Casebook: Florie Maybrick
[Fragmento del libro -parcialmente traducido-)
Whether or not her husband was, in fact, Jack the Ripper, Florie Maybrick herself holds a certain notoriety in the annals of crime history. Even before the emergence of the infamous diary, her trial was the subject of many volumes of work, mostly pertaining to the allegations of gross incompetence and negligence displayed throughout the trial by the presiding Justice Stephen. Found guilty, sentenced to death, having had her sentence commuted to life imprisonment only days before her execution, and finally having been released after fifteen years, her story is a fascinating one in and of itself, and should be just as appealing to any crime historian as the story of the man her husband "allegedly" claimed to have been.
*Fuera o no su esposo Jack el Destripador, FM por si misma tiene cierta notoriedad en los anales de la historia del crimen. Aún despues de la aparición del infame Diario, su juicio fue el objeto de muchos trabajos la mayoría relacionados con alegaciones sobre la gran incompetencia y negligencia mostrada en todo el juicio presidido por JS. Encontrada culpable, sentenciada a muerte, ésta fue conmutada por prisión sólo pocos dias antes de su ejecución
y finalmente liberada después de quince años. Su historia es fascinante por si misma, debería ser sólo atractiva para cualquier historiador del crimen al margen ??? de lo que haya sido imputado a su marido.
Prelude to the Trial
As a result of his business, James Maybrick was often required to travel abroad to America to conduct transactions. On one such trip in 1881, he came across the path of a Florence Elizabeth Chandler and the two quickly married. He was twenty-four years her senior: he forty-two and she eighteen.
*Como resultado de sus negocios, JM tuvo, a menudo, necesidad de viajar a América para diversas transacciones. En uno de sus viajes, en 1881, se cruzó en el camino de FEC y ellos dos se casaron rapidamente. El tenía 24 años más; tenía 42 y ella 18.
The daughter of a banker in Mobile Alabama, Florence (or Florie as she preferred) was the archetypal Southern Belle -- she was often described as being quite pleasing to the eye, but her love of luxuries was more often destructive to her husband's pocket.
*La hija de un banquero de Mobile, A, Florence (o Florie como ella prefería) fue el arquetipo de la bella sureña. Ella era descripta a menudo como una persona de bastante buen ver; pero ella amaba los lujos que eran muy perjudiciales para el bolsillo de su marido.
They moved to Liverpool in 1884 and were frequently known to throw lavish parties at which she would most often be the focus of attention. Such practices took their toll, however, and in 1887 James Maybrick admitted to his wife that they were in severe financial trouble. He placed her on a strict budget, but Florie reverted to borrowing against her jewelry and expected land inheritance in America in order to maintain her lavish lifestyle in the shops and at the racetrack. In a letter to her mother written in that year she writes:
*Ellos se mudaron a L. en 1884 y eran muy vistos en esplendidas fiestgas en las cuales ella se convertía a menudo en un foco de atención. Tales prácticas tenían su coste y en 1887 JM admitió a su esposa que se encontraban con serios problemas financieros. El le pidió un presupuesto estricto, pero F. ??? pidió prestamos sobre sus joyas y esperaba heredar tierras en America para mantener su espléndido estilo de vida en tiendas y en carreras de caballos. En una cartga a su madre escribió en esos años:
I am utterly worn out, and in such a state of overstrained nervousness I am hardly fit for anything. Whenever the doorbell rings I feel ready to faint for fear it is someone coming to have an account paid, and when Jim comes home at night it is with fear and trembling that I look into his face to see whether anyone has been to the office about my bills... my life is a continual state of fear of something or somebody... Is life worth living? I would gladly give up the house tomorrow and move somewhere else but Jim says it would ruin him outright.
*Estoy completamente exhausta, y en estado de máximo nerviosismo. Estoy harta de todo ???. Siempre que el timbre de la puerta llama me siento con miedo que sea alguien que viene a cobrar, y cuando Jim viene a casa por la noche es con miendo y temblando que le mire a la cara para ver si alguien a ido a su oficina con mis facturas. Mi vida es un continuo estado de miedo de todos y de todo. ¿Vale la pena vivir así? Me gustaría abandonar la casa mañana y mudarme a cualquier sitio pero Jim dice que ello sería su ruina completa.
Financial difficulties, however, were only the beginning. In that same year, their son James contracted scarlet fever and barely survived the ordeal. As a result, their daughter Gladys was sent away so as not to catch the disease. Also, Florie's brother Holbrook died in Paris, supposedly of consumption. And to top it off, Florie began noticing her own husband's failing health, as well as some strange powders lying around the house. It wasn't long until she discovered her husband's dangerous drug habit involving arsenic and strychnine use (both of which were used in moderation as wonder tonics and aphrodisiacs).
