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Eva COO

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


A.K.A.: "The Mallet Murderer"
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: To collect insurance money
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: June 14, 1934
Date of birth: 1894
Victim profile: Harry “Gimpy” Wright, 52
Method of murder: Hitting with a mallet and running over with a car
Location: Oneonta, Otsego County, New York, USA
Status: Executed by electric chair at Sing Sing Prison on June 27, 1935
 
 

 
 

Eva Coo (17 June 1889 – 27 June 1935) was an American murderer, who was executed by electric chair at Sing Sing Prison on June 27, 1935.

Born Eva Curry in Haliburton, Ontario, Canada, she moved to Toronto while a teenager. There, she met and married William Coo, and together they moved to upstate New York in 1921.

Coo was entrusted with the care of one of her employees, a slow-witted handiman named Henry Wright, after the death of Wright's mother. Coo embezzled Wright's inheritance and burned down his house for insurance money. After purchasing several life insurance policies on Wright, Coo then conspired to murder him with another of her employees, a woman named Martha Clift.

On June 14, 1934, the two women drove Wright to an isolated location outside Oneonta, New York. There, Eva allegedly hit him with a mallet and Martha ran over him with a car, specifically a Willys-Knight. They then dumped his body beside a road to simulate a hit-and-run accident. Though little evidence has been provided to corroborate the bludgeoning with the mallet, it remains the symbol of the murder and the trial to this day.

Police suspected homicide, and Clift confessed after an interrogation. She was convicted of second-degree murder and served thirteen years in prison, while Coo received a death sentence.

Wikipedia.org


Eva Coo

She worked through the Great Depression, managed to buy property, ran a successful business (even if it was a brothel), fed herself and a large staff, and even paid for her employee’s insurance policies. Of course, it was later determined that her motives for paying those premiums were other than charity.

She was born Eva Currie in Haliburton, Ontario in 1894. While she was still in her teens, she moved to Toronto where she met a rail worker named William Coo. They ran away together to Canada’s western frontier and got married. The marriage lasted only a few years and Eva Coo migrated to upstate Nueva York en 1921.

As a result of Prohibition Age, which began with the Volstead Act at precisely midnight January 16, 1920,  “speak easys” began to appear all over America.

Eva opened her own bar in Oneonta, a small city midway between Albany and Binghamton in Otsego County, New York.  During that era, Oneonta was a bustling railroad town through which many transients passed every day to points east and west.

Eva’s clientele consisted of truck drivers, railroad employees, college students and construction workers. Eva’s Place, as it was called, was a popular stopover known throughout the region.

Eva herself was a boisterous, outgoing woman with a quick sense of humor who could always be counted on for a good time. She was 5’ 7” and weighed a muscular 170 pounds. Everyone knew Eva and she knew everyone else, including politicians and police.

Eva employed a staff that consisted of several local people who worked as bartenders and kept the bar, called Little Eva’s Place, stocked with booze and supplies.

One of the employees, Harry “Gimpy” Wright, 52, was a farmer whose mother had passed away in 1931. He was unable to care for himself and came to live with Eva that summer in exchange for $2,000 of his mother’s inheritance money. Harry often drank at the bar to excess and took to walking down the highway, Route 7, in an inebriated state, sometimes falling alongside the road where he had to be rescued by other patrons.

In 1933, a girl named Martha Clift, originally from Pennsylvania, went to work at Little Eva’s Place. She became a familiar sight at the bar and people noticed that she also became very friendly with Eva Coo.

During the following summer, in June, 1934, Eva reported to the police that “Gimpy” was missing. He had wandered out of the bar after a bout with the bottle and hadn’t been seen or heard from since.

The police conducted a search and quickly found the body of Harry Wright, smashed up in a bad way, laying in a roadside ditch off Route 7. 

He was less than a half-mile from Eva’s place and it was immediately surmised that he was struck and killed by a hit and run driver who didn’t see the unlucky victim until it was too late.

