hi friends how are you today
i hope you’re
having a wonderful day so far my name is bailey
syrian and today is monday
which means it’s murder mystery and makeup monday
if you are new here hi
my name is bailey
syrian and on
mondays i sit down and i talk about a true crime
story that’s been heavy on my
noggin and i do my makeup at the same time
if you’re interested in true
crime and you would like makeup i
would highly suggest you hit that subscribe button
cause i’m here for you it’s a fact
i wanted to show you guys this i thought this was a
great quote
which pretty much sums up
today’s video like
perfectly i don’t know who like
said it though
it says proverb does that mean it came from the
bible no proverb
i should have googled more the quote is
no one will have a greater wrath or vengeance than a
woman when she has been wronged
most men find out the hard way that hell hath no fury
like a woman scorned
deep and that my friends brings us to today’s
story which is just this in a nutshell
okay let’s talk
about cordelia brown
have you heard of her
she was born in eighteen fifty four
in kansas city missouri there’s really not much known
about her upbringing or how her life was growing up
but what we do know is that on september twenty sixth
eighteen seventy two eighteen year old cordelia
married thirty
three year old
welcome botkin
who worked as a wealthy grain broker
yes his name is welcome
welcome get your ass over here welcome welcome
welcome okay so welcome welcome he worked as a wealthy
grain broker so they get married and they’re living in
kansas city missouri
and then they welcomed
that was so dumb but like i just anyways they welcomed
their son beverly
in 1874 so they
lived the simple kind of life and then in the late
eighteen eighties
welcome was offered a new job as a salesman for the
armor packing company
so they decided to move out to
stockton california for this new job opportunity
so who was cordelia well
cordelia was described as a
short and stout
woman i’m not trying to
shame here you know i’m just
making an observation but she kind of looks like agatha
trunchbull from the
movie matilda
right she kinda does
so with that being said
a lot of people
would consider
cordelia to have a frumpy appearance
she was not the best looking but cordelia
she believed she was hot
shit like you couldn’t tell
cordelia nothing okay she was god’s gift to the
worlds cordelia
would brag to friends
about being
photographed in over a hundred different poses
which us the
selfie nation may not seem like that big of a deal but
back then in the victorian era
the 1880s getting
photographed was a really big deal
one of her favorite
poses was her
standing with her hands up behind her head
and her elbows out
having or posing with your
arms behind your head makes your face and your boobs
the focus of the image
which was a big no no
in the victorian era being sexy
i mean they
would acknowledge
sex but you had to be more secretive
about it and you
definitely couldn’t be overtly sexual
which cordelia
definitely was in some of her
now in 1894
cordelia and her husband welcome
their marriage wasn’t
it just wasn’t working out okay welcome was very proper
and prim and
cordelia just liked
more fun things in life like gambling and
drinking and
because this is the 1880s or whatever divorce
it really wasn’t a
thing back then you know
you couldn’t chat you nope
mm hmm you couldn’t do that so they just decided to go
their separate ways but
still remain
married because
that was really
their only option
so once they separate
cordelia takes
her son and then they move to san francisco
because there’s more of a
party life out there a little bit more fun
cordelia is single
and ready to
mingle welcome
stayed in stockton
where his job was and he
would come he
would come out there to pay her
alimony every
month he was
involved in his own scandal
when he came out to pay cordelia
her alimony
he would meet
with the landlady
her name was clara
and they were having like
their own affair
that was going on between the two of them so in 1895
cordelia who is now 41
she’s living in san francisco with her son
she goes down to the park next to the golden gate
bridge to meet with a friend and just like have a chat
while there that’s when a 32
year old man
named john dunning
was riding his bicycle
and his bicycle
broke down so he stops he like fixes the wheel
and then he notices
a beautiful
woman who’s sitting on the
bench she’s like oh my god
you are the most beautiful
creature i have ever seen on this planet the beautiful
woman was cordelia
love at first
sight back then
cause remember
olden days it was very scandalous for a man and a
woman to interact without a formal introduction
but john said that there was just something
about cordelia’s energy that he was attracted
to and john knew that he just needed to talk to her
so he goes up to her he introduces himself and they
begin chatting away
now this john guy he was a big wig reporter for
their associated press
he had recently returned from an overseas assignment
where he was reporting on the war that was
about to take
place between the us
great britain
and imperial germany over samoa
i know so a big typhoon
hits this island
sank a bunch of
ships it was a
whole situation we
could do like another
video on it
but john’s there and he’s writing an article
about it and it was hot gossip
nobody could put it down it
was just everybody read it and because of this it also
promoted him to the
superintendent of the associated press
their western division
which was in uh
san francisco
you get it you get it
so john he was
married and he had a wife
named mary elizabeth
and the two of them had
moved to san francisco in 1891
soon after they had a
