Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hattie Stone, Maryland Serial Killer - 1929


FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 3): Belair, Md. – Mrs. Hattie Stone, a stern-visaged woman of 50, sat in her cell today moaning: “Oh, oh, Oh,” while county authorities prepared to exhume the bodies of her mother-in-law, her husband, and one of her sons, all of whom died during the past four years under circumstances indicative of poisoning.

Mrs. Stone is charged with murdering another son, George, 15, a few weeks ago, in order to obtain the insurance on his life. He died in convulsions and examination of the viscera showed strychnine. The others died similarly, according to neighbors.

The principal witness against Mrs. Stone is her sister-in-law. Mrs. May Baker, who yesterday astonished a crowded courtroom by testifying that Mrs. Stone had confessed to her that she had poisoned George.

“I asked her,” testified Mrs. Baker, “Hattie, did you poison George, and she said yes. I asked her why she did it, and she said so she could get money, so that she and Jimmy Aberts could go away.”

Aberts is a railroad brakeman who formerly boarded at the Stone home. He is being sought for questioning.

There was only $645 insurance on the boy’s life, but there was an inheritance of $1,200 left him by his father.

[“Charge Woman With Poisoning Four Of Her Kin,” syndicated (INS), Olean Times (N.Y.), Jun. 18, 1929, p. 1]

FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 3): Belair, Md. – Mrs. Hattie Stone, 40-year-old widow, who during her four-day trial was painted by the state as a woman who would rather run around with men than to have her 15-year-old son, George, early this morning was convicted of second-degree murder for the boy’s death.

With the announcement of the verdict, which carries a maximum sentence of eighteen years in prison with the minimum left to the discretion of Judge Walter W. Preston, who presided, Mrs. Stone, who had sat stony-faced and grim throughout the time the state was pressing its case, and who yesterday crew spiteful and showed her irritation under cross-examination while testifying in her own defense, broke down and wept.

Judge Preston reminded Harold E. Coburn, chief defense counsel, that he could file a plea for a new trial, adding that he would not pass sentence for eight or ten days.

Mrs. Stone was arrested June 12, nine days after the death of her son, who died, according to testimony of a Baltimore chemist, from poison. The jury deliberated less than an hour.

During the trial, witnesses, neighbors of the accused woman, trooped to the stand to tell of her “running around with men” and of her financial troubles. The state held part of the motive for the murder was her need of money.

[“Mother Found Guilty In Dope Slaying of Son – Woman Who “Ran Around” With Men, Slew Boy for Trust Fund Collected,” syndicated (AP), Oakland Tribune (Ca.), Sep. 27, 1919, p. 42]

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FULL TEXT (Article 3 of 3): Belair, Md. – A family of ghosts hovers about the Hartford County courtroom here, awaiting their cues in the dramatic murder trial of Mrs. Hattie V. Stone.

Mrs. Stone, however, is calm in her cell. She has no fear of such haunting figures of the supernatural, much less believes in them. For behind the buxom, pleasant-faced woman of 40, whom the state is prepared to denounce ass the cold-blooded slayer of her own son, lies the background of an eerie girlhood.

In those years, a cemetery was her favorite playground. Hattie knew no further. Her grandfather was the superintendent of the burial place. Not until she reached her young womanhood did she learn that the woman whom she had been taught to believe was her elder sister actually was her mother.

~ Strange Childhood Scene ~

Off on an unpaved highway between Havre de Grace, Md., and Belair, on a wooded hill lies Angel Hill cemetery, where Hattie romped through her childhood.

Tombstones were her imaginary  playmates; their inscriptions were her primers. “Haunted bridge,” the creaky, rustic span over which hearses led many a sad procession, held no terrors for her.

In this same cemetery now are five new mounds. They are in the plot reserved for the Stone family. Buried there are Edward Stone, Hattie’s husband, their two sons, Edgar and George, and the parents of Edward.

At least two of these persons, according to State’s Attorney W. Worthington Hopkins died of poison. And a grand jury has indicted Hattie Stone for administering it to her son George. No accusation is made on the score of the other deaths. But authorities have pointed out that all died under similar circumstances.

All of the family except Hattie Stone suffered serious stomach disorders and convulsions after a dinner one evening. Mrs. Emma Stone, her mother-in-law, died shortly afterward, but not before having discovered that her savings in a local bank had been depleted by a series of forgeries attributed to Hattie Stone.

~ Other Deaths Followed ~

The elder Mrs. Stone’s husband followed her in death a few months later. After the death of Hattie Stone’s elder son, Edgar, exhumation of the body showed no trace of poison.

Later, the boy’s father was fatally stricken, and the other son. George died the following fall.

At the coroner’s inquest into the death of George, Mrs. Mary Baker, sister-in-law of the defendant, was the star witness for the state. She related a story of how Mrs. Stone had refused her dying son’s request for water. Then she is said to have declared the mother had confessed to her that the youth’s food had been poisoned.

Testimony indicated that by the deaths a series of small insurance bequests, totaling several thousands of dollars, eventually would benefit Mrs. Stone. Several insurance company representatives were called before the grand jury. Other persons testified that Mrs. Stone had “boy friends,” that she frequently took them to Atlantic City, and that she paid all expenses.

[“Did Woman Poison Five Of Family? Parentage Concealed From Present - Hattie Stone; Cemetery Was Her Playground,” Sunday Times-Signal (Zanesville, Oh.), Sep. 29, 1929, p 1]

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