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 23, 1906: Murders Must Be Tried


Seattle Daily Times 9/23/1906 p1

Murders Must Be Tried

Mr. Mackintosh Will Ask Supreme Court to Compel Judge Frater to Keep Slayers of Mitchell in King County. Endeavors to Avert Miscarriage of Justice. Writ of Prohibition to be Asked to Set Aside Findings of Commission Headed by Jurist’s Family Physician.


Esther Mitchell, the self-confessed murderer of her brother, George Mitchell, and Mrs. Maud Hurt Creffield, the self-acknowledged instigator of the homicide, will have to face a jury if Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh meets with success with the writ of prohibition that he will introduce before the Supreme Court on Monday. The prosecuting attorney, unwilling to see Judge Frater’s action in preventing the two women from being brought to trial for what he terms a most brutal homicide stand as a precedent will on Monday appeal to the Supreme Court to prevent the two women from being taken to Oregon, as Judge Frater has ordered.


Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh yesterday prepared the writ that he will present to the Supreme Court. The writ will be directed to Judge Frater and will order him to countermand his order to the sheriff to carry both of the women charged with murder in the first degree beyond the jurisdiction of the court. Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh is determined that Judge Frater’s conduct shall not establish a precedent by which murderers can escape trial, and if necessary will apply for a writ of mandate compelling Judge Frater to set the cases for trial.




The county attorney yesterday reiterated his statement that Judge Frater, whether he desired to do so or not, would be obliged to try the two women for “The most brutal assassination ever perpetrated in King County.” Believing that the interests of justice and the sentiment of the community demand that Judge Frater be frustrated in his effort to free the women every judge on the superior bench will be asked to set a date for the trial of the two women should Judge Frater persist in his determination to send the women to Oregon without a trial. The Supreme Courts of other states have declared that courts constituted as the courts of King County are one and the same body. The division of the work among the judges is an extra judicial one and one to which the law gives no expressed sanction.


One judge has as much authority as another to try criminal cases in the eyes of the law of the state. If all the judges should refuse to set the cases the Supreme Court will be applied to for a writ of mandate directed to all of the judges compelling them to set the cases for trial.




Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh in his showing before the Supreme Court on Monday will charge that regardless of any action of any insanity commission after a person is charged with crime he has the right to compel that person to be tried for that crime. Conceding that an alleged insanity commission has power to prevent murderers from being tried the county attorney will attack the findings in this case on the ground of its apparent worthlessness.


The Supreme Court will be informed that the insanity commission appointed by Judge Frater over the opposition of the prosecuting attorney’s office was headed by Kenneth Turner, the family physician of Judge Frater. It will be further stated that Dr. Snively, another member of the commission has been out of a medical school in Portland little more than a year and has had no experience in determining the insanity of any person. An attack will also be made upon the specific capability of Dr. Eames, the third member of the commission.




Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh declares that he will point out to the appellate court that his office was denied the privilege of examining the relatives of the two women, who testified as to their insanity; that a large part of the time that the hearings were held in star chamber sessions; that the commission refused to allow Dr. McLeish, former superintendent of the insane asylum at Steilacoom, to come before it and testify that the women were sane at the time they committed the crime, and that the commission absolutely prevented Dr. Loughary, also a former superintendent of the insane asylum, who examined the women a few minutes after the arrest of the two murderers, from testifying that both women were sane.


The fact that Judge Frater allowed the hearing to be conducted in his absence by his family physician and two other physicians will be urged as a ground for the issuance of the writ. The granting of the writ, however, will be asked on broad ground that Judge Frater or no other judge has a right to set aside the statutes governing the punishment of murder in the first degree by any such subterfuge as an alleged insanity commission appointed upon an affidavit made by a relative of the murderer.



Seattle Post Intelligencer 9/23/1906 p1

Supreme Court to Determine Sanity

Higher Tribunal to Take Hand in Mitchell-Creffield Matter. Establish Precedent. Case Will Not Be Settled Pending Action of Bench.


The result of the Mitchell-Creffield insanity hearing will not be known until the Supreme Court has passed on the question of the right of the state to question the action of the commission in declaring the women insane. Prosecuting Attorney Kenneth Mackintosh declares that on Monday he will make application to the Supreme Court for a writ of prohibition to prevent the superior court from sending the women out of state. This is the only manner in which the decision of the court can be blocked, as has been stated by Judge Frater.


“I am not so concerned regarding the cases in question,” said Mr. Mackintosh, “but if these women are allowed to escape with the ‘hocus pocus’ procedure that has taken place it will establish a bad precedent in the state. It is not the Mitchell-Creffield proceedings that I am anxious about, but rather those that are to follow after. Under the present conclusions anyone may allege insanity after having been charged with a crime and escape the consequences of the law.


“I hope to make this impossible in the future, and while I am not so particular about the Mitchell and Creffield cases being tried in the courts of this county, I am determined to establish a precedent.”

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