Not Past It - The Witch of Delray


Welcome, not past it listeners.

You feel that, that chill in the air October is here.

And that means spooky, season is in full swing.

All month long.


We’re bringing you true scary stories ripped, right?

From the pages of History because sometimes hauntings are just histories unresolved.

And for our first stop in this spooky tour, we’re traveling to Detroit Michigan in the early, 1930s.



This, you’re walking down the street on Detroit’s Southwest side and a neighborhood called Del Rey.

The streets are bustling with people going to work doing their shopping and among the crowd.

You notice one woman in particular.


She’s rather short a little over five feet tall dressed in all black.

Her dark hair is tucked into a white.

Crocheted cap as she walks by you.

Notice people jump to get out of her way.

They avert their gaze and then whisper to each other.


As she passes by you, continue to watch her as she walks up the porch steps of an old boarding house.

And before she disappears behind the front door.

You catch a glimpse of her face or Hollow cheeks.


The Deep lines around her mouth and her eyes, man.

Those eyes light gray and piercing you ask one of the locals.

Hey, what’s up with that woman?

The one at the boarding house?


Oh, her.

That’s Rose Vera’s.

She’s bad luck.

You know what they call her, don’t you?

The Witch of Delray.

From gimlet media.


This is not passed it a show about the stories.

We can’t quite leave behind every episode.

We take a moment from that very same week in history and this month we’re telling you the stories that still haunt our world.

I’m Simone pollen on Rose Vera’s.


AKA The Witch of Delray took over newspaper headlines in 1931 when she went on trial for murder and on.

Fifth of that year, 90 years ago, this week, the verdict in that murder trial was reached today on the show.


We investigate roses Story, the allegations launched against her and how she came to be known as The Witch of Delray.

So, hang on, to those broomsticks.

We’re taking to the skies after the break.


In the early, nineteen hundreds, the Delray neighborhood on the south.

West side of Detroit was a bustling Place brimming with the energy of the booming automobile industry and nearby manufacturing facilities.

It was a very densely populated business Rich Community, whether it be banking, funeral homes, bakeries, grocery stores.


Little corner bars, candy stores for the kids.


You name it?

That’s Karen diabetes.

She’s a detroit-based.

Reporter and local historian.

She says, back then Del Rey was a home to newcomers from all over immigrants from across Europe Southerners, migrating North and in Delray, they built a tight-knit thriving Community.


You could have these very rich social connections with your neighbors.

And neighbors were very well connected to one another via like, porches outdoor activities.

So, they spend a lot of time straightening up there their area around their home.


You’re sweeping the sidewalk planting flowers.

So, extremely warm welcoming.


Evokes strong feelings in the people who live there, very loyal to it, and Define themselves by that Del Rey neighborhood.

And in 1911, the protagonist of our story a woman named Rose landed in this neighborhood.


Should come over to the States from Hungary, looking for her husband who had left her behind in the old country, and he had come to the United States with the promise of settling, and then bringing her to join him and he disappeared in a way, didn’t follow up on that promise.


Her first husband, never re-entered her life.

And Karen says that Rose.

Tried her best when she got to Detroit to.

Something new, but it was hard.

She found herself alone in a new country in a new City without a job.


Barely knowing how to speak English things started.

Looking up for her though.

When she met Gabor Vera’s.

A local laborer and like rose a Hungarian.

Immigrant living in Delray.

They married in 1916 and had three sons together and around 1920 Rose.


And Gabor opened up a boarding house on Del Rey.

Ray’s Medina Street in this time, in Detroit, boarding houses are extremely common.

They serve as a way for immigrant families.

To either support incoming immigrants, like single men who might be coming to work in the automotive factories or larger family households that would combine so that they could support one another in this kind of like beginning times in the United States.


Rose and gabor’s.

Guests were mostly men in transition, like widowers or recent immigrants from Hungary working, low-wage jobs, they’d sleep in the basement on cots, whatever money, they didn’t send back home with go towards supporting their modest accommodations.


For several years with Gabor and The Boarding House, things seem to be looking up for Rose, but then tragedy struck.

Gabor and his friend were repairing a car in a closed, Garage in January, in Detroit.


They were likely repairing, the car got cold.

