She was a phenomenal prostitute; he was a good-looking clerk. They appeared destined to reside collectively, fortunately perpetually after. But, when the disfigured and charred physique of 23-year-old Helen Jewett was discovered smoldering on April, 10, 1836, in a brothel mattress at 41 Thomas Avenue in downtown Manhattan, the prime and solely suspect in her homicide, was her boyfriend, 19-year-old Richard Robinson. brothel
Helen Jewett was born Doras Doyen in Augusta, Maine in 1813. Her father died when she was 13, however an area decide, enthusiastic about her outstanding magnificence, took her beneath his wing. This decide spent a small fortune on Doras’ training, and he offered her with all of the instruments wanted to realize a profitable standing in life.
Like a wild stallion needing to run free, Doris, on the age of 17, deserted her benefactor and took off with a affluent younger banker from Portland, Maine. In Portland, the banker offered Doras with each luxurious. They lived in a palatial mansion, the place swanky events and flowing champagne have been the order of the day, and particularly – of the night time. It was apparently throughout this time period that Doras first grew to become a prostitute. But, Doras was am impetuous particular person. She and the banker quarreled usually, and eventually, Doras left him flat. She traveled to New York Metropolis, and altered her identify to Helen Jewett.
In New York Metropolis, Helen Jewett threw herself eagerly into the occupation of prostitution; working in probably the most luxurious brothels on the town. To extend her enterprise, Helen used to walk invitingly down Broadway, looking for previous flames, or for brand spanking new males to seduce. Helen at all times dressed fully in shades of inexperienced, which matched the colour of her fascinating eyes. In consequence, Helen grew to become know as “The Lady in Inexperienced.” In time, Helen was probably the most sought-after prostitute in New York Metropolis. It was stated Helen had a voracious sexual urge for food, and he or she loved the corporate of a number of rich males an evening, generally in teams or two or extra.
Helen’s magnificence was such, Warden Sutton wrote in his ebook, The Historical past of the New York Tombs, “She was fantastically fashioned; had giant inexperienced eyes which snapped with mischievousness, and one of the vital fascinating faces that ever imperiled a vulnerable observer. Her disposition was as stunning as her face and determine, and he or she was charitable to a fault with all who required help.”
Richard Robinson was born in Durham, Connecticut in 1818. His mother and father had appreciable means, they usually spared no expense in elevating and educating their younger boy. Richard grew as much as be a really good-looking man, tall and broad, and at all times immaculately dressed. But Richard, as was Helen, was a free spirit, and when he reached the age of 17, he ran away from his father or mother’s house, and absconded to New York Metropolis.
Richard, because of the nice training he acquired by the nice grace of his mother and father, was instantly employed at a dry items retailer owned by Joseph Hoxie, on Maiden Lane. Richard quickly grew to become, what the folks of these occasions known as a “roisterer,” or somebody who was a part of the “jet set”: motoring about from one nice occasion to a different, with nary a care on this planet. Richard made a nice look, resplendent with darkish curly hair, and wearing his traditional wealthy Spanish cloak.
As destiny would have it, Richard was getting into a downtown theater, when he noticed a thug assault a younger, stunning girl, who was additionally about to enter the identical theater. Richard, by far the larger man, was capable of simply throttle the ruffian, thereby thrusting himself as a hero within the younger girl’s eyes. This younger girl was none aside from Helen Jewett. Instantly enthralled with the good-looking younger man, Helen handed Robinson a enterprise card, that learn, “Helen Jewett, Palais de la Duchesse Berri.” This was Helen means of telling Robinson that she was an high-class prostitute, who solely serviced the higher crust of society.
The place the place Helen labored at the moment was what was known as, “a furnished resort,” owned by Mme. Berri on Duane Avenue. Quickly, Robinson grew to become a frequent customer of Helen at Mme. Berri’s. As a substitute of his actual identify, Robinson launched himself to Mme. Berri as “Frank Rivers.” This was a standard apply on the time, since males who had respectable jobs did not need folks working in not – so – respectable locations, like brothels, to know their actual names.
Inside a couple of weeks, Helen, though she was 4 years previous than Robinson, was clearly extra infatuated with Robinson then he was together with her. Sensing one thing was improper, Helen was obsessed by the concept Robinson was possibly sharing his affections with one other girl. One night time, Helen disguised herself as a boy, and observe Robinson round decrease Manhattan. After he made the rounds of a number of bars, Helen noticed Robinson getting into a brothel on Broome Avenue. Helen one way or the other gained admission to the brothel, and he or she discovered Robinson in mattress, within the embrace of one other girl. Incensed, Helen attacked the lady, putting her repeatedly, with blow after blow on the lady’s face. Helen’s gaudy diamond rings slashed a number of bloody tears within the girl’s cheeks, brow and nostril.
Robinson was incredulous on the ferocity of Helen’s assaults, and he advised her in no unsure phrases that their relationship was over. Helen was crushed, and he or she began bombarding Robinson with letter after letter, begging him for forgiveness. However it was to not be. Robinson discarded Helen like an previous newspaper, and Helen, dismayed on the flip of occasions, left New York Metropolis, for locations unknown.
Helen returned to New York Metropolis in October 1935, and instantly grew to become employed on the brothel of Rosina Townsend, positioned at 41 Thomas Avenue. As luck would have it, whereas Helen with strolling on the docks by the East River, she bumped into Robinson. They reconciled, and “Frank Rivers” grew to become a frequent customer at 41 Thomas Avenue.
A couple of months later, Helen came upon, that whereas she was away, Robinson had turn out to be concerned with one other woman, who inexplicably died by ingesting poison, allegedly administered to her by Robinson. Helen confronted Robinson with this accusation, which he vehemently denied. Finally, Robinson was capable of persuade Helen of his innocence within the dying of the woman in query. Robinson additionally advised Helen that he was so in love together with her, he wished her to desert her depraved life at 41 Thomas Avenue, and marry him as a substitute.
On April 10, 1836, Robinson, the cad that he was, knowledgeable Helen that not solely was he not going to marry her, however that he was, actually, engaged to be married to a younger girls of nice wealth and place. Helen was heartbroken. She wrote Robinson a letter saying, “You know the way I’ve beloved, however for God’s sake do not compel me to indicate how I can hate.”
On the next day, Robinson wrote Helen a letter in a disguised hand, telling her that he would come to her office at 9 PM that night. Robinson additionally insisted that Helen ought to be the one to greet him on the entrance door.
At precisely 9 PM, on April 11, 1836, “Frank Rivers” knocked on the entrance door of 41 Thomas Avenue. Nonetheless, by coincidence, Rosina Townsend was close to the entrance door on the actual second Robinson knocked, and he or she admitted Robinson as a substitute of Helen. As was his customized, Robinson wore his distinctive lengthy Spanish cloak.
Helen, upon listening to Robinson’s voice, rushed to the entrance door and hugged Robinson. She stated, “Oh, my expensive Frank, how glad I’m that you’ve got come.”
Robinson and Helen then retired to Helen’s residence.
Marie Stevens was one other prostitute, who occupied the residence subsequent door to Helen’s. At roughly 1 AM, Stevens heard a noise emanating from Helen’s residence. Stevens later stated it gave the impression of somebody had been struck by a heavy blow, after which the injured particular person had emitted a protracted, mournful moan. Moments later, Stevens heard Helen’s door being opened. Stevens opened her door only a crack, and he or she noticed a tall man, sporting a protracted cloak and holding a dimly lit candle, slither out of Helen’s residence. Terrified, Stevens locked herself in her personal residence.
A couple of minutes later, Stevens heard a knock on the entrance door. Rosina Townsend answered the entrance door and admitted one other male “visitor.” After this “visitor” went to the residence of the “girl” he was visiting, Townsend observed that there was a lit lamp within the parlor. Townsend examined the lamp and decided it belonged both to Helen, or Stevens. Townsend additionally observed that the again door to the constructing was ajar. She yelled out, “Who’s there?” However there was no reply.
Townsend first knocked on Stevens’ door. After figuring out that the lamp didn’t belong to Stevens, Townsend knocked on Helen’s door. Upon listening to no reply, Townsend opened the door to Helen’s residence, and was overcome by a big cloud of smoke. Townsend’s screams aroused the remainder of the home’s occupants. In a panic, the male “friends” placed on their trousers, dressed rapidly, and ran from the constructing, lest they be caught in an embarrassing scenario by the authorities.
Townsend opened the window and commenced screaming into the night time air, “Fireplace!”
An evening watchman, who was the precursor to a New York Metropolis policeman, heard Townsend’s cries. He rushed into the home, into Helen’s room, and he extinguished the hearth. What he noticed subsequent, brought about Ms. Townsend, and the remainder of the feminine inhabitants of the constructing, to scream in horror.
The scantily clad physique of Helen Jewett was mendacity on the mattress. Her cranium had been cut up open with three highly effective blows, apparently made by a hatchet. Any one of many three blows would have been sufficient to kill her. The left facet of Helen’s higher physique was charred, from her having been set on hearth, after she was savagely attacked.
When the authorities searched the yard at 41 Thomas Avenue, they discovered a bloody hatchet, which was apparently the homicide weapon. Discovered subsequent to the hatchet was the cloak which Robinson usually wore. Apparently, the assassin had fled out the again door, dropped the hatchet and cloak, and scaled a white fence that had just lately been painted. The assassin then fled down a facet avenue. He was noticed by an Negro girl. The lady stated she couldn’t element the person’s facial options, however that his normal look was much like that of Robinson’s.
Nobody at 41 Thomas Avenue knew “Frank Rivers” actual identify. Nonetheless, one of many working ladies did know that “Frank Rivers” labored as a clerk for a service provider in a dry items store on Maiden Lane. This younger girl additionally knew the tackle of that dry items retailer.
That night time, watchmen Dennis Brink and George Noble went to the dry items retailer on Maiden Lane and requested if anybody knew a “Frank Rivers.” They have been advised the person they have been in search of was really Richard Robinson, aged 19, and that he lived at a boarding home at 42 Dey Avenue.
Brink and Noble went to that tackle and located Robinson in mattress. Robinson claimed he had been in his room for a lot of hours. Robinson’s roommate verified the truth that Robinson had been house virtually your entire night time.
Brink and Noble searched the room and located Robinson’s trousers stained with white paint; the identical kind of white paint that was on the fence at 41 Thomas Avenue. In consequence, Robinson, though he stated he was harmless of all costs, was arrested and brought to the jail on Chambers Avenue. After an indictment got here down, saying there was enough proof to strive Robinson for homicide, he was taken to a jail cell in Bellevue Hospital on 29th Avenue, the place he was housed with the criminally insane.
Since Robinson got here from a rich household, his relations instantly employed the most effective legal attorneys on the town. These attorneys have been up in opposition to New York Metropolis prosecutors who claimed that Robinson had killed Helen Jewett, as a result of she had threatened to divulge to his current fiancé that he had, actually, killed his former girlfriend
The trial was scheduled for June 2, 1836.
A number of mysterious circumstances out of the blue began working in Robinson’s favor. The coloured girl, who had seen Helen Jewett’s killer run from the scene, mysteriously disappeared. And Marie Stevens, who had seen the killer slip out of Helen Jewett’s room, died in her mattress earlier than the trial began. It couldn’t be decided if Stevens had died of pure causes, dedicated suicide, or was murdered.
With out advance discover to the prosecutors, Robinson’s attorneys known as a person named Robert Furlong to the witness stand. Furlong said that Robinson, on the time of Helen Jewett’s homicide, had been, actually, sitting in his cigar retailer, smoking a cigar and studying the newspapers.
However the 2 lacking witnesses, and the shock alibi provided by Furlong, the case in opposition to Robinson appear to be overwhelming. Robinson was seen getting into Helen Jewett’s room by Ms. Townsend. As well as, Ms. Townsend stated that at 11 PM on the night time of the homicide, she had entered Helen Jewett room to ship a bottle of champagne. When she entered the room, she noticed each Helen Jewett and Robinson mendacity on the mattress.
The hatchet, which was the homicide weapon, was recognized by an worker on the dry items retailer the place Robinson labored, because the hatchet that Robinson had used incessantly. Additionally, Robinson’s roommate admitted on the witness stand, beneath oath, that Robinson, actually, had not been house your entire night time of Helen Jewett’s homicide.
After Robinson’s lead legal professional gave his closing assertion, and the District Lawyer gave his closing assertion, the decide inexplicably advised the jury that any testimony given by prostitutes, together with Ms. Townsend, due to the character of their employment, shouldn’t be believed. This slanted the case decidedly in Robinson’s favor. The jury took lower than a half an hour to render a verdict of not responsible.
The consensus within the New York Metropolis newspapers was responsible man had been let loose. Two weeks after the trial, Robert Furlong, who had conveniently offered Robinson with an alibi for the time of Helen Jewett homicide, inexplicably killed himself, by leaping into the Hudson River. And apart from the decide within the case clearly favoring the defendant, it was suspected that a number of members of the jury had been purchased off by Robinson’s wealthy relations.
Nonetheless, nothing might be confirmed, and Robinson walked away a free man. The “actual assassin” of Helen Jewett was by no means discovered, nor might it’s ascertained if anybody was, actually, in search of that assassin.
But, justice could have been served in an sudden method. Ostracized by the Helen Jewett homicide trial, Robinson left New York Metropolis and took up residence within the state of Texas. Two years later, Robinson contracted an unspecified sickness. In a state of delirium, Robinson was taken to an area hospital. Earlier than he died on the age of 21, on his dying mattress, Robinson muttered his final phrases: “Helen Jewett.”
The story of Helen Jewett and Richard Robinson didn’t finish after their deaths. Within the following years, their wax collectible figurines traveled in sideshows all through the Northeastern states. The implied message in these touring exhibits, was that younger folks ought to suppose twice, earlier than getting concerned in a life that was steeped in decadence and immorality.