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 24, 1906: Must Not Deport
Seattle Daily Times 9/24/1906 p1
Supreme Court Acts
Appellate Tribunal Restrains Judge Frater From Signing Order Deporting Esther Mitchell and Mrs. Creffield
Must Appear And Make Explanation Of Acts
Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh Successful in Preventing Immediate Liberation of Murderers Found Insane.
AN ABRIDGED VERSION OF THE SAME ARTICLE ALSO APPEARED IN
Corvallis Gazette 9/28/1906 p1
Must Not Deport
Women to Oregon--Order to Restrain Judge Frater.
Superior Judge Frater was restrained by an order of the Supreme Court issued this morning, from signing an order directing the sheriff to transfer Esther Mitchell and Maud Hurt Creffield to Oregon and as a result free them from the necessity of standing trial for the murder of George Mitchell. Judge Frater was also ordered to appear before the Supreme Court on October 26 and show cause, if any exists, why he should not be permanently enjoined from having the two women accused of murder deported and the criminal laws of the state set at naught.
The order that will prevent the immediate transfer of the women was secured by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Miller acting under instructions from Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh. The county attorney prepared the necessary papers Saturday and his deputy left for Olympia this morning. At noon Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh received word that the Supreme Court had come to his aid in his attempt to prevent the murderers from escaping trial.
Pending the date of this hearing, which will also determine whether Judge Frater should not be compelled to return the cases to the trial dockets, from which he arbitrarily struck them, the order issued this morning will prevent any attempt being carried out to liberate the women.
[(Corvallis Gazette) The writ issued by the court directs Judge Frater not only to show cause why he should not be prevented in his attempt to turn the two murderers loose upon the people of the friendly state of Oregon, but why he should not be compelled to return the cases to the trial docket from which he arbitrarily struck them. Pending the date of this hearing the order issued this morning will prevent Judge Frater from carrying out his scheme to liberate the women.]
A STRONG PETITION
In his petition Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh declares “that great and appreciable loss and injury to this petitioner in his said official capacity, as well as great and irreparable loss, injury and damage to the public generally and to the State of Washington, and to the due, orderly and legal administration of the criminal laws of said state will result by the threatened acts of said court and said judge unless relief is granted this petitioner.”
The showing made by Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh in his petition for the writ was a strong one. The petition set up that an information charging the women with murder in the first degree had been filed on July 18; that the two women had been arraigned and pleaded not guilty; that the women had demanded and had been granted separate trials and the date of their trials fixed. All of these acts were done in accordance with the law.
The application for the writ then set out that on September 10 Frank Hurt, brother-in-law of Esther Mitchell, swore to a complaint, alleging that both women were insane. The appointment of the commission over the protests of the prosecuting attorney is (illegible) (illegible) out. The method in which the hearings were conducted is then described (?:) in length. Judge Frater's illegal (illegible) connection with the commissioners also set up for the information of the court.
QUESTIONS COURT’S ACTS
Speaking of the illegal manner in which the attempt to free the two women was made, the petition sets up “that in said insanity proceeding, and at the time of the hearing of the same and the whole thereof, said three physicians wrongfully and unlawfully usurped the judicial functions, powers, authority and prerogatives of the said court and the said judge thereof, wrongfully and without authority of law delegated to said three physicians the judicial functions, powers, authority and prerogatives of said court and said judge in this:
That the said charge of insanity of the said Esther Mitchell and the said Maud Creffield was not examined by the judge before said commission as required by law, but on the contrary, said physicians solely and alone, without judicial control, guidance, or limitation (illegible), and without the presence of any court or judge whatsoever, conducted said examination and the whole thereof, asked and propounded to each and every witness each and every question asked throughout the entire hearing of said insanity proceeding, passing upon the immateriality, competency and relevancy of said questions, and judicially considering the weight, materiality, competency and relevancy of the answers thereto, and the entire evidence was introduced without legal or judicial guidance, control, limitation, or restriction exercised over them by any judge or court whatsoever.”
“That said physicians were at all times throughout said hearing the sole and exclusive judges of the legality of their own proceeding and the method, mode, manner and procedure thereof, and, in all things throughout said hearings, were a self-governing tribunal or commission, holding their sessions at no time in open court or in the presence of any judicial officers, and at their own personal convenience and pleasure, and the said court and judge thereof knowingly, wrongfully and without authority of law acquiesced in and permitted the same, that counsel for the state, including your petitioner, was permitted to be present a portion of the time of said hearing only, and at all times when so present was a spectator only, the limit of his participating in the proceedings being to suggest to said physicians the names of certain witnesses; that certain witnesses were suggested by your petitioner of those in his behalf, to-wit, the names of eminent alienists in mental diseases, and said commission arbitrarily and wrongfully refused to permit said alienist to come before them and testify as to their examinations of the said Maud Creffield and the said Esther Mitchell and their opinions as to the sanity or insanity of the said Esther Mitchell and said Maud Creffield, from such examinations, and that many of the examinations of witnesses and much of the proceedings held by said three physicians in said insanity proceedings at which no one but said physicians and the witness being examined was permitted to be present.
