Thursday, September 22, 2011

Annie Crawford, the "Morphine Missionary" New Orleans Suspected Serial Killer - 1911, New Orleans




Jun. 25, 1910 – Mary Agnes Crawford, sister, dies; $300 insur.
Jul. 15, 1910 – Walter C. Crawford, father, died; $800 insur.
Jul. 29, 1910 – Mrs. Crawford, mother, dies; $400 insur.
Sep. 23, 1911 – Elise Crawford, sister, dies; $250 insur.
Sep. 27, 1911 – Annie Crawford, 29, arrested; written “confession.”
Mar. 11, 1912 – First day of trial. Mrs. Robert Ceawford, auunt & Gertrude Crawford, sister, testify. Organs of Elise brought into court in glass jars.
Mar. 27, 1912 – Mistrial declared.

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FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 6): New Orleans, Sept. 27. – A young woman of French American extraction, under arrest for the murder of a younger sister whose life was insured in her favor, tonight admitted to the district attorney that she had administered morphine to the girl, but had done so by mistake. If the law succeeds in enmeshing her in the network of of circumstantial evidence it is attempting to cast about her, this woman, Annie Crawford, aged 29, may have no answer not only for the death of her sister, Elise, a pretty stenographer, bu also for the poisoning of three other members of her family who have died mysteriously within the past 15 months, all carrying life insurance in her favor.

The woman, who is alleged to be a drug field, was arrested late today following a report from a chemist who analyzed the sister’s stomach after her death last Saturday to the effect that he had found traces of morphine. She declared tonight that she had intended to give her sister calomel and soda. She said she had stolen the morphine from the Presbyterean hospital, where she was formerly in charge of the drug department. After discovering her mistake, she was afraid to call in the doctor and decided to say nothing about it. She admitted that she and her sister were not on good terms, asserting that Elise has not “treated” her right.

Miss Crawford also admitted tonight that she had addicted to the use of morphine for five years with the exception of a brief period and that she had not had any since last Saturday morning. She said she was accustomed to getting the morphine at the hospital.

The bodies of the woman’s father, mother and another sister will be exhumed to ascertain whether they really died from the effects of poisoning.

~ MODERN LUCRETIA BORGIA. ~

In the arrest here late this afternoon [Sep. 27] Crawford [for the death of her] sister, Elise, a pretty stenographer, the police took their first step in an avowed effort to reveal the woman as a modern Lucretia Borgia.

Three other members of the Crawford family have died under mysterious circumstances within the past 15 months and Annie Crawford was the beneficiary named in the insurance policies on the life of each. The policies amounted to only $1,750 however. The police say she spent nearly all the money for clothes.

Elise Crawford died suddenly last Saturday and under circumstances so suspicious that the coroner had the contents of the stomach analyzed by  an expert chemist. The finding of traces of morphine was followed by the arrest of the sister. The authorities indicated that the bodies of of the three other members of the family would be exhumed for a similar examination.

District Attorney Adams declined to state tonight whether he contemplated charging Annie Crawford with the murder of all four members of the family, but he dictated the following statement to the Associated Press:

~ CHARGE MURDER OF SISTER. ~

“It was established today that Annie Crawford is a drug fiend and probably is addicted to morphine. It is also established that Annie Crawford had access during the past three weeks to morphine and was in a position to obtain it in practically any quantity during that period. During the indisposition od Elise Crawford she bitterly complained that her food and drink were doped. I have charged Annie Crawford with the murder of her sister, Annie.”

For five hours today the Crawford woman was under examination by the police. She stoutly maintained her innocence and appeared cool and unconcerned throughout. She is alleged to have made numerous contradictory statements and when confronted with evidence tending to incriminate her, she would declare again and again “tis not so.” Annie Crawford also holds an insurance policy on the life vof her youngest sister, Gertrude who told the district attorney today that she was afraid of her sister.

In one-fifth of a cupful of the contents of Elise Crawford’s stomach Dr. A. L. Metz, the city chemist, found 3 ½ grains of morphine, sufficient to kill two persons.


~ ALL DIE SUDDENLY. ~

The first of the Crawford household to die was Mary Agnes Crawford, sister of the prisoner. Her deatgh occurred June 25, 1910, suddenly, supposedly of acute meningitis. Three weeks later, July 15, 1910, her father died, uremic poisoning being given as the cause. After an interval of two weeks, or on July 29, 1910, her mother died. In her case uremic poisoning was also given as the cause.