They close the garage door and unaware, that carbon monoxide was poisonous and would kill them succumb to that gas within the garage.

When Rose lost her beloved Gabor, Karen says she didn’t hide her Devastation row.


Started wearing all black and kept up the dark wardrobe for years long after he died.

She was left to raise their three sons, all under the age of 14 on her own.

And she was also left to run the boarding house by herself as owner and landlady Reports say she cared for at times up to 16 men.


It was not easy work.

She would work herself from very early in the morning.

So like if you picture a 4 or 5 a.m.

Wake-up, time to prepare these men for their jobs, get up early, fix them a meal, get her son’s ready for school, get them off with the men off at work.


And her boys, at school Rose would spend the rest of her day doing chores around the house.

Tending to the Linens cleaning, the constant stream of soot and dust coming from the nearby factories, then it was dinner, time more wash.

Seeing more cleaning, putting the kids to bed the next day.


She do it all over again.

She probably was working 12 to 14-hour days, Andros definitely.

As a person shows the wear and tear of that, kind of existence the stress that she probably feels is visible in any photograph that you look of her where she is a youngish woman, but because of probably the weight of not only her circumstance, but the the This of the work that she’s doing really makes her look much older.


That stress seem to manifest in other ways, too.

Rose had a reputation for being very direct quick to shout.

If her borders didn’t help her out around the house or fell behind on payments.

She was sure to make her anger known this reputation seeped outside of the house into the neighborhood.


Apparently Rose was a bit of a busybody couldn’t resist.

Commenting on other people’s lives and businesses.

Let’s just say Within the tight-knit community of Delray Rose was not the most loved individual.

And then more tragedy.


But this time it hit the whole country in the fall of 1929, the stock market crashed, sending detroiters and the rest of America.

And to deeply uncertain times.

The unemployment rates, skyrocketed.


The economy was crashing, breadline, snaked around street corners, and down.

Sidewalks people were hurting and looking for something or Someone to be held accountable.

There’s a lot of hard time to be had in Detroit in this era.


But if you had some kind of like person that you can blame it on, I think people found comfort in that and in Delray, well, the person that people began to blame their troubles on was Rose.

If a woman’s husband left her, it’s because of rose rose is to blame for Harry losing his job.


They connect her in these ways to the bad.

Tidings of a neighborhood.

A lot of roses neighbors were immigrants from Hungary like her, they had certain Old Country superstitions.

They started calling Rose a, which was probably kind of one of those.


Oh, that old witch kind of things that they might have said in just common conversation that all which you see how she’s in all black.

The name stuck.

She fit the part in many ways with her shaky reputation, heard our appearance.


Plus, those striking, pale blue, grey eyes, people believed she possessed.


They called strange powers and that she would cast an evil eye that could cause illness or unemployment soon.

Rose viruses reputation as the which of Del Rey was cemented when one is calling.


You’re which it is meant to cast, you as less than human to cast you as threatening and to a potentially imply that you are a threat that needs to be snuffed out.

That’s Pam Grossman.

She’s the host of the which wave podcast and self-identifies as a wedge.


And she says that the concept of the, which is consistently present throughout history and around the world virtually every culture in their own language has Has a word for which or some variation thereof, you know, a threatening often malevolent being who uses magic or Supernatural powers to influence others for their own personal gain across cultures, women, who get labeled witches, tend to share some common characteristics.


Sometimes it was a woman who was a widow and had a land that other Wanted access to, they were often women, who were what we would now consider middle-aged in their 40s.

They are usually on the fringes of society.


They are usually a subversive being of some sort.


So let me get this straight Widow who owns property in her 40s.

Not conventionally attractive and abhorred by her community.

That sure sounds a lot like rose from the old.


Boarding house on Medina street, but in her case the which label was more than just a nickname.

It was something more malicious like when her husband could board died, the neighbors whispered, the maybe that wasn’t an accident at all.


Maybe Rose herself.

Shut that garage door on purpose.

Maybe she was truly evil because oh yeah, did I not mention?


There were all these other deaths to see people who lived in roses boarding house kept turning up dead and the deaths fan the Flames of the superstitions and to something more potent.



Been more like a Witch Hunt, that’s after the break.

