Mrs. Kate Davis, a medium at 6535 Easton avenue, conducted the seance.

"When I asked her to call up my spirit affinity, she did so. A voice readily recognized by its brogue, though of course I couldn't see the spirit, talked to me. He said he was a very handsome Irishman and was much in love with me. Some day, he aid, he would marry me. I was quite pretty, my affinity told me, and far too good to remain the wife of Jacob Mendelsohn."

It was just after Mrs Mendelsohn met her affinity voice to voice that Mendelsohn walked out of the house and took up quarters in a carpenter shop at 70S North Third street, where he sleeps on a cot.

But It wasn't the spirit affinity that drove him away. He had no objection to that spirit interference between man and wife. He had a spirit affinity of his own, as he had assured his wife time and again. Jacob's affinity, he told Mrs. Mendelsohn, was a tall, slender, handsome blonde.

Mrs. Mendelsohn is short and heavy, with dark hair, and is past 50 years old. Jacob's shadowland love was young as well as willowy. Whether he expected some time to wed the willowy wraith, Mrs. Mendelsohn says she does not know. She was not jealous of the sweet young spirit no more than was Jacob jealous of the handsome Irish spook who wooed his wife.

Jacob left the house because his flesh-mate utterly refused to credit his spirit mate, because she laughed at the willowy blonde and asked him how he knew she was a golden-halred ghost when he'd never glimpsed her--merely heard her cooing, wooing voice issuing from the mediumistic cabinet of Mrs. Davis.

Mrs. Mendelsohn laughed also at her own affinity, the rich-brogued son of Erin, and told Jacob she couldn't marry outside the orthodox Jewish fold.

But Jacob apparently never worried as to racial matters in the spirit world. In fact, his spiritualistic affiliations, Mrs. Mendelsohn says, had wooed him away from his religion. Mendelsohn insisted that pork was fine food and demanded that it be served on the table. Mrs. Mendelsohn protested, and there a decidedly unspiritual dispute over his material matter.

"It's immaterial to me what you eat way from home, Jacob." said his wife, "but you eat no pork in this house."

So said the two married daughters of the Mendelsohns, who live with the mother and the two other married daughters, who live elsewhere. It was a matter of five married women against one married man, with a spook affinity on his hands, and that is why Jacob Mendelsohn walked out of his door and went to live In the carpenter shop.

"Oh. yes. said Mrs. Mendelsohn, after detailing these facts. "I forgot to tell you that I know the name of my spirit affinity. He told me himself. He's Patrick O'Brien."

"And what is the name of the shadowy blonde?" she was asked.

"Ah. Jacob never would tell me." she sighed.

After reading this article a second time, I couldn't help but wonder if Mr. Mendelsohn's real "affinity" was not his nameless blonde spirit, but the very corporeal Mrs. Kate Davis.

But then, I have a suspicious mind.

Monday, October 14, 2019

The Poltergeist in the Allotment Shed

Generally speaking, poltergeists are the bratty kids of the paranormal world. They create a lot of noise, cause some damage, and make obnoxious spectacles of themselves, but they are, on the whole, seemingly helpless to do any real harm. Their antics are tiresome, rather than evil.

On occasion, however, polts exhibit threatening, even fiendish behavior. Reading these accounts, one understands why our ancestors attributed such sinister visitations as the work of the Devil. One of the more well-known cases of such malevolent hauntings took place in Bromley, England, in the early 1970s. It is also, fortunately for paranormal researchers, among the more well-documented poltergeist accounts.

Of all the places where you would expect hellish forces to erupt, an allotment shed probably rests at the bottom of the list. The Kentish Garden Guild of Bromley, England consisted of three pensioners, Alfred Taylor, Tony Elms, and Clifford Jewiss, who managed two sheds in the city's Grove Park allotments, which they used to sell gardening supplies to other allotment holders. It was a modest little enterprise, run by the retirees mainly as a way of keeping active.

It was on April 26, 1973, that these sheds began inspiring something considerably weirder than flowers or vegetables. The three men were in one of the sheds when some strange powder suddenly hit the ceiling. Before the trio had time to digest this occurrence, a small jug on a shelf abruptly flew across the room. Jewiss picked up the jug and placed it a covered box. Instantly, the jug was...somehow...back on the floor.

