Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sally Story, New Jersey Serial Killer – 1882

FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 4): Mrs. Sarah Story, an old woman living at Little Falls, Passaic County, N. J., was arrested yesterday on a charge of poisoning the wife of Joseph Feest, a neighbor. According to the story told by Feest, his wife had been suffering with chills for some time. He had been in the habit of getting water at Mrs. Story’s and on Thursday evening he had spoken to her about his wife’s condition. She gave him a powder which she advised him to give his wife. On Friday morning he gave some of it to his wife, who mixed it in water and drank the water. She soon complained of feeling dizzy, and was seated with spasms which were ended in death. Feest found the remainder of the powder which his wife his wife had taken, and handed it to Dr. Edgar Keeler, of Little Falls, for examination. The doctor analyzed the powder and found it to be strychnine. He gave some of the poison to kittens, and they were attacked with the usual symptoms of strychnine poisoning. He made a post-mortem examination of the body of Mrs. Feest and found strychnine presenting considerable quantity.

From the stories of neighbors the woman is suspected of having poisoned at least three other persons. One of her victims was Mrs. Maud, with whom Mrs. Story had had a quarrel over some property, and who died under mysterious circumstances some time ago. Another was Maggie Story, who about nine years ago was passing Mrs. Story’s house and asked for a glass of water. She drank some milk and was taken very sick. Dr. Van Winkel pronounced the case one of poisoning. By the prompt use of a stomach pump the woman’s life was saved. It is said that Mrs. Story’s husband died under suspicious circumstances. All these rumors are under investigation by Coroner Newcombe, who began an inquest at Little Falls on Tuesday, but adjourned it until to-day. The body of Mrs. Maud is to be exhumed to determine how she came to her death. Sally Story made her living peddling tinware through the country. She drove a donkey hitched to a small cart.

[“Sally Story’s Sin. – An Eccentric Tin Peddler Arrested on Suspicion of Having Poisoned Four People – The Little Old Woman in the Donkey Cart.” The Reading Daily Eagle (Pa.), Sep. 21, 1882, p. 1]


FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 4): There was much excitement yesterday at noon in front of county jail in Paterson, N. J. A big constable was endeavoring to persuade a little old woman to accompany him into the jail, but the little old woman refused. After expostulating for a few minutes the old woman tried to get away, and attracted a crowd. The constable then seized her by the arm, and, with the aid of the deputy warden of the jail, forced her into the portals of the jail.

The constable handed the jail warden a paper from Justice Elias Van Ness, of Little Falls township, instructing the warden to keep Mrs. Sally Story until released by due course of law, she having been charged by Mr. Joseph Feest with the murder of his wife. the little old woman was Aunt Sally Story, one of the best known characters in Passaic county.
Although the commitment charges the accused with but one crime that of poisoning Mrs. Feest there is a probability that there will be other charges preferred against her, for the people who live in the neighborhood of Aunt Sally’s former domicile tell some very ugly stories about her.

The death of Mrs. Elizabeth Feest took place on Friday of last week, and a rumor was soon spread that she had been poisoned by a powder given her by Aunt Sally Story. This rumor reached the ears of Coroner Newcombe, and be proceeded to Little Falls to investigate. He was there informed that Aunt Sally had not only poisoned Mrs. Feest, but that some years before she had poisoned a woman named Mrs. Maud; that a short time before this time she had poisoned a woman named Maggie Story, and that the husband of Aunt Sally had died under very mysterious circumstances. The coroner called on the county prosecutor, Mr. Eugene Stevenson, and laid the matter before him. Witnesses were summoned and a jury empanelled to inquire into the cause of the death of Mrs. Feest, and the inquest was begun at Rider’s hotel, Little Falls, on Tuesday evening.