Welcome back before the break.


We introduced you to Rose Vera’s a widowed Hungarian, immigrant a boarding house owner, and if her neighbors and the Delray section of Detroit are to be believed.

A witch strange, things seem to happen and her boarding house on Medina Street, even before her husband gabor’s death in 1927.


Neighbors were suspicious of what was going down at roses place.

In October of nineteen, twenty five police showed up at the house after one of roses borders died.

According to his death certificate.


He died of heart failure due to alcoholism earlier that year.

Three other borders.

All of the men had also died at the house officially of cancer.

A fatal injury and pneumonia newspapers.

Soon, caught wind of these mysterious deaths and they’ll a Touched onto the story of the old witch and her suspicious boarding house.


A newspaper headline at the time blared.

What is dy landlady is Hell.

Rose was held for questioning but released, when an autopsy of the man in question, didn’t find any evidence of Foul Play, but neighbors still thought the situation was sketchy.


The newspaper article reported information supplied by a neighbor LED police to question the woman who said, she contracted with all her borders to carry life, insurance in her favor in return.

She said, she Agreed to provide the boarded with care when he was sick and food and shelter went out of work, rumor was that she often married and then took out life insurance policies for her borders and was apparently flush with cash.


After they died Detroit historian.

Karen diabetes, says word, on the street was Rose was using the money to help pay for lavish funerals.

She would say Spend it on flowers or small band to play.

If you picture like a New Orleans, kind of funeral procession and these are Hungarian Traditions, that Rose was upholding but in the context of what was happening in her neighborhood, in the Great Depression time was not on her side.


Holding flashy events while her neighbors were struggling to make ends meet, not a good look.

And after the funeral expenses, neighbor said, the leftover money went straight into roses Pockets.

There was also speculation that she was Hawking the where’s of the deceased at local pawn shops and spending the money on.


Luxuries for herself by 1931.

At least nine men had died in The Boarding House on Medina Street.

The neighbors were convinced Dark Forces had to be at play especially with all this money involved.


These neighbors.

They see it as she’s done something that requires maybe an outside intervention like magic or that she’s uniquely talented or that she got it through ill means.

All this neighborhood drama came to a head late in the summer of 1931 on August 23rd, one of roses borders, a man named Steve Mac fell off a ladder connected to an upper story.


Window Rose said that Mac was working on repairs to the boardinghouse.

But neighbors whispered a different story.

He was pushed.

It was rumored that Mac owed, Rose money and with roses temper, the whole neighborhood had gathered there to see what happened when the The police and the media starts showing off.


So it’s very much a almost looks like a street party is happening in front of a crime scene where you can still see the ladder.

Where supposedly the gentleman?

Who died?


Mac had fallen from Steve Mac died from his injuries, two days later at which point Rose and her 18 year old son Bill were taken into custody.


Then on September first, Rose and Bill, Vera’s were officially charged with Steve Max Murder One newspaper.

Reporters started.

Interviewing roses neighbors.

They heard.

The many stories about the mysterious old witch living in Delray.


They printed the spookiest.

Toes of rows that they could find and the headlines that ran all across the country stirred, the proverbial cauldron, even more Great Falls Tribune, which of Delray is under arrest Detroit.


Police are investigating 10 deaths in her home, New York Daily News, which charged with war in in slang border how a woman’s evil eyes, spread Terror and death for many years.

Newspapers, that era had a tabloid interest in exaggerating these stories.


So to over-exaggerate, a case for your own financial gain with something newspaper, owners of The Arrow are very interested in.

That’s why I always try to take some of the newspaper coverage of that area with a grain of salt.

On October 1st, 1931, the trial of Rose Vera’s and her son Bill, officially began, but thanks to the papers.


She was already guilty in the court of public opinion at the trial, a string of neighbors and former residents at her boarding house, took the stand to speak out against the infamous, which of Delray, one of the borders that was in her home, testified against her.


That she had even said, this was her intent that she wanted to kill him for the insurance money.

He heard Rose saying, you know in a conversation with her son, but also directly to him that she had done this on purpose.

And if he would remain quiet about what he knew, she would give him some of that money to help offset his silence, two other Witnesses testified that Rose had previously attempted to poison Mac, but that it was taking too long to kill him.


