November 2, 1909
A diary, which had been written in plaintive words the sufferings of a woman who loved well, but not wisely, is the only memento Mrs. J. W. Couch, proprietress of the Couch hotel, 1711 1/2 Grand avenue, has of Early Elbridge and his wife, Edna, whom she befriended when they needed help, and who repaid her by robbing her.
There are only two dates in the diary, which was discovered after the couple had departed from the hotel, where Mrs. Couch had given them employment, after hearing their pitiful tale of destitution. They took with them a lot of wearing apparel and $90 in money, belonging to Mrs. Couch.
The writing reveals Bill Sykes and Nancy in real life; a life of theft on the part of one, hunger and suffering on the part of the other, and yet the woman evidently is contented with the love which she seems to think the man holds for her.
The first date is April 18, and the last July 1. In one instance only is it possible to tell where the events recorded occur.
The opening paragraph reads:
"I am sorry to leave this town, but Earl thought we had better get out. As the train started I said to Earl: "We had better get off and go back, so that woman won't suspect we stole her $20," but just then the train started and Earl said it was too late."
The next was:
"We have been in St. Joseph now three months, the longest we have been anywhere. Earl split a man's head with a meat cleaver today, though, and I suppose we will have to go away for good."
The next showed some of the hardships she endured with the man she loved and was as follows:
"We haven't had any food for twenty-four hours, and we are nearly starved. We slept last night in an orchard, not being able to get bed or shelter."
Evidently there had been a silver lining to the black clouds of the last paragraph for the next one read:
"Earl is better to me every day. I love him so much. He treats me better than I deserve, I know."
Misfortune and despondency were evidently again knocking at her heart when she wrote the next one:
"I wonder what that woman, Mary, will think of us, we left so abruptly last night. I guess we will always be on the move."
The next one evidenced that the hard luck of the couple was continuing:
"Arrived in the big city yesterday, dead broke and awfully hungry. This is another starving period. If we only could get a job."
The last paragraph was the most important from a police standpoint. It shows that the hardships have in no wise cooled the ardor of her affections for the man who caused it all. It reads:
"Earl is five feet, eight inches in height and weighs about 145 pounds. He has dark hair and eyes. My love for him grows every day. Isn't it funny we are both 21 years old and there is only a few days difference in our ages."
Mrs. Couch informed the police that the couple came to her house a week ago and related a pitiful tale of suffering. She took them in, nad they had since been working around the place in return for their board.
Saturday night when Mrs. Couch left the couple at home to go to market, they informed her they were going right to bed, and she need not awaken them on her return. Sunday morning when Mrs. Couch went to call them she discovered two dummies, made of old clothes, in the bed.
Further investigation showed that $90 had been taken, together with Mr. Couch's best suit of clothes and Mrs. Couch's entire new fall outfit including shoes, hat, lingerie, etc. Mrs. Couch notified her husband, who was in Baldwin, Kas., and he will arrive here this morning.
Mrs. Couch also learned that Elbridge had failed to pay $15, with which she had entrusted him, to a butcher and furniture dealer to whom she owed some money.