A local coroner examined the remains and ruled that Wright was probably killed by a hit and run driver while strolling drunk along Route 7, something that he was known to do in the past. His body was dispatched over to a local funeral parlor and prepared for burial.

In the meantime, Eva, not known for her intelligence, showed up at a Met Life Insurance Company office in Oneonta with an insurance policy on “Gimpy’s” life. The beneficiary named in the policy was Eva Coo.

The claim was processed but the insurance company became suspicious and took their suspicions to the police. An autopsy was conducted on Wright and the coroner ruled the death suspicious. It was later discovered that on the night of Wright’s death, Coo and Clift were reported to be trespassing on an old farm near Crumhorn Mountain. That was enough for the sheriff’s office. Both women were arrested. While they were held at the local jail, sheriff’s deputies went to Eva’s home and, without a warrant, broke in and searched the place.

Officers found dozens of insurance polices on Eva’s friends, acquaintances and employees, all naming her as the beneficiary. When confronted with the evidence, both women soon confessed. Coo said they took Wright to an old farmhouse near Crumhorn Mountain outside Oneonta and smashed his head in with a hammer. They ran over his body using a friend’s car and then threw Wright into a highway ditch where he was found. However, each woman named the other as the one who actually did the killing and would not relent.

The sheriff then took Eva and Martha to Crumhorn Mountain to clarify their statements and it was there that one of the most grotesque interrogations in the history of criminal justice began.

The Sheriff exhumed the body of Harry Wright and brought it to the site where he removed it from the coffin. For the next few hours, while the women argued back and forth about who did what to whom, sheriff’s deputies carted around Wright’s corpse, placing it in various spots in front of the terrified suspects who nearly collapsed from the stench and the summer heat.

On August 1934, begin the trial in Cooperstown, New York. It attracted the usual media gang y entrepreneurs who sold souvenirs and memorabilia outside the county courthouse. Incredibly, Wright’s body was again exhumed during proceedings so police could check on his wounds. The trial lasted almost three weeks and quickly turned into a circus. But in the end, it took just one hour for the jury to bring in a verdict. Eva Coo was found guilty of Murder 1st degree and the trial court sentenced Coo to death. Martha Clift was found guilty of Murder 2st degree and sentenced 20 years prison.

That same day, outside the Otsego County Courthouse, a caravan of cars carrying Eva Coo, Martha Clift and a platoon of police and state troopers left for Sing Sing, about 90 miles south. Later, at the doors to the prison, the two women were allowed to say goodbye to each other. Martha was then taken to Bedford Reformatory, about thirty miles away, where she would serve out her sentence.

Meanwhile, at Sing Sing, Eva was processed in the front office. After being issued a prison uniform, Eva was ushered into the same cell where Anna Antonio had spent her last days, and before her, Ruth Snyder. Eva asked the guards about Sing Sing. The matrons said it was a fair place and the warden was a fine man.

One matron said, “Do you know what they did for Mrs. Antonio?”

“Yeah,” said Eva, “burned her!” (Eggleston, p. 93). During her time on Death Row, few people visited her. Since her conviction, Eva fell out of favor with her old friends from Oneonta. Gone were the politicians, business people, judges and cops that once frequented her place. “I don’t know why my friends can’t get in to see me at Sing Sing,” she said, “I had no problem getting in!”

On June 27, 1935, after half-hearted appeals were filed by her attorneys, who often fought with each other and tried to make money from her story, Eva Coo ate her last meal. A last-second request was made to Governor Herbert Lehman to spare her life, but he refused. At 11:00 p.m. that night, she was brought into the death chamber. Two matrons, one on each side of Eva, escorted her to the chair. Her posture was erect and her shoulders pushed back. She appeared resigned but with a trace of the old bravado. She sat unassisted, her white hands gripping the ends of the chair.

