Saturday, November 30, 2019

Pam Hupp, Suspected Serial Killer – Missouri, 2016


This is one of the twistiest – and most evil-permeated – FSK cases on record. Wikipedia offers a thorough summary.

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CHRONOLOGY
Oct. 10, 1958 – Pamela Marie Hupp (née Pamela Marie Neumann), born.
Dates? – Hupp held several jobs in the life insurance industry; on two occasions, she was fired for forging signatures.
Dec. 22, 2011 – 5 Days before Betsy’s murder, her life insurance policy was signed over to Hupp – she ended up getting $150,000 in proceeds from the insurance.
Dec. 27, 2011 – Elizabeth “Betsy” Faira, best friend; murdered; stabbed 55 times.
Oct. 31, 2013 – Shirley Neumann (77), mother, died from fall from balcony; suspected murder. $500,000 inheritance.
Nov. 18, 2013 – Russ Faria trial begins.
Dec. 23, 2013 – Russ Faria convicted of murder of Betsy.
Nov. 6, 2015 – Russ Faria conviction overturned.
Feb. 22, 2016 – Betsy Faria’s daughters, Leah and Mariah Day, lose lawsuit (filed 2014) against Hupp seeking $150,000.
Aug. 16, 2016 – Louis Gumpenberger (33), disabled, murdered; 2 gunshots; at PH home.
Aug. 23, 2016 – Pam Hupp (57), arrested at her home. After police arrive she stabs self in neck and on wrists with a pen.
Nov. 2016 – Dateline featured a story on the Pam Hupp case.
Jan. 2017 – Judge Chris Mennemeyer was suspended by the Supreme Court of Missouri for misconduct unrelated to the Faria case.
Aug. 2018 – Judge Mennemeyer and prosecutor Leah Chaney (formerly Leah Askey) were voted out of office, with the handling of the murder case and subsequent trial cited as a major contributor.
Jun. 19, 2019 – Pam Hupp makes Alford plea in Gumpenberger murder. Sentenced to life in prison.

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Wikipedia: Pamela Marie Hupp (née Pamela Marie Neumann, born October 10, 1958) is an American woman who in 2016 murdered Louis Gumpenberger, a crime for which she is serving a life sentence. Police believe Hupp murdered Gumpenberger as part of a plot to implicate Russ Faria in the 2011 murder of his wife Betsy Faria, a crime for which he was convicted in 2013, in part due to testimony from Hupp, and subsequently exonerated in 2015 after evidence implicating Hupp as the perpetrator of the murder was permitted to be submitted. The murder of Betsy Faria, which was featured in five Dateline NBC episodes airing from 2014 to 2019, has never been solved; the investigation was reopened in June 2019. Hupp has also been investigated in connection with the 2013 death of her mother, Shirley Neumann.

~ Early life ~

Born on October 10, 1958, Neumann grew up in Dellwood, Missouri, attending Riverview Gardens High School. Hupp held several jobs in the life insurance industry; on two occasions, she was fired for forging signatures. In 2001, Hupp and her husband began living in O'Fallon, Missouri, where she worked as an administrator for State Farm. By 2010, Hupp had stopped working and was claiming disability benefits for back, leg, and neck pain.

~ Death of Betsy Faria ~

Elizabeth "Betsy" Kay Faria (1969–2011) was a coworker of Pam Hupp at State Farm. She lived in Troy, Missouri with her husband, Russell "Russ" Scott Faria, and two daughters from a previous relationship. In 2010, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. In October 2011, she learned that the cancer had metastasized to her liver and was terminal.

On December 22, 2011, unbeknownst to her family, Betsy Faria changed the sole beneficiary of her $150,000 State Farm life insurance policy from her husband to Hupp. Hupp originally claimed that Betsy Faria had asked her to give the money to her daughters when they were older, before later claiming that Betsy Faria had wanted her to keep the money for herself. Betsy Faria's daughters launched a legal challenge against Hupp and her husband to attempt to claim the life insurance policy in 2014; it was dismissed in 2016. Prosecutors speculated that her husband had been angered by her actions, giving him a motive for her murder.  Russ Faria remained the beneficiary on a separate $100,000 policy.
On December 27, 2011, Betsy Faria underwent chemotherapy at the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center and then visited her mother's house, after which she was driven home by Hupp, making Hupp the last confirmed person to have seen her alive. Betsy Faria had originally been scheduled to be driven home by a family friend until Hupp had driven to her mother's house and insisted on driving her home. Hupp claimed that she had dropped Betsy Faria off at approximately 19:00. Russ Faria spent the evening at his friend Michael Corbin's home watching films until 21:00, then drove to an Arby's in Lake St. Louis before returning home. At 21:40 that evening, Russ Faria called 9-1-1 and reported that he had returned to his home to find his wife had committed suicide. Betsy Faria had been stabbed over 55 times with her arms almost entirely severed and the murder weapon, a serrated kitchen knife, left lodged in her neck. A second knife was found under a pillow on the couch she had been lying on. First responders arrived at 21:49 and concluded that Betsy Faria had been dead for at least one hour and likely longer.

~ Conviction of Russ Faria ~

Suspicion swiftly fell on Russ Faria, and he was arrested on the day following the murder. His initial assertion that Betsy Faria had killed herself was considered to be "ludicrous" by first responders who observed her body. A search of the house by police found a bloodstained pair of slippers in his closet. His volatile emotional state was regarded as "suspicious" by police. He ostensibly failed a polygraph test administered by police. When interviewed by police, Hupp claimed that Russ Faria had a "violent temper", that he was a heavy drinker, that he had threatened Betsy Faria, and that Betsy Faria had been considering leaving him. At the behest of Hupp, police searched Betsy Faria's laptop and found a document in which Betsy Faria purportedly expressed fears that her husband would murder her (it was later revealed that the document was written in Word 97, software that was not installed on the laptop, and was the only document on the laptop with "author unknown"). On January 4, 2012, the day after Betsy Faria's funeral, Russ Faria was charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action. As he was unable to meet the bail of $250,000, he was held in the Lincoln County jail until his trial began on November 18, 2013.