daughter who they also
named mary anytime i talk
about the wife i’ll say mary elizabeth
so you know it’s the wife and not the
child but mary elizabeth was
she was not
adjusting to life in san francisco very well and
she just really badly wanted to move back to delaware
she was becoming
frustrated in the
marriage because her
faith was really important to her
and it wasn’t important to john
at all really
so their marriage is really
rocky it wasn’t
going great
what more can you say really
so when john met cordelia
they had this instant
connection they couldn’t stay away from each other
the two of them
would chat about
their partners
their significant others and
how they just didn’t
understand them they were bonding over
how their partners
sucked pretty much
which is never good so john was
smitten with
cordelia and what he loved
about her most was that
she was like one of the guys
she like to drink
she like to have sex
and she like to talk
about sex you
would most likely
find her hanging out with the boys down at the brothel
she wasn’t like a normal
girl she was a cool girl just one of the guys you know
i’m just one of the guys
i just like beer and sports and
stuff like yeah
so cordelia and john were hanging out like all
the time okay
cordelia would
bring john to
some of her favorite hangout spots in san francisco
and they were like not the most
up and up places i guess
she would take them to the gambling saloons
brothels dark bars
and this was all like new to john
he had never seen this side of san francisco i’m
assuming here i’m not i can’t
speak for john of course but it seemed like
he was just
excited with it all
cause it was just all new he never
he didn’t like
do this at all
and it wasn’t long before the two of them
were wrapped up in parting
drinking and a gambling lifestyle
and that wasn’t all that they were
wrapped up in
wink wink because they were also
wrapped up in each other
aka they were having a lot of
sexual relations with each other
they were getting down and dirty
which is fine we’re not judging it’s just that john
still married
and that’s not good
you know in the neighborhood
cordelia had quite the
reputation it was not a good one it was a very bad one
remember how i talked
about like cordelia
hanging out with the guys and she was like a guys girl
well the women they didn’t like that and
because it’s the victorian era
they were very
strict and extremely judgmental back then like
oh right oh like when you brought up
cordelia’s name
a look of disgust
would come over everyone’s faces like she was just
known as this is
gonna sound mean
i didn’t say it but she was like
known as the town
horror you know
i’m sorry cordelia
don’t come for me from the
grave i didn’t say it
your peers did
john was being sloppy
he wasn’t trying
to hide the fact that he was having an affair
or hide the fact
that he was hanging out with his new friend cordelia
which led to people seeing them and everybody
talking rumors are
swirling you know
and it wasn’t long
until john’s wife mary elizabeth
found out about his affair mary
john’s wife
she would stay with john for
about a year
and she was
trying to figure out what exactly her plan was you know
because she was feeling
super embarrassed
everybody seemed to know
about this affair that her husband’s having with
cordelia she’s humiliated
how dare you like
with her ah
so she’s trying
to figure out what her plan is what is she
gonna do but i i couldn’t imagine how mary
was feeling because
she moves to
this new location for her husband’s new job
right she doesn’t like it there she’s having a hard
time struggling just finding her way in san francisco
and she voices her husband that she’s unhappy
she’s never around he’s always working
and then he has an affair on her
with this woman
cordelia and she’s like dude
really mm hmm
so with all this
in 1896 mary elizabeth decides to
leave him and she returns to dover
delaware to live with her
mother and father
his name was john
b pennington
he was a working congressman
in delaware he’s
kind of like a big deal out there you know
man of importance
so mary elizabeth takes her little
daughter mary with her
and she gets out of san francisco
moves in with her parents
and decides just to move on with her life
so now that mary elizabeth is gone
she’s out of the way
right john and
cordelia are like hey
we’re free you know they’re getting it on like
teens on spring break
cause there’s
lots of alcohol there’s gambling lots of sex
john who hasn’t been living this
party lifestyle as long as
cordelia has
i think he just or he does get
really wrapped up in and all
he can’t keep his shit together he’s
going hard you know
those people who are like new to the
party game and
they’re just being
idiots sloppy
drunks losing all
their money
that was john
he’s just like fool what are you doing calm down
john’s gambling
becomes out
of control and he racks up a huge debt so now debt
collectors are on his ass and john
doesn’t have any
money so john’s
thinking if i can just take some
money from my job and gamble that
money then i
could probably make money
pay off my debts
put the money back and nobody will know
great plan always seems to work
right and like how
usually most gambling addictions go
you dig yourself into a deep
deep hole so
john ends up stealing
about four thousand dollars from his job
which in today’s
money would be
about a hundred and
twenty six thousand dollars to pay off of
his gambling debts
but it didn’t take long
until his place of work
found out that he was indeed
stealing money
and then john gets fired
i know i’m surprised
he didn’t go to prison for this but i don’t know
the relationship between john and cordelia
would end up lasting almost
three years
and then in