“Goodbye, darlings!” she said to the matrons. Several minutes later she was dead, the 3rd woman to die at Sing Sing in the 20th century. In his journal, executioner Robert G. Elliot wrote a simple notation: “New York June 27-1935-11 P.M. 9 Amp. Eva Coo #89508-42 years” (Elliot, p. 279).

There were many people though, who were upset at the way her defense was handled. Eva’s journey through the criminal justice system was not one to be proud of according to some. Warden Lewis E. Lawes, always outspoken on death penalty issues, later said this to the press: “I don’t know if she was innocent or guilty. But I do know that she got a rotten deal all around, rotten…And I’m not defending her-she may be guilty as well, but she got a raw deal. Her trial attorneys-do you know what they did to help her lately? Know what? One of them wrote to me, saying he’d like four invitations to her execution. That’s the kind of defense she had” (Nash, 1981, p. 96).

In Haliburton, Ontario, Eva’s hometown, when her sister, Mrs. William Baker, was asked for a reaction to the execution, she told reporters that Eva “has been dead to her family for seventeen years” (New York Times, june 28, 1935). She was buried in a potter’s field whose exact location is unknown and her grave has never been found.


Little Eva, The Mallet Murderer

“Little Eva” Coo will forever be known as “The Mallet Murderer” because she reportedly bashed in the skull of her victim, Harry “Gimpy” Wright. But the wooden mallet she used to cosh Harry only rendered him unconscious and it was Eva’s accomplice, Martha Clift, who finished the job by running over Harry several times with her car.

The women planned to make Harry’s death look like a hit-and-run accident to collect several thousand dollars in insurance money. In typical Jazz Journalism style where reporters never let the facts get in the way of a good story, the tabloids that covered the crime each reported different amounts of insurance Eva had taken out on her victim. The amounts ranged from $1,000 to $10,000.

Little Eva, 43, died in Sing Sing’s electric chair in 1935 while Martha, a 27-year-old mother of a six-year-old girl and 3-year-old boy, turned state’s evidence and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. She drew a 20-year-to-life term.

"Mrs. Coo was given to real estate swapping and the result on one deal was to find her operating a gasoline filling station and roadhouse," a United Press account reported in 1935. "Here her friend Martha Clift...was a hostess and here were staged nightly bootleg liquor parties attended not only by railroad workers and farm laborers, but by younger sons of wealthy families."

"Hostesses" in the roadhouse performed other services such as dancing with patrons, but there was no indication that they served as prostitutes.

Little Eva prospered during the last years of Prohibition and owned at least three automobiles when she was arrested, an almost unheard-of accomplishment in the Depression. But Eva was greedy and when Harry Wright came along, she soon decided that he was a perfect target.

Harry was, as his nickname implies, handicapped (the papers repeatedly described him as a “cripple”), but not so disabled that he couldn’t work as a handyman around the roadhouse in return for room and board. He was reportedly a philandering “man about town” whose wife had thrown him out because of his roving eye when he showed up at Little Eva’s roadhouse.

Over the next several years, Eva began taking a dislike to her handyman and made no secret of her distaste. Coincidentally, Eva’s displeasure with Harry increased after he burned through $1,500 he had saved in a bank account.

Eva soon put in motion her plan to profit by Harry’s death. She got her lover, Harry Nabinger, to help her take out several life insurance policies on Harry. At one point, she went to the cemetery where Harry owned a plot and chiseled off his birthdate to prevent her falsified age information from being uncovered.

Eva also began to include Martha in her plot. At one point Eva considered putting Harry in “a runaway automobile” after asphyxiating him with carbon monoxide.

“She wanted to get Harry Wright in her garage, get him working on her car, leave the gas on, lock the garage, then go to Sidney or some other place,” Martha would later testify in court.

In May 1934, Eva, Harry Nabinger, Martha, and a former boarder, Gladys Shumway, took a pleasure trip up Crumhorn Mountain and stopped near the spot where Eva and Martha would eventually kill Harry. There, Eva picked up a wooden mallet and hefted it, saying (according to Gladys’s testimony) “wouldn’t that be something to hit somebody with?”