Flying jugs are quite bad enough. Ones that teleport themselves through solid matter are really too much.

That was just the beginning of any number of unexplainable and increasingly disruptive incidents. Fertilizer would shoot out from its bin, spraying anyone in the vicinity. A seven-pound weight sailed through the air, circling Taylor's head menacingly. Any and all items in the sheds would be seen, as Taylor put it, "going round the hut like skittles." Bottles would mysteriously become unscrewed, and their contents dumped on the floor. Large amounts of fertilizers would vanish from their storage containers. Once, when Elms was about to drink coffee, he noticed--fortunately, just in the nick of time--that its contents had been replaced with fertilizer. Half-ton bags of fertilizer would move on their own accord. At times, the sheds themselves would shake as though an earthquake had hit. Coins would fly throughout the rooms. One of their customers, George Bentley, summarized the situation quite nicely: "There were some right queer goings on."

The men were not only baffled by these events, but increasingly frightened. They sensed that whatever was causing these phenomena was not just mischievous, but hostile. Unsurprisingly, they lost customers--who wants to shop for a rake only to be hit in the head with a bag of fertilizer?--and the trio began to fear their personal safety was threatened.

Elms decided to try fighting occult with occult. One night, after consulting with a group of "white magicians," he performed an exorcism in one of the sheds. Those waiting outside heard chaos. The walls thudded loudly, and the heavy iron door repeatedly swung open. When Elms finally staggered out, he was bruised and bloody from a cut on the head.

Next morning, when the men returned to the shed, they saw what the entity thought of their spiritual efforts. As one of the men said, it looked "as if it had been hit by a bomb." Items which had been on the shelves were now circling in the air. Creepiest of all, the sign of the cross was painted or scratched everywhere inside the shed--on walls, on chairs, on bins...everywhere.

The Thing--whatever it could be called--was laughing at them.

The poltergeist began pursuing the men even when they were nowhere near the sheds. Taylor was--in the presence of witnesses--tormented by the entity in his own home. On another occasion, when he was in an office building, he felt invisible hands give him a strong shove. It seemed that there was no getting away from the harassment.

In September 1973, Taylor contacted the Society for Psychical Research. Perhaps professional assistance could finally rid them of this costly--and dangerous--pest. Two Society members, Pauline Runnells and Manfred Cassirer, made several visits to the sheds, and immediately saw that this was no hoax. The poltergeist treated its guests to its whole bag of diabolical tricks. Items flew about the room or were suspended in mid-air, or simply inexplicably disappeared. Security bolts on the windows vanished before their eyes. The buildings shook from the force of violent blows on the walls. They witnessed the entity ripping Elms' shirt and sticking a saw down his back. Later, a flower bulb was forced into Elms' mouth. (For whatever reason, Elms seemed to be a particular focus of the spirit's wrath.) During one visit, money belonging to Elms vanished. Runnells asked the entity to return his cash. Two coins suddenly appeared from nowhere, hitting her on the head.

The presence of the psychic detectives seemed to inspire the entity to new heights of High Strangeness. The number "1659" suddenly appeared on a wood panel. This was followed by more automatic writing: a question mark, various random letters, the name of one of Alfred Taylor's friends.

Perhaps the eeriest features of the entire haunting came next. On a shelf, the impression of a child's face began to appear. Then, a piece of brass with "MN" stamped on it suddenly dropped on the floor. Nobody present had ever seen such an object before. And what did "MN" mean?

That was for the poltergeist to know and none of them to find out.

Two chemicals stored in the shed, white sulphite and brown Maxicrop, were used by the entity to outline a skull on the counter. It appeared almost instantly, too fast for human hands to create it. Then, the sinister face gradually vanished.

The whole unnerving business kept going for nearly two years--an unusually long time for poltergeist visitations--until it suddenly stopped as unaccountably as it had begun. It was noted that the activity ceased when work on a nearby block of garages had finished, but it's anyone's guess if there was any possible connection.

