Wednesday, January 6, 2010

“My name is Ida Keller. I am 30 years old.”

It’s been a while since I posted so look here for a recap of the Keller murders.
As neighbors and doctors began to show up at the Keller home during the early morning hours of June 10, 1913, Ida began to act strangely. In spite of her story of an intruder attempting to kill her entire family, Ida showed no emotion. She was found quietly bathing her daughter’s head with water. Now in my opinion, initial emotional responses to a shocking event are not enough to raise suspicions. Everyone reacts to intense emotional events differently and shock can register in many ways. However Ida would soon pull out the first red flag of the day when she asked a witness about the chances of her husband’s life insurance, through the Modern Woodmen, being paid out. Arthur would be dead before sun rise and Margaret would die later that evening.

More questions arose at the coroner’s inquest that night. How was Ida able to discern the color of the intruder’s socks if he was backlit by a burning paper sack? On a key ring filled with multiple keys, how had the killer known which key to use to lock the door while making his escape? Ida testified at the inquest that after fighting off the murderer she pulled her revolver out of a drawer. This revolver was found in the drawer when neighbors entered the house and she did not have it when she asked the neighbors to use their phone. Why did she put it back before leaving the house for help? Ida stuck with her story while on the stand and never wavered in her explanations.
On June 12, 1913, a detective from Kansas City named Harry Arthur arrived in Harrisonville at the request of Cass County Sheriff Jim Prater. By this time Ida was under observation but not arrest. On the day of his arrival he requested a private meeting with Ida May. Before supper time that night Detective Arthur had a signed confession from Ida Keller which was given in front of three witnesses. Later in the evening Sheriff Prater’s daughter saw Ida May quietly rocking in a chair in her cell and lightly humming. Some time that night, Ida May began shouting and demanding to see the sheriff. When Prater arrived Ida May recanted the entire confession.

Ida May Keller was sentenced to prison for the natural term of her life and she lost an appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court in 1915 and disappeared from the public record.


Joyce Schmidt said...

Thankyou for posting this. I found the story doing Genealogy research when one of the "Margaret Keller" death certificates said Homicide.
I have been looking for newspaper or other information on this story.

I believe the husband/father Arthur Keller was a second cousin as he was born in Cedar Co where all my Kellers were located

Inspector Winship said...

Thanks for posting the Find-A-Grave link, Joyce. It's a very curious story to be sure.