Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Woman's License to Kill: Chicago, 1924


LOW STATE OF MORALITY.

FULL TEXT: It is not encouraging to believers in suppression of crime and criminals of the type of the two college students now awaiting trial in Chicago for the horrible murder of a school boy, to consider that these two dangerous youths will be punished. Not in Chicago which has such a smelly record of clearing murderesses that the newspapers write of the constant turning loose of feminine killers as merely a formality. We have not at hand the exact figures showing the number of murderesses freed by juries the past two years, but they must total close to a hundred.

It is well understood that a woman of reasonably good looks and a good dresser, may murder with impunity, and be assured that aside from the inconvenience of spending a few weeks or months in jail, she will be turned loose, no matter how hideous may be her crime. Only the aged or unattractive killers need fear punishment.

Within the past two weeks, two murderesses have been freed—one being Beulah Annan, said to be the prettiest murderess picked up by the police in several years. She is a married woman with a worthless husband who shared in her illicit gains. A country youth, green and susceptible, became enamored of her. She posed as a single woman and the boy courted her apparently in good faith. Finally he learned she was married and visited her apartment to denounce her for her heartlessness and to bid her goodby. She laughed as the poor devil sobbed out his grief and as he turned to walk from the room, declaring he was through forever, she made his statement good by emptying a revolver into his back. As he lay dying on the floor, she seated herself at the piano and played jazz music. The body lay as it had fallen for some time until neighbors, hearing the shots, notified the police who came and removed it and took the pretty murderess to jail. The sob-squad from the newspapers got on the job and the girl put on her finest clothes, walked into court, ogled the jurors as they were being examined, flirted with those who would flirt and picked a jury of bachelors to try her case.

Then she “collapsed” a few times and her lawyer wept all over the place and she walked out a free woman to prey on other susceptible “boobs” who may not have seen her picture in the papers.

A few days ago another married murderess, Belva Gartner, who shot down a young advertising man, was acquitted and the Chicago Tribune tells how “murderess row” mourns, because there are only four left and they are afraid they may not get away. Two are colored and two are middle aged. The two recently freed, says the Tribune, “killed young men friends and these ladies—the four remaining— only bumped off their husbands.” The Tribune’s cynical but truthful reporter adds:

“Only four women, the fewest in years, are now awaiting trial for murder—for they’re getting out even faster than they’re getting in. So they can’t hope for publicity, maybe not even acquittal. They’ll be given the same chance with the ‘weapons of defense’ that the other women have had; powder, rouge, lip-stick, and mascaro. Makeup is taboo in jail, only soap and water is permitted, until those testing days when they face the ‘twelve good men and true.’

“Then begins the fashion show, for each woman is firmly convinced that clothes make the man look more sympathetically. Shops send dresses on approval, friends bring in frocks of their own, and anxious lawyers borrow from their wives for their clients. They study every effect, turn, and change—and who can say it’s time wasted!

“But these ‘girls’ will lack the advice of Belva, known even in some other circles as an expert in dress.”

[“Low State of Morality.” The Helena Independent (Wi.), Jun. 11, 1924, p. 4]

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