Durrant was born
1871 in Toronto, Canada to William Durrant a shoemaker and his wife
Isabella Hutchenson Durrant.
The family immigrated to San
Francisco, California, USA in 1878. He had one sister Beulah Maud
Durrant born in 1873 who later changed her name to Maude Allan and
became an actress and interpretive dancer.
a twenty three year old medical student at Cooper Medical College in
San Francisco, assistant superintendent of the Sunday school at the
twenty first street Emanuel Baptist Church and a member of the
California Signal Corps.
On April 3, 1895
Theodore Durrant met twenty year old teacher Blanche Lamont, who had
recently come to San Francisco to study at the Normal School, at the
Polk Street electric trolley stop just after two pm. They rode
together to the twenty first street stop.
Other people on the trolley
stated that they were very close and that Durrant was whispering
into Lamont's ear and tapping at her lightly with her leather
gloves. They got off at their stop and were seen by a Mrs. Mary
Noble walking down twenty first street to the Emanuel Baptist
Church. A Mrs. Caroline Leak saw them enter the church together.
Mrs. Leak, who later testified at Durrant's trial, was the last
person known to see Blanche Lamont alive.
King, the church choir director and organist who was practicing
hymns on the organ, testified that Durrant came downstairs at five
p.m. looking pale and shaken and asked him to go get a medicine at a
(1875-April 3, 1895 Montana) was a twenty year old who had been
teaching at a one room school in Heckla, Montana. She had moved to
San Francisco to further her education at Normal School and was
living with her aunt Mrs. Tryphenia Noble. Mrs. Noble came to the
church looking for Lamont a few hours later during the evening
approached Noble and inquired about Blanche who told him that she
was worried about her. Durrant told Noble that he was sorry that
Blanche was not there but that he would come to her house later to
bring a book for her. Mrs. Noble said that he did come by later with
the book and suggested that Lamont might have been kidnapped to be
forced into prostitution.
The next day
Durrant had tried to pawn some women's rings in the San Francisco
Tenderloin district. That same afternoon Noble received a package
with the name George King, who was the church choir director,
written on the wrapper with Blanche's rings inside.
three days after Blanche's disappearance before Mrs. Noble had
reported her missing to the police. Police questioned Durrant
because he was the last person she was seen with and also because a
young woman of the church said that she had once came upon Durrant
nude in the church library. Police did not have a body or any
evidence that anything had happened to Blanche so she remained
listed as a missing person.
During this time
Durrant began focusing his attentions on twenty one year old Minnie
Flora Williams (August 1873- April 12, 1895) also an Emanuel church
member. On April 12, 1895 nine days after Lamont disappeared which
was Good Friday at seven p.m.
Williams told her friends at her
boarding house that she was going to a church member meeting at the
home of a church elder named Vogel who's wife Mary had seen Durrant
walking with Blanche Lamont the day she disappeared. A few minutes
after seven p.m. Williams was seen in a heated discussion with
Durrant in front of the church. It was loud enough to alert a passer
by named Hodgkins to stop and intervene.
later testified that his manner was not becoming to a gentleman and
that the pair did calm down and enter the church door together. At
nine pm that evening Durrant arrived at the church elders house for
the scheduled meeting.
On Saturday April
13 the women of the church were decorating the church for Easter
Sunday. One of the ladies went to a cabinet to get cups and when she
opened the door she found a mutilated female body inside. The police
were called and the body was identified as Minnie Williams. The
church and grounds were searched for any clues and for Blanche
Lamont whom police now suspected to be there.
found until a church member remembered that they had not searched
the belfry. Police went up into the belfry and found Blanche Lamont.
She was badly mutilated and nude with her head wedged between two
boards. Police immediately began a search for Theodore Durrant who
was the last one seen with both murdered woman.
