Sunday, May 25, 2014

Alimony Racketeering in the Social Justice Paradise of the Soviet Union - 1926

FULL TEXT: MOSCOW, Russia, Oct. 23.— Moscow courts have just passed severe sentences on three women, an “alimony widow” and two female accomplices for fraudulent use of the statute requiring the father of a child to pay one-third of his salary to its support.

The court, taking note of the increasing popularity of the form of fraud, announced that strict steps would be taken hereafter to protect the right of the helpless male population.

The number of so-called “alimony widows” in the Soviet Union has become legion. As the government newspaper, “Izvestia,” says, “They are constantly on the increase. It seems that with them it has become a sort of sport as well as business, a sort of life entertainment.”

~ Live In Luxury. ~

There are women who have five or six children, each from a different father.

But all the fathers have to pay the wife one-third of their wages for the support of the child. Such an alimony widow lives in luxury.

The three women recently sentenced, however, came to grief by being too greedy. Maria Sukhom­lina was married to a poor man.

When their first child came, Maria, envying the affluence of certain friends of hers who had learned the trick of becoming “alimony widows,” determined to choose a richer father for her baby than its real one was.

She picked on a wealthy neighbor, Mr. Vorovsky, a merchant. True, Mr. Vorovsky as a matter of fact had never seen her, but Maria knew I how to attend to that. She conferred with two of her women friends and told them her plan.

~ Hatched Plot. ~

“If I can get the court to recognize Mr. Vorovsky as the baby’s father, he will have to pay me at least 100 roubles a month, and out of that sum I will buy you both new dresses.”

With this inducement, the two agreed to swear to their personal knowledge of her “affair” with Mr. Vorovsky.

The latter, completely dumbfounded at the charge, defended himself vigorously, and when the court, finding him guilty, ordered him to pay alimony, lie refused and was sent to jail.

A month passed, and since Maria had no money with which to fulfill her promises to her friends, they grew disgruntled, and finally, with very little show of caution for their own interests, “squealed” to the authorities.

Maria and her two friends were arrested, Mr. Vorovsky was released, and the three women were sentenced to serve two years in jail.

[“Rich Russian Saved From Alimony Fraud - Women Get Punishment For Deceit - Defendant Claimed Wealthy Man Was Father Of Her Child. - 2 Witnesses Confess Plot – Many Widows Throughout Soviet are Living in Luxury.” Syndicated (INS), El Paso Herald (Tx.), Oct. 23, 1926, p. 1]



For more revelations of this suppressed history, see The Alimony Racket: Checklist of Posts


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sylvia Ipock-White, North Carolina Black Widow Serial Killer - 1992

Billy Carlyle White, a Kinston, North Carolina insurance agent, was reported missing in 1992 by his wife, Sylvia Ipock-White. The local Crime Stoppers organization asked for the public's help with the killing. In response a caller offered two names. Investigation uncovered an elaborate conspiracy. For about a year, Ipock-White had been trying to get and James Lynwood Taylor to kill her husband. She said White beat her, among other things. Taylor eventually agreed to do the deed and enlisted yet another accomplice, bringing Ernest West Basden into the plan. The hit-team Taylor and Basden set up a meeting, with assistance of the victim’s wife, with their victim pretending to be interested in an insurance policy. Prior to the meeting, White stopped by a local hotel where his wife was attending a cosmetics convention. His body was later found on a road in Jones County (N. C.). Mr. White had been shot in the stomach with a shotgun. Mrs. White and her two agents three were arrested in connection to White's murder.

Basden was sentenced to death for actually pulling the trigger and was eventually executed in 2002. Taylor was sentenced to 30 years. Pleading to avoid the death penalty, Ipock-White received life in prison.

As a result of White's murder, a 1973 death in the family, of a four-year-old boy that had been ruled accidental was re-examined in a new light. Sylvia Ipock-White had delivered her stepson, Billy White, asphyxiated from dry cleaning plastic that, according to step-mom he had swallowed. Plastic was removed from the child’s throat, but he did not survive. Two decades after the “accident” the boy’s body was exhumed. The autopsy ruled the death a homicide. Sylvia was charged with his murder, was convicted and sentenced once again to life in prison.

Suzanne Barr, author of a book on Sylvia Ipock-White’s criminal career, "Fatal Kiss," (2005), believes she has  a total of three murders to her credit. Her first victim was husband #1, Mr. Ipock. He was shot to death in 1967 and the case was ruled a suicide. Yet, as Barr points out, some evidence in the case never added up. "He was right-handed, but the gun was in his left hand,” notes Barr, summing up her subject’s career, observing: "She got away with that," she added. "She killed three people."

[Based on: Tiffany Repecki, “A story to tell: Cape author lends narration,” Cape-Coral Daily Breeze (N. C.),  Feb. 9, 2013]


The case was featured on the Discovery ID TV series Deadly Sins, in the episode “Small Town Massacre,” first aired Feb. 9, 2013.



Jun. 18, 1967 – Leslie Ipock, first husband, died. “Sylvia White married Leslie Ipock in 1959, and they had two boys. He died in 1967, at age 32, of a shot to his temple. A pistol was found by his side. It was ruled suicide.”
Jun. 21, 1973 – Billy C. White II, 4, stepson, died
Jan. 20, 1992 – Billy Carlyle White, second husband, died


~ Killer-for-Hire

Ernest West Basden shot Billy White twice in a murder-for-hire scheme devised by co-conspirators James Lynwood Taylor, his nephew, and Sylvia Ipock White, the victim's wife. Taylor pretended to be a wealthy businessman wanting to buy insurance and lured White to a wooded rural area. Taylor and Basden drove to the designated spot and waited. When White arrived, Taylor got out of his car and introduced himself, then Basden got out of the car and picked up a twelve-gauge shotgun he had placed on the ground. Basden pointed the gun at Billy and pulled the trigger. The shotgun did not fire because Basden had not cocked the hammer back. Basden then cocked the hammer and fired. Billy was knocked to the ground. Basden removed the spent shell casing and loaded another shell into the shotgun. Basden then approached Billy, who was lying face up on the ground, and while standing over him, shot him again. As agreed, Taylor gave his cash-strapped uncle $300 for the killing. Both Taylor and Basden later confessed to their roles in the killing. Mrs. White is currently serving two consecutive life sentences. Taylor is serving a life sentence. [Clark County Prosecuting Attorney]
















For links to other cases of woman who murdered 2 or more husbands (or paramours), see Black Widow Serial Killers.


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Ta-Ki, the Chinese Emperor’s Mistress Who Loved to See Women Dismembered - 1200

Ta-Ki, the mistress of the Emperor Cheon-Sin (1147), plunged him into vicious excesses, and when a rival appeared on the scene she had her killed and sent the body, cut into pieces, to the murdered woman's father, whom she also caused to be assassinated.

Among other barbarities, Ta-Ki used to order pregnant women to be torn limb from limb.

