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Louise Peete

louise-peete-9

Image: murderpedia.org

Louise Peete

Nee: Lofie Louise Preslar
AKA: The Tiger Woman, Louise Gould, Anna Lee Gould, Louise Bosley, Louise Faroute, Louise Judson
Born: 20th September 1880
Died: 11th April 1947
Active: 1912 to 1944
Location: United States
Method of Disposal: Gunshot
Consequence: Executed via Gas Chamber

Unfortunates:

  • Joe Appel (lover)
  • Jacob Denton (lover)
  • Margaret Logan (parole benefactor)

Honourable Mentions:

  • Henry Bosley (first husband) – suicide
  • Harry Faroute (second husband) – suicide
  • Richard Peete (third husband) – suicide
  • Lee Judson (fourth husband) – suicide

Fortunates:

  • Jessie Marcy (employer) – died of natural causes
  • Emily Latham (employer) – died of natural causes
  • Arthur Logan (husband of Margaret Logan) – committed by Louise to an asylum – died of natural causes

 

Origin:

Louise Preslar was born into a relatively wealthy Louisiana family. She grew up with her hand out, likely never hearing the word ‘no’. It would not be a stretch to find a link between her indulgent upbringing and the subsequent lengths she went to in her effort to maintain a particular standard of living.

Louise’s father was a newspaper executive in Louisiana, and his wealth bought Louise entry into the finest of New Orleans schools. But money can’t always buy class. Louise’s rampant promiscuity and habit of stealing from her classmates eventually saw her expelled from a finishing school at the age of 15 and she was sent back to her hometown of Bienville.

Happy with her newfound freedom, Louise spent her days doing pretty much as she pleased. In 1903, she met and married her first husband, a travelling salesman named Henry Bosley. Her new beau didn’t have the most lucrative of occupations, but it did come with travel perks and Louise joined her husband on the road. The marriage would not end well: in 1906, Henry found her sharing the marital bed with an oilman (an occupation that was probably more respectable than it sounds) and responded by shooting himself in the head.

There are few situations more likely to derail a person than to have your spouse put a bullet in their own brain as a direct result of your actions. You can’t really tell how a person will act. Louise’s grief response was to simply sell Henry’s belongings within a couple of days of his death, because it wasn’t like he’d be needing the stuff anymore. Besides, she was moving to Shreveport to become a prostitute and costume jewellery and clear heels weren’t going to pay for themselves.

Louise was apparently quite talented, as far as prostitutes go. She attained a large number of repeat customers. Wealthy repeat customers with wives who had lots of jewellery than was better than Louise’s own. She would often help herself while a client was sleeping off the results of her good work. She kept the items she liked, and sold the rest. She figured at this rate she would soon have enough money saved to get her to Boston.

Louise likely believed she would never be caught. Repeatedly stealing from customers who were essentially cheating on their spouses should have ensured the silence of all her victims. A miscalculation on her part, as it turned out. Her pilfering antics eventually drew some attention, and Louise quickly relocated to Waco, Texas.

 

The First Murder:
Sometime in 1912, Louise Preslar-Bosley crossed paths with oil man Joe Appel. He drew her attention easily, due to his preference for decorating his attire with diamonds. In quick succession, Louise moved into his life, his house and his bed. All in the space of a week.

And by the end of that week, Joe was dead. He was found with a bullet in his brain and he had been relieved of all his diamonds. And Louise had disappeared.

It wasn’t long before Louise was located by police (hiding not being a strong suit of hers), and she was arrested. She was brought before a special grand jury to answer charges of murder and theft.

The prosecution alleged that she had killed the oil man for his diamond collection. Louise told the court he hadn’t died for that. No, in fact she had had to kill him in self defence after he tried to rape her. The prosecutor sat down, suitably chastened, while the jury stood and applauded her bravery. The jury also apparently said, “Diamonds? What diamonds?” because Louise was cleared of both the murder and theft charges.

