February 13, 1908
SISTERS ATE THE SWEETS.
Victim of Poisoned Bonbons Sent Her Sister Through the Mail.
"Sweets to Ella Miller, From girls of S. & S."
This was the labol on a box of cheap bonbons sent through the mail to the oldest daughter of Charles Miller, 634 Cheyenne avenue, Armourdale, at noon yesterday. The postmarks were blurred and the stamp of the postoffice where the box had been mailed had evidently been turned around purposely, as it was brought into contact with the wrapper. The police believe the sender told the postal clerk that the candy was intended for a valentine. What it really contained was poisoned bonbons, and as a result of eating two of them Ruth Miller, the youngest daughter of Charles and Melinda Miller, died in agony less than ten minutes after the box was received at the home. All four of the Miller children were affected by the poison in the candy, which is supposed to have been strychnine, but none except the little girl suffered more than temporary distress, which an application of home remedies relieved.
Ella, 14 years old, to whom the candy was sent, has worked in the canning department of the Schwarzchild & Sulzberger packing house up to a month ago, when she was withdrawn by her parents so that she might attend school. She said last night that as far as she knows she has no enemies among the girls at the packing house. She never has had a sweetheart and her parents seldom allow her to go far from the home unless accompanied by some relative or friend. They considered her too young to keep company with young men and also that she has never indicated any desire to receive boy or men callers.
This statement was borne out by the little girl last night.
"I never had any lover and I don't want one," she said, the tears trickling between her fingers as she held her hands to her eyes. Her little frame shook with sobs at the memory of the tragedy and she was bordering on hysteria.
"I don't see how any of the girls at the packing house could ever have had anything against me. I never did anything against them. I don't believe they had a hand in the crime. It is too horrible. The girls in the canning department where I worked were good to me, and always asked my mother who worked in my place after I left how I was getting along every morning as she came in to work. No, I am sure it was not the packing house girls. I can not imagine who could have sent them, but I know it was not my old friends there."
As far as the police are concerned, the tragic death of little Ruth Miller is a complete mystery, while it represents one of the most mystifying crimes in the criminal history of the city.
Immediately after the postman arrived at the Miller home at 12 o'clock noon, Ella discovered the package near the front door on the veranda. All the children are small and crowded around their oldest sister as she opened it to receive their share of the treat. They each took at least two of the bonbons. None except Ruth ate one. As soon as the candy touched the mouth, according to the surviving children, a bitter taste was noticed by them and their tongues became puckery, as though they had touched a powerful astringent. Ella, who had tasted her piece of candy first, got a cup of water and rinsed out her mouth and those of the others.
Ruth did not complain of the bitter taste but a moment afterwards began to scream, and fled from the ho use in the direction of the home of George Gause, 628 Cheyenne avenue, a neighbor. While the mother of the Miller children was away from home it had been the custom of Gause and his wife to care for the children.
Mrs. Miller was away from home at noon yesterday visiting a brother of her husband in the West bottoms near South James street. Gause had been apprised of the mother's absence and when he heard Ruth scream ran out at once from the house, thinking, he says, that she had fallen and hurt herself. When he reached the back porch of his house he saw little Ruth throw up her hands and fall to the ground.
"What's the matter, Ruth?" he called, as he ran to her assistance. At this juncture Ella, who had followed the little girl from the house, called out that all of them had been poisoned. Gause sent for a doctor. Ruth did not live over five minutes after the doctor arrived.
Both Miller and his wife were not at home and were not apprised of the death of their little daughter until nearly an hour later, it being necessary to send a special messenger in both cases. The Miller family was prostrated with grief last night.
Miller could not name any enemies likely to take such a cruel revenge on his family. He said he lived in Toad-a-Loup, Armourdale, a year or two ago, and then moved to Greystone Heights, Kansas City, Kas., hwere he lived in perfect peace with his neighbors up to a month ago. Both Miller and his wife have a reputation for being agreeable neighbors and loving in their treatment of their neighbors. Girls working in the canning department of the S. & S. packing house said yesterday they had never known a little girl they liked better than they did Ella Miller. Mrs. Miller was also popular with them.
Chief of Police Bowden was at a loss to account for the crime. He said it was without parallel in the city for brutality, considering the extreme youth of the intended victim. He said the matter was one for both the United States postal authorities and the local police to look into. City Detectives Quinn and McKnight were assigned by the chief to the case. Others will be assigned to the task this morning.
An analysis of the poisoned candies made by Coroner A. J. Davis of Wyandotte county after 6 o'clock yesterday evening disclosed a white powder inserted with the chocolate covering the bonbons.