*Las dificultades financieras, sin embargo, sólo estaban empezando. En ese mismo año, su hijo James contrajo la fiebre escarlatina y apenas sobrevivió a esa dura prueba. Como una consecuencia, su hija Gladis fue enviada fuera para no coger la enfermedad. Tambien, el hermano de Florie Holbrook murió en Paris, supuestamente de tuberculosis. Y al final de todo esto, Florie empezó a notar que su propio marido empezaba a tener problemas de salud, y que aparecían unos extraños polvos en la casa ???. No fue por mucho tiempo que ella descubrió que su marido tomaba la peligro droga arsénico y estricnina. (Ambas usadas con moderación son maravillosos tónicos y afrodisíacos).
Such behavior wasn't uncommon in Victorian England, but as with any drug addiction, it was looked upon with disdain and mistrust. Maybrick himself disclosed his using of the drugs to a few friends and acquaintances, telling one of his associates around 1883, "You would be horrified, I dare say, if you knew what this (powder) is -- it is arsenic... We all take some poison more or less; for instance, I am now taking arsenic enough to kill you. I take this arsenic once in a while because I find it strengthens me." When he learned that his wife had disclosed his abuse to one of his brothers, however, he became quite angry and ordered her to "mind her own business."
*Tal conducta no era rara en la Inglaterra victoriana, pero como como cualquier drogadicción, era desdeñada y mirada con desconfianza. El mismo M. reveló el uso de estas drogas a algunos pocos amigos y conocidos. Le dijo a uno de sus socios, alrededor de 1883: "Debería estar horrorizado, me atrevería a preguntarte si conoces el poder de estos polvos, el arsénico...". Todos tomamos algun veneno mas o menos, pero, yo estoy tomando ahora suficiente para matarme. Y tomo el arsénico porque mientras lo hago encuentro que me fortalece". Cuando el se enteró que su mujer había revelado sus abusos a uno de sus hermanos, sin embargo, el se enfadó bastante y le ordenó que se metiera en sus asuntos.
One final blow that came to Florie in that same year was her discovery that James Maybrick was allotting the sum of over one hundred pounds per year to a mistress he had been keeping for the past twenty or so years. When she confronted him about the fact, he seemed impassionate and showed very little compunction. From then until the death of James Maybrick, the couple slept in separate chambers.
*El golpe final que tuvo Florie en ese mismo año fue el descubrimiento que JM habia asignado la suma de más de 100 libras por año a la señora con la que habia estado conviviendo los pasados veinte años. Cuando ella le mostró este hecho, el se enfadó ??? y mostró muy pocos escrúpulos. Desde entonces hasta la muerte de JM la pareja durmió en habitaciones separadas.
In the autumn of 1888, Florie Maybrick extracted her own measure of revenge against her husband by turning her attention toward a younger cotton broker named Alfred Brierly. She herself began an affair, but was more easily discovered than her husband, for it is suspected that he discovered the infidelity in December of that year. According to Florie in a letter written to her mother, he violently tore up his will which bestowed everything upon her and vowed to make their children the sole recipients. It is speculation, however, that this was because Maybrick discovered his wife's affair -- it very well might have been a number of other things.
*En otoño de 1888, Florie M. se tomó venganza ?? frente a su marido dando su atención a un joven comisionista de algodón llamado Alfred Brierly. Ella misma empezó la relación, pero fue más facilmente descubierta que su marido, ??? por ello se sospecha que él descubrió la infidelidad en diciembre de ese año. Según Florie en una carta escrita a su madre, el violentamante rompió ??????????
Esto es una especulación, sin embargo, que porque M descubrió el asunto de su mujer, podría haber sido muchas otras cosas. ???
The reason her affair might have been discovered so easily was the simple fact that she was so shamelessly open about it (a fact which leads many to conclude that the affair was motivated more by revenge than by any corporeal desire).
*La razón de que su relación fuera descubierta tan facilmente fue debido a que ella actuaba descaradamente (un hecho que encaminó a muchos a concluir que la relación fue motivada más por venganza que por deseo sexual)
In March 1889, she booked a hotel room for her and Brierly under the names "Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Maybrick," her brother- and sister-in-law. As Hartman writes in Victorian Murderesses, this act was propelled either by "monumental stupidity or blatant calculation." For on the one hand it would seem a terrible mistake to use the name of the brother of her husband, unless of course the entire incident was an attempt (remember her motivation of revenge) to elicit a response from her husband, perhaps even for him to file for a divorce. Regardless, Maybrick didn't mention anything that would lead anyone to believe he knew about the incident.