By 1913, the diamond money had run out. Louise quickly shacked up with Dallas hotel clerk Harry Faroute. He didn’t earn the kind of income she considered acceptable, but it gave her a roof over her head and food in her stomach, and a bed for her to lay her head. The bed was so comfortable Louise decided to share it with more than just her husband.

As such, Harry came home one day to find her in bed with yet another lover. The contemporary reports don’t indicate the occupation of this paramour. However, based on her current form, oil man would clearly top the list of suspects.

This was bad enough. But to make things worse, it was at about the same time that jewellery went missing from the hotel safe. Roughly $20,000 worth of valuables belonging to hotel guests was never recovered.

This further blow was devastating to Harry, as the safe and it’s contents were primarily his responsibility. Within days he was dead, having hung himself in the basement of the hotel at which he worked.

Police investigated the theft in the wake of Harry’s death. Of course Louise was looked at: she had access to the safe and to the keys. It was a purely circumstantial case, and nothing ever came of it.

So Louise left Dallas and relocated to Denver, Colorado.

 

The Second Murder:
Louise Preslar-Bosley-Faroute then met wealthy auto dealership owner Richard Peete in 1915. She made him her third husband that same year, celebrating the union with a lavish reception. In 1916, the family was completed with the birth of daughter Betty.

Things were going well for the couple in the first few years. The dealership was flourishing, especially once the US entered the war. By the end of 1919 however, peacetime put a halt to the money making and Richard was soon facing bankruptcy. As the money dried up, so did Louise’s interest in her husband. In 1920, Louise left Richard, telling him she needed a break. She took off to Los Angeles. Some sources states she took Betty with her, while other reports have her abandoning both husband and child in order to start afresh on her own.

Louise began looking for a home to rent once she reached Los Angeles. One of the homes she viewed was owned by mining executive Jacob Denton. The lady intrigued him, and she was quite taken by him as well. He was persuaded by her to occupy the property himself, with her as his live-in companion. She quickly became his ‘boarder-with-benefits’, and they enjoyed several weeks of bedroom acrobatics. However, while he was only in it for the physical pleasure, Louise had fallen hard for her rich mining man. Being the progressive belle that she was, Louise asked him to marry her. Unfortunately for her, Jacob rejected her offer. Unfortunately for him, Louise would not taken this rejection well.

Soon after Jacob declined her proposal, Louise ordered a large delivery of soil. She instructed Jacob’s caretaker to deposit the soil in the basement. Jacob liked mushrooms, she stated, and she wished to raise some in secret to surprise him.

Nary a mushroom was seen by May 30th 1920, which was shame because Jacob disappeared on that day without ever getting the chance to savor even one.

Soon, friends and family became curious at Jacob’s sudden absence. He had always been the social type and this just wasn’t like him. Louise responded to such enquiries with the rather colourful explanation that he had argued with a ‘spanish-looking’ woman who had retaliated by chopping off his arm with a sword. Louise said not to worry though, he would resurface once he had gotten over the embarrassment of losing such an important limb. This explanation was accepted by most of the people who knew him. His lawyer pushed for further information, and she explained that the woman had also taken off his leg and he wanted to get used to his new prosthetic limb before coming out of hiding.

This ridiculous scenario would not have been out of place in a Monty Python sketch, but it was considered reasonable by everyone. Louise threw house parties for a number of months in Jacob’s absence, just to prove there was totally nothing to worry about. And given that Jacob was not around to do so, she bankrolled these parties herself by forging his signature on cheques she would then cash at the bank, and began collecting the rent personally from tenants who occupied Jacob’s many properties.

By September though, the lawyer was done with ignoring the blatantly obvious. Jacob’s daughter from a previous marriage had been receiving a monthly allowance from her father. With Jacob’s disappearance, this money stopped arriving and the daughter understandably began making enquiries. This added to the lawyer’s misgivings about the explanation he’d been given by Louise. He contacted the police and had them search the house. Louise bade them entry. Soon a makeshift tomb had been located underneath the soil in the basement.  Inside was Jacob Denton’s remains.  Jacob’s body was bound and gagged and wrapped in a chequered quilt, with a bullet hole punched through the back of his skull.