march of 1898 the associated press
they were looking for a top notch reporter
to do an excellent reporting because the united
states was on the brink
of what was
about to become the spanish american war so they need
someone to report
on this and john is like the best of the best
so john gets hired for the job
and he has this moment of clarity where
he’s like okay i got this this
great job opportunity
i gotta stop
parting this lifestyle
cordelia like
all of this just isn’t for me anymore john
realized that he missed his wife
and he realized that
the new job opportunity was a way for him to get out
so john goes to
cordelia and he tells her hey
i’m going away on assignment
and things are over between us
he also went
on to say that when he’s done with the assignment he’s
gonna go back to delaware and try and
win his wife back because he missed her deeply typical
now you want me back cute
mm hmm how do you
think that’s
gonna go over i’m sure it’s
gonna go over
smoothly this news to
cordelia was devastating
she’s begging him not to go
but he tells her like no he has
to do this i’m leaving this just isn’t for me anymore
so john ends up leaving
and he goes to cuba
for his new job opportunity and cordelia
she was not having a good time she was
having a very difficult time her life was now like at
a standstill
she was depressed she didn’t
understand why john just up and left her how
could he do this she
she gave him a
place to live she gave him
everything now as the days go on her
depression now turns into
anger so cordelia
is thinking if i can’t have john
then i guess
nobody could have john
i don’t know you guys i
think he has like beer flavored nipples or something
cause she wants some bad
now back in dover delaware
mary elizabeth john’s wife
she starts receiving handwritten letters detailing
about the affair
john was having in san francisco
the letters
said john was constantly seen around with an extremely
attractive woman
and that mary elizabeth
should not take john back if he ever
tried to come back to her
now mary elizabeth
is extremely
upset by these letters
but she just
like didn’t know what to do with the information
so she takes all the letters and she
stuffs them in a drawer
out of sight
out of mind
so mary elizabeth
had been getting
these letters for
about four or five months
and then on august
ninth eighteen ninety
eight she gets a
knock on the door
she opens the door
and she finds a gift of chocolate bonbons
wrapped in brown
paper with a pink satin ribbon
she’s like oh my god chocolate
yay so mary opens up
the box and sees that the chocolates are sitting on a
lace handkerchief with the
price tag still attached
and the note reads quote
with love to yourself and baby
miss c and quote
so mary’s thinking that the miss c
stood for miss horribly
it was one of
her friends that she made back in san francisco
so she’s like oh my god that is so
sweet of her i’m
gonna save these chocolates for
after dinner
so she puts the chocolates away
and she’s like i cannot wait to
enjoy these
treats you know she had a lot more
self discipline
than i do because i
would have just
eaten the whole box
right then and there
good for her
so mary elizabeth
and her family sit down and have dinner her
sister and niece also came over to have dinner with the
whole family they had trout
in corn fritters for dinner mmm
so delicious
so again olden days no ac
so when you cooked
especially with like a
stove and stuff
it would get
brutally hot in the
house so again because it’s so
freaking hot
they go and they sit out on the
front porch
and they try to just sit there
cool off with the
nighttime breeze
while sitting there you
guessed it mary was like oh my god i
should go get
those chocolates
right now we can
enjoy them while we sit here on the
porch great idea
so she goes she gets the lovely gift of chocolates
and she before
going out to the porch
she has three
pieces for herself
and then she offered some to her family
she’s like this is my box i’m having
three pieces you guys can only have one
okay now cordelia’s older
sister also loves chocolate
so she helped herself to a couple pieces
and then the neighbors
their kids came over and they’re just hanging out and
they took one piece each
mary’s mom and her dad passed on the chocolate
they were like we don’t want any it’s okay thank you
so they eat
their chocolate and just
enjoy the evening with each
other’s company
then a couple of
hours go by
and everyone who
ate the chocolate
started getting really bad stomachaches
and then all of a sudden
started barfing
throwing up
oh god now everyone is puking okay
except for dad
mary elizabeth dad he calls
the doctor because everyone is puking and he’s the
only one who wasn’t sick so the doctor comes out and he
thinks that everybody has
food poisoning yeah
food poisoning you know it must be the corn fritters
corn fritters were probably bad
food poisoning but mary elizabeth’s dad didn’t
think so because he had corn fritters
and he wasn’t
throwing up
after a couple
hours of some
intense puking everyone seemed to get better
except for mary elizabeth and her
sister both of them were just getting
worse so in addition to
vomiting they were also just
experiencing severe
stomach pains like gripping your stomach
jesus i’m coming home
kind of pains
you know i’m saying the
first doctor thought that
their illness was coming from the corn fritters
and mary elizabeth’s dad he
knew better he was like it’s not the corn fritters okay
cause i’m not sick i
should be sick and he goes with his gut feeling
and he calls another doctor to come and like
check on his daughters
so this doctor he didn’t
think that it was food poisoning nene
he thinks it’s a poisoning poisoning
the doctor tells the
