before Jul. 7, 1892 – several children, at Father Baker’s institution at
Limestone Hill; survived.
7, 1892 – Louisa Stromer (“Stermer” “Steiner”), (7) poisoned.
9, 1892 – Louisa Stromer (“Stermer” “Steiner”), died.
Jul. 11, 1892 – Louisa's funeral.
12, 1892 – Susie Eggleston; (10), poisoned, saved.
12, 1892 – Jennie Eggleston (5), poisoned, saved.
12, 1892 – Henry Garlock (5), poisoned, saved.
FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 4): Buffalo, N.Y., July 20 – The frightful death of
Louisa Stormer [sic, Stermer], and the severe illness of five or six other children of
Tonawanda, has brought to light the fact that 14-year-old Ella Holdridge is a
murderess. Her frightful crime is the result of a morbid desire to see death
scenes enacted. She was attended every funeral that has occurred in the
neighborhood for several years past. Funerals have been infrequent hereabouts
lately. Ella, it seems, took upon herself the duty of supplying subjects. She
administered rat poison to several pupils of Father Baker’s institution at
Limestone Hill. They suffered frightfully while she stood by and coolly awaited
the coming of death.
The helpless little ones ran shrieking from her presence.
Medical aid was summoned and her lives were saved. She claimed to have been
given them hot water, and as no serious results followed no investigation was
made. The Stormer girl was her next victim. The dead child never spoke after
the dose had been given her, and as the
physician called gave a certificate of death from summer complaint no suspicion
was attached to the Holdridge girl, who saw her die and was the most interested
spectator at the grave.
Only a day after Louisa Stormer was buried she fed the
children of Mrs. Wallace Eggleston, who left them in her charge, liberal
allowances of rat poison. Dr. Edmonds was called. He detected the evidences of
poison at once. Heroic measures were adopted and the little ones now hover
between life and death, little hope of their recovery being entertained. He
left the bedside of the Eggleston children one hour, and the next he was called
in to save the life of the 5-year-old child of Henry Garlock, who had been
poisoned. The child, too, had been playing with Ella Holdridge and told of
eating food prepared by her. Dr. Edmunds sent for the Holdridge girl and forced
her to confess that she not only poisoned the children at the institution,
the Egglestons and little Garlock, but actually murdered Louisa Stromer. She
described with great earnestness and tragic effect the horrible sufferings of
her victims and seemed to gloat over the death of Louisa Stormer who she said
“made the prettiest corpse ever put under New York soil.” The coroner is now
investigating the case. The girl is under police surveillance.
[“She Murdered For Fun. – The Morbid Passion of A Child
Leads Her to Crime.” The Philadelphia Record (Pa.), Jul. 21, 1892, p. 7]
EXCERPT (Article 2 of 4): The village of South Tonawanda
(N.Y.) was thrown into a state of excitement over a startling case of poisoning
that has just come to light. Ella Holdridge, a fourteen-year-old girl, is
charged with having given several of her playmates “rough on rats.” One child
died and three others are not expected to live. The little daughter of Mr. and
Mrs. Steiner was taken sick and died three hours later. It was then thought she
had cholera morbus. On the following Wednesday Mrs. Eggleston went to Buffalo,
leaving her little girls, Susie, aged ten, and Jennie, aged five, at home. Ella
Holdridge came over to play with the children, and while there coaxed the
children into the house and forced them to take the poison, which she had mixed
with chocolate. She told them it was good, and that her mamma used it in
coffee. The children were very soon taken ill, and Dr. Edmunds was sent for. He
said they had been poisoned. The Holdridge girl was sent for and questioned.
She finally confessed to having given them the poison.
NOTE: The original article discusses two separate juvenile
murder case (the other not being a “serial” case).
[“A Pair of Juvenile Fiends.” The Tuapeka Times (Lawrence,
New Zealand), Nov. 2, 1892, p. 5]
FULL TEXT (Article 3 of 4): Buffalo, N . Y .,
July 20.— Out at Father Baker’s institution at Limestone Hill there is a girl
of 14 years, Ella Holdridge, whose morbid passion for seeing death and funerals
has led her to kill one of her playmates and cause the serious illness of three
others by poison.
The Holdridges have lived in Tonawanda
several years. While in all other respects Ella has been like other children,
her parents and the neighbors have always noticed that a funeral or the
announcement of a death seemed to set her wild.
