Lucina Courser Broadwell was murdered in
Barre, Vermont, United States on May 4, 1919.
The murder of the 29-year-old mother of three
shocked and consumed the community of 17,000 during the summer and
fall of 1919. Her murder was considered "one of the most horrendous
crimes to take place in Vermont up to that time." Lucina was buried in
Johnson, Vermont, on Wednesday, May 7, 1919.
Little is known about Lucina Courser Broadwell's
early life. Lucina was born on July 26, 1889. She was raised by her
parents, Mr. and Mrs. George Courser in Johnson, Vermont.
In 1910, Lucina married Harry Broadwell, a
carpenter, and moved to Barre in 1915. They had three children, Doris,
Hildred, and Wendell. At the time of her murder, Lucina was described
a: "[a] woman . . . of rather slight build, probably not weighing over
110 pounds and being about five feet, three inches tall. She was of
rather dark complexion and with regular features with the exception of
On the morning of Sunday, May 4, 1919, at
approximately 7:30, Harold Jackson, a resident of Brookfield, VT, came
across the body of Lucina Broadwell, while on a morning walk. Lucina's
body was lying face down in the Wheelock garden, off North Main Street.
When found, Lucina was only clothed in "shoes, stockings, and kid
gloves." Her clothing, hat, pocketbook, and Waltham watch were found
within several feet of the body. The murder scene has been described
"Her hat was found 8 feet from her body; her
Waltham watch 13 feet away, and her empty pocketbook, 5 feet beyond
that. The gold watch, with its closed case and clasp, was etched
with the initials L.P.C., her maiden name: Lucina Phillips Courser.
When thrown from her body, the watch was still running. . . . There
were clothes, including what were called “corsets,” under the body.
A pile of other clothing was tossed in a heap nearby. Some of these
articles were torn and when they were picked up, several buttons
fell to the ground."
Lucina's hands were tied behind her back with one
of her undergarments. A portion of her undergarments and a man's white
handkerchief were tied around her neck; it was apparent from the marks
on her neck that she had been strangled.
Wood Detective Agency Investigation
James R. Wood, Jr., of the Wood Detective Agency
(Boston, MA) was hired by the State of Vermont to conduct an
investigation into the murder. Wood was considered a "Chief Detective"
and was considered "the best known detective in New England." Wood and
his team had arrived in Barre on May 7, the same day as Lucina's
funeral, before her body was transferred to Johnson for burial. At the
end of the investigation Wood stated that the Broadwell case was "one
of the strongest circumstantial cases ever tried."
When Wood arrived in Barre, he met with Attorney
General Archibald and other local officials. It had already been
deduced that Lucina had been murdered at the Buzzell Hotel and her
body moved to the garden where it was ultimately found. Wood
interviewed Harry Broadwell, because at that time, it was largely
believed that Harry killed Lucina. Wood, however, quickly dismissed
this theory since Harry had "a perfect alibi" for all of his
activities the night of the murder. Harry did reveal that he believed
his wife was "sporty." Wood quickly identified George R. Long as a
person of interest. Long, at that time, was a resident of the Parker
house. Harry had told Wood that he suspected Lucina was having an
affair with a resident of the Parker house. When initially questioned,
Long denied having met Lucina.
Wood also followed another lead provided by Harry
Broadwell. Harry had told Wood that Lucina had a good friend by the
name of Grace Grimes, who had relocated to the Boston area. Wood
immediately had his office locate Grace. When interviewed, Grace
confirmed that she often corresponded with Lucina by letter and that
her most recent letter was from the day of the murder. In the letter,
Lucina spoke about meeting a lodger of Mrs. Isabelle Parker's named
George. During the interview with Grace it surfaced that Parker ran a
brothel and hosted "so-called cheating parties." Lucina had
participated on numerous occasions.
Upon his return to Vermont, Wood interviewed
Isabelle Parker, who admitted that Lucina had been at her house the
night of the murder and met with Long. There was evidence that Lucina
and Long had dinner together and her autopsy showed that she had eaten
approximately one hour prior to her murder. A search of Parker's house
revealed the "Famous Red Book", which listed her customers, "many
prominent people, both male and female, of Barre, Vermont." Wood was
able to deduce how Parker operated her brothel in downtown Barre:
She would go about Barre and get a line of the
different men and women who were inclined to be a little sporty. For
example, if she knew I was a married man and like to step out, she
would make it her business to form my acquaintance and eventually
tell me that a certain woman, either married or single, was
infatuated with me and would like to meet me. She would invite me
down toher [sic] house at a certain time and tell me to come in the
back door and when I arrived, would introduce me to some woman,
either married or single, whom she had told the same story to that
she had told me, namely she would tell the woman that I desired to
meet her. In that way she would bring the couples together and they
would have their parties there, and naturally the men would pay her
something for the use of the room or rooms.