family that he believed they had been badly poisoned
and they’re like oh my god like what
we do with this information that you have just given us
and the doctors like i’m
sorry there’s nothing i can do to save you
have a good day and then he takes off
i know he’s
definitely useless
other than telling them that
they were poisoned but there was
literally nothing that he
could do for them
he was like good luck by
their death
that these two experienced was pretty hardcore
in addition to the severe
stomach pains they were
also experiencing intense
bloody diarrhea
and delirium
which is basically a fancier word for saying
that they are hallucinating
after a few days of this illness
both mary elizabeth and her
sister die asleep
low and awful
death so mary elizabeth dad
he now just lost
two daughters
and he’s out for
blood he is
angry he wants to
track down who did this to them he’s
thinking the common
thing was that
mysterious box of chocolate set showed up
right mary elizabeth and her
sisters were
the ones that
ate most of them
and they were the ones that died
so he’s thinking that can’t be a coincidence
you know so what does dad do so he’s a smart man
and he takes the few remaining
pieces of chocolate
and he sends them out to be analyzed by a
local chemist by the name of dr wood
now dr wood
his report came
back and said that the chocolates tested positive
for arsenic
arsenic is a chemical element that is
on the scientific
table posted in your high
school chemistry class
but it’s a heavy
metal element commonly used in car batteries
and ammunition
and it’s also
found in pesticides but in the victorian era
it was mixed with vinegar and chalk
and it was used as like a skin
lightener by
high society
ladies who just wanted to you
know look very pale as if they did not work out in the
fields because that was the look back then
you don’t want to tan
you want to be white as
but one of the more
famous uses of
arsenic was as a poison
an arsenic is not
a poison you want to mess around with you will suffer
greatly greatly
so with mary elizabeth dead dad knew that he had to
tell his son in law john dunning that his wife that he
planned to come back to had died
so john was obviously no husband of the year but
the dad felt that he deserved to know his wife was dead
john who remember
he still loved to
marry elizabeth very much and wanted to fix his
marriage after he got back from cuba
he was devastated by this
news he packed his bags and he headed straight to dover
delaware as fast as he could
so he gets there in like 10 days
when john gets to dover
mary elizabeth dad tells him
about the chocolates
oh yes so the dad is also
cleaning out his
daughter’s things
right and he finds
those strange letters that were shoved in a drawer
now since john was obviously the topic of
conversation in the letters
the dad he shows them to john he’s like look what i
found these
weird letters someone was writing my daughter
and your name
is mentioned practically on every page
it’s saying
here in this letter that you’re having an affair
that you’ve been seen around town with some beautiful
woman who is not my daughter
explain yourself like what is this situation
okay john takes
one look at the letters and he knows exactly who
wrote them so he tells the dad look
i know whose handwriting this is
i was seeing this
woman named
cordelia botkin
but i broke
up with her because i missed mary elizabeth too much
told her i was
gonna come back
try and fix my
marriage and i
guess she just
didn’t take the news so well dad then hands john the
card from the box of chocolates and asks if he thinks
cordelia this
cordelia woman
was the one who
wrote the card too now john takes a look at this and
he’s pissed because the card has the same handwriting
as the letters
which means
cordelia most likely
wrote the note herself
which means
cordelia probably sent
those box of chocolates
which meant
that cordelia most likely murdered his wife
so john tells
his father in law that he remember telling
cordelia how much of a
crazy sweet
tooth mary elizabeth had
and she must have like
stashed that in her noggin you know filed that away
and use it against her he also
might have mentioned that mary elizabeth had a friend
named miss corbele
who lived in san francisco
and that’s maybe
where she got the name
miss c from that was on the letter so
after all of this dad
is obviously mad he’s pissed off because he knows or he
thinks he knows 100
like who killed
his daughters and he wants justice
and this dad
is also a congressman so he knows that he can’t go
committing revenge murder the next best
thing that he can do is call the police
so he does so he calls the dover police
and the dover police
department calls the san francisco police because
they needed help the box of chocolates was purchased
in san francisco
and san francisco police
would have a better chance
of hunting down
where cordelia was out
than the dover
police right since
they don’t they’re different cities
a detective from dover
hand delivers the
murder evidence to the san francisco pd
this included
the remaining
candy the paper it came in the handkerchief
and the san francisco police
isaiah w lees he wasted no time
and immediately gets to work
building a case
against cordelia fun
isaiah lees
this guy he’s
basically the godfather of the
modern day mug shot he didn’t
necessarily invent the
mug shot but in a way he kind of did because he was the
first police officer to make it a regular
thing when criminals were arrested right
he started collecting
pictures of
these criminals
starting in 1854
and by the time that 1898 rolled around
his police department had the largest
collection of criminal
photos i thought that was cool
anyways we don’t know if