She grow to be a very familiar figure at the
burying ground, for almost as certainly as there was a funeral the child was
near the open grave.
Tonawanda is 10 miles from Buffalo, but it
might just as well be at the bottom of Lake Erie so far as the publicity of
news is concerned, and thus it is that Ella’s crime did not become known for
more than a week.
Her plan was to administer rat poison, which
she made as agreeable to take as possible by mixing it with cocoa. When the
children refused to take it willingly she threw them on their backs and forced
it down their throats, leaving them to die if they would, but watching their
suffering from a distance and gloating over it.
As far as can be learned this
began in earnest July 7. On that day Ella had
been playing with Louisa, the 7-year-old daughter of Herman Stormer. Shortly
after she left Louisa was taken violently ill. The weather was hot, just the
kind in which children’s complaints flourish, and the physician called
prescribed for summer complaint. None of his remedies eased her sufferings, and
alter two days of intense agony the little girl died.
She was buried on the 11th, and one of the
conspicuous figures at the Stormer home during the days intervening between
death and the funeral and at the open graveside was little Ella Holdridge,
solemn and quiet, but her eyes flashing with excitement, her cheeks burning and
her face full of mystery.
The doctor had given a certificate of death
from summer complaint, and no thought of murder or poison entered the mind of any one
until last Wednesday, when Mrs. Eggleston came to Buffalo on a shopping
expedition, leaving her two young daughters at home. She had been gone only a
few minutes when the Holdridge girl went to the house. The children were
playing around the doorstep.
Ella took them inside and told them she would
make them something nice. She
looked the door and made a pot of cocoa, into which she threw a generous
handful of rat poison.
One of the children didn’t like the taste,
the liquid was poured down her throat. Then Ella told them both they would be
all right soon, directing thorn not to tell any one.
That night both children were taken violently
ill and Dr. Edmonds was called. He at once suspected poison. Questioning the
little patients closely, he learned enough to nut him on the
of the Child Poisoner.
Ever since then Dr. Edmonds has been
attending the children, and may save their lives, although the hot weather
tolls against them.
While he was working over the Eggleston
children it was discovered that the 5-year-old son of Mr. Garlock had been
A panic seized the neighborhood. Every child
was catechised to learn if it had eaten or drank anything given them by Ella
By hard work the physicians who attended the
Garlock boy saved his life, although he is yet very ill. In the mean-time, Dr.
Harris, who attended the girl who died, and Dr. Edmonds had compared notes, and
Justice of the Peace Rogers and Coroner Hardleben were notified and began an
The Holdridge child was sent for and
questioned. At first she denied having given any of the children anything to
eat or drink, but when told that she had been seen making the cocoa, and that
it was known she had poisoned them, she very naively and with wide-open eyes
“Dear me, is that so?”
Then she made a full confession. She told how
she had made the cocoa with the poison in it, and how she had forced it down
the throats of the little Eggleston children because she wanted to go to a
funeral and thought they would look so nice dead. When the death of little
Louise Stermer was brought up she frankly said:
“Yes, she’s dead. Poor Louisa! But she looked
awful pretty, and her funeral was awful nice.”
Ella had given her the poison in a drink of
water, she said. She told her tale in the most matter-of-fact way, without
seeming to realize the enormity of her act.
At the conclusion of the confession Justice
Rogers sent her to Father Baker’s for safe-keeping until the coroner’s
investigation is finished.
It has been learned that after she had given
the poison to the little Stermer girl Ella went home, and her mother, noticing
that she seemed to be laboring under suppressed excitement, asked her what the
“I don’t know,” she replied, “but I guess
Louisa is Goin’ to Die.
‘cause she’s pretty sick. The doctor is
From then until the child died Ella made
frequent trips to the Stermer house, tiptoed her way to a window and peeked in.
Every time she ran back to her mother and cried almost joyously.
“I guess she’s most dead now.”
Finally little Louisa died. The first intimation
Mrs. Holdridge had of it was when Ella ran into the house clapping her hands
and dancing up and down, saying gleefully;
“I guess she’s dead now, ‘cause they’re all
in there crying, and there’s a man there with a box. She’s dead, she’s dead; I know it.”
And she danced out into the street.
Mrs. Holdridge is almost prostrated with grief.