One week after the body of Lucina was found, Wood
questioned Long once again. After disclosing what Parker admitted to,
Long finally confessed to knowing Lucina, but denied murdering her.
Wood's investigation proved invaluable to the
Broadwell prosecution team. It was Wood that found two major clues:
"a tire track beside the street curb near where
the body was found" and
the owner of the handkerchief that was tied
around Lucina's neck.
The tire track was eventually traced back to a car
rented by Long. The owner of the handkerchief, Eddie Barron, testified
at Long's trial that the handkerchief had been given to Long by Barron.
It is also interesting to note the fact that Wood
kept his notes very detailed. At one point in his report he stated
that he "had become disgusted and had left Vermont." He also recorded
how the local officials "told me they thought I was crazy and thought
I had been on a wild goose chase." Another excellent example of how
Wood included details about his own experiences intermixed with his
investigation is his discussion of his first night in Vermont:
"I then spent the entire night at work alone on
this case. I visited the lot where the body was found, visited the
Buzzell Hotel, studied the lightening conditions and decided then
that Mrs. Broadwell wasnot [sic] killed in the Buzzell Hotel. I
returned to the hotel shortly before breakfast, no one knowing that
I had been working all night."
Trial of George
On Thursday, May 15, George Long and Isabelle
Parker were arrested and taken to the Washington County jail in
Montpelier. Arraignments occurred on Friday, May 16 and both Long and
Parker were assigned attorney J. Ward Carver for their defense. Earle
Davis represented the State. The grand jury hearing was scheduled for
June 5. It is interesting to note that during the period between the
arraignments and the grand jury proceedings, it was found that George
Long was actually George Rath, and had only taken the name "Long"
prior to moving to Vermont. It was alleged that he had an extensive
criminal record. On June 11, Long and Parker were indicted by the
The trial of George Long began on October 7, 1919
at 9am with jury selection. On Friday, October 10, opening statements
were made by the prosection and the defense, with a courtroom filled
to capacity. On Monday, October 20, Long's second statement to
authorities was read into evidence at the trial. In this statement he
admitted to paying Lucina for sexual relations and Mrs. Parker for
providing the room. On Friday, October 24, Daisy Luce testified that
she spoke with George Long the morning that Lucina's body was
discovered. During this conversation, Long stated: "There would be one
less woman in Barre."
Long's trial lasted one month before it went to the
jury. In its closing statement, the defense argued that Long had no
motive to kill Lucina since they were intimate partners. The
prosecution, on the other hand, demonized Long referring to him as a "thing."
The prosecution relied heavily on the circumstantial evidence provided
by the Wood Detective Agency. On October 31, the judge gave the jury
its instructions. That afternoon, the jury came back with its verdict.
At 3:30, the jury announced that George Long was found guilty of the
second-degree murder of Lucina C. Broadwell. Sentencing was set for
November 5, at which time he was ordered to serve a term of life
After sentencing, Long was moved to the Windsor
State Prison to carry out his sentence. He appealed his case with
exceptions made during the trial. In 1922, the Vermont Supreme Court
held in State v. Long that "[t]he record shows a brutal killing--one
unmistakably indicating cool depravity of heart and wanton cruelty."
His appeal was denied.
Once the Long trial concluded, Isabelle Parker
became the court's focus. Parker, while initially implicated in
Lucina's murder, was only charged with "conducting a house of ill fame."
Parker pled guilty to the charge and was sentenced to two to four
years imprisonment. Due to her health, officials allowed her to remain
free while she petitioned the governor for clemency. Her petition was
denied on April 23, 1920 and she began her sentence of April 26.
Parker served 2.5 years. She died on September 5, 1922.
Lucina's murder captivated the residents of Barre,
and indeed the entire state of Vermont. There were almost daily
reports on the murder, its investigation, and the trials of Long and
Parker, in the Barre Daily Times throughout the summer and fall of
In 1990, Richard Bottamini published The Bawdy
House Murder in The Central Vermont Magazine. The article
gives a concise history of the murder and the subsequent trial of
In 2006, Vermont historian Patricia Belding
published One Less Woman, a book that chronicles the events
following Lucina's murder. Belding's book relies heavily on the
newspaper reports of the Barre Daily Times for information regarding
the murder and the trials of both Long and Parker. The book also
provides pictures of the main players in the book, as well as the
actual murder scene.