Thursday, September 22, 2011

Anna Snoots, Ohio Serial Killer of Own Children - 1887

FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 2): Zanesville, Ohio, Aug. 1.— Mrs. Anna Snoots, wife of a well-known resident of Adamsville, this county, was arrested Saturday night and lodged in jail here, charged with poisoning her 6-year-old daughter Carrie, who died very suddenly on the 5th instant. Suspicion being aroused, the remains were quietly taken up and sent to the eminent analytical chemist, Professor Curtis G. Howard, of Columbus, who telegraphed Coroner Ruth that lie had detected in the stomach Paris green in sufficiently large quantities to have caused death. A horrible suspicion prevails in the neighborhood of Adamsville that this is not Mrs. Snoots’ first crime, inasmuch as two other children had died some time ago in the same sudden way with all the symptoms of poisoning.

[“Poisoned Her Little Daughter.” Logansport Daily Pharos (In.), Aug. 1, 1887, P. 1]

FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 2): Cambridge, O., December 19. – The jury in the Snoots care were out less than an hour and returned at 5:17 p. m. yesterday a verdict of not guilty.

The case began here on December 3, from a change of venue from Muskingum county.

One of the great events of the trial was the closing speech for the defense by Hon. Frank Southard, which began in the morning at 9 o’clock and was not concluded until half-past 4 o’clock and was not concluded until half-past 4 o’clock Monday afternoon. A vast audience was present all day, and Mrs. Southard’s speech, able, logical and convincing, constrained its hearers to the closest attention, which reached at times a profound and impressive silence.

During the delivery of the counsel’s very eloquent and effective appeal in her behalf, the accused wept much of the time, or at least sat with bowed head and handkerchief to her eyes, probably realizing that a good deal depends on their pathetic behavior, as well as on the infant which she skillfully disposed on her lap.

Prosecutor Winn began the last speech in the case, the closing argument for the prosecution, Monday afternoon, and while he is a very young man. with neither the personal presence nor the resonant voice of Mr. Southard, nor, for that matter, his ability or experience, be went at the jury in good shape and hitting the defense some very hard licks, he concluded yesterday afternoon, and Judge Campbell at once charged the jury and submitted the case to their hands.

Any other verdict than an acquittal would  have been a general surprise, although a verdict of guilty would have filled the requirements of the case in the public opinion.

The case may he summed up as follows. In the past year and a half the grand jury of Muskingum county, Ohio, has indicted Mrs. Anna Snoots in three separate bills for the murder by poisoning of three of her five children, who died so agonizingly and mysteriously. The last indictment was returned last fall, she up to that time being out on $10,000 bail, but on this third bill being returned, she was arrested and put in the jail at Zanesville.

To the poisoning of Carrie in July, 1887, and of Georgie in July, 1886, is added that of Wilbur, a little four-months-old babe, which expired in October, 1883. This, however, is not the last. The grand jury, in October last, reported but one indictment, because Professor Howard bad time to examine but one of the two children exhumed. After the horrible results of the investigation in three cares, there is not much doubt as to the fourth.

In the stomach of the little one exhumed in October. Professor Howard found an ounce of sulphate of copper, a sufficient dose to kill an adult. It is not so deadly a poison, but none the less sure. There can be no plea about this raw that the child obtained the poison itself, as it was of such a tender age that such a theory must be untenable. No, it was alleged the poison was administered with intent to destroy life, as it was in the other two cases.

Has Mrs. Snoots murdered her children? Is there a woman such a fiend as to take the lives of her offspring, one by one? Can it he possible that the law would permit a guilty quadruple murderess to remain at large for live years? Let us see.

Wilber, the infant, died in 1883. The neighbors thought it due to neglect. The child was taken ill October 5: a physician was called, treated it for some child plaint, never suspecting that an infant a few months old, never out its mother’s care, could be poisoned. The next day it died. Them, in April 1884, another child, a little girl, followed the baby to her grave, in the same sudden way. The neighbors talk this time, but it is only gossip. Then there is an interval. In July, 1886, two years after, there is another death in the Snoots family. It is Georgie this time. There is more talk, some suspicion arises but the matter is passed over.

Then comes the final tragedy. July 1st 1887, Carrie, the seven-year-old daughter, the only remaining child, is taken sick. A physician was called, and ends her suffering from a slight bowel complaint; there is a little inflammation. The neighbors called to see the sick child; she does not seem to be in any danger; it is but a passing illness. July 5th, Alice Swank, a little playmate, calls to see her. She finds her lying on a lounge, unable to get up, but not very sick. As Alice leaves, the mother follows her, and asks her to go to the drug store for her. Alice first asks her mother’s permission and then returns to Mrs. Snoots.

The latter then requests her to buy for her five cents worth of paris green. She does so, the sale is registered by the druggist. Alice Swank returns and gives the poison to Mrs. Snoots, and then goes home.

A few hours later there is a great change for the worse in Carrie Snoots’ condition. Neighbors who call are surprised at the change. The pulse is disordered, ranging thirty beats in a few seconds. The stomach is discolored. and the child throws up a substance containing bright green spots. The bowels also discharge watery fluid, tinctured with the same green spots. The doctor is culled, and finds her condition alarming. He pays no attention to the spots till after midnight, when he beams to suspect something wrong. By this time the child is dying.

Where is the mother all this time? Here and there through the house; not mourning, it is alleged, by the bedside like a woman who has lost three children in a short time and was now about to part with the last one, not in a frenzy of grief – but gathering up the bed clothes for the wash! Putting out to soak the clothes, all spotted with green, which were on the bed. A woman, Mrs. Kate Stotts, is sent for at daylight to wash the clothes. She finds them all spotted with green, one sheet being so discolored that every effort to remove the stain failed. The child dies July 7, is exhumed shortly after; July 29 the chemist finds the stomach impregnated with Paris green.

What is there here but murder, it was claimed by the state. Fiendish murder; cowardly murder, the slaughter of innocent, unsuspecting children, the prosecutor said. Can any one doubt that a murder was committed? That two murders, or three murders were perpetrated? said the prosecutor.

[“Acquitted. Mrs. Snoots, Alleged Mother Poisoner – Found Not Guilty By the Jury Yesterday At 5:17 P. M. – A Celebrated Case – Charged With Being the Murderess of Her Four Children – A Protracted Trial of Sixteen Days – Medical Expert Testimony – Ex-Congressman’s Southard’s Grand Defense of the Accused – History of the Several Deaths.” Steubenville Daily Herald (Oh.), Dec. 19, 1888, p. 3]



Wilber Snoots, infant, died Oct. 6, 1883
Daughter (name not given), died Apr. 1884
Georgie Snoots, died Jul. 1886
Carrie Snoots, 6, died Jul. 5, 1888



For more cases of this category, see: Female Serial Killers of 19th Century America (as of January 20, 2014, the collection contains 61 cases)


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