During Russ Faria's trial, his defense attorney, Joel Schwartz, argued that the testimonies of the four friends he had been visiting and evidence of him making purchases from multiple different stores over the course of the evening demonstrated that the timeline did not allow for him to commit the murder, particularly given there were no traces of blood on his body or clothes. The prosecuting attorney, Leah Askey, countered by arguing that Russ Faria's friends were providing a false alibi and that they had colluded with him to carry out the murder. The trial judge, Chris Mennemeyer, refused to allow Schwartz to present evidence implicating Hupp as an alternative suspect, including cellphone records showing that Hupp had been in the vicinity of the Faria house for up to 30 minutes after the time she had claimed to drop her off at or the fact of Hupp being named as sole beneficiary of the life insurance policy shortly before the murder. On November 21, 2013, Russ Faria was convicted on both counts.  On December 22, 2013 he was sentenced to life plus 30 years imprisonment and sent to the Jefferson City Correctional Center.  Although a central premise of the prosecution's case was that Russ Faria's four friends had been complicit in the murder, no charges were ever brought against them.

~ Retrial of Russ Faria, acquittal, and reopening of murder investigation ~

In February 2014, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published an exposé revealing that the $150,000 received by Hupp had been kept by her rather than put into a trust for Betsy Faria's daughters and that Hupp had made contradictory statements during her interviews with police, initially claiming she had not entered the Faria house after driving her home and then revising this account twice. The exposé featured an interview with the 9-1-1 operator who had taken Russ Faria's call, who stated that she believed his hysterical state upon making the call was genuine. The exposé also claimed that prosecuting attorney Leah Askey had been in a relationship with Mike Lang, the then-captain of investigations for the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office and one of the investigating officers in the Betsy Faria murder case, who testified against Russ Faria in his trial. Two members of the jury in Russ Faria's trial approached the media to flag concerns that this information had been withheld.

Schwartz appealed the verdict. In February 2015, the Missouri Court of Appeals sent the case back to the 45th Circuit Court for a hearing on a retrial. After judge Chris Mennemeyer recused herself from the case, in June 2015, 22nd Circuit Court judge Steven Ohmer granted a motion by Schwartz for a new bench trial based on the evidence that had emerged, with Russ Faria released on bond pending the trial. During the retrial, Schwartz was allowed to introduce evidence implicating Hupp as the perpetrator. CSI agent Amy Buettner, who had examined the crime scene, stated that she believed the blooded slippers found in Russ Faria's closet had not stepped in blood. During the trial, police officers disclosed that Hupp - who was not called to testify in the trial - had claimed in interviews conducted in June that she and Betsy Faria had been in a sexual relationship. Hupp also stated to police that she had "remembered" seeing Russ Faria and another man in a car parked in a side street outside the Faria home as she drove Betsy Faria home.  On November 7, 2015, Faria's conviction was overturned.

In July 2016, Russ Faria lodged a civil rights lawsuit against Leah Askey and three officers of the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office on the basis that they had "fabricated evidence, ignored exonerating evidence and failed to investigate the other obvious suspect." In January 2017, Judge Chris Mennemeyer was suspended by the Supreme Court of Missouri for misconduct unrelated to the Faria case. In August 2018, both Mennemeyer and Leah Chaney (formerly Leah Askey) were voted out of office, with the handling of the murder case and subsequent trial cited as a major contributor. The decision not to investigate Pam Hupp as the potential perpetrator of the murder had been widely criticized; a former employee of the Lincoln County Prosecutor’s Office stated in November 2016, "There were several of us that kept thinking, why are we not pursuing Pam Hupp? [...] They were just locked down on Russ." In September 2019, federal judge for the Eastern District of Missouri John Andrew Ross dismissed Chaney from the lawsuit on the basis of prosecutorial immunity.

In August 2016, the Lincoln County prosecuting attorney and Lincoln County Sheriff's Office issued a press release stating that they were cooperating with the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri in a review of the Betsy Faria murder case. In January 2018, attorneys acting for Russ Faria depositioned Hupp as part of Faria's lawsuit against Lincoln County, asking her 92 questions relating to the murder of Betsy Faria. Hupp declined to answer the questions. In response to the refusal, Faria's attorneys sought a court order to force a response. In June 2018, 11th Circuit Court judge Jon Cunningham ruled that prosecutors in the trial of Hupp for the murder of Louis Gumpenberger could present evidence relating to Faria's murder. In June 2019, following Hupp's entering of an Alford guilty plea to the murder of Gumpenberger, Lincoln County prosecuting attorney Mike Wood announced that he would be reopening the Betsy Faria murder investigation. In October 2019, Wood requested a case review by the Major Case Squad.

~ Investigation in connection with the death of Shirley Neumann ~

Shirley Neumann (1935–2013) was the mother of Pam Hupp and three other children. She graduated from St. Louis Community College–Florissant Valley and the University of Missouri–St. Louis, subsequently working as a teacher in Jennings and Ferguson, Missouri. Predeceased by her husband in 2000, by 2013 she was living alone in a third-floor apartment in the Lakeview Park Independent Senior Living Community in Fenton, Missouri and suffering from dementia and arthritis.