[Prof. Caesar Lombroso and William Ferraro, D. Appleton and Company, New York, 1909, p. 149]


Emperor Cheon-Sin (currently transliterated as Guangzong) (1147–1200) (reigned 1189–1194) was the 12th Emperor of Song China.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Celine Lesage - French Baby-Killing Mom: 6 Newborns Murdered – 2007

It was on October 19, 2007 when Luc Margueritte, the father of Christine Lesages’s seventh baby, found his newborn child in a trash-can, dead, at their home in Valognes, France, that the murder career of this baby-killer began to unravel. It was his girlfriend’s The discovery occurred after Celine Lesage’s 15-year-old son “was led to the cellar by the terrible smell of decomposing corpses and found them wrapped up in their bags,” as prosecutor Mr Garrandaux explained. There were five dead babies in various states of decomposition, all of them fathered, it was later learned by the boyfriend, Pascal Catherine, who had split with Lesage more than a year earlier. The boy took M. Margueritte down to the ad hoc mausoleum and it was only later that he made his most shocking find.

Pascal Catherine, her 39-year-old former boyfriend fathered the first five murdered children, who were born between August 2000 and September 2007. He was originally arrested for not reporting a crime and hiding the corpses, before his lawyers successfully argued he had thought the babies had been still born or had been aborted.

Each of the babies had been delivered “in secret” between August 2000 and September 2007, with Lesage “putting the babies and their dirty clothes neatly in a sealed plastic bag and hiding them.”

Lesage favored two different murder methods: 1) strangling with a cord, used on two of the babies, and 2), choking the child by placing her finger in its mouth, the technique used in four of the killing.

Lesage was tried and found guilty and on March 10, 2010 sentenced to 15 years for aggravated voluntary homicide. During the trial Prosecutor Michel Garrandaux told the court: “Her attitude was wholly ambivalent. On the one hand she expressed her desire to have children, and then she refused to keep them.” He described  Lesage as a 'modest and otherwise ordinary housewife' who has who had “no idea” why, after the first child, whom she allowed to live, she repeatedly murdered the newborns

Peter Allen of The Daily Mail of London, relying upon the woefully incomplete standard literature on female serial killers,  incorrectly called this “one of the worst infanticide cases in history.

[This post is based on multiple sources, including Peter Allen, “Mother 'killed her six babies and hid bodies in the cellar,” MailOnline, Mar. 15, 2010; « Sextuple infanticide : Céline Lesage condamnée à 15 ans de prison,» Doctissimo, 16 mars 2010]


For more cases of this type, see Serial Baby-Killer Moms.


Sabine Hilschenz, German Serial Baby Killing Mom: 9 Victims - 2005

Brieskow-Finkenheerd, Brandenberg, Germany – On February 6, 2006, Sabine Hilschenz, 40, an unemployed dental assistant from a small Brandenburg town in the former East Germany near the border with Poland, was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment on for the manslaughter of eight of her children (the earliest baby was not included in the case due to statute of limitations).

The remains of the seven girls and two boys, born between 1988 and 1998, were discovered in the Summer of 2005 after a neighbor uncovered human bones when clearing out Hilschenz parents’ shed last summer. The nine babies had been buried in plant pots, an aquarium and an old bathtub.

Her defense team argued that her alcohol consumption during labor would cause her to pass out. When she awoke, she would find the child dead and buried in soil on her balcony.

“I would sit on the balcony and talk to them in the flowerpots,” she told police before the trial.

Hilschenz already had three children and told investigators her husband did not want any more. The father of all nine children insisted he did not even know his wife had been pregnant, telling police he thought his wife simply had a weight problem. He declined to testify, as did three surviving children.

Judge Matthias Fuchs, explaining the court’s February 5, 2006 verdict in Frankfurt an-der-Oder, said Hilschenz had killed her children fearing “that her husband would abandon her and take the children with him.”

The case has sparked intense media interest in Germany, with politicians arguing over whether it symbolizes the breakdown of family values in depressed areas of the country’s formerly communist east.

The 2006 conviction was appealed, resulting, five years later in a Federal Court of Justice ruling on July 4, 2011 that  partially overturned the original decision.

[This post is based on multiple sources: “Killer mom’s prison sentence overturned,” The China, Jan. 4, 2011; “Woman Convicted for Slaying 8 of her Children,” Spiegel Online International, Feb. 2, 2006; “German convicted over baby deaths,” BBC News, Jun. 1, 2006]



For more cases of this type, see Serial Baby-Killer Moms.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Alice Mason & Her Arsenic Family Values - Illinois, 1931

FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 5): Pekin, Ill., Nov. 18 – Coroner A. E. Allen has ordered the arrest of Mrs. Alice Mason, 50, of Delavan, Ill., on charges of poisoning her 12-year-old daughter, Mildred.

The girl died last August. Coroner Allen said chemical examination of the child’s viscera disclosed the presence of poison.

The coroner said he also planned to investigate the death, a year ago, of Mrs. Mason’s husband, who is buried in Devalan, and an illness, a month ago, of her son, Harry, 15.

A coroner’s jury investigating the death of the 12-year-old daughter recommended that Mrs. Mason be held to the grand jury without bail.

[“Arrest Mother In Poisoning Of Girl,” Jefferson-City Post-Tribune (Mo.), Nov. 18, 1931, p. 2]


FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 5): Pekin, Ill., Nov. 19 – A middle-aged widow who told authorities she “had a hand” in poisoning her husband and daughter with arsenic to obtain insurance money was questioned further today in an effort to reveal full details of the death plot.

Mrs. Alice Mason’s confession of the poisoning at their home at Delavan, Ill., nearby, of her husband a year ago and her daughter, Mildred, 12, last August, named three accomplices, Sheriff James J. Crosby announced.

He said the alleged accomplices would be questioned but that he had little faith in the woman’s statement.

“Mrs. Mason has made three confessions,” the sheriff said, “since being taken into custody. In each case those on who she has thrown the blame have easily exonerated themselves when questioned.”

The woman revealed she had planned to poison her son, Robert, 22.

[“Illinois Woman Held For Poisoning Plot – Mrs. Alice Mason, of Pekin, Has Made Three Confessions to Killing Husband, Daughter.” The News-Herald (Franklin and Oil City, Pa.), Nov. 19, 1931, p. 1]


FULL TEXT (Article 3 of 5): Pekin, Ill., Nov. 19. – Mrs. Alice Mason, 50-year-old widow of Devlan, Illinois, was held today on charges that she killed her husband, John, a year ago, and her daughter, Mildred, 12, last August, with poison.

State’s attorney Louis Dunkelberg, who said she signed a statement last night admitting the slayings, announced the cause [sic] would be presented to the grand jury today.

Dunkelberg quoted Mrs. Mason as charging the poison was given her by Dr. M. B. Barringer. He expressed doubt, however, if the physician took a part in the alleged crime.

~ Held to Grand Jury ~

The announcement of Mrs. Mason’s confession was made several hours after the coroner’s jury ordered her held to the grand jury on a charge of murdering her daughter.

The widow was arrested early yesterday after Dr. Willard D. McNally, Chicago toxicologist, reported that he had found sufficient poison in the girl’s viscera to kill several persons. She died Aug. 9, ostensibly from peritonitis. Not many days later, Harold, Mrs. Mason’s 18-year-old son, became ill. He is now recovering, Mrs. Mason carried $1,000 insurance on Mildred, her husband, and Harold, officials said.

