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You've seen this in countless movies. A private detective – or, in this case, a hotel detective – under orders from his client (or employer) either lies his way into a crime scene or schmoozes with police buddies who invite him in, foolishly trusting him not to disturb the evidence. So it went when the Ansonnia's hotel detective, Joseph Cummings, went to the apartment of the two women who shot his boss.

Syracuse Journal, July 14, 1911
NEW YORK, July 14 – That Joseph Cummings, hotel detective at W. E. D. Stokes’ Ansonia, posed as a city detective in order to ransack the apartments of Lillian Graham and Ethel Conrad, who shot his employer, was asserted today by John Bloom, superintendent of the house where the girls lived. He testified at the police investigation.

Bloom also told Deputy Police Commissioner McKay, who is trying city detectives accused of negligence, that someone entered the apartments with a duplicate key following the shooting and carried away Stokes’ hat.

Ah, yes, Stokes' hat. Recognizing the opportunity to embellish his version of the incident, Stokes briefly claimed one of the women had fired a shot at his head, missing her target by such a small margin that the bullet went through the hat he was wearing. But everything about the holes in the hat suggested he was lying, so he later admitted he had removed his hat prior to the shooting; it actually was on the floor when a bullet went through it, creating two holes.

Stokes' health was the main reason the trial was postponed until December. The problem was a kidney injury, the effect of which made Stokes fear he had been subjected to a deadly martial arts punch. His doctor, however, felt Stokes had recovered nicely. He didn't completely trust the doctor's diagnosis. Stokes, who looked older than his 59 years, generally was a dull fellow, but occasionally he'd display a flair for the dramatic where his health was concerned. He often used illness to miss court dates.

The trial itself was much like the one Stokes faced in the Lucy Riley case of 1907. Again, embarrassing letters were read in court, and again Stokes seemed a man who became foolish in the presence of pretty, young woman. His letters were filled more with advice than expressions of feelings, but my reading of them was that he was trying to maintain a connection with Graham more than sever it. In pop psychology terms, Stokes was "an enabler." Several of his letters appear to be written to protect himself in case of future criminal or civil charges; that is, his words may say "No! No!", but the enclosed money sends a completely different message.

Stokes continued to claim he had been lured to the apartment by Miss Conrad, who dangled the letters as bait. According to Stokes, Miss Conrad said Miss Graham was on her way to Europe. (The Stokes version.)

Both women insisted the visit was Stokes' idea, that he was irate and demanded the letters. Miss Graham accused Stokes of trying to choke her and and said she and Miss Conrad shot him in self-defense. The fact both women had guns was suspicious, but they said it was because they were young, single and vulnerable. Their lawyer, Clark L. Jordan, said, too, that even before the shooting the women had been signed to perform in a show that was going on the road, that they felt the need for protection afforded by a gun. Miss Conrad would admit she had used a gun previously to force a man to put in writing a denial of unflattering things he supposedly had said about her.

The women also stuck with the story that Miss Graham had attempted suicide, so distraught was she over the end of her affair with Stokes. The prosecution thought the suicide story was a hoax, as was the brief and bizarre "disappearance" of Miss Graham in July, which more likely was a publicity stunt in connection with her new career as part of a vaudeville act with Miss Conrad, who would stage a similar stunt in 1912 just prior to the start of a "Shooting Show Girls" tour of cities throughout New York State.

The prosecution went so far as to claim the two women had planned to murder W. E. D. Stokes, but in summation leaned more on the blackmail theory. The defendants, claiming self-defense, were more persuasive. During this period it was widely believed that juries – usually all-male juries – seldom found women guilty of serious crimes. The more attractive the accused, the less likely it was that she would be convicted. With Lillian Graham and Ethel Conrad it helped that W. E. D. Stokes was unpopular, unlikeable and unable to arouse much sympathy. And so they were acquitted.

For anyone who might want much more detail about the trial, keep reading (at your own risk, I might add). Both women obviously were troubled – there seemed to be a lot of that going around in those days – and W. E. D. Stokes was clearly a horny old buzzard increasingly out of touch with reality. It's a shame the three of them happened to meet. As for the woman who married Stokes just a few months before the shooting incident, she should have packed her bags and moved back to Denver.