Neumann spent the night of October 29, 2013 with Hupp following a hospital visit. At approximately 17:00 on October 30, Hupp dropped her off at her apartment, instructing staff not to expect her for dinner that evening or breakfast the following day.  A housekeeper found Neumann dead beneath the balcony of her home at 14:30 on October 31, 2013. The aluminum balcony railing was broken. Following a police investigation, assistant medical examiner Raj Nanduri concluded that she had died from blunt trauma to the chest resulting from an accidental fall. An autopsy found that she had .84 micrograms of the sedative Zolpidem in her blood; over eight times the expected concentration for someone having taken a normal dose.

In November 2013, the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office received an anonymous note that suggested Hupp had murdered her mother to receive life insurance. Hupp was the last person known to have seen her mother alive. Hupp and her siblings each received approximately $120,000 of investments held by Neumann, as well as sharing a $10,000 life insurance payout. Earlier that year, prior to her mother's death, Hupp had been videotaped saying "my mom's worth half a million that I get when she dies [...] if I really wanted money, there was an easier way than trying to combat somebody that's physically stronger than me". The police reopened their investigation but after interviewing the housekeeper who had found Neumann's body and Neumann's son Michael - both of whom stated that Neumann was "unsteady" - again concluded that her death was accidental. They did not interview Hupp.

In 2016, after Hupp was charged with the murder of Louis Gumpenberger, the St. Louis County Police Department police reopened the investigation. Neumann's son Michael reiterated that he believed his mother's death to have been accidental. Detective Matthew Levy attempted to get a subpoena for the location of Hupp's cellphone at the time of her mother's death but was unsuccessful. Levy also attempted to organize forensic tests on the balcony railing at the Missouri University of Science and Technology but the Lakeview Park Independent Senior Living Community refused to provide a railing for testing.

In November 2017, Mary Case - the chief medical examiner for St. Louis County - changed the manner of Neumann's death from "accidental" to "undetermined". Case stated, "since [Neumann's] death, many things have happened that involved the daughter. And so all of that investigation, including the one in Lincoln County and the one in St. Charles, became pertinent information [...] I was no longer willing to say it could be an accident." The investigation into Neumann's death was not reopened.

In May 2018, St. Charles County Circuit judge Jon Cunningham ruled that prosecutors in the trial of Hupp for the murder of Louis Gumpenberger could not present evidence relating to Neumann's death.

~ Death of Louis Gumpenberger and criminal investigation ~

Louis Royse Gumpenberger (1983–2016) was a resident of St. Charles, Missouri. Following a car crash in 2005, he suffered from severe mental and physical impairments.

On August 16, 2016, Gumpenberger died after being shot five times by Hupp in her home in O'Fallon, Missouri. As Hupp had called 9-1-1 shortly before shooting Gumpenberger, the audio of the incident was recorded. Hupp claimed that Gumpenberger, armed with a knife, had jumped out of a car (driven by another person) into her driveway, accosted her while she sat in her sport utility vehicle in her garage, and demanded she drive them to a bank to retrieve "Russ' money", prompting her to flee into her house and then shoot Gumpenberger in self-defence with a Ruger LCR she kept on her nightstand after he pursued her.

The St. Charles County prosecuting attorney and the O'Fallon chief of police theorized that Hupp had lured Gumpenberger to her home by presenting herself as "Cathy", a producer for the television program Dateline NBC, and offering to pay him to reenact a 9-1-1 call, then shot him in order to implicate Russ Faria in an attempt on her life (and divert suspicion from her) and planted a knife and a note on his body. The note contained instructions to "kidnap Hupp, get Russ's money from Hupp at her bank, and kill Hupp" and to "Take Hupp back to house and get rid of her. Make it look like Russ' wife.

Make sure knife sticking out of neck." in return for a reward of $10,000. Cellphone records showed that Hupp had been in Gumpenberger's neighborhood less than one hour before the shooting, contradicting her claim that she had never met him before.  On August 10, 2016, a police report had been filed with the St. Charles County police stating that a woman matching Hupp's description had approached O'Fallon resident Carol Alford posing as a Dateline NBC producer and offering her $1,000 to reenact a 9-1-1 call; security camera footage showed that the woman in question had been driving Hupp's car. A second witness, Brent Charlton, informed police that Hupp had approached him with a similar proposition. Police investigators found nine $100 bills in Gumpenberger's pocket; a tenth $100 bill found on Hupp's dresser had a sequential serial number to four of the nine bills.

Police investigators suggested that the knife found on Gumpenberger's body had been purchased at the Dollar Tree in O'Fallon alongside several other items found in Hupp's house.  A carpet swatch found by police appeared to have been positioned to protect a rug in Hupp's home from Gumpenberger's blood. Police investigators were also skeptical that Gumpenberger's severe physical and mental impairments following his accident would have allowed him to carry out the acts Hupp described him doing.

~ Conviction and imprisonment ~

On August 23, 2016, Hupp was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action. Upon being arrested, she asked to visit a bathroom, where she used a ballpoint pen to stab her neck and wrists in an apparent suicide attempt. Bail for Hupp was set at $2 million. On December 16, 2016, a grand jury indicted Hupp for first-degree murder and armed criminal action. Hupp appeared in court on January 31, 2017, pleading not guilty to the charges. In March 2017, prosecutors stated that they would seek the death penalty due to the apparently arbitrary choice of Gumpenberger as the victim. In August 2018, Hupp's trial date was set for June 2019.

On June 19, 2019, Hupp entered an Alford guilty plea to the charges of first-degree murder and armed criminal action, waiving her right to a jury trial. As a condition of a deal struck with prosecutors, Hupp did not face the death penalty. She was sentenced to life imprisonment without possibility of parole on August 12, 2019. She is serving her sentence at the Chillicothe Correctional Center in Chillicothe, Missouri. In a phone call to her husband, Hupp claimed that she had pled guilty "so that her family wouldn't have to witness an ugly trial".

