Friday, December 12, 2014

Katherine & Elizabeth Nolan, Serial Killer Sisters – Waterford, New York, 1894


The sisters, who were indicted for the murder of their brother, were not convicted. Yet the fact of three other deaths in the family in the space of eight months suggests, despite the failure of the one court case, that at least one sister, Elizabeth, was a serial killer.

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FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 5): Ballston, N. Y., Oct. 16. – Katherine [“Catharine W. Nolan” in some sources] and Elizabeth Nolan, of Waterford, sisters, aged 22 and 17 years respectively, were arraigned in court yesterday afternoon on an indictment charging them jointly with murder in the first degree in having, on June 8, administered arsenic to their brother, John Nolan, with intent to cause his death, that they might obtain and share policy of insurance issued by one of the low-priced assessment companies on his life in which they were named as beneficiaries.

A drug clerk testified before the coroner’s and grand juries to having sold one of the sisters arsenic just before that date. The father, mother and a sister of the Nolans had died within the preceding eight months, on all of whose lives they held similar insurance policies that were paid before John’s death.

[“Killed For Insurance. Two Sisters Are Held for One Murder and Suspected of Four.” By the United Press., Scranton Tribune (Pa.), Oct. 17, 1894, p. 3]

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FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 5): Ballston, N. Y., Oct. 16. – Katharine and Elizabeth Nolan of Waterford, sisters. aged 22 and 17 years old respectively, were arraigned in oyer and terminer [a hearing to “to hear and determine”] on an indictment charging them jointly with murder in the first degree, in having on June 8, 1894, administered arsenic to their brother John Nolan, with intent to cause his death that they might obtain and share a policy of insurance issued by one of the low-priced assessment companies on his life in which they were named as beneficiaries. He died June 13 from such poison as was determined by an autopsy made by direction of Coroner Stubbs. A drug clerk testified before the coroner’s and grand juries to having sold one of the sisters arsenic Just before that date. The father, mother and a sister of the Nolans had died within this preceding eight months on all of whose lives they held similar insurance policies that were paid before John’s death. C. E. Keach, counsel for the prisoners, demurred to the indictment and also moved that it he quashed on affidavits setting forth that the evidence before the grand jury did not present sufficient facts to warrant that the sisters be held for trial. Justice Stover overruled the demurrer and denied the motion to quash. Mr. Keach then entered pleas of not guilty for each of his clients and asked that a date be fixed at this term for their trial. District Attorney Person opposed on the ground that the attendance of necessary witnesses for the people could not be obtained at this term. On his motion the cases were put over till the January oyer.

[“Poisoned  For Money. - Two Sisters Indicted for the Murder of Their Brother.” Freeland Tribune (Pa.), Oct. 22, 1894, p. 2]

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FULL TEXT(Article 3 of 5): Ballston Spa, N. Y., April 25. – An extra panel of jurors has been drawn for the trial of Katharine V. Nolan, which is to begin next Monday, for the Murder of her brother, John Nolan. The Nolan family, consisting of the sisters, Katharine, Mary and Elizabeth, and their brother John, lived in Waterford, Saratoga county, N. Y., until June, 1894. John and two of the girls worked in a mill. There were two insurance policies on John's life.

On June 8 Katharine and Elizabeth prepared the dinner at home. When the others arrived, Katharine, on some excuse, went into the garden while they ate. They all drank tea, John alone using sugar. After he had gone to work Katharine came in, ate her dinner and cleared the table.

That afternoon John was taken ill at the mill. The next morning he was unable to work. He had vomiting, purging and burning sensations, with thirst. The doctor in attendance suspected something was wrong.

After Sunday John improved in health until June 13, when he sat up and Katharine gave him beef tea. Directly afterwards he was taken worse and in a short time was dead.

The stomach and intestines were examined and arsenic was found. Both Katharine and Elizabeth are under indictment for the alleged murder, but have asked for separate trials. The trial of Katherine was postponed at the last term of court, as her sister Mary, who is an important witness for the State was unable to be present.

[“Sisters Accused of a Horrible Crime. They Must Go on Trial Charged With Murdering Their Brother.” (By the Associated Press), The Arizona Republican (Phoenix, Az.), Apr. 26, 1895, p. 1]

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FULL TEXT (Article 4 of 5): Saratoga, April 26. – The Nolan murder trial was continued in the Saratoga oyer and terminer court before Judge Landon.

Dr. Lewis Ralch Albany, the expert called by the prosecution, testifies on crossexamination that the hypothetical questions answered by him were based on fact as assumed and noyt on personal knowlewdge of the circumstances. He did not think a complete and propert autopsy had been made.

Dr. John Higgins, a venerable druggist  of Waterford, deposed to filling a prescription for John Nolan, alleged to have been poisoned by his sister Catherine, and said that it contained no arsenic.

Dr./ M. W. Vandenburgh of Fort Edward was also sworn as an expert on poisoning cases.

Saloonkeepers Michael J. Currier and Michael Costigan of Waterford, testified that Nolan drank heavily in their places on June 8, 1894, the day he was taken ill, and added that he complained of being sick.

The prosecution rested. Counsel for the defense moved for acquittal and, pending argument, Judge Landon, intimated that he would deny the motion, but said he would hear the counsel further.

[“Nolan Poisoning Trial. – Prosecution Rests Its Case After Producing Several Witnesses.” The Olean Democrat (N. Y.), Apr. 26, 1895, p. 4]

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FULL TEXT (Article 5 of 5): Saratoga, Nov. 12. – A claim for $1,000 was made in the County Board of Supervisors to-day by Miss Elizabeth Nolan, of Waterford, as “recompense for having been injured in health and reputation, and unjustly arrested and indicted for the murder of her brother John Nolan, and and after confinement in jail for several months was discharged without trial.” The claim was made a special order for next Friday, when Calvin E. Keach, counsel for the claimant, will be heard in the matter.

[From: “Telegraphic Notes,” New York Tribune (N. Y.), Nov. 14, 1895, p. 1]

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