Durrant had left
town to join his Signal Corp unit where he was apprehended the next
day, Easter Sunday. He was charged with the murders of Blanche
Lamont and Minnie Williams.
was covered by major newspapers all across the US. His attorney
defended him by citing lack of blood on him or his clothes and
shifting blame to the church pastor, but Durrant was convicted and
sentenced to be hanged. Durrant never confessed to the murders and
stated he was innocent to his death. The execution was carried out
in January 7, 1898 at San Quentin prison.
William Henry Theodore Durrant
(1871 – January 7, 1898) was a man convicted and hanged for two
murders at Emanuel Baptist Church in San Francisco in 1896.
In April 1896, the bodies of two young women were
discovered in Emmanuel Baptist Church where Durrant was the assistant
Sunday School superintendent. The grisly murders, which were compared
to the crimes of Jack the Ripper, received sensational and sometimes
speculative coverage in the California press.
Over 3,600 potential jurors needed to be examined
before twelve could be chosen to hear the case. Durrant was found
guilty in November 1896 and hanged at San Quentin State Prison on
January 7, 1898.
He maintained his innocence. His sister was the
dancer Maud Allan.
Theodore Durant was born in Toronto, Canada to
William Durrant, a shoemaker, and his wife Isabella Hutchenson
Durrant. The family emigrated to San Francisco, California, USA in
1879. He had one sister, Beulah Maud Durrant, born in 1873, who
became an actress and interpretive dancer and later changed her name
to Maude Allan.
At the time of his arrest, Durrant was a twenty-three-year-old
medical student at Cooper Medical College in San Francisco,
assistant superintendent of the Sunday school at the twenty-first
street Emanuel Baptist Church and a member of the California Signal
Blanche Lamont (1875-April 3, 1895) was a twenty-year
old who had been teaching at a one-room school in Hecla, Montana. She
had moved to San Francisco to further her education at Normal School
and Lowell High and was living with her aunt, Mrs. Tryphenia Noble, on
21st street in the Mission district.
On April 3, 1895, Durrant met Lamont at the Polk
Street electric trolley stop just after 2:00 p.m. They rode together
to the twenty-first street stop. Other people on the trolley stated
that they were very close and that Durrant was whispering into
Lamont's ear and tapping at her lightly with her leather gloves. They
got off at their stop and were seen by a Mrs. Mary Noble walking down
21st street to the Emanuel Baptist Church. A Mrs. Caroline Leak saw
them enter the church together. Mrs. Leak, who later testified at
Durrant's trial, was the last person known to see Blanche Lamont alive.
George King, the church choir director and organist, who was
practicing hymns on the organ, testified that Durrant came downstairs
at 5:00 p.m. looking pale and shaken and asked him to go get a
medicine at a nearby store.
Mrs. Noble came to the church looking for Lamont a
few hours later during the evening prayer service. Durrant approached
Noble and inquired about Blanche, who told him that she was worried
about her. Durrant told Noble that he was sorry that Blanche was not
there but that he would come to her house later to bring a book for
her. Mrs. Noble said that he did come by later with the book and
suggested that Lamont might have been kidnapped to be forced into
The next day, Durrant tried to pawn some women's
rings in the San Francisco Tenderloin district. That same afternoon
Noble received a package with the name George King, who was the church
choir director, written on the wrapper with Blanche's rings inside. It
was three days after Blanche's disappearance before Mrs. Noble had
reported her missing to the police.
Police questioned Durrant because he was the last
person she was seen with and also because a young woman of the church
said that she had once came upon Durrant nude in the church library.
Police did not have a body or any evidence that anything had happened
to Blanche so she remained listed as a missing person.
During this time Durrant began focusing his
attentions on twenty-one-year-old Minnie Flora Williams (August 1873
- April 12, 1895) also an Emanuel church member.
On April 12, 1895, nine days after Lamont
disappeared, which was Good Friday at 7:00 p.m., Williams told her
friends at her boarding house that she was going to a church member
meeting at the home of a church elder named Vogel, whose wife Mary
had seen Durrant walking with Blanche Lamont the day she disappeared.