“I questioned Ella,” she said, “but all I
can get from her is that she thought they would look nice dead and she wanted
to go to the funerals.”
“She seemed always to have a perfect mania
for deaths and funerals. Every time any one died she learned of it in some way
and would dance up and down with joy, clapping her hands and saying: “He’s
dead! He’s dead!”
“Then if she could she would slip away and go
to the cemetery to the funeral.”
“Several times when she has returned home
after an absence, and I questioned her she would tell me enough to lead me to
believe she had been following a funeral.
“So deeply was she interested in the death of
little Louisa that she slipped away once or twice the evening before she died
and went to the house. This she told me just before they took her to Father
The girl was seen in the institution today
and questioned, but could give no explanation of her poisoning, other than that
“they looked nice dead.” When asked how she knew the poison would kill the
children, she said:
“If it killed rats and mice it would kill
Her mind seems perfectly free from evil, and
she said, very quietly and earnestly:
“Little Louisa looked very pretty dead.”
She says she got the poison “in the house.”
[“They Looked Nice Dead. – Little Girl Near
Buffalo Liked Funerals. - For This Reason She Gave Seven-Year-Old
Louisa Stermer Poison. - She Was Not Suspected Till Many Children Were at
Death’s Door.” The Boston Daily Globe (Ma.), Jul. 20, 1892, p. 4]
TEXT (Article 4 of 4): Buffalo, N. Y., July 20. – Out at Father Baker’s
institution, at Limestone Hill, there is a girl of 14 years, Ella Holdridge,
whose morbid passion for seeing death and funerals has led her to kill one of
her playmates and cause the serious illness three others by poison.
Ella went to all the funerals, and always crowded well up toward the grave,
where she stood looking down the opening. Her plan with children was to give
them rat poison, first mixing it with cocoa, and when they refused to take it
willingly threw them on their backs and forced it down their throats, leaving
them die if they would and gloatingly
watch their sufferings. She began her Borgia work July 7 with Louisa, the
daughter of Mr. Herman Stermer. The illness was attributed to summer complaint
and treated accordingly. Death followed two days later, and conspicuous figure
at the house, funeral and the open grave side was little Ella Holdridge, solemn
and quiet, her eyes flashing with excitement and her cheeks rosy red.
Wednesday, when Mrs. Eggleston visited Buffalo, leaving her two young daughters
at home, Alla [sic] visited the house and told the children she would make them
something nice. She made a pot of cocoa, into which she threw a generous
handful of rat poison. One of the children did not like the taste. She was
pushed on to the sofa. The liquid was poured down her throat. Then Ella told
them both they would be all right soon, directing them not to tell any one.
These children are not yet out of danger. The five-year-old son of George
Garlock was next poisoned, and panic seized the neighborhood. Every child was
catechised to learn if they had eaten drank any thing given by Ella. Ella has
confessed everything, and said in the case of the little Eggleston children
that she wanted to go their funeral because they would look so nice dead. When
the death of the little Stermer girl was brought up, Ella said. “Yes, she
looked awfully pretty in a coffin.”
the Stermer girl was sick Ella was asked by her mother what the trouble was,
the reply was given, “I think she is going to Heaven.” From then until the
child died Ella made frequent trips to the Stermer house, tiptoeing to the
window and peeping in.
time she ran back to her mother and, cried, almost joyously: “I guess she’s most dead now.” Finally little Louisa died. The first intimation Mrs. Holdridge
had of it was when Ella ran into the house clapping her hands and dancing up an
down saying, gleefully:
guess she’s dead now, ‘cause they’re all in there crying and there’s a man
there with a box. She’s dead, she’s dead, I knew it!” and she danced off out
into the street. When Ella was asked hew she knew the poison would kill the
children, she said: “If it killed rats and mice it would kill children.”
[“Young Borgia. - She Had a Morbid Desire to Attend
Funerals. - To Gratify Her Whim She Poisons Her Playmates. - She Feeds Them on
Rough on Rats and When One of Them Resisted She Rammed the Deadly Stuff Down
Her Throat - Horrible Crime.” Daily Public Ledger (Maysville, Ky.), Jul. 20,
1892, p. 3]
The Ella Holdridge case is included in a new book: Michael
T. Keene, Question of Sanity: The True
Story of Female Serial Killers in 19th Century New York, Feb. 2014, Willow