In October 2019, Gumpenberger's mother Margaret Burch filed a lawsuit for wrongful death, fraud, and misrepresentation against the incarcerated Hupp, seeking "a sum in excess of the jurisdictional limits of this court".

~ Media coverage ~

The murder of Betsy Faria was the subject of five Dateline NBC episodes: "The House on Sumac Drive" (2014), "Game Night" (2015), "Return to Game Night" (2016), "Stranger Than Fiction" (2016), and "The Thing About Pam" (2019). Faria's murder has received more coverage from Dateline NBC than any other subject aside from O. J. Simpson and JonBenét Ramsey.

In July 2019, filmmaker Daniel Blake Smith announced that he was writing and producing a feature film based on the stories of Russ Faria and his defense attorney Joel Schwartz.

In September 2019, the murder of Louis Gumpenberger was the subject of the inaugural Dateline NBC true crime podcast. The podcast spent several weeks as one of the most popular Apple podcasts.

In October 2019, the Riverfront Times dubbed Hupp St Louis' "best local girl gone bad" of 2019, stating "few stories are quite so made-for-TV" and "the tale of Pam Hupp screams for serialization".

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Thursday, November 28, 2019

Ivy Crabtree, 16-Year-Old Mass Poisoner – Illinois, 1899


NOTE: In the Ivy Crabtree case, here are three separate attempted murder events, the final of which involved the poisoning of four persons, resulting in one death. 1) She is reputed to have attempted to murder her baby, after which the child was removed from her custody. 2) “It is reported that the girl attempted to poison her mother-in-law once while living at the home of her husband,” George Crabtree. 3) Poisoned four while living at the home of her parents, the Warthens – stepmother, father, brother, a visiting neighbor (old man) – all survived but her brother.

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VICTIMS of Ivy Crabtree (nee Warthen), married George Crabtree  in 1898.
Baby boy Crabtree – born late May 1899; attempted strangling; survived.
Mrs. Crabtree – Ivy’s mother in law, attempted poisoning; survived.
Walter S. Warthen – Ivy’s father, poisoned Jul. 25, 1899; survived, but with injuries. Life insured for $2,000.
Mrs. Warthen – Ivy’s stepmother, poisoned Jul. 25, 1899 ; survived.
Berry Carter – elderly neighbor, poisoned Jul. 25, 1899; survived.
Floyd Warthen – Ivy’s brother (14), poisoned Jul. 25, 1899; died Jul. 28, 1899.

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FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 7): Carmi, Oll., Jul. 27. – Ivy Crabtree, 16 years old, wife of George Carbtree, from whom she has separated, and mother of a 4-months-old baby, of which he has the custody, is in jail here for the murder of her brother and the attempted murder of her father and stepmother and a neighbor, an old man, by poisoning. She has confessed her guilt and talks of the crime with an air of bravado except when mention of made of the death of her brother. Toward him she had no animosity, nor toward the old man, the neighbor. But because her parents refused to let her leave the house to visit her baby, fearing the same waywardness that led to her early marriage might again lead her into trouble, she hated them and planned their destruction.

~ Alleged Previous Attempts. ~

Further than this, it is said, the life of the girl’s father was insured for $2,000, and in her benefit. It is also said the girl tried some time ago to poison her mothger-in-law, and attempted to strangle her baby to death.

Ivy Crabtree before her marriage was Ivy Warthen. Her father, Walter S. WSarthen, was twice married. Ivy and her brother, now dead, who was 14 years old, were the children of his first marriage. He has also a child by his second wife, Ivy’s stepmother, that is yet a babe in arms.

The family lives on a farm five miles from this village, and in the Township of Carmi. There the daughter returned three months ago, when she and her young husband separated, leaving her child with its father. Since that time life in the Warthen household has not been pleasant. There was constant friction between the girl and her father and stepmother. The Crabtrees live in the same neighborhood, and Ivy often asked to be allowed to go see her child. As often her father objected.

~ Arsenic in Tuesday’s Dinner. ~

Last Tuesday the family was about to sit down to dinner, their noonday meal, when Barry Carter, an old man and a neighbor, arrived at the house. Was asked to dine with them, accepted the invitation, and all ate heartily.

Before the meal was finished all at the table were seized with violent illness. Their symptoms became alarming and physicians were summoned from this village. The delay of travel gave the malady time to develope, and when the doctors arive at the house they discovered unmistakable signs of arsenical poisoning.

All night the doctors worked over the members of the family and their aged guest, who by accident had become the unintended victim of the girl’s malice. At dawn the doctors said they had hope that all would recover.

One thing the doctors observed was that the girl did not seem to be as seriously ill as the rest. She complained, however, of being in great pain and they treated her.

~ Suspicion Finally Aroused. ~

When the patients were in a condition to talk, they said that they had noticed at dinner on Tuesday that the boiled cabbage and the coffee did not taste as they should. Still suspiction was not directed against any individual.

It was not long, however, before the fact of the poisoning became noised about the neighborhood. Then tongues were set wagging. The girl’s history was known and hints were thrown out that she had gone from bad to worse in this attempt to commit multiple murder.

Acting on the statement made by the patients about the cabbage, the doctors found remnants of the meal and made tests for poison. They found it readily. Then a search of the house was made and in the bottom of the mantel clock were found a package was covered with dust and did not appear to have been opened for considerable time, but the box showed signs of having been opened recently.

~ Girl’s Brother Dies. ~

On Wednesday the sick boy, Floyd Warthen, grew worse. The physicians had expected to save him, but that night he died. During the day Sheriff Ackman, who had heard the talk in the neighborhood, visited the house and questioned the girl. She denied having any knowledge of how the poison came to be in ther cabbage, but notwithstanding the fact he had no proof, the Sheriff was convinced from the first of her guilt.