Even an 11 year old neighborhood.

Girl, took the stand a little girl who said she was out playing in the mud.

I saw this all go down.

So to have this little girl testify, really kind of caught the jurors eyes, another witness a neighbor named Bessie Hill who lived across the street testified that Rose had come to her home on the day of Steve.


Max fall in a disheveled State and asked for a towel to wash her face and hands.

The prosecution argued that this was evidence that Rose and her son had beaten Steve Mac before throwing him out the Attic Window.

Rose did not testify instead.


She sat by silent and stone-faced.

On October 5th, 1931.

After a four-day trial, Rose and Bill.

Vera’s were officially found guilty of murder.

They were sentenced to life in prison.


The wicked witch of Southwest Detroit was forced to hand in her broomstick.

Rose was incarcerated for over a decade the whole time.

She and her son’s maintained her innocence, but no one paid that much attention.


And until a woman named Aileen, be Klutz came along.

Clots was one of very few women attorneys in Michigan in the 1930s, and she was something of a badass.

She was kind of known as the patron.

Saint of lost causes men who felt they were innocent and were serving time in prison would save money to write her letters and hopes.


She would take their case.

And so she was well, known within the Detroit legal Community as taking on these cases that no one else would.

Try and winning.

Karen thinks it’s likely that in 1943 one of roses other Sons reached out to a lien pleading with her to take on his mom’s case.


We have evidence that we think is case that she is an innocent and is serving time.

Can you help us?

There were a few ways this case, fit into aliens legal portfolio.

While the media had painted a salacious picture during roses trial of murderous, intentions and insurance scams.


There were actually some pretty reasonable explanations from the original trial that suggested a very different story.

One of the coroner’s from the time actually does testify saying This Is Not Unusual.

Boardinghouse deaths are common because of not only the health of the individuals, so they were probably not eating.


Exactly cholesterol free diets.

They weren’t exercising regularly.

They also were drinking alcohol during prohibition.

Let’s say that might not have been of the best quality and that could have negatively affected their health.

And what about those scandalous rumors?


That she’d married her borders and take it out.

Big life insurance policies.

I’ve never been able to find any documentation that indicates that she married.

Any of her borders.

Karen says, it’s highly possible.


That borders took out these insurance policies on their own.

They’d name Rose their beneficiary.

Because if they died in her house, she’d be the one making the funeral arrangements.

A lot of men of the era would With an insurance policy of a small amount.


Especially if they came from another country.

Let’s say we’re, if you were to be buried without any income or money, you might end up in a pauper’s grave.

And that was not something anyone really wanted, you wanted someone to remember you, and be buried properly.

Plus some pretty sketchy things that happened during the trial.


For one.

Karen says, the jury wasn’t exactly sequestered that meant.

They were likely eating up and potentially influence by all of the tawdry newspaper reports just like everyone else.

And remember how Rose didn’t testify and sat silent throughout the trial.


The jury took her blank demeanor as evidence of her cold-blooded nature, but actually Rose didn’t speak much English, and the court, never provided a translator.

The rest of the country was reading about her in the tabloids.


But Rose was sitting through a trial.

She couldn’t even understand all this left lawyer.

Alien Klutz intrigued and hopeful.

She could break roses case wide open.

She agreed to take it on and got Right to Work Shiri interviewed.


Every single person who Testified found new people to testify on behalf of rose and sought out Engineers who could study roses home and were able to examine.

Whether it was even physically possible for Rose to have conducted the crime, and the way that it was alleged in her first trial alien, uncovered, multiple inconsistencies in the initial trial and one major misstep, the judge hadn’t been present when the verdict was read a violation.


Of the courts own rules based on this technicality Aileen.

Be clots filed for a retrial in October of nineteen forty four.

And six months later.

It was granted by November 1945, 14 years after her original conviction, Rose Vera’s was back in court.


This time Rose testified through an interpreter, claiming.

She didn’t commit the murder and that in fact, She wasn’t even home when the fall took place, while some people from the first trial offered the same testimony.

They had.

Originally there was one major reversal Bessie Hill, the neighbor who claimed Rose had asked her for a towel to wash her face and hands recanted her testimony.