cordelia had a lengthy rap
sheet at all but
based on her behaviors you
know one could assume
that she may have
which meant that they may have had a
photo of her
and this would be
super useful
and it’s funny because
maybe that’s what
cordelia meant when she said that she had over 100
taken of her anyhow
back to the case
so the first
thing isaiah lees did was figure out
where the box of chocolates came from
that wasn’t so hard because the
brown paper and pink satin bow
the box was
wrapped in was pretty well
known around san francisco
those were the
wrappings at george haas
confectionery a popular
candy store used to gift wrap
their chocolates
now this george haas
confectionery they had four locations
which was like a big deal back then
first of all
everyone recognized the ribbon but most of all
it was gonna be a little bit more challenging to
track down the exact
store that the
was sold at
but finally
after going to
question everybody at the different
candy stores the chocolate
stores they find the
store clerk who remembered
selling half a box of chocolate bonbons on july 31st
to a woman who was
short stout and kind of frumpy looking
and they’re like hey that kind of
sounds like cordelia
and the clerk remembered that it was
weird that the woman
only wanted half a box of
candy so he asked her
why do you only want half like who gives half empty box
of chocolates as a gift
and the woman buying the chocolates told the clerk
that she planned
on adding in her own homemade chocolate to the box
which is weird because if you’re
gonna go out of your way to buy
like top notch
chocolates as a gift
unless you’re an amazing
baker why would you put in your own homemade ones
okay cordelia
sure you know
also it was
found that on the handkerchief that was left in the box
it had a price tag left on it
so this led the investigators to the city of
paris department
store which at the time
was san francisco’s most important department store
so they go down to the department
store and they talk to a sales
woman by the name of miss grace
harris now she remembered the customer
who purchased the handkerchief because
she thought that the
woman looked just like her dead
mother this saleswoman
also had like a
picture of her mom with her
and she’s like she looks like my dead mom
and let me tell you this
woman’s dead
mother was like a dead ringer for
cordelia they
could have been twins they
could have been
sisters she wasn’t
wrong but she remembered her
cause she told
cordelia you look just like my dead mom wow
and she just remembered her
now there weren’t
many post office locations in the same area as the
stores so it wasn’t
too hard to find the post office attendant who helped a
woman ship a box
that was wrapped in
brown paper with a pink
the clerk a man
named john dunnegan
he had no problem
remembering the package sent to miss john dunning
because he thought
oh my god it
sounds just like my name
because his name is john dunnegan
i know this is getting confusing but he just remembered
the box being
shipped out and
the detective is like okay can you tell us what the
woman look like
and he’s like oh yeah it was this stout frumpy looking
woman and they’re like
it’s not looking good for cordelia
so they had
three clues down and they had one to go
the last piece of the puzzle
was the arsenic
where did it come from
and this one
seemed to be the hardest part for police to figure out
because it wasn’t
wrapped up in a nice pretty bow like
everything else was
and they couldn’t find any leads as far as the
arsenic went but
right before they were
about to give
up they finally talked to a clerk at the owl drug
store who remembered selling
arsenic to a
woman who surprise surprise
also resembled cordelia
now it was really looking like
cordelia bought the chocolates and poisoned them with
arsenic before mailing them
to mary elizabeth
but the san francisco police department
had two more leads that they needed to follow up on
they obtained a
search warrant
for the room that
cordelia was staying at
in the victoria
hotel to see if they could find
anything else
so they get into
cordelia’s home she’s not there
great we already know
cordelia is kind of sloppy
with this her
killing job so when they go inside they see that
she left the leftover string
and wrapping
paper that matched the box of chocolates in her room
after she left
like she didn’t
throw it away so she practically left
the smoking gun in her
hotel room is what i’m getting at like girl
come on the
final lead that the san francisco police
department needed to follow up on were the letters
that were sent
to mary elizabeth so a
local handwriting
expert he analyzes
the handwriting on the note that came with the chalk
lens and the anonymous
letters that were sent to mary elizabeth now in the
experts opinion
there was no question
the note and letters were written by the same person
and when compared to the love letters that
cordelia had written to john
it seemed like a pretty opening shut
case cordelia
was the killer and they had caught her red
so on october
28th 1989 chief lees
presented his case
against cordelia before the grand jury
he was pretty confident that they
would charge
cordelia with murder but he also knew his case had two
super large holes
the first hole
was that not all the chocolates tested positive for
arsenic this could be
potentially a huge problem because
the second hole was
about the size of two graves
meaning no one bothered to do an autopsy
on either mary elizabeth or the
sister before they were buried so technically
liz had no concrete
proof that the two of them died from
arsenic poisoning in the
first place
so remember
mary elizabeth’s dad was
super on top of
stuff so why he didn’t have an autopsy
