Sunday, December 28, 2014

“Youngstown Suspected Female Serial Killer” – Ohio, 1931


This case seems to have never been prosecuted. The news reports suggest that, despite disagreements between the prosecutor and the coroner, that it is likely the unnamed woman under investigation was a serial poisoner. As with most poison murder cases, evidence that would meet a "beyond a shadow of a doubt" standard was not easy to come by and in a case in which the coroner was committed to taking an opposing position the chances of a conviction were poor.

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FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 2): Youngstown, Ohio. – Police Tuesday were informed by the county prosecutor’s office they have sufficient evidence to bring murder charges against a woman accused of six killings, but decided upon a further investigation before issuing any warrant.

Detective Lieut. Louis Colabine, in charge of the investigation, said he would not act until he has checked death certificates and conferred with Coroner M. E. Hayes and a physician.

The woman, operator of a boarding house, was blamed by a neighbor and her son-in-law for the deaths of two children, two husbands and two boarders. She held insurance policies on the lives of three of the men.

Her first husband died of a leg infection six years ago, police said two years ago in the Massillon State Hospital for the Insane. The second husband, a boarder said, “fell over in a fit” after drinking a cup of tea brewed by his wife.

The boarder said another boarder died on the way to work and he overheard the woman say she soon would “have another boarder in the hole.” He said he became frightened when he learned she had a $500 policy on his own life and left her home.

The woman denied she had anything to do with the deaths of the four men.

[“Female Bluebeard Charges Delayed – Police Informed Evidence of Wholesale Murder Sufficient for Warrant,” Hope Star (Ak.), Jan. 18, 1932, p. 1]

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FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 2): Youngstown, Jan. 14. – Reports that a doctor has refused to sign a death certificate for a boarder who died in her home were added today to the tangled investigation of a woman accused of killing four men and two children.

~ Hear Story From Neighbor ~

Police got the story of the deaths from a neighbor. Coroner M. E. Hayes, who signed death certificates for two of the men, expressed belief the story was prompted by a neighborhood quarrel. Officers, nevertheless, were assured by Assistant Professor James Cooper that they had evidence enough to warrant murder charges.

Investigation began after the police informant said his wife had dug bits of flesh, bones, and clothing from her garden. Records showed one of the woman’s husbands died in an insane asylum to which he had taken as an emergency case. He went into convulsions after drinking a cup of tea, a witness said. The other husband died of a leg infection. The boarders, according to the coroner, died of heart disease. Three of the men left the woman $1,000 life insurance policies.

~ Refused to Sign Warrant ~

The doctor said he was called to attend a boarder at the house, and found him in severe cramps. The patient died a few days later.  The physician said Coroner M. E. Hayes asked him to sign the death certificate, but he refused, “due to strange circumstances.” Hayes himself finally signed the certificate, giving heart disease as the cause of death.

[“Mystery Piles Up In 6 Deaths In Youngstown – Woman Accused of Killing 2 Husbands, 2 Children, 2 Boarders – Prosecutor’s Aid Figs Up Evidence – Doctor Refuses To Sign Death Warrant For One Boarder,” (AP), The Salem News (Oh.), Jan. 14, 1931, p. 1]

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