Monday, June 15, 2009

Affinity or False Love

Miami County Courthouse - Paola, Kansas

"My Dear Sweetheart: I am becoming desperate. You must arrange a meeting. True love cannot be trifled with in this fashion. You know my love for you and I cannot stand this thing much longer. People have been killed for less, and more may follow. Don’t get the idea this is a threat, or that I mean it that way, because it is the real thing. Be true to me. I love you." 


On June 10, 1912, before news of the tragedy in Villisca had spread, a three and a half page letter was discovered on the stairway leading to the local Justice of the Peace’s office. The quote above is taken from the memory of a Judge who read it and once Sheriff Chandler had it in his possession he turned it over to a Kansas City detective. I have never seen the letter in its entirety and as far as I know it is lost to time. The opinion of those who saw it was the writer was uneducated and the letter rambled incoherently for most of its length. The section above is a “recreation” written by the newspaper so it cannot be adequately analyzed for authenticity. The one thing that strikes me as odd is the lack of names. Not just by the writer but the salutation. I would expect, at the very least, the use of pet names. Contrast the letter above with the one below left by Rollin before leaving Anna on May 31st.
Well, I am going to K.C. Leave my clothes and those too (sic) pictures with Charley. I will be back next faul (sic) and get them. You will not be bothered with me eny (sic) more. Good-bye. ROLLIN" 

Even in a rage strong enough to simply pick up and leave (he’d done it before so maybe the rage wasn’t all that strong), Rollin addressed the note to Anna and signed his name. The use of the word “sweetheart” as a term of endearment was fairly generic, even in 1912. To use it twice in reference to different people is very unimaginative. The line “people have been killed for less, and more may follow” is ridiculously cryptic and written for effect. It’s the equivalent of writing in big red letters at the top of the page “THIS IS A DEATH THREAT FROM A MANIAC!”  

So is this letter authentic? As it is printed above I would say no. But that is only one paragraph as remembered by a person who read the letter a couple of times. The actual letter of three and a half pages could very well have been real. If that is the case then how did the letter come to rest on those steps ninety-seven years ago? I suppose a curiosity seeker could have picked it up while touring the crime scene, in fact it could very well be what happened; stranger things have been boosted from victim’s.  

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