Everyone who visited the allotment sheds during those two hectic years agreed that something very strange went on, something that was not capable of being created by any human trickery. But what did create it, and why?

We'll almost certainly never know while we're on this side of the grave.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Weekend Link Dump

The host for this week's Link Dump was, according to the description for this series of 1940 photos, "Australia's Most Remarkable Cat."  Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find out any more about this feline, but let us all pause and savor his/her undoubtedly impressive way with a bottle.

Via Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales and courtesy ACP Magazines Ltd

Watch out for those haunted trains!

What the hell is the Box of Crazy?

The days when, instead of going to Disneyland, you took the kids to the morgue.

The days when Nancy Drew was banned.

The controversy over some Puerto Rican stones.

A prostitute who really knew her way around a mugshot.

Mammoths were around for a lot longer than you might think.

The link between feminism and "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

The death of a conspiracy theorist spawns... conspiracy theories.

The era of home theatricals.

Two bad brothers.

The colorful life of a figure skating pioneer.

Crystal chandeliers and the Shah of Persia.

Mysterious Latvian stones.

The world of Early Modern murder mysteries.

The Great Tango Craze.

The last witch to be executed in Austria.

Modern technology reveals ancient writings.

A Nazi sympathizer writes about the black arts.

The Lincolnshire vicar who really didn't think much of his flock.

Historians can't stop arguing about whether or not James Buchanan was gay.

A particularly gruesome unsolved occult murder.

Gambling with death.  Literally.

Grand Guignol a go-go, and other theatrical links.

Let's talk Sardinian throat singing.

A mysterious Saudi Arabian civilization.

A Bronze Age New York in Israel.

The poltergeist's pin cushion.

Why Catherine was the Great.

Joseph Dunninger and the spiritualist.

When you see those magic words, "boy with two skulls," you know you're looking at a Thomas Morris post.

Chaucer and alchemy.

The truth behind a startling footnote.

How the West got Chinese lilies.

A child-killing servant.

A look at Poe's final home.

A look at underwater unidentified objects.

A look at carrier pigeon blackmail.

Myths about medieval building.

Cries of London, 1913.

The banshee and the rector.

The remarkable dog of Fish Street Hill.

If you like chewing gum, thank an exiled Mexican General.

The folklore of Artificial Intelligence.

A gravestone for an arm.

Jane Austen's "fairy tale" brother.

Anyone remember the post I did about a haunted house winding up as the center of a lawsuit?  Well, here's your big chance to own it.

From bigamy to murder.

The ghosts of the Blue Mountains.

The life of Judith of Flanders.

The life of Rutherford Hayes.

More evidence that ancient humans got around much more than we think.

The end of the Richard Burgess gang.

Cats as...sanitary engineers.

The case of the Shadwell Forgeries.

That is all for this week. See you on Monday, when we'll talk gardening poltergeists. In the meantime, here's another autumn-themed song.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

Via Newspapers.com

It's Mystery Flood time! Flying Mystery Floods! The "Los Angeles Times," August 31, 1979:
Fountain Valley - She stood in the hallway of her home with holes in the ceiling and floor, the rugs ripped up and a drill blasting away outside.

Sandy Johnson, looking the worse for wear, was setting the record straight.

The house was not haunted, she said. It never had been. There were no demons lurking in the woodwork. And none of the family's three daughters has any supernatural powers.

It was only water. Mrs. Johnson went into the next room and brought back a letter from an Irvine couple who would be wise not to show up at the Johnson doorstep. The letter said the couple were Christians, that they were praying for the Johnsons and that they would like to drop by and do some more praying.

Mrs. Johnson was not impressed. It was only water.

Then she told about a man who called and said he was an exorcist, that he would be glad to drop over and rid the house of the devil.

Mrs. Johnson was downright angry. It was only water.

"We haven't even been able to sit down to dinner for the last five days," she said. "People are calling from early in the morning until late at night. How would you like that?"

Obviously, Mrs. Johnson doesn't. Nor does the rest of the Johnson family, although they are not quite so vocal about their distaste for new-found notoriety.

The root of all this, obviously, is water.