A few minutes after 7:00 p.m., Williams was seen
in a heated discussion with Durrant in front of the church. It was
loud enough to alert a passerby named Hodgkins to stop and intervene.
Hodgkins later testified that his manner was not becoming to a
gentleman and that the pair did calm down and enter the church door
together. At 9:00 p.m. that evening Durrant arrived at the church
elder's house for the scheduled meeting
On Saturday April 13, the women of the church were
decorating the church for Easter Sunday. One of the ladies went to a
cabinet to get cups and when she opened the door she found a mutilated
female body inside. The police were called and the body was identified
as Minnie Williams. The church and grounds were searched for any clues
and for Blanche Lamont whom police now suspected to be there.
Nothing was found until a church member remembered
that they had not searched the belfry. Police went up into the belfry
and found Blanche Lamont. She was badly mutilated and nude with her
head wedged between two boards. Police immediately began a search for
Theodore Durrant, who was the last one seen with both murdered women.
Durrant had left town to join his Signal Corps unit,
where he was apprehended the next day, Easter Sunday. He was charged
with the murders of Blanche Lamont and Minnie Williams.
The trial was covered by major newspapers all
across the US. His attorney defended him by citing lack of blood on
him or his clothes and shifting blame to the church pastor, but
Durrant was convicted and sentenced to be hanged by Judge Carroll Cook.
Durrant never confessed to the murders, and stated he was innocent to
his death. The execution was carried out on January 7, 1898 at San
William Henry Theodore
first glance, Theodore Durrant appeared to be what well-placed women and
their single daughters would call a "good catch." Still in his
twenties, courreous, weil groomed, a doctor in training at San
Franciscos Cooper Medical College, he was also devoutly religious,
serving as assistant superintendent for the regular Sunday school at
Emmanuel Baptist Church.Unknown
to those around him, though, the young man had a darker side.His dual obsessions were religion and sex, although in the latter
field, he would confide to a fellow med student, "I have no
knowledge of women."
didn't stop young ladies from being drawn to Durrant like moths to a
flame, however, and one of his strongest admirers was 18-year-old
Blanche Lamont, a parishioner at Emmanuel Baptist.On April 3, 1895, they were seen together by numerous witnesses,
making their way toward the church, where Blanche was last seen alive on
the sidewalk outside.She
had been missing severas days, curiously unreported by her family, when
Durrant began dropping broad hints that she might have "gone
astray." On the side, he was pawning her jewelry and pocketing the
were clueless as to Blanche's whereabouts, but another young woman at
Emmanuel Baptist, 21-yearold Minnie Williams, was talking her head off,
telling friends that she "knew too much" about the case,
hinting darkly that Blanche had met with foul play.On April 12, Minnie was s en arguing with Theo Durrant on the
street outside the church, but they seemed to patch things up, and she
was holding his arm, cuddling close, as they went back inside.
morning, a Saturday, members of the church Ladies Society were stunned
to find Minnie's lifeless, blood-smeared body wedged inside a church
cupboard.Half naked, she
had been stabbed in both breasts, her wrists slashed, and her own
underwear jammed in her mouth.Police
waited a day before searching the rest of the church, thereby disrupting
Easter Sunday services, but it was worth the effort.Once they forced the boarded-up door to Emmanuel Baptist's
120-foot be¡fry, they found Blanche Lamont's body; she was naked,
strangled, raped after death, her clothing packed into the belfry
rafters.Her corpse had
been arranged so neatly, head propped up on wooden blocks, that police
immediately cast about for "someone who knows something about
Durrant was a natural suspect, all things considered, and he was swiftly
indicted for Blanche Lamont's murder.Conviction for the "Monster of the Belfry" was even
more rapid, jurors setting a new record with deliberations lasting
barely five minutes.Durrant
was sentenced to die, and while appeals delayed his execution for nearly
two years, he was finally hanged on April 3, 1897-the very anniversary
of Blanche Lamonts brutal murder.
Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia
of Modern Serial Killers - Hunting Humans
January 7, 1898:
The execution of Gilded Age San Francisco’s most notorious criminal
Sure, Jack the Ripper had set a certain tone for serial killing just a
few years earlier, but the crimes of Theodore Durrant were even more
shocking. See, Jack’s victims had been prostitutes, but San
Francisco’s “Demon of the Belfry” had murdered a pair of girls who
were respectable churchgoers. In his very own church.
On the day before Easter Sunday, 1896, a group of
women held a meeting at the Emmanual Baptist Church in the Mission
District. As they bustled about the small kitchen preparing tea, one
woman reached towards a cupboard, looking for teacups. As the door
swung open, she shrieked in horror and fainted — crammed inside was
the butchered and violated body of Miss Minnie Williams.
Minnie had been a devoted church-goer, and the
police quickly connected her death with the case of another young
woman who’d gone missing two weeks earlier. The vivacious Blanche
Lamont had also been a member of the church, so the grounds were
searched from bottom to top. The body was found in the dusty, disused
bell tower — two weeks dead, arranged like a medical cadaver, and
brutalized in an equally horrifying way.
Suspicion fell upon a young medical student and
assistant Sunday School superintendent who had been close to both
women — Theo Durrant. News of the police’s interest in Durrant spread
through the Mission and then infected all of San Francisco. By the
time he was actually picked up, only a massive police presence
prevented the angry mob from stringing him up on the spot.
San Francisco’s “Crime of the Century”
Bankers, judges, hack drivers and bootblacks
gossiped about little else, and people lined up for blocks to view the
victims’ identical white coffins at a local funeral parlor. The City’s
many newspapers were absolutely thrilled with the story, of course —
during the next couple of years, well over 400 articles about it would
appear in the San Francisco Chronicle alone.
It wasn’t just that the two young women were such
“upstanding citizens” — the angle that made it horrifying and
captivating to San Francisco was the fact that Theo Durrant was such a
nice, normal guy. He was a handsome young man, friendly and open in
demeanour, well-liked, of excellent reputation, and (again) the
assistant superintendent of a Sunday School. Our modern cliché of the
serial killer as the “guy next door who wouldn’t hurt a fly” was still
a long way off. It seemed absolutely incredible to San Francisco that
such a — well, such a ‘gentleman’ could be capable of such bestial and
As Virginia McConnell points out in her excellent
book on the case, Sympathy for the Devil, the murders played
upon deeper fears in the gaslit City, conservative anxieties about
certain changes sweeping through society. The era of Emancipation was
beginning to emerge, a time of ripening feminine independence signaled
by bloomers, bicycles — and the sudden presence of young women without
chaperones. Could it be that the horror and sexual violence of these
murders was the inevitable result of … modernity?
In any case, attempts to explain Durrant’s
behaviour abounded — and his stone-faced composure drove San Francisco
into a frenzy of speculation. Modern psychology wasn’t available yet —
Freud was in Vienna inventing it at the time of the murders — so
newspapers expounded theories about secret Barbary Coast orgies,
racially-tainted blood, exposure to perverse German medical literature,
even that the shape of Durrant’s ears somehow predicted his
monstrousity. And though most of what was written was nonsense or
circulation-boosting fiction, it was almost universally agreed that
the man was guilty.
By the time the trial began, the case was so over-exposed
that — reminiscent of the OJ Simpson case — 3,600 potential jurors
needed to be examined to come up with a final twelve
The trial lasted three weeks, and San Francisco
hung on every word. Page after page of courtroom dialogue was
published, complete with detailed illustrations and interviews with
anyone even remotely connected with the case.
Human nature being as weird as it is, the handsome
Durrant received lots of attention from young woman, including a
number of marriage proposals — and a pretty blonde dubbed the
“sweet-pea girl”, brought him a bouquet of flowers every morning.
