Catherine Rosier – Unwritten Law

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Catherine Rosier

Catherine Rosier and the Unwritten Law

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 and son RIchard

Catherine Rosier and son Richard

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. 

Arthur Rosier
Oscar Rosier
Oscar Rosier
Jerry Reckitt
Jerry Reckitt

The Shootings

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.

Catherine Rosier at Trial

Before Catherine Rosier's Trial

Catherine is in Moyamemsing Prison waiting for her trial.  ADA Maurice Speiser is the prosecutor.  Catherine’s attorneys were John R.K. Scott and William Connor.

Catherine through her attorneys applied for a writ of habeas corpus before Judge Charles Brown in a fight for custody of Oscar Jr.  Her attorneys also filed a caveat against Oscar Sr.’s death bed will in both Philadelphia and Delaware counties.  The point of this is for Catherine to gain control of the Rosier Advertising Agency, her home and the funds in the estate. 

In an ironic twist, because of Catherine’s testimony at the inquest, the restaurant where Catherine and Arthur had lunch was raided and 200 gallons of wine confiscated.  The agents entered the restaurant and sat at different tables, they ordered “pots of wine” as the restaurant served the wine in teapots.  As soon as they were served the wine, they approached the manager of the restaurant and started reading a search warrant.  When the customers heard this, they began leaving the restaurant until it was empty except for the employees. 

On St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1922, Rosier Advertising Agency declares bankruptcy.  Assets are estimated at $5,000 and liabilities at $15,000.  Creditors decided instead of the expense of a receiver appointed and paid, that they would divide the assets up on a pro rata basis.

An auction took place at Rosier Advertisement Agency.  The big news was that the blood-stained couch sold for $2.50.  The auction at the offices was crowded with curious people wanting to see where the shooting had happened.  The auction only raised $642.35 with everything selling for about 25 cents on the dollar.  The type writer that Jerry Reckitts used sold for the most money.  It sold for $53.00! 

Catherine after shooting

Catherine’s trial is delayed again because of the illness of co-counsel William Connor.  Judge Davis reluctantly granted the continuance to April 24, 1922.

Catherine Rosier’s trial is postponed again for the third time.  The first time so John Scott could prepare the case, the second because Connor was ill, and this time because Scott had another case and would have to withdraw which would be an even longer delay.  Oddly enough seven women were on the jury panel for this trial.

Catherine has been in prison for six months.  She complains of a hacking cough that she fears is tuberculosis.  She has also lost significant weight, she weighed 100 pounds when she was arrested and now, six months later she weighs 88 pounds.

Finally, a trial date set for October 18, 1922.  Catherine has been in prison at this point for 8 months.

Catherine Rosier, Jerry and Oscar

Catherine Rosier's Trial - Day 1

Finally, Catherine gets her day in court!  Dressed in somber black from hat to shoes, after nine months in prison she looks nothing like the pictures of her before the murder, no round rosy cheeks, no wide smile, no sparkling eyes, just a pale wan and painfully thin vision.  Catherine could have her baby in court, but she couldn’t hold him.

The courtroom was completely full with every seat full and people standing in the back and in the aisles. 

The trial started with an argument between John R.K. Scott, Catherine’s chief attorney and Maurice Speiser, the prosecutor, elected to try Catherine on just the killing of Mildred Jerry Reckitts.  John R.K. Scott strongly opposed this, however Judge Norris S. Barrett agreed with the prosecutor. 

Then began the choosing of a jury.  One of the main questions asked the jurors, besides whether they believed in the death penalty was, “If you are selected as a juror, and if the defense attempts to prove the moral law was violated by the defendant’s husband, and if his Honor charges that the law of Pennsylvania does not recognize such a violation as justification for a homicide, would you follow the instructions of the court and bring in a verdict for the defendant?”  Maurice Speiser the ADA was trying to see which jurors believed in the Unwritten Law. 

Before the first juror was sworn in twelve men and one woman were challenged by one side or the other and let go.  Speiser brought up the Unwritten Law in his questioning.  Although the Unwritten Law was going to be the basis for Scott’s defense it is not a legal defense.  Catherine was pleading Not Guilty by reason of Emotional Insanity. 

