Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Mystery of Allegations & Perjury: Lillian Woodlock, Ursula Broderick & the Two Dead Husbands - 1920

FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 11): St. Louis, October 10. – A verdict of justifiable homicide was returned to-day by a Coroner’s jury, which investigated the death of Thomas Broderick, 51 years old, a plumber, who was shot Friday morning by his daughter, Ursula, 10 years old, while she was defending her mother.

The child testified that she shot her father while he was threatening her mother with a heavy hammer. She said she slipped up behind her father, took a revolver, took a revolver from his hip pocket and shot him through the head.

“I would rather a million times that my father and everyone else in the world would die than to see my mother killed,” the girl said.

Broderick was found unconscious when the police arrived at his home. He lived until Saturday afternoon, but never regained unconsciousness.

[“Court Clears Child – Of Murder Charges in Shooting of Her Father.” The Cincinnati Enquirer (Oh.), Oct. 11, 1916, p. 1]



FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 11): St. Louis, April 14 – Ursula S. Broderick, aged 13 [sic; should be Broderick, aged 16], who murdered her own father two years ago, shot and killed Joseph Woodlock today. The child’s second murder followed an alleged attack on her by Woodlock, according to the story she told to police. The child murdered Thomas Broderick, aged 51, after he had beaten her mother and herself.

[“Child Kills Step Father Today,” Iowa City Daily Citizen (Io.), Apr. 14, 1919, p. 2]


FULL TEXT (Article 3 of 11): St. Louis, April 15. – Ursula Broderick, the 13 year old slayer of Joseph Woodlock, her stepfather, was ordered held for the grand jury on a homicide charge by the coroner’s jury here this morning. The girl’s mother was ordered held as an accessory.

[“Held For Stepfather’s Death.” The Chillicothe Constitution (Mo.), Apr. 15, 1919, p. 5]


FULL TEXT (Article 4 of 11): St. Louis, March 29. – Examination of prospective jurors to try Ursula Broderick, 16 years old, confessed slayer of her father in 1916, on charges of having killed her stepfather, Joseph F. Woodlock, April 14, 1919, was ordered to begin in Juvenile court here today.

At the coroner’s inquest the girl testified she shot and killed Woodlock when he attempted, to attack her. Fearing him, she said, she had slept with a revolver concealed in the folds of her night dress for several weeks, and when, on April 14, he came to her bedside and embraced her, she drew the revolver and fired.

After the shooting she surrendered to the police and last May was indicted for first degree murder, but has been at liberty under $5,000 bond.

Ursula Broderick was only twelve years old in 1916, when she shot and killed her father Thomas B. Broderick. In that case a coroner’s jury exonerated  her after she had testified that she shot him because he was beating her mother and was about to strike her with a hammer. Mrs. Woodlock is charged jointly with her daughter in connection with Woodlock’s death, but will be tried later. Both Woodlock and Broderick were plumbers.

Under the Missouri laws, if the girl is convicted of first or second degree murder her punishment may be the same as if she were  an adult. The minimum is ten years in the penitentiary. If, however, she is convicted of any degree of manslaughter, she will be sent to an industrial school until she is 21, it was explained.

[“Ursula Broderick Goes To Trial For Death Stepfather – Alleged Man Was Attacking Her When Fatal Shot Was Fired.” The Wilmington Star (N. C.), Mar. 30, 1920, p. 10]


FULL TEXT (Article 5 of 11): St. Louis, Mo., March 31. – Testimony tending to show Joseph F. Woodlock lived in constant fear of his wife and step-daughter, Ursula Broderick, 16 years old, was brought out in the juvenile court here today at the girl’s trial on a charge of first degree murder for killing Woodlock April 14, last.

The girl, who four years ago killed her father, Thomas P. Broderick, in defense of her mother, today again came to the mother’s assistance.

During a recess Mrs. Woodlock was assaulted in a corridor of the court building by Mrs. Bridget Corcoran, a sister to Broderick. Seeing the attack the girl stepped between her mother and Mrs. Corcoran and defied the latter to strike another blow.

Mrs. Woodlock is charged with second degree murder in connection with her husband’s death but will be tried later. The girl maintains she killed Woodlock to defend her honor.

[“Says Woodlock Lived In Fear of Daughter,” The Sun (Pittsburg, Ka.), Apr. 1, 1920, p. 1]


FULL TEXT (Article 6 of 11): St. Louis, Mo., May 6. – Ursula Broderick, 16, who killed her stepfather, Joseph F. Woodlock, in their home here April 14, 1919, was found guilty of murder in the second degree by a jury in juvenile court here tonight and her punishment fixed at ten years in the Missouri penitentiary.

The jury deliberated only an hour and thirty-five minutes. The girl heard the verdict without a trace of emotion.

~ Motion For New Trial. ~

She was sent to the detention home, being unable to furnish bond for $10,000. Her attorney, Charles P. Johnson, announced he would file motion for a new trial.

The defendant, was charged with first degree murder but the charge was changed to murder in the second degree by the jury, which in fixing her punishment at ten years, gave the lightest sentence permitted for that charge.

