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Children should be seen and not heard. That’s what she was told. And Alene was a good little girl. So, she went back to playing in the corner, while the grown ups leaned in closer, speaking in hushed tones, murmuring about the family secret: a woman named Beatrice Roscorla Andrewartha.
Beatrice grew up in Cornwall, in the South West of England, around the turn of the 20th century. She was a beautiful, elegant woman – tall and slender with a halo of dark curls, bright eyes, and a gentle smile.
The widow of a gold miner, Beatrice had been left with a small fortune and a desire to see the world. So, when her brother also lost his spouse and asked if she would move to Michigan to help him care for his three young daughters, Beatrice found herself on a ship bound for America.
She spent many happy years with her brother’s family, before the girls grew up and moved away to start families of their own. And, Beatrice once again found herself alone and wanting to see the world. This time, she planned to head to the West Coast and then North, to visit family in Canada.
It was a bold move in 1919, for a woman to travel across the country without a chaperone. Maybe that’s why the honeyed words of a well-dressed stranger sounded so tempting. He wanted to whisk her away to India, Asia and Australia; all the exotic places she’d been dreaming of, but didn’t think she’d ever really see.
It was a whirlwind romance between Beatrice and the gentleman on the train. Just a few weeks later they were married and making plans to honeymoon in Hawaii.
To a curious little girl in the 1950’s, eavesdropping on her mother’s conversation, it all sounded like a fairytale.
So, Alene didn’t understand why it was such a closely guarded secret, why she’d never heard of Beatrice before, and why no one wanted to explain what happened to her after that whirlwind romance.
It was a curiosity that stuck with Alene her entire life, until she unearthed a letter written to her grandfather in 1922 by an inmate at San Quinten. It was just the first breadcrumb along a trail that would lead Alene to one of the most prolific serial killers in our nation’s history, a psychopath willing to do just about anything to get what he wanted… and NEARLY got away with it.
To learn more about the book American Bluebeard: Lies and Dead Wives click here.
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