About a month and a half ago, strange things started happening in the Johnson home. First, Bill Johnson, Sandy's husband, noticed some water around the dishwasher and he wiped it up. It reappeared.

"Then we began detecting water on the floor and ceiling, large puddles on the ceiling," he said.

"After about three or four days, we had some plumbing people in here. They started knocking holes in the ceiling but couldn't find anything.

"In the course of this, we happened to notice water flying through the air. It's for real and it's flying through the air."

Now, flying water is not your standard everyday occurrence. More and more plumbing people paraded through the house. The Fountain Valley public works director stopped by for a look, as did the city manager.

At one point, a geyser of water, which seemingly came from the concrete foundation, spewed up, knocked out a screen in the kitchen and splattered the curtains of the house next door.

Later, a volley of water hit a picture on the hallway wall and nearly knocked it off its nail.

Bill Johnson, in an effort to determine where the water was coming from, drilled several small holes in the kitchen and hall way. Then he drilled a bigger one near the sink, one about eight inches in diameter. He put a board over it. The board was knocked away from the hole. So he replaced the board with a heavy paint can, which was toppled by the force of the spray.

Eventually, the Johnsons' four-bedroom home began looking like a victim of extreme vandalism, and still the water kept coming, sometimes hot, sometimes cold.

"You can see the water materialize as it goes through the air," Bill Johnson said. "It's moving so fast, you can see it from five or six feet away, but you can't get out of the way."

Adding to the confusion, the Johnson home was soon filled with reporters, notified initially because the landlord, Royal Stowe, had just about gone the limit in finding a solution to the problem. He even went so far as to offer a $5,000 reward to anyone who could stop the water.

Then, along came Mel de Ford, a mustachioed Santa Ana plumber with a master's degree in engineering, who heard about the Johnson's dilemma from his company's bookkeeper. Thursday, he and another workman were at the Johnson home, drilling 10-foot-long holes under the house at a 22 1/2-degree angle. The 16 holes are 2 1/2 inches in diameter and De Ford's theory is that the house is like a cork in a tea kettle. Hydrostatic pressure builds up under the house and, seeking a release, it has permeated the concrete and emerges as a spray.

The pipes being fitted in the holes, he said, will be used to release the pressure from under the house. He guarantees his solution will work, but said he doesn't want the reward. The problem, he said, isn't new.

"I did the same thing to (actor) Cornel Wilde's house 15 years ago," he said.
Problem solved, you say? Plumber to the Stars triumphs over Water Spooks?

Read on. The "Times" carried a sequel on September 7, in which our water-logged family deals with the one thing more horrifying than Fortean Floods and a demolished house: Government bureaucracy.
With a sputter and a splat, the water came out of nowhere and splashed on the concrete of the hallway.

"There it goes again," said Mel de Ford. In seconds, he was down on his hands and knees in the kitchen, where the sputter and splat had come from, feeling the linoleum for damp spots.

The search led to a spot by the refrigerator, which was wet on both the side and top, and De Ford finally pinpointed what seemed to be the water source. There was no hole, no apparent way the water could have forced its way through the cracks in the tile. Yet there was no way of denying the sputter and splat and the puddle on the concrete.

The water had struck again in the continuing saga of this Fountain Valley home where nature has been playing funny tricks for the last two months.

To summarize: A week ago, Bill and Sandy Johnson, who live in the house, were in a blue funk. This unknown water source had turned their home, which they rent, into an oddball place.

At night, they would awaken and find themselves drenched with water. The water force was so strong that a large picture hanging in the hallway was nearly knocked off its nail. The rugs in the hallway had to be ripped out because they were soaked.

Bill Johnson started drilling holes in the floor to see if he could find the source of the mysterious water jets. Plumbers knocked holes in the ceiling for the same reason. The home became a shambles. People wrote asking permission to pray inside the house to rid it of water. A man offered to perform an exorcism. And Sandy Johnson indicated she was about to come unglued because of all the people tramping through the living room.

De Ford, a plumber, said he could rid the house of the water by drilling holes under the foundation, thus releasing hydrostatic pressure he believed was pushing water through concrete. From that beginning, De Ford has become one of the central figures in the story, spending much of his time at the Johnson home, to a point where his wife is complaining that he doesn't have enough time to fix two leaky faucets in their own home.

