Saturday, November 1, 2014

Alsa Thompson, the “Baby Borgia” – Los Angeles: 1925

It was never determined whether Alsa had or had not actually murdered any human being. It was, however, established, that she did deliberately kill pets and that she made several attempts to kill members of her step-family (including one of their visitors), and had attacked her little sister and another child wielding a razor blade.

For an example of a girl of around the same age who had a “mania” for murder, see the following case:

1892 – “Bottoms Girl” – Atoka, Kentucky – age 6 at time of apprehension.


11 purported (alleged) victims of murder or attempted murder:

1923 – Mildred & Muriel Thompson, 2-year-old twins; ground glass, died; Dauphin, Canada
Jan. 1925 – Miss Nettie Steele (same as Mrs. Price?), daughter of Alice Steele; poisoned with “ant paste”; died
1925 – Maxine Thompson, 2-years-old; separately poisoned; attempt to slash with razor blade
1925 – Mr. Jess Platt (or Platts); poisoned (family meal)
1925 – Mrs. Inez Platt; poisoned (family meal)
1925 – Lorraine “Lou” Platt; poisoned (family meal) 12-years-old; attempt to slash with razor blade
1925 – youngest Platt;
1925 – William Kearns, Fireman, visitor to Platts home; poisoned (family meal)
1925 – Canaries; poisoned; died
1925 – Cat; poisoned


FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 14): Los Angeles, Calif, Feb. 3 – Police are today investigating one of the strangest criminal cases that has ever come before the State of California, that of Alsa Thompson, aged 7, who has confessed, the officers say, that she caused the death of her twin sisters and a woman by poison and attempted to poison eight other persons.

The girl was taken into custody upon request of Mr. and Mrs. Jess Platts, with whom the child boarded, after a strange substance of solution from a radio battery and ant paste was spread over the food, the Platts with their infant daughter, as well as Maxine Thompson, the girl’s two year old sister, were about to eat.

~ Shows Little Emotion ~

According to police, the girl frankly admitted the poison attempt and that she had caused the death of her twin sisters by ground glass two years ago while her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Russell Thompson, were residing in Dauphin, Manitoba. She further asserted, the police claim, that she caused the death of a Mrs. Price [in other sources, “Steele”] with whom she once lived, by administering rat poison to her.

“I guess I was just mean and liked to see them suffer,” the girl is said to have declared in admitting the poisonings. In speaking of the deaths of one of her little sisters, Alsa showed only a slight trace of emotion, saying “she was so pretty – I was sorry I had given her anything.”

~ Also Poisons Birds ~

The child is also said to have frankly admitted that in addition to poisoning humans, she had poisoned two canaries and a cat and had taken great pleasure in watching them writhe in pain before death.

Alsa is said to be one of the smartest pupils in the second grade she attends and is said to have shown great interest in recent crimes, recently having asked Mrs. Platts to read her the daily stories of the case of Dorothy Ellingson, San Francisco matricide.

[“Second Grade School Girl Poison Fiend – Alsa Thompson, 7, Confesses Causing deaths of Sisters and Woman,” Logansport Pharos-Tribune (In.), Feb. 3, 1925, p. 1]

Summary of Ellingson case: [Traciy Curry-Reyes, “Dorothy Ellingson: Jazz girl killed mother Annie Ellingson,”, July 28, 2013]


FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 14): Los Angeles, Feb. 4 – Seven-year-old Alsa Thompson still has authorities puzzled over her confession that she killed her baby twin sisters two years ago, and later an adult who took care of her. Her father, Russell Thompson, characterized the story as absurd and impossible, but members of the family with which she has been boarding insisted she told the truth and cited alleged instances of poisonings lately attempted by the girl.

A fireman told the police he was sure preserved peaches that made him sick had been treated with acid by little Alsa and even the fact that one member of the family temporarily lost his voice was attributed to the child’s skill as a poisoner.

[“Puzzled in Poisoning,” syndicated, The Charleston Daily Mail (W. Va.), Feb. 4, 1925, p. 1]


FULL TEXT (Article 3 of 14): Los Angeles, Feb. 4.—A complaint charging Alsa Thompson, 7, with insanity was issued today, it was announced by the trunacy commission and she will be tried  tomorrow by Judge W. S. Gates. The complaint was sworn to by Mrs. Jessie Platt, who said the girl told her she had attempted to poison Mr. and Mrs. Platt and their children.

Love and tragedy were linked hand in hand today when seven-year-old Alsa Thompson’s confession that she took the lives of her baby twin sisters, by feeding them ground glass in their food two recently tried to take the lives of eight other persons by giving them poison, was believed to have caused a reconciliation between her estranged mother and father.

~ Alienists Study Girl. ~

Meanwhile physicians and doctors are continuing their examination of the girl to determine whether they believe her weird confession or if it is simply a figment of her imagination. Among those making a study of the girl and her revolting narrative is Dr. Edwin Williams, well known alienist.  Police are of the opinion that the child is an accomplished fictionist and scoff at her story. However in opposition to these theories and beliefs is the fact that a strange substance, supposedly a mixed solution of acid water from a storage battery and ant paste, was found spread over the food for a meal in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Jess Platts, with whom the child and her young sister have been borders. It was the discovery of this solution in the food that led police investigation and subsequent taking of the little girl into custody.

~ Believes Her Story. ~

Dr. Williams stated, that in his opinion, Alsa’s story impresses him as being truthful and that she had probably the mind of a girl three or four years her senior.

He also said she was possessed with too much intellect and not enough judgment and that her psychic energy has been wrongly directed.

In explaining her acts to the officers and her questioners, the girl showed no sign of emotion and she said she “guessed she was just bad.”

The child’s father, Russell G. Thompson, scoffed at his daughter’s confession as being true.

The mother was reported nearly hysterical and unable to make a statement.

[“Girl’s Ghastly Tale Reunites Parents – Claim 7-year-old Lass to Be Murderer of Three Reconciles Father and Mother. - Police Scoff At Story - Authorities Believe Self-styled Poison Fiend’s Story Is a Figment of Imagination.” Logansport Pharos-Tribune (In.), Feb. 4, 1925, p. 1; note: “scout her story” correct to “scoff at her story.”]


FULL TEXT (Article 4 of 14): Los Angeles, Cal., Feb. 5 — An insanity complaint against Alsa Thompson, seven year old confessed poisoner of three persons, was dismissed today by Judge Walter S. Gates.

“I will not find this girl insane,” Judge Gates said. “But her amazing story should be further investigated and she will be placed under the observation of authorities who will determine whether to place her in an institution.”

Investigators failed to shake the girl’s tale of crime, convincing the officials she is afflicted with “murder complex” and should be placed under observation.

“It’s all true; I did it because I enjoyed watching them suffer,” she said.

[“Says Girl Who Insists She Killed Three Persons Should Be Under Observation.” The Star Journal (Sandusky, Ohio), Feb. 5, 1925, p. 6]


FULL TEXT (Article 5 of 14): Los Angeles – If Alsa Thompson, 7-year-old Lucretia Borgia, by her own confession, really poisoned and killed the persons she said she did, then auto-suggestion, in the opinion of the authorities, had much to do with it.

Alienists and juvenile authorities, long schooled in handling child delinquency, believe the little girl is telling the truth. Most relentless questioning has not been able to shake her story. In the scores of times she has been called upon to tell and retell the death tales she has not deviated in a single point.

“Alsa is a perfectly normal child mentality,” one of the examining alienists said today. “She is neither too bright, nor too dull for her years. She is entirely lacking in emotion.

Illustrating this lack of emotions her story of feeding ground glass to her baby sisters.

“I didn’t see them while they were sick, but I could hear them crying,” she said. “I wasn’t sorry then. When they died everybody cried and I cried too. I felt sorry after they were dead. But I went out and played and forgot about it.”

It is necessary to recount the child’s story in detail to show the part auto-suggestion may have played in her crimes – if she actually did commit them.

Two years ago, when only five years old, and living with her parents at Dauphin, Manitoba, Canada. Alsa’s mother warned her never to put broken glass in her mouth – that it would cause death. Within a month because her twin sisters, aged 2, cried in the night and “bothered her,” the diminutive girl, according to her confession, fed them ground glass in their breakfast food. Both died.

~ Parents Separated ~

Two years ago her parents moved from Canada to Los Angeles where they separated. Seven-year-old Alsa went to board with Mrs. Alice Steele. One day the little girl saw the latter placing ant paste about the cupboard. She was warned not to touch it – that it was poison and would kill her. Shortly thereafter, according to the child’s own confession, she placed ant poison in the food of Miss Nettie Steele, daughter of Mrs. Alice Steele, because the young woman had scolded her. Her third attempted poison victim also died.