By this time Louise had disappeared again. She had travelled back to Denver in order to rekindle her marriage to Richard Peete. The police arrested her, much to Richard’s bewilderment, and charged her with Jacob’s murder. Her defence was that the body belonged to a man Jacob had killed during a fight. This was disregarded by the jury, in light of the evidence of forged cheques and rent collecting. The months of raucous partying prior to the discovery of Jacob’s body did little to help her cause either. Louise was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment in January 1921.

Throughout the trial, Richard had remained loyal to his wayward wife. He continued this loyalty well into her incarceration. She repaid him unkindly, responding to his letters only intermittently. Soon Louise stopped responding at all, and in 1924 Richard checked into a seedy Tucson hotel and took his own life.

 

The Third Murder:
Now, apparently life imprisonment in the early 1900s amounted to about 18 years, because in 1939 Louise Preslar-Bosley-Faroute-Peete was out on the streets again.

Louise had been a model prisoner during her incarceration in San Quentin and Tehachapi prisons, becoming known among prison circles for her expertise of strawberries and gooseberries. Her southern charm had made her many friends. One of these friends was Margaret Logan, a wealthy woman who with her husband had amassed a fortune on the real estate market. She had aided for Louise’s release and agreed for the double murderess to be paroled into her care.

By changing her name to Anna Lee Gould, Louise quickly gained employment as a housekeeper.  She firstly found work in the home of Jessie Marcy. After Ms Marcy passed away, Louise worked for Emily Latham. This second employer also passed away. However, subsequent police investigations returned a finding of death by natural causes in both cases.

In 1944, Margaret Logan decided to hire Louise as the live-in housekeeper for herself and her husband Arthur. Arthur Logan wasn’t a well man, and Margaret did need an extra pair of hands to help with the household duties while she cared for her husband in his twilight years.

Soon after moving into the Logan home, Louise met and married Lee Judson. The ever-compassionate Margaret insisted that there was enough room in the home for Louise to bring Lee to live with them.

And then Margaret disappeared.

It wasn’t clear when the disappearance occurred. However, as 1945 rolled around, people realised that Margaret and Arthur had not been seen for a while. Some of these people contacted police to voice their concerns. At the same time, the parole board began identifying some troubling discrepancies in the monthly reports they were receiving from Margaret regarding Louise’s progress while on parole. Not only was the signature suddenly remarkably different to Margaret’s usual scrawl, but the reports themselves had become positively glowing within the space of only a few months. Almost as if Louise had been writing them herself.

Investigators were dispatched to the Logan home. Indeed, Margaret was not there. Worryingly, neither was Arthur. Louise, who was now calling herself Mrs Judson, showed no real concern about the visit until the issue with the signatures was raised. This brought forth the floodgates, with Louise crying that Arthur had attacked his wife. The fight, Louise said, resulted in Mrs Logan’s nose being bitten off. Louise was simply maintaining the household until Mrs Logan returned from undergoing plastic surgery to repair the damage. This was why Louise had had to forge the monthly reports, as Margaret had not been there to complete them. Because of the attack, Louise had been forced to pack Arthur off to an asylum, which thus explained his absence from the house.

Enquiries with the asylum confirmed that Arthur had been confined there for a time, and that he had passed away while residing there. The asylum confirmed that “Mrs Logan” had responded to their letter asking what to do with the body by instructing them to donate it to the medical fraternity for study. A further letter from Margaret had also been received asking for proof of the body’s disposal for insurance purposes. At this point, the police stepped in and began an investigation. When it was established that Louise had unsuccessfully attempted to cash cheques from Margaret’s bank account, an extensive search of the Logan bungalow and grounds was conducted.

A section of garden bed at the back of the house proved to be the final resting place for Mrs Logan. Soon the sickly stench of decomposing elderly benefactor was apparent (complete with signature bullet holes in the back of the head), and both Louise and her husband Lee were taken into custody. The police grilled both suspects. Louise was charged with murder, but police ultimately determined that Lee was innocent of any wrongdoing.