[“Widow Held On Murder Charge – Allege Illinois Woman Killed Husband and Daughter,” The Evening Independent (Massillon, Oh.), Nov. 19, 1931, p. 1]


FULL TEXT (Article 4 of 5): Pekin, Ill., Nov. 20 – The investigation into the poisoning of Mrs. Alice Mason’s husband and daughter turned today to Clinton Armstrong, her neighbor at Delavan, Ill.

Although Mrs. Moran, who confessed she administered the poison which was fatal to her husband, John, a year ago, and her daughter, Mildred, 12, last August, insisted on keeping Armstrong “out of this,” authorities took him in “technical custody,” late yesterday.

“But I haven’t talked to Armstrong yet,” said State’s Attorney Louis P. Denkelberg, who likewise refused to explain why the gray haired, heavy set neighbor of Mrs. Mason was held.

The case against the widow, charging that she poisoned her husband and daughter to collect $1,000 insurance on each, will not be presented to the grand jury until next Wendesday, Dunkelberg said.

Dr. B. M. Barringer, who was accused by Mrs. Mason of aiding her in the poisoning, was released under $10,000 bond late yesterday. Dunkleberg indicated he was still doubtful whether the woman’s charges were true.

R. L. McCormick, Emden banker, said he often saw Mrs. Mason in Armstrong company.

“He generally brought her to the bank in his automobile,” said McCormick, “and would stay in his car parked at the curb while she came inside and withdrew three or four dollars. Then they would motor away.”

McCormick, Mayor T. U. Rademaker, and many other townspeople of Emden came to the support of Dr. Barringer yesterday.

The doctor asserted the woman’s charges that he had furnished her with capsules of poison to feed her husband and daughter were unfounded. He said he attended Mason and accompanied him to a Peoria clinic where Dr. W. W. Cutter prescribed small doses of the drug which, taken greater quantities, caused Mason’s death. The treatments, Barringer said, were for a tubercular ailment.

He recounted how, during last August, he was called to see Mildred, and that he was called to see Mildred, and that he advised Dr. E. F. Kelchner prescribed after the mother told him the girl had “fallen against a table.”

Officials last night questioned Mrs. Edith Reese, Mrs. Mason’s daughter, and Robert and Harry Mason, 23 and 15 years old respectively, her sons. They were released.

[“Neighbor Quizzed With Widow in Poison Deaths,” Alton Evening Telegraph (Il.), Nov. 20, 1931, p., 2]


FULL TEXT (Article 5 of 5): Pekin – Mrs. Alice and Mason, a 50 years old widow, pleaded guilty to a charge of murdering her 12 years old daughter, Mildred, with poison in circuit court Monday [Feb. 8].

She was sentenced to spend the remainder of her life in the woman’s reformatory at Dwight. No attempt was made to prosecute her on a charge of killing her husband, who died several years ago.

Mrs. Mason was said by authorities to have confessed killing her daughter in order to collect a $1,000 insurance policy on the girl’s life. Neighbors caused the mother’s arrest on last Nov. 17, nearly five months after Mildred’s death.

[“Mother Admits Poison Murder – Pekin Woman Sentenced to Life in Dwight Reformatory,” Decatur Herald (Il.), Feb. 9, 1932, p. 1]



John Mason, husband, died circa Nov. 1930
Mildred Mason, daughter, died Aug. 9, 1931
Harry, 15, ill in Oct. 1931, recovered (one sources, apparently in error, gives age as “18”)
Robert, 22, son, planned to murder





Sunday, May 11, 2014

Herta Oberheuser, German National Socialist “Official” Serial Killer – 1946

From Wikipedia: Herta Oberheuser (15 May 1911 in Cologne, German Empire – 24 January 1978 in Linz am Rhein, West Germany) was a physician at the Ravensbrück concentration camp from 1940 until 1943.

She worked there under the supervision of Dr. Karl Gebhardt, participating in gruesome medical experiments (sulfanilamide as well as bone, muscle, and nerve regeneration and bone transplantation) conducted on 86 women, 74 of whom were Polish political prisoners in the camp. Oberheuser killed healthy children with oil and evipan injections, then removed their limbs and vital organs. The time from the injection to death was between three and five minutes, with the person being fully conscious until the last moment. She performed some of the most gruesome and painful medical experiments, focusing on deliberately inflicting wounds on the subjects. In order to simulate the combat wounds of German soldiers fighting in the war, Herta Oberheuser rubbed foreign objects, such as wood, rusty nails, slivers of glass, dirt, or sawdust into the cuts.

Herta Oberheuser was the only female defendant in the Nuremberg Medical Trial (United States of America v. Karl Brandt, et al.; December 9, 1946 through August 20, 1947.), where she was sentenced to 20 years in jail.

“She was released in April 1952 for good behaviour and became a family doctor at Stocksee in Germany, only to lose her position in 1956 after a Ravensbruck survivor recognised her. Her licence to practise medicine was revoked in 1958. She said of her service: ‘Being a woman didn’t stop me being a good National Socialist. I think female National Socialists were every bit as valuable as men in keeping what we believed in alive.’” [Allan Hall]

She died in January 1978 at the age of 66.

[Allan Hall, “Nazi women exposed as every bit as bad as Hitler's deranged male followers,” Daily Mail, Taeterinnen: Frauen im Nationalsozialismus, 2008, Boehlau Verlag



Friday, May 9, 2014

Lydia L., German Black Widow Serial Killer - 2007

On July 3, 2008 in Goettingen, Germany a 69-year-old former prostitute, publicly known as Lydia L., was sentenced to life imprisonment for arranging the murders of four men she had seduced for the purpose of robbing them of assets or by benefiting from life insurance proceeds. Lydia had operated an old-fashioned lonely hearts racket using “match” advertisements targeting elderly victimsShe employed a 53-year-old male accomplice, called Siggi S. He received a sentence of 12 years in prison for three murders and one manslaughter. The crimes occurred between 1994 and 2000. The pair first met in 1987.

Once drawn into her web of “love,” the victim would be murdered either through overdose of drugs, or by suffocating him using a plastic bag – in order to simulate a natural death. Another victim was burned to death in his own home. In one case, the murder duo arranged a fake robbery in order to created a cover story for a murder.

The court ruled that Siggi S., who later went to police on August 27, 2007 and confessed the killings in court, had been less guilty because he had been psychologically in her thrall, somewhat like a smart mother ordering round a weak-willed adult son.

Prosecutors believe that over a period of twenty years Lydia L. had murdered more than a dozen men during the course her career as a lonely hears scammer.

On July 3, 2008 Lydia L., 69-years old, was sentenced to life for the murders of four elderly men.


Partial list of victims:

1986 – Louis Geller, from Hessian Biebertal, died Jan. 5, 1986; earliest victim whose name is known.

Feb. 1991 - Paul Passon, 83; husband #3, murdered during a fake robbery; Bad Ems, 6 months following wedding.

Circa 1992 – As with William S., master mason in the Sauerland. His children filed a lawsuit claiming their father was killed by Lydia.