About two weeks after that incident, Eva and Martha invited Harry to accompany them on a trip to dig up some shrubs at a “haunted house” on Crumhorn Mountain. The haunted house was actually an abandoned farm house on property owned by the Fink family.

On June 14 using a borrowed car, Eva, Martha, and Harry Wright headed up the mountain toward the “haunted house.” There, Eva and Harry got out and while Martha waited in the car, they walked about 20 yards away down a two-track dirt road. As Harry stood examining the shrubbery, Eva took out a wooden mallet and struck him on the head, Martha testified.

On the stand at Eva’s trial, Martha admitted that she intended to run down Harry.

“He heard me start the motor up and started to step out of the road and Eva Coo hit him,” she testified.

“Did you make any effort to put the brakes on?” asked prosecutor Donald Grant.

“No, I didn’t,” Martha replied. “I was nervous and just kept going.”

By the time the car traveled the 15 feet or so, Harry was on the ground. Martha drove over his body then backed up and over it a second time.

She and Eva were planning to leave the body beside the dirt road to make the crime look like an accident, but they were surprised by members of the Fink family — who did not see the killers — and were forced to load Harry’s body into the backseat of their rented car (Martha had to borrow 50 cents to rent the car the day before), and leave.

“That was the hardest work I ever did,” Eva said. “I wonder if he’s dead.”

Martha claimed that she asked Eva to take Harry to a hospital, but Eva refused.

“No hospital,” she said.

The killers ended up dumping Harry’s body about 100 yards from Eva’s roadhouse, where it was discovered shortly after.

Because they had no reason to suspect Harry was a murder target and he was known to be a “wandering drinker,” police at first wrote off his death as a tragic accident. The chief of police however, considered the incident “weird” and began to look closer. First, he would later testify, no hat was found at the scene when Harry’s body was discovered. However, a green cap known to belong to Harry subsequently turned up there in a conspicuous location. It would have been impossible for them to have missed it, the chief testified.

A New York State Trooper, also investigating the death, found out that Harry had been heavily insured and that Eva was his beneficiary. When Harry was buried, police noticed that his family tombstone had been vandalized. They surmised that this was done to make it easier to insure Harry by using a more recent birthdate.

On the night Harry’s body was discovered, Eva told another boarder to “keep still about the insurance policies.” She also told the woman that she would have to serve as an alibi.

“Edna, there’s going to be a lot of trouble over this, and I may need you to prove I was home on the 14th,” the witness, Edna Hanover, told the court. “You were there when I was there.”

Harry Nabinger realized his lover had followed through on her plan and he immediately left the roadhouse. Edna and Eva caught up with him and Edna testified that Eva threatened the drunken Nabinger.

“Walking and staggering all over the place, you’ll get hit with a car,” shes said ominously.

“If I get hit with a car you won’t have to hire someone to kill me,” Nabinger replied.

Eva and Martha were arrested shortly afterward and Martha, in return for an agreement to not seek the death penalty, admitted that Eva paid her $200 to help kill Harry Wright.

Martha and Harry Nibinger were the chief witnesses against Eva at her trial, and in August 1934 Eva was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to die in Sing Sing’s electric chair.

Proclaiming her innocence to the end, she died there on June 27, 1935. Her family declined to claim her body, with one sister saying “she’s been dead to us for 17 years,” and she was buried in Sing Sing potter’s field.

Martha was apparently paroled after serving 13 years behind bars.

