Thursday, September 22, 2011

Lottie Lockman, Indiana’s Suspected Serial Killer Elder Care Provider - 1946




Mrs. Lockman was suspected in a total of five deaths, was arrested three times, but never convicted.

6 suspected victims (in progress):

1937 – Mrs. Hattie Calhoun, 70, died, mercury found in body.
Jul. 1, 1940 – Fred (Uncle Fred) Giddings, 89 (90?), died, mercury found in body.
1940 – Frank Lockman, husband, died.
Year? – Wallace Lockman, brother-in-law, died.
Aug, 17, 1945 – Mrs. Minnie McConnell, 75, mercury found in body.
Jun. 1946 – Mamie (Mayme) McConnell, 55, attempted poisoning, mercury found in body fluids; she survived, yet expired in April 14, 1947.

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Chronology

Aug 6, 1946 – arrest #1.
Aug. 9, 1946 – 2 bodies exhumed, Minnie McConnell.
Aug. 1946 – Walter Lockman’s body exhumed.
Aug. 12 (or earlier), 1946 – Fred Giddings body exhumed.
Aug 13, 1946 – Refused lie detector test.
Aug. 27, 1946 – Minnie McConnell, second exhumation of her body.
Oct. 7, 1946 – indictment returned by grand jury on one death.
Date? – arrest # 2.
Oct. 11, 1946 – arrest # 3 (for poisoning of Mayme McConnell).
Nov. 15, 1946 – grand jury fails to indict (for Mayme McConnell death).
Apr. 11?, 1947 – acquitted.
April 14, 1947 – Mrs. Mayme McConnell, dies.

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FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 12): Madison, Ind., Aug. 9 – Police said today they would exhume the bodies of four elderly persons who died while being cared for by Mrs. Lottie Lockman, 62-year-old housekeeper, charged with attempted murder by poison of her present employer.

Jefferson County Coroner Sidney W. Haigh said state and local officials would confer today on exhumation of the four, including Mrs. Lockman’s late husband, Frank, 65.

State police indicated that the first exhumation would that of Fred Giddings, 89, a wealthy farmer, who left his entire estate to Mrs. Lockman when he died July 11, 1940. the other deaths to be investigated are those of Mrs. Minnie McConnell, 75, and Mrs. Hattie Calhoun, 70.

Gray-haired Mrs. Lockman was arrested Tuesday after a laboratory test showed the presence of mercury in the stomach of Mrs. Mamie McConnell, bedfast wife of a Dupont hardware dealer. The test was made at the request of Mrs. J. S. Kirkpatrick, a nurse, who is also Mrs. McConnell’s sister-in-law. Mrs. McConnell was taken to King’s daughter hospital in Madison where her condition is reported as improving.

~ No Trial Date Set ~

Mrs. Lockman, who now is free on $2,500 bond posted by a Dupont farmer, has protested her innocence. The bond was set by Jefferson County Judge Harry Nichols, but no trial date has been scheduled.

State police said they were encountering difficulty in arranging the exhumation of Mrs. Calhoun’s body because they had not yet learned where she was buried. A detective said that Mrs. Lockman, a beneficiary of Mrs. Calhoun’s will, had declined to reveal the location of the burial place, other than that it was in Iowa.

The other three persons whose deaths are being investigated are buried in Dupont cemetery, near the small town of 300 population where all of the principals in the tangled case live or have lived.

People were told that Mrs. Calhoun, who had no immediate relatives, died at midnight and was taken to Iowa for burial the next morning. The McConnell death under investigation occurred Aug, 17, 1945. She was the mother of Forrest McConnell, husband of the woman whose symptoms caused Mrs. Lockman’s arrest.

Food which was taken from the McConnell home at the time of Mrs. Lockman’s arrest was tested but state police said no trace of poison was found in the food.

[“Four Deaths Investigated,” The Tipton Daily Tribune (In.), Aug. 9, 1946, p. 1]

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FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 12): Du Pont, Ind. (UP) — Mrs. Lottie Lockman, plump and motherly widow accused of poisoning two women whom she served as housekeeper, refused today to take a lie detector test.

Mrs. Lockman’s attorney, Joseph Cooper, said she would not take the lie test unless other persons who might be suspects in the two poisonings get similar treatment.

At the county jail in nearby Madison, Mrs. Lockman arose from a good night’s sleep and said she was not afraid of the murder and attempted poisoning charges placed against her.

“I am innocent,” she said. “The innocent are never punished.”