Apr. 23, 1995 - Paul Graf, 81, burned to death after having been given drugs put into soup; Zweibrücken, body found in Volkerode in Thuringia.

Jul. 13, 2000 - Gerhard Gauger, 71; drugged, then suffocated with plastic bag.




For links to other cases of woman who murdered 2 or more husbands (or paramours), see Black Widow Serial Killers.



MORE: Elderly Female Serial Killers


Friday, May 2, 2014

Caroline Collins, Michigan Serial Killer - 1903

FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 3): Owosso, Mich., Nov, 18. – Mrs. Caroline Collins, of New Lothrop, fifteen miles northeast of this city, is suspected of being a modern Borgia, four deaths by poison being laid to her account. Her husband, a farm hand, of whom she grew jealous after she became a widow, her 18 year old daughter and her 14 year old nephew, Ira Wright, were the alleged victims of her madness. All four are dead and investigations are in progress to show whether they were killed with poison. Meanwhile Mrs. Collins is in the county jail awaiting results.

Mrs. Collins’ husband died last December. After his death she began living with George Leachman, a farm hand. He wrote a letter to another woman a short time ago and this aroused Mrs. Collins’ jealousy. Immediately afterward he was taken sick with stomach trouble, dying about two weeks ago. Investigation disclosed the presence of poison in his stomach and it is charged that Mrs. Collins gave him the fatal dose in his food.

After the discovery of poison in the case of Leachman mysterious circumstances were recalled in the deaths of Mrs. Collins’ husband, her daughter and Ira Wright. All deaths were similar. Because of this fact the authorities have exhumed the remains of the three and have sent the organs to Ann Arbor for analysis. The results are expected to be obtained in time for presentation to the court Friday, when Mrs. Collins is to be arraigned.

[“Michigan Woman A Modern Borgia – Authorities Think Mrs. Collins Has Poisoned Four Persons.” The Fort Wayne Sentinel (In.), Nov. 18, 1903, p. 5]


FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 3): Murder in the first degree was the verdict of the jury in the Collins murder trial in Owosso, after reviewing the merits of the case for three hours. When Foreman J. C. Dingman announced the verdict declaring Mrs. Caroline Collins guilty of murdering her hired man, Geo. Leachman, by giving him arsenic, the defendant dropped her head for a moment and then was herself again, putting on a bold front. When Mrs. Collins returned to her cell she burst into tears, saying, “If I were guilty I could stand this, but before God I am innocent. This will kill murder. Spite work and money have brought this upon me.” the verdict was a great surprise, a disagreement being generally expected.

[“Mrs. Collins is Guilty.” The Bessemer Herald (Mi.), Jun. 25, 1904, p. 6]


FULL TEXT (Article 3 of 3): While on the stand Friday, Mrs. Collins produced receipts purporting to be for full payment to George Leachman from 1899 to the time of his fatal illness. When telling about Ira’s fatal illness, Mrs. Collins broke down and wept. It was some minutes before she could go on. The witness admitted purchasing rough on rats, but claimed she mixed the entire box of the stuff with ground feed in two pans which she placed, in the sheep shed.

The defense had previously offered in evidence receipts claimed to be in full for the six summers that Leachman worked for Mrs. Collins. The summer season is seven months long from April 1 to Nov. 1, and during these months Leachman was to receive $10 a month and board, while for the five winter months he usually received a lump sum of about $25.

Mrs. Collins claims that the income from her forty acres of improved land supported herself, daughter and nephew, paid Leachman and cleared a $500 mortgage from the farm since 1898.


The defense rested its case on Monday morning, and the prosecution, in rebuttal, attempted to introduce medical testimony to show that Ira Wright died of poisoning, not typhoid fever. This the court ruled out, fearing the jury would convict Mrs. Collins of being guilty of Leachman’s murder simply be cause things looked suspicious in Ira’s case.

Mrs. Collins swore that Leachman had complained, after his fight with the Burpee boys, of having been clubbed on the head, and kicked in the back and abdomen. Louis and George Burpee were put on the stand in rebuttal. Louis Burpee was sworn and said that Jacob Gross, who was working for Mrs. Collins at this time, September, 1903, wrote witness’ wife a letter which fell into Burpee’s hand. Gross named the evening for a meeting with Mrs, Burpee on the road.

Gross and George Leachman drove to the spot, and the Burpee boys ambushed them. The assailants unhitched the horse, and Louis, dragging Gross out of the buggy, beat him quite severely until Gross broke loose and ran away. George Burpee did not strike a blow during the encounter.

Louis then struck Leachman twice, once in the mouth and once over the eye, but the blows had little effect, as Leachman was in the buggy and Louis, being on the ground, could not reach him effectively. Louis swore positively that Leachman was not clubbed or kicked.


Mrs. Hattie Alcott, mother of Mrs. Collins, was a disastrous witness for the defense, although sworn in her daughter’s behalf. She could not remember dates, and her testimony was a mass of contradictions. Mrs. Collins’ testimony on cross-examination, was directly opposite to that given by nearly every one of the prosecution’s witnesses.


The defense and prosecution rested on Tuesday and acting prosecuting attorney W. J. Parker made the opening address to the jury for the prosecution.

He started out carefully, appealing to the jurors to disabuse their minds of all prejudice in performing the sacred duty entrusted to them. He pointed out that there is no sex in crime; that a woman prisoner stands before the bar of justice precisely in the same relation as does a man. She should have no consideration from the jury simply because she is a woman.

He used fifty minutes of the four and one-halt hours allotted to his side, and Attorney McCurdy then started his address.


Attorney John T. McCurdy, for the defense, began his closing address by apologizing for his hasty speeches while angered several times during the trial. He declared that subnitrate of bismuth has beep known to contain arsenic, and pointed out that sixty grains of bismuth had been administered by Dr. Shoemaker during Leachman’s last illness. He wanted to know of the defense why this bismuth had not been analyzed for arsenic by Dr Gomberg, and gave as his opinion that it had been, but as arsenic was found, no report was brought in.

One form of arsenic test is by the use of glass tubes, and although the tests at the U. of M. resulted in discolored tubes, showing the presence of arsenic in Leachman’s digestive organs, Mr. McCurdy declared that this was not conclusive, as mistakes were frequently made in analysis.


“Their whole cease is only a theory,” said McCurdy, “but I would rather have the conclusion of a level-headed man upon this case than all the fine theories advanced. “I do not believe that upon this theory you will send a woman to a living hell.”

He then took up the question of motives and declared that Mrs. Collins did not owe Leachman money for work. He explained the absence of receipts for all the Leachman payments by saying that Mrs. Collins was illiterate as she had not gone to school after her eleventh year, being compelled to drudge among strangers for her living. McCurdy was so wrought up by the danger which he saw of a woman whom he declared to be innocent being sent to prison that he wept, ending his speech sobbing. Mrs. Collins and the roomful of woman also wept.

Prosecutor Chapman, when he arose nullified the pathos by remarking dryly: “I am here to answer the statements made by my brother, I shall not under take to answer the “boohoo, as I have left my onion at home.” Roars of laughter followed this statement.