MarkGribben.com


COO, Eva (USA)

One day in 1935 Mr Lawes, Warden of Sing Sing Prison, authorised the dispatch of invitations for Eva Coo’s execution to the official guests, observers, medical specialists, newspaper journalists, and to those of the victim’s relatives who wished to attend. The printed forms read:

In accordance with Section 507 of the Code of Criminal Procedure you are hereby invited to be present as a witness at the execution by electricity of Eva Coo which will occur at this prison on 27 June 1935. The hour of 11 p.m. has been designated by me for such execution and you will arrange to be at my office in this prison not later than 10 p.m. I would thank you to treat this communication as confidential and advise me immediately upon its receipt of your acceptance or otherwise, so that I can make arrangements accordingly. Under no circumstances is this invitation transferable.

Very respectfully,

Lewis E. Lawes, Warden

Following any horrendous and consequently well-publicised crime, there were always hundreds, sometimes thousands of applications from those who wished to watch the condemned criminal die, and there is no reason to think that the auditorium was anything other than full when Eva, deservedly or not, went to meet her Maker.

Born in Canada, Eva moved south and lived in the States where she became a prostitute before running her own brothel, the notorious ‘Little Eva’s Place’, in a town on the outskirts of New York. There she prospered, but trade suffered badly when Prohibition ceased, and she became desperate for money. She had a close friend, Martha Clift, who acted as a hostess in Eva’s establishment, and from all accounts the two women discussed different ways of overcoming their financial difficulties. Which lady suggested murdering Harry Wright, the brothel’s handyman, and claiming his life insurance of several thousand dollars, is not clear, but one night in June 1934 Harry, having been plied with drink, was lured out of the building and killed.

Which of the women struck him and with what type of implement is unclear; it depended on which local paper one read.

One of the murderous conspirators hit him with a claw hammer or a mallet; the other then got into the car and ran over him several times. One thing that was clear, however, was that no matter how close a friend Martha had been to Eva, it ended abruptly when the pair were arrested. Martha, to save her own skin, turned state’s witness and gave damning evidence, admitting that she had driven the car over the handyman, having been promised a considerable part of the insurance money, but that it was Eva who had actually struck the fatal blows. Acting on her statement the police exhumed Wright’s body on no fewer than two occasions but could not substantiate Martha’s accusations.

Eva was sent for trial, journalists reporting how the judge had encouraged the all-male jury to play their part in the proceedings by saying, in a somewhat unorthodox way: ‘Don’t think we are locking you up; enjoy yourselves, laugh and talk among yourselves, get lots of exercise. You are good sports and citizens, and I appreciate what you are doing.’

When Eva entered the crowded courtroom she must have realised with horror that she would face the death sentence on learning that her ‘friend’, in order to face a lesser charge of second-degree murder, was prepared to testify against her. And so it proved, for after a short deliberation, the jury brought in a verdict of guilty. Eva Coo was sentenced to death; Martha Clift to twenty years’ imprisonment.

In Sing Sing’s condemned cell, Eva complained bitterly that all her personal belongings, expensive clothes and other valuables had been sold to defray the lawyers’ expenses. The Warden, noted for his humane treatment of his prisoners, deplored the fact that one of her attorneys had even applied for four invitations so that he and colleagues could come and watch the death of the client he had defended. Mr Lawes did not justify Eva’s crime in any way, but praised her fortitude and equable behaviour as appeal after appeal was dismissed. Albert R. Beatty, the executioner, described in his memoirs how the Warden visited Eva prior to the designated hour, just as one of the wardresses was attaching the electrode to one of the victim’s legs. Still insisting that she

was innocent, nevertheless she walked calmly and composedly into the execution chamber where she seated herself in the chair.

Looking around, she bade farewell to the wardresses, saying, ‘Goodbye, darlings!’, then allowed the guards to strap her arms and legs securely. Her only reaction, an instinctive gasp, came when Beatty put the head electrode in position and threw the switch, sending the current surging through her body, her life ending in a matter of seconds.

Any prize for sheer composure prior to being executed would surely have been won by serial killer Louise Peete, sentenced to death in the gas chamber in 1947. When informed that she was prepared to be interviewed by the press, the reporters who expected to see a broken-spirited or possibly panicstricken woman, were taken aback at the charm offensive which greeted them, for Louise not only flattered them outrageously but even opened a gold-wrapped box of chocolates and, as if at a party, invited them all to partake of the delicacies!