done on his
daughters is kind of like why didn’t you do that sir
but this one was a little
more out of his jurisdiction because the doctor in
charge of the hospital morgue believed that the girls
vomited so much
that they had
most likely purged the poison out of
their system
so there was no
point in doing
an autopsy because the doctor was confident he
wouldn’t be able to find any
traces of it
today we know
that the doctor had no idea what he was talking
about i mean most doctors at the time didn’t because
let’s face it medicine
at that time
it was like the
stone ages you know people were just kind of
guessing but a
today would have
known that traces of arsenic
would have remained in the bones fingernails and hair
but 1898 they didn’t have that knowledge yet so
probably barfed it up
so liz was super concerned that this no autopsy report
thing was going to be a deal
breaker for the
grand jury but
they surprised him
it turns out that the grand jury
felt that the san francisco police department
had done enough of
their homework
that not having this
piece of evidence was really not that big of a deal
they barely
blinked an eye when they indicted
cordelia on two
counts of first degree murder
police found
cordelia at her
sister’s house in
heldsburg california
and they arrested her now this arrest didn’t go
quite the way that the police anticipated
they were hoping she
would just confess to the murders and they could
all skip the
trial and the mountain of
paperwork that was probably gonna come
along with it
get that too you know
but cordelia surprise them
not only did she refuse to confess
but she decided to fuck with the
police who came to arrest her when the police showed up
they’re like
pack your things you’re
going to jail
and cordelia said you know sure
thing just wait
right here and i’ll go pack and
boy did she pack
she packed her
trunk so heavy that it took
two police officers to
carry it out of there
i guess she figured that she was probably
going away for a
while and she needed
every outfit she owned
or she was stalling
now this case was interesting because it was the
first case of murder
by mail oh yes
but it was also the
first american prosecution for a
crime that took
place in two
different jurisdictions
the state of
california and the
state of delaware
rattled it out for a hot
minute over who was
going to oversee the
court proceedings now delaware
argued that
cordelia should be
tried in dover
because that’s
where the actual murder took place
but california said no way you can’t
extradite a person to a
place where they’ve
never been before
and california
ended up winning that argument
and cordelia’s
trial began
on december 6 1898
now it was no big surprise when
cordelia pleaded not guilty
before the san francisco
judge but what was a big surprise was how
fascinated the city of san francisco was by the whole
thing and it turned into a
media circus
so this case was getting a lot of attention
people were packing the courtroom
to the gills they were just eating up
all this drama
they were fascinated
fascinated by
cordelia’s private life
and her sexual
and discretions
the newspapers reported on
cordelia’s excessive vanity
they called it they also talked
about her love
for posing for
photographs in a very sexually
suggestive way
of course they’re mainly
in the media
focusing on how she looks
and her sexuality
and all of that because
you know she was the villain
you love to hate
and they wanted
every salacious scandalous detail
about her now
victorian era
remember no tv
no trash tv no reality tv right
none of that the people they had to rely
on the san francisco chronicle
and examiner for
their hot gossip
they essentially were the people magazine
of back in the day
in the beginning of cordelia’s
trial the prosecution laid out a pretty solid case
presented the handwriting analysis that they had done
and they had witnesses
speak about the different items that
cordelia bought
and they also pulled out the string in the brown
paper that were
found in cordelia’s
hotel room now during all of it
cordelia just
pretty much sat there it was said that she was just
nothing now
cordelia would show up to
court very dramatic
she was dressed in like an all
black dress
she would have a white
lace handkerchief in her hand
and it looked like she was
going to a funeral
i just can’t imagine how judgmental it was back then
okay the media though they
would describe her as a quote
smug self satisfied
cunning little woman end
quote but they really
painted her as the villain
which i guess she was but
i mean most of all it was selling newspapers more than
anything else they needed this villain to sell papers
now people were so
eager to get a
glimpse of john dunning
they wanted to know what is so special
about this guy that
it was worth murdering over you
know like we have to see what he looks like who is he
so people are just
excited when it was his day to come into the
courtroom he must be
super hot if he’s
worth murdering over right
well when john showed up
people were very
when he entered the courtroom
the newspapers described him as
whiny and the
papers also mentioned that he had a good cleft
chin which i
guess is a good
thing but the newspapers also said that john had narrow
shoulders and thinning hair
and they were just
going in on john
and cordelia’s looks
not much has
changed huh
so john ends up taking the
stand and the defense questioned him
about the number of
women that he had
slept with in
san francisco they really wanted to show the jurors
that john had many lovers and
any of them
could have been the one that murdered mary elizabeth
and you know what
john tells the
courtroom that he
could not remember
who he slept with or any of
