Catherine Rosier used the Unwritten Law as part of her defense for killing her husband and his Stenographer.
As her lawyer described it, “The crux of it is this: The Unwritten Law holds that, up and over any man-made rulings to be found in law books, there is a higher justice. This attempts to say that when the law does not set forth a proper punishment for a woman’s wrongs, it lies within her rights to execute vengeance.
“It is the exact opposite of the holding that the worst thing that can occur is to have a member of society take the law into his or her hands even to avenge a wrong. “
Catherine Rosier was happily married so everyone thought and was going to have a baby! While she was in the hospital, her husband, Oscar, never visited, but his brother Arthur did! Arthur lived with Catherine and Oscar after leaving and abandoning a wife in children in Australia. Oscar was 38 and Catherine was 21. Arthur told Catherine while she was in the hospital recovering from childbirth that Oscar was fooling around with his stenographer Jerry Reckitts.
When Catherine returned home from the hospital with her newborn baby, she asked Oscar about Arthur’s claims. Oscar admitted that it was true and demanded a divorce. He wanted to marry his 19-year-old stenographer. Catherine refused.
The next evening Oscar didn’t come home for dinner, it was only Catherine and Arthur. Arthur told her that Oscar was out with Jerry seeing a play. He then made unwanted advances toward Catherine. Catherine told him that she was going to tell Oscar about it. She did tell Oscar and he responded that she might as well find solace with Arthur as they were getting a divorce. At this time there had to be a reason for the divorce and some speculate that Oscar was trying to get Arthur to compromise Catherine so that he would have a reason for the divorce.
The following Saturday, Arthur suggested that they go out to lunch at the Hole in the Wall which was close to Oscar’s office. He ordered wine with their lunch and began filling Catherine’s head with stories about Oscar and Jerry. Arthur told her that they were in Oscar’s office as they spoke.
Catherine headed over to Oscar’s office but could not work up the courage to go into the office. She went into the restroom and found a love poem written in Oscar’s handwriting on the floor. Catherine left the office went to a department store and bought a pistol. She had the store clerk load it for her.
She left and went back to Oscar’s office. There she found Oscar and Jerry lying on the couch together. They jumped up and yelled, Catherine screamed and shot them both.
How Catherine and Oscar Met
Oscar was born in Melbourne, Australia and served for seven years in the British Army. He spent five years of this time in India. Oscar came to the US in 1917 and obtained a position in a Chicago department store as an advertising manager. He was offered a better position with a department store in Philadelphia and moved there and then opened his own Advertising Agency with two partners.
Catherine was a model in this department store and known as “The most beautiful model in Philadelphia.”
Oscar was married at the time. His wife and son, Oscar Jr. lived in Chicago. He promised Catherine that he would marry her as soon as he divorced his current wife. And so, the tragedy of the Rosier marriage started.
Before Catherine Rosier's Trial
Catherine Rosier's Trial - Day 1
Catherine Rosier's Trial - Days 2, 3, and 4
The Trial - Day 5
Day 6 - October 24, 1922
Day 7 - October 25, 1922
Catherine Rosier's Trial - Day 8
On the cross examination of one of the police detectives Scott found that the black skirt worn by Jerry Reckitt was taken to the basement of the police headquarters and shot repeatedly with the pistol that Catherine had used to shoot both Jerry and Oscar. This was significant in that previously witnesses had testified that there was just one hole in Jerry’s skirt. Judge Barratt ordered that the clothing be removed from evidence as it had been tampered with.
Catherine's Defense - Day 9 October 27,1922
The Trial - Day 10 - October 28, 1922
Day 11 – October 30, 1922
Day 11 – October 31, 1922
Mrs. Margaret Nace was the next witness to be called to the stand. Mrs. Nace was unable to be located and a battle between Scott and Speiser was going on as to whether her testimony at the Inquest could be read in the record as evidence.