Creffield and the Holy Rollers made page one headlines from 1903 to 1907. When I was researching Holy Rollers: Murder and Madness in Oregon’s Love Cult I spent months transcribing hundreds of articles. I’m not sure why I was so obsessive. Maybe it was my way of immersing my self into a cult without joining one. Anyway, I’m posting them all for those who are really interested in the story, or are interested the history of journalism, or are interested in how a scandalous story played out in the "media" in a by gone era. Since I no doubt made typos and unconsciously corrected papers' typos, these web pages should not be cited in anything serious (e.g. your dissertation). For such projects they should only be used as starting points and you should refer to the original sources. If you want a shorter version of the story, buy my book. Enjoy.

Union Depot, SeattleEsther Mitchell’s Statement to Detective Frank Kennedy that was printed in several papers.


“Mrs. Creffield and I had talked over the matter of killing George. The one that had the best chance was to do it. Mrs. Creffield bought the gun at Second Avenue and Union Street. We were at the room about 4 o’clock this afternoon and I thought that I would have a better chance to do it than Mrs. Creffield, as my brother George wanted to see me, and I believed that he would think nothing about me going to the depot. Then Mrs. Creffield gave me the gun and I was to do it. We agreed that it was to be done as soon as possible.


 “Mrs. Creffield had been out once or twice looking for George, and if she had got the chance she would have done it, and I would have done the same. The first one that got a chance was to do it. I would have done it before if I had got a chance.


“I took the gun yesterday and my brother Fred walked with me down to the depot when my father went away.


“They wanted me to see George, and I didn’t want to, because I couldn’t get the gun unwrapped. I had the gun wrapped up and concealed, and I refused to see George.


“When I went home I took the gun and placed it under the mattress. Then I took it out about noon today and kept it with me. My brother Fred was up to my room today and said that Perry and George were going to Portland at 4 o’clock. I went to the depot and saw Perry get his ticket, and I followed him.


“At last I saw George, and I shook hands with him and I was walking to the door with him. He and Perry were walking in front and Fred and I were walking behind.


“At that time I had the gun in my coat, having removed it from my bosom, where I had it concealed.


“Fred offered to carry my coat, and I told him ‘all right.’


“Then I was walking to the door and George was in front of me.


“It was just the chance I wanted and I shot him.


“My brother Fred grabbed me and I sat down on his lap and put my arms around his neck. I sat there and the officer came.


“I do not regret doing it. I am glad I did it.


“I fired once, and tried to fire another, but there was such a loud noise made by the crowd I don’t know whether I fired again or not.


“I shot him in the head, and I knew if I hit where I intended it was sure death.


“I intended to follow him to Portland if I did not shoot him here.”



Seattle Post Intelligencer 7/13/1906 p4

Perry Mitchell Tells of Killing

Makes Statement to Police Regarding Death of His Brother.


It was between sobs that Perry Mitchell told briefly to the officials so much as he witnessed of the killing. He was broken down with grief and it was with great effort that he was able to compose himself sufficiently to tell what had occurred.


Following is the account of the tragedy as he gave it to Chief of Police Wappenstein and assistant Prosecuting Attorney John F. Miller:

[See above article Evening Telegram (Portland) 7/13/1906 p2]


Seattle Post Intelligencer 7/13/1906 p4

Says She Does Not Regret Shooting

Esther Mitchell Makes Statement to Chief of Police

Regarding Tragedy


Immediately after her arrest for the murder of her brother, Esther Mitchell made a statement to the chief of police in which she said she did not regret the act.


The statement, which was taken down by Detective Frank Kennedy, is as follows:

[See Esther's Statement]



Seattle Star 7/13/1906 p6

Mrs. Creffield Did Planning

Widow Of Holy Roller Leader Says She Wanted To Kill Mitchell Herself, But Was Afraid She Would Be Suspected And Plot Would Fail.


The following statement was made to Chief Wappenstein and Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Miller by Esther Mitchell:

[See Esther's Statement]


As soon as the news of the news of the murder was received at police headquarters detectives were detailed to look for Mrs. Creffield. Less than an hour after the killing she telephoned to headquarters, stating she was at a grocery store, 434 North Broadway. Detective George Brown was at once dispatched there, and found the woman waiting for him. she stated that she had heard of the murder as she was going out to the cemetery on the street car, and realized that Esther had accomplished the deed.


Shortly after the arrest of Mrs. Creffield Detective Philbrick was sent to the residence where she and Esther had been stopping.


A search of the rooms revealed a box of 38-caliber cartridges and the clothing of Creffield was also discovered, where it had been carefully kept by his wife. The two women had been stopping at the Pretoria house, room 27 Sixth Avenue and Pine Streets.


After telling the officers all regarding the shooting which she knew, Mrs. Creffield was sent to the county jail where she will be held as an accessory before the fact.


Daily Oregon Statesman (Salem) 7/13/1906

Esther Mitchell Kills Her Brother

Slayer of Holy Roller Creffield Is Shot Down While Attempting to Board Train at Seattle Union Depot--Child Murderess Says She Is Glad She Did it--Mrs. Joshua Creffield Also Placed Under Arrest.


SEATTLE, Wash., July 12.--Revenge, terrible, swift and premeditates sums up the killing of George Mitchell by his eighteen year old sister, Esther Mitchell, today. Esther Mitchell is the girl for whom George shed the blood of Franz Edmund Creffield, when he shot down the leader of the so called “Holy Rollers” in Seattle on May 7. It was because of her alleged maltreatment by the fanatical leader that Mitchell took his life and risked his own, and cold blooded murder is his reward. Mitchell was about to board the 4:30 p. m. train at the Union depot for Portland, where he was to take up his residence and begin life anew, when Esther left two others ostensibly for the purpose of bidding George good bye, but instead, as George turned half around to greet her, she produced a revolver which had been hidden under a cloak that hung over her arm, and fired once, the bullet entering his left ear. Mitchell fell to the ground dead, and the weapon of death and destruction was wrenched from the hand of the child murderess by her brother Fred, while another brother, Perry Mitchell, caught the trembling form of his sister in his arms, crying out, “Oh, Esther, how could you do it?”


Quickly there was a commotion in the depot and the protection of a police officer was soon afforded the girl. She submitted to arrest without protest, and when interrogated as to why she had committed the crime answered, “I was commanded to do it.” At police headquarters Chief Wappenstein questioned the girl as to the motive for the crime. “I killed him because he killed Joshua. We were commanded to do it.”


Without waiting for a more detailed statement Chief Wappenstein summoned the detectives who were given hurried orders to locate at once and bring in the widow of the Holy Roller leader. While the officers were on the way the woman wanted notified police headquarters where she could be found and was soon in the custody of the police. At police headquarters she was as frank as was Esther Mitchell and said that one of them had to kill George Mitchell. Esther was delegated to do the deed as it was thought she would have a better chance.


Esther Mitchell made the following statement this evening:

[See Esther's Statement]



Seattle Star 7/13/1906 p6

Esther Offered To Do Killing

Sister Volunteered To Murder Her Brother, Believing She Would Get Better Opportunity Than Mrs. Creffield--Carefully Considered Every Detail Of The Crime.


The following statement was made to Chief Wappenstein and Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Miller by Esther Mitchell:

[See Esther's Statement]



Seattle Post Intelligencer 7/13/1906 p4

Planned to Kill Mitchell Herself


Mrs. Maud Crefeld States That She discussed Matter With Esther

[See Esther's Statement]

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