Friday, June 15, 2012

The Mysterious Dr. F.W. Winters

In 1896, Dr. Frumenti W. Winters, who leaved on South California Avenue, near Madison, was brought into police custody. A new employee of his, one Emma Bartels, had died under mysterious circumstances shortly after coming into the house.

According to the doctor's story, she complained of being unable to sleep and asked for chloral. Thinking she was accustomed to taking forty grains, he gave her sixty, which killed her.


He swore it was an accident, but police began to say otherwise - neighbors and employment agencies said he went through young, female servants quickly.  One, Tilly Taddy, said that Winters had promised to buy her dresses and take her to Europe, if she just swore never to betray the house, but to stand by them in times of need. She was then given a drink of "grape wine" which put her to sleep. Another girl told a similar story, but added that she'd refused to drink the wine, no matter what he promised her.

As names of supposed victims piled up, police announced that they may have found another H.H. Holmes, and that his house on California Ave may have been another "murder castle" (setting a custom that would last for years every time another murderer was found).   They even began to say that Winters had hypnotic powers, and that one of his still-living servants was under his hypnotic influence.

"I certainly believe that (servant) Agnes McMahon is control in speech and action by Dr. Winters," said Lt. Beard of the police. "...when they came have to face he fixed his gaze upon her face and raised his right arm slowly passes his hand before her eyes several times, saying, 'Now, Agnes, I want you to go right straight home and say nothing to anyone...'  The effted on the girl was magical; she wilted like a leaf thrown into the hot blast of a furnace...She will say nothing. I would not say Dr. Winters exercises hypnotic power, but I have never handled a case just like this before."

Winters denied it. "Do I look like a hypnotist?" he asked. "I do not believe in such superstitions. I might be accused of possessing a certain personal magnetism...but I am not a hypnotist."

The biggest mystery to me is whatever became of him. He was put in jail and then eventually brought to trial in late 1897, but I haven't yet found what the result of the trial was. Papers across the country spoke of Winters when the case first came to light, but interest dropped off altogether, and now I've yet to find a thing. He seems never to have been mentioned in the papers again after the Dec, 1897 article about the trial coming up in Judge Baker's court room.

Update: buried in a section of the Trib a week after the trial came up was a notice saying that he had been found innocent of the charge of assaulting one Violet Marsh. However, the murder trial was held over until the next term, and results are not yet known. However, he's still listed as a practicing physician in an 1899 guide. To me, he seems like like a serial killer than a sex offender.


2 comments:

kathleenkatmclaughlin said...

Are there any public records one can still access? I know public officials purge files to make room for more recent documents, but it might be a lead. Also libraries have collections like memoirs, journals, and other documents one might access. Good luck! ~Cheetah Kat~

kathleenkatmclaughlin said...

Are there any public records one can still access? I know public officials purge files to make room for more recent documents, but it might be a lead. Also libraries have collections like memoirs, journals, and other documents one might access. Good luck! ~Cheetah Kat~

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