Saturday, February 9, 2019

Was Miss Doty Doughty's Death Murder or Suicide? Feb. 7, 1919

From the Polk County News and Tryon Bee, Friday, February 7, 1919

Once Residents of Tryon. . . Girl Whose Body Found Dead at Camp May Spent Short Time Here in 1914. . . Murder or Suicide?

Postmaster W.H. Stearns a few days ago received the following letter from Mr. E.C. Cole of Camp May, New Jersey, Prosecutor of the Pleas for Cape May County:

To Postmaster, Tryon, N.C.

The generally accepted belief that a postmaster in any locality is the usual source of information desired in every other locality must be my only excuse (even a poor one) for thus trespassing on your attention in a matter that may or may not interest you to the point of replying to this.

On Nov. 7th last, past, there met her death on the beach at Camp May Point, Delaware Bay Shore, Cape May County, a well dressed, well preserved woman, probably 38 to 42 years old. Whether by murder or suicide has not been determined. Her identity was a mystery till within the past few days, when by finding baggage theretofore undisclosed, in a Cape May hotel, her said identity was solved beyond a doubt.

Her diary running over several years lies before me, and some passages therein are the cause of this note. The woman and her father were long residents in a town in Southern Alabama and later it appears they lived for a time in a cottage in our vicinity (picture of which I allowed to be published in the newspapers when seeking to establish as aforesaid.) The name of the latter supposed to be Jennie W. Doughty—father, Walter Doughty.

I regret to find that I have not left a card picture of the bungalow referred to, but a newspaper cut may serve to identify it if in your vicinity. The man on the porch is supposed to be the father (who is now deceased for some two years) and the pathetic part is that in the bosom of the dead woman was a card picture of the cottage, and in her trunk I found the original film from which the card was printed; not only fixing her identity, but showing a sentimental attachment to the place.

Yours truly,
Eugene C. Cole, Prosecutor Pleas.

The bungalow was immediately recognized as one belonging to Mr. J. Foster Searles and when that gentleman was interviewed he remembered the Doughty’s very well. He said they occupied his bungalow form May 20, 1914 to Aug. 20, 1914. They went back to Alabama from Tryon, but before doing so bargained for a house here, buying some furniture to go therein. They never returned to perfect their deal for the house in Tryon, and in fact, nothing more was ever heard from them until Mr. Stearns received the above letter from Mr. Cole.

The young woman, Miss Doty, was always looked upon as being a bit peculiar by those who came in contact with her in Tryon, and this may explain some of her actions later on.

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