Margaret Curran was the woman that was the prospective juror.  She said that she did believe in Capital Punishment but the defendant being a woman would influence her verdict, and that she had already formed an opinion on the case.  She was excused.  Only two of the eighteen prospective jurors were accepted both were married men with children.

Artist sketch of murder

Catherine Rosier's Trial - Days 2, 3, and 4

On the second day of court, Catherine was near collapse.  At the end of the morning session, only three more jurors had been selected for a total of 5.  There was a difficult time filling the jury.  Between men that did not believe in Capital Punishment and men that did not believe in putting women to death.  And Judge Barrett excused all the women on the prospective juror panel.  They all said that they could not be objective.

The guard that was guarding her had to leave and get her smelling salts, that Catherine used off and on.  Judge Barrett only allowed people that needed to be there in the courtroom during jury selection so there were lots of empty chairs.

Day three of the trial was a continuation of jury selection.  By the close of court only ten jurors had been selected.   

The jury selection continues day 4.  Finally, the last 2 jurors were selected, after interviewing 107 prospective jurors.   Catherine had needed to use the smelling salts several times during the morning session. 

After the 12 men were sworn in, the charges were read. Catherine Rosier stood up and faced the jury as the charges were being read.  She seemed fine until the Court Crier, Levi Hart read Mildred Geraldine Reckitt killed and murdered, Catherine closed her eyes and collapsed into the arms of the two guards that were watching her. The guards held her upright until Hart finished reading all the charges against her.  Then they let her sit.

Her mother Sue Reid, and sister-in-law Mrs. Ralph Chappelle began crying. 

Maurice Speiser began his opening remarks, calling Catherine a willful murderess, worthy of the death penalty.  Catherine just used the smelling salts and remained calm. 


Since it was a Saturday, court was due to adjourn at 12:30.  But Speiser got 3 witnesses in before the adjournment.

The first witness was William Reckitt, Jerry’s father.  Mr. Reckitt was a tall gaunt faced man with a deep voice.  He testified to the identity of his daughter.  He was not cross examined by Scott.

The second witness was Charles Miller who at the time of the shooting was dating one of Jerry’s sisters but had since married her.  He also identified Jerry.

John Klein the police photographer was next, and he brought several photos of the Rosier Offices.  Klein was not through testifying when court was adjourned so he will take the stand when court resumes Monday morning.

Catherine Rosier

The Trial - Day 5

Frank Batchelor was the first witness; he was the Vice President of Oscar’s company.  He was asked to identify Oscar’s glasses, and Catherine broke into tears.  Frank Batchelor described a bloody handprint on the wall made by the stenographer.  Prosecution hoped that this would prove to the jury that Jerry was sitting at her typewriter.

Batchelor testified that he had lunched with Oscar that day.  They returned from lunch and to Oscar’s office at about 2:30. At 3:00 Batchelor decided to leave and return to his own office where he was talking to Arthur. 

He testified that as he left Oscar was in shirt sleeves and Jerry was typing at her desk.  He passed Catherine on his way out.

Speiser asked him what Catherine had said or done.  “She spoke to us and stood at the washroom door.  She noticed that I was looking at her hat and remarked it was not a new one.  A moment or two later she stepped into the washroom and when I heard the key click in the lock I stepped out.  This was few minutes after three.” 

William Gorman of the city bureau of surveys then took the stand and presented a floor plan of Oscar’s offices.  During his testimony about the placement of a file cabinet, Catherine tugged on William Connor’s sleeve and told him that it was in fact a wardrobe. 

John Klein, the police photographer was recalled.  He showed more pictures he had taken in the office.  

Next came I. Bibbs Tolen, Oscar’s business partner.  Spesier tried to get admitted a desk calendar containing a memo written by Oscar, this was banned by an objection from Scott that no writings from the hand of Oscar had any bearing on the trial of Jerry, which was approved by the judge. 

Scott could not get Tolen to admit that writing the new will was Arthur’s idea.  Tolen said he just wrote what Oscar dictated.   

Arthur then takes the stand.  The attorneys argued so much that they delayed his testimony for more than an hour and a half. 

Arthur had only described his movements on the day of the shooting.  How he had lunched with Catherine Rosier just before she went to the office and shot Oscar and Jerry.  Arthur was described by Scott as “Iago”.  In case you have forgotten, Iago was the villain in Othello.  Iago hates Othello and plans to destroy him by making him believe that Desdemona, his wife, is having an affair with Cassio.  Arthur denied that he had tried to poison Catherine’s mind causing the shooting.   

