Murder, Mystery & Makeup - Death By Delicious Chocolate - Cordelia Botkins was WILD

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

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