~ Third Trial For Girl. ~

It was the third time that the girl was tried for killing Woodlock, whom she shot to death. A continuance was ordered at the first trial on account of an error in the court’s instructions to the jury. The second hearing resulted in a mistrial, the jury being unable to agree after twenty-six hours.

At that time the foreman reported the vote stood ten to two for conviction, Ursula took the stand in her own behalf today and reiterated her former testimony that she killed Woodlock to protect her honor.

The state contended that Woodlock was killed as the result of a plot between the girl and her, mother, Mrs. Carrie Woodlock, and that he was shot while asleep. The last witness for the state, an assistant from the coroner’s office, said that in performing an autopsy on Woodlock. he discovered the bullets had entered Woodlock’s head and ranged downward, indicating that he had been shot from above.

~ Mrs. Woodlock to Be Tried. ~

Mrs. Woodlock is also under indictment for her husband’s death. Her trial will be held later.

In 1919 Ursula shot and killed her father, Thomas P. Broderick, but was exonerated by a coroner’s jury when she testified that she fired in defense of her mother, whom, she said, Broderick was beating.

[“Murderer of Stepfather to Pay For Crime.” The Ogden Standard-Examiner (Ut.), May 7, 1920, p. 2]


FULL TEXT (Article 7 of 11): St. Louis, July 22. – Florence McLaughlin, aged 16, who testified at the trial of Ursula Broderick, also 16, convicted on a charge of murder in connection with the shooting of her step father, Joseph Woodlock has been missing from home since Saturday night, police were informed today.

Miss McLaughlin had been summoned as a witness for the state in the trial of Mrs. Woodlock, mother of Ursula, who is charged jointly with the latter in connection with her husband’s death. Ursula was sentenced to ten years in prison but is out on bail pending appeal.

Miss McLaughlin testified that Ursula and Mrs. Woodlock had offered her a bribe to say that she had seen Woodlock act improperly toward his step daughter and girl who came to the Woodlock home to visit Ursula.

[“Girl Witness In Murder Case Missing,” The Bridgeport Telegram (Ct.), Jul. 23, 1920, p. 9]


FULL TEXT (Article 8 of 11): St. Louis, Mo., Dec. 7.—Mrs. Lillian Woodlock, 36 years old, under two first degree murder indictments for the deaths of Thos. P. Broderick and Joseph F. Woodlock, her first and second husbands respectively, went to trial in Circuit Court here today on the second charge. Both men were shot and killed by Ursula Broderick, the defendant's daughter, who is now out on $50,000 bond, pending an appeal to the supreme court from a ten year penitentiary sentence for killing Woodlock.

Woodlock was shot in April, 1919, the girl testifying she was defending her honor. Broderick met his death October 6, 1919, and Ursula, then only fourteen years old, was acquitted by a coroner’s jury on her testimony that she shot to protect her mother whom she asserted Broderick was beating.

[“Woman Goes On Trial - For Murder of Her Second Husband — Also Under Indictment for Murder of First Husband.” Steubenville Herald-Star (Oh.), Dec. 6, 1920, p. 1]


FULL TEXT (Article 9 of 11): St. Louis, Mo., Dec. 11.— A mistrial resulted tonight in the case of Mrs. Lillian Woodlock, 36, charged with murder in the first degree for the death of her first husband, Thomas P. Broderick, killed in the home here October 6, 1916. The jury was discharged after nearly eight hours’ deliberation, when it reported a disagreement. It was said the vote stood 9 to 3 for conviction.

The defendant was agreed released on bond pending a new trial, which it is expected will be held in February.

Ursula Broderick, 17 year old daughter of  the defendant, testified she killed Broderick in defending her mother from attack.

The state, however, held Broderick was killed by his wife, introducing testimony to show she had told of receiving $7,000 for which his life was insured.

Mrs. Woodlock fainted during the prosecution's story of the circumstances surrounding the killing.

[“Accused Woman Faints As Story Of Crime Is Told,” The Ogden Standard-Examiner (Ut.), Dec. 12, 1920, p. 10]


FULL TEXT (Article 10 of 11): Mrs. Lillian Woodlock, 31 years old, of 920 North Taylor avenge, was convicted of murder in the second degree by a jury in Circuit Judge Hartmann’s court last night for the killing of Thomas P. Broderick, her first husband, on Oct. 6, 1916. at 6122 Wagner place, and her punishment was fixed at 10 years in ihe penitentiary. She received the sentence calmly.

She spent the night in jail, lacking bond. She had been at liberty before and during the trial on a $25,000 bond, but conviction automatically ended this. Her attorneys will file a formal motion for a new trial and if that is denied, will appeal to the Supreme Court. Bond, while these matters are pending, will be no more than the former bond, which was signed by Chris Schawacker, a professional bondsman, and may be considerably less. Schawacker’s wife, who died several days ago, is to be buried today, and he was unable to arrange an appeal bond last night and prevent the necessity of placing Mrs. Woodlock in jail.