Durrant’s insistance upon his innocence never
wavered — and it is quite true that the evidence against him was
entirely circumstantial. But it was also overwhelming. Durrant had
been involved with both of the victims, had not only been placed at
the scene of both crimes, but was apparently the last person seen in
the company of each girl. The day that Blanche Lamont vanished, he had
been spotted downtown attempting to pawn several women’s rings, and a
medical school classmate testified that Theo had confided certain
And there was plenty more. Durrant’s conviction in
the newspapers was upheld by the jury and the court, and he was
sentenced to death by hanging. Though the case was appealed, allowing
the circus to continue for several months, eventually Durrant’s legal
options just ran out. The execution was set for January 7th, 1898.
Cool as a cucumber
In a typically poetic passage, a Chronicle
reporter set the scene the night before the hanging:
“Meanwhile the town of San Quentin … partook of
the subdued excitement which had stirred San Francisco all day and
which extended more or less all over the State. In every house
windows burned brightly. Doors were flung open suddenly and voices
rose and fell. The entire place was seething. The moonlit bay was
calm and cold enough, but at every step toward the prison the
atmosphere was more heavily charged with electricity. Never did San
Quentin look so much like a Norman castle.”
Throngs of people gathered around the prison on the
day of the execution. Horse-drawn buses rattled back and forth,
delivering loads of curiousity-seekers. Boys on bicycles had been
hired to patrol the telegraph wires leading to San Quentin, making
sure that no one could clip the lines to prevent a possible
gubernatorial pardon from coming through.
That pardon never came. But even after two years of
suspense and morbid anticipation, inside the execution chamber before
an amphitheatre of onlookers, Theo Durrant was still as cool as the
Though interrupted by the imposition of the
hangman’s hood, he began to speak:
“I now go to receive the justice given to an
innocent boy who has not stained his hands with the crimes that have
been put upon him by the press of San Francisco…”
Then, with the noose actually around his neck, he
declared his blamelessness for the final time.
“I am innocent. I say now this day before God, to
whom I now go to meet my dues, I am innocent…”
And that was that.
The Chronicle reported the next day that this
performance had given the hangman a nervous breakdown, and one of the
death row guards confessed that “All through the case I believed
Durrant to be guilty and thought he would break down at the last, but
the coolness he displayed on the gallows and the speech he made
declaring his innocence … fairly made me tremble”.
Was Durrant guilty?
Well, probably. And if he hadn’t been caught, those
two poor girls would probably not have been the last of his victims.
On the other hand, the evidence was circumstantial,
and there is the tiniest sliver of an outside chance that someone else
was responsible. The pastor of the church had certainly behaved in an
odd and suspicious manner. And what’s more, an old miner had ridden
into town a week or two before the hanging and told anyone who would
listen that he’d run into a man on the trail who’d confessed to the
whole thing, in detail. Who knows? All I will say is this: capital
punishment is pretty damn final.
The scene of the crime
The scene of the crime, the Emmanuel Baptist Church,
is long gone. It stood in the Mission District, on Bartlett Street
between 22nd and 23rd — according to one source, more or less where
the apartment building at 155-165 Bartlett stands today.
After the murders, police on the neighborhood beat
are said to have dreaded night duty, swearing that they could hear the
dead girls’ screams.
The church had something of a cursed history anyway,
with one pastor a suicide, another disgraced by sexual impropriety,
and a third — you may actually remember the Reverend Isaac Kalloch —
was shot by Charles De Young. In any case, it was ripe for removal
from this planet, and a few years later, it burned — or was burned —
to the ground.
One final note — after Durrant’s execution, no
cemetery in San Francisco would accept the murderer’s remains. The
problem was finally solved by shipping the body down the coast — to
The Origin of Monsters
scene in the little room off to the side of the death house at San
Quentin was a fitting end to a gory and violent series of crimes.