* En marzo de 1889 ella alquiló una habitación de hotel para ella y para Brierly bajo los nombres "Sr y Sra. Thomas Maybrick", su cuñado y su cuñada. Como Hartman escribió en Asesinatos Victorianos, este hecho fue impulsado por "una monumental estupidez o un descarado cálculo". De un lado ello parecía un terrible error usar el nombre del hermano de su marido, a menos por supuesto que todo el incidente fuera un intento (recordar su motivación de venganza) de provocar una respuesta de su marido, quizá incluso para que él hiciera un expediente de divorcio ??? Sin embargo M no hizo ninguna mención que le llevara a cualquiera a conocer el incidente. ???
Later that month, however, Maybrick's knowledge of the entire affair became quite apparent. At a gathering at the Grand National steeplechase, Maybrick made a scene when Florie walked off for a moment with Brierly. Later that night, at home in Battlecrease, the home lived up to it's belligerent name. The couple had an intense falling out, and the topic of infidelity was risen by both of them. When Florie threatened to leave the house, Maybrick grabbed her, ripping her dress, and blackened her eye. The servants then intervened, and with the help of a family friend and doctor, the couple reconciled their differences. Maybrick agreed to pay off her debts in total and she agreed to break all relations with Brierly.
*Más tarde en el mes, sin embargo, M. ??? conoce completamente la relación. Cuando se celebró la carrera de vallas del Grand National, M hizo una escena cuando F se fue por un momento con Brierly. Mas tarde, por la noche, en casa en B., estuvo a la altura de su beligerante nombre ??
La pareja tuvo una fuerte disputa, y el tópico de la infidelidad surgió entre ambos. Cuando F. amenazó con dejar la casa, M la cogió y el destrozó su vestido, y le dejó un ojo morado. Entonces intervinieron los criados y con la ayuda de los amigos de la familia y el médico la pareja se reconcilió. M estaba de acuerdo en pagar el total de las deduas y ella estuvo de acuerdo en romper sus relaciones con Brierly.
Neither fulfilled their obligations, however. Soon after that incident, Maybrick became quite ill, and his condition was quite serious by the end of April. He complained of headaches and of a coldness in the limbs, and in the weeks of late April and early May abdominal and gastrointestinal problems began to arise. Doctors were called in from all over London, prescribing countless drugs and tonics in order to ameliorate his condition.
*Ninguno cumplió sus obligaciones, sin embargo. Inmediatamente despues del incidente, M cayó enfermo, y su salud estaba seriamente dañada a finales de Abril. El se quejaba de dolores de cabeza y de frio en las extremidades, y en la semana de últimos de abril y primeros de mayo aparecieron problemas abdominales y gastrointestinales. LLamaron a los médicos de Londres, que prescribieron incontables drogas y tónicos para mejorar su estado.
A little earlier (in about mid-April) Florie purchased a good number of flypapers and proceeded to soak them in a sink. She claimed to have had "an eruption of the face," and wanted to extract the arsenic from the flypaper in order to formulate a facial cream which would clear up the problem in time for a ball she was attending in late April. Indeed, arsenic was a common home remedy for skin problems, but it was difficult to come by the poison -- a common practice was to soak flypaper in order to extract it. The entire staff of Battlecrease noticed the soaking papers, as Florie made no moves to hide them.
*Antes (a mediados de abril) F compró un buen numero de papeles matamoscas y los puso a remojo en ua pileta. Ella dijo haber tenido una erupción en la cara y desea extraer el arsénico de los papels matamoscas para hacerse una crema facial para limpiarse y estaría a tiempo de ir a un baile a fines de Abril ??? En verdad el arsénico era un remedio casero para los problemas de piel, pero era difícil de conseguir porque era un veneno -una práctica habitual era remojar los papeles matamoscas y extraerlo-. Todos los habitantes de B. estaban enterados de los papeles en remojo, así F no hizo nada para ocultarlo.
Maybrick's condition continued to worsen throughout the first few days of May and throughout Florie was by his side. Between her nervous attitude throughout the ordeal, her soaking of the flypapers, and the recent events concerning Brierly, suspicion began to arise among the nurse (Alice Yapp) that Florie was poisoning him. So on May 8th, after being informed by Yapp, a friend of the Maybricks' named Mrs. Briggs telegraphed to both brothers Michael and Edwin, "Come at once; strange things going on here." That same day, Florie (still unaware of the rising suspicion) handed Alice Yapp a letter to be posted, addressed, "A. Brierly, Esq." Instead of doing so, she opened it and read the contents, immediately divulging the information to Michael Maybrick. Upon reading the letter, Michael ordered no one but the nurses to wait upon his brother, and finally Florie began to realize the rising suspicion growing around her.