He then told of going to live with Catherine and Oscar on October 8, 1921, which was the same day that Catherine gave birth to Richard.  He testified that his past job had been managing a dining car in Australia and that he had a wife and children in Australia. 

Throughout his testimony Arthur referred to Catherine Rosier as “the defendant”.  Scott could not get Arthur to admit that he had told Catherine about Oscar and Jerry, so the notes from his testimony at the inquest were read. 

In that testimony Arthur admitted to warning Catherine of Oscar’s intention of casting her off.  Scott then asked Arthur, “Did you during the time between October 1 and January 23, 1922, tell Mrs. Rosier of affairs between Oscar Rosier and Mildred Reckitt?” 

Mr. Speiser at once objected and ordered Arthur not to answer the question.  He then requested a side bar discussion of the questions and the objections.  Speiser then told the judge, “He doesn’t care anything about the rulings as long as the jury hears these questions.”  As the side bar had lasted more than five minutes court was adjourned without a decision about the question.

Players in the trial

Day 6 - October 24, 1922

The Staff of Oscar’s office, Rosier’s Advertising Agency were called but really didn’t add much.  Except to report that Catherine Rosier said, “I did it — I must have been crazy.”  And “I caught him in the act”.

Willian Freiler, the man that sold Catherine the pistol, testified that she wanted it for protection.

Michael J. Toner, a policeman testified that Jerry smiled forgivingly at Catherine from her death bed.  The police were trying to get her to say something incriminating about Catherine Rosier, instead Jerry said, “No, I don’t think she meant to shoot me.  I know she didn’t mean to shoot me.” 

Catherine knelt beside the hospital bed and kissed Jerry’s hand.  When this testimony was given Catherine began sobbing into her hands. 

Alfred Layton testified that Catherine confused him with a doctor and testified that Catherine fell on her knees on the floor in front of him, clasping her hands and begging him to save her husband. 

Paul Gottlieb, a reporter, testified that Catherine told him that she wouldn’t have done it if she hadn’t been drinking.  Oscar’s brother, Arthur testified earlier that he had had lunch with Catherine and they had had wine. 

Norman McCleod, another reporter testified that when he was in Oscar’s room, Catherine came in knelt by the bed and said, “Daddy, dear, I didn’t mean to do it.”  Oscar lifted his hand and pushed her away.

John R.K. Scott - Catherine Rosier's Attorney
John R.K. Scott - Catherine's Attorney

Day 7 - October 25, 1922

Day seven of the trial.  Detective JH Foy was the first to testify.  “My husband killed his first wife.”  Read Detective Foy from Catherine’s police Statement.  “He broke her heart.  I married him because I was young.  I thought I could win and hold him.  But no woman could fill his desires. “ 

At this point Catherine fainted and was revived by the police surgeon.  She remained, pale, wan and fragile throughout the rest of the day.

Next the clothes that Oscar and Jerry wore at the time of the shooting were presented. 

Speiser began questioning Detective Foy about Catherine Rosier’s presence at the Hospital.  “Did you say in response to a question that you passed Mrs. Rosier on the stairs as she said she did not want to see the wounded girl?” 

Scott objected and Speiser directed a comment directly to Scott, a wild argument continued with Connor jumping in as well.  Judge Barratt silenced the three and the lawyers began to offer each other apologies. 

Judge Barratt responded, “There is no need of apologies or compliments from either side under thinly veiled sarcasm.” 

Speiser then asked Detective Foy if they took Catherine to see Jerry. 

“We took Mrs. Rosier to the operating room.  I stood on one side of Miss Reckitt’s cot and Patrolman Toner on the other. 

I spoke to Miss Reckitt and said, ‘Is this the woman who shot you?’ pointing to Mrs. Rosier. 

Miss Reckitt replied, ‘Yes’”. 

“Lieutenant Humphries was standing there with a pad and pencil and Miss Reckitt was asked if she had any statement to make.  She replied that she had not. 

As I recall Mrs. Rosier put her hands on Miss Reckitt’s shoulders and kissed either her hand or her face. 