When he resumed his argument Wednesday morning, Mr Chapman ridiculed the statement of Dr. Clark, defense’s expert, that George s death was due to gastritis. This disease,” Dr. Clark thought was superinduced by drinking hot liquids, eating hot bread, or taking too much cheese and beer. All this Mr. Chapman declared was foolish.

The speaker characterized Mrs. Collins as a woman of great nerve, unflinching determination and as relentless as death. George could not disobey her orders; he was tied to her apron strings, and knew no will but hers.

During the argument the woman’s attitude was that of calm indifference, but this was belied by an occasional quick tapping of her foot when the attorney bore down heavily on some significant fact. Sometimes she yawned, and more often she sat with bent head, her elbow resting on the table and her hand across her eyes.

Mr. Chapman finished his argument at 12:45. At 1:30 court reconvened and Judge Smith began his charge to the jury. He completed it in 45 minutes, the case going to the jury at 2:15 Wednesday afternoon.


Mrs. Caroline Collins, of New Lothrop, was on Wednesday evening convicted of murder in the first degree, and will on Monday, unless something unforseen intervenes, be sentenced to prison for life for the crime. The action of the jury leaves Judge Smith no alternative but to impose this sentence.

The jury went oat at 2:15 o’clock in the afternoon and had reached a decision at 6 o’clock less than four hours.

On motion of John T. McCurdy, attorney for the defense, a stay of execution was granted until Monday, when it is expected that sentence will be passed. The early verdict was somewhat of a surprise and it was the general opinion that it would be acquittal. When it be came known that the twelve men were ready to come in the news that a decision had been reached spread like wild fire and a jam of people surrounded the courthouse when Mrs. Collins was brought in by Sheriff Gerow, to hear the verdict. Then came a heart breaking wait of ten minutes before the jury arrived.

Mrs. Collins, who sat beside her attorney, evidently feared the worst, for she was deathly pale and trembled violently. When County Clerk John Y. Martin asked the customary question, “Gentle men of the jury, have you agreed upon a verdict?” Foreman John C. Dingman, of Owosso, arose and replied, “We have.”

“What is it?”

“Guilty, as charged.”

“That won’t do,” interposed Judge Smith quickly, “is she guilty of murder in the first degree?”

All the jurymen replied, “She is.”

Mrs. Collins bowed her head in her hands and wept quietly but bitterly.

In making his plea for stay of proceedings, Attorney McCurdy declared that he wished to present matters in connection with the case which had come to his ears within an hour.

It is understood that he referred to one of the Collins’ jurors, who expressed an opinion before the case was called, declaring he believed the woman guilty. He may move for a new trial.

Credit for the victory rests with Assistant Prosecuting Attorney W. J. Parker, who insisted that Leachman’s stomach be saved after the postmortem for analysis, and with Odell Chapman, who had prepared his case thoroughly, and argued most convincingly. Sheriff Gerow and Deputy William Thompson collected much valuable evidence.

The crime for which Mrs. Collins was convicted was the murder, by arsenical poisoning, of her hired man and alleged lover, George Leachman, who died in terrible agony on Oct. 23, 1903. The motive, according to the prosecution, were the facts that she owed him about $400 and that he stood in the way of a union with Col. Northwood.

[“The Collin’s [sic] Murder Trial.” The Owosso Times (Mi.), Jun. 10, 1904, p. 8]



Thursday, May 1, 2014

Rose Veres, Suspected Hungarian-American Serial Killer - 1931

This US case is of particular interest in that all parties are Hungarian immigrants. Thus the Veras case ought to be compared with the serial murder syndicates operating in Hungary up till the early 1930s. (See: Husband-Killing Syndicates)
Some news sources use other spellings “Veras, Vera,” but “Veras” seems to be the correct spelling.


FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 9): Specters of nine strange deaths stalked Mrs. Rose Veres, weazened “Witch of Delray," today as detectives questioned her about the death of a tenth man in her home within the last 10 years. Mrs. Veres vigorously denied implication in the death of Steven Mak, 68,. ostensibly of a fall from a ladder.


Her denials came through a Hungarian Interpreter after the tight-lipped woman insisted she could not answer in English, although John Walker, negro neighbor, said she confessed to him that Mak had been slain.

The woman was to appear in court today on a habeas corpus writ similar to one for her 18-year-old son, William, held in connection with stories that he had participated with his mother in an alleged beating of Mak that preceded his plunge from an attic window.

Police checking the strange death record of the woman's last 10 years learned that three of her husbands were among the 10 deaths. Her attorney, Frank W. Kenney. Jr., said Mak was another husband. The fatal roster included:

John Toth, carbon monoxide poisoning.
Stephen Flash, alcoholism.
John Kolachl, intestinal ailment. Garbor Veres, died with Toth.
John Norvay, undetermined.
Louis Kulacs, undetermined. Alex Porezios, undetermined.
John Skrivan, said to have hanged himself in the home.
Steve Sebastian, supposed alcoholic.

~ Many Neighborhood Rumors. ~

Information concerning the deaths was tangled and vague, police said, because of long-standing neighborhood rumors about strange events in the Veres home.

Detective Lieutenant Rudolph H. Hosfelt today revealed that Mak had been under partial police protection since July 6 when neighbors, reported be was being beaten in the basement of the home. A week ago, Hosfelt said, police quieted a disturbance in the Veres home upon complaint of a neighbor and that Mak told him Mrs. Veres had given him some "medicine," which he believed was poison, to get insurance drawn in her favor.

A post-mortem was to be held today on Mak’s body.

[“Detroit Woman Questioned About Tenth Man's Death In Her Home In Ten Years,” The News-Herald (Franklin and Oil City, Pa.), Aug. 26, 1931, p. 1]


FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 9): Detroit - A mother and her son were held by police today following the death by a fall from a window of a roomer in their home and the subsequent discovery by police that ten men, on most of whom the woman held insurance policies, had died in her rooming house during the past eight years.

The woman, Mrs. Rose Veras, 48, whose rooming house is in this city’s Hungarian colony, is held on a technical charge of homicide. Her son, William, 18, was arrested for investigation.

The death of Steve Mak, 68, a roomer at Mrs. Veras’ home opened the police investigation. Mrs. Veras told police Mak fell from a ladder while repairing an attic window, other witnesses said Mak was not at work on a ladder, and that it appeared he had been pushed from the window.

George M. Stutz, assistant prosecuting attorney, said he had learned there was one valid insurance policy on Mak’s life, for $4,000, of which Mrs. Veras was the beneficiary. He said he had learned Mrs. Veras recently borrowed money to make a payment on the policy.

~ Says It’s Customary ~

Mrs. Veras told police it was customary in the Hungarian colony for a landlady to insure her roomers in her behalf. Police said 75 policies were found in her home. They expressed the belief that several of them had been made out in her favor by most of the ten men whose deaths occurred in her house since 1923.

Detective Lieutenant John Whitman said he had learned Mrs. Veras paid the funeral expenses of seven of the men who died at her house.

Police examined their records to determine the cause of the death of the ten, and announced that post mortems had been held on the bodies of two who died of alcoholism, and that no evidence of criminal activities had been found.

The ten  men who died in Mrs. Veras’ home, they said, were Hungarian.

