FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 2): Keene, N. H. – Mrs. Florence Stoddard, 20-year-old wife of a Chester farmer, pleaded guilty today in district court to torturing two small step-children with a hot stove-lifter and was sentenced to 22 months in the house of correction.
Retracting a plea of not guilty made last week, Mrs. Stoddard, through her counsel, Ernest L. Bell, Jr., admitted she had burned the children, Irene, 10, and Perley, six, but said it was not deliberate; that it had been done in a fit of temper.
Perley was in court with his father, Elton, 35. County Solicitor Arthur Olson told Judge Charles A. Madden in a crowded courtroom that Perley had been burned 21 limes and Irene 36 times.
He said Mrs. Stoddard had taken a file, used as a stove-lifter, to burn the children because “they wouldn’t mind.” All burns were superficial Olson charged the woman had pushed the hot implement down the backs and up their legs.
[“Mother Jailed for Torturing Children,” The Lowell Sun (Ma.), Jan. 22, 1935, p. 1]
FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 2): At Keene, New Hampshire, yesterday Mrs. Florence Stoddard, aged 20 years, was sentenced to imprisonment for twenty-two months in the house of correction upon an admission that she had used a hot poker to brand the bodies of her two small stepchildren.
The husband originally lodged the complaint and when the police made an investigation they found thirty-six scars on the body of the 10-year-old stepdaughter and twenty-six scars on the person of the 6-year-old stepson. When brought into court she at first denied the charges, but later withdrew the plea and entered one of guilt.
The attorney for Mrs. Stoddard asked clemency, stating that she had lost her temper,
but the court said he could not accept any such a plea.
There might be a possible justification if there were only one or two burns upon the body, but the frail little girl bore evidence of thirty-six scars, some recent, others of several months’ standing, indicating that the stepmother had utilized this method of torture repeatedly. There was not even the instinct of mother evidenced at any time. She was in- human in her treatment when she should have been a guardian of these two children who had been placed in her custody to mother when she married their father.
With a mental attitude such as she has the court is confronted with a problem, that of seeing that these children are placed in the custody of someone other than Mrs. Stoddard should a reconciliation take place with the husband after her sentence has expired. Cruel at heart she will seek revenge for every month of that imprisonment.
[“Inadequate Punishment,” The Sheboygen Press (Wi.), Jan. 29, 1935, p. 16]