their names
he would go on to say that he
could remember
three names in addition to
cordelia’s but he wasn’t
going to say who they were and what
their names were
the prosecution
they weren’t having any of that
so they decided to
teach john a lesson and
threw him in jail for the
night they’re like hey
maybe sit in your ass in jail
jog your memory
but nope john
still refused
so the judge figures
let’s put him another
night in jail
maybe that will make him
speak at first i couldn’t figure out why they
wanted that information so bad like why does it matter
it makes sense like
they wanted to pin it on somebody else
but john refused to give anyone’s names
he did not want
these people
these women to be
dragged into this
whole mess and
get thrown into the middle
of all of it and then have a murder pinned on them
so john just he didn’t reveal who they were
he kept his
mouth shut bravo
john honestly
that’s pretty
great cause like it
would have went
completely south
those poor women
would have been
brought into it
would have been a hot mess so
good for him the defense team they realized we’re not
gonna get any
answers from john so let’s just let it go i guess now
when it was
cordelia’s turn to take the
stand it was like her
whole presence was
scripted we know
cordelia thought that she was hot shit but her
legal team wanted her to tone it down a little bit
so she spoke with like an upbeat
and pleasant
tone that the defense team thought the jury
would find endearing
they also wanted her to
sound intelligent and independent
right so they’re like telling her here’s what you’re
gonna say here’s how you
should talk here’s how you
should sit you know it’s hard to convict a
woman you like
right during questioning
cordelia did admit
to purchasing
arsenic back in june
which was like
what at this time they didn’t know that so she
admits to this
but she said she bought it because she wanted to
clean a straw hat with it
she loved her
straw hat it needs to be
cleaned she was
upset because she didn’t see how this
pinned the murder on her because she purchased powdered
arsenic not the crystalline type that was
found in the chocolates
so cordelia also
claimed to have an alibi
that could prove that she did not purchase
the chocolate
or mailed the package on the days in question
but when they told her okay what’s your alibi like
bring them in here let’s have
them questioned no one ever came forward to support
her alibi call
your mess get it together
the trial only lasted
about three weeks and on the day of closing statements
a line of over 500 people formed outside the courthouse
everyone wanted to be there for the
grand finale
right everyone’s trying to get inside
and of course
the courthouse can’t fit that many people
so the examiner came up with a
brand new idea
instead of taking the time to collect the news
run back to the
printing press lay out the type and
print of the
trial results
the newspaper
executives decided to do something
super innovative
for this time live
news i know
good for them they
essentially like invented twitter during this
time but they didn’t even know it you know they didn’t
i’m exaggerating but
they built this big billboard out of wood in
front of the
courthouse and the reporters they
would rotate running in and out of the
courtroom with
minute by minute updates
that were posted onto
this board which was
large enough for everyone who was
standing outside was able to read this
now so they’re updating this
board and people are able to get
like what’s happening
great on december 30th
after four hours of deliberation
the jury convicted cordelia
of murder and on february 4th
judge cook sentenced her to life in
prison now when
they updated that little
board outside the crowd
erupted everyone
was so excited it was like new year’s day
they had nothing else
going on you know it was
exciting to them so
cordelia is carted off to the san francisco jail
but she doesn’t seem to stay there that long so
a couple of
months later
it was like a
sunday the judge
judge cook he’s out doing some
shopping in downtown san francisco and
while he’s out doing some
shopping he spots
who he believes is
cordelia out
shopping as well he’s like
she’s supposed to be in prison
you know why is she running around
shopping what is
going on he was
super confused
and he needed to get to the bottom of this
so instead of approaching her
cause he doesn’t
wanna tip her off that he knows and then she
could potentially
run for it he
doesn’t say anything
and then he decides that he’s
going to launch his
own investigation as to why
cordelia was
wandering out and
about free as a bird ma’am
you killed someone no
so he discovers that cordelia
was up to her old
tricks again
cordelia was exchanging sexual
favors for shit
you know she managed to get her own private jail cell
a more comfortable mattress and pillows
and the freedom to
leave the prison grounds whenever she wanted
she must have had a
magical hoo ha
if you know
what i’m saying like she was getting all sorts of
stuff the judge
tried to get a case
against the
guards because they’re obviously like
working with
cordelia here they need to be
fired and then
cordelia needs to lose her privileges
but literally nobody
would admit
about this little
trade that was
going on between
cordelia and the
guards nobody said a word
so it was like they couldn’t do anything because
they didn’t
have any they don’t even know who’s doing it
and then word got to
cordelia that she was spotted out
shopping and she used this to her advantage
she’s like oh my god look
i haven’t left the prison
so whoever the
judge saw out there
in the city
it must have been the real murderer
and this is just a case of a mistaken
identity so she’s trying to milk it like i have