~ Freedom Delayed ~

Frank M. Kenney, Mrs. Veras’ attorney, presented a writ of habeas corpus for the release of Mrs. Veras and her son, returnable today. Instead of dismissing the writ, as he first announced. Recorders Judge Henry S. Sweeney extended the time to Thursday, saying he desired to give the police “all the time they want in investigating the case.”

Kenney declared the action against Mrs. Veras to be the result of neighborhood gossip. He said the previous deaths had been investigated and showed no criminal activity.

Detectives investigating Mrs. Veras’ activities said she had a record of six previous arrests, but no convictions. One of the arrests, they said, was for embezzlement.

[“Detroit Woman, Son Jailed As Suspects In Insurance Murders Ten Men Meet Death In Rooming House Within 8 Years; Policies Named Accused As Beneficiary, Police Claim.” Syndicated (AP), Sandusky Register (Oh.), Aug. 27, 1931, p. 1]


FULL TEXT: (Article 3 of 9): Detroit – Four persons were in custody today as authorities sought to learn whether the deaths of ten men over a period of eight years in Mrs. Rose Veras’ rooming house were from natural causes or violence.

~ Find 75 Policies ~

Mrs. Veras, the 48-year-old Hungarian immigrant who held insurance policies on the ten who died, has been in custody since Tuesday on a technical charge of murder. Other policies, 75 in all, were found by officers in her home and investigators were attempting to learn the fate of the insured.

The list of deaths under investigation had reached 11 today, with discovery that Valet Peterman, 68, a boarder in the Veras home, died shortly after moving to another house.

Sam Denyen who, police said, lived in the Veras home until two weeks ago, was arrested in Logan, W. Va., late yesterday and a detective left last night to question him. Mrs. Veras’ 15-year old son, Gaber, was detained for questioning yesterday. Another son, William, 18, has been held for several days.

~ Pushed Out of Window? ~

The investigation was inspired by the death of Steve Mak, a roomer, Tuesday morning from injuries received in a fall. Mrs. Veras said he fell while working on a ladder.

Neighbors who claimed to have witnessed his fall, told police he appeared to have been pushed from an attic window and drugged at the time.

[“Widow Quizzed in 10 Deaths,” “Probe Rooming House Deaths – Four In Custody As Police Investigate Death of Eleven Men; Hungarian Woman Held Insurance Policies,” syndicated (NEA), Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune (Wi.), Aug. 28, 1931, p. 1]



FULL TEXT (Article 4 of 9): Detroit, Aug. 31 – Duncan C. McRae, assistant prosecutor, announced today that Mrs. Rose Veras, rooming house proprietor, held on a technical charge of homicide following the death during the past eight years of 12 men in her home, had confessed to “a party not connected with the police department,” that she pushed one of the men from an attic window, the fall causing his death.

McCrae said that the woman told the person whose name was not revealed by police that she pushed Stephen Mak, the last of the 12 men to die, from an attic window after attempts to poison him has failed.

~ Had 75 Policies. ~

Harry S. Toy, prosecuting attorney, said he would not reveal how the confession was obtained. He said that for reasons he “did not care to disclose” the person’s identity, which would not be revealed at present.

Seventy-five life insurance policies were found in Mrs. Veras’ home, when she was arrested, on the lives of the men who died in her home. Officials said that Mrs. Veras held at last $6400 insurance on the life of Mak.

~ Denies Others. ~

McCrae said the woman denied any complicity in any of the other deaths in her home, but had admitted she killed Mak to obtain insurance money of which she was the beneficiary. She said she held seven policies on Mak’s life and that she paid the premiums on all of them.

According to McCrae, Mrs. Veras confessed she tried to poison Mak by putting lye in his coffee and liquor that he drank, but when she found he was not “dying fast enough” she lured him up a ladder, placed at the side of her home, urging him to enter an attic window and then pushed him from the window. Mak died the day following the fall from the window.

[“Detroit Woman Admits Killing One of 12 Men To Collect Insurance,” syndicated (AP), The Southeast Missourian (Cape Giradeau, Mo.), Aug. 31, 1931, p. 1]


FULL TEXT (Article 5 of 9): Detroit. Sept. 1.—After intermittent grilling of more than 100 hours. Mrs. Rose Veres. 48, so-called “Witch Widow.” of Medina street where her unkempt boarding house is located, today broke down and  confessed to killing one of the 12 men who died under what police alleged were incriminating circumstances during the past eight years. She is charged with murder and faces life imprisonment.

According to Assistant Prosecutor; Duncan McCrea, in charge of the weird case, the widow said:

“I was hard up and needed the insurance money on the man. I tried to poison him twice but he didn’t die, so I pushed him out of the attic window.”

Her victim was Steven Mak, 68-year-old roomer, whose death led to the probe which disclosed that other men had died “mysteriously” in her boarding house.

[“Detroit Woman Admits Murder – Mrs. Rose Veres, Alleged ‘Witch-Woman’ Confesses To Death Push - Sought Insurance Money On Victim, syndicated (International News Service), New Castle News (Pa.), Sep. 1, 1931, p. 12]

FULL TEXT: (Article 6 of 9): Detroit, Sept. 2. – Officers investigating the death of Steve Male and eleven other lodgers in Mrs. Rose Veras’ rooming house said tonight a witness had told them he saw Mak pushed from an attic window of the rooming house.

“A pair of arms” shoved Mak from the window, they quoted George Halasz, the witness, as saying, and a moment later Mrs. Veras peered out. Mak died August 28 of injuries suffered in the fall.

Halasz, 49, and a former lodger in the rooming house conducted by the 48-year-old woman, said he had gone to the house to see a man rooming there and was waiting outside when he saw Mak fall to his death. Halasz also was quoted as saying he moved out of the rooming house because Mrs. Veras sought to take out an insurance policy on his life, naming her as beneficiary.

Mrs. Veras had paid premiums on $2,600 of insurance on Mak’s life and on seventy-five other policies, many of them on the lives of lodgers who died in her house or shortly after they moved out, within the past eight years.

[“Witness Says Lodger Pushed From Window,” syndicated (AP), Bluefield Daily Telegraph (W. Va.), Sep. 3, 1931, p. 1]

FULL TEXT (Article 7 of 9): The “Old Gray Witch of Medina Street” sits in her tiny room in the Michigan House of Correction at Plymouth. Imprisoned fear life, far from her native hills of Hungary, she talks to no one. All through the past Winter she was silent, shunned and feared by her fellow-prisoners. Even now seeing from her window the trees budding and the grass turning green, just as the Magyar slopes came to life in the Spring in her native town of Sarud, she keeps a seemingly mystic vigil, her strange eyes fixed upon objects which do not exist.

Perhaps it is just as well for her that things beyond her window panes do not intrigue her, for by the terms of her sentence she will never again be nearer them than, she is now. Twelve men died, tragically in hear house; three were suicides. And the other nine? In charging the “witch” with murder, the State decided to concentrate on the case of Stephen Mak, the twelfth man to die.

It was last August 21st.

In the front yard of her home on Medina Street in the Hungarian colony of Detroit, 11-year-old Marie Chevalia was playing. All morning she had been making mud pies.

