Monday, July 15, 2013

Ella Holdridge, Funeral-Loving Teenage Serial Killer from Tonawanda, New York - 1892


FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 4): Buffalo, N.Y., July 20 – The frightful death of Louisa Stormer, and the severe illness of five or six other children of Tonawanda, has brought to light the fact that 14-year-old Ella Holdridge is a murderess. Her frightful crime is the result of a morbid desire to see death scenes enacted. She was attended every funeral that has occurred in the neighborhood for several years past. Funerals have been infrequent hereabouts lately. Ella, it seems, took upon herself the duty of supplying subjects. She administered rat poison to several pupils of Father Baker’s institution at Limestone Hill. They suffered frightfully while she stood by and coolly awaited the coming of death.

The helpless little ones ran shrieking from her presence. Medical aid was summoned and her lives were saved. She claimed to have been given them hot water, and as no serious results followed no investigation was made. The Stormer girl was her next victim. The dead child never spoke after the dose had been given  her, and as the physician called gave a certificate of death from summer complaint no suspicion was attached to the Holdridge girl, who saw her die and was the most interested spectator at the grave.

Only a day after Louisa Stormer was buried she fed the children of Mrs. Wallace Eggleston, who left them in her charge, liberal allowances of rat poison. Dr. Edmonds was called. He detected the evidences of poison at once. Heroic measures were adopted and the little ones now hover between life and death, little hope of their recovery being entertained. He left the bedside of the Eggleston children one hour, and the next he was called in to save the life of the 5-year-old child of Henry Garlock, who had been poisoned. The child, too, had been playing with Ella Holdridge and told of eating food prepared by her. Dr. Edmunds sent for the Holdridge girl and forced her to confess that she not only poisoned the children at the institution, the Egglestons and little Garlock, but actually murdered Louisa Stromer. She described with great earnestness and tragic effect the horrible sufferings of her victims and seemed to gloat over the death of Louisa Stormer who she said “made the prettiest corpse ever put under New York soil.” The coroner is now investigating the case. The girl is under police surveillance.


[“She Murdered For Fun. – The Morbid Passion of A Child Leads Her to Crime.” The Philadelphia Record (Pa.), Jul. 21, 1892, p. 7]


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EXCERPT (Article 2 of 4): The village of South Tonawanda (N.Y.) was thrown into a state of excitement over a startling case of poisoning that has just come to light. Ella Holdridge, a fourteen-year-old girl, is charged with having given several of her playmates “rough on rats.” One child died and three others are not expected to live. The little daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Steiner was taken sick and died three hours later. It was then thought she had cholera morbus. On the following Wednesday Mrs. Eggleston went to Buffalo, leaving her little girls, Susie, aged ten, and Jennie, aged five, at home. Ella Holdridge came over to play with the children, and while there coaxed the children into the house and forced them to take the poison, which she had mixed with chocolate. She told them it was good, and that her mamma used it in coffee. The children were very soon taken ill, and Dr. Edmunds was sent for. He said they had been poisoned. The Holdridge girl was sent for and questioned. She finally confessed to having given them the poison.

NOTE: The original article discusses two separate juvenile murder case (the other not being a “serial” case).

[“A Pair of Juvenile Fiends.” The Tuapeka Times (Lawrence, New Zealand), Nov. 2, 1892, p. 5]

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FULL TEXT (Article 3 of 4): Buffalo, N . Y ., July 20.— Out at Father Baker’s institution at Limestone Hill there is a girl of 14 years, Ella Holdridge, whose morbid passion for seeing death and funerals has led her to kill one of her playmates and cause the serious illness of three others by poison.

The Holdridges have lived in Tonawanda several years, While in all other respects Ella has been like other children, her parents and the neighbors have always noticed that a funeral or the announcement of a death seemed to set her wild.

She grow to be a very familiar figure at the burying ground, for almost as certainly as there was a funeral the child was near the open grave.

Tonawanda is 10 miles from Buffalo, but it might just as well be at the bottom of Lake Erie so far as the publicity of news is concerned, and thus it is that Ella’s crime did not become known for more than a week.

Her plan was to administer rat poison, which she made as agreeable to take as possible by mixing it with cocoa. When the children refused to take it willingly she threw them on their backs and forced it down their throats, leaving them to die if they would, but watching their suffering from a distance and gloating over it.

