Journal Posts

Tag: a_jury_of_her_peers

Case notes on the “John Wright Murder Case”
The case of “Greasy Lake” damaged my pride as a detective in a way. Even though I managed to update the case with new information, I was still unable to actually solve the case. I decided that I needed to redeem myself. I went and searched through all the cold case files that we have, in order to find a case worth looking at. While going over the files, an interesting case caught my eye. This case was the “John Wright Murder Case.”

John Wright was a farmer who was living in Warren County, Iowa. The file reads out “Farmer John Wright was strangled with a rope in his own bed around midnight on December 1, 1916. The prime suspect in the murder was his wife, Minnie Wright (once known as Minnie Foster). John and Minnie Wright were supposedly in bed together when the incident occurred. The primary Witnesses, Lewis and Henry Hale, were the ones to discover the body of Mr Wright. Minnie Wright was taken into custody; however, not enough evidence could prove her involvement with this murder.”

Judging by the way this file reads, I believe that Minnie Wright was guilty. However, I still need to consider all possibilities in the end. I also believe that someone must have helped her get away with the crime. The questions are:

Did Minnie strangle her husband? If she did commit the crime, then why did she do it? Did someone hide evidence to protect her?

In order to prove my allegations and solve this case, I needed to search for more information. I started by gathering different files that were involved with the case. After I searched through all the files I learned a little bit more about the aftermath of the incident.

Henry Peters was the sheriff who was searching the Wright house for evidence. The attorney who was present was George Henderson. I also learned that there were two women at the crime scene as well. One was the sheriff’s wife, Mrs Peters, and the other was Mr. Hale’s wife, Martha Hale. Apparently Mrs. Peters was at the Wright house in order to gather some things for Mrs. Wright. Also, Mrs. Peters was the one to ask Mrs. Hale to be present.

According to Mr. Henderson and Mr. Peters, the women did nothing but worry over trifles. I understood that during this time period women were looked at differently. They were seen as inferior to men and they had still not received the right to vote, which was given in 1920 by the 19th amendment. Knowing this fact allows for the possibility that the women may have helped Minnie out of empathy for her. This also could prove as a motive for the murder of John Wright. If Minnie felt like her life was being controlled and there was nothing she could do about it, then she could have wanted freedom from the oppression.

I continued my research on the case by looking at the notes that were written by Mr. Henderson.
Here is what he had written down:

“Mr. Lewis Hale began to mention that John and Minnie were not getting along too great, but I interrupted him in order to get the investigation moving on. According to Mr. Hale, Minnie Wright was sitting in a rocking chair and pleating an apron, when he came in. When Mr. Hale asked if he could see John, Minnie let out what he thought was a laugh. When he asked again, she told him, ‘no.’ Then he asked why not, and that is when Mrs. Wright stated that her husband was dead. After he asked where he was, all she did was point upstairs. Mr. Hale asked what the cause was, and he was told that it was a rope around his neck. Mr. Hale then went to get his son Harry, thinking that he might need his help. According to Mr. Hale, Mrs. Wright had not notified anyone and did not seem to be concerned. Then Mr Hale asked Mrs. Wright a few questions. According to Mrs. Wright, she was asleep the entire time and did now wake up while her husband was being strangled. When Harry went to go notify the coroner, Mrs. Wright moved to another chair and had her hands together while looking downward. Then Dr Lloyd and Mr. Peters eventually came in after that.”

The notes after these only stated that there was nothing that could be found to help solve the case. These notes stated that they could not find any possible way an intruder would have been able to “intrude.” They mentioned that there would have been no way for John Wright to do it himself. The rope would had to have been used by another. They also stated that if Minnie was really asleep next to her husband, then she couldn’t have possibly stayed asleep during the whole incident.

This helped me learn the suspect’s possible state of mind and who all was present. I still needed more information, however, so I looked at the doctor’s notes. According to doctor Lloyd the cause of death was suffocation, and there was a ring around his neck where tight force was applied with a rope. Such force and the angle of pull could not have been done by the victim himself. Therefore, this murder could not have been a suicide.

All this information was helpful; however, I still needed to find if someone may have helped the culprit by hiding or disposing of evidence. I was beginning to think that I was at a loss. Then I received a call from a friend of mine. Her name is Willow Adler, a museum curator for The Museum of Dreadful Acts and Vengeful Deeds. The reason for her call was to ask me if I knew anything about a certain incident. Apparently Miss Adler was researching the “John Wright Murder” as well. I explained to her the case that I was investigating. She came across this incident in a journal she was reading. An anonymous person donated another journal involving the same incident that solved all of her questions. I took interest in the journal Miss Adler mentioned and asked her about it. She told me that she had finished reading the journal and that I can borrow it as long as I return it. I decided to take Miss Adler up on her offer and met with her to collect the journal.

The journal belonged to Mrs. Peters and included mostly irrelevant things; however, it did have useful information. In the journal Mrs Peters wrote about the day her and Mrs. Hale shared. She mentioned that she had to pick up a few things for Mrs. Wright’s jail stay. According to Mrs. Peters’s journal, Mrs. Hale was talking of how much Mrs. Wright had changed when she went from Minnie Foster to Minnie Wright. She also talked of a birdcage that had a damaged gate that they found in Minnie’s cabinets. According to Mrs. Peters, Mrs. Hale mentioned something interesting. She said “He was a hard man, Mrs. Peters. Just to pass the day with him...like a raw wind that gets to the bone.” I believe this shows some discontent Mrs. Hale might have towards Mr. Wright. After having said conversation the women began to collect Mrs. Wright’s supplies for her quilt. While searching for scissors, the women found a beautiful box. When they opened it they found the dead canary that used to be in the birdcage. According to the journal, the bird had a snapped neck. This was very peculiar indeed. The fact that the bird had a snapped neck and Mr. Wright had a rope around his neck could not be a coincidence. I am a detective; therefore, I do not believe in coincidences.

The last line in the journal was the most interesting. It read, “Martha told me that Minnie must’ve felt just like that bird, and couldn’t take it anymore. So that’s why she must’ve killed him.” When I connected this line to the story Mrs. Hale told Mrs. Peters, I discovered a clear connection. This gave me the motive Minnie would have in killing Mr. Wright.

Minnie Foster was a woman who loved to sing and was more happy-like. Mrs. Hale stated that Minnie changed when she became Minnie Wright. She stopped singing with the town choir and stayed cooped up in the house. Mrs. Hale recalled when a man was selling canaries cheap. Mrs. Hale believed that Mr. Wright had killed the bird, because that was the kind of man he was. He most likely got annoyed with its singing and stopped it the best way he knew how. The women felt as if Minnie was just like the bird.

If John did kill the bird and Minnie really did change for the worse after her marriage, then that is a good motive for murder. Also, since the women carried the bird home and buried it, they really did remove the one piece of evidence that would prove Minnie Wright guilty. Apparently, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters did this out of sympathy.

The only thing I was missing from this point was a way of including the bird, a way to get my hands on the rope that was used, and a way to prove the journal was indeed Mrs. Peters’s journal. This was not possible, due to the fact that this case occurred 98 years ago and the rope was never kept.

After checking with my department, they believed that there would be no way to find anything else and that what I had was enough to close the case for good. The murderer was in fact Minnie Wright and the motif was “a need for freedom.” I returned the journal to Miss Adler so that she could put her exhibit together, then I thanked her again for her help with my investigation and discussed my final report with her.
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