Amazing True Stories of Female Executions by Geoffrey Abbott


"A Rotten Deal, All Around Rotten!"

It could be said that up until 1935, Eva Coo was a survivor. She worked through the Great Depression, managed to buy property, ran a successful business (even if it was a brothel), fed herself and a large staff, and even paid for her employee’s insurance policies. Of course, it was later determined that her motives for paying those premiums were other than charity.

She was born Eva Currie in Haliburton, Ontario in 1894. While she was still in her teens, she moved to Toronto where she met a rail worker named William Coo. They ran away together to Canada’s western frontier and got married. The marriage lasted only a few years and Eva Coo migrated to upstate New York in 1921.

As a result of Prohibition Age, which began with the Volstead Act at precisely midnight January 16, 1920,  “speak easys” began to appear all over America. Eva opened her own bar in Oneonta, a small city midway between Albany and Binghamton in Otsego County, New York. 

During that era, Oneonta was a bustling railroad town through which many transients passed every day to points east and west. Eva’s clientele consisted of truck drivers, railroad employees, college students and construction workers. Eva’s Place, as it was called, was a popular stopover known throughout the region. Eva herself was a boisterous, outgoing woman with a quick sense of humor who could always be counted on for a good time. She was 5’ 7” and weighed a muscular 170 pounds. Everyone knew Eva and she knew everyone else, including politicians and police.

Eva employed a staff that consisted of several local people who worked as bartenders and kept the bar, called Little Eva’s Place, stocked with booze and supplies. One of the employees, Harry “Gimpy” Wright, 52, was a farmer whose mother had passed away in 1931. He was unable to care for himself and came to live with Eva that summer in exchange for $2,000 of his mother’s inheritance money. Harry often drank at the bar to excess and took to walking down the highway, Route 7, in an inebriated state, sometimes falling alongside the road where he had to be rescued by other patrons.

In 1933, a girl named Martha Clift, originally from Pennsylvania, went to work at Little Eva’s Place. She became a familiar sight at the bar and people noticed that she also became very friendly with Eva Coo. During the following summer, in June, 1934, Eva reported to the police that “Gimpy” was missing. He had wandered out of the bar after a bout with the bottle and hadn’t been seen or heard from since.

The police conducted a search and quickly found the body of Harry Wright, smashed up in a bad way, laying in a roadside ditch off Route 7.  He was less than a half-mile from Eva’s place and it was immediately surmised that he was struck and killed by a hit and run driver who didn’t see the unlucky victim until it was too late. A local coroner examined the remains and ruled that Wright was probably killed by a hit and run driver while strolling drunk along Route 7, something that he was known to do in the past. His body was dispatched over to a local funeral parlor and prepared for burial.

In the meantime, Eva, not known for her intelligence, showed up at a Met Life Insurance Company office in Oneonta with an insurance policy on “Gimpy’s” life. The beneficiary named in the policy was Eva Coo. The claim was processed but the insurance company became suspicious and took their suspicions to the police.

An autopsy was conducted on Wright and the coroner ruled the death suspicious. It was later discovered that on the night of Wright’s death, Coo and Clift were reported to be trespassing on an old farm near Crumhorn Mountain. That was enough for the sheriff’s office. Both women were arrested.

While they were held at the local jail, sheriff’s deputies went to Eva’s home and, without a warrant, broke in and searched the place. Officers found dozens of insurance polices on Eva’s friends, acquaintances and employees, all naming her as the beneficiary. When confronted with the evidence, both women soon confessed. Coo said they took Wright to an old farmhouse near Crumhorn Mountain outside Oneonta and smashed his head in with a hammer. They ran over his body using a friend’s car and then threw Wright into a highway ditch where he was found. However, each woman named the other as the one who actually did the killing and would not relent.

