Saturday, May 8, 2010

Edgar Allan Poe -- a Murderer?


In July, 1841, on the Hoboken, New Jersey, side of the Hudson River, across from Manhattan, New York, the body of a beautiful 21 year old girl, Mary Rogers, was found floating in the water. She had been bound, raped and strangled.

Despite useful tips to New York City Police, authorities were never able to discover the perpetrator, and the case became an unsolved mystery.

A little more than a year after Mary Roger's death, a magazine called Snowden's Ldies' Companion ran the first of a series of three fictional pieces by famous author Edgar Allan Poe called "The Mystery of Marie Roget," in their November, 1842 issue.

In that series, though the setting for the story is Paris, France, Poe employs many of the details of the Mary Rogers murder. In fact, his knowledge of the details of the Mary Rogers murder is complete -- as good as, if not better than, that of the police investigating the Mary Rogers murder.

It turns out that Poe may have known Mary Rogers, personlly, having met her in late 1838 at the Manhattan tobacco store where she was working at the time. Lo and behold, in 1838 was was seen in Hoboken, New Jersey in the compay of a man fitting Poe's desription.

On July 25, 1841, Mary told her fiance that she was traveling to her aunt's house for the day, and asked him to pick her up there that evening.

Investigation showed that Mary, who attracted attention by her wonderful appearance wherever she went, was seen to be enjoying the company of six unruly men as the company disembarked from the ferry from New York to Hoboken. Three men arriving by another boat, struck by the sight, unusual at the time, of such a beautiful young lady in the company of six male ne'er-do-wells, approached Mary and inquired into her welfare. Finally, a man in Hoboken testified that he saw Mary with a man once gain fitting Poe's general appearance at a road-house called "Nick Mullen's" in Hoboken near Elysian Fields, a wooded area on the Hoboken waterfront.

Mrs. Loss, the proprietor, initially told police that Mary Rogers and the man had enjoyed a meal and passed some time at her establishment, and that afterwards they had ambled over to the woods, and that she, Mrs. Loss, may have heard the girl scream.

On her deathbed in November, 1842 -- after she could have seen the first installment of Poe's story in Snowden's -- Mrs. Loss changed her story to one which did not fit the facts, to the effect that Mary Rogers died during an abortion in her establishment.

The fact that Poe knew the victim, and had the opportunity to carry on with her, and his intimate knowledge of the case, all make one wonder whether the dark side of Poe's character might not have seized control of his life at the time, induced him to engage in rape and murder, and then tempted him to try to relive his exciting crime, and even profit from it, in Snowden's magazine articles.


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