Even the actions of Theo Durrant's parents shed little light on what
had caused the handsome, polite medical student to turn into a
monster and violently murder two young women with whom he attended
As the recently hanged body of William
Henry Theodore Durrant lay in repose in the state-issued coffin not
four feet from their table, his parents sat down to a sumptuous meal
of roast beef, fruit salad and tea, enjoying the repast as if they
hadn't a care in the world.
Perhaps they took
solace in their only child's strenuous assertion that he was
innocent of the heinous murders of two young women with whom he
attended church, Minnie Williams and Blanche Lamont. Their naked,
ravaged bodies were found tossed aside like so much soiled linen.
If the parents believed that their son was innocent, then they were
the only ones in San Francisco
who did, for as the date of his execution neared, Durrant converted
to Catholicism when his Baptist minister admitted he had trouble
believing Durrant's claim of unjust prosecution.
The jurors who convicted medical student Theo Durrant certainly had
no trouble with the state's case -- they took just five minutes to
return with a guilty verdict.
Maybe the question
of why Theo turned into a sexual sadist was too perplexing for the
Durrants and they simply chose to ignore it. No one ever asked them.
Theo Durrant went to meet his maker without admitting guilt and
nothing in his many statements to the press during his incarceration
and on the day of his execution shed any light on the one question
that no scientist or philosopher seems able to answer: From where do
such monsters come?
Theo and Blanche
Blance Lamont, 18, was the epitome of late 19th century femininity
and sexuality. She was probably very pleased when the handsome 24-year-old
Theo Durrant started courting her. Durrant, the assistant
superintendent of the Sunday School at
EmanuelBaptistChurch in San
Francisco, was certainly a catch. Everyone
thought he was quite handsome, gallant and gentlemanly. He was
courteous to ladies young and old, and as a medical student at
CooperMedicalCollege, his future appeared bright.
For her part, Blanche was also a prize. A photograph of her shows a
dark-eyed beauty with creamy skin, tightly-coiffed raven hair and a
slender neck; contemporary reports took note of Blanche's long doe-like
Born in Montana,
but living with her aunt and uncle near the church on 21st St.,
Blanche was young, but she was not naive. Elizabeth McConnell
reports in Sympathy for the Devil that Blanche knew she was
attractive and she took care to keep herself that way. Blanche
dressed well and was studying to be a teacher at the Normal School
just up the road from CooperMedicalCollege.
hardly surprising that Theo and Blanche met up with each other at
the electric trolley stop near their homes as they traveled to their
respective schools on a crisp April morning in 1895. Trial testimony
reported in the newspapers of the day attests that each of them was
well noticed by the other riders on the tram that morning. Blanche
wore a billowing black skirt topped with a fashionable Basque jacket
and a wide-brimmed hat that tied beneath her chin with a bright
She stared ahead with a knowing
smile as Theo whispered in her ear and playfully slapped at her with
the kid gloves she had removed upon boarding the tram.
Very likely Durrant was making arrangements to meet Blanche later
that afternoon at the EmanuelChurch, but neither of them had
religion on their minds. It had become "fashionable" for young
people to meet for clandestine sexual rendezvous in empty church
rooms and Emanuel Baptist had apparently seen its share of such
blasphemies. Recently, one of the church elders had mentioned this
to fellow leaders, bemoaning, "I have heard stories of strange
actions on the part of some of the young people of the church,"
Harold Schechter writes.
Durrant and Lamont parted
at the Polk St.
stop and bade farewell as they went to their respective schools.
Each spent a presumably nondescript day in their studies, and before
that afternoon, Durrant was pacing anxiously
near the Polk St.
trolley stop. Witnesses said he nearly flew down the street as he
saw young Blanche Lamont walking up the hill from the Normal School.
They boarded the tram together, joined by May Lannigan, who later
testified that she remembered the meeting vividly because "it was
the man's hair which attracted my attention as it struck me as
unusual to see a gentleman with such long hair," McConnell reported.
Another witness would be able to place the two walking purposefully
EmanuelChurch a short time later. This time,
the woman's Victorian sensibilities were disturbed by the way the
wind pressed Blanche's dress tightly to her full-bodied form.