Lee Judson left the precinct, booked himself into a skyscraper hotel, climbed to the 60th floor and jumped.

All four of Louise’s husbands had now died by their own hand. Proving that Louise would do anything for a prospective husband, even take their life for them. If you married her though, it was expected you would do that yourself.

 

Trial and Conviction:
Louise Preslar-Bosley-Faroute-Peete-Judson stood trial on 23rd April 1945. Louise pleaded not guilty, protesting that Arthur had actually killed Margaret in a fit of madness and not just bitten her nose off. However, the comparative duplicity of the Logan murder to that of Jacob Denton, along with the attempted cheque forgeries was hard to refute. Also, the bullets retrieved from the body matched a gun hidden in the basement of Logan home.

Louise took the stand in her own defence, a move that would have to have been against the defence table’s better judgement. She relied heavily on the spectre of the now-deceased Arthur Logan, but to no avail. The jury found her guilty of murder, and she was sentenced to death on 1st June 1945.

Louise was transferred to Tehachapi Women’s Prison on 7th June 1945. All her appeals failed, as did an attempted stay of execution on 9th April 1947.

Louise’s death sentence was carried out on 11th April 1945, via the gas chamber. She dressed appropriate to the occasion, wearing the same floral print dress worn on the day Margaret Logan’s body was found.

 

Epitaph:
Louise was the second woman to be executed in California. It was reported that among her last words was the phrase: “Don’t be troubled, my dears. Death is merely an eventuality in all our lives.”

And on that, we can heed her words. She was clearly an expert on the subject.

 

Web References

Deranged LA Crimes – “Dead Woman Walking: Louise Peete”
Part 1: http://derangedlacrimes.com/?p=1353
Part 2: http://derangedlacrimes.com/?p=1375
Part 3: http://derangedlacrimes.com/?p=1387
Part 4: http://derangedlacrimes.com/?p=1428
Finale: http://derangedlacrimes.com/?p=1476
Viewed 7 November 2016

Executed Today – “1947: Louise Peete, Tiger Woman”
http://www.executedtoday.com/2016/04/11/1947-louise-peete-tiger-woman/
Viewed 12 April 2016

Geni.com – “Louise Peete, Executed by Gas Chamber”
https://www.geni.com/people/Louise-Peete-executed-by-gas-chamber/6000000006574993041
Viewed 23 September 2016

Murderpedia: the Encyclopedia of Murderers – “Louise Peete”
http://murderpedia.org/female.P/p/peete-louise.htm
Viewed 23 September 2016

Renner, J. – “The Life and Lies of LA Man Killer Louise Peete”
http://www.lamag.com/citythinkblog/the-life-and-lies-of-la-man-killer-louise-peete/
23 September 2016

 

Contemporary News Articles

Murderess, Daily News, Perth, Saturday 9 June 1945, page 12
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article78785135
Viewed 7 November 2016

Woman Murders, Buries Two – Third in Doubt, Sun, Sydney, Friday 22 December 1944, page 1
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article78785135
Viewed 7 November 2016

Paroled Murderess 63 Suspected of New Killing, Daily News, Perth, Friday 22 December 1944, page 12
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article78770196
Viewed 7 November 2016

Murderess on New Charge, Newcastle Sun, Friday 22 December 1944, page 1
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article156601229
Viewed 7 November 2016

Dowager of Death, Truth, Sydney, Sunday 29 July 1945, page 17
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article169357482
Viewed 7 November 2016

Gunman Made Living By Murdering People, Truth, Sydney, Sunday 9 June 1946, page 52
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article168769519
Viewed 7 November 2016

Woman Executed In Gas Chamber: Guilty of Two Grim Killings for Gain, Truth, Brisbane, Sunday 13 April 1947, page 17
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article203126142
Viewed 7 November 2016

Death Among The Dahlias by David Berry, Mail, Adelaide, Saturday 23 August 1947, page 1
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article55894521
Viewed 7 November 2016

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