Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cynthia Buffom, New York Serial Killer - 1913


NOTE: Buffom is spelled Buffum in some sources.

Victims:

Norris, son, 4, died May 1913
Willis Buffom, husband, dies August 11, 1913
Laura, daughter, 12, died Feb. 2, 1914
Herbert, son, 18 (in 1913), crippled by poison


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FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 5): Salamanca, N. Y., Dec. 12.— “I loved Ernest Frahm so much more than I did my husband that I would have done anything, everything for him. He told me to kill my husband and poison my children. I did what he told me to do — but it was he, he, he who made me do it.”

This is not the official confession of Cynthia Buffum. That is typewritten on innumerable pages and in the hands of District Attorney Cole. This is what the woman said as she sank sobbing beside the bed of her little dying daughter after her arrest.

Mrs. Cynthia Buffum, arrested on a warrant charging her with murder in the first degree in having poisoned her husband, Willis Buffum, confessed her share in the crime later, according to the police. They say she implicated Ernest Frahm, her lover, who was Indicted by the Cattaraugus grand jury as being an accessory before the fact. Buffum, a well-to-do farmer in this section, died suddenly in the first week of September. The attention of the authorities was called to the case when four of his children became ill, the symptoms closely resembling the illness which preceded their father's death. Laura, 10, is still in a serious condition; Norris, four, died under peculiar circumstances last May. Both Mrs. Buffum and Frahm were locked up here to await trial on the charge of first degree murder.

[“Woman and Her Lover Face Charge of First Degree Murder.” Elyria Evening Telegram (Oh.), Dec. 12, 1913, p. 1]

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FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 5): Little Valley, N.Y., December 13. The text of the confession of Mrs. Cynthia Buffom, who killed her husband and her baby son, Norris, and poisoned her three other daughters, was obtained last night.

In the confession, Mrs. Buffum says her love for Ernest Frahm, the dashing young man, and his urgent demands that she kill her husband and family, caused her to administer the slow poison. The document states she believes she still loves Frahm.

Mrs. Buffum, in her confession, says the murder of her husband and child was contemplated as far back as last winter. First the poison was given to little Norris.

Mrs. Buffum has passed over the killing of the little boy. In fact it was with difficulty that she would be induced to say something about it, her confession being devoted most wholly to the methodical manner in which she went about the work of sending her husband to death.

“Ernest said he wanted to marry me, and he wanted Willis out of the way. We talked it over. Norris was dead, and Earnest thought we should get Willis out of the way as soon as possible. He said to me: ‘I suppose I could catch him out in the  dark some night and put a bullet in his head, but you know an easier way.’ I knew he meant the poison.

“Then I began to place the poison in Willis’ food. I took the staff from bottles used by my brother, James Colf, in which to keep medicines, which he used to treat his horses. For about a week Willis didn’t seem to show any effects from the poison – then he began to get sick. Each day he got worse, but I kept right on giving him the poison.

“Finally we called Dr. Hillsman. He examined Willis and asked me some questions about him. I said nothing about the poison. After the doctor had been called Ernest met me and asked me if the doctor suspected anything. I told him I did not think so.

“Dr. Hillsman sent in some medicine to be given to Willis. I mixed the poison in the medicine and kept on giving it to him. A few days after that Willis got very bad and that night he died.

“A few days later I gave the poison to Herbert, Clarence and Laura. When Laura was very sick Ernest didn’t seem satisfied with the way things were going, and said we would have to hurry. Then I heard a lot of talk going around that the doctors were saying that Willis had been poisoned and I stopped using the poison. Willis was taken out of his grave after that and nurses were sent to take care of Laura.

“I love Ernest Frahm very much, and I think I still love him. I wanted him to keep quiet about the whole thing and wrote him letters in which I told him to answer no questions and keep our secret. I am glad it is all over and that I have told everything.”

[Woman Poisoned Whole Family – Her Confession Tells How She Planned Diabolical Crime With Lover – Doled Out Slow Poison -  Husband and Baby Succumbed, Three Daughters Escaping Same Fate by Doctors Becoming Suspicious,” The Gazette (Montreal, Canada), Dec. 15, 1913, p. 13]

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FULL TEXT (Article 3 of 5): Salamanca, N. Y., Dec. 12.— “I loved Ernest Frahm so much more than I did my husband that I would have done anything, everything for him. He told me to kill my husband and poison my children. I did what he told me to do — but it was he, he, he who made me do it.”

This is not the official confession of Cynthia Buffom. That is typewritten on innumerable pages and in the hands of District Attorney Cole. This is what the woman said as she sank sobbing beside the bed of her little dying daughter after her arrest. Mrs. Cynthia Buffum, arrested on a warrant charging her with murder In the first degree in having poisoned her husband, Willis Buffom, confessed her share in the crime later, according to the police. They say she implicated Ernest Frahm, her lover, who was indicted by the Cattaraugus grand jury as being an accessory before the fact. Buffom, a well-to-do farmer in this section, died suddenly in the first week of September. The attention of the authorities was called to the case when four of his children became ill, the symptoms closely resembling the illness which preceded their father's death. Laura, 10, is still in a serious condition; Norris, four, died under peculiar circumstances last May. Both Mrs. Buffum and Frahm were locked up here to await trial on the charge of first degree murder.