There was something said and as I recall it, I think Miss Reckitt said, ‘You didn’t mean to do it.’ 

“After we brought her (Catherine) to the station house we ‘slated her’, and then took her to the lieutenant’s rooms we had no matron. 

I asked her whether she had been drinking. 

She said, ‘Yes, I had several glasses of wine. ‘

I then asked her if she was in the habit of drinking and she said she frequently drank wine at dinner.”

“Now Mr. Foy, said Speiser, “after looking at this photograph have you any corrections to make as to where you placed the spot on this plan?” 

Mildred Reckitt and Oscar Rosier

Scott objected, “This witness is now getting instructions from the fair, honest and conscientious District Attorney.” 

Speiser turned crimson and replied, “Would you like to weigh your honesty with mine?” 

Speiser demanded an apology and the judge advised that it be disregarded. 

Detective William Tyson was the next witness.  His testimony was like Foy’s.  He did show the dress that Jerry had worn again and talked about a .25 caliber bullet falling from Jerry’s underwear as he pulled them from the basket. 

Catherine started weeping and Jerry’s father covered his eyes.  Speiser then asked, “Did you have any conversation with the defendant?” 

“Yes, I did in the presence of Detective Foy.  As we went into the lieutenant’s room, we told Mrs. Rosier to sit down. 

I said to her, ‘Why did you do this?’ 

She said, ‘I walked into my husband’s office this afternoon and found them in a compromising position.  Even then I wouldn’t have done it if I hadn’t been drinking.’

 “She told Foy she had been drinking wine and had had several glasses.  At this point Mrs. Rosier jumped up and began pacing around the room. 

Then she said, ‘He killed his first wife.  She died of a broken heart of his treatment.’

Foy then spoke up and said, ‘Knowing that, why did you marry him?’ 

Maurice Speiser
Maurice Speiser

“As I remember her reply was, ‘I was a young woman, of a different temperament, and I thought I could meet his wishes. I even had a child by him, but I found that no woman would be able to meet his wishes’.

All the time she was walking up and down the room and I told her to sit down which she did.”

 “I then asked Mrs. Rosier if she would make a statement, first warning her as to her rights and telling her that anything she said would be used against her at her trial.  She refused to say anything further except to say, ‘I did it.’ 

She pleaded for a doctor and appeared to be in bad shape. 

I asked Foy to send for the doctor.  Dr. Dayal came to attend her.

Lietenant Humphries then sent her to Central as they had no matrons. ” 

Jerry’s father was then called to the stand.  The only question he was asked was how tall his daughter was.  He told them 5’1 1/2.  He was weeping and so was excused from the stand. 

Detective John Nolen was next called to the stand, he was supposed to testify about the unfinished letter in Jerry’s typewriter, but Scott objected to all of the questions and won, Scott tried to cross-examine Nolen, but turnabout is fair play and no questions were answered. 

Policeman John Cummings was called next.  The purpose was to impeach his testimony from the previous day.  Scott of course objected but lost.  However, Speiser did not accomplish what he set out to do and Cummings was excused for the second time. 

County Detective JJ McGettigan was called next.  McGettigan had been assigned as the chief investigator of the case.  He identified the unfinished letter taken from the typewriter, Oscar’s glasses, and a piece of wallpaper containing a blood spot.  He showed on a plan of the office where he had found the blood spot. 

Oscar's brother - Ivan Rosier
Ivan Rosier – Oscar’s brother from California who attended the trial every day

Dr. William Robinson, city chemist, was called to identify the wallpaper.  He said the spot was caused by blood, but he couldn’t identify whether it was human or animal blood and sent it to Dr. John Kolman, pathologist, at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Dr. Kolman testified that it was human blood, but he had no idea how long it had been out of the body. 

Dr. Frank Krusen was called next.  He was an interne (e intentional) at the hospital where Jerry and Oscar were taken.  Dr. Krusen had visited the scene of the crime; the bodies were taken to the hospital in a police wagon, not Dr. Krusen’s ambulance.

He identified the dress that Jerry had been wearing and pointed to a hole on the right side around the upper abdomen.  Speiser then showed him Jerry’s blood-stained underwear.  There were some holes that were not there at the time he attended Jerry.  Court was then adjourned for the day.

Prosecution had hoped to finish their portion of Catherine Rosier’s trial, they had called 41 witnesses, but with all the wrangling between the attorney’s it would take an extra day.