“That said insanity proceedings so held in its entirety and the acts and doings of said physicians as herein before stated were and are null and void, wrongful and without authority of law; that said court was wholly without jurisdiction to receive and accept said affidavit and complaint and is and was without jurisdiction to receive said application and to grant the same; that said court was without jurisdiction to appoint said physicians as a commission to inquire into the mental condition, sanity or insanity of the said Esther Mitchell or said Maud Creffield, or either or both of them, and was and is without jurisdiction to receive said written report and certificate as herein before stated, and said insanity proceedings in its entirety, held in the manner and form aforesaid, was and is law null and void for this, among other things: That at the time and date of the filing of said application and the granting of the same as aforesaid, the said Esther Mitchell and said Maud Creffield, and each and both of them, were not at large, but on the contrary, were then and there, and long theretofore, and at all times since, and now are, confined in the county jail of said King county, Washington, having theretofore been arraigned for an indictable offense committed within the jurisdiction of said court, and were at all times before and at the time of said insanity proceeding and now are awaiting trial thereof upon the issue joined therein, and the same is now pending and indisposed of.
WANTS COURT RESTRAINED
“That, notwithstanding the law and the premises, said court and said Honorable A. W. Frater, as judge thereof, threatens to and will, unless restrained and prohibited by order of this court most wrongfully and without authority of law, and without legal and proper jurisdiction in the premises, enter and cause to be entered a judgment, based upon the insanity proceeding as herein before set out and stated, and the said court and said judge thereof is about to threatens to and will, unless this court, most wrongfully, and without authority of law, and without legal and proper jurisdiction in the premises, order, decree and adjudge said Esther Mitchell and said Maud Creffield, and each of them, to be insane, and the said court and the said Honorable A. W. Frater, as judge thereof, further threatens to, is about to, and will, unless he be in the meantime restrained and prohibited by order of this court, most wrongfully, and without authority of law, and without legal and proper jurisdiction in the premises, issue a certain mittimus of commitment, commanding and directing therein that the sheriff of King County, State of Washington or other suitable public official, take said Esther Mitchell and said Maud Creffield, and each and both of them, out of the State of Washington and without the jurisdiction of this court, and take said persons and each of them into and deport each and both of them to the state of Oregon.”
Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 9/24/1906 p7
Frater Must Not Deport Women
Supreme Court Enjoins Judge From Liberating Slayers of George Mitchell.
AN ABRIDGED VERSION OF THE SAME ARTICLE ALSO APPEARED IN
Seattle Post Intelligencer 9/27/1906 p7
Restraint Might Only Delay Case
Attorneys for Mitchell-Creffield Defense Have Several Alternatives.
(Special Dispatch to The Journal.)
Seattle, Sept. 24.--
Should the state Supreme Court decide against the action of Judge Frater in the matter of the disposition of Mrs. Maud Creffield and Esther Mitchell and declare that under the proceedings he cannot send them to Oregon, the attorneys interested in the defense of the women declare this will not necessarily mean that the defendants will be tried for murder.
The Supreme Court will decide the question at issue merely on the procedure during the examination by the medical commission. No review of the testimony heard by the physicians will be made. If the procedure is found to be wrong it is still possible that the attorneys for the defense or others may swear to a complaint charging the women with insanity and call for the appointment of a second commission to examine them.
Another method which it is held could be taken by the defendants’ attorneys and which has been stated may be taken, is an application to the Supreme Court for a writ of prohibition restraining the court from trying women who are declared to be insane.
As in the Thompson case, there are many attorneys who hold that even if the women come to trial, it will not be in the courts of this county, and that at the last moment a change of venue will be asked by the defense. Judge Frater stated yesterday that he has not yet been served with the writ which he understands was issued out of the Supreme Court in the case, but that he will give the prosecuting attorney’s office all the time necessary to attend to the matter. It is understood the writ will be served on him today.
Corvallis Times 9/14/1906 p4
-- O. V. Hurt and J. K. Berry left Tuesday for Seattle to be present at the examination of Esther Mitchell and Mrs. Creffield for insanity.