The murder charge was based on the finding of mercury in the vital organs of Mrs. Minnie McConnell, who died a year ago. Mrs. McConnell’s body was exhumed after Mrs. Lockman was arrested on charges of attempting to poison Mrs. Mamie McConnell. Mamie McConnell is Minnie McConnell’s daughter-in-law, Mrs. Lockman had served both as housekeeper, and authorities accused her of being the central figure in a real-life “Arsenic and Old Lace” melodrama.

As the folks in Jefferson county gossiped about Mrs. Lockman’s arrest, a report circulated that police were in possession of a letter which claimed Mrs. Mamie McConnell was the heir to a $250,000 estate. Officials refused to comment on  the rumor.

Residents of the county, skirting the Ohio river, gossiped about “the fix Lottie is in,” but her arrest failed to create much of a stir.

Neither did they show much concern about plans to exhume the bodies of Mrs. Lockman’s husband, Frank, who died six years ago, and Fred Giddings, a retired farmer who died at the age of 90 and left her his estate.

Mrs. Lockman was suspected in a total of five deaths.

In “Arsenic and Old Lace,” a Broadway hit play and later a motion picture, two benign old maid sisters committed a series of poisonings because they felt sorry for their victims and thought they would be better off dead.

Mrs. Lockman has refused to answer questions. She signed an authorization yesterday for the exhumation of her husband’s body in a surprise defense move to prove her innocence. She naked that the vital organs of her husband be sent to the state toxicologist at Indianapolis to determine whether they contained poison.

She signed the order in the county jail where she is held on a murder charge as the result of laboratory tests which revealed traces of mercury in the organs of Mrs. Minnie McConnell, who died a year ago while under Mrs. Lockman’s care.

[“Test With Lie Detector Refused By Widow Held in Poison Deaths,” syndicated (UP), Charleston Daily Mail, Aug. 13, 1946, p. 1]

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FULL TEXT (Article 3 of 12): Dupont, Ind., Aug. 14 – Authorities awaited a state toxicologist’s report on the remains of “Uncle Fred” Giddings today before passing further charges against Lottie Lockman, 82, suspected of being a real-life “Arsenic and Old Lace” killer.

Giddings’ body was exhumed yesterday from a four-year-old grave and the vital organs sent to the state laboratory at Indianapolis to determine the possible cause of death.

Mrs. Lockman, a plump, kindly-faced housekeeper, has been charged with killing an aged woman by feeding her mercury and of attempting to kill another woman in the same way. In addition, she is under suspicion in the deaths oif Giddings, who died at the age of 90 while under her care, and three other elderly persons.

~ Never Hurt Anyone ~

Mrs. Lockman told investigators during three hours of questioning last night that she “never intentionally hurt anyone.” She steadfastly maintained her innocence even after Capt. Robert O’Neil, head of the Indiana state police, challenged her and her attorney to “find anyone who has lived that Lottie Lockman has taken care of.”

When O’Neil accused Mrs. Lockman point-blank with putting mercury in the food of her aged patients, she replied tartly with, “That’s a lot of hogwash.”

Mrs. Lockman refused to take a lie detector test on the advice of her lawyer, James M. lawyer, James M. Cooper, who protested that “other subjects are still free while my innocent client is in jail.”

The murder charge filed against Mrs. Lockman was based on the finding of mercury in the viscera of Mrs. Minnie McConnell, who died a year ago at the age of 73. Mrs. McConnell’s body was exhumed after Mrs. Lockman’s arrest on charges of attempting to poison Mrs. Mamie McConnell, 52, daughter-in-law of the dead woman.

Forrest McConnell, Dupont hardware dealer whose wife became sick last week after eating food prepared by Mrs. Lockman, told O’Neil he and other members of his household were willing to submit to a lie detector test.

Mrs. Lockman was questioned last night in the parlor of the home of Florence Bear, only woman sheriff in Indiana. The atmosphere was cordial, resembling a Sunday visit more than a police interrogation.

~ No Thanks ~

“We treated her as kindly as we could, but we tried hard not to give her the impression we were going to be brutal,” O’Neil said.

The elderly prisoner refused some preferred candy and oranges during the questioning, but told investigators, “I’d just love to have you eat one of my angel food cakes.”

[Robert T. Loughran, “Body Exhumed, Vitals Probed For Poisoning,” Dunkirk Evening Observer (N. Y.), Aug. 14, 1946, p. 1]

***

FULL TEXT (Article 4 of 12): Madison, Ind., Aug. 25. – Removal for the second time of the body of Mrs. Minnie McConnell from a small cemetery near Dupont, Ind., for an autopsy was revealed Tuesday by state police.