New York, Dec. 8 – An almost constant flow of tears, the cause of which counsel for the prosecution questioned, accompanied the recital which Lillian Graham gave today of the sordid romance which led up to her shooting William E. D. Stokes, the millionaire hotel proprietor, on the night of June 7.

The crowd which sought admission to the court room at the afternoon session, when the climax of her story was reached, surged through the doors so violently that many spectators were pushed bodily over the benches in the rush to get seats.

Prompted by the soothing tone of her counsel, C. L. Jordan, the young woman sobbed her replies to questions which covered her girlhood in California and came gradually up to her relations with Stokes. These made up a story of her having been lured to Mr. Stokes’ stock farm and of her having been detained there for two nights and forced to sign self-defamatory letters releasing him from responsibility in order to be allowed to go away in peace.

Statements in Letters Untrue
She declared the letters were written in Lexington before she left, and that Mr. Stokes made her write them, on the threat that he would write to her brother-in-law and tell him that she had been there and forced herself upon him. The statements in the letter, she said, were untrue.

She testified that during her acquaintance with Stokes he paid her $1,200, which, she asserted, fell $500 short of $1,700 which she said she had earlier given him for investment and which he had reported did not turn out well.

She told of meeting Ethel Conrad, who is jointly charged with her for shooting Stokes last April. She testified that the Conrad girl bore tales of defamatory things Stokes had said about her (Miss Graham).

The questioning then came as to the shooting itself. She told the story of this in rapid, tremulous phrases, denying positively that she had invited Stokes to her apartment on the night of June 7. Ethel Conrad opened the door and when she heard them talking in the hall she said she rushed out and demanded to know what business he had there.

“Tried to Choke Me”
“He grabbed me by the throat and tried to choke me,” she said. “He forced me back into my room and against the bureau. He cursed me and called me terrible names. I thought he was going to kill me. I opened the drawer where the revolver was. He seized the weapon and struggled with me for it. At last I got my finger on the trigger and it went off. Then he got the gun away from me and I ran into the front room. Miss Conrad cried to him, ‘Drop that gun or I’ll shoot!’ Then she shot. The next thing I remember I ran into the hall screaming for help.”

Miss Graham sought refuge in her handkerchief, and when she lifted her head she was asked what Stokes had said.

“He said, ‘My God; I came here after my letters and I’m not going to leave without them.' ”

“Did he say anything more?” asked her attorney.

“When he took me by the throat he said: ‘You won’t have to commit suicide when I get through with you.’ ”

Miss Graham denied the very different circumstances which Stokes had previously related of their threats to kill him and demands for money.

Asks About the Tears
When the cross-examination came the witness seemed to regain her composure, and Assistant District Attorney Buckner asked: “Miss Graham, are these tears that you have shed at this trial genuine tears of shame, or only tears of self-pity?”

“I don’t think we will call upon this witness to characterize any tears she had shed,” interposed Justice Marcus.

Justice Marcus then declared an adjournment until tomorrow. It was believed that in doing so he had saved the witness from a complete collapse, for the high-strung young woman was nervous and distraught with the long day on the stand, and she let herself fall almost like a dead weight into the arms of her sister, Mrs. Singleton.


New York, Dec. 11 – Lillian Graham, who, with her chorus girl companion, Ethel Conrad, is on trial in the Supreme Court for shooting W. E. D. Stokes, the millionaire horseman, in the legs last July, faced the fire of the prosecution’s cross examination today.

The Graham and Conrad girls came in court together and sat with their counsel before court opened. The girls are confident of their acquittal. Ethel Conrad will probably be called to give her testimony after the Graham girl has left the stand. The condition of millionaire Stokes, who has been seriously ill as a result of complications following an attack of acute indigestion, was slightly improved this morning.

“Miss Graham, be just as composed a you can be under the circumstances,” said Assistant District Attorney Buckner today when the senior defendant in the Stokes shooting case returned to the stand for the rest of her cross-examination.

Although the showgirl had two days to recuperate since she broke down upon the stand last Friday, she still showed today signs of her recent ordeal.