Annie Crawford held insurance policies on the lives of the deceased in the following sums:

Walter C. Crawford, father, $800; Mrs. Crawford, mother, $400; Mary Agnes Crawford, sister, $300; Elise Crawford, sister, $300. She collected the insurance in each case except that of her sister Elise, payment of which was withheld pending the certificate of death. On Monday morning following her sister’s death, Annie made demand on the insurance company for the money. On that day she also went to the railroad office where her sister had been employed as stenographer and collected $45 due the deceased.

Assistant Chief of Detectives, Dan F, Mouney got the first tip involving the prisoner when he learned that she had recently purchased oxalic acid.

~ LOST HOSPITAL POSITION. ~

For several years Annie Crawford had charge of the drugs department of the Prebyterian hospital. She lost her position there more than a year ago, it is alleged, following the disappearance of a quantity of drugs. Recently she has made several visits to the hospital.

Walter C. Crawford, the father, was a carpenter and a native of this city. The mother was of French extraction.

Annie Crawford is pale and frail and of small stature. She looks more like a prim and self-conscious school teacher than a person with criminal inclinations. A wealth of dark sandy hair, arranged in an elderly fashion and which causes her to really look older than her 29 years. Her pale blue eyes are magnified by eyeglasses of large thick lenses, her nose is rather small and short, and her mouth is large, with full lips. She frustrated every attempt of the newspaper photographers to get her picture today, by persistently holding a large black fan before her face.

[“Police Find New Lucretia Borgia – Woman Morphine Field Believed to Have Poisoned Four Members of Family to Secure Insurance. – Confesses Killing Of Younger Sister.”  The Spartanburg Herald (S. C.), Sep. 28, 1911, p. 1]

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FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 6): New Orleans, Sept. 28. – That Miss Annie charged with killing her sister Elise, a stenographer, last week, by administering poison, has made a partial confession to the district attorney, is the story told by the police.

In her confession Annie admitted giving poison to Elise, but said she did it by mistake. Her statement did not involve the cases of the other members or the family. The girl says she gave morphine, thinking it was calomel tablets, and then that she did not call and tell him of the mistake because she was afraid of her aunt.

Three other members of the Crawford family have died under within the past 15 months, and Annie Crawford is said to have been the named in the insurance policies on the life of each.

~ Coroner Grew Suspicious. ~

Elise Crawford died suddenly last Sunday and under so suspicious a manner that the coroner had the contents of her stomach analyzed. The finding of enough morphine to kill at least two persons was followed by the arrest of the sister. The indicated the bodies of the other three members of the family would be exhumed for a similar examination.

District Attorney Adams declined to state whether he contemplated charging Annie Crawford with the murder of all four members of the family, but he dictated the following statement:

“It was established that Annie Crawford is a drug victim and probably is addicted to morphine. It is also established that Annie Crawford had access during the last three weeks to morphine and was in a position to obtain it in practically any quantity during that period. During the indisposition of Elise Crawford she bitterly complained that her food and drink was doped. I have charged Annie Crawford with the murder of her sister Elise.”

[“Says She Gave Wrong Tablets - New Orleans Girl Admits Poisoning Sister Was Insurance Beneficiary - Finding Morphine In  Stomach Of Stenographer Leads Suspicion That Three Other Members Crawford Family Who All Died Under Peculiar Circumstances Within The Last Months May Have Been Victims Of Similar Mistake,” The Democratic Banner (Mt. Vernon, Oh.), Sep. 29, 1911, p. 1]

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FULL TEXT (Article 3 of 6): New Orleans, La., Oct. 11. – If as local criminologists believe, Annie Crawford, charged with the murder of her sister Elsie, is a “morphine missionary,” it may explain the strange crime imputed to the girl. It probably will not do away, however, with the intention of the district attorney to prosecute her to the limit of the law.

The theory in regard to the morphine has been brought into the case of the “poison queen” by experts who have been studying her.

They believe, the girl was such victim of morphine that she worshipped the drug with a sort of fanatical reverence – a love so great that she wanted every one to share it with her.

They say this is what prompted her to give her sister the poison and that it also may have been the motive for administering morphine to her father, mother and another sister, all of whom died mysteriously.