The body previously was exhumed by authorities investigating the Dupont poison mystery case in which Mrs. Lottie (Tot) Lockman, 62-year-old housekeeper, is charged with murder and attempted murder.

State Police Detective Graham Tevis said Tuesday night the second exhumation was conducted secretly Sunday night “to avoid the morbidly curious people.” Earlier in the day, Coroner Sidney E. Haigh said the body had not been exhumed but that it would be.

A toxicologist report on the first exhumation said there was mercury poison in Mrs. McConnell’s body, but it was impossible to determine whether enough poison was present to cause death.

Mrs. Lockman, who cared for Mrs. McConnell during her last illness, is at liberty under $15,000 bond on the murder charge. The attempted murder charge involves the illness of Mrs. McConnell’s daughter-in-law, Mrs. Mayme McConnell.

The body of Frederick Giddings, who was under the care of Mrs. Lockman at the time of death, also was exhumed and showed traces of poisoning. Police now are awaiting the exhumation of the body of a still another woman. Mrs. Hattie Calhoun, buried at Burlington, Ia. She also was under the care of Mrs. Lockman at the time of her death.

[“Body Exhumed Second Time In Mystery Case,” The Kokomo Tribune (In.), Aug. 28, 1946, p. 14]

***

FULL TEXT (Article 5 of 12): Madison, Ind. – Coroner Sidney E. Haigh said Friday night that the body of Mrs. Lottie Calhoun, exhumed at Burlington, Ia. In the Lockman poison mystery probe, contained traces of mercury poison.

The body of Mrs. Calhoun was the third exhumed in the investigation and Haigh said toxicologists reported each body had shown traces of mercury.

Mrs. Lottie ‘Tot’ Lockman, who cared for the three persons before their deaths, is free under bond in connection with the investigation.

Haigh said he had received a report from Dr. Wilbur J. Teeters at Iowa City, Ia. In which he said “careful chemical tests of the material were made and positive tests for mercury were obtained.”

A grand jury is scheduled to be drawn Sept. 30 to investigate the case.

[“Traces of Mercury Are Found in Body,” Council Bluff Nonpareil (Io.), Sep. 21, 1946, p. 3]

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FULL TEXT (Article 6 of 12): Madison, Ind. – Mrs. Lottie Lockman, 62, was freed on bond Saturday after her arrest on a grand jury indictment charging her with the attempted poisoning of Mrs. Mayme McConnell, 55.

Mrs. Lockman, known as a “good Samaritan,” whose neighbors insist she “always is doing things for people,” was seized at the home of a relative at nearby Wirt, Ind., Friday.

It was her third arrest since an investigation began last August in the illness of Mrs. McConnell and the deaths of at least three elderly persons, all of whom died under Mrs. Lockman’s care.

Mrs. Lockman spent 25 minutes in Jefferson county jail before circuit judge Harry E. Nichols, who set her free on an additional $2,500 bond until “some time next week” when she will appear for arraignment. She had been at liberty since Aug. 15 under $15,000 bond.

Mrs. Lockman’s attorney, Joseph Cooper, said “friends” furnished the bond.

In returning its indictment, the grand jury asked more time to investigate the deaths of Mrs. Minnie McConnell, mother-in-law of Mayme, Mrs. Hattie Calhoun and Fred Giddings.

Mrs. Lockman already faced a peace court murder charge in the death of the elder Mrs. McConnell, whose body revealed traces of mercury. Authorities also exhumed Giddings’ body and that of Mrs. Calhoun, and reported finding mercury in both cases.

[“’Samaritan’ Named Again Poisoner,” syndicated (UP), Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wi.), Oct. 13, 1946, p. 16]

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FULL TEXT (Article 7 of 12): Madison, Ind., Nov. 15 – A grand jury that has been investigating the Dupont, Ind., poison mystery involving Mrs. Lottie (Tot) Lockman, 62-year-old housekeeper, was discharged today after returning a report recommending further investigation of the case.

The grand jury returned an indictment last month charging Mrs. Lockman was attempted murder in the poisoning of Mrs. Mayme McConnell, wife of Forrest McConnell. Mrs. Lockman was employed as housekeeper in the McConnell home.

[“Grand Jury Probing Dupont Deaths Fails To Return Indictment,” The Kokomo Tribune (In.), Nov. 15, 1946, p. 1]

***

FULL TEXT (Article 8 of 12): March 28 – Mrs. Mayme McConnell was scheduled  to testify today from a hospital cot in the trial of Mrs. Lottie (Tot) Lockman, 62-year-old housekeeper charged with attempting to murder her with poison.