As far as can be learned this

Child Borgia’s Work

began in earnest July 7. On that day Ella had been playing with Louisa, the 7-year-old daughter of Herman Stormer. Shortly after she left Louisa was taken violently ill. The weather was hot, just the kind in which children’s complaints flourish, and the physician called prescribed for summer complaint. None of his remedies eased her sufferings, and alter two days of intense agony the little girl died.

She was buried on the 11th, and one of the conspicuous figures at the Stormer home during the days intervening between death and the funeral and at the open graveside was little Ella Holdridge, solemn and quiet, but her eyes flashing with excitement, her cheeks burning and her face full of mystery.

The doctor had given a certificate of death from summer complaint, and no thought of murder or poison entered the mind of any one until last Wednesday, when Mrs. Eggleston came to Buffalo on a shopping expedition, leaving her two young daughters at home. She had been gone only a few minutes when the Holdridge girl went to the house. The children were playing around the doorstep.

Ella took them inside and told them she would make them something nice. She looked the door and made a pot of cocoa, into which she threw a generous handful of rat poison.

One of the children didn’t like the taste, the liquid was poured down her throat. Then Ella told them both they would be all right soon, directing thorn not to tell any one.

That night both children were taken violently ill and Dr. Edmonds was called. He at once suspected poison. Questioning the little patients closely, he learned enough to nut him on the

Track of the Child Poisoner.

Ever since then Dr. Edmonds has been attending the children, and may save their lives, although the hot weather tolls against them.

While he was working over the Eggleston children it was discovered that the 5-year-old son of Mr. Garlock had been poisoned.

A panic seized the neighborhood. Every child was catechised to learn if it had eaten or drank anything given them by Ella Holdridge.

By hard work the physicians who attended the Garlock boy saved his life, although he is yet very ill. In the mean-time, Dr. Harris, who attended the girl who died, and Dr. Edmonds had compared notes, and Justice of the Peace Rogers and Coroner Hardleben were notified and began an investigation.

The Holdridge child was sent for and questioned. At first she denied having given any of the children anything to eat or drink, but when told that she had been seen making the cocoa, and that it was known she had poisoned them,. she very naively and with wide-open eyes said:

“Dear me, is that so?”

Then she made a full confession. She told how she had made the cocoa with the poison in it, and how she had forced it down the throats of the little Eggleston children because she wanted to go to a funeral and thought they would look so nice dead. When the death of little Louise Stermer was brought up she frankly said:

“Yes, she’s dead. Poor Louisa! But she looked awful pretty, and her funeral was awful nice.”

Ella had given her the poison in a drink of water, she said, She told her tale in the most matter-of-fact way, without seeming to realize the enormity of her act.

At the conclusion of the confession Justice Rogers sent her to Father Baker’s for safe-keeping until the coroner’s investigation is finished.

It has been learned that after she had given the poison to the little Stermer girl Ella went home, and her mother, noticing that she seemed to be laboring under suppressed excitement, asked her what the trouble was,

“I don’t know,” she replied, “but I guess

Little Louisa is Goin’ to Die.

‘cause she’s pretty sick. The doctor is there.”

From then until the child died Ella made frequent trips to the Stermer house, tiptoed her way to a window and peeked in. Every time she ran back to her mother and cried almost joyously.

“I guess she’s most dead now.”

Finally little Louisa died. The first intimation Mrs. Holdridge had of it was when Ella ran into the house clapping her hands and dancing up and down, saying gleefully;

“I guess she’s dead now, ‘cause they’re all in there crying, and there’s a man there with a box. She’s dead, she’s dead; I know it.”

And she danced out into the street. Mrs. Holdridge is almost prostrated with grief.

“I questioned Ella,” she said, “but all I can get from her is that she thought they would look nice dead and she wanted to go to the funerals.”

“She seemed always to have a perfect mania for deaths and funerals. Every time any one died she learned of it in some way and would dance up and down with joy, clapping her bands and saying: “He’s dead! He’s dead!”

“Then if she could she would slip away and go to the cemetery to the funeral.”

“Several times when she has returned home after an absence, and I questioned her she would tell me enough to lead me to believe she had been following a funeral.

“So deeply was she interested in the death of little Louisa that she slipped away once or twice the evening before she died and went to the house. This she told me just before they took her to Father Baker’s.”

