Monday, February 22, 2010

sex, fire, murder, & edgar allan poe

almost in that order!

ever heard of the witch of staten island? i hadn't, and i'm guessing a lot of other people haven't either owing to the fact that i found ONE relevant result for this on google. one! even i have more of an internet presence than that.

this case caught my interest partly because it was, at the time, the case of the century (i would say trial, but there were multiple, and all botched) excepting the whole lizzie borden fracas, and partly because my special man EAP opined on it on multiple occasions.


polly bodine is alleged to have brutally axe-murdered her sister-in-law and infant niece while her brother and their husband/father was off at sea in 1843, then burned their house down to cover her tracks. the description of the corpses is still pretty grisly considering the delicate and vague way these things were documented at the time. housefire-baked brains, dude. because polly was a fallen woman, she was demonized in the press as some sort of fang-toothed prostitute who randomly expels dead babies in jail (i think they just didn't know she was pregnant. she lost the baby after being arrested) among other creepy practices. a series of famous names weighed in on the scandal at the time - poe said he hoped they didn't try her in staten island, because the barney fifes out there would fuck it all up (they did) and pt barnum is the one who began calling her the witch of staten island. then, while she was on trial again in nyc, he had a wax statue fashioned in her image and put on display, except they used plenty of artistic license and the thing came out looking more like some halloween decor.

she was found innocent. the whole case was rather mysterious, from evidence to motivation (the house was lightly burglarized and polly was seen pawning some of the shit that had gone missing before her arrest - but she apparently had plenty of her own money. spite theft?) not included in the article i will link was some commentary on the part of her brother, the man whose wife and child had been hacked to pieces on christmas eve. he said, and i paraphrase, "ey! i can get another wife, and i can get another child, but can i get another sister? no." needless to say, modern cold-case types have decided that polly was the one who killed them and that the retarded 19th century court system is to blame for "vindicating" her. no one else was ever suspected, obviously. much of this i learned from a bowery boys podcast. the rest you can read here.

meanwhile i have not worked on this paper i'm supposed to write. thanks internet.

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