[“Two Held For Crime - Woman and Her Lover Face Charge of First Degree Murder.” Elyria Evening Telegram (Oh.), Dec. 12, 1913, p. 1]


FULL TEXT (Article 4 of 5): Little Valley, N. Y. – A woman charged with committing the most horrible crime in this country’s history goes to trial Monday. She – Mr. Cynthia Buffom – is charged with planning to end the lives of her husband and her children. She, the state’s attorney alleges, poisoned her husband, her little daughter, her little baby, her two son all fur the sake of an illicit love—the love of a middle-aged married woman for a handsome farm laborer.

If what the state’s officials allege is true, Mrs. Buffom is the arch-murderess of the western world—the Lucretia Borgia of modem times.

To see and talk to this remarkable woman I came to Little Valley.

I found her seated by the window of her cell reading the battered and thumbmarked trash novel, “Beautiful Evelyn’s Mistake.”

She is a comely woman, with a clear ivory complexion, soft brown eyes and a maw of slightly wavy brown hair.

Mrs. Buffom is 40 years old. In another cell, also awaiting trial, is Ernest Fralim, a good-looking young farm band who was employed on the Buffom farm and for love of whom Mr. Buffom is said to have undertaken the wholesale murder of her family. Frahm is held as the result of a confession made lo the district attorney by Mrs. Buffom and subsequently repeated before the grand jury.

The version of his confession current in Little Valley is that Mrs. Buffom admitted that she had undertaken to destroy her husband and children at Frahm’s suggestion that there might be no barriers to their love for each other, and that she used a certain horse remedy, which is a strong solution or arsenic, mixing it with the family food.

Mrs. Buffom’s brother, Jim Coliff, was once a horse trader, and it is said that, without his knowledge, she obtained a bottle of that poisonous liquid which bad once belonged to him. The brother will be a witness against her. On the other hand, her sons, one of whom will be a cripple for life, show strong faith in their mother and visit her daily at the jail.

After Mrs. Buffom was placed in jail her little daughter, Laura, died of arsenic poisoning after suffering terrible tortures 27 days. The mother was asked if she desired to see the body of her child.

“No,” she replied briefly, and went on reading a trashy love story.

The husband, Willis Buffom, a farmer, and the baby boy, aged four, died first. .After their deaths the wife and mother was arrested. Then the little girl died. Two older hoys also suffered from arsenic poisoning, and one will be a cripple for life as a result of it.


“Do you love Ernest Frahm, who is jointly accused of the murder with you?” I asked.

Mrs. Buffom tossed her head and answered with a slight sneer, I should say not!

“I loved only my own man. A woman can love but once!”

And her hand closed tightly over the probable source of the noble sentiment – “Beautiful Evelyn’s Mistake.”

“To what do you attribute your arrest?”

“To village gossip—to the tongues of idle men and women who were always talking about things that did not concern them,” Mrs. Buffom answered.

“But I understand you were arrested as the result of admissions you made to a woman detective posing as little Laura’s nurse and to a man, another detective, who took you on pleasure trips to Buffalo and with whom you are said to have fallen in love?”

“I was warned against those two,” Mrs. Buffom answered. “I am told they were spying on me, but I didn’t believe it. The woman detective who was nursing Laura said I was sticking around the house too much, that I needed amusement and distraction. So I went with her and her friend to Buffalo. They took me to restaurants and shows. I had a good time and I don’t regret it. My motto has always been, ‘You’ve only got one life to live so you might as well live it.’”

And perhaps that was the motto of Willis Buffom and little Norris and Laura Buffom, the husband and the little children who had but one life to live – and who now lie under the snow in the Little Valley cemetery.

[Nikola Greeley-Smith, “Charge Woman Poisoned Her Whole Family - An Amazing Series Of Murders Laid At Door Of New York Mother,” The Tacoma Times (Wa.), Feb. 14, 1914, p. 1]


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FULL TEXT (Article 5 of 5): Buffalo, N. Y., May 21.—Mrs. Cynthia Buffum, the Little Valley woman who has been on trial in supreme court for two weeks on a charge of murdering her husband, Willis Buffum, by giving him repeated doses of a mineral poison pleaded guilty to murder in the second degree. The decision to enter this plea was reached by Mrs. Buffum and her lawyers after a conference that extended into the early hours of this morning.

Mrs. Buffum was sentenced to not less than 20 years nor more than life. On a previous trial Mrs. Buffum was sentenced to death, but a re-trial was granted on the ground that new evidence had been discovered.

[“Mrs. Buffum Gets 20 Years Or Life – Little Valley Woman Pleads Guilty in Second Degree for Poisoning of Husband.” The Day (New London, Conn.), May 21, 1915, p. 1]

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