Saturday, September 5, 2015

Charlotte Dutton, alias Howell, Serial Killer – 1891, Pennsylvania

FULL TEXT: The mystery surrounding the death, on May 17 last, of Miss Elizabeth Knapp, of Wellsboro, Pa., has been partially cleared by the arrest of Miss Charlotte Dutton, alias Howell, on a warrant charging her with murder. Miss Knapp, who made her home in the family of Chauncey Howell, became suddenly ill on May 16 and died the following day. She maintained to the last that she had been poisoned. The coroner’s jury made an investigation and finally rendered a verdict that “the deceased came to her death by a corrosive poison administered either by herself or some unknown person.”

Miss Knapp’s friends were not satisfied with the verdict and sought the aid of the Wilkinson Detective Agency of New York to assist in ascertaining how Miss Knapp met her death. The detectives worked for six weeks on the case and secured enough evidence to warrant the arrest of Miss Dutton. Miss Dutton has been living in the family of Howell, also. It is charged by the friends of Miss Knapp that she was jealous of the latter and took this means to get rid of her. There are two other mysterious deaths which occurred in the Howell family which will probably be charged to Miss Dutton.

Shortly after her appearance at the Howell residence the latter’s wife died under peculiar circumstances. Notloug after his wife’s death a young son died with symptoms of poisoning, and it is alleged that both were poisoned by Miss Dutton, who now claims that she is married to Howell. The bodies of all the supposed victims will be exhumed for examination, and it is claimed that if the result is what the detectives have reason to believe they will have enough evidence to fasten at least three murders on the accused young woman.

[“Accused Of Poisoning,” Alexandria Gazette (Va.), Aug. 22, 1895, p. 1]


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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