Friday, January 20, 2017

January 20, 1944 -- Bizarre Murder at the Drake

January 20, 1944 – Mrs. Adele Born Williams dies in St. Luke’s Hospital after being shot a night earlier in her room at the Drake Hotel.  Williams is the 58-year-old wife of Frank Starr Williams, an attaché of the United States State Department, posted in Washington, D. C.  She entered her eighth-floor apartment at the hotel with her daughter, Mrs. Patricia Goodbody, almost immediately encountering a woman who was “gray haired, about 50 years old, and wore a black Persian lamb coat, and flowers or red trimming in her hair or hat.”  [Chicago Daily Triune, January 21, 1944] Investigators picture the murderess as “a little cunning, a little savage, and probably a little mute … she uttered no word, no cry as she opened fire on her defenseless victim.”  There were four shots, fired at such close range that the flame from the weapon seared the victim’s face and left hand.  Two witnesses hear the gunfire and see the fleeing woman who fired them.  “I opened the door as I heard the shots,” Chester P. Brewster, general manager of the K-D Tool Manufacturing Company of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, says.  “As I did so, a woman brushed by me, then a few seconds later there was a scream and a woman, whom I now know as Mrs. Goodbody, came out of apartment 836 screaming, ‘Do something, do something!  My mother’s been shot!’”  An intensive investigation would drag on for months, with twist after bizarre twist intriguing Chicagoans. No one is ever prosecuted for the crime, and the case remains unsolved.

Also on this date from an earlier blog entry . . .

January 20, 1909 -- Over 50 laborers perish in the intermediate crib of the George W. Jackson tunnel building company, 1.5 miles from the Chicago shore at Seventy-First Street as it is engulfed in fire. There were only a few windows in the structure, which served as a base in the tunnel building effort to supply the south side of the city with fresh water. Men fought one another to jump into the freezing lake waters in order to escape the flames. Survivors said some men even jumped down the 180-foot shaft connecting the crib with the tunnel under construction. Some made for shore; one man with one eye dangling from its socket was rescued clinging to an aerial tramway connecting the crib to shore. The tug T. T. Mumford, tied up at Sixty-Eighth Street, made for the scene as quickly as it could in the ice-coverted lake, arriving to find naked men, awoken from their sleep, clinging to ice floes and shouting for help from the water. The tug managed to pick up over 40 survivors, dropping the less grievously injured off at the Sixty-Eighth Street crib before continuing to shore with the most severe cases. In the meantime fireboats had arrived to find the crib totally ablaze. As the day wore on it was clear the death toll would be high. Not a single body that was recovered was identifiable. 45 victims were buried in Mount Greenwood Cemetery.

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