District Attorney Adams is working on a new theory. There is the glaring fact that all four members at the family had their lives insured at Annie’s request, and that she was the beneficiary, of all the policies.

The case is one of the most sensational that has been brought to light in New Orleans in years. The dead sisters were stenographers.

[“Is This the Face of a Murderess?” The Tacoma Times (Wa.), Oct. 11, 1911, p. 1]

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FULL TEXT (4 of 6): New Orleans, La., March 21. – Gertrude Crawford, withness for the prosecution against her sister, Annie, on trial for the murder of another sister, Elsie, testified just before court adjourned today that Annie Crawford was a forger.

Gertrude aged eighteen, testified that Annie forged her name to a check for $50 and secured the money, and charged that by filling out blank checks she had signed and given to Annie, the accuse and drawn from the blank checks she had signed and given to Annie, the accused had drawn from the bank and used for her own purposes all but $17 of Gertrude’s deposit of $131.

In attempting to show motive for the Elsie Crawford, the prosecution intoduced a bank representative, who testified that Annie Crawford had drawn all the checks. Gertrude said that she did not know that her account was exhausted until after Annie had been arrested.

Immediately after Annie Crawford’s two confessions had been introduced, the prosecution put a bank representative on the stand, who testified that Annie’s bank account was exhausted about the time her sister Elsie raised her heavy black veil and engaged in animated conversation with her attorneys while Gertrude was testifying. Taking of evidence probably will be concluded Saturday.

[“Annie Crawford A Forger – Sister Testifies Against Woman on Trial for Murder.” The Times Dispatch (Richmond, Va.), Mar. 22, 1912, p. 1]

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FULL TEXT (Article 5 of 6): New Orleans, March 26. – The sensational trial of Annie Crawford for the alleged murder of her sister, Elise Crawford, resulted in a mistrial.
At 10:40 this morning the jurors, after being out since 11:15 last night, reported to Judge Chretien, of the criminal district court, that they were unable to agree on a verdict, and were discharged.

The jury stood nine to three for acquittal, the minority holding out for a verdict of murder with capital punishment. The result was not unexpected by either the prosecution attorney or counsel for the defense. Miss Crawford probably will be released on bail this week, and it is doubtful if an effort will be made to bring her to trial for the alleged crime a second time.

~ Woman an Enigma. ~

To the majority of the vast throng which followed the proceedings of the trial for the two weeks the black garbed, veiled, unemotional little woman is still an enigma.

Confessedly a morphine eater for a period of six years, Annie Crawford was absolutely deprived of this drug from the date of her incarceration, September 27 last, four days after her sister’s mysterious death, and without any stimulant she sat through the most dramatic scenes of the long trial with an immobile countenance. Even when the heart of the sister whom she is charged with murdering was exhibited to the jury she gave no hint of any inward emotion. She watched the medical experts carve slices from the spleen of Elise and handle the brain of her dead sister without the constant gaze of the spectators and court officials being able to fathom her feelings.

Elsie Crawford’s death was just one of four sudden and mysterious deaths in the Crawford family within a space of fifteen months. The bodies of the father, mother and another sister, Mary Agnes, had decomposed long before any suspicion had attached to Annie.

[“Jury Stands 9 for Acquittal; 3 for Murder Verdict. - Probable That Annie Crawford Will Never Again Be Brought to Trial for Alleged Murder of Sister Elite by Administering Morphine.” Atlanta Constitution (Ga.), Mar. 27, 1912, p. 7]

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FULL TEXT (Article 6 of 6): New Orleans, March 20. – An official closely identified with the trial of Annie Crawford gave it as his opinion that she would never again face a bar of justice for the alleged poisoning of her sister Elise.

This opinion is shared in by many others who have followed the case closely, but who are probably not so closely identified with the matter to speak with the authority of the Times’ informant.

It is expected that District Attorney Adams will not again advise that the case be put on the docket, and that in due course of time Annie Crawford will be released on bond and the sensational case closed.

John M. Molloy, a clerk in the civil district court, this morning notified attorneys for Annie Crawford that he would go on the bond of the young woman up to the sum of $5,000 if she was admitted to bail.

[“Annie Crawford Case. – It is Said Accused Woman Will Not Be Tried Again.” The Monroe News-Star (La.), Mar. 29, 1912, p. 1]

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