It was a warm day, but the air was heavy, and dull smoke from surrounding factories resisted the sunlight. Against this background of haze; the house directly across the street from the yard where little Marie was playing looked somewhat ghostly.

The reason, perhaps, lay in the legends of Medina Street.

Almost from her cradle days, little Marie Chevalia had heard people say strange things about that house and its inmates.

“Behind those filmy curtains,” Medina Street mothers told their, .children when family circles were gathered around the hearths, “stalks a bad witch-woman. Her name is Mrs. Rose Veres. She bewitches factory men, they go to live in her house, and in the cellar the witch-woman brews potions. She has the Evil Eye. When she looks at these men, they have to do when she tells them. They want to go away, but they can’t. She bewitches them. Then they die.

“She was born with a full set of teeth and a veil, and if she wants she can change herself into a wolf or a hare.”

In the Old World, among the Magyrs, in the Hungarian hills whence most of these people had come, so-called witches were common. Other people didn’t have to believe in them if they preferred not to, but all the cynical sophistication in the world couldn’t take the vampires and other evil spirits out of the darkness which descended upon Sarud and Nagyrev every night.

These people knew. They had seen the vampires. They had seen the wolf-men and the wolf-women and beard their blood-curdling cries whenever anyone in the village died.

So Mrs. Veres, it was clear, was a “witch,” even though she lived in Detroit, in the United States of America.

Why, many times she had been seen growling about the alleys at might, garbed in her long flowing garments of black flannel, a cape tucked tightly about her stooped shoulders and her hair covered by a lace boudoir cap.

On such occasions it was considered unsafe to be abroad in the darkness. And when the word would go out that “The Witch of Medina Street” was on a nocturnal prowl, every door in the neighborhood would be locked and double-barreled, and every shade drawn.

So little Marie Chevalia, as she fashioned her mud-pies last August 21st, was glad that she was in her own yard, glad that it was daylight, glad that she was in her own yard, glad that her Mamma and Papa had warned her against the bad witch.

Soon, as Marie watched, Mrs. Veres stopped out from behind the front door. Marie dropped her mud pies and stared.

Mrs. Veres, her net boudoir cap on her head, descended the steps and spoke a few words in low tones to John Walker, a colored man who had been sprinkling the lawn. Walker was one of Mrs. Veres’s boarders, and occupied an attic room. At the “witch’s” direction, he dropped the hose and retired to the cellar to shut off the water and perform some other duties.

As soon as Walker had disappeared’ behind the house, little Marie saw Mrs. Veres pick up a long ladder and place it against the side of the house. Then, clutching her skirt, beneath which she was accustomed to wear five or six petticoats, the “Old Gray Witch of Medina Street” walked back into her house and closed the door behind her.

Transfixed, by vague fears and a very definite curiosity, Marie remained, wide-eyed, squatting over her mud pies. Probably because she was a member of the more curious sex, little Marie’s curiosity was stronger than her fear. That is why she was later able to recount the entire drama as it unfolded before her young eyes.

Presently an old man emerged from the “witch-house.” He was unsteady on his feet. He was carrying a small box and a hammer. Marie recognized him as Stephen Mak, one of Mrs. Veres’s boarders. He walked toward the ladder and put a foot on it.

Hesitantly he climbed, step by step. At the top he paused to lay his hammer and box on the ledge. Then he opened the window, pulled himself partially through and sat on the sill. For a full minute he remained in that position – then before the watchful eyes of little Marie, be suddenly disappeared.

George Halasz, a short, swarthy man who lived nearby, was strolling along Medina Street. Up to this point, he had seen nothing unusual. From the sidewalk he called once or twice for Mike Ludd, a friend who boarded at the Veres house. Receiving no immediate reply, Halasz leaned against a tree and started rolling a cigarette.

A moment later Walker returned from the basement, rear, and began walking toward the street. He was almost directly below the attic window when a box of nails dropped in front of him; then a hammer thudded. He raised his hands above his head and drew back, then looked up. As he looked, the body of Stephen Mak hurtled through the attic window head-first, crashed against the side of the house next door and plunged headlong to the ground. 

Walker raced to the back door and shouted loudly for Mrs. Veres. George Halasz removed his newly rolled cigarette from his mouth and looked on in amazement.

Marie Chevalia screamed and ran into her house.

Marie’s screams aroused the neighborhood and quickly a crowd gathered around the Veres home. Its gong clanging, an ambulance swung into Medina Street, and fifty-five minutes later the ‘Widow Veres” her face noticeably dirty and her head covered with cobwebs, calmly and inquiringly entered her yard from the alley beyond. Mak was taken t» the Detroit Receiving Hospital, where he died two days later.

Mak’s death went into the preliminary official reports as an accident. Mrs. Veres told police that she had asked him to fix the window, and that he had presumably fallen because of his age and infirm condition. At the time, she explained, she had been shopping, and her elder son, William, was at a movie. Walker corroborated this story. Police were not suspicious. Mrs. Veres’s reputation as a “witch” was not taken seriously beyond Medina Street.

But rumoxs began, to get around. Mak was the twelfth man to die prematurely after a residence in the Veres house. The first was Veres himself. The. rest were boarders. And little Marie Chevalia kept telling her mama that “the witch killed Mr. Mak. I saw her face in the window.” George Halasz was quite sure of that, too.

Then it was discovered that the window Mak went up to fix needed no fixing; that he wore shoes when he went up and none when he came down, that he had told neighbors he was afraid of Mrs. Veres and was sure that she was going to kill him; that there were marks on his head which looked like blows; and something in his stomach which might not be just liquor.

It was revealed, too, that on the morning of Mak’s death Mrs. Veres had cut a hole in the attic partition through which a man’s body, might drawn, that that she had offered Walter $500 to “keep his mouth shut” about his suspicions.

Officials of insurance companies volunteered the information that Mrs. Veres had a $5,000 policy on Mak’s life, double indemnity in case of accidental death—and that she was; still trying to make collections on policies issued to her on the lives of dead former boarders. It was revealed, too, that she owed $1,000 to her next-door neighbor, Aaron Freed, and had promised to pay him “as soon as I collect some insurance money.” Police soon found a trunk containing over seventy-five policies taken out by Mrs. Veres since she moved to Detroit.

William, her elder son, had testified that he was, at a movie at the time of Mak’s “fall.” But John Veres, the widow’s younger son, frankly told detectives another version.

“Bill told me to say he was at the Grand Theatre,” John told officers. “But he wasn’t. He was at home with Mother.”

William Veres was destined to share his mother’s fate. He, too, received a life sentence, in spite of his youth. Old Mrs. Veres sits motionless in the House of Correction. ‘Her eyes’ seem fixed upon objects.

[“While a Little Girl Watched the Old Gray Witch of Medina Street – The Hungarian Widow’s Twelfth Boarder Tumbled to His Death, But Marie of the Mud Pies Saw All, And Told!” Ogden Standard Examiner (Ut.), Apr. 3, 1932, page number unknown]


FULL TEXT (Article 7 of 8): At lost relentless justice has been meted out to America’s most cold-blooded woman killer – Mrs. Rose Veres, known as the Witch of Delray. She was responsible for the deaths of 12 lodgers – simple Hungarians whose lives she had insured.