The death of the boy added to the excitement of the people, who had gathered in large numbers from the country about and stood outside the Warthen premises talking of the strange case.

Further investigation on the part of the officers was demanded, and Sheriff Ackman, who had left the house because his presence seemed to distress the sick members of the family, returned to the neighborhood. He went to the house of the girl’s uncle near by and sent for her. Sge went in answer to his request and again was questioned.

~ Girl Makes Full Confession. ~

At first the girl stoutly denied her guilt, as she had done on the preceding day, but at last broke down and confessed all. She professed sorrow at the death of her brother, but there was a look of hatred and defiance in her eyes whenever she spoke of her father or her stepmother.

Today, while the Coroner was holding an inquest over the body of her brother in a shed adjoining the Warther house, and her father, stepmother, and neighbor were lying in pain and perhaps near death within the house, Ivy Crabtree was brought here and placed in jail.

The question of the girl’s motive in a mooted one. Had her plan been entirely successful she would have received, in case she escaped prosecution and conviction, not only the $2,000 life insurance of her father but also his property, which ius of considerable value.

Tonight the sufferers at the Warthen house are said to be slightly better, but all are in a critical condition still, and there is a possibility some of them may not recover.

Barry Carter, the old man who was a guest at the poisoned dinner, is an old school teacher and long had been a friend of the Warthen family.

The inquest over thje body of Floyd Warthen was not completed. It will be resumed tomorrow.

[“Tries To Poison Family. One Death Already Result Of Girl’s Revenge. – Ivy Crabtree, a Mother of 16, Tries to Kill Her Brother, Father, Stepmother, and an Aged Neighbor – Wayward Career Ends in Crime – Brother Is Dead and Others in Danger – Confesses Deed to the Shriff at Carmi, Ill.” The Chicago Daily Tribune (Il.), Jul. 28, 1899, p. 1]

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FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 7): Carmi, Ill.: Walter S. Warthen, wife and son, 14 years old, and Berry Carter, an old man, all living five miles northwest of here, were taken violently sick on Tuesday while eating dinner. A doctor who was called pronounced it a case of arsenical poisoning. The son died this morning and the others are still in a critical condition, hardly expected to recover. Ivy Crabtree, 16 years old, a “grass widow” and a daughter of Mr. Warthen, was placed in jail today, having confessed after two rigid sweatings that she had administered poison in boiled cabbage at dinner.

Ivy was wayward, and became angry at her father and stepmother, who are excellent people, for trying to save her from evil ways. Though so young, she has a baby only 4 weeks old, which she is accused of trying to strangle. Her husband had abandoned her because of her recklessness. It now transpires that she had recently tried also to poison her mother-in-law.

Mrs. Wharton’s life was insured for $2,000, part of which, with some other property, would have come to Ivy had her scheme been successful. She is utterly indifferent about her crime. Mr. Carter is an old teacher, and had stopped with the family for dinner. Other developments are expected.

[“Poisoned a Family.” The Daily Argus-Leader (Sioux Falls, S. D.), Jul. 29, 1899, p. 8]

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FULL TEXT (Article 3 of 7): Carmi, Ill., July 28. – Ivy Crabtree, the 16-year-old girl poisoner of Carmi, was born three centuries too late and ten stations too early. Born in the proper year and the proper station, she would have given the world another Catherine de Medici or Catherine of Russia. Cleopatra at her best could not have exhibited a more indomitable resolution to sacrifice everything and everybody to her own will than has been shown by the little prisoner of Illinois’ Egypt.

As it is, the girlish poisoner of Carmi is a quiet prisoner of White County’s jail, while in a log house in the back regions three victims of her crime lie in the exhaustion following the spasms of arsenic poisoning, and a graveyard has the fourth.

“I wanted my own way and they hindered me,” is the unconcerned statement of the girl murderess.

Four people drank the coffee and ate the food into which Ivy Crabtree had emptied poison which Ivy Crabtree had emptied poison on Tuesday night. Her brother Floyd died within twenty-four hours. Her father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Walter S. Warthen, and an old friend oif the family, Berry Carter, a schoolteacher, suffered the extreme agonies of arsenical poisoning and are still living, but physical wrecks.

The girl who did it, with as much unconcern as she would have poisoned rats, is 16 years old. She has been married over a year and is the motherof a 4-month-old baby. She has a pretty, refined face. It is deathly pale now, and the eyes are a little swollen and red, as if from crying, though no one has seen her doing. The girl’s intelligence is above for a farmer’s daughterr in southern Illinois.

~ Sorry Brother is Dead. ~

The murderess talks talks of her act and the motives leading to it as simply as she might of some schoolgirl’s mischief. She acknowledges to some contrition. Her brother, for whom she had no ill will, died, and an old man, against whom she had no maslice, suffered agony.

“I did mind that right smart,” she said. “However, they had to be sacrificed,” with the fatherb and mother of whom she wished to be rid.

The presence of Carter at the supper table was by chance. He happened to pass the house, and was asked in. His fate and her brother’s were cast with those who bothered her, and she did not stoop to half measures. She wanted to be free from restraint, and the fact that four lives were to be free from restraint, and the fact that four lives were to be sacrificed counted as nothing. There are practically her own statements.

Sheriff Eugene Ackman has five murderers at present in jail, but Ivy Crabtree, he says, is in a class of her own. She confessed her guilt to him, and will retell the story to any one who asks for it. Her unconcern has stupefied the Carmi officials. She realizes what she has done, and even confessed it is worrying her right smart.

