FULL TEXT: Chicago – Nineteen deaths are being investigated in connection with the poison murder charges against Mrs. Margaret Summers, rooming house proprietor, Coroner Herman N. Bundesen stated Sunday.
The deaths were those of lodgers and relatives of the woman, who is already accused of four poison slayings.
The additional names were obtained in a canvass Sunday of five homes in which Mrs. Summers has lived since she came to Chicago from Eflingham, Ill.
Each death, officials said, was entered in the woman's family Bible, which was confiscated.
Further exhumations, the coroner said, may establish whether the deaths of these other persons were accomplished by poison.
Deaths of two of Mrs. Summers’ husbands, bringing the total of her fatal marriages to five, have been disclosed, the coroner said, and as a result the inquiry has been carried back to a period of 25 years ago.
They were Stanley Jones and James Lynch. The deaths of these two antedated those of three other known husbands of Mrs. Summers.
Information concerning Lynch and Jones was supplied by Mrs. Summer’s stepmother, Mrs. William Meyers, of Eflingham. She said her stepdaughter married Lynch almost 30 years ago. A daughter born to the couple died at the age of three and Lynch’s death occurred shortly afterward. Jones was the second husband of the woman.
The investigators are seeking to learn if Mrs. Summers insured these men as she had the others.
The three other husbands whose deaths had been established previously were James Fairfax, Stanley Korzen and Thomas Summers.
Mrs. Summers is formally charged with murder in connection with the deaths of Summers, Thomas Myers, 17, a nephew; Thomas Lanagan, 46, a roomer, and William Heenan, 72, a roomer. She held insurance policies in excess of $5,500 on the four.
[“19 Deaths Probed for Poison As Chicago Woman Is Held Find Names in Family Bible; 5 of Her Husbands Died,” syndicated (AP), The Capital Times (Madison, Wi.), Jun 1, 1931, sec. 2, p. 1]
FULL TEXT: Chicago – Mrs. Margaret Summers, middle-aged widow, was convicted early today of the "flypaper" poison murder of her nephew, Thomas Meyer, 17, by a jury which deliberated less than four hours.
The jury set her punishment at 14 years in the penitentiary.
The case of the gray-haired stoical widow was unique in local annals in the method the state charged Mrs. Summers with employing in the poisoning of her nephew.
The state maintained the widow who has survived four husbands soaked flypaper sheets treated with arsenic to induce the chronic arsenic poisoning which physicians testified caused the boy’s death.
Prosecutor C. Wayland Brooks in his closing arguments charged the widow poisoned her orphan nephew who had given her his daily earnings in order to collect eight insurance policies she had taken out on his life.
The state did not ask the death penalty. The jury which received the case at 9 p. m. last night deliberated until after midnight.
Testifying in her own behalf Mrs. Summers admitted the purchase of flypaper as claimed by the state but said it was obtained last April because “it was pretty hot that month. We were making beer and there were a lot of little flies around.”
Her nephew died last May after a lengthy illness said by physicians to be chronic arsenic poisoning. Mrs. Summers’ attorneys moved for a new trial.
[“Poison Slayer Gets 14 Years,” syndicated (UP), The Vidette-Messenger (Valparaiso, In.), Mar. 1, 1932,. p. 1]
For links to other cases of woman who murdered 2 or more husbands (or paramours), see Black Widow Serial Killers.