Mr. Buckner first attacked the question of the defendant’s age. He tried to prove that instead of being 23 at the present time she was 27 to 28. Miss Graham refused to become entangled on this point and the examiner dropped it after indicating his belief that the defendant was not so young as she represented herself.

The defendant admitted that she knew Stokes didn’t intend to marry again, after counsel had called her attention to a letter in which Stokes told her that “having failed to make one woman happy, he did not intend to try with another.” Miss Graham said, however, that their acquaintance at that time was only friendship with no thought of marriage.

Then the prosecutor reverted to the Al Adams story. Last week Miss Graham said she was afraid of Stokes at the time she shot him because her sister, Mrs. Andrews, had told her she had heard that Stokes had murdered the former policy king. A coroner’s jury found that Adams was a suicide.

“Did Mrs. Andrews raise any objections to your running around with this old divorcée and murderer?” asked the prosecutor sarcastically.

“No.”

“In fact, haven’t you brought this matter up for the purpose of blackening Mr. Stokes’s character?”

To this Miss Graham’s attorney objected. The witness declared that nobody had told her what kind of a man Stokes was.

“Didn’t you know of his relations with women?”

“No.”

“Didn’t you want to get on his pay roll?”

“No, sir.”

The prosecutor’s answer to these negatives was to read several of the girl’s letters in which she invited Stokes to her apartment, and expressed disappointment over his failure to accept former invitations.

“Why didn’t you stop writing and telephoning to him when he continued to ‘disappoint’ you in this way?”

“Because,” replied Miss Graham, “he always gave a very good excuse.”

 


Ethel Conrad this afternoon testified that she lived in the home of James Farley the strikebreaker and that she brandished a revolver in the face of a village storekeeper a year before she and Lillian Graham were arrested charged with shooting W. E. D. Stokes.

She denied chasing her stepfather out of their home in Onderdonk avenue, Brooklyn, using a carving knife to induce flight. These and much more sensational matter was gone over in the testimony and cross-examination of the younger show girl, who took the witness stand today in the criminal branch of the Supreme Court.

She became quite worked up during her recital, so much so that Justice Marcus stopped her and ordered a glass of water handed her. A few minutes later Mrs. Stella Singleton, a sister of Lillian Graham, stepped into an antechamber and fainted.

Ethel, when cross-examined by Mr. Buckner, Assistant District Attorney, said that Lillian Graham had been so kind to her she had intended to live with her always.

"In the summer of 1910 didn't you chase your father to the street with a knife?'*

"No."

"Didn't you use profane language?"

"No. I chastised him for using it."

She admitted knowing Charles Miller, of Plattsburgh, and that she spent a summer there by herself. Asked whose house she lived in, she said James Farley's. She said he was not married and that he met her at the station when she arrived. He was going out of town and telephoned his maid to let Ethel occupy the house. She was asked about Miller.

Salesman Her Inferior
"I went into his store. I thought him a minor salesman and treated him as an inferior," said Ethel, grandly.' "Later he called up on the telephone and said 'You know "Jim" Farley hasn't got you here to play the angel!' I thought this person ought to be chastised. So later he called up and asked me to go out riding. He came in a runabout. I ran down in a thin dress and said, ‘Who are you?’ He said, ‘I’m little Johnny Jones. Jump in.’ He cranked up and we went forty miles an hour.”

She said they went to roadhouses and finally they fought. She pretended to faint so he would let her alone and take her home. Later she said she went to Miller’s store, pointed a pistol at him and told him to retract things she had heard he said about her.

On direct examination Ethel said that Stokes telephoned her and insisted on coming over to get his letters despite her remonstrances, that when he saw Lillian he cried, “Liar” and other horrid names which caused her to cover her ears, and that he and Lillian clashed as the older girl had recounted. Ethel said she ran and shouted from a window, turned and saw Stokes point and fire a revolver at her and that she shot at the floor intending to scare him. Then she rushed into the hall crying for help.

Before Ethel was put on by the defense, Lillian was taken in hand by her counsel in redirect examination, after which Emery Buckner, Assistant District Attorney, again questioned her. She showed the jury her right forefinger to prove that the nail had come off in her struggle with Stokes. She said Ethel had reported interviewing Stokes, and that "he said horrid things about me,” among others that her little niece was really her daughter and that she was a dangerous woman. With head bowed she said she had loved Stokes once.