“Yes, I am sorry my brother died,” she said today, “but my father hindered me doing what I wanted to.” My home was tolerably pleasant. Probably my father tried to do what was right. I guess my stepmother did. I did not have anything especially against them. They just would not let me do what I wanted to do, and my father would not let me see my baby. Since I left my husband the baby has been with him, and I wanted it. They told me how I could have it now, but when it grew to be a great big boy and could make money its father could keep it again, so I would have all the trouble and he would have all the gain. So I did not want to keep it, but I wanted to see it. My father did not want me to, and he bothered me in some other ways.

~ Boy Suggests Poison. ~

“So on Tuesday night when I went to the pasture after the cows I met a boy I knew and I told him. He said if his father did that he would just poison him. I had thought of that a long time. When I got back with the cows I went into the kitchen and poured half a box of rat poison into the coffee, and some into the cabbage.

“No, I am not cruel. I do not like to see things to suffer. I just knew that rat poison would kill things. After they had begun to eat it I was a little soirry., I thought I would die with them, so I took some. It was not enough. Ii just made me sick. Yes, I am sorry now that it’s done, but that will not help it. I did not want to kill my brother. That has worried me right smart. But I wanted to do as I wished, and my father hindered me.”

The young woman, who would have sacrificed four lives for the privilege of having her own will, is regarded as lacking entirely the moral sense

When she was brought to the White County jail she was dressed in a slouchy gingham blouse and skirt. She was given a summer shirt waist and duck skirt by the matron of the jail. The change in dress made a revolution in her appearance. With her slender form and clean cut features she seemed a schoolgirl, pretty, attractive, and innocent.

Her confession was hard to secure at first. She beat off the officers with a stolidity that almost assured them of her innocence. It was two days after the commission of the crime and after examinmation, in which every effort was made to work upon the emotions which a girl of 16, having committed a terrible deed, might be supposed to have, that she at last admitted her guilt. This she did without breaking down.

“I knew from the first it would be found out,” she said today, discussing the act.

~ Doctor Tells of Her Whims. ~

“There is something lacking about the girl,” said Dr. W. W. Apple, the physician who has been attending the members of the family in their sufferings. “I attended the girl before this occurrence when she would have fits of hysteria in order to accomplish her ends. At first the family was in fear she was about to die. Her hands and feet would be cramped as if she were iun agony. I discovered that she could simulate these fits and told her father. After that they paid no attention to them and sghe ceased to have them. The girl is morally and mentally lacking in something. It is not shrewdness nor intelligence, for she is above the average in those qualities.”

“I have dealt with hardened criminals,” said Sheriff Ackman, “but I never met so hard a case as this girl. I never ‘sweated’ a criminal so hard as I did this girl. I was almost persuaded of her innocence against all reason, and then at last she confessed. She has been quiet and unconcerned ever since. On the way in when we were bringing her to the jail she talked about the watermelon crop anmd gossiped about people we passed on the way. I think she realizes fully what she has done, and no one dreams of considering her insane.”

It is reported that the girl attempted to poison her stepmother once while living at the home of her husband. She is also said to have attempted the life of her baby, and this is given as a reason for her being forbidden to see it.

[“Girl Poisoner Talks of Crime. – Ivy Crabtree Tells How and Why She Attempted to Murder Four People. – Sorry Brother Is Dead. – Says That She is not Cruel, but That She Was Bound to Have Her Will. – Is Pretty and Intelliogent.” The Chicago Daily Tribune (Il.), Jul. 29, 1899, p. 5]

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FULL TEXT (Article 4 of 7): If the eminent Professor Lombroso [the founder of Criminology] were able to look at Ivy Crabtree, the girl poisoner of Carmi, Ill., he would discover at once in her features the distinguishing marks of the “degenerate.” He would point to her ears, her chin, or her forehead as evidence that it was only natural that she should follow in the footsteps of the Borgias. The Carmi doctors, do not call the girl a “degenerate” and point out the signs thereof. They say only that she is “morally and mentally lacking in something,” but “not in shrewdness or intelligence, for she is above the average in those qualities.”

The crime to which she confesses, and the motive assigned by her for committing it, justify the statement that she is morally lacking. Her father and her stepmother “would not let her do what she wanted to.” Her father would not let her see her baby as often as she wished and “bothered her in some other ways.” When a boy said to her that if his father treated him that way he would poison him the idea of getting rid of her father in that way, which had been floating in her mind for some time, took possession of her, and she immediately put some rat poison in the cabbage and the coffee.

Her father and stepmother did not die. A brother, whom she did not dislike, has died. An old man, towards whom she felt friendly, happened to sit down to dinner with the family, shared the poisoned food, and may die. This 16-year-old girl says she did not want to killer brother and that his death has “worried her right smart.” She regrets the sufferings of the old man, but feels that it was his own fault for being around when she was trying to get rid of parents who “hindered me doing what I wanted to.”

A century ago a jury would have sentenced to death unhesitatingly a woman or a man who had been guilty of a crime like the one committed at Carmi. If the accused had made a confession like that of Ivy Crabtree it would have been taken as evidence that the murderess was “morally lacking.” Today the verdict will be that Ivy Crabtree should not be hanged, but should be locked up as a person

Her father and stepmother did not die. A brother, whom she did not dislike, has died. An old man, towards whom she felt friendly, shared the poisoned food, and may die. The 16-year-old girl says she did not want to kill her brother and that his death was trying to get rid of parents who “hindered me doing what I wanted to.”

A century ago a jury would have sentenced to death unhesitatingly a woman or a man who had been guilty of a crime like the one committed at Carmi. If the accused had made a confession like that of Ivy Crabtree it would have been taken as evidence of utter depravity, not as evidence that the murderess was “morally lacking.” Today the verdict will be that Ivy Crabtree should not be hanged, but should be locked up as a person who is so defective in moral sense that if at large there is no telling in whose cabbage or coffee she might put rat poison on the slightest provoc ation. Persons who are prepared to kill others when not allowed to do what they want to, and who are only slightly moved when the wrong individual is killed, are thoroughly irresponsible beings, who must be kept where they can do no mischief.