~ Jury Only About Four Hours. ~

The jury received the case at 4:30 yesterday afternoon and deliberated until after 8:30 p. m., with the exception of a supper period of 45 minutes. The jurors had been kept together and spent the night Wednesday at the Municipal Courts Building. At 8:45 last night the verdict was read. There was a brief moment of silence.

Then a woman relative of the defendant, seated on a spectators’ bench, exclaimed: “Oh, my God” and the Judge ordered the arrest of anyone else making a demonstration. Mrs. Woodlock, sitting with her counsel, betrayed no signs of emotion. As the jurors filed out she raised her head to scan their faces.

Her 17-year-old daughter, Mrs. Daniel E. Miller, who, before her marriage to a printer last week, was Ursula Broderick, ran over to her. The girl scowled and sighed as she threw her arms about her mother. In a few minutes a Deputy Sheriff led Mrs. Woodlock to the nearby jail and Ursula went home with her husband.

Mrs. Woodlock was charged with murder in the first degree, for which the penalty may be a death or life sentence; the death penalty, however, was waived. The Court’s instructions provided for acquittal or conviction for first or second degree murder. The penalty for the lesser degree may range from imprisonment for 10 years to life.

~ Girl Took Blame for Killing. ~

It will be remembered that Ursula took the blame for killing Broderick and a Coroner’s verdict of justifiable homicide was returned. Joseph Woodlock, second husband of Mrs. Lilian Broderick Woodlock, was killed under peculiar circumstances at their home at 6042 Wells avenue, on April 14, 1919.

Ursula again took the blame when she and her mother were questioned before a Coroner’s Jury. The Coroner’s verdict in this case was homicide, and it was recommended that the mother and daughter both be held for the grand Jury. Deputy Coroner Dever held that the grand jury should determine if Mrs. Wood-dock was an accessory before the fact.

A grand jury indicted Ursula on May 8, 1919, for first-degree murder in the Woodlock case. Her mother was indicted for first-degree murder in the Woodlock case a short time previously and will be tried on this charge on June 14, under an agreement of counsel reached today.

Ursula was tried to Juvenile Court for killing her stepfather and two mistrials resulted before she was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment. She held throughout that she shot Mrs. Woodlock in defense of her honor. She appealed to the Supreme Court and is at liberty on bond, awaiting a decision.

~ Mistrial Declared Last December. ~

Mrs. Woodlock was tried last December for killing Broderick, but the jury disagreed, and a mistrial was declared. She was indicted for killing Broderick on May 28, 1920, after she and Ursula had been indicted for Woodlock’s death.

In Mrs. Woodlock’s trial this week the State contended that she quarreled with Broderick the night before he was shot, and that she had threatened previously to kill him. Evidence was brought out that she denied Ursula had shot her father, after the inquest. There was no evidence tending to show directly that Mrs. Woodlock shot Briderick, but it was shown that the defendant at first said she believed Broderick had shot himself.

Ursula testified in her mother’s defense that she, and not her mother, shot Broderick. Mrs. Woodlock testified to the same effect. She did not take the stand in her first trial, but yesterday related a long story of mistreatment at the hands of her first husband, suffering due to his frequent intoxication and the indignities offered her and her daughter on a sleepless night before the shooting. The burden of the defense’s case was to show that Ursula did the shooting, and that this was justifiable, in the light of Broderick’s habitual treatment of his family.

In rebuttal, the State offered the testimony of two women to the effect that, after Mrs. Woodlock was tried last December, Ursula told them she did not shoot Broderick and intended to confess her perjury. This they arranged for her to do, and officials of the Circuit Attorney’s office were prepared to hear the girl’s new statement, but she never appeared.

[“Mrs. Woodlock Gets 10 Years For Husband’s Death – Convicted of Second Degree Murder in Death of T. P. Broderick Whom Daughter Claimed to Have Shot.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Mo.), Apr. 29, 1921, p. 3]


FULL TEXT (Article 11 of 11): St. Louis, June 21. – Mrs. Daniel F. Miller, 17 years old, before her recent marriage, Ursula Broaderick, confessed slayer of her father and her stepfather did not kill the former, it was announced in juvenile court today. Judge Hartman made this announcement in pardoning Mrs. Miller, under ten-year sentence for the death in 1919 of her stepfather, Joseph Woodlock. “The woman told me she did not kill her father, Thomas Broderick, in 1919, but confessed to the crime in defense of her mother,” the judge said.

Mrs. Lillian Woodlock, the mother, is under ten-year sentence in connection with Broderick’s death.

The girl was exonerated of her father’s death on testimony that she shot in defense of her mother. She said she shot Woodlock to defend her honor.

[“Girl Now Says She Confessed Murder To Save Her Mother,” The Evening Herald (Albuquerque, N.M.), Jun. 21, 1921, p. 1]



Oct. 6, 1916 – Thomas B. Broderick killed.
April 14, 1919 – Joseph F. Woodlock, killed
Apr. 3, 1920 – Mistrial declared
May 7, 1920 – Found guilty on 3rd trial
Dec. 8, 1920 – Lillian Woodlock tried for murder
Jun. 17, 1921 – Ursula freed




For similar cases, see Murder-Coaching Moms


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