As DA Coatsworth neared the end of his 2-day interrogation of Alice Burdick, the witness was visibly exhausted.
“Why did you send a telegram to your mother the Sunday before Mr. Burdick’s murder?” he demanded.
Her mother usually wrote two or three times a week, Alice said. When she did not receive a letter in five days, she became worried.
“Where is your correspondence with your mother?” Coatsworth asked. “Do you have it here?”
“My custom is to destroy my letters,” Alice replied.
“That’s an odd custom. Why do you destroy your letters?”
“I do not care to have the maids rifling through my letters and personal affairs.”
“It was your mother who telegraphed you about Mr. Burdick’s death, was it not?” At the witness’s affirmative reply, he continued, “Please tell us what you did after you received the telegram.”
“I telegraphed Pennell to meet me at the station. After that, I telegraphed Mother to let her know I was coming home.”
Alice said she was initially unaware that Burdick had been murdered. A reporter had given her the news when she arrived at the train station. The revelation brought on a flood of tears, the witness related.
Alice sought out her mother as soon as she arrived at home. “I said, ‘Mama, what in the world has happened?’ and she told me, ‘Mr. Burdick has been murdered, here in his own den.’”
“Did your mother tell you any details about the murder?”
“Did you ask her for more information?”
“Did your mother tell you she saw your husband lying in the den?”
“She did not know it was Ed.”
Alice first said her mother knew nothing of her affair with Pennell, before adding that Mrs. Hull blamed Arthur for it, not herself.
DA Coatsworth signaled he was finished with the witness.
Albert Hartzell’s decision to represent Alice Burdick was probably the best decision of his career. In addition to the publicity surrounding a high-profile murder, Hartzell used the opportunity to pen a fictionalized account of the case, entitled Alicia.
The attorney rose. “Mr. Burdick and Mrs. Pennell were very friendly?”
“Yes,” Mrs. Burdick said. Mrs. Pennell had been to her house many times and was “quite familiar” with the den.
“A person could tap on the window of the front door and attract the attention of anyone in the den without ringing the bell, couldn’t they?”
Attorney Hartzell turned. “Didn’t anyone tell you Mrs. Pennell was at Mr. Burdick’s home the night of the murder?”
In answer to more questions, Alice said she did not believe Arthur Pennell had been at the Burdicks’ home the night of the murder, and vehemently denied giving or lending a key to him.
“In your letters to your husband, you promise to be a ‘good girl’, if he will let you come home,” Hartzell said. “When you returned, did you resist Pennell and refuse to meet him?
“Did he constantly solicit you and importune you and waylay you?”
“He was infatuated with you?”
“Did you finally yield?”
Suddenly, Justice Murphy spoke. “Did not you know that Mrs. Pennell loved her husband?”
“She may have once,” Alice replied.
“Did Mrs. Pennell feel that you had wronged her?” the Justice demanded.
“I don’t think she did. She knew it was Arthur’s fault.”
The witness insisted she and Pennell had no “criminal relations”. She went on to say, “Arthur’s conduct toward me at all times was that becoming of a gentleman. He as a man of high moral character and the accusations against him are outrageous.“
Alice Burdick was excused. She stood and covered her face with a long mourning veil, obscuring her features. Without a backward glance, she hurried from the courtroom.