The holes were never completed because De Ford said he understood that the city did not want him to do anything just yet That was last week. Since then, an array of government officials have become involved in the case of the water-soaked house.

Tuesday, the Fountain Valley City Council ordered a report recommending action to correct the problem. City Atty. Thomas Woodruff told the council the city should determine whether water beneath the Johnson home is connected to the city water system, whether permits are needed to drill, what the impact of drilling would be on the underground water table and how the drilling might affect adjacent properties.

Wednesday, Philip Anthony, chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, paid a call at the Johnson home, accompanied by Jim Fairchild, a geologist with the Orange County Water District. De Ford even called the governor's office in an attempt to expedite a solution to the problem. The result of all this will be known in the next episode.

Wayne Osborne, the Fountain Valley director of public works, said the city needs more information before it can undertake a major project.

Anthony said in a telephone call to De Ford Thursday that he was willing to offer county help in pinpointing the problem.

"I think that by tomorrow, we should have the people lined up," Anthony told De Ford.

Fairchild said he wanted to spend some time at the Johnson home, even if it meant doing it on his own time.

"I'd like to spend some more time on it and see some of those spurts of water myself," he said.

And, as for the Johnsons, the blue funk has pretty much passed them by as they have become more attuned to their sudden fame and the attention of governmental leaders.

"Right now, we're caught up in the political machine," said Bill Johnson.

And, yes, savor the delightful supernatural wit that had all this taking place in "Fountain Valley," California.

For whatever reason, the story disappeared from the newspapers after this, so I cannot say how the problem was resolved. If this was like typical Mystery Floods, the water soon dried up as suddenly and inexplicably as it started.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Murder by Astrology

Roseberg News-Review, September 7, 1923, via Newspapers.com

People have differing opinions about astrology. To some, it is ridiculous quackery, of interest only to con artists and the gullible. Others see it as innocent amusement; not to be taken altogether seriously, perhaps, but still worth the trouble of checking your horoscope each day in the newspaper. To others, it is a serious science that, when practiced correctly, does not only reveal personality traits, but gives a road map to one's future life.

It's not every day that you come across someone who also saw it as a murder weapon.

Meet the family of Bandon, Oregon chiropractor Fred Covell and his fourth wife, Ebba (the first two Mrs. Covells died and the third did a runner.) Living with them were 16 year old Alton and 14 year old Lucille, Fred's children from his third marriage, and Fred's forty-seven year old brother Arthur. It could not be called a cheery family. Both Alton and Lucille were mentally disabled. In December 1920, Arthur's back had been broken in an auto accident, leaving his lower body permanently paralyzed. He seldom left his bedroom.

Knoxville Journal, January 18, 1948

Whatever one could say about Arthur Covell--and, as you will learn, one could say plenty--he was far from a stupid man. He had used his involuntary leisure time to teach himself astrology and the art of making horoscopes. He used this skill to build up a highly successful business in mail-order horoscopes and fortune-telling. (According to at least one report, his client list included Hollywood director William Desmond Taylor. If true, it would be interesting to know what Covell predicted for his future.) Arthur made an eerie spectacle to those unfamiliar with him. He had a long, gaunt body, with deep-set black eyes and long dark beard set against pale, corpselike skin. Seeing him lying in bed, with all of his astrological paraphernalia strewn around him and charts of the heavens plastered over the bedroom walls, put people in mind of a medieval sorcerer in his lair.

Relations between this suburban John Dee and his sister-in-law were not good. Arthur had an irritatingly sardonic, sneering way about him, and Ebba deeply resented his presence in the household. According to Lucille, Mrs. Covell even complained about the amount of food Arthur ate. The tension led to frequent quarrels between Ebba and her husband.

Ebba Covell, Knoxville Journal, January 18, 1948

In short, the Covell home was a strained one. However, nobody knew just how strained it was until September 3, 1923. Around mid-day, Arthur used the telephone extension by his bedside to call his brother's office. "You better get home here fast," he told Fred. "The brats [Arthur's charming way of referring to his niece and nephew] tell me there's something wrong with Ebba."

