Friday, September 15, 2017

More Than Single Person Behind Death of Maude King, 1917

“Mrs. King Was the Victim of Murder Plot,” from the Monroe Journal, Sept. 21, 1917

It Was Deliberately Planned in New York City…Deposit Box Gives Up Only Rubber Band

New York, Sept. 19—The World today carries a story in which District Attorney Swann is quoted as boldly asserting the evidence in possession of his office has convinced him that a “conspiracy to murder Mrs. Maude A. King was “hatched in this city,” and that this “conspiracy involved several persons who actually participated.” The World story follows:

District Attorney Swann announced last night, after receiving a report from Captain Jones, pistol expert of the police department, that he was convinced that Mrs. Maude A. King was the victim of “premeditated” murder when she met death outside of Concord, N.C., on the evening of August 29 through a pistol wound.

The district attorney stated that evidence in possession of his office as the result of its investigation was comprehensive and conclusive enough to convince him that a conspiracy to murder the wealthy widow was hatched in this city; that this conspiracy involved several persons who actively participated; that in connection with Mrs. King’s affairs the crimes of grand larceny, forgery and conspiracy to perpetuate a fraud had been committed.

“Captain Jones,” said Mr. Swann, “has been making exhaustive tests with an automatic pistol the exact duplicate of the one from which admittedly the shot which killed Mrs. King was fired. As far as possible he has re-enacted the tragedy. As a result of this work he has reported that Mrs. King was the victim of foul play.

“Mrs. King was a resident of this city. I have instructed Assistant District Attorney Dooling to go to Concord the latter part of this week and to assist the North Carolina authorities. I have directed that Dr. Otto H. Schultze, whom I regard as one of the best medical experts in this country on such work, to go to Concord to testify at the inquest next Monday. I have taken other steps to see that those persons guilty of the murder of Mrs. King be brought to justice.

“I am perfectly willing to bear personally the full expense involved in the steps I have taken, should this expenditure be regarded as an unjustifiable one on New York. I do not so consider it. Should the guilty persons be indicted in North Carolina for the major crime and convicted, well death ends all. New York would be saved the expense of costly trials here to convict them of lesser offenses.

“Beyond this is the principle that New York must be interested in bringing to justice any person guilty of the murder of one of its citizens. You know the old Roman saying, ‘Roanus sum’.”

Last night there was great activity in the district attorney’s office. It was evident in the statements of assistants that new and important evidence had convinced those in charge of the investigation that the chain of circumstances involving Mrs. King’s affairs and her death had been revealed.

Neither District Attorney Swann nor his assistants would give any indication as to the identities of those they believe guilty of conspiring to murder the woman and of effecting the murder. From information in possession of the World it can be said that unless the evidence in possession of the New York authorities collapses there will be startling surprises when the evidence is produced.

This evidence involves in the major conspiracy some persons among Mrs. King’s circle of friends who, so far, have not figured in the startling revelations of her affairs. It brings in new names as those playing leading parts. Unless the calculations of Mr. Swann’s office are wrong, disclosures more sensational than any yet made are due either at the Concord inquest, or at the grand jury proceeding which, it is assumed here, will immediately follow.

Adding to the mystery of the case and opening the field for unlimited speculation is the “second automobile.” This car has been rather vaguely mentioned in dispatches from Concord. The story is that it followed close behind the King automobile on the bit of lonely road on the evening of the tragedy, that occupants of this car unobserved by those in the first, were on the scene or close enough to it to be observers of all that took place from the time Mrs. King walked to the spring with Gaston Bullock Means, her confidential agent, and the time her limp form was listed back into her car again.

Assistant District Attorney Dooling positively declined to discuss this “second car” in any way. He characterized as “great mistake” these Concord dispatches which have referred to it.

Who were the occupants of that car? What was their business? Why did they stealthily shadow the King party? Where were its members when the fatal shot was fired? Above all who were they? Were they secret service men in the employ of the federal government, as has been intimated from Concord, or were they there that night for some more sinister purpose?

These questions loomed last night as the major importance. That they will be asked and that answers will be forthcoming at the inquest there is reason to believe.

Again, what had Gaston Means done for Germany which caused agents of the department of justice to dog his steps for more than two years as federal authorities here yesterday admitted? What were his activities which caused the United States Secret Service to follow him day in and day out until they turned this work over to the department of justice, as was also admitted by federal officials here yesterday?

The answers to these questions may or may not come through the pending North Carolina proceedings. Last night the district attorney’s office was working late in preparation of a mass of evidence in support of the revelations made here during their investigation of Mrs. King’s affairs. This evidence, Mr. Dooling will carry for transmission to the North Carolina officials and two district attorney detectives will guard it on the trip to Concord.

District Attorney Swann seized in the apartments of Gaston Means the carbon copies of a series of letters sent to Mrs. King. The district attorney said last night experts had compared the typing of these letters and found they were all written on Means’ typewriter, which is in Mr. Swann’s possession. Other proof satisfied Mr. Swann that the letters were all written by Means on his own typewriter and in his apartment at No. 1115 Park Avenue.

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