Mrs. McConnell, wife of Forrest McConnell, Dupont hardware dealer, was to be brought to the Jefferson county courthouse in an ambulance. She has been seriously ill for some time.

The trial swung into the fifth day today after opposing lawyers yesterday alternately described Mrs. Lockman as a “Jeckell and Hyde” character and a woman “whose life is an open book.”

An all-male jury of 11 farmers and one businessman was seated yesterday.

In an opening argument. Silas Kivett, an attorney for the prosecution, said the state would prove Mrs. McConnell became violently ill after eating two meals prepared by Mrs. Lockman.

Kivett said the state also would attempt to prove that illnesses of Mrs. McConnell and her mother-in-law, Mrs. Minnie McConnell, who died, were similar. The body of Mrs. Minnie McConnell was one of three exhumed during investigation of the case.

Defense Attorney Joseph Cooper charged Mrs. Lockman was “nothing but a slave in the
McConnell household, a slave for Forrest McConnell.”

He said she was a hard working woman in a household where there was no conflict until Aileen Kirkpatrick, sister-in-law of Minnie McConnell, came to stay.

The Kirkpatrick women instigated the investigation which resulted in the arrest of Mrs. Lockman.

“There were always other women in the McConnell home and cooking meals,” Cooper said.

He added that Forrest McConnell and his two sons ate fried chicken prepared by Mrs. Lockman three hours before she was arrested three hours before she was arrested last summer – “he knowing all the time about the poisoning charge.”

“There’ll be no evidence shown by the state that Lottie Lockman ever had possession of mercury” Cooper continued. “She had no reason to injure or try to kill Mayme McConnell.”

[“Mrs. McConnell Is To Testify From Sick Bed,” The Kokomo Tribune (In.), Mar. 28, 1947, p. 3]

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FULL TEXT (Article 9 of 12): Madison, Ind. – A poison expert testified Monday that the invalid patient cared for by Mrs. Lottie Lockman, defendant in an attempted murder trial, received “large amounts of mercury over a considerable of time.”

Dr. R. N. Harger, state toxicologist and a chemistry professor at Indiana university, said Mrs. Mayme McConnell, 57, DuPont, Ind., housewife, suffered from “subacute mercury poisoning” when he made tests of body fluids last summer.

Harger said he made five different tests. He said the amount of mercury in the fluids gradually tapered off until none was found in the last one  a few months ago.

Mrs. Lockman, 62-year-old housekeeper and practical nurse, was accused of attempting to murder Mrs. McConnell. Mrs. Lockman also figured in the sensational investigation of the deaths of three other persons she once cared for in tiny DuPont in southern Indiana. The state still is conducting tests on stomachs and fluids of three exhumed bodies.

Harger was on the witness stand when the trial adjourned until Tuesday. He spent most of the day there describing technical details of the analyzation test.

“The content of mercury was typical of that in acute mercury poisoning,” he said. “It had to be given over a long period of time.”

He said a large quantity given at once would have proved fatal.

Physicians believed Mrs. McConnell, who testified at the opening day of the trial, was suffering in part from the effects of mercury poisoning. She testified from an ambulance wheel chair.

Harger said he was first instructed by Dr. E. C. Cook, DuPont doctor, and relatives of Mrs. McConnell to look for arsenic. He found none but later discovered a mercury content he said.

[“Poison Expert Testifies At Lockman Trial – Large Amounts of Mercury in Invalid Patient of Mrs. Lockman,” Logansport Pharos Tribune (In.), Apr. 1, 1947, p. 5]

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FULL TEXT (Article 10 of 12): Madison, Ind., April 11—A Jefferson circuit court of 11 farmers and a Madison business man ended 14 hours of deliberation early today by acquitting Mrs. Lottie (Tot) Lockman, 63-year-old housekeeper, of a charge that she attempted to murder Mrs. Mayme McConnell, wife of her employer, with poison.

“Truth always prevails,” the grey-haired housekeeper told reporters. She had sat in an automobile outside the courtroom for six hours before the jury reported at 1:17 a. m. Mrs. Lockman shook the hands of the jurors and then burst into tears.

The indictment against the elderly housekeeper resulted from an investigation into the deaths of five elderly persons who were in her care. DR. R. N. Harger, state toxicologist, reported mercury was found in the bodies of Mrs. Minnie McConnell, mother-in-law of Mrs. Mayme McConnell; Fred Giddings, and Hattie Calhoun.