This was quite the understatement. When Fred arrived home, he found his wife's corpse lying on her bed. When he asked his son for an explanation, Alton replied, "Dunno. I found her lying on the floor in the hall by the telephone when I came in from the barn."

"What's the matter with her, Pop?" asked Lucille.

"She's dead," Fred replied.

When Fred went to his brother's room to tell him the tragic news, he found that Arthur was completely unsurprised. "She's dead, ain't she, Fred?" said Arthur mockingly. "The kids wouldn't tell me. But the stars did. They always tell. Jupiter and Mars are adverse to the sun and Venus. That's a juxtaposition Ebba couldn't take."

When the police arrived, they soon came to a far more earthly conclusion about what had killed Ebba. They noted that Ebba's face was oddly mottled, with red marks running from her mouth and nostrils. They noted a bruise on her forehead. They noted that Fred was showing a curious haste to have his wife buried. They noted that Fred himself signed Ebba's death certificate, stating, "natural causes." They noted that Fred's alibi--that he had been at his office all day--could not be corroborated by anyone. In fact, Arthur told them that when he first called Fred's office, his brother was not there.

Law enforcement began to smell a husbandly rat. They got a judge to delay Ebba's burial, pending further investigation.

When police interviewed Ebba's nearest and dearest, they got precisely nowhere. Fred was listless and sullen. Alton and Lucille were equally uncommunicative. Arthur--who seemed to be getting an intense private amusement from the situation--did nothing but chatter about how the stars did Ebba in.

Alton Covell, New York Daily News, January 18, 1948

The post-mortem raised further suspicions. It found that Ebba's neck was dislocated, but not enough to have caused her death. There were bruises around her neck, but no evidence of actual strangulation. It was a mystery what caused the strange red, burn-like marks on her face. The coroner could not determine just what had killed Mrs. Covell, but he was certain it "wasn't natural." The inquest jury returned a verdict that Ebba died at the "hands of a person or persons unknown."

The police had a far easier time coming up with a suspect, by a simple process of elimination. It was obvious that Ebba had been killed--by whatever means--by someone in her family. It was impossible for the paralyzed Arthur to have done the deed. Alton and Lucille, detectives reasoned, were not mentally capable of carrying out what was obviously a sophisticated crime. That left only one person. Within an hour of the inquest's conclusion, a warrant was issued charging Fred Covell with the murder of his wife. Both he and Arthur were lodged in the county jail, while Alton and Lucille were sent to the county farm. (It was felt necessary to keep Fred's relatives in custody as material witnesses.) A second, more thorough, autopsy was done on Ebba, which finally revealed how she died. A cloth soaked in ammonia had been pressed against her mouth and nose, suffocating her. It was a diabolically clever method--if it had not been for the ammonia leaving those burn marks on her face, the authorities would never have been able to determine the cause of death, making a murder investigation nearly impossible.

Although detectives were certain that Fred was responsible for Ebba's death, they realized there was a discouraging lack of evidence to prove it. In the hopes of strengthening their case, a search was done of Fred's office and the Covell home. They indeed found the proof they were seeking, but it took them in another direction altogether--and it was the most bizarre and unexpected direction imaginable.

In Arthur's bedroom, they found a memorandum book, full of notations in the astrologer's handwriting. They were all in code, but in a simple one that was easily deciphered. Detectives were stunned when they realized what they were seeing. One entry read, "The moon in the house of trine Uranus. Ought to get $5,000 from Corson [a wealthy local citizen] for Wi and Peg back. Sign note K.K.K." Another referred to plans to have the family of a rich dairyman named E.J. Pressy die in a house fire, but "not before you take the doors and windows out of it to be used in my new house." Merchant Ira S. Sidwell was to "fall down stairs at store. Will have will and other papers in pocket." On every page, Arthur recorded plans to assassinate twenty-seven of Bandon's most prominent residents--automobile crashes, drownings, poisonings, every murder method in the book, and a few the book never even contemplated. He made careful calculations for the most propitious dates and times for these exterminations. It was an astrological diary of death. Investigators also found a stack of wills Arthur had forged, where his planned victims were described as leaving him or his agents all their worldly goods.