Joseph Feest, the husband of the dead woman, testified that on Friday morning last his wife took a small portion of a ponder which site said Mrs. Story had given her and she died within 10 minutes later. He produced the remainder of the powder. He said his wife and Mrs. Story were nut at all intimate. His daughter Mary, aged 11, corroborated her father’s story. Mrs. Sallie Story was next allowed to testify in her own behalf. She said she was sure she had had no strychnine in her house for four or five years. She gave Mrs. Feest a quinine powder. In her judgment Mrs. Feest died from being overworked and half-starved.

Dr. Keeler testified that when he was called to see the deceased woman be supposed she had died of malarial convulsions and gave a certificate accordingly; afterward he heard of some of the neighbors’ stories, and on testing powder left in the house found it was strychnine; an autopsy of the body showed that death unmistakably resulted from strychnine. He gave a kitten four drachms of the fluid contents removed from the stomach, and it died in a few minutes with all the symptoms of strychnine poisoning; another kitten died from two drachms of the fluid contents.

The inquest was then adjourned until tomorrow night. Mrs. Feest’s body will be exhumed and examined.

[“The New Borgia. – Giving Strychnine For Quinine. – The Terrible Crimes With Which Aunt Sally Story, a Queer Old Woman in Paterson, is Charged.” The Lancaster Intelligencer (Pa.), Sep. 21, 1882, p. 2]


FULL TEXT (Article 3 of 4): Everybody was out of humor yesterday in the Court of Oyer and Terminer, at Paterson, N. J., when the jury in the Sally Story murder case came in to report that they had had yet agreed whether or not that eccentric old person had poisoned her neighbor, Mrs. Feest, at Little Falls, inst September, with malice or with criminal negligence, or neither. The jury, who had been locked up all night, were sullen; Judge Dixon looked unusually solemn: the Prosecutor was cross; the lawyers for the defence were savage and the spectator were disappointed. The foreman of the jury repeated his assurance of the evening before, that there was no chance of the jury coining to un agreement. Some of the juror asked for additional instructions, and part of the evidence was read and the Court laid down the law, especially with regard to manslaughter. Ex-Judge Barkalow, for the defence, thought that the words of the Court had a tendency toward suggesting a verdict of manslaughter, and intimated as much. He formulated something which he wanted Judge Dixon to charge, and when the Court did not adopt the counsel’s words, the latter excepted, whereupon the Judge reminded him that he must not except before the jury. The jury came in again about 1 p. m. and the foreman reported that they were still at variance. Judge Dixon then requested them to settle their differences in some other place. He will hear an application for bail for the prisoner on Sunday.

The earn will be tried over at the April term of court. Sally Story expresses satisfaction, but hopes that her case will come next time before “men with more sense.” She probably docs not realize the extreme probability that she will have to stay in jail until next spring. It is not though that anybody can be found to furnish security for her, and her worldly possessions are limited.

George Meron, who was man-of-all-work for Mrs. Story, and the only witness for the defence, had an encounter Wednesday, near Little Falls, with un angry husband, who was actuated by not unfounded jealousy. George was afraid being arrested for perjury, because his evidence before the coroner’s jury in the case of Mrs. Feest last fall was very different from his testimony at the trial, and he has left Little Falls for parts unknown, leaving old Sally’s pigs and chickens to the humane attentions of neighbors.

[“Sally Story’s Quilt Not Decided.” New York Tribune (N.Y.), Jan. 27, 1883, p. 8]


FULL TEXT (Article 4 of 4): The jury in the case of Mrs. Sally Story, tried for the second tie on an indictment for the poisoning of Mrs. Elizabeth Feest of Little Falls, N. J. found a verdict yesterday of manslaughter, with a recommendation to mercy. Sentence was deferred until this morning. She is almost a dwarf in appearance, and nearly 80 years old. Many think she is demented. She says strychnine to Mrs. Feest, who had a fever under the idea that in neighborly kindness she was giving her quinine. She had quarreled but they were not supposed to be bitter enemies. She had been accused before of giving poison in a person with whom she had quarreled. She earned a living by peddling tinware through the country in a covered wagon drawn by a diminutive donkey.

[“Sally Story Guilty.” The Sun (New York, N. Y.), May 31, 1883, p. 3]


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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