Ethel was then called. She swept violently to the witness stand and sat down with a decided plump. She wore a blue tailor made suit, white lace collar, big black hat trimmed with chiffon, and white gloves.

Nineteen Years Old
Questioned by her counsel, Robert M. Moore, Ethel placed one glove to her chin and in a high pitched voice rattled off that she was nineteen on August 31. She faced the jury and shut her eyes. She shook her head to emphasize her testimony.

She said she knew Lillian since last March, did not live with her, but spent one night there, and that on the day Lillian wrote the suicide letter she went to Lillian’s apartment. On entering she saw the suicide note, read the first paragraph and rushed into the bedroom.

“Lillian was lying on the bed,” said Ethel. “I did what I could for her and then read the rest of the letter.”

She said she used mustard water, milk and cold cream. She thought Stokes ought to know, so that he would send a reliable physician. She went to his office three-quarters of an hour after finding Lillian. She told him.

“He yelled, ‘She is a dangerous woman. You are a beautiful young girl. You ought to be away from her. You ought to put her out of the flat,’ ” testified Ethel. “I said it was Lillian’s flat. He wanted to send her to Europe. I thought a sanitarium best. He asked if I’d seen his letters. I said yes, I thought them very silly.

Sought Letters
“Then he yelled, ‘For God’s sake, get them! Don’t let her know you were here.’ I went back to Lillian. She had two horrid red spots on her cheeks. They remained two days and she was ill.”

Theatrical was the only word which described today’s session, with messenger boys rushing in, carrying American Beauty roses for the two defendants, while the prosecutor asked the older show girl about her vaudeville engagement, her “press agent kidnapping” and her style of act. The courtroom was jammed with people looking like actors, while a bunch of “stage door Johnnies” waited in the corridor to watch the “shooting show girls” go to luncheon.

The question, “Did you get yourself kidnapped?” was not allowed.

“On July 11 was a tar bag pulled over your head?” asked Mr. Buckner. “And did you awake in Poughkeepsie and did the police chief there ask you how you came to be kidnapped with your handbag containing your nightgown and toilet articles?”

“I didn’t have any handbag with nightgown nor even a toilet brush,” asserted Lillian.

 


NEW YORK, Dec. 13 – The district attorney who is trying to prove that Lillian Graham and her chum, Ethel Conrad, had planned to murder W. E. D. Stokes when they shot him at their apartment last June, today returned to the task of discrediting the testimony of the two show girls, whose story presented the case in a very different light.

The defense felt encouraged by the manner in which Miss Conrad met the prosecutor’s attack yesterday. Her story of the shooting supported Miss Graham’s and at the same time she never lost an opportunity to express her opinion of Stokes.

Having told the jury that she still loved her accuser, Miss Graham could not freely attack his motives, but her friend labored under no such handicap and never let a chance slip to tell what she thought of the middle-aged millionaire’s conduct.

In the effort to discredit Miss Conrad’s testimony the prosecution today continued to probe into the events of her past life. The story of what happened to her at Plattsburgh a year ago last summer was unfinished when she left the stand at the adjournment of court yesterday afternoon. Miss Conrad said she made a man who insulted her there sign at the point of a pistol a statement relating to an automobile ride they took during her stay in Plattsburgh.

Mr. Stokes, his physicians say, is a very sick man, and they will not even discuss when he will be able to finish his testimony. The operation he underwent yesterday was a serious one. Several small abscesses were removed from his kidneys and although he withstood the operation well, some anxiety was expressed today regarding his condition.

When court convened this morning the defense temporarily suspended Miss Conrad’s examination to give Dr. Avac Cutujian an opportunity to testify about his treatment of Miss Conrad last May while she was ill in the apartment she shared with Miss Graham. His testimony was brief and confirmed what the girl had already told about her illness.

“What do you do for a living?” began the assistant district attorney when Miss Conrad returned to the stand.

“I’m on the stage,” she replied.

“Did you live on what you made?”

“Not entirely. My brother helps support me.”