The girl was seen in the institution today and questioned, but could give no explanation of her poisoning, other than that “they looked nice dead.” When asked how she knew the poison would kill the children, she said:

“If it killed rats and mice it would kill children.”

Her mind seems perfectly free from evil, and she said, very quietly and earnestly:

“Little Louisa looked very pretty dead.”

She says she got the poison “in the house.”

[“They Looked Nice Dead. – Little Girl Near Buffalo Liked Funerals. - For This Reason She Gave Seven-Year-Old Louisa Stermer Poison. - She Was Not Suspected Till Many Children Were at Death’s Door.” The Boston Daily Globe (Ma.), Jul. 20, 1892, p. 4]

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FULL TEXT (Article 4 of 4): Buffalo, N. Y., July 20. – Out at Father Baker’s institution, at Limestone Hill, there is a girl of 14 years, Ella Holdridge, whose morbid passion for seeing death and funerals has led her to kill one of her playmates and cause the serious illness three others by poison.

Uninvited, Ella went to all the funerals, and always crowded well up toward the grave, where she stood looking down the opening. Her plan with children was to give them rat poison, first mixing it with cocoa, and when they refused to take it willingly threw them on their backs and forced it down their throats, leaving them die if they would and gloatingly watch their sufferings. She began her Borgia work July 7 with Louisa, the daughter of Mr. Herman Stermer. The illness was attributed to summer complaint and treated accordingly. Death followed two days later, and conspicuous figure at the house, funeral and the open grave side was little Ella Holdridge, solemn and quiet, her eyes flashing with excitement and her cheeks rosy red.

Last Wednesday, when Mrs. Eggleston visited Buffalo, leaving her two young daughters at home, Alla [sic] visited the house and told the children she would make them something nice. She made a pot of cocoa, into which she threw a generous handful of rat poison. One of the children did not like the taste. She was pushed on to the sofa. The liquid was poured down her throat. Then Ella told them both they would be all right soon, directing them not to tell any one. These children are not yet out of danger. The five-year-old son of George Garlock was next poisoned, and panic seized the neighborhood. Every child was catechised to learn if they had eaten drank any thing given by Ella. Ella has confessed everything, and said in the case of the little Eggleston children that she wanted to go their funeral because they would look so nice dead. When the death of the little Stermer girl was brought up, Ella said. “Yes, she looked awfully pretty in a coffin.”

When the Stermer girl was sick Ella was asked by her mother what the trouble was, the reply was given, “I think she is going to Heaven.” From then until the child died Ella made frequent trips to the Stermer house, tiptoeing to the window and peeping in.

Every time she ran back to her mother and, cried, almost joyously: “I guess she’s most dead now.” Finally little Louisa died. The first intimation Mrs. Holdridge had of it was when Ella ran into the house clapping her hands and dancing up an down saying, gleefully:

“I guess she’s dead now, ‘cause they’re all in there crying and there’s a man there with a box. She’s dead, she’s dead, I knew it!” and she danced off out into the street. When Ella was asked hew she knew the poison would kill the children, she said: “If it killed rats and mice it would kill children.”

[“Young Borgia. - She Had a Morbid Desire to Attend Funerals. - To Gratify Her Whim She Poisons Her Playmates. - She Feeds Them on Rough on Rats and When One of Them Resisted She Rammed the Deadly Stuff Down Her Throat - Horrible Crime.” Daily Public Ledger (Maysville, Ky.), Jul. 20, 1892, p. 3]

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VICTIMS:


Father Baker’s institution at Limestone Hill; multiple children, survived
Susie Eggleston; (10), poisoned, saved
Jennie Eggleston (5), poisoned, saved
Henry Garlock (5), poisoned, saved
Louisa Stromer (“Stermer”), died


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The Ella Holdridge case is included in a new book: Michael T. Keene, Question of Sanity: The True Story of Female Serial Killers in 19 th Century New York, Feb. 2014, Willow Manor Pub.

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More cases: Serial Killer Girls

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http://unknownmisandry.blogspot.com/2012/02/female-serial-killers-of-19th-century.html


For more cases of this category, see: Female Serial Killers of 19th Century America (as of January 20, 2014, the collection contains 61 cases)

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http://unknownmisandry.blogspot.com/2015/11/youthful-borgias-girls-who-murder.html

More cases: Youthful Borgias: Girls Who Commit Murder

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