The Unsolved Murder of Hazel Myers Feb 21, 2020 12:24:50 GMT -5
Post by JoannaB on Feb 21, 2020 12:24:50 GMT -5
The Unsolved Murder of Hazel Myers
It was just after 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 23, 1914, and John Ludt, a tenant farmer, had finished working a field along Bonnybrook Road outside Carlisle, Pennsylvania. As he was leaving, he noticed the cellar doors of the old house he used for storage were open. As he stopped to close the doors leading to the basement, he noticed something on the floor at the bottom of the steps and after his eyes adjusted to the diminished light, saw it was a woman. Believing she was passed out drunk, he prodded her with foot, but she didn’t move. He then looked at her blotched and disfigured face and realized the lady was dead.
As soon as he reached a telephone, Ludt called the police and Chief Daniel Fought was at the scene within minutes. He, in turn, notified the Cumberland County district attorney.
At the time, no one would have guessed the violent death of 19-year-old Hazel Myers would never be solved. Originally from York Springs, the girl had been living with her grandmother, Mrs. Julia Myers, on Chapel Alley in downtown Carlisle for approximately 10 months.
Those at the scene thought it strange that one arm seemed to be cradling her head, almost like a pillow. It appeared as though someone had carried her down the steps and laid her out on the cellar floor. Yet the only visible footprints were those of John Ludt.
A search of the immediate area turned up a set of tracks leading from Locust Grove through an open gate to the farm and nearby, police found two empty whiskey bottles and a scrap of a bloody skirt. There is no mention in the extant records whether it matches the woman’s clothing.
The body was removed and taken to the Ewing Brothers Funeral Home on High Street where an autopsy was performed. The cause of death was determined to be a blow to the back of the head from a blunt object wielded by an unknown assailant.
Parker Myers, the young woman’s father, waited in another room during the examination. He later told a reporter with The Carlisle Evening Herald that his relationship with his daughter was strained. “Back of the whole tragedy is the same old story,” the newspaper reported on May 25. “It is the story of a country girl leaving home, coming to a larger town, falling in with bad companions, undergoing troubles and hardships and her final ghastly end.” The clear implication was that Hazel Myers had a “reputation.” Such notoriety played a role in numerous rumors and false leads after it was learned the young woman’s death was due to foul play.
The Herald speculated the crime occurred on the night of Wednesday, May 20, on Fairground Lane. “Here it is said ... a man returning from Harrisburg heard sounds of an altercation in the street, a blow and a fall,” the article read. A voice was then heard saying “Now you’ve killed her. What are you going to do with her?”
On May 27, The Carlisle Sentinel attempted to debunk a story published in a Harrisburg newspaper that linked the murder to students at the Carlisle Indian School. The story outraged Acting Superintendent Oscar Lipps, who urged local journalists not to rush to print reports and rumors “that are not only ludicrous, but hurt and bring the town into disrepute.”
That same day, The Sentinel set the record straight on what was referred to as “That Disgraceful Cab Episode.” Residents were connecting the Hazel’s murder to a reported sighting of six young people, three women and three men, taking a joy ride in a horse-drawn carriage the evening of May 20. Hazel Myers was not involved in the incident that the newspaper reported “would do credit to any city red light district.”
Based on affidavits, the three women boarded the carriage around 8:20 p.m. at High and Bedford streets and there was testimony the men gave them each three bottles of whiskey. The women drank the liquor during their parade through town and out to Boiling Springs. One of them fainted and another screamed. A third woman was taken home at 2 a.m., but her parents would not allow her inside.
One of the items found in Hazel’s room was a photograph of an Italian by the name of Salvatori “Ikey” Granacelli on the back of which was written, “To my love, Hazel. Ikey.” This led to another attempt by The Sentinel to debunk a story published in a newspaper out of Harrisburg that police were about to arrest Granacelli, who was reputed to be the dead woman’s former lover. The Sentinel set the record straight, reporting that Granacelli had not been in town for weeks and even if he had been, the man was in no condition, physically, to murder Miss Myers. Granacelli was employed by the Philadelphia Clay works in Toland near Mount Holly Springs and a supervisor vouched for the whereabouts of his employee: “Last Wednesday [May 20] Ikey and two others were delegated to unload coal from a battleship car on our trestle works,” the man explained. “Ikey was on top and the other men underneath. The latter opened the car at the usual place underneath while Ikey was still on top, and when the coal was dumped out, Ikey was dumped out along with it.
“It is a great wonder, it did not kill him,” the supervisor continued. “His eyes, mouth and ears were filled [with coal dust]. He was so badly injured that he was unable to work Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday and on Monday, was able to work only half-a-day. He was so badly injured that he was unable to leave his home.”
On June 2, The Sentinel focused on the arrest of a young man “who bears an unsavory reputation and ... is no stranger to the police.” This suspect and Hazel Myers were seen walking down the streets of Carlisle in the direction of Locust Grove. It was reported the cad stayed at the Franklin House hotel (above) and purchased a straw hat from a local merchant. At one point, following his arrest, police accused the young man of murdering Miss Myers, to which he replied, “Maybe I did and maybe I didn’t.” When an officer challenged the blackguard to look him directly in the eye, he hung his head. But there was not enough evidence to charge the scoundrel with homicide and the unidentified suspect was never charged.
Perhaps the strangest twist in the case came in late May when investigators received a letter from a vagrant known as Bum Donald, who pinned the murder on Cora Dayton. Four months earlier, when Dayton was arrested on a charge of vagrancy, she gave the name “Clarence Kramer,” posing as the younger brother of Charles Kramer. According to the letter, Donald was squatting in the barn of Craighead Station the Sunday following the murder. Hidden from view, he couldn’t help overhearing a woman he identified as Cora Dayton conversing with a man named Ed. “I’m glad the Myers girl was dead,” Donald said, quoting Dayton. “I always said I would get her for laughing at my short hair.” In his letter, Donald urged police to arrest Dayton and question her about the murder, but by this time, she was nowhere to be found.
Meanwhile, The Evening Herald reported that during a conversation with a fellow prison inmate, Charles Kramer had admitted to having knowledge of the murder. Unfortunately, when questioned, he denied making the comments to the other prisoner. He did admit, however, to walking with Hazel Myers on Thursday, May 21, and talking with her on the steps of the Franklin House.
Again, no charges were filed and the murder of Hazel Myers remains unsolved.
Sources: Joe Cress, The Carlisle Sentinel, August 2, 2019; The Gettysburg Times, July 12, 2017.