The sheriff then took Eva and Martha to Crumhorn Mountain to clarify their statements and it was there that one of the most grotesque interrogations in the history of criminal justice began. The Sheriff exhumed the body of Harry Wright and brought it to the site where he removed it from the coffin. For the next few hours, while the women argued back and forth about who did what to whom, sheriff’s deputies carted around Wright’s corpse, placing it in various spots in front of the terrified suspects who nearly collapsed from the stench and the summer heat.

In August, 1934, the trial began in the baseball town of Cooperstown, New York. It attracted the usual media gang and entrepreneurs who sold souvenirs and memorabilia outside the county courthouse. Incredibly, Wright’s body was again exhumed during proceedings so police could check on his wounds. The trial lasted almost three weeks and quickly turned into a circus. But in the end, it took just one hour for the jury to bring in a verdict. Eva Coo was found guilty of Murder 1st degree and sentenced to death at Sing Sing. Martha Clift was found guilty of Murder 2nd degree and sentenced to 20 years.

That same day, outside the Otsego County Courthouse, a caravan of cars carrying Eva Coo, Martha Clift and a platoon of police and state troopers left for Sing Sing, about 90 miles south. Later, at the doors to the prison, the two women were allowed to say goodbye to each other.

Martha was then taken to Bedford Reformatory, about thirty miles away, where she would serve out her sentence. Meanwhile, at Sing Sing, Eva was processed in the front office. After being issued a prison uniform, Eva was ushered into the same cell where Anna Antonio had spent her last days, and before her, Ruth Snyder. Eva asked the guards about Sing Sing. The matrons said it was a fair place and the warden was a fine man.

One matron said, “Do you know what they did for Mrs. Antonio?”

“Yeah,” said Eva, “burned her!” (Eggleston, p. 93). During her time on Death Row, few people visited her. Since her conviction, Eva fell out of favor with her old friends from Oneonta. Gone were the politicians, business people, judges and cops that once frequented her place. “I don’t know why my friends can’t get in to see me at Sing Sing,” she said, “I had no problem getting in!”

On June 27, 1935, after half-hearted appeals were filed by her attorneys, who often fought with each other and tried to make money from her story, Eva Coo ate her last meal. A last-second request was made to Governor Herbert Lehman to spare her life, but he refused. At 11:00 p.m. that night, she was brought into the death chamber. Two matrons, one on each side of Eva, escorted her to the chair. Her posture was erect and her shoulders pushed back. She appeared resigned but with a trace of the old bravado. She sat unassisted, her white hands gripping the ends of the chair.

“Goodbye, darlings!” she said to the matrons. Several minutes later she was dead, the 3rd woman to die at Sing Sing in the 20th century. In his journal, executioner Robert G. Elliot wrote a simple notation: “New York June 27-1935-11 P.M. 9 Amp. Eva Coo #89508-42 years” (Elliot, p. 279).

There were many people though, who were upset at the way her defense was handled. Eva’s journey through the criminal justice system was not one to be proud of according to some. Warden Lewis E. Lawes, always outspoken on death penalty issues, later said this to the press: “I don’t know if she was innocent or guilty. But I do know that she got a rotten deal all around, rotten… And I’m not defending her-she may be guilty as well, but she got a raw deal. Her trial attorneys-do you know what they did to help her lately? Know what? One of them wrote to me, saying he’d like four invitations to her execution. That’s the kind of defense she had” (Nash, 1981, p. 96).

In Haliburton, Ontario, Eva’s hometown, when her sister, Mrs. William Baker, was asked for a reaction to the execution, she told reporters that Eva “has been dead to her family for seventeen years” (New York Times, June 28, 1935). After her execution, Eva’s body was not claimed. Accordingly, she was buried in a potter’s field whose exact location is unknown and her grave has never been found.

Mark Gado – CrimeLibrary.com



Eva Coo

 

Eva Coo

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
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