A third witness, Mrs. Caroline Leak, saw Durrant open the heavy oak
door in the center of the three Gothic arches that adorned the
church and hold it as Blanche entered. Mrs. Leak was the last person
other than Durrant to see Blanche Lamont alive. The wind blew the
solid door shut, sealing in any noise from the sanctuary.
Schechter writes that the newspapers that covered the murder of
Blanche Lamont state that the young lady, worldly yet demure, did
not part "with life and honour without a struggle," and that "a
sexual outrage had probably occurred after death."
None of that was known to church choral director George King as he
entered the sanctuary about three hours later. King was in the
sanctuary to practice organ sonatas and he had barely seated himself
at the instrument before a very pale and somewhat disorganized
"I've been fixing a gas jet
upstairs," Durrant explained. "Be a good fellow and go to the drug
store and fetch a Bromo Seltzer."
and within moments of his return with the tonic, color had returned
to Durrant's face and his features took on their normal, handsome
appearance. Durrant said goodbye and strode out into the cool
King practiced his Bach, not knowing
that the naked corpse of Blanche Dumont lay hidden high above him.
Durrant had propped Blanche's head between two blocks of wood --
just as medical students were taught to do to cadavers they were
examining. Durrant had also folded Blanche's arms across her naked
breasts as if in preparation for burial.
the bell tower through a seldom-used trap-door, leaving his grisly
work to the dust and flies.
Durrant returned that
same night to the
EmanuelBaptistChurch for the evening prayer service.
There he spotted Mrs. Tryphena Noble, Blanche Lamont's aunt. He
inquired about the student teacher.
looked worried as she told Theo that she had hoped Blanche would be
at the prayer service because the girl had not returned home from
school that day and her absence was most disturbing.
Schechter reports that Durrant had brought a book he wanted Blanche
to read. "I regret she is not with us," Durrant replied
sympathetically. "I have a copy of The Newcomes by Thackery
for her. I will drop it off at the house."
some unknown reason, Tryphena Noble waited three days before she
reported Blanche's disappearance to the police. Immediately,
suspicion fell on Theo Durrant, who, upon closer examination, seemed
to be preoccupied with sex. Schechter and McConnell agree that
Durrant had confided in a fellow student that he "had no knowledge
of women." Another account of the crime, in "Crimes and Punishment,"
recounts how police learned that another young lady of
EmanuelBaptistChurch had once been accosted in the
library of the church by Durrant in, as she delicately put it, "his
In contradiction to the claim that
Durrant was a virgin, "Crimes and Punishment" claims Theo bragged of
his exploits in the brothels of Carson City and once boasted that he
had raped an Indian woman, although McConnell -- who wrote the most
in-depth study of the crime -- makes no mention of this.
Regardless, Durrant did little to allay suspicions of his
involvement in Blanche's disappearance.
he told police. "She has wandered from the moral path and gone
Later, he appeared at Tryphena Noble's
home with his copy of Thackery for Blanche and spoke of his fear
that her niece had been kidnapped and would be forced into a life of
prostitution. He vowed to rescue her from this horrid fate.
Down in the city's Tenderloin district, Durrant attempted to pawn
some women's rings, but was unable to strike a deal with a
pawnbroker. Shortly afterward, Mrs. Noble received three rings
belonging to Blanche in the mail. They were wrapped in a paper
bearing the name George King, she would later testify in court.
But without a body and no sign of foul play, the police could only
file away the disappearance of Blanche Lamont and hope that either
the young woman would turn up alive or that more clues to her fate
would reveal themselves.
In the meantime, Theo
Durrant began paying attention to another church-going young lady,
Minnie Williams, 21. It was on Good Friday,
April 12, 1895 that Minnie bade farewell to her
boardinghouse companions and headed off to a Christian fellowship
meeting at the home of an EmanuelBaptistChurch elder. That was at