*El estado de M continuo empeorando en los próximos dias de mayo y en todo este tiempo F estuvo a su lado. Entre su los nervios durante esta terrible experiencia, los papeles matamoscas escurridos, y la los recientes acontecimientos sobre Brierly, las sospechas empezaron a surgir en la niñera (Alice Yapp) que F estaba envenenándole. Así que el 8 de mayo, despues de ser informado por Yapp, un amigo de M, llamdo el Sr. Briggs telegrafió a los dos hermanos Michael y Edwin: "Venid inmediatamente; estan sucediendo cosas extrañas aquí". El mismo dia F (ignorando la aparición de las sospechas) entregó en mano a A.Yapp una carta dirigida a "El caballero Brierly". En lugar de enviarla, ella la abrió y leyó su contenido. Inmediatamente transmitió la información a Michael M. Después de leer la carta, M. ordenó que nadie se acercase a su hermano, excepto la niñera ??? y finalmente F se dió cuenta de las sospechas que venían surgiendo acerca de ella.
The letter was in answer to one received two days earlier from Brierly, which read:
*La carta que en respuesta a la suya recibió dos dias más tarde de Brierly, decía:
My Dear Florie -- I suppose now you have gone I am safe in writing to you. I don't quite understand what you mean in your last about explaining my line of action. You know I could not write, and was willing to meet you, although it would have been very dangerous. Most certainly your telegram yesterday was a staggerer, and it looks as if the result was certain, but as yet I cannot find an advertisement in any London paper.
*Mi querida Florie: Supongo que ahora estas segura de que te escriba ??? Yo no puedo entender lo que tu crees sobre mis últimas explicaciones de mi conducta ??? Sabes que yo no puedo escribirte, y que deseaba encontrarme contigo, aunque podría haber sido muy peligroso. Ciertamente tu telegrama de ayer me dejo asombrado, y parecía como si el resultado fuera seguro, pero aún no puedo encontrar un anuncio en ningun diario de Londres ???
I should like to see you, but at the present dare not move, and we had better perhaps not meet until late in the autumn. I am going to try and get away in about a fortnight. I think I shall take a round trip to the Mediterranean, which will take six or seven weeks, unless you wish me to stay in England.
*Me gustaría vete, pero ahora no me atrevo, y es quizá mejor no encontrarnos hasta finales de otoño. Voy a tratar de escaparme por quince dias. Pienso tomarme un viaje por el mediterraneo, que me llevará 6 o 7 semanas, a menos que tu desees que me quede en Inglaterra ??
Supposing the rooms are found, I think both you and I would be better away, as the man's memory would be doubted after three months. I will write and tell you when I go. I cannot trust myself at present to write about my feelings on this unhappy business, but I do hope that some time hence I shall be able to show you that I do not quite deserve the strictures contained in your last two letters. I went to the D. and D., and, of course, heard some tales, but myself knew nothing about anything. And now, dear, "Good-bye," hoping we shall meet in the autumn. I will write to you about sending letters just before I go.
*Suponiendo que encontremos habitaciones, pienso que ambos estaríamos mejor fuera, ????
Deseo escribir y decirte cuando me voy. No tengo confianza en mi mismo en el presente para escribir acerca de mis sentimientos y mis desgraciados asuntos, pero tengo esperanza que dentro de un tiempo sea capaz de mostrarte que no creo merecer las críticas contenidas en tus dos últimas cartas ?? Fuí a D and D y, por supuesto, oí muchas historias pero no se nada acerca de nada. Y ahora, querida, Hasta luego, esperando que nos encontremos en otoño. Te escribiré enviando una carta no bien llegue.
The letter which was intercepted by Nurse Yapp (sent from Florie to Alfred Brierly) reads:
*La carta que fue interceptada por la niñera Yapp (enviada por Florie a A.B) dice:
Dearest -- Your letter under cover to John K. came to hand just after I had written to you on Monday. I did not expect to hear from you so soon, and had delayed in giving him the necessary instructions. Since my return I have been nursing M. day and night. He is sick unto death. The doctors held a consultation yesterday, and now all depends upon how long his strength will hold out. Both my brothers-in-law are here, and we are terribly anxious. I cannot answer your letter fully to-day, my darling, but relieve your mind of all fear of discovery now and in the future. M. has been delirious since Sunday, and I know now that he is perfectly ignorant of everything, even of the name of the street, and also that he has not been making any inquiries whatever. The tale he told me was a pure fabrication, and only intended to frighten the truth out of me. In fact he believes my statement, although he will not admit it. You need not therefore go abroad on that account, dearest; but, in any case, please don't leave England until I have seen you once again. You must feel that those two letters of mine were written under circumstances which must even excuse their injustice in your eyes. Do you suppose that I could act as I am doing if I really felt and meant what I inferred then? If you wish to write to me about anything do so now, as all the letters pass through my hands at present. Excuse this scrawl, my own darling, but I dare not leave the room for a moment, and I do not know when I shall be able to write to you again. In haste, yours ever.