Mr. Buckner asked her if her first stage engagement didn’t follow notoriety she gained from an attempt at suicide. The girl admitted that the two events were pretty close together.

Miss Conrad said she had two theatrical engagements aggregating about six weeks. She got $20 a week.

Miss Conrad’s attorney today gave out the statement that she said she had obtained in the summer of 1910 from the Plattsburgh man who she says insulted her. It was this statement which the district attorney yesterday asked her to produce. The statement which will be introduced in evidence was signed “Charles L. Miller,” and recited that although he had seen the girl only once before, he induced her to take an automobile ride.

“She met me,” continues the statement, “with the intention of finding out my identity, which she was unable to ascertain, as I was in automobile attire. We stopped at Silver Creek Inn to enable me to purchase cigarettes for my own use. While there I had a drink; the young lady remained in the automobile. At that time she discovered who I was, which satisfied her, and she asked to be taken home, which I did not do, but drove to another place, where I asked her to spend the night. She refused indignantly, and she asked me to drive her home at once.

“I then tried to force her to do certain things, telling her that it was a long distance to walk home. We struggled and she pretended to faint, causing me great anxiety. After apparently recovering I immediately drove her home, getting out of the car and seeing her to the door, but never entering the Farley residence.

“She never drank with me, nor smoked cigarettes in my presence. Ashamed of myself for having caused a lot of untruthful gossip as to my relationship with Miss Conrad, I will do everything in my power to vindicate both her and myself.”

The foregoing is the statement that Miss Conrad admitted on the stand yesterday she had obtained from Miller at the point of a revolver.

Mr. Buckner tried to show that Miss Graham’s alleged attempt at suicide a few days before the shooting was not real and that the girls had arranged it for theatrical effect and also to extort money from Stokes, but Miss Conrad stuck to the story both had told about it.

 


Fire in the Criminal Court Building and a funeral dirge played by an Italian band today halted the summing up for the defense in the case against Lillian Graham and Ethel Conrad, on trial in the Supreme Court, Criminal Branch, charged with shooting W. E. D. Stokes.

Both interruptions were thoroughly disconcerting and when Justice Marcus learned the courthouse was afire and smoke began sifting in, he hastily adjourned the session.

Prior to this interruption, Robert M. Moore was summing up for the two girls, and had described Lillian Graham as being “branded as an outcast because of Stokes” when a band, leading a funeral cortège in White Street before the courtroom windows, suddenly blared out. The dirge depressed every one in the courtroom, from Justice Marcus to the two defendants, while Moore was struck dumb for the moment.

It was announced today that the defense, Mr. Moore and Clark L. Jordan, would sum up today, while Emery Buckner, Assistant District Attorney, will sum up tomorrow for the prosecution, the case going to the jury, after instructions, by tomorrow afternoon.

Told Lillian of Rights
The prosecution put on Police Captain John N. Russell in rebuttal today. He was in charge of the Detective Bureau when the show girls were arrested June 7. He said he talked to Lillian June 7 and warned her of her rights. She told him Stokes attacked her when enraged and she was struggling when the revolver went off. She denied to him attempting to blackmail for $25,000, and told Russell she was angry because Stokes defamed her mother. The defense considered Russell’s testimony favorable enough to dismiss without cross-examination.

Justice Marcus overruled a motion to strike out the testimony of Stokes, the defense basing the motion on the grounds that they could not cross-examine him while he was ill.

Mr. Moore then summed up, saying he regretted Stokes was not there to hear it. He said there was nothing to show Lillian was not nineteen years old when Stokes infatuated her, although the prosecution tried to show she was twenty-four years old. He said Stokes had confessed a fondness for women. Moore said the prosecution wanted the jury to believe the alleged confession by Lillian was written in March, but that Stokes did not take advantage of it until May.

Carefully Planned
Mr. Moore said the transactions leading to the alleged confession were carefully planned and that Stokes made Lillian sign the statement, saying to her:

“You’ve got to fix it so they can’t get me.” She was a poor, beautiful girl, said Moore.

“This old man,” the lawyer repeatedly called Stokes, “tightened the grip until he had the girl in his power, then cast her off.”