The date of Ebba Covell's demise was found over and over in the little book, with notations figuring out the most advantageous time of day for her murder. Near the end was an entry reading "6:20 a.m. Sept 3, Monday. Will Al do his part?" A subsequent entry: "Sept 3. Eleven a.m. Should have been 11:14."

When investigators confronted Arthur, he smirked. He was quite proud of his handiwork. "Heh, heh!" he chortled. "Found it, eh? Thought you'd want to know about it. Stars said you would." When asked what he meant by these sinister notations, Arthur replied contemptuously, "I wished things to happen to people. Got any law against wishing?"

The interview with Arthur left detectives angry and frustrated. It was clear he knew exactly what had happened to Ebba, but any attempts to get him to confess just brought on more astrological babblings. Police turned to Alton, who, they felt certain, was the "Al" Arthur hoped would "do his part." When questioned about the book, the boy almost instantly crumbled. "I did it for Uncle Arthur," he sobbed. "He made me and Lucille do anything he wanted. Bad things always seemed right when he talked to us. When he said do it we just did anything because it seemed the thing to do."

Alton readily provided a formal written statement. It said:
Uncle Arthur told me to buy a 10-cent bottle of ammonia. Then he told me we'd have to kill Ebba because she had learned something he wanted to do and she was going to tell Fred. It was something that would make us all rich and she would spoil his plans.

So, she was standing by the telephone when I came in. I put the cloth on her face and held her arms with my left arm around her. It took a long time. I don't know how long. I called Lucille and we got Ebba up on her bed. She was all limp and dead. Lucille threw the bottle down the gully. My uncle told her to. He told us what to say to Dad and the police, so we did. He said he would have a lot more work for me--kidnapping, setting fires, pushing people downstairs. All exciting.

When asked about all this, Lucille confirmed every detail of Alton's story. The teens felt a supernatural awe of their uncanny uncle. They were convinced he was a genuine wizard, and they did not dare contradict or defy him in any way. Even if it meant killing their stepmother and a sizable percentage of their neighbors.

When Arthur was informed that his niece and nephew had grassed on him, he scornfully told all. "The brats are telling the truth," he said scornfully. "I'd have been master of this county after Alton had killed a few good-for-nothings around here if I'd obeyed the stars. Shouldn't ever have worked up Ebba's horoscope on a day when the heavens were unfriendly to me. Made a simple mistake. Figured the wrong day and hour."

Arthur's sole regret was that he had mis-timed his sister-in-law's murder by fourteen minutes.

Coos Bay Times, October 9, 1923

Covell's murder trial began on November 5, 1924. Although his lawyers made vigorous efforts to save their client's quite worthless neck, the fact that all three participants in the murder had freely and fully confessed was a handicap Perry Mason couldn't have overcome. The star witness was Lucille Covell, who calmly explained in great detail how her uncle had enlisted Alton as his hit man. She giggled throughout her whole testimony, as if the whole matter was an excellent joke. The jury needed little time to deliver a verdict of guilty. Murder in the first degree, with a pointed lack of recommendation for mercy. On May 22, 1925, this strangest of would-be serial killers--with his final self-cast horoscope stuffed in the waistband of his pants--was brought to the gallows in a wheelchair and hanged. It was a particularly grim business. Arthur was so thin and frail, he was too lightweight for the noose to break his neck. For a full twenty-six minutes, his paralyzed body slowly strangled to death.

A horrible end, but arguably no worse than what he had planned for a great many innocent people.

New York Daily News, January 25, 1931

A few days after the end of Arthur's tribunal, Alton was tried on the same charges. He too was convicted, although the jury in his case recommended mercy. He was given a life term at the state penitentiary. In October 1932, he was released on a conditional pardon. Alton, so far as is known, led an uneventful life from then on until he died in Texas in 2002. Lucille was never tried, and her subsequent history is unknown.

After his execution, Arthur was cremated. As no one claimed his ashes, they are still stored at the Oregon State Hospital, a suitably macabre relic of one of history's most occult murder cases.