She Loved And Killed Her
Steele Scrapbook - January 26, 1886
SHE LOVED AND
Why Alice Mitchell Murdered Her Friend, Freda Ward, in Memphis.
Special Despatch to "The Press."
MEMPHIS, Tenn., Jan. 26.-Excitement has by no means subsided here over the remarkable murder of Freda Ward, a nineteen-year-old girl, of Gold Dust, by her former close friend, Alice Mitchell, also aged nineteen, of this city. The caolness [sic] with which the deed was done and the indifference with which Miss Mitchell spoke of it afterwards are notable features of the case, since the impulses leading to the murder seem to have been purely emotional.
The murderess was placed under arrest and removed to the county jail. At the Coroner's inquest premeditated murder was charged against her. Miss Mitchell at first refused to say anything, but finally made this statement:
"I was in love with Freda. I could not live without her. Long ago we made a compact that if we were ever separated we should kill each other. When I found that Josie had forbidden Freda to have anything more to do with me I saw nothing else to do but to kill her. I took father's razor, but told no one what I was going to do."
Miss Johnston, in an interview, said that when she and Miss Mitchell saw the Misses Ward coming up the street Miss Mitchell became greatly excited and said she must speak to Freda. She then got out of the buggy, and the murder ensued immediately.
"As she got back into the buggy," said Miss Johnston. "I asked her what was the matter. She replied: 'I have cut Freda's throat; I don't know that I have killed her; I loved her so I could not help it.'"
The cause of the girls' estrangement is said to have been that Freda's friends considered Miss Mitchell "too fast."
Another Article - January
SHE SLEW ANOTHER YOUNG LADY WHO HAD SLANDERED HER.
CUT HER THROAT WITH A RAZOR.
Both Moved in the Best Circles of Memphis and Society There is ShockedThe Murderess Seized Her Victim on the Street, and After the Act Jumped Into Her Carriage With the Cry, "Drive on, I've Done It."
MEMPHIS, Tenn., Jan. 25.The most sensational tragedy which has occurred in Memphis for years was committed this afternoon. The victim was Miss Freda Ward, and the slayer was Miss Alice Mitchell. Both were familiar figures in society, and the awful affair is to-night the talk of the town.
Miss Mitchell is
nineteen years of age, daughter of George Mitchell, a retired furniture
dealer, and she and Miss Johnston, in the latter's stylish "turnout,"
were a familiar sight on the different drives about the city. Miss
Ward is the daughter of John Ward, a planter and wealthy
At the inquest this evening the jury rendered a verdict charging Miss Mitchell with the killing, and that it was premeditated.
It is alleged by several persons that Miss Ward has made remarks of a decidedly uncomplimentary nature regarding Miss Mitchell, and this is supposed to have been the cause of the tragedy.
This afternoon a buggy containing Miss Mitchell and her friend, Miss Lizzie Johnston, drove up to the Custom-house. Coming slowly along the pavement chatting pleasantly were Miss Ward, of Gold Dust, Ark., and her sister.
Suddenly from her carriage bounded Miss Mitchell. Grasping Miss Ward by the neck, she drew a bright razor across the throat of her victim.
Miss Ward sank to the pavement and soon she was cold in death. The murdered girl's sister received a trifling cut.
|Case 236. A sexually inverted
girl kills the girl she loves because she was rejected.
In January, 1892, Alice M., a young girl belonging to one of the best families of Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A., killed in the public street of that town her girl friend, Freda W., also of the best society. She made several deep gashes in the neck of the girl with a razor.
The trial elicited the following facts: --
Alice inherited taint from her mother -- an uncle and several cousins in the first degree were insane -- the mother herself was psychopathic, had puerperal dementia after each confinement, the worst attack following the birth of the seventh child, i.e., Alice, now a prisoner -- afterwards she declined mentally suffering from dementia persecutoria.
A brother of the accused suffered from mental derangement for some time after an alleged sunstroke.
Alice was nineteen years of age, of medium height, not pretty. The face was childlike and "almost too small for her size," and asymmetrical, the right facial side was more developed than the left, the nose "of striking irregularity," the eye piercing. She was left-handed.
With the beginning of puberty, severe and continued headaches were of frequent occurrence; once a month she suffered from epistaxis, often up to within the very latest period from attacks of tremor. On one occasion she lost consciousness during one of these attacks.
Alice was a nervous, irritable child, and very slow in physical development. She never enjoyed children's or girls' games. When she was four to five years old she took much pleasure in tormenting cats, suspending them by one leg.
She preferred her younger brother and his games to her sisters; she vied with him in spinning tops, playing baseball and football, or shooting at targets, and in many silly pranks. She loved to climb trees and roofs, and was very clever in this sport. Above all things she loved to amuse herself in the stable among the mules. When she was six to seven her father had bought a horse, and she took great delight in feeding and tending it, and rode about the paddock astraddle on its back like a boy, without a saddle. Later on she would also groom the horse and wash his hoofs. She would lead him along the street by the halter, gear him up in the buggy, and became quite an expert in harnessing him when required.