[“The Carmi Poisoning Case.” The Chicago Daily Tribune (Il.), Jul. 30, 1899, p. 32]

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FULL TEXT (Article 5 of 7): Carmi, Ill., Aug. 11. – Ivy Crabtree, aged 16 years, was this morning sentenced to eighteen years in prison for causing the death of her brother with poison. She was accompanied by her father and her aunt, and all were crying as they entered the room. Judge Conger, her counsel, entered a plea of guilty and appealed to the mercy of the court on the grounds of her youth and inexperience. Least moved of all was the prisoner. She received the sentence the sentence stoically and with the same calm indifference she has manifested throughout. The girl tried to poison all the members of the family, but with the exception of the boy none died.

[“Girl Sentenced To Prison. – Ivy Crabtree, Who Poisoned Her Brother, Must Spend Eighteen Years in the Penitentiary.” The Chicago Daily Tribune (Il.), Aug. 12, 1899, p. 2]

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FULL TEXT (Article 6 of 7): Carmi, Ill., Aug. 12. – Ivy Crabtree, the self-confessed murderess, who poisoned her father’s entire family two weeks ago, resulting in the death of her brother, yesterday plead guilty to the awful deed and was sentenced to eighteen years’ confinement in the penitentiary in Chester [Southern Illinois Penitentiary; currently Menard Correctional Center].

Her father, now a physical wreck, and her aunt were in the court room when the sentence was pronounced by Judge Pearce. Both broke down and wept like babies, but Ivy Crabtree stood like a stone wall, unmoved by her horrible crime.

When the judge pronounced the sentence hardly a dry eye was seen in the crowded court room, but Ivy Crabtree never winced.

Judge Pearce’s lecture to the girl, preceding the announcement of the sentence, would have moved a hardened criminal to tears, but with a bold undaunted eye, Ivy Crabtree countenanced him throughout his entire lecture.

[“Girl Poisoner Sentenced. – Carmi’s Degenerate to be Confined 18 Years – Was Unmoved by the Court’s Decision.” The Princeton Clarion-Leader (In.), Aug. 17, 1899, p. 4]

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FULL TEXT (Article 7 of 7): Carmi, Ills., Aug. 23. – Shortly before Mrs. Ivy Crabtree, the murderess of her brother and the 16-year-old wife and mother who tried to poison all her father’s family, was taken aboard the train for Joliet, where she will serve fifteen years – minus reduction for good conduct – she talked freely of her crime and the motive leading to it. No regret was expressed, and she said she was glad she was going away from jail, as she greatly disliked the close confinement she was subjected to. “I will be glad when they take me away from this dismal old jail,” said Mrs. Crabtree, “for I know that my new home will be no worse than my present one, and I will have companions there, too.”

~ It’s All in a Lifetime.” ~

“Of course, I have some friends whom I love, and rather dislike to leave, but, you know, it’s all in a lifetime, anyway. Besides that, I may get to see all of them again, anyway, as I shall be only 33 years old when my sentence expires.” She talked apparently unmoved by her deed. A tinge of remorse, however, seemed to strike her countenance as her brother’s name was called. “I am sorry that he was killed,” she said, “but I had to sacrifice him to fix the others.”

~ Why She Tried to “Fix Them.” ~

“My father would not let me go to see my baby when I wanted to, and I told my troubles to a companion one evening when I went to the pasture after the cows, and he told me I ought to fix his ‘wagon,’” said Mrs. Crabtree “and I thought I would ‘fix’ him. My husband and I have been parted since the birth of the baby, and I had to slip off from home when I got to see it. Pa was hard on me, and didn’t want me to go about it, even though I loved it.”

[“Lack Moral Sense. – Ivy Crabtree’s Talk Just Before She Was Taken to the Penitentiary. – Not Worried Over Her Crime, - And Thinks It Is All in a Lifetime and She Will Be Out of Prison Before She is Old,” Moline Daily Dispatch (Il.), Aug. 23, 1899, p. 1]

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Sunday, November 24, 2019

Ruedell Harrison, Claimed to be a Serial Killer – Missouri, 1947


NOTE: Here’s a “who the Hell knows” case. Picked up as suspect in a murder and released, Ruedell Harrison took credit for three separate, but unidentified murders. . . . Who knows ?

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FULL TEXT: Rock Island – The photograph of Ruedell, above [full-figure photo], taken yesterday in a St. Louis jail, was being shown today to witnesses who saw a woman with James R. Anderson, 25, of 1700 Twenty-ninth street, Rock Island, early September 28 before Anderson’s body was found lying in the back seat of a taxicab, the victim of knockout drops.

The woman, who is 35, was arrested Tuesday at the Hotel Statler, St. Louis, after she allegedly attempted to rob a traveling salesman after giving him knockout drops.

In a letter addressed to Chief of Police William J. Wilkins of Rock Island. Jeremiah O’Connell, St. Louis police chief, said the woman has stated she has killed three men and expects to kill more. However, the St. Louis official said, she would not elaborate on the slayings or admit the Rock Island murder.

According to the letter from St. Louis, the woman did admit shootings and killer her husband in Dallas, Tex., in March, 1947, and that she now is at liberty on bond on the murder charge. The information received this morning also was sent to the Dallas police department. Chief O’Donnell stated the woman demands extradition papers if she is taken either to Rock Island or Dallas to face murder charges.

The St. Louis officer indicated the woman might have similar physical aspects as the one being sought by Rock Island police for the cab slaying. She gave five different names to the St. Louis police, including Harrison, Murdock, Virginia Heath, Ruth Simmons and R. B. Jackson.

