The Burdick Scandal – Part XIV

It was the last day of testimony, and before the courtroom even opened its doors, there was already news. Automobile experts had examined the Pennells’ Buffalo Stanhope electric carriage, and unanimously declared Arthur Pennell had tried to avoid the accident.

It was certainly not a suicide, they said.

Buffalo Stanhope 1903
The make and model of the car the Pennells were in when they were killed.

Three servants were set to testify. The first was an elderly man named Alfred Brookman, who cleaned the Burdicks’ furnace. He was in the cellar the morning after the murder, but was hard of hearing and did not notice the commotion upstairs. While he was crouched beside the furnace, the door opened and two figures came downstairs, talking in low voices. Brookman paid little attention, but when he dropped a tool, a startled voice cried out, “What’s that?”

The elderly man got to his feet and emerged into the light where Mrs. Hull and Dr. Marcy were standing close together. He told them, “It’s Alfred, I’m seeing to the furnace.” Brookman said he went back to his work, and did not know how long Mrs. Hull and the doctor stayed in the cellar.

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The next witness was Mrs. Pennell’s maid, Lizzie Romance (no kidding). Lizzie said she had seen Mr. and Mrs. Pennell together at home on the night of Edwin Burdick’s murder at 7:30 and at 10:00. The next afternoon, Arthur drove to Niagara Falls. He telephoned his wife and asked her to meet him there and bring the newspapers. Carrie went, and told Lizzie they would return in time for dinner. However, it was much later when they finally reappeared.

The day of the ill-fated drive that ended in the Pennells’ death, nothing seemed amiss to Lizzie. Mr. Pennell told the witness they would be back for dinner by 6:30.

Margaret Murray - Burdick domestic

Margaret Murray, commonly known as Maggie, was the last witness. She said she had worked for the Burdicks for over a year, and lived on the third floor of their home. It was she who discovered the open window, and the inner door standing ajar the morning of the murder.

Maggie knew of no one with any animosity toward Edwin Burdick, and had known of no trouble between the Burdicks until Alice left in December.

“When did you last see Mr. Burdick?” DA Coatsworth asked.

“At 10:30 the night he was killed.”

“Tell us what happened.”

“I had been out for the evening and came in through the back door at 10:30. The door to the den was open and Mr. Burdick stepped out and looked around. When he saw me, he stepped back into the den and partially shut the door.”

“He didn’t greet you?”

“No, sir. He was wearing only his underwear, and I don’t think he expected to see me at all.”

“Was it odd for Mr. Burdick to be in his underwear in the den at night?”

“I don’t know. It was the only time I have come in at that hour.”

“Was anyone with Mr. Burdick?”

“I don’t know.”

“Did you hear any voices?”


Maggie Murray, the Burdick’s maid

The next morning, after discovering the open window and door, Maggie described going to Mr. Burdick’s bedroom and finding his bed had not been slept in. She then went to Mrs. Hull’s bedroom and reported what she had found.

“You’re sure you went to Mrs. Hull’s bedroom?” the DA asked.

“Yes, sir.”

“Mrs. Hull said she was dressing in the bathroom when you came to speak to her.”

“No sir, I went to her bedroom. She was already dressed.”

“You are sure?”

“Positive, sir.”

“You went downstairs together then, and Mrs. Hull opened the den door?”

“Yes, sir.”

“She told you she was afraid to go in there?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And she told you to call Dr. Marcy.”

“No sir, I suggested that we call the doctor.”

“Are you sure that was your idea, and not Mrs. Hull’s?”

“I suggested it, sir. I am positive of that.”

Justice Murphy closed the inquest and said he would announce the verdict the following day.

Read Part XV for the conclusion of the story.