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.

July 31 1906: Esther Mitchell Says Not Guilty


Seattle Star 7/31/1906 p1

Esther Mitchell Says Not Guilty

Girl Who Killed Brother Takes No Interest In Proceeding--Will Have Separate Trial.


At 10:30 this morning Esther Mitchell pleaded not guilty before Judge Griffin to the charge of murder in the first degree. As soon as the plea was entered Attorney A. E. Clark, of Portland, Miss Mitchell’s chief counsel, asked the court for a separate trial, which was immediately granted.


Mrs. Maud Creffield, charged with the same crime, did not appear to change her plea of not guilty, entered July 23, although she had that privilege.




When the prisoner entered the court room at 9:30 (illegible) in the custody of Deputy Sheriff Liner, a large crowd assembled to get a look at the girl who shot down her brother without showing a trace of emotion after the act.


Owing to the fact that Judge Frater, the regular judge of the criminal department, missed his train in Everett, nearly an hour was consumed waiting. Finally prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh made arrangements to have the hearing before Judge Griffin. Fully 75 people who had gathered in court room No 3. tried to crush into the smaller room occupied by Judge Griffin. Not two minutes were consumed in the hearing.




During the time the prisoner was seated in the courtroom there was no trace of agitation visible on her features. Sitting primly in her chair, and clad as if for the street, she seemed oblivious to the curious glances cast in her direction.


Attorney Clark says that although his plans for the defendant are not nearly completed, the trial will probably resemble in a large degree the trial of George Mitchell. He recently had a long talk with Perry and Fred Mitchell, brothers of the girl in Portland, and he said they expressed themselves as having a feeling of pity rather than blame for their sister.





Seattle Daily Times 7/31/1906

Esther Mitchell Pleads Not Guilty

Assured of the Support of Her Brothers, Fred and Perry, She Enters Her Plea for Taking a Brother’s Life.

Women Spectators Crowd Courtroom.

Portland Friends Retain Oregon Lawyers to Defend Her--Girl Demands That She Be Given Separate Trial.


Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 7/31/1906 p8

Not Guilty, Plea of Murderess

Esther Mitchell Appears Worn and Haggard but Smiling Before Court.



Corvallis Times 8/3/1906 p1

Pleads not Guilty

Esther Mitchell Appears Worn And Haggard But Smiling Before Court.

Courtroom Crowded with Morbid-Minded Men and Women--Girl has Portland Friends.


Smiling happily because she had been assured that her two brothers, Fred and Perry Mitchell, would befriend her in her trial, Esther Mitchell stood before Judge Griffin this morning and entered a plea of not guilty to the information that charges her with murder in the first degree, for the killing of her brother, George Mitchell.


A few minutes before she entered her plea, her counsel, E. A. Clark, of Portland, told her that her brothers would aid her to the best of their ability. The tired, haggard look on the girl’s face was at once replaced with a look of pleasure, and still smiling, she entered her plea, uttering the words, “not guilty,” in a sharp clear voice.


MORBID CROWD PRESENT [Oregon Daily Journal (Portland)]


Long before 9:30 o’clock, the time set for the arraignment the courtroom of department No. 5 was crowded with morbid-minded men and women. A large number of women were present to see the girl who had killed the brother who had taken another’s life to protect her honor and virtue. The majority of the women spectators were young and a few well known young women gaily dressed were present to gratify their morbid desires by gazing at the unfortunate murderess.




When Esther Mitchell entered the courtroom a whisper spread through the room. Women craned forward in their seats to catch a glimpse of her for, and men and women not so fortunate as to have obtained a seat pushed and struggled to gain a better view of her. If the girl was aware of the curious eyes focused upon her she did not show it. With a quick step and her eyes fixed vacantly straight ahead of her, she took her seat behind the rail. Not once in the hour she sat there did she change her position or show any interest in the crowd that stared at her. Occasionally when some woman would stare at her the prisoner looked straight into the woman’s face until the spectator dropped her eyes.


During a weary hour the spectators remained in the courtroom awaiting the appearance of Judge Frater, who had been detained out of the city. At the end of that time, Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh ordered the girl taken to Judge Griffen’s courtroom. Then the crowd scurried across the corridor to Judge Griffin’s courtroom. The arraignment was all over in a minute and the girl was on her way back to jail.


As soon as Esther Mitchell had entered her plea her lawyer demanded a separate trial. The court ordered it granted. It rests with Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh to determine whether Mrs. Creffield or Esther Mitchell shall first face a jury.




GIRL HAS PORTLAND FRIENDS [Oregon Daily Journal (Portland)]


A. E. Clark, who represented the girl in court, declares that he was retained by Portland friends of the girl. He refused, however, to divulge the names of these persons, saying that he would do so later. Mr. Clark declares that Perry and Fred Mitchell will come to Seattle to attend the trial of their sister, and will do all they can to aid her.


Mr. Clark said: “Perry and Fred Mitchell tell me that they have nothing but kindly feelings for their unfortunate sister. They will be present at the trial to aid her. They realize that she is mentally irresponsible and they are sorry for her. At first they were somewhat bitter towards her, but this has passed away and now they are on good terms with her.”


Mr. Clark said that he had not been retained to defend Mrs. Creffield. It is understood that O. V. Hurt, father of Mrs. Creffield, has made arrangements with a firm of local attorneys to look after her defense.

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