Ella Maud Cropsey, known to her friends and family as Nell, was born in July 1882 in Brooklyn, New York to William and Mary Louise Cropsey. Nell was the second of nine children, and she was especially close to her older sister Olive, who was nicknamed Ollie.

In 1898, the family moved from New York to North Carolina, where they purchased a large, rambling house they called Seven Pines.

Seven Pines Photo credit: Brett A. Clark
Seven Pines
Photo credit: Brett A. Clark

 

Nell started seeing a local man named James Wilcox, who was the son of the sheriff. They were an odd couple: Nell was beautiful and eager to get married. Jim stood at an unimposing 5’2, and though he was five years older than Nell, he was seemingly uninterested in marriage. Their relationship grew strained and by 1901, they were seeing less of each other – though Wilcox still appeared occasionally at Seven Pines.

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This is the second update on the 1903 James Patterson murder cold case. Here’s a link to the original story and a link to part one of the update. The first update is about new information uncovered about the time before the murder. This post deals with what happened after the murder.

Incidentally, is a murder that took place over a century ago really a cold case? A case can be cold in a matter of weeks – as soon as the active investigation ends. This one may be cryogenically frozen.

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Believe it or not, there’s an update about the 1903 murder of James Patterson – several, in fact! These updates don’t solve this case, mind you, but they certainly created an interesting new dimension. Here’s a link to the original post that describe the murder and the subsequent conviction of Charley Hall. Update #1 concerns the time just before the murder.

First, Charles Hall and James Patterson appear in the 1903 Columbia city directory, as does Robert Moorman, the magistrate who secured Annie Laurie’s agreement to testify at the trial (by threatening her with a $200 fine if she didn’t do it).

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