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.

Jerry’s mother was the final witness for the prosecution.  She testified that Jerry’s final words were asking her mother to pray for her.

Prosecution rested their case.

John R. K. Scott begins his opening address to the court.  He blames the killings on a “Momentary madness the sudden rush of blood in which heritage had placed the taints of insanity.”

“We will show you that when she reproached her husband, he told her it was true, that he intended to cast Mrs. Rosier off.  Arthur Rosier, the husbands brother said to her ‘You might as well have me’.  When the defendant again attempted to regain her husband’s love, he threw her to the floor.  Then, Mrs. Rosier attempted to kill herself.  Mrs. Rosier appealed to Miss Reckitt to give up Oscar Rosier.  First, the stenographer promised, but later said to Mrs. Rosier, ‘No use of making yourself pretty; he’ll have nothing to do with you.’  We will show that she opened the door she saw a scene that drove her to madness.

“After we have shown you the weak source of this young woman’s blood, and all the surrounding circumstances that caused her to be driven mad we will show you by men eminent in their profession that when the shots were fired, she was mad, bereft of all reason, incapable of knowing the difference between right and wrong.”

Attorney Scott contends that Catherine went to Oscar’s office with the intent to plead with him to give up Jerry and if that didn’t work, kill herself.  However, what she saw in Oscar’s office was so horrific to her that she killed them instead in a fit of momentary insanity.

Catherine's Defense - Day 9 October 27,1922

Catherine today had discarded the mourning veil that she had been wearing throughout the trial.  Without it the jurors and spectators could see how worn and haggard she is.  According to the Courier-Post of Camden, NJ, “The pathos of her face, however, has a haunting quality which cannot fail to move all who behold it.  The jurors have not been impervious to it.”

Susan Reid, the star witness for the defense took the stand and began a very dramatic testimony that had the spectators and the jurors in tears.

Susan Reid testified that Oscar beat Catherine when she was pregnant.  As she was testifying one of the women spectators fainted and some of the jurors wiped their eyes.  Susan herself cried off and on during her testimony.

She also told of Arthur Rosier, Oscar’s brother constant tormenting Catherine about Oscar’s infidelity with his stenographer, Jerry Reckitt.  “I warned my daughter against Arthur Rosier and told her he would try to trap her in a compromising position.”  Maurice Speiser, of course objected, but Judge Barret ruled that the testimony was material to the case.    Susan further testified that Catherine told her that Arthur had said that Oscar was in love with Jerry and would frame Catherine with Arthur as a co-respondent so he could divorce her.

Mrs. Reid further testified that Catherine grew up as a sickly child.  Once she fell down the stairs and had suffered intermittent headaches since.  After Catherine’s baby was born, she went to Philadelphia to stay with her mother.  Susan found her daughter completely changed. 

“Mother I’m sick.  I can’t stand what Arthur is telling me about Oscar and Jerry Reckitt.  Mother, it’s killing me!’

She also testified that her father was crazy several months before he died, and that her husband, Catherine’s father, was a drunkard and abused both Susan and Catherine.  Susan also testified that she had an eight-year-old son who was an “imbecile” and had the mental capacity of a three-year-old.

Susan’s final testimony was that Catherine had tried to kill herself, but the pistol misfired, and she shot the floor.  Oscar was heard saying, “Too bad!”

Speiser in the cross examination of Susan made the women spectators, all hundred plus of them indignant when he tried to impugn Catherine’s character.  He asked Susan if Catherine “had given her any trouble and had to be looked after between the ages of thirteen and eighteen.”  Scott objected and Judge Barratt made Speiser withdraw the question.

Speiser was fairly brutal in his cross exam of Sue about Catherine that he called “boy crazy”. 

Scott the defense attorney objected numerous times to both the questions and the tone of the questions, and the judge agreed with him. 

The only time he let Speiser continue was when the line of questioning went to Susan Reid going to a girls’ aid society for help in keeping Catherine on the straight and narrow.  Susan wept when she talked about it.

The spectators gasped at some of the questions that Speiser asked Susan.  Most of which she vehemently denied.

Catherine wept all during her mother’s testimony and once needed to leave the courtroom to get some air. 