The body of Mrs. Minnie McConnell was exhumed twice during the investigation and Mrs. Lockman once was charged with murder in her death, but the affidavit was dismissed. Giddings’ body was exhumed from the Dupont cemetery near the McConnell home and Mrs. Calhoun’s body was disinterred at Burlington, Ia.

The other deaths investigated were those of Wallace Lockman, Mrs. Lockman’s brother-in-law, and of Frank Lockman, her husband.

Nothing came of the lengthy inquiry into the deaths, but the Jefferson county grand jury indicted Mrs. Lockman on a charge of attempted murder by poison in an acute illness of Mrs. Mayme McConnell, an invalid. The sick woman, reported in critical condition today in a Madison hospital, is the wife of Forrest McConnell, well-to-do Dupont merchant and factory representative for a Chicago milking machine manufacturer.

The prosecution sought a conviction through circumstantial evidence, but admitted it could not find that Mrs. Lockman ever bought mercury or that anyone saw her place poison in food in the McConnell home. The state contended, however, that Mrs. Lockman had expressed hatred for Mrs. Mayme McConnell and had shown affection for the hardware merchant.

Mrs. Lockman denied emphatically on the witness stand that she poisoned the woman or had any ill will towards her.

Special Prosecutor Silas C. Kivett closed the state’s final argument yesterday with the assertion that “of all the people in the McConnell home at Dupont, the only person who harbored hatred in her soul for Mrs. McConnell was Lottie Lockman. She valued life cheaply. The evidence shows that she had a purpose, plan, opportunity, motive and hatred.”

Joseph M. Cooper, chief of the defense counsel, had asserted the case would be carried to higher courts if the jury returned a guilty verdict.”

The jury received the case at 11:05 a. m. yesterday, 17 days after the trial opened. Judge Harry E. Nichols had gone home for the night but returned when Jury Gaylor Crozier announced an agreement at 1:17 a. m. today.

The case ended on a bizarre note – as it started – with a spectator falling 20 feet from a gallery in the 90-year-old Jefferson county court room as he craned over the railing to hear the verdict. He was unhurt and was arrested on a charge of intoxication.

[“Jury Acquits ‘Tot’ Lockman of Poisoning – ‘Truth Always Prevails,’ Mrs. Lockman Says After Hearing Verdict of Acquittal,” Rushville Republican (In.), Apr. 11, 1947, p. 1]

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FULL TEXT (Article 11 of 12): Madison, Ind., May 23 – Mrs. Mayme McConnell, the star witness in the attempted mercury poisoning trial of Mrs. Lottie Lockman, did not die of mercury poisoning, Dr. Amos Michael, Indianapolis pathologist announced today.

His report apparently cleared the elderly housekeeper, known as the “Good Samaritan” of the village of DuPont, of any further charges in Mrs. McConnell’s death.

The 57-year-old woman died April 14, three days after Mrs. Lockman was acquitted, and Mrs. McConnell’s husband, Forest, asked Michael to make an autopsy. Michael was assisted by Dr. R. N. Harger, Indiana university medical school toxicologist.

Although Michael said abnormal amounts of mercury were found in the body, he added that the accumulations were “below those usually associated with fatal mercury poisoning.” He also said he was not able to determine if the mercury found in Mrs. McConnell’s body last summer hastened or contributed to her death.

Mrs. McConnell’s illness led to Mrs. Lockman’s arrest and touched off an investigation of the deaths of three elderly persons who died while under care of the practical nurse.

[“Mrs. Lockman Is Cleared – Pathologist’s  Report Reveals Mrs. Mayme McDonnell Did Not Die Of Mercury Poisoning.” Syndicated (UP), May 23, 1947, p. 15]

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FULL TEXT (Article 12 of 12): Madison, Ind. – Mrs. Mayme McConnell, for whose recent illness her former housekeeper, Mrs. Lottie Lockman, was tried and acquitted of a charge of attempting murder by poison, died Monday in a local hospital.

Mrs. McConnell's husband, Forrest McConnell, hardware merchant in the town of Dupont north of here, said his wife became seriously ill last June.

Mrs. Lockman was acquitted of the attempted murder charge by a jury early last Friday morning. Mrs. McConnell testified against her from a hospital bed.

The state charged Mrs. Lockman placed mercury in food she prepared for Mrs. McConnell, an invalid. Medical witnesses testified they found mercury in her body fluids.

[“Alleged Victim of Mrs. Lottie Lockman Dies in Hospital,” syndicated (AP), Council Bluffs Nonpareil (Io.), Apr. 14, 1947, p. 1]

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For more cases, see Sicko Nurses

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