“Stokes believed these two girls without money could be railroaded to prison with credit to him,” said Mr. Moore. “I believe he regrets it now.”

He had reached the “moral outcast” remark as the band struck up.

Says Ethel Had Right to Shoot
Mr. Moore called attention to the testimony of Mrs. Smith, police matron, who said Lillian Graham’s throat had marks on it when she was arrested. The lawyer said this proved Stokes was choking her when he was shot. He said Ethel Conrad had a right to shoot in defense of her friend “who was being choked by this big, brutal man.” Stokes did not expect to find a gun at the flat, only two girls, said Moore. He went there for a clean-up; Stokes, he said, sent a lawyer to the coast to investigate Lillian’s history, but he could find nothing against her except her relations with the complainant.

“Whatever Stokes may be, a roue, ladies’ man, or moral leper, he is no fool,” said Moore. “He knew that any check for $25,000 he might sign at six o’clock at night, the girls could not cash. Stokes framed that story first, then realized it wouldn’t go, and said they tried to force him to sign a statement. He had been cashier in a bank and knew they couldn’t cash such a check.

Mr. Moore denounced Charles Miller. He concluded by saying, “You can’t punish Stokes, and hasn’t Lillian Graham been punished enough? Stokes was discredited, and his testimony uncorroborated. We ask acquittal, not on a reasonable doubt, but because we established by the State’s witnesses the truth of our statements.”

Clark L. Jordan then began summing up.

 


Lillian Graham’s and Ethel Conrad's case was given over to the jury this afternoon, following Justice Marcus' charge in the trial of the girls accused of shooting W. E. D. Stokes.

The jury retired to deliberate, with the possibility that the show girls might know the verdict this evening.

Justice Marcus instructed the jury, reading to them the law of self-defense, after Emery Buckner concluded his vigorous summing up, which ended with an appeal to convict. Mr. Buckner's summing up was interrupted by recess for luncheon this afternoon, and he concluded his remarks upon the resumption of the hearing.

During the summing up Mr. Buckner was interrupted by Juror No. 7, who rose to ask why Stokes told his secretary, Miss Brophy, to testify as he told her, as witness had sworn. Justice Marcus saved Mr. Buckner from explaining.

The prosecutor made a strong speech to the jury, describing the case as a drama in three acts, and saying he disliked Stokes, but insisted the women deliberately planned the scene and shot the Hotel Ansonia proprietor. He described Ethel Conrad as the mastermind, “baby and wildcat combined on the stand,” “this gun lady,” “the Plattsburgh lady who knows the potency of a gun in dictating English language,” and said if she could do what she had at the age of nineteen he predicted great things for her at twenty-five.

“Weak, Wobbly Lillian.”
Lillian he depicted as a woman always begging and planning to get money in the easiest way, “this weak, wobbly Lillian Graham.” When Justice Marcus interrupted Mr. Buckner for luncheon, Lillian was weeping while Ethel was laughing defiantly.

The defense was frequently moved to object as the prosecutor pictured Ethel as coaching Lillian in violent methods of obtaining money from Stokes. Mr. Buckner made no excuses for Stokes, expressing his own pleasure that Stokes was not his father, but constantly swinging the jury back to the defense of self-defense and not the blackening of Stokes.

With the exhibits laid out in front him like a curio shop, Mr. Buckner summed up. He said a mountain had been made of the molehill of the disappearance of the letters. He said that, if letters were stolen, why didn’t Stokes steal the “old cove” letter which caused his name to be bandied over the land.

Buckner said they were interested in powder and bullets, not mushy letters. He said three defenses were offered, two to the jury and one to the court: the first two that the defendants were women and the second that Stokes was a roue, while the judicial defense was self-defense.

Attacks Sex Defense
“You are wanted to say to every woman in the country, ‘You cannot be convicted because you are a woman,’ ” said Buckner. “If you acquit these defendants because they are ‘frail little women,’ then go to all the women in the county and tell them to steal and pick pockets. Counsel hopes you will acquit because Stokes was a ‘bad man.’ Let’s get together and make a list of the men who have widows and divorcées on their payroll, publish the list and then go out and kill them.

