Mary Finn was a superstitious person, and she was a bit afraid of being alone in her flat on the last night before her marriage. To be attacked, burgled, or even killed on the night before her wedding would be a terrible fate, she reasoned. So she asked her fianc?, Charles Rommell, if she could move into his flat in Baltimore just for that one night.
Charles, whose first wife had died only a few months earlier and who worked on the night shift at a factory, was happy at that. He kissed his bride-to-be goodnight and went off to work. When he returned early next morning Mary was lying on the floor, beaten to death with some heavy object. Her nightdress and stockings were splashed with blood. She had died in the early hours on her wedding day.
The motive, Rommell told police, must have been robbery because their $600 savings left in a wallet in the sideboard had gone. Even so, Rommell had a lot of explaining to do as detectives swarmed over the apartment. When they were sure hed had no part in the grisly crime they asked him to make a list of all the people Mary Finn knew, and a separate list of all those he knew.
Each person on the list was investigated down to the last hair on their heads, but none fitted the profile of the killer. When Rommell was asked to think again he remembered that one person on the list, Irene Ayres, his daughter-in-law and a divorcee, had a boy friend named Donald Brooks who occasionally used another name.
That interested the detectives, who focused on Donald Brooks. They found that both he and Irene Ayres had gone out of town.
When they caught up with Irene Ayres in New York her story was conclusive. Brooks had told her, she said, that he killed Mary Finn. Shed had no idea until that moment that he was even a burglar. He told her he went to Charles Rommells flat after hearing about the $600, expecting to kill Rommell. He was astonished to find Mary Finn there, so he had to kill her instead.
Id never have gone with him if I had known he was that kind of guy, Irene sobbed.
Brooks was arrested and put on trial in October 1944. On November 9th he was sentenced to death. No charge was ever brought against Irene Ayres, whose evidence brought her lover to justice.
The man who killed a bride on her wedding day, and was himself trapped by the testimony of a woman who had loved him, was hanged on Friday, November 30th, 1945.