When the court adjourned for lunch, Catherine, her mother, and baby Richard went to the Sherriff’s cell room.  Catherine was sitting in a chair feeding Richard a bottle when she fainted, and Richard and the bottle slid to the floor.  Dr. Charles Bricker the police surgeon was summoned, and it took him 20 minutes to bring Catherine back to consciousness.  The physicians that examined her diagnosed her as suffering from a valvular heart problem, shattered nerves, and anemia.  They fear that she could suffer a heart attack. 

Christy Mathewson
Christy Mathewson

Mrs. Minerva Matthewson, mother of Christy Matthewson, and Catherine’s aunt next took the stand.

Christy Matthewson was a major league baseball pitcher who spent 17 seasons with the New York Giants.  He was one of the best pitchers in baseball history and is still in the top 10 of several pitching statistics, one hundred years later.

Minerva testified that Catherine’s maternal grandfather, George Capwell, her brother, died a “maniac”.  She further testified that Christy’s brother committed suicide while he was insane. 

Several women took the stand next including Catherine’s neighbors and friends.  One of them testified to Oscar’s scheme to get a divorce, another testified that Catherine had confided that she was “going out of my mind”. 

A third, a neighbor testified how Catherine had gone from a “happy care-free girl to a nervous, pale, twitchy woman who bit her fingernails and let her house and person go untidy.” 

This same neighbor also testified that she had overheard Arthur and Oscar talking about Catherine’s attempted suicide.  Catherine’s cheek was bruised and swollen the day before the shooting.  She told the woman that Oscar had hit her.

Catherine, Susan Reid and Baby Richard

The Trial - Day 10 - October 28, 1922

Catherine has already fainted in the waiting room, so she has been given a narcotic to keep her going.

Mrs. Clegg, one of Catherine’s friends testified that Catherine had come to her home with her arm bandaged.  When she asked what had happened Catherine told her that she had complained about him taking Jerry to the theatre and he had slapped her in the face and knocked her down and she had hurt her arm. 

She also testified that when she and her husband and Catherine and Oscar were out to dinner how Oscar told them all that Jerry had beautiful underwear.  He then went on to say Catherine was a bad shot shooting the floor or up in the air. 

Mrs. Clegg asked him why Catherine had a pistol and Oscar told them that he was teaching her to shoot.  She then testified that on the day of the shooting Catherine had asked her to keep Richard and Junior while she went to town.  Catherine brought Richard over but not Junior as he had gone to the dentist with Arthur. 

Mrs. Clegg said that Catherine had been crying.  She further testified that she had only seen Catherine drink once and that was a glass of wine in her own home. 

William Clegg her husband was called next.  He testified that when Catherine came home from the hospital, he asked Oscar if he was happy that Catherine was home, he said that Oscar said, “My wife’s being home is alright, but my own good times are over.”  William said this statement was made in front of Catherine and she started crying.  He saw her crying another time and asked Arthur what was going on and he answered that Oscar wasn’t coming home at night anymore.

“For God’s sake, don’t tell my mother what happened.”  this was one of the last sentences Jerry Reckitt spoke from her death bed.  Catherine’s attorney, John R. K. Scott, is using this statement along with other evidence to prove that the “Unwritten Law” was in force and that Jerry was having an adulterous affair with Oscar. 

The prosecution argued that the statement meant that she didn’t want her mother to know about her death.  Magistrate Carney was called to the hospital after the shooting gave this testimony. 

Prosecutor Speiser didn’t believe that Carney’s testimony was true. 

Carney responded, “If you don’t believe me, why don’t you call Arthur Rosier!” 

“I will take care of the Commonwealth’s case,” snapped Speiser. 

Dr. Harris, the Rosier family doctor was next called to the stand.  Dr. Harris testified that Catherine had slipped him a note two months before the killing that her husband was being unfaithful. 

The court adjourned at 12:30 because it was Saturday.

Catherine Rosier, Jerry and Oscar

Day 11 – October 30, 1922

When Catherine Rosier was called to the stand there was an instant hush in the courtroom.  The spectators leaned forward so not to miss anything.  When Catherine took the stand there were no melodramatics, she spoke softly, earnestly and simply.

Catherine took the stand at 10:48 on the 11th day of the trial.  Ten minutes later, she fainted for the first time.