She previously was arrested in St. Louis on charges of attempt to commit murder, burglary, forgery, robbery and carrying concealed weapons.

~ Inquest Held. ~

An inquest into the Anderson death was held this morning in the office of Coroner Leslie H. Banning. The jury, headed by Oscar Carlmark, Moline, found that Anderson died as a result of an overdose of choral hydrate administered by a person or persons unknown.

[“Use This Photo For Rock Island Murder Probe,” Moline Daily Dispatch (Il.), Oct. 16, 1947, p. 30]

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NOTE: An alternate suspect in the same crime:

FULL TEXT: Cleared of murder charges in connection with the knockout drop slaying of James R. Anderson, Rock Island, Mrs. Hazel Marie Elder, 44, is returning to her home in Dayton, O., today.

Seven witnesses brought forward by Rock Island police yesterday afternoon failed  to identify the woman as the companion of Anderson the night his body was found in the rear seat of a taxicab in Rock Island.

After the last witness had failed to place her in the puzzling murder case, Mrs. elder declared:

“Well, I’ve proved myself innocent and can return to my husband.”

Mrs. Elder had maintained her innocence during questioning by Dayton police and later to Rock Island authorities, stating she agreed to come to Rock Island simply to clear himself of charges in the man’s death. She told police here she had proof of purchasing three birthday cards in Dayton September 27, the day before Anderson was slain.

She said she had never been in Rock Island before, but admitted, when first queried by Dayton police, she may have driven through Rock Island on a trip to St. Louis in August. “I often fall asleep when my husband is driving,” she explained.

One other suspect, Ruedell Harrison, St. Louis, had been questioned previously, but when witnesses failed to identify her, she also was released.

[“Release Woman In Poison Death At Rock Island,” Moline Daily Dispatch (Il.), Oct. 28, 1947, p. 1]

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Friday, November 22, 2019

Bessie M. Pierson, Serial Killer – Indiana, 1982


FULL TEXT: Police said a 65-year-old woman who claimed she killed three men likely will never be prosecuted for the deaths. Bessie M. Pierson, 65, Indianapolis, was charged with a second death after tests showed bullets were fired from the same gun used to shoot Robert L. Welch, Indianapolis, during the weekend. Mrs. Pierson was charged Monday with shooting of James Stewart, 85, Indianapolis who was found dead Friday. The third man has not been identified. Authorities said they doubted if Mrs. Pierson would stand trial for the deaths because she has a history of mental illness.

[“65-year-old charged in shooting deaths,” The Daily Reporter (Greenfield, In.), Oct. 26, 1982, p. 1]

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FULL TEXT: A 65-year-old woman, already under arrest for the shooting of her elderly neighbor, was charged with a second killing Monday [Oct. 25, 1982] and claimed to have committed a third, police said.

But investigators expressed doubt that Bessie M. Pierson, who has shuttled in and out of mental institutions for more than 15 years, ever would be prosecuted for the slayings.

Mrs. Pierson was charged with the murder of 85-year old James Stewart after ballistics tests showed he was killed by the same handgun that fatally wounded 78-year-old Robert L. Welch.

She was being held in Wishard Memorial Hospital for mental observation.

“Everybody realizes that this woman has a deep problem,” Homicide Detective Jon W. Layton said.

In the opinion of a son, Mrs. Pierson’s mental problems were so deep she should not have been living outside an institution when the two slayings with which she is charged took place.

“We couldn’t force her to stay (in institutions) and we couldn’t convince the doctors of the seriousness of her problems,” her son, John W. Sims of Southfield, Mich. Said Monday. She should have been in a controlled environment for years.”

Despite her mental history, which should bar her from receiving a gun permit. Indiana State Police issued Mrs. Pierson a permit last January, overriding a denial of her permit application by Indianapolis police.

Mrs. Pierson was described as very withdrawn and offered police little information after her arrest. But detectives believe she may have selected one murder victim at random because she wished to be apprehended for the earlier crime.

Stewart was found dead Friday in his apartment at 1820 Mansfield Street with a gunshot wound in her chest and bullet wounds in both feet. He is believed to have been killed Thursday [Oct. 28, 1982].

Welch was shot once in the back Saturday [Oct. 30, 1982] outside Mrs. Pierson’s apartment minutes after that incident. Of Welch, who is believed to have been a stranger to her, she told police.

“Something came over me. I felt bad to shoot him.”

Layton surmised that Mrs. Pierson may have shot Welch as a way to be captured for the Stewart shooting. Her family told police she has spoken of having a friend named “Jimmy,” and Stewart was known as “Brother Jimmy” in his near Westside neighborhood.

“In my opinion, she committed the second murder simply to get caught for the first one,” Layton said. She did it in front of witnesses: she did it in such a way that we would catch her and recover the gun.”

Homicide Detective Sgt. Louis J. Christ said he suspected a connection between Mrs. Pierson and Stewart when a woman identifying herself as “Bessie Tierson” called a police dispatcher Friday afternoon to ask about the elderly man’s whereabouts. Even Stewart’s neighbors and relatives had not yet inquired about him at that point, Christ said.

Mrs. Pierson reportedly has a slight lisp, which police say may account for the “Tierson” pronunciation.

Police waited to charge the woman until ballistics tests, completed Monday afternoon, concluded that her 22-caliber revolver had been used to shoot both Stewart and Welch.

All that was known about the third alleged murder is that Mrs. Person told Sims she had killed another man, whom she did not name.

“I still don’t understand it,” Christ said: “This is undoubtedly one of the strangest cases I’ve ever worked.”

[George Stuteville, “Woman Claims She Murdered 3 men; Charged in 2 of the killings,” The Indianapolis Star (In.), Oct. 26, 1982, p. 1]

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