[APG Public List] Suicide in Rome

Craig Kilby persisto at live.com
Tue Mar 2 14:54:31 MST 2010

I think the records that we have point to a suicide by a mentally distraught woman, on the spur of the moment. It would not shock me to learn that she really did mean to shoot herself in the head in order to commit suicide, but had found the gun in her mother's trunk (this part strikes me as the most bizarre component) and took it into her dressing room to play with the mere idea of killing herself, only to find the gun was actually loaded (and if so, why?  Why was Mama packing heat? Why was the gun loaded? Did Hester buy the bullets?). We will never know for sure. That she was getting dressed to go shopping and head back to America, and that her husband had resigned his commission from the Italian Navy during a war (much to his shame) and made arrangements to move to America, do not suggest to me he had anything to do with this tragedy. 

And we cannot forget that her mother was right there at the time. To suggest it was murder would implicate her own mother (Ella Haynes Laughlin), an icon of Kentucky aristocracy. This daughter was, as they say in some parts of Virginia, "her eyeballs." There is no way she would have covered up the murder of her only daughter. And I can't imagine she wanted her dead. She was in many ways her meal ticket, having been abandoned by the ex-husband, Judge Henry D. Laughlin, then of Chicago.

I think it was what might be termed an accidental suicide.


On Mar 2, 2010, at 3:39 PM, Ray Beere Johnson II wrote:

> In some ways, the very fact that the method would have been seen at the time as atypical for a woman suggests to me that it was _not_ a murder. After all, wouldn't the murderer be more likely to choose a less remarkable method, one less likely to arouse any comment or question? There was apparently a lot of press coverage - something the survivors would have had strong motives to avoid, and even more so a potential murderer.
>     But, in the end, all any of this can ever be is speculation. There is no way to be sure, no likelihood - whether suicide or murder was involved - that the official record will contain a truly accurate portrayal of an incident anyone at the time would have felt they had a motive to hush up. If the records of the inquest survive, perhaps they contain a few more tangible hints, pointing in one direction or the other. But it is unlikely they can really settle the question.
>                       Ray Beere Johnson II

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