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.

September 10 1906: To Examine Minds of Slayers




Seattle Daily Times 9/10/1906 p1

Esther Mitchell May Escape Trial


Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 9/10/1906 p7

To Examine Minds of Slayers

Superior Judge Frater Appoints Medical Commission to Determine Sanity of Girl and Mrs. Creffield. Both Women May Go To Asylum at Steilacoom.


 Esther Mitchell and Mrs. Creffield May Be Sent to Steilacoom Asylum. Commission Appointed By Presiding Judge. Attorneys Claim That They Will Show Clients Were Insane and That They Are Not in Their right Minds Now.


Esther Mitchell and Maud Hurt Creffield, charged jointly with murder in the first degree for the killing of George Mitchell on July 12, will be examined in the superior court on Wednesday by a medical commission for the purpose of determining their mental condition. Upon a showing made by the attorneys for the two women that they are now insane; were insane when the homicide was committed and have been insane for years, Judge Frater appointed the commission. If the women are found to be insane by the medical commission they will be sent to the insane asylum at Steilacoom and the prosecution for murder in the first degree will be dropped.


The appointment of this medical commission was vigorously opposed by Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh and his chief deputy, John F. Miller. They both discredited the report that the women were now insane and declared that the question to their sanity should be threshed out before a jury when they are put on trial for murder. after listening to arguments Judge Frater granted the request of the defendant’s counsel.


He appointed Drs. Kenneth Turner, J. H. Snyder and R. M. Ames as members of the commission. An application for an order for the county to assume responsibility of traveling expenses and witness fees for two witnesses to come from Oregon to testify that the women are insane was not finally passed upon. The prosecuting attorney’s office resisted the issuance of the order and Judge Frater refused to pass upon it. At the examination the witnesses will be examined by the attorneys for the women and by Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh.


The women will be sent to the asylum if the commission should declare they are now insane. If it should find that they are now sane, but were insane at the time the crime was committed they will be prosecuted. If the women are tried the finding of the medical commission can be used as evidence. Even if the commission should find that the women have always been sane this does not bar them from entering a defense of insanity when they are put on trial.


During the incarceration of the women in the county jail, Jailers Larsen and Livesley, who have charge of the day shift, declare they have acted perfectly normal. According to these officials the women have acted no differently than the other prisoners.



Daily Oregon Statesman (Salem) 9/11/1906 p6

May Go To Asylum

Esther Mitchell and Maud Creffield to Be Examined for Their Sanity.


SEATTLE, Sept, 10.-- Esther Mitchell and Maud Creffield, jointly charged with murder in the first degree for the killing of George Mitchell last July, will be examined by a medical commission on Wednesday in the superior court to determine their sanity. Attorneys for the two women declare they are now insane and have been for years. The appointment of the commission was secured upon the petition of the women’s counsel, and was opposed by the prosecuting attorney. If the women are found to be insane they will be sent to the asylum at Steilacoom, and this will end the criminal prosecution.


Esther Mitchell shot and killed her brother on July 12 in the Union Depot, as he was about to leave for Portland. The killing of Mitchell by his sister took place within two days after a jury had acquitted him for killing Edmund Franz Creffield, the organizer and leader of the Holy Rollers on the ground that the deed was justifiable as the only way to save Esther Mitchell’s virtue. Mrs. Creffield confessed that she had urged the girl to commit the murder, and had brought the revolver for her.


Judge Frater named Drs. R. M. Ames, Kenneth Turner and J. H. Shively as the insanity commission, and they will begin the examination Wednesday. The majority of the witnesses will be from Oregon, and will include Esther Mitchell’s brother and other relatives of her and Mrs. Creffield, as well as probably officials at the Boys’ and Girls’ Aid Society home and the Oregon Asylum for the Insane, where Mrs. Creffield was for a time confined.




Corvallis Times 9/11/1906 p1


Corvallis Gazette 9/11/1906 p3


Seattle, Sept 7.-- Superior Judge Frater this morning set September 24 as the date on which the trial of Esther Mitchell, charged with murdering her brother, George Mitchell, will begin. The date of the trial of Mrs. Maud Creffield, who is charged jointly with the Mitchell girl, has not been set as yet. The charge against both women grew out of the shooting of Franz Joseph Creffield, the Holy Roller leader, but George Mitchell in this city last May. Mrs. Creffield is the wife of the Holy Roller leader.


Seattle Post Intelligencer 9/11/1906 p4

Charges Mitchell Girl is Insane

Brother of Mrs. Creffield Calls for Commission to Examine Women.


At 9 o’clock this morning in department No. 1 of the superior court, a commission of physicians named by Judge Frater will examine into the sanity of Esther Mitchell and Mrs. Maud Creffield, charged with the murder of George Mitchell. The examination is to be made on the complaint of Frank Hurt, a brother to Mrs. Creffield.


when the application for the appointment of the commission was made Judge Frater immediately granted it, although his action was strongly opposed by Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh and his deputy, John F. Miller.


Should the examination develop the fact that the prisoners are insane, it is possible under the law to return them to the state where they hold citizenship, in this case Oregon. Should it develop that they were sane at the time of the act, and are now sane, they may be prosecuted for the deed. Should it develop that they were sane at the time they killed their victim, but are now insane, they cannot be prosecuted, but may be sent to Oregon or to the asylum in this state.


In opposing the appointment of the commission Mr. Miller declared he had made affidavit to the effect that the women are sane at this time, but this Judge Frater refused to consider, stating that it makes no difference how many affidavits are made.

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