At school she was slow and faulty, incapable of continued occupation with the same subject, did not grasp things easily, and had no memory. For music and drawing she had not the slightest talent, and hated feminine occupations. She never cared for reading, and could bear neither books or newspapers. She was stubborn and capricious, and was considered by her teachers and friends as an abnormal being.
When a child she did not care for boys, and had no companions among them; later on she never cared for men, and had no lovers. She was quite indifferent towards the young men, even abrupt, and they looked upon her as being "cracked".
But "as far as she can remember" she had an extraordinary love for Freda W., a girl of her own age, daughter of a friend of the family. Freda was a tender and sweet girl; the love was mutual, but more violent on the part of Alice. It increased from year to year until it became a passion. A year previous to the catastrophe Freda's family moved away to another town. Alice was steeped in sorrow; a very tender love correspondence now ensued.
Twice Alice went to visit Freda's family, during which time the two girls, as witnesses attested, showed "disgusting tenderness" for each other. They were seen to swing together in a hammock by the hour, hugging and kissing each other -- "they hugged and kissed ad nauseum". Alice was ashamed of doing this in public, but Freda upbraided her for this.
When Freda paid a visit in return, Alice made an attempt at killing her; she tried to pour laudanum down her throat whilst asleep. The attempt failed because Freda woke up in time.
Alice then took the poison herself before Freda, and was taken violently ill. The reason for the attempted murder and suicide was that Freda had shown some interest in two young men, and Alice declared she could not live without Freda's love, and again "she wanted to kill herself in order to find release from her tortures and make Freda free". After recovery they both resumed the amorous correspondence, even with more fervour than before.
Soon after this Alice proposed marriage to Freda. She sent her an engagement ring, and threatened death if she proved disloyal. They were to assume a false name and fly to St. Louis. Alice would wear men's clothes and earn a living for both; she would also grow a moustache, if Freda were to insist upon it, as she felt confident that by shaving frequently she could succeed in this.
Just before the attempted elopement the plot was discovered and prevented; the "engagement ring" was returned together with other love tokens to Alice's mother, and all intercourse between the two girls was stopped.
Alice was completely broken up. She lost her sleep, refused food, became listless and confused (at the shops had the purchased goods put down to the name of her beloved). The ring and other love tokens -- among them a thimble of Freda's filled with the latter's blood -- she concealed in a corner of the kitchen, where she spent hours in contemplating these objects, now bursting into peals of laughter, now into floods of tears.
She became emaciated, the face assumed an anxious expression, the eyes showed "a peculiar strange lustre". When she learned of an intended visit by Freda to Memphis she firmly resolved to kill her if she could not possess her. She stole a razor from her father and carefully concealed it.
In the meantime she started a correspondence with Freda's admirer, simulating friendship for him in order to find out his relations to Freda, and kept herself informed about them.
All attempts to see her or hear from her made by Alice during Freda's sojourn in Memphis failed. She waylaid Freda in the street and once almost succeeded in carrying out her purpose had not an accident prevented her. On the very day, however, when Freda was leaving town and on her way to the steamboat Alice overtook her.
She felt mortally hurt because Freda, although walking alongside the buggy in which she herself was riding, never spoke a word to her, but only gave her a glance now and then. She jumped from the vehicle and cut Freda with the razor. When Freda's sister tried to beat her off she became frantic and blindly cut deep gashes into the poor girls' neck, one reaching almost from ear to ear. Whilst everybody was busy about Freda she drove off furiously through the streets. When reaching home she immediately told her mother what had happened. She could not comprehend the awfulness of the deed; she was cold and unmoved at the consequence pointed out to her. But when she heard of the death and the funeral of her beloved Fred and realised her loss she burst into tears and passionate wailings, kissed the picture of the dead girl and spoke as if she were not dead but still alive.
During the trial her callous behaviour struck every one; the deep sorrow of her own people did not effect her in the least; she showed absolute indifference to the ethical points of her deed.
At moments, however, when her passionate love for Freda and her jealousy woke up, she yielded to boundless grief and emotion. "Freda has broken her faith!" "I have killed her because I loved her so!" The experts called in the case found her mental development on a level with that of a girl of thirteen to fourteen years. She comprehended that no children could have sprung from her "union" with Freda -- but that a "marriage" between them would have been an absurdity she would not admit. She absolutely denied that sexual intercourse between the two (even mutual masturbation) ever took place. But nothing definite about this point or about her vita sexualis per acta could be learned. A gynecologist examination of her person was not made.
The verdict was insanity ("Memphis Medical Monthly," 1892).
Snatched From The Pockets Of A Drugged Alf