[APG Public List] Suicide in Rome

Craig Kilby persisto at live.com
Tue Mar 2 17:09:33 MST 2010


I am very guilty of falling in love with the story, this much is true. But the reason I wrote about this is that I am no in love with ending. The reason I first wrote about is the very reason you mention, which was my original query here: In case you missed it, it was more or less this:

I would like to see Italian newspaper accounts. Death occurred 5 November 1912. Suicide in Rome. Hester Pfister. Wife of Carlo Pfister.

Believe me, murder is certainly one possibility but the sundry newspaper accounts, and family papers and stories, do not support that immediate "jump to" conclusion. Quite the opposite.. Please keep in mind that this happened while the mother of the woman in question was in the house. The husband was in the bathroom.  As much as we might want to rush to a conclusion that the husband did it, or that he drove her insane, it just does not add up in this case.This there is too much evidence to he contrary. I know that very mystery has a conspiracy theory, but I don't think in this case it will add up.  Might make a good TV show though. By all accounts, the husband was very distraught over his wife's mental condition. He had already forgone a lucrative and promising career in the Italian Navy to assuage her fears. These are not the actions of a man who wanted to kill his wife. To the contrary. he had re-arranged his entire career to assuage his wife, even moving to America to work or a coal company. This was huge step down of social position for him. No. He did not kill her. He loved her that much.

I am also a bit surprised that no one on this list has made the least comment on the fact that her mother was--and had been for 3 months--living with her daughter and trying to get her bak to her senses.  Again, I add, the story about the revolver Hester suddenly found in her mother's trunk is the most suspicious part of the story. But to run with this all the way, it would implicate both mother and husband in a murder. This part of the story keeps getting overlooked by all the poster and respondents here. I think it is a very important aspect to it.

Again, this is why is so important to track down the stories from the Italian newspapers of the time. If anyone can help me in that, I will be most grateful.

There was a history of insanity in her family, especially with her siblings. Think of *high strung* Mary Todd Lincoln here and you get an idea of this family group and their origins. Her grandfather was Josias Ellis Haynes whose wife was Rebecca   Kuykendall Heth. Time

In short, I am not dismissing murder, and this is not the first time I have delved into this particular issue. This has been an on-going research project since 1992. It has just now been given rebirth. It will eventually, one hopes, make a great article, book or even a mini-series if they ever resurrect City Confidential. Time will tell, and we can all be interviewed!

Craig K

On Mar 2, 2010, at 6:31 PM, Bonnie Kohler wrote:

> Craig, you're probably right about the story, but I do detect a hint of what I, myself, have been guilty of in the past. I "fall in love" with a version of a story, and I lose my perspective. I guess you have gone back and re-read all of the newspaper accounts. Have you looked at any of the reporting on the story in the Rome newspapers? That would be hard to do because of the language issue, but it might add another perspective. Maybe an English speaking librarian in Rome could help. He/she could send you the articles and then you could find someone over here who could read them. I kind of "feel" the way I think ESM intimated, that someone wanted to "snuff out" the wife because she was unduly influencing a person high in the military. I keep imagining an assassin behind a curtain . . .
> Best regards,
> Bonnie
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Craig Kilby
> To: Ray Beere Johnson II
> Cc: APG Posting
> Sent: Tuesday, March 02, 2010 4:54 PM
> Subject: [APG Public List] Suicide in Rome
> 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.
> Craig
> 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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