“Let us concede that Stokes is a bad man. Let us concede we don’t like him. I don’t like him. I’m glad he isn’t my father. My father is a Methodist minister who stands against everything that Stokes stands for and for everything Stokes stands against. Does that mean that we must tell Ethel and Lillian to go to the Ansonia and kill him? Is that right? If it is right for you to acquit these girls because Stokes ought to be killed, then let us kill him. Let the foreman take one of these guns and I’ll take the other and the Judge will go along with us and we’ll go up to the Ansonia an we’ll kill him.

“I ask you to hold them down to the defense of self-defense and nothing else. That is all the county demands. We prosecute only on the evidence. Get down to the indictment. They were indicted on three counts, attempted murder, assault in the first degree and assault in the second degree. That’s all you can convict them on. The whole affair, gentlemen, is a drama. It is a drama that begins in December, 1906, and ends on June 7, 1911. The first act runs from October 1906 to May 1, 1911. The second act runs from May 1, 1911 to noon May 31. The third and final act, which resulted in a near tragedy, runs from May 31 until the night of June 7.

Last Act Most Important.
“The first act runs over five and a half years. It is unimportant, but necessary. The second act runs only one month, but is more important than the first. The third act runs one week, but is the most important of all.

“The first act had for its opening scene the coming from the coast to New York of Agnes Andrews, Stella Singleton and Lillian Graham. They have each a small bankroll. That is, small for New York. These three women come to New York, go to the Waldorf-Astoria, where they look the New York situation over. Then they go to the Ansonia.

“I’m not going to take up the letters. You’ve heard them all. They all show this girl putting her hand in Stokes’ pocket for his money. And they call that love! His letters refer to the Chicago widows. It is not love, it is lust on the part of Stokes and lucre on the part of Lillian Graham. Stokes’ cloak is many-colored, but he was a cool, calculating, experienced old roue who wanted to know what he was getting throughout the whole proceeding. There was not the slightest intimation that Stokes, whatever he may be, ever ruined a woman. What he wanted was just what Lillian Graham claimed to be in writing.

Shift the Scene
“We shift the scene to Lexington. It makes no difference, gentlemen, what her age was at the time she was in Lexington. That affects her credibility. She says she was under nineteen years. That is only one of the score of lies she told on the stand. All three sisters were here in court, but none could tell me when their mother was married the third time, nothing but ‘twenty-three, twenty-three, twenty-three.’ ”

At this point Mr. Buckner went into the alleged events in Lexington and the letters leading to the alleged confession.

“I don’t care how cold, calculating or commercial Stokes may have been, his letters show that he didn’t propose to get into trouble. If there was to be any attempted blackmail he wanted evidence in writing which would protect him.”

Then the prosecutor jumped over the years to May, 1911. Some jurors requested that the windows be opened, which was done.

“Now men, come on,” said Mr. Buckner, slapping his hands. “Let’s look in the record. Let’s lump everything in this act together and we’ll see that the principal motive in this scene is money, money, money. Lillian Graham thought that she had asked so often, been refused so often that Stokes felt he had paid in full. She decided then to make a final stab by asking for $25,000. She thought that he would be glad to get rid of her so she dangled the bait that she would go to Europe. She decided that the goose would lay no more golden eggs. She thought he would be glad to have her stay in Europe. Money, money, money. It breathes in every line of her letters. Money, money, money, it was in every one of her telephone conversations. Her fake suicide letter was money. And money, money, money spoke from the mouths of those revolvers on June 7, 1911.”

“A Line-Up of Liars”
He said there had been a line-up of liars and ridiculed the story that Stokes took $1,700 from Lillian.

“On May 1, 1911,” he continued, “a new actress appeared on the scene. From now on the money question was no more a namby pamby matter of writing pleading letters. Ethel Conrad, the master mind, enters the scene and takes control of the situation. She is the most extraordinary woman I have ever seen and I hope I will never see another one. She is the most abnormal combination of kitten and wildcat on the witness stand that I have ever seen."

You know how it turned out. The jury deliberated for just 75 minutes. Lillian Graham and Ethel Conrad, "the shooting show girls" were acquitted.

Next: Vaudeville beckons
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