This was enough for the judge on the basis of perjury and false accusation.

He threw out roses conviction and she was acquitted.

On December 11th, 1945 The Witch of Delray walked free.


We’ll never know for sure.

What happened at The Boarding House on Medina Street.

All those many years ago, but I do think Rose is guilty.

Not of murder, just to be clear.

But of the kinds of crimes of being or not being women, get chastised for she was guilty of being not very nice.


Being not, very beautiful, not by Society standards, at least she was guilty.

Of being too old too showy too loud too angry.

Okay, these aren’t real crimes, but they attract, real punishments, exclusion derision dismissal at best abuse at worst.



A woman like rose may not be subject to the label which specifically, but obviously, women are still labeled constantly Pam, Grossman our IRL.

Which says women who deviate from societal Norms, tend to be branded with a comparable title certainly bitch is probably the most obvious, but I think any word that implies that a feminine person has power and desire and ambition, you know, these are elements of a woman that are still considered.


Be highly highly dangerous or at least highly, you know, repulsive or repellent by a lot of the people who are still in power, but Pam says there’s power and being a bitchy which I love the archetype of the witch.


Because for me, it stands for someone who is subversive.

Who’s counter to the patriarchy and who Taps into her own inherent power without.

Shame Rose obviously didn’t have the privilege of reveling in the power of her label.


She was fighting for her survival, but I can imagine that in a different world Rose would be celebrated for all the things.

She was vilified for way back in the day and today when women like Pam.

Claimed the word, which that’s what they’re trying to do.


Owning witchiness is a rejection of expectation of the narrow way.

Women are allowed to be in this world and it’s a signal to the world that says I’m not going to be how you want me to be and I’m going to celebrate that you don’t get to mistreat women just because you don’t like them and if you try, you better watch out because you never know if some dark magic might be coming your way.


Just saying.

Not passed it as a Spotify original produced by gimlet and zsp media.


This episode was produced by Kinsey Clark next week, spooky season continues.

We’re going to the movies, inside the world of candy man, man.

Tony fucking Todd, his voice his presence.


He’s like be my big toe.

The rest of our team is producer.


Sarah Craig.

Our associate producer is Julie, Carly Lauren Newcomb is our intern, the supervising producer is Erica Morrison editing by more a waltz, Andrea be Scott and Zach Stewart.

Ponte a voice acting by been Britain and the bowl family.


Aaron Jacob, and Matt bowl fact-checking by Jane, Ackerman sound design and mixing by, Matt Bowl, original music by Sachs kicks Ave.

Willie Green, J blasting.

And Bobby Lord this episode included, super special original spooky music by Bobby, Lord featuring Natalia, paruz, who’s better known as the saw lady.


It was recorded by Sam bear at Relic room.

Our theme song is Toko Liana by Coco, Co with music supervision by Liz Fulton, technical Direction by Zach Schmidt show art by Elysee Harvin and Talia Rahman, the executive producer at CSP.


Media is Zach, Stewart Pontiac.

By the executive producer from gimlet is Abbie.


If you want to read more about what happened at the old house on Medina Street, check out care.

And ibises book, The Witch of Delray Rose Vera’s and Detroit’s Infamous, 1930s.


Murder mystery special.

Thanks to Luis Aguilar.

Lydia Pole, Green, Dan Behar and Clara.

Sankey Emily wiedemann.

List Styles and Nabil.

Cholan pot.

Follow, not past it now to listen for free exclusive.


Of Leon Spotify.

Click the little bell next to the follow button to get notifications for new episodes.

And hey, do you have any burning questions about the past?

Maybe a story you want us to dig into a history mystery.

You’ve always wondered about.


This is Madison from Arkansas and I have a question.

Send us an email to not past it at zsp. or leave us a voicemail at six four six five zero four.

Or 925 to you can follow me on Twitter at Simone.



No, thanks for hanging.

We’ll see you next week.

Once you get Beyond kind of like the stereotypes of the pointy black hat and you know, whatever the green skin, from The Wizard of Oz.


Witch craft is very attractive to people who are looking to tap into their own, inner power, to Define that power, and that spirituality on their own terms to be free of any kind of mediator between them and the divine.

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