Although wealthy Kate Mooers was 68 years old, she didn’t baulk at taking a husband 30 years younger, and setting off on April 16th, 1921, on her honeymoon. That was the last any of her relatives saw of Kate.

When her new husband, James Mahoney, 38, next showed up in their home city of Seattle, he told everyone that Kate had gone off on a trip to Cuba for several months, and he had come back to look after her business interests until she returned.

Kate’s two nieces watched in alarm as the bridegroom plundered their aunt’s assets, then they called in the police. Since Mahoney was already on parole for assault and robbery, they were immediately suspicious. “Where is your wife?” they demanded to know and when Mahoney was evasive they searched back through his recent activities and discovered he had sent a large trunk to a rowing boat moored on Lake Union.

Acting on a hunch, Detective Captain Charles Tennant decided that the body of Kate Mahoney must be in the trunk and that it must have been dropped into the lake near the University Bridge. He set divers to work, and after 11 weeks they brought the trunk up from the bed of the lake. Inside was Kate’s body.

She had been poisoned with 30 grains of morphine, stuffed in the trunk, and then her skull had been smashed with a heavy blunt instrument.

Mahoney protested that the body wasn’t that of his wife, but he was found guilty and hanged on Friday, December 1st, 1922, in Walla Walla State Penitentiary. At the eleventh hour, Dolores Johnson, his sister, “confessed” to the murder, but the authorities were convinced this was an attempt to get a reprieve. She was later found guilty of forging Kate’s signature on cheques and jailed for from five to 20 years. Worldwide Hangings from True Crime Library.

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