FREEDOM’S door has been slammed on the Witch of Delray.

The air she breathes for the rest of her days must be screened through prison bars.

There will be no recapture of the years when she roamed the streets of Detroit, frightening children and killing men.

The Witch of Delray, who actually is Mrs. Rose Veres, murdered for profit, which is why she was sentenced to life imprisonment in Michigan.

For a time, while lawyers were fighting desperately for a new trial for her, it looked as though she might be free again. But now Recorder’s Judge John J. Maher, at Detroit, has denied her appeal.

Mrs. Veres made a good thing of being a witch. She got away with it for seven years, during which time she became a legendary figure in black, and by the time the law caught up with her the number of her victims was reckoned at 12. Her bank-deposits for the period totalled £23,000.


She worked out a simple plan for living by the death of others. She took a rooming house in the Delray section of Detroit, where most of her lodgers were, like herself, Hungarian born. They were simple folk and Mrs. Veres volunteered to look after their money. At the same time she insured their lives.

When police got interested in the goings-on in her home they discovered 75 insurance policies on her boarders, in all of which she was the beneficiary. She had a reason why.

“I kept insurance policies on most of my boarders,” she said, “because that is the way my people do. We want a good funeral. There must be flowers and lodge members. I gave everyone a fine funeral.”

The police thought too many fine funerals were being held at the frame dwelling on Medina-street.


They became curious when Steven Mak, 68, tumbled from a ladder out side the Veres household and died of a fractured skull. They began asking questions and soon discovered he was the 12th man to die at the Medina-street house since September 21, 1924, when Steven Sebastian suffered what was described on the death certificate as a fatal cerebral haemorrhage.

After a little inquiring in the neighborhood, detectives found Marie Chevalia, 11, who was making mudpies outside her home when Mak fell. “I saw Mr. Mak go up the ladder,” she said. “Mrs. Veres was holding it for him at the attic window. He was right at the attic window. He swayed and moaned, as if he was sick.”

Her story spun a web around the Witch of Delray when she added:

“While he was falling, Mrs. Veres and William (her son) poked their heads out of the window.”

Yes, that was right, Mrs. Veres remembered. She had asked Mak to repair a window. But the police said the window didn’t need repairs.

Then there was the story of John Walker. Mrs. Veres, he said, told him to water the ground where the ladder rested, and the Witch herself placed it on the slippery clay.

And there was £2000 insurance on Mak’s life.

A jury believed that Mrs. Veres and her son pushed Mak to death and returned a verdict that provided the maximum penalty under Michigan law for both – life imprisonment.

Responsibility for the 11 other deaths wasn’t proved against Mrs. Veres. But the police discovered many strange circumstances as they delved into her dusty past.

They learned that her husband, Gabor, and Laszlo Toth, a boarder, were working on a car in the Veres garage one day in 1927 when suddenly the door slammed. Both died of carbon monoxide poisoning generated by the automobile exhaust.


They heard about men whose names were known as John Nordal, Balit Peterman, Gabor Feges, Steven Faish, Alex Porczio, Berni Kalo, John Sokivon and John Coccardi. All of them slept on wall-lined cots in the dirt floored cellar.

All of them had casks of wine between their beds. All of them died. Some said their deaths were caused by lye in the wine.

While all these things were happening, Mrs. Veres was becoming known around the neighborhood as a sinister character.

The Detroit district in which she lived was mainly populated by native born Hungarians – simple folk who still retained many of the customs and beliefs of the old country.

To them werewolves, human vampires and witches were very real beings – beings that could do harm to innocent people who crossed their path.


So it is not surprising that locally the notorious Mrs. Veres should be looked upon by these people as a witch.

That when she appeared, the pious people should devoutly cross themselves for fear of the evil eye.

Some said she was born with a full set of teeth and a veil. And some said:

“If she wants, she can change her self into a wolf or a hare.”

That’s how she became the Witch of Delray and why she was feared by both adults and children.

Although prison claims her, her spell continues.

Almost two years after she was gaoled John Kampfl, one of her basement lodgers, cut his throat. It was not a critical wound. Doctors said he would recover.

“No,” he said. “The Witch cast her evil eye on me.”

The next morning he died, which probably isn’t the reason the courts refused her a new trial.

But who knows?

Mrs. Rose Veres murdered ruthlessly for profit while she was becoming known as the Witch of Delray?

The way the jury figured, William Veres was as guilty as his mother.

[Gerald Duncan, “America’s Female Bluebeard Is in Gaol For Life,” World’s News (Sydney, Australia), Jun. 30, 1945, p. 6]


FULL TEXT (Article 9 of 9): Detroit, Mich., Dec. 10 – The “witch of Delray,” central figure 13 years ago in a murder trial which ended  in her conviction and a life sentence after bizarre testimony linking her to 11 other deaths, was a free woman tonight by reason of a “not guilty” verdict in a belated retrial.

She is Mrs. Rose Veres, now 64, who for many years kept a rooming house and kept a rooming house was a two story frame building in what was formerly the village of Delray. This community, made up for the most part of Hungarian and middle European immigrants, is now part of Detroit.

~ Son Convicted, Too ~

At the retrial a jury of eight men and four women took eight hours to vote an acquittal for the widely known “which,” who was convicted originally with her son, William, of first degree murder for killing Stephen Mack, a roomer, by pushing him out an attic window.

Mrs. Veres and her son served 13 years of their life sentences and recently won new trials on a Supreme court ruling that their convictions were invalid because of the absence from the courtroom of the presiding judge when the verdict was returned.

~ Courtroom is Packed. ~

When the new trials were ordered, prosecuting authorities released William Veres to stand trial again. The retrial began Nov. 26 before Recorder’s Judge Paul E. Krause, and each day’s session has been in a courtroom packed with present and former Delray neighbors and residents. Mrs. Veres speaks no English and testified thru an interpreter.

Evidence was produced at both trials that Mrs. Veres’ rooming house had the local reputation of a “house of dreath” because of the deaths there of 11 other persons other than Mack between 1924 and 1931. Children feared her, it was said, because of her long hair and reported “baleful eye,” and the name “witch of Delray” was applied to her.

When Mack died from a fall from Mrs. Veres’ attick window he had a $4,000 insurance policy, of which Mrs. Veres was the benedficiary. Police later found 75 insurance policies in the names of roomers.

[“’Baleful Eyed Witch’ Is Free After 13 Years – Wins In New Trial Over Old Death Case,” Chicago Tribune (Il.), Dec. 11, 1945, p. 5]


EXCERPT: It had been the custom each time one of her roomers died to have photographs made of the funeral showing her giving the corpse a final embrace. [Curtis Haseltine, “Murder for Money – Case of Delray’s ‘Witch’ Up Again,” The Detroit Free Press, Aug. 27, 1944, Magazine Section, p. 7]

Here are two long, well-illustrated articles on the Veras case:
“The Witch of Delray,”  The Deceased of Detroit, Jul. 23, 2010
“The Witch of Delray,” Weird Detroit, Sept. 11, 2011


























For similar cases, see Murder-Coaching Moms