2 June 1891
The Philadelphia Times says: "The government of Paraguay a few years ago prohibited the publication of suicides to prevent epidemics of self-murder, and it really seems as if sensational crimes of any kind were apt to provoke imitation. The butcheries of Jack the Ripper have been emulated in at least twenty different cities of Europe and North America. Dynamite outrages and husband poisoning have repeatedly assumed the form of international manias, but even extraordinary and complicated crimes have occasionally been imitated with all details. Only a week ago the citizens of Willshire, O., were horrified by the discovery of a woman's body in a hovel, hear the Indiana state line, where a couple of miscreants outraged and murdered the victim, a young school teacher, who had persistently rejected their attentions. Now an exactly similar case is reported from Sandy Hook, Elliott county, Kentucky. A young lady who had discouraged the suit of a rustic admirer was enticed to an out of the way part of the county, dragged to the woods and killed, after having been chained a few days in a deserted cabin. Like the Willshire girl, the victim had been employed in teaching school and had no other protector than an aged mother."
Although she is an American woman, a native of Mobile, Mrs. Florence Maybrick has found numerous strong friends in England who are doing their best to get her out of prison.
It will be recollected that Mr. Maybrick, the Liverpool cotton merchant, died in 1889, and the autopsy showed traces of arsenical poisoning. His unhappy wife was arrested, convicted and sentenced to death, but the penalty was subsequently commuted to imprisonment for life.
The conviction of Mrs. Maybrick was due to several unfortunate circumstances. It was proved that she administered arsenic to Mr. Maybrick. It was in evidence that she was carrying on a love intrigue with a Mr. Brierly. Justice Stephen, who presided, charged strongly against her, and exerted himself to secure her conviction.
Now, for the other side. Maybrick used arsenic habitually, not only in England, but before he left this country. He dosed himself, and requested his wife to give him the drug. The hotel waiter who testified to Mts. Maybrick's intimacy with Brierly now solemnly states that he could not identify that lady and Brierly in court as the parties he had seen in the hotel, but was ordered by the police to swear that he recognized them. He obeyed orders, and now expresses his great regret for the harm that resulted from his testimony. One more point in the prisoner's favor. Justice Stephen has recently shown such unmistakeable signs of insanity that he has been forced to retire from the bench. This leads many to the conclusion that his strange anxiety to convict Mrs. Maybrick showed that his mind was unbalanced at that time.
Mr. Alexander MacDougall, a well known English lawyer, has written a book entitled "The Maybrick case", which contains the following dedication:
"This work is dedicated to James Chandler Maybrick, aged eight years, and Gladys Evelyn Maybrick, aged four years, by the author, with the sincere hope that it will enable them to feel during their lives that the word 'mother' is not 'a sound unfit to be heard or uttered' by them, and that when they are old enough to be able to understand this record of the facts and circumstances connected with the charge put upon and the trial of Florence Elizabeth Maybrick, aged twenty seven, her children may have, throughout their lives, the comfort of feeling that their mother was not proved to be guilty of the murder of their father, James Maybrick."
Mr. MacDougall is chairman of a committee which is endeavoring to secure Mrs Maybrick's pardon upon the grounds above stated. He closes his book with the following:
"Those who, like myself, after a deliberate study of the evidence (which I have honestly endeavored to lay exhaustedly before my readers) call her guiltless, must feel shame as long as a guiltless woman is passing a living death in our midst, and I invite every one who feels that shame to join in every legitimate effort to carry out the following programme:
1) Mrs. Maybrick's release from prison as a matter of right and as an acknowledged innocent woman.
2) The removal from office of all those who can be shown by their unconstitutional conduct to have been responsible for the miscarriage of justice which has taken place.
3) The bringing to justice of any persons who can be shown to have recklessly and maliciously put the charge of murdering her husband upon Mrs. Maybrick."
It will be seen that all the important testimony against this lady was either doubtful or perjured, and that the presiding judge was probably crazy. If these are not good grounds for a pardon, it is difficult to see what more could be required.
What adds interest to the case if the fact that the prisoner is closely related to some of the best families in Alabama and Georgia. Many prominent southerners have signed a petition in her behalf, and the circumstances justify the hope that she may soon be released from prison and restored to her children.