a twin out there who’s committing murders
and it’s not me
she thought someone was
gonna believe
it but no one believed her bullshit you know she tried
so you’re probably wondering what happened to
cordelia’s son
yeah i know
you probably forgot she had a son
cause honestly
so did i there’s really not much said
about her son beverly
his feelings towards his
mother after the outcome of her
trial what happened to him
where was he during all this you know
i don’t know nothing
zara but after
cordelia is
found guilty of murder
her husband welcome
finally had the ammunition he needed
to be able to file for divorce
because being
charged with a felony
is a major no no in victorian society
while being
charged with a felony is
still no no
today but back in the victorian
society days
it was a way for you to be able to get out of a
marriage so welcome
wanted a divorce because
cordelia was
found guilty of murder
he was able to get out of the
marriage do
you see what i’m saying you do what i’m saying
because she
went to prison that was his way out so welcome was
happy because he was
trapped in this loveless useless
marriage and welcome was finally free
you’re welcome
now mary elizabeth’s father
lived just long enough to see justice served he
would go on to die
on june 1st 1902
and then two years
later cordelia’s lawyer
tried to file an appeal
and get her conviction overturned she
tried her best
but once again
everyone saw
right through her
they did a retrial
and she was convicted
again on august 2 1904
and once again
cordelia was sentenced to life imprisonment the
second trial didn’t get nearly the same
level of newspaper attention as the
first go round so not much
really said
about the read
trial and not much is out there
about the read
trial because
all the original
trial records were destroyed
in the san francisco
1906 earthquake and fire
iconic earthquake
earthquake that destroyed san francisco
this earthquake also destroyed the jail that
cordelia was living in so she was
to san quentin
state prison
now that prison
is no joke okay that’s like i say real prison
that’s where all of the
death row inmates go
and hang out together
so it must have been no picnic in the park
because in 1908 she
applied for parole on the basis of bad health
but her request was denied she remained at san quentin
until her death on
march 7 1910
at the age of 56
which was considered
still pretty
young back then
the official
cause of death was softening
of the brain due to melancholy
so essentially
she died of depression
it’s not hard to
understand why she
might have died from depression
the last few years of her life were very
rough for cordelia
aside from being at san quentin
first of all
she lost just
about everyone
she was close to her father died in 1900
after being kicked by a horse
her now ex husband welcome
he died on may 2nd
in 1904 from
heart failure
and then their son died the following year also from
heart failure
so for cordelia it was just
lost after loss
after loss after lost
and they believe that’s
what led her to die
remember john
john dunning the
lover poor john
he could not escape
this whole situation without
it just destroying his
life let me tell you it just destroyed his life because
this whole like relationship and affair with
cordelia came out during the
trial right and
other details about him
drinking gambling
whoring around with a
ton of different women
this is all like public information
during the trial
so aside from being associated with
cordelia and being
wrapped up in all that
drama john he became
an undesirable man is what he
was considered nobody wanted to be associated with him
nobody wanted to hire
him and so once
again his career
was destroyed poor guy
he really didn’t deserve it
to be honest
he just got
wrapped up in some bullshit
okay and they destroyed his life
after that i mean luckily for him
he didn’t suffer that long because john died
in philadelphia in 1908
so poor guy
i don’t know i was trying to make it positive at
least he died so he’s not humiliated
so cordelia’s
story is kind of a sad one
she you have to give her credit
for taking charge of her own life look talking
about sex and being
sexual is just
completely like hell
freaking know something you did not do back then right
the fact that
cordelia was
brave enough to be like hey you guys
think i’m ugly not me though
i’m hot and
i got tits like i’m
gonna show em
okay like she just did her
thing and that i can respect for sure
good for her
unfortunately she
would go on to make some terrible decisions
bad choices
she snapped from
heartbreak but again
i’m gonna give her a little bit of credit here
cause she did get creative
and she poisoned some chocolates
again not really
heard of not a thing
death by mail murder by mail
not a thing
it’s a shame that
she put all of this energy towards being a bad person
instead of just being a good person because
she had some ideas
in the end though
cordelia was just a very insecure woman who
wanted john
all to herself and murdered a
woman who lives 6 000
miles away so she
could have john
at the end of the day she’s a pretty fucked up lady
and that my friends
is a story of
cordelia botkin
very interesting
woman murder by mail
so what did we
learn here today
i think what we
learned here
today is that nobody is worth
murdering over
okay i don’t know what else to tell you
nobody is worth it and i hope that’s what you
learned today oh also another
thing we can take away here is like if you ever
fighting over a man
with somebody just let fucking let it go like it’s not
worth it let someone else have them
your day will come anywho
i hope you have
a wonderful rest of your day you make good choices
i’ll be seeing you guys later hi