FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 3): Fresno, Cal., Nov. 8.—A close guard is being maintained today over Mrs. Eliza Patigian [“Potegian” in other sources], charged with poisoning her step-daughter, following an attempt to commit suicide by strangulation in the county jail here yesterday afternoon. The attempt by Mrs. Patigian to end her life followed receipt of word that her mother, Mrs. Maria Torosian had committed suicide by hanging at the Torosian ranch home west of Fresno.
~ Tried to Bribe Officers ~
An alleged attempt of Mrs. Patigian to secure her freedom by bribing officers, was revealed last night by Deputy Sheriff Ed Melchonian. The officer claims that the suspect offered him all her jewels as well as some $2500 which she is to derive annually from her husband’s estate, for her freedom.
It was declared by officers today that she planned a wholesale bribery to gain her freedom. Mrs. Patigian declared she desired but $500 which she would use in making her escape, from this country, the officers said.
~ Her Mother Had Six Husbands ~
Officers investigating the suicide by hunting yesterday of Mrs. Torosian, mother of Mrs. Patigian, said who feared arrest in the poison ruse.
The authorities said Mrs. Torosian was the widow of six husbands, each of whom died under mysterious circumstances.
[“Mother Kills Self As Daughter Tries To,” Reno Evening Gazette (Nv.), Nov. 6, 1923, p. 2]
FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 2): Fresno, Calif., Feb. 4. — A woman kneeling on a mound of ashes, symbolic of death, and chanting incessantly the death prayer of Armenian superstition, beseeching for 40 days and 40 nights that death take her stepchildren –
This is the picture given to a jury here February 4, in the trial of Mrs. Elize Potegian, accused of murder.
The story of Mrs. Potegian is a story of mystery. Mystery surrounds her identity. Mystery has left the deaths of her husband, two stepchildren and her mother unsolved. The jury trying her will be told that:
She fled massacres in Armenia and came to America, bringing Choran, a boy whom she says is not her son.
In California she met Sestrak Potegian, widower with three children, owner of vineyards valued at $125,000. She married him for his money, charges the prosecutor.
In August, 1919, her stepson, is months old, was found dead in a shallow pool.
In June, 1923, her husband died after a brief illness. He willed the bulk of his estate to his two children, Margaret, 18, and Gordon. 21.
Then, the state contends, Mrs. Potegrian called upon the power of Armenian mysticism to destroy the stepchildren. She built an altar on ashes and gave herself to prayer for 40 days and nights.
But the children lived on.
Failing by this means, it is charged, she resorted to more certain means to accomplish her end.
Late in October, 1928, Margaret died after a brief illness. At this time Gordon, too, was mysteriously stricken but he recovered. Autopsy of Margaret’s body disclosed arsenic poison in her stomach.
Mrs. Potegian under arrest, accused her mother, Mrs. A. Torosian. When the police went to arrest the woman they found her body dangling from a rafter in her home. She had hanged herself. On the same day Mrs. Potegian tried to kill herself in her jail cell, slashing her wrists.
Grape juice, candy and sweetcakes, containing arsenic poison, were found in the Potegian home.
Despite this evidence, Mrs. Potegian pleaded “not guilty.”
Interest in the case, in which Gorden, the surviving son, will be the principal prosecution witness, is widespread throughout California. Mrs. Potegian has engaged able counsel and a bitter legal battle is expected.
[“Strange Murder Trial Underway,” syndicated (NEA Service), Iowa City Press-Citizen (Io.), Feb. 5, 1924, p. 1]
FULL TEXT (Article 3 of 3): Fresno, Cal., March 1.—Mrs. Eliza Potegian, charged with the murder of her stepdaughter, Margaret by administering a poison, was found guilty of murder in the first degree by a jury after an hour's deliberation today. Life in prison was recommended.
[“Woman Is Found Guilty Of Murder In First Degree,” syndicated (AP), The Davenport Democrat (Io.), Mar. 2, 1924, p. 12]
For links to other cases of woman who murdered 2 or more husbands (or paramours), see Black Widow Serial Killers.