Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Ivinson Mansion Murders, Laramie Plains, Wyoming


The first Ivinson Hall murder was in the spring of 1928. That was seven years after Edward Ivinson, an esteemed Laramie businessman and banker, had given the Victorian Queen-Anne style house with its forbidding gothic air to the Episcopal Missionary of Wyoming.
        Edward directed that the mansion become a boarding school for teen-age girls who lived on remote Wyoming ranches.The ground floor was comprised of teaching rooms, a dining area, and a kitchen. The second floor was an open dormitory, while the third floor was reserved for senior girls who had achieved merit. Alice Morton had the first room to the left of the stairs on the third floor and was suffocated with a pillow, in death her eyes wide with terror.
           Of course there was a flurry of investigative activity, but it was a mystery how someone had entered the house and crept up to the third floor and murdered lovely Alice. There were forty-five girls in the house at the time and not one heard or saw an intruder. Alice had no known enemies.
           Exactly one year later the second girl, Laurie Bessel, was murdered in the same fashion. The town stirred and detectives from the Cheyenne Marshall Service joined in the investigation. Again there was no likely suspect. Some thought a drifter might have entered the house unnoticed and murdered Laurie on a whim. But then what about Alice? Had the drifter returned?
           Then a third Ivinson Hall Girl, Jane Hardy, was murdered, a year later to the day Laurie was smothered. All three girls were murdered on the revered third floor.The town rose in frenzy. Windows were shut and doors locked. The governor dispatched an investigator to take charge of the case. Then out of the blue, Maude Hall stepped forward and said her husband, Isaac Hall, was the killer. He worked as the groundskeeper, cut the grass and tended the flowers.
          Isaac was arrested and questioned. His wife pointed an unwavering accusatory finger at Isaac who she claimed had a brutal streak, kept odd hours, and was out all night each time a girl was killed at Ivinson Hall. Isaac Hall also drank to excess, was known to be erratic, ill tempered, and had a weathered, fierce countenance. He also gave confusing testimony.
          - He was home; no he was drunk and spent the night in an alley. The dates of the murders? Oh, he got home late or maybe not at all.
           The accused was his own worst enemy and a jury quickly found Isaac Hall guilty of the murders. The judge gave him the ultimate penalty. A few months later, Isaac was hanged by the neck until dead at the Laramie Frontier Prison. Justice was served. Alice Morton, Laurie Bessel and Jane Hardy, the unforgettable Ivinson Hall Girls, could rest in peace.
            Or could they?
            The next spring and a year after Jane Hardy was murdered, there was an occurrence which shook Laramie to its roots. Maude Hall, who had condemned her husband, was found murdered in her bed. She was smothered with a pillow, a look of unforgettable terror on her face.
           Today Ivinson Hall serves as the Laramie Plains Museum. The third floor is closed, locked tight.

           

           

           

           

             





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2 comments:

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  2. This is a fine piece of creative writing, but it is not, and should not be mistaken as fact. The author of this blog travels the country, and incorporates the facts of the places he visits into the stories he writes. The Laramie Plains Museum was not the location of any grizzly murders. The Ivinson name is synonymous with philanthropy in Laramie, Wyoming. A few notable achievements include, donating money for the construction of the original Ivinson Memorial Hospital, establishing the trust that built and maintains the Ivinson Home for Ladies, helping bring the first church and school to Laramie, and donating their home to the Episcopal Church which later became the Jane Ivinson School for Girls. An additional note: the building shown above is not the Ivinson mansion. You can see the mansion at laramieplainsmuseum.org. For more details you may also contact me at kdviner@msn.com.

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