Scott asked her, “Mrs. Rosier, when did you first meet Arthur Rosier?”

She responded, “October 8 of last year.”

“Mrs. Rosier, from the time you met Arthur Rosier at the time of the birth of your baby, did anything extraordinary happen?”

“While I was in the hospital having my baby, Arthur came to see me.  Oscar, my husband, never did.  And I thought my husband was to busy to come there.  After my arrival home, I was told by Arthur Rosier that my husband wasn’t true to me, and Arthur Rosier told me that if he were me, he wouldn’t do anything, because it might ‘blow over.’”

“About a week after I was home from the hospital”, Catherine said weeping.  “I was introduced to Miss Reckitt at a Halloween party at my Stonehurst home.  At that time, I knew nothing about her and my husband running around.

“Another night, after dinner, while I was preparing to clear the dishes off the table, Arthur tried to force me to do something for him, but I refused and repulsed him.  I said to Arthur, ‘If you don’t watch your step, I will have to tell Mr. Rosier of your actions.’  And he said, ‘Oh that’s all-right Oscar’s downtown tonight with Miss Reckitt.’”

“That night, I waited for my husband to come home, and I asked him if it were true what Arthur had said.  He told me that it was true.  And I asked him if at the time I was in the hospital with my baby, he was out with other women.  He told me yes.  He said he wanted a divorce.  He told me that he didn’t love me any longer, and even though I pleaded with him and told him of my love, he said:

‘” If you don’t give me a divorce, I will use Arthur as a co-respondent.”’

The next day she asked Arthur to go to Oscar’s office and try to do something.  Arthur said he wouldn’t interfere.  Catherine then asked him to do it for the baby, at which point she fainted.

Court Officer Adamson stood directly behind Catherine to repeat her words if they weren’t heard or to catch her if she fainted again or had a heart attack.   And he gave her smelling salts to bring her around.

She then told of arranging to meet with Jerry and pleading with her to give Oscar up.  Sobbing loudly, she said, “Oh I begged her so hard.  And finally, she agreed to give him up.”

When she told Arthur about her meeting with Jerry, he said it would never happen.   Arthur then told her about the couch in Oscar’s office and what he used it for. 

The courtroom as Catherine testifies
The courtroom as Catherine testifies

She then called her doctor, Dr. Harris and asked him to come out.  Catherine took him upstairs to see the baby and handed him a note that talked about her unhappiness and Oscar’s infidelity. 

The entire courtroom was in tears at this point.  Catherine was talking so fast and so quietly that Officer Adamson had to repeat her words so the jury could hear her.  She went on to explain all the abusive incidents with Oscar and Arthur’s trying to poison the marriage.  She did say that Oscar had given her pearls for Christmas, “I was so glad, and I went over to Oscar and put my arms around him and kissed him.  He pushed me away.”

She spoke of another time when she and Oscar had gone out to dinner.  Catherine asked Oscar to let Jerry go and make Arthur move out.  He responded, “No, Arthur will stay.  And if you don’t stop bothering Jerry, I will choke you.” 

Catherine went on to tell how she and Oscar had come home late from a Poor Richard banquet.  Oscar had to get up early to catch a train to New York.  Catherine got up with him and made breakfast.  When he left, she went back to bed.  Arthur walked into the bedroom.  She threatened to scream to wake up the entire household and he left.  Catherine told Oscar and he replied, “He may as well have you than some other man, I’m through.”

The next day Catherine was preparing to go shopping, Arthur asked where she was going and invited her to lunch.  At first, she refused and then agreed.  While they were at lunch Arthur told her what Oscar had planned with Jerry that afternoon.  Catherine left and went to the office.  In the restroom she found Jerry’s purse and in the purse was a diary with love notes written in Oscar’s handwriting.  She left the office and went and bought the pistol and had the clerk load it.

“When I entered my husband’s office, as I opened the door, there they were on the lounge.  Oscar had his coat off.  Their heads were together, toward me.  They jumped up, I screamed, and that’s the last I remember.” 

As Catherine spoke her chest heaved, her eyes filled with horror as though she was seeing the scene all over again.  She started to stand up and then slumped back into her chair her head on her chest.  She was given smelling salts and revived for a minute and began sobbing.  Then she fainted again. 

The women spectators began weeping as well as some of the jurