FULL TEXT: San Francisco, Jan. 16. – The jazz age was too
much for sixteen-year-old Dorothy Ellingson. Sobbing in her cell today, the
girl gave further details of a remarkable confession, telling how she shot and
killed her mother.
“She scolded me.” Over and over the youngest murderess in
San Francisco history repeated her only excuse, rocking to and fro in her
Tuesday morning she had taken her brother’s revolver, killed
her mother as the latter lay in bed, packed a bag with some gay dresses and
gone off to dance and play with “boy friends.”
Having murdered the kindly grey-haired mother who
remonstrated with her for living at too fast a pace, Dorothy Ellingson sought
refuge in a mad whirl of jazz.
Erotic verse scrawled in the cold hall bedroom where she spent Tuesday night while the police began their search for her mother’s
slayer, should the girl had become, from a simple Minnesota county girl, a
product of environment that included public dance halls and “speak easies” in
place of a home.
Ellingson, the father, was a Swedish tailor. “I never want
to see Dorothy again,” he moans.
A brother, Earl, is equally bitter, “I hope she hangs,” he
[“‘She Scolded Me,’ Girl Sobs In Cell, Confessing Crime –
Jazz Age Proved Too Much for Dorothy Ellingson, 16 – Shot Mother as She Lay in
Bed.” The News-Herald (Franklin and Oil City, Pa.), Jan. 16, 1925, p. 1]
Jan. 12, 1925 – DE murders her mother.
Jan. 14, 1925 – DE arrested.
Jan. 21, 1925 – DE pleads not guilty.
Mar. 29, 1925 – DE ordered to stand trial in her mother's
Apr. 6?, 1925 – DE declared insane (her
Aug. 22, 1925 – DE is found guilty of manslaughter.
Aug. 27, 1925 – She is sentenced to 1-10 years in San
1932 – DE leaves prison after serving six years.
1936 – DE weds Robert Stafford Sr.; div.(?)/separ.(?) in 1956.
2 children from marriage.
Jan. 10, 1955 – DE arrested for larceny.
1967 – DE dies (rather than1962), according to a descendant.
FULL TEXT (from 1955): A murderess and her 16-year-old son
stare at each other from opposite sides of Marin County Jail today—the mother
awaiting sentencing for a clothing and jewelry theft, the boy jailed on a burglary
The bitter past of Mrs. Robert Stafford caught up with her
yesterday in a fashion reminiscent of a Hollywood melodrama.
A routine Sacramento finger: print check revealed that the
46-year-old woman, arrested last month for stealing belongings worth $2,000
from her former Mill Valley employers, is also Dorothy Ellingson, convicted in
1925 of killing her mother with a pistol.
The sensational murder trial of that year made headlines for
Dorothy Ellingson, the "jazz girl” who killed because she could not attend
It was this story that young Robert Stafford Jr. heard for
the first time yesterday from his mother’s lips.
"He took it like a man,” she told reporters later.
Like many released convicts, Dorothy Ellingson ran into more
troubles after her six and one-half years in San Quentin Prison.
One year after her release she was arrested for stealing
clothing from a roommate but charges were dropped after she tried to kill
herself by inhaling gas.
She changed jobs and her name several times after that
“because they were always recognizing me.”
From 1936 to 1952 she lived as the wife of Robert Stafford
Sr., a construction worker whom she bore two children, the boy now in jail and
a girl who now is married and has a child.
After leaving Stafford she retained the name of Diane
Stafford and worked as a stenographer and domestic servant. She was performing
domestic work for Mrs. Kathryn Symonds of 7 Plymouth avenue. Mill Valley, when
she took jewelry and clothing from the home. She has pleaded guilty to grand
On Monday she appears before Judge Thomas Keating for
She was arrested Jan. 10 by Mill Valley police on charges
she took clothes and jewelry including three diamond rings worth $500. $400 and
$200 from the home of Symonds last November. She had quit the job there on Jan.
1 and was working in a San Anselmo home when arrested.
Her son is a ward of the Marin Juvenile Court. He has been in trouble –
first on charges of car stealing and now on suspicion of burglary.
[Jerry Adams, “Both In Jail Cells – Son Told Secret of
Slayer Mom,” Daily Independent Journal (San Rafael, Ca.), Feb. 9, 1955, p. 1]
More cases: Youthful Borgias: Girls Who Commit Murder