The next morning (May 9th) Florie approached Alice Yapp and said, "Do you know that I am blamed for this?" The nurse replied, "For what?," to which Florie answered, "For Maybrick's illness." This is the first incident in which Florie lets on that she is aware of the suspicion growing around her. Later that day, the food and water, as well as the feces and urine of the patient were taken away and examined by doctors for traces of arsenic. They found none.
That night, however, the incident of the meat juice occurred. Edwin (Maybrick's brother) had procured the juice as a pharmaceutical and the nurses were under orders to administer it to the patient. Around midnight, Nurse Gore was waiting on Maybrick when Florie entered the room and took a bottle of Valentine's meat juice into the washroom where she was sleeping. She closed the door behind her, and emerged some minutes later, returning to the sick room and requesting that Nurse Gore leave to get some ice to cool her husband's forehead. The nurse refused and observed Mrs. Maybrick "surreptitiously" placed the bottle of meat juice on the nightstand. The bottle was taken away the next day at the urging of Nurse Gore and doctors found half a grain of arsenic in the juice.
On Friday the 10th, Michael Maybrick saw Florie moving medicine from one small bottle to a larger one. He protested, "Florie, how dare you tamper with the medicine?," to which she replied that there was too much sediment in the small bottle so she moved it into a larger bottle so that it could be shaken up properly. The bottle was later analyzed, however, and no traces of arsenic were found. Later that day, Nurse Callery over heard Maybrick say to his wife, "You have given me the wrong medicine again." Florie replied, "What are you talking about? You never had wrong medicine." Around six that evening, Maybrick was heard to have said three times, "Oh, Bunny, Bunny, how could you do it? I did not think it of you!" Florie replied simply, "You silly old darling, don't trouble your head about things."
That night, a search was made of the house primarily by the Maybrick brothers and the domestics in order to find some evidence of Mrs. Maybrick's guilt. Alice Yapp found a sealed envelope labelled "Arsenic -- poison for cats," as well as five bottles, a container of Valentine's meat juice, a rag, a glass, and a handkerchief. The first contained large amounts of arsenic, while the others carried either small or trace amounts -- enough arsenic was found in that house, it is said, to have killed fifty people (two grains being enough to kill one man).
By Saturday, May 11th, it became painfully clear that Maybrick would not survive the night. Florie had fallen into a swoon that afternoon which would last another twenty-four hours -- she would be bed-ridden until the 18th. By the time she had regained consciousness, her husband was dead.
On the 13th, a post-mortem was held in which it was concluded that death was "due to inflammation of the stomach and bowels set up by some irritant poison." On the 14th, Florie, still lying ill in bed, was informed that she was in custody under suspicion of murder. Frightened and confused, Florie complained to Mrs. Briggs that she had no money with which to contact her friends. She replied, "in sarcasm," that she should write to Brierly. Florie took the suggestion at face value and wrote to him immediately, saying:
I am writing to you to give me every assistance in your power in my present fearful trouble. I am in custody, without any of my family with me, and without money. I have cabled to my solicitor in New York to come here at once. In the meantime, send some money for present needs. The truth is known about my visit to London. Your last letter is in the hands of the police. Appearances may be against me, but before God I swear I am innocent.
The letter never reached Brierly, and, like the previous one, ended up in the hands of the police. On the 18th, a magistrate visited Florence at Battlecrease and opened an investigation, at the end of which he ordered her to be removed to Walton Jail. At the inquest on the 28th, Florie was represented by Mr. William Pickford, barrister.
The Inquest and Hearing
The official coroner's inquest began on May 14th, and was adjourned to the 28th after formal identification of the body. The hearing heard evidence from the chemists who sold Mrs. Maybrick the flypapers, and testimony from the nurses and servants, as well as that of a certain Mrs. Samuelson. This witness mysteriously disappeared before the trial, but she presented testimony at the inquest that Mrs. Maybrick told her she hated her husband about two weeks before the incident at Grand National steeplechase.
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