Several weeks ago Alsa changed her boarding place to the home of Mrs. And Mrs. Platt. The latter had two children of their own and Alsa often quarelled with them. The Platts had a radio set. Mrs. Platt warned the little girl boarder that the battery operating the radio contained a poisonous solution. A month ago, according to the child’s confession, she surrepitiously removed some poisonous solution and fed it to the whole Platts family in their breakfast coffee. All became ill, but timely medical aid saved their lives.

A week ago Alsa quarreled with another little girl playmate. Again, according to her own confession, she resorted to poison in the radio battery box. The little girl victim almost died. As a result of her last poisoning attempt, the infantile counterpart of the famous Lucrezia Borgia, was suspected. Eventually she confessed.

It is a diminutive and mild-appearing child herself who explains the part that innocent auto-suggestion played in her alleged spreading of death and attempts to kill others.

“My mother told me that broken glass would kill – so that is how I knew it would cause the death of my little sisters. I didn’t know antpaste was poison until Mrs. Steele told me. I wouldn’t have given it to Nettie if I hadn’t known it was poison. Mrs. Platt told me that the water in the battery of the box was poison. When I got mad at her and the rest of the family I fed it to them.”

[L. C. Owen, “Auto-suggestion Plays Big Part, Alienists Think, in ‘Baby Borgia’ Murders – Warnings by Elders Against Various Poisons Incited Her to Use Them, According to Little Girl’s Confession.” Syracuse Herald (N. Y.), Feb. 5, 1925, p. 1]



FULL TEXT (Article 6 of 14): Los Angeles – In school she has attained the unusual distinction of being the smartest girl in the eighth grade, although she is yet 7.

At home she is feared because of fiendish plotting.

And in jail, this little girl, Asa Thompson, is looked upon as the youngest homicidal maniac ever observed by local scientists.

Precocious, co-operative, the child often helped her guardian. Mrs. Inez Platts, of Hollywood, to prepare meals. Creative, too, she loved to concoct, now and then, a dessert dish; this once she prepared with ant paste and sulphuric acid. It was poison enough, to kill the whole family. Luckily its taste was forewarning.

Foiled, the child flew into a rage of fury, found a razor and tried to slash the baby of the family, Maxine Platts, 5. [error; Maxine Thompson, aged 2]

So the police were called. “I guess I did it because I am so mean,” Alsa explained with childish frankness. But that was not all. There were the Thompson twins who died two years ago in Manitoba, Canada.

“I fed them ground glass,” Alsa confessed. And she told of having caused the death of a Mrs. Price [“Steele,” in other sources], and of having tried to poison eight other people.

What is to be done with the child is not yet determined. Alsa, a very keen child mentally, may be closely guarded for several years, in an attempt to destroy her homicidal tendencies.

The child’s parents are separated.

[“Child Admits Deaths,” The Sheboygen Press (Wi.), Feb. 10, 1925, p. 11]


FULL TEXT (Article 7 of 14): Los Angeles, Feb. 10. – Alsa Thompson, seven year old confessed poisoner, has taken it all back.

The girl, who has engaged the attention of alienists and juvenile authorities since she had admitted killing a woman and two sisters and a woman who was caring for her, recanted and laid the blame for her remarkable statements on a Hollywood woman who told her, she said, to admit the killings.

Los Angeles authorities are of the opinion that Alsa was in a condition of semi-hypnosis, due to repeated suggestions from her mentor, when she related the details of feeding ground glass to her two smaller sisters and stating she wanted to see them suffer.

The five other attempted poisonings to which Alsa confessed, also are attributed to the same circumstance. Juvenile officers and alienists are inclined to the belief that all that Alsa told is a figment of her imagination, stimulated by the woman who induced her, by repeated suggestion, to hold herself out as a child poisoner.

The woman, who name was not revealed*, is known to authorities, but whether she can be punished for her cruel hoax is doubtful, it was said.

[“Alsa Takes it Back,” syndicated (Universal Service), Rochester Journal and Post Express (N. Y.), Feb. 10, 1925 (afternoon edn.), p. 7]

* Note: The “woman” was apparently Inez Platts, who, on learning of the retraction, threatened legal action, which would explain why this news report would withhold her name.

Note: The first name of Mrs. Platts (or, Platt) is found in only a few sources, such as: [“Child Admits Deaths,” The Sheboygen Press (Wi.), Feb. 10, 1925, p. 11]; [“Girl Confesses Killing Two Sisters – Wholesale Poison Plot Admitted By Child In L. A. – Little Alsa Thompson Is Baffling Authorities in Southland – Used Ground Glass And Deadly Potions – Precocious Youngster Says Woman Also Victim of Her Mania,” syndicated (AP), Bakersfield Californian (Ca.), Feb. 3, 1925, p. 1]


FULL TEXT (Article 8 of 14): Los Angeles, Feb. 9 —Alsa Thompson, the seven-year-old school girl, who confessed she poisoned three persons, has retracted the entire story.

The child told alienists and doctors at the General hospital here tonight that she was forced to tell her original poison nariatives thiough fear of Mrs. Jess Platts, at whose home she was “boarded out” by her separated parents.

Alsa had a quarrel with Lorraine, Mrs. Platts’ daughter, and afterwards the woman told her she would hurt her if she did not admit the poison attempts, the girl said.

While the alienists who heard Alsa’s retraction do not know whether or not to believe her claim that Mrs. Platts forced her to assume a “baby Borgia” demeanor, they have no doubt that the whole poisoning story was a fabrication.

Mrs Platts was excited and indignant in denying Alsa’s new story. Mrs. Claire Thompson, the girl’s mother, is taking legal steps to have Alsa returned to her.

[“Alsa Thompson States She Was Intimidated - Says Keeper of Home Forced Her to Tell Poisoning Story,” syndicated (United News & Free Press Wire), Manitoba Free Press (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada), Feb. 10, 1925, p. 1]


PHOTO CAPTION (Article 9 of 14): Alsa Thompson, 7, now tells Los Angeles police and she was “just fibbing” when she confessed to killing her infant twin sisters, and an elderly woman, and to attempting to poison the family with which she lived. She is being detained for psychopathic tests.

[“Photo Study Of Baby Maniac – ‘Wonder Child’ Held for Psychopathic Tests After Denying Confession,” Appleton Post-Crescent (Wi.), Feb. 12, 1925, p. 1]


PHOTO CAPTION: (Article 10 of 14): A tale of death, monstrous and fiendish, tumbled from the lips of this little girl, Alsa Thompson, seven years of age, who confessed in Los Angeles to killing her twin baby sisters by feeding them ground glass. She also confessed to having put ant paste in the food of Miss Nettie Steele, who died two weeks later, and also of planning to poison the Platt family. [Standalone]

[“Calls Herself Slayer,” syndicated, Rock Valley Bee (Io.), Feb. 20, 1925, p. 9]


FULL TEXT (Article 11 of 14): Miss Alsa Thompson. 7-year-old Los Angeles girl who has startled the world by confessing to the murder of three people, two of them her sisters.

A tale of death, monstrous and fiendish, tumbled from the lips or a little girl, Alsa Thompson. 7 years of age, who confessed to poisoning her twin baby sisters by feeding them ground glass in their breakfast food. She also confessed to having put ant paste in the food of Miss Nettie Steele who died two weeks later, and also planning to poison the Platt family. Her only motive, she claims, was a desire to see her victims suffer.

[“Unbelievable,” syndicated, LeMars Globe-Post (Io.), Feb. 23, 1925, p. 8]


FULL TEXT (Article 12 of 14): It was an amazing tale of wickedness that little seven-year-old Alsa Thompson poured into the ears of Los Angeles county officials a few days ago – a tale without parallel in the history of crime.

Unfalteringly, with no trace of remorse or sorrow, smiling now and then, her clear, gray eyes sparkling, this little-more-than-a-baby told how she had fed ground glass to her younger twin sisters so that she might watch them die. She told how she might watch them die. She told how she had poisoned to death Miss Nettie Steele, a woman with whom she had lived after the separation of her mother from her father, by putting ant paste into the grapenuts she was preparing to eat.

“Yes, I killed the twins. And I poisoned Miss Steele,” she said. “Cause I wanted to see ‘em suffer! See ‘em die!”

Incredulously Judge Walter S. Gates, Dr. Edelson Steele and Dr. Morton G. Carter, assistant general superintendent of the General Hospital at Los Angeles, listened as the child rippled on with her simple, straightforward recital. She was led over and over again the ground covered by her story and was cross-questioned minutely – but not once did she deviate in her description of her acts.

And even when she had finished the authorities were still incredulous.

“It can’t be true they said. “Surely, it can’t be true!”

Yet, back at Dauphin, Province of Manitoba, Canada, the bodies of Alsa’s twin sisters lie buried. They suffered greatly before they died, and the local practitioner thought that, maybe, they had typhoid fever, or maybe it was endrogastritis, an intestinal disorder – just the kind of diagnosis an average doctor would make.

They found on the records of Los Angeles General Hospital the name of Miss Steele dead from what was thought to be cancer of the stomach!

And out at No. 1540 ½ McCadden street, Hollywood, the family whom little Alsa confessed to having tried to kill were recovering from some strange illness.

So, little, clear-eyed, innocent-faced Alsa has been taken away by the authorities and placed in the care of the County Lunacy Commission.

Alsa’s discovery came about quite by chance. Her mother had placed her to board with Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Platts at the McCadden street house. One day recently little Lorraine Platts came rushing into the house crying with terror.

“Mama,” she sobbed, “Alsa’s got a razor. She tried to cut my wrists with it, and when I got away she tried to cut Maxine Thompson’s wrists too.”

The astonished Mrs. Platts went to the door and called for Alsa.

“Did you really try to cut Lorraine’s wrists?” she asked.

“Why, yes,” said the child, “of course.”

“But why?” exclaimed Mrs. Platts.

“Well, because the poison I have been putting in the coffee and on the chops doesn’t do anything but make you sick,” was the astounding reply.

Then little Alsa went right on and told Mrs. Platts just what she had been doing. And Mrs. Platts, remembering a burned rag taste of the coffee and an unpalatableness of the chops, and the fact that everyone in the boarding house had been complaining of stomach trouble, sent for the police. And the police, shaking their heads, called in Judge Gates and Doctors Steele and Carter.

It was two years ago, Alsa told them, that she poisoned her twin sisters. Alsa then was only five years old.

“I took a glass jar out of the kitchen and broke it on the walk in front of the house,” she said. “I gathered up the little chips of glass, put them in my apron and brought them back into the kitchen. I put these pieces into the cornflakes, which were in two bowls on the table. When mother came in and ask me if I wanted breakfast, I told her I wasn’t hungry. I knew the glass would kill them because mother told me one day when I was playing with some day when I was playing with some glass it would kill me if I swallowed it.”

“When my sisters were eating breakfast I went out and played. Then I brushed up the rest of the glass on the sidewalk and threw it an alley. My sisters got sick two days after. The doctors thought they had typhoid fever. I heard them crying and it made me feel good all over. But I am sorry now that they died. One of them was so pretty!”

She related minutely how, after her father and mother had separated and she had been brought to Los Angeles and placed with Miss Steele to board, she poisoned her.

“I didn’t like Miss Steele,” she said. “She gave me a licking once. I put ant paste in the grapenuts she was about to eat. The dish was on the table and she was in another room washing one of the children. She had told me that the ant paste was poison and that I would die if I put any of it in my mouth. That is how I knew it would kill her.”

“And when she was sick and in terrible pain, how did you feel?” Judge Gates asked.

“Just like I did when my little sisters were sick,” Alsa replied.

Then she sold of the events preceding the poison attempts in the Platts home where she had more recently lived.

“I got up at night after everyone else was in bed,” she said, “and got acid out of the radio battery. I used a spoon and put it into a can. The next morning when I was alone in the kitchen, I put some of it in the coffee. I didn’t drink any of the coffee because I had put that stuff in it and I thought they’d all die.”

“Mrs. Platts was good to me, but I wanted to see her suffer.”

“They got kind of sick that day – everybody who drank the coffee, but they didn’t die.” Alsa’s voice was eloquent of her disappointment.

So that night after she had gone to bed, she couldn’t sleep. She lay awake picturing over and over the pleasure of seeing the Platts die. And, at last, when she was sure everyone was asleep, Alsa tip-toed downstairs in her little nightgown, quietly lighted a candle, got her bottle of acid and, standing over the stove, poured the stuff on some chops which Mrs. Platts had left in the frying-pan all ready to be warmed up for breakfast. What a picture! That little, clear-eyed, innocent-faced child standing there with the flickering light of the candle playing upon her, and the fingers of death bending her wrist.

She tells it thus:

“So, the next night I got up and got the can with the acid and put some of it on the lamb chops that were in the frying pan on the stove for next morning’s breakfast. Mrs. Platts was in bed when I did this and no one saw me.”

“The next morning, too, I put some more acid in the coffee and some in the mush. I wanted to kill Lou Platts. She is 12 years old and Mrs. Platts’ daughter. I didn’t like her. She had prettier clothes than I did. I wanted to see her suffer.”

“I didn’t eat any of the mush or any of the breakfast at all. They kept asking me why, but I wouldn’t tell.”

The child’s mother, aghast at the tale, refused to believe its truthfulness. She said, however, relative to the twins and Alsa and their former life in Canada:

“They played in a sand-pile back of the home. Several times the twins came into the house with sand about their mouths and I scolded them for it. Now Alsa says she made them eat the sand after she put glass in it. The sickness was a puzzle. The physician in attendance called a consultation but they could make nothing of it. The poor little things were in agony for several weeks. Parts of their stomachs seemed to be coming away on the inside.

“I know that Alsa used to pinch and hurt Maxine. I caught her doing it several times. But that was all. She never tried to poison any of us. I think that this poison mania – if she has one – came to Alsa when the twins arrived. I didn’t have much time to make a fuss over her and she was jealous. She told me so.”

“Then there came the trouble between my husband and myself. We couldn’t get along together and I left him and came to California. I would have liked to have kept the children with me, but I couldn’t do that and work too. So I was compelled to board them out.”

The first poisoning exploit in the Platts family came two weeks after Alsa arrived, according to Mrs. Platts. The victim, this time, was the little two-year-old sister, Maxine Thompson.

“The child was suddenly seized with violent stomach pains,” said Mrs. Platts. “I noticed she was burned about the mouth and thinking she might have got hold of some sort of poison. I gave her the usual antidotes. She was delirious for two days and almost died. I called Dr. L. J. Duff and he treated her but was unable to diagnose her illness. The doctor was particularly puzzled by the way the sickness held on. Later, when Alsa confessed, it all was explained. She admitted she had been placing battery fluid in the cough medicine which the physician had ordered for Maxine.

“About two weeks after this we were all taken ill. Every family has its private ailments and I thought it was just a coincidence that we were all sick at once. Alsa confessed, though, that she poisoned the coffee that day and expected all of us to die.”

“Between that time and now we were quite ill a number of times, but I didn’t become suspicious until about two weeks ago, when she asked me what would happen if she put some ant powder in the canary’s cage. I asked her why.”

“‘I wonder if they would die?’ She said.”

“I told her they probably would. Next day she came to me and said”:

“O, Mrs. Platts, the canaries are sick! What do you suppose is the matter?”

“I found they were drooping and I noticed ant powder around the bottom of the cage. Later, Alsa confessed she had placed the powder there and had expected the birds to die.”

William Kearns, a fireman, friend of the Platts family, told how while he was installing a radio set in the Platts home little Alsa was intensely interested.

“She wanted to know what the fluid was I put into the cell,” he said. “I warned her, thinking it would throw a scare into her and keep her from meddling, that it was sulphuric acid and so poisonous it would kill little girls.”

Dr. Edwin Huntington Williams, alienist and psychologist who examined her, declared that while she is only a child of seven she has the mentality of ten.

“Every child has criminal tendencies,” he continued. “In fact, cruelty is a well-known trait of childhood, but most children are born with a sufficient amount of repression that, under normal conditions and normal environment, they successfully pass through critical part of their lives. That is, they can control themselves against extremes. Like most persons who are highly emotional, Alsa appears apparently calm. There is no doubt that she has quarreled with her victims and that the killings, if true, were carefully planned. The child’s mind goes back to the primitive and she has failed to control the primitive instincts of revenge and cruelty. In other words, the protective wall in her case had a break.”

A few days after being placed under observation in the County Lunacy Commission Alsa apparently repented her frankness and told Dr. E. E. Lauer and Richard S. Kaplan, legal alienists, that she did not poison her sisters and denied that she had poisoned Miss Steele.

“A woman in Hollywood kept telling me I did it,” she said. “She said it so often that, finally, to satisfy her, I said I did. I wanted her to quit bothering me.”

Mrs. Jeane McCracken, parole officer of the Lunacy Commission in whose district charge Alsa now is, does not believe the child killed anyone – despite the supporting evidence. But even if she did, she believes that an environment in which the child will receive the greatest care and love will wipe out the tendencies and make her at last a normal child.

But will it? What security has society at large or those who give little Alsa this love and care that the monstrous cruelty to which she has confessed will not sooner or later break out again and with greater force for being for so long suppressed?

[“Wicked Beyond Her Years – How 7-Year-Old Alsa Revealed Her Killing of Her Twin Sisters and Her attempted Murder of her Playmates ‘Clause I Like to See Things Die,’” The American Weekly (Magazine section of San Antonio Light) (Tx.), Mar. 8, 1925, mag. sec. 3]


Note: It is not confirmed that is is the same Alsa Thompson, yet the father’s name is consistent as well as residence in Santa Ana.

FULL TEXT (Article 14 of 14): Miss Alsa Thompson, daughter of Mrs. And Mrs. Russell G. Thompson, 1115 West Eighth street, whose marriage to Harry Reid is anticipated as an event of the holidays, was honor guest at a Tea Tuesday afternoon. Miss Mildred Pearson and her mother, Mrs. Leslie Pearson were co-hostesses, entertaining in their home, 1029 West Second street.

Bachelor buttons and breath of heaven were combined in bouquets which carried the blue and white theme of all decorations. Miniature bride and bridegroom figures entered the table where Miss Pearson poured tea to be served with salad, decorated cakes and other dainties.

Miss Thompson was showered with miscellaneous gifts. Miss Charlotte McClausand won a prize in a contest during which guests were required to make as many words as possible from the names of the affianced couple.

Guests of Mrs. Pearson and Miss Pearson in addition to Miss Thompson were Mesdames E. H. Layton, W. H. Thompson, Charles Hill, H. F. McClausand, Joseph Gulledge and the Misses Valerie Demetriou, Charlotte Mock, Betty Lee, Juliane Wolven, Dorothy Van Dusen, Lucille Stoker, Vivian White, Virginia Motley, Charlotte McClausand, Kay Blake, Winifred Brown.

[“Bride-elect Receives Miscellaneous Gifts From Tea Gifts,” Santa Ana Register (Ca.), Nov. 29, 1935, p. 15]


(Article 14 of 14)

The only reference to the case in a book discovered so far is one which appeared in 1967:

“My contemporaries will recall the case of Alsa Thompson, labelled by the newspapers the Baby Borgia, who poisoned half a dozen people among her friends and relations. She may not have known what the effect of the poison would be …”

[Moses D. Forkosch et al, Essays in Legal History in Honor of Felix Frankfurter, 1966, Bobbs-Merrill, Indianapolis, p. ?]











FULL TEXT: Los Angeles, Feb. 3 – Seven-year-old Alsa Thompson, who is alleged to have confessed to police last night that she killed her twin sisters in Canada two years ago, tonight shad authorities puzzled over her case despite the belief expressed by her father today that Alsa’s story was merely the product of a vivid imagination.

Russell Thompson, the girl’s father, labelled her statement that she had put ground glass into her sister’s food as utterly absurd. “The twins,” he said, “died when they were about two years old. We had two doctors and a nurse in constant attendance, and they said death was due to intestinal trouble Alsa could not have had anything, to do with that.”

That the twins’ death could not have been due to ground glass was disputed, however, by County Autopsy Surgeon A. F. Wagner. Dr. Wagner ventured no opinion as to the credibility of the girl’s story, but declared that if she had put ground glass in the infants’ food an intestinal disorder might have resulted, which could very easily have been mistaken for one of a variety of intestinal diseases.

Teachers who have had Alsa under their instruction, are inclined to doubt her “confession” on the ground that she is not only bright, but obedient and industrious in school. They said they were puzzled, however, when Alsa s,tuck to her story, and added:

“I just like to see them die, that’s all”

William Kearns, fireman, one of the persons who brought Alsa to the attention of the police told investigators two weeks ago he was a dinner guest at the home where Alsa is boarding and that he was taken sick after eating preserved peaches “that tasted terrible.”

“Afterwards we learned, he said, “that Alsa had put sulphuric acid in the peaches.”

[“Child Admits Killing Twins – Seven Year Old Girl Said to Have Confessed to Poisoning Sisters,” The Oregon Statesman (Portland, Or.), Feb. 4, 1925, p. 1]


More cases: Serial Killer Girls


More cases: Youthful Borgias: Girls Who Commit Murder



  1. The Lorraine Platts in the above articles was my 1st cousin and the daughter of my Great Aunt Inez Davey Platts also listed in the story. The family disappears after the 1930 census until Inez dies in LA, but nothing is ever heard again about the children. If anyone knows what became of the family after the above incident I would love to hear from you.

    1. Sparky, Inez is listed in the 1940 census living in the same house as she was in the 1930 census. You can view those census on I have no connection to your family but I was curious about this story after I read it and looked up the Thompson family history (I haven't looked up the mother Claire, yet). What I did find (as an amateur that dabbles in genealogy from time to time) was very "interesting" about Inez. In 1940 Theodore the youngest child would have been about 14 or so. He is not listed as living with her on the census. I didn't find him elsewhere, either. This might be a misspelling of his last name if he were living elsewhere and it hasn't been caught yet and corrected in the census records. Lorraine isn't there in 1940 either but she would have been well past the age most young women married in that era so that doesn't surprise me. However, there is not a marriage record for her in CA. In fact, there is no record that I have been able to find of her after 1930. Another thing that caught my eye was that Inez stated she was a widow in the 1930 census. However, a Jesse W. Platts born in Oregon with a brother by the name of Benjamin Platts (Benjamin is also living in CA in the 1930 census, if I recall correctly) died in 1945 and was buried in Oregon. Since I'm not connected to this family it is difficult to be absolutely sure these are the same two men. If they are then Inez either reported to be widowed and was actually divorced or someone gave the census information for her and was mistaken, or the census taker made an error. As for this story I don't think that Alsa Thompson did the things she was accused of ---the history of her life does not support it. However, I wanted to share what I had found about your family members with you. I'm not sure you will see this post but it was worth a shot.

  2. This one is especially interesting. Alsa's recounting of the poisonings rings very true when compared to the confessions of other child pychopaths, such as Mary Bell and Ella Holdridge (who killed because she loved going to funerals - ), who both gloated over the suffering of their victims and their families. Like other child psychopaths, Alsa is:
    - specific as to the details of the killingd
    - exhibited a fascination with poison
    - motives were sadistic, being "just mean" and
    wanting to "see them suffer", or as punishment.
    for very minor wrongs
    -she was hugely excited when victims were ill (if
    the newspaper article is true) and viciously
    disappointed if they did not die
    -temporary sadness and shallow remorse over
    the deaths (regretting killing her sisters because
    " one was so pretty", but going out to play and
    quickly getting putting the whole thing behind
    - poisoning the canary (the bedwetting &
    firesetting components of the MacDonald
    triad are not reliable indicatiors for future
    psychopathy, but cruelty to animals definitely
    is - there is an interesting interview
    with the child psychologist who
    worked on several high-profile cases
    featuring sadistic children. I'll post it
    if I can find it)

    If it was a all a lie, it was an eerily convincing one. By contrast, her retraction and explanation that the woman from Hollywood made her confess, seems vague and implausible.

    Sorry about the formatting - typing on my phone.

    1. Here is the article with the interview with Dr. Vizard - she talks about the differences between criminal kids who are not likely to become psychopaths and those with Emerging Severe Personality Disorder (ESPD). The two major inndicators are cruelty to animals ( "gratuitous cruelty for which there can be no justification"), and inappropriate sexual behaviour.

    2. Yes, I agree. The retraction seems implausible to me. This case fascinates me. So much so that I wrote a "based on a true story" fictional story about it.

  3. How is it possible to give anyone ground glass without them detecting it? Even two year olds. I'm very skeptical about this story.

  4. How is it possible to give anyone ground glass without them detecting it? Even two year olds. I'm very skeptical about this story.

  5. Yes. It is reasonable to be skeptical. I agree. Tiny slivers of glass (such as the one I pulled out of my foot yesterday) are going to be detected by thorough chewing. But these tiny things are easy to swallow. An example. I was lazy and did not rinse my spinach properly a few days ago. There tiny sand particles I detected when chewing. Annoying, yet I swallowed. I have taken such risks before (I am a rush chewer, "ADD-type chewer" so to speak).

    Another aspect to consider: There would be a much different sensation between having sand or tiny glass shards in oatmeal than in Grape Nuts for instance. Regardless of the fate of the children it does seem plausible that she did indeed attempt to murder (and to attack with a razor blade) several persons in the foster home, and that she did kill pets with poison.

    Because Alsa was so young I had no comparison in attempting to grasp the notion of such a young child having the clear intention to murder. That is why I did the research that is found in the "Youthful Borgias" post. Such cases of very young children who consciously murder do indeed exist, it turns out.