The Burdick Scandal – Part X

When Mrs. Burdick returned to the stand, DA Coatsworth pounced: “There was an occasion about two years ago when you and Mr. Burdick had quite an altercation at your house. Wasn’t there?”

The witness assented.

“And after that it was necessary for him to wear a piece of court-plaster on his head, wasn’t it?”

“No, sir.”

“Did not you at that time strike him over the head with a chair?”

“I did not.”

The dispute, apparently, was about the letters in the box. “You told us yesterday that you were away in May and June of 1901?”


“After you came home in July, did anyone in your family leave home?”

“Not until I left in December of 1902.”

“You don’t recall a time in 1901 when Mr. Burdick lived at the Genesee Hotel?” the DA asked.

“He was away from home.”

The Genesee, where Edwin briefly lived in 1901

“Did you receive a letter from your husband, written from Indianapolis, in January 1902?”

“I don’t remember.”

“I will read it,” Coatsworth said.

Dear Allie, In my mail I received a letter today from A. R. P., which you probably know about. I don’t care to see him. I’ve decided. He says great interests are at stake. I am aware that my actions mean my social ruin but I am going ahead. I have fixed on February 3 as the date to go ahead, and if my attorney is prepared to go ahead, I’ll go ahead then. Ed.

The DA looked at the witness. “Didn’t you receive this letter?”

“Yes,” Alice Burdick admitted.

“Here is your reply.”

Dear Ed – Will nothing move you from your determination? I received your crushing blow. I had hoped you would return to us, and even though you have lost your love for me, we could have our children’s love. They need you more and more. Your step will crush them completely, especially Marion, and I cannot believe you will bring this upon them; and my God, Ed, you cannot bring this upon us. You have been generous. You must be so now. I am nearly crazy, but I will try it again. We want you to come home to us that we may care for you and you for us. Allie.

“Did Burdick come home after he received this?” Coatsworth asked, waving the letter.

Mrs. Burdick intimated that more pleading was necessary. She had gone to his office and begged him to come home, and at last, Edwin gave in.

“He did not commence action for a divorce then?”

“No sir.”

“And you continued to meet Pennell?” the DA demanded.

“I do not remember.”

“But it was right after that that you had all those clandestine meetings with Pennell, wasn’t it?”

“Not right after, no.”

DA Coatsworth interrogates Alice Burdick

“When did you meet Pennell again?”

“He continually besought me,” Alice said. “And my husband threw us together constantly.”

The witness admitted to continuing to correspond with Arthur. One of Pennell’s letters, written over a year before Burdick’s murder, detailed his unsuccessful efforts to get Burdick to withdraw the divorce suit.

Coatsworth turned to Justice Murphy and said, “This letter was found in Edwin Burdick’s pocket the morning of the murder.”

Pennell’s letter, though written in irritation, encouraged Alice by saying everything would come out right and added, “When I think of how he has treated you, I feel that I must kill Ed Burdick.”

Mrs. Burdick testified that the final straw was an incident that occurred four months earlier, in December 1902. Pennell rented and furnished some rooms on Seventh Street, where he and Alice spent time together.

A suspicious Edwin Burdick had hired detectives to follow Pennell and his wife. The men reported back to Burdick about the room on Seventh Street. When the detectives notified him they were meeting there, Edwin decided to confront them and knocked on the door.

Edwin Burdick
Edwin Burdick

The DA asked: “But your husband didn’t see you, did he?”

“I didn’t know it was Mr. Burdick at the door,” she said. “I thought it was some stranger and I left the room.”

“You left the room? How did you leave it?”

“I stepped out of the window,” she said. “And I went to church.”

That evening, Edwin asked her where she had been and she said she was at church. He said he knew she had been with Pennell, and he was unwilling to overlook it. She must leave, and this time for good. However, he allowed her to stay at the house on Ashland Avenue overnight so she could pack before catching the early train to Niagara Falls.

“He said he did not blame me as much as Pennell and that Pennell was more to blame than I was,” Alice insisted.

“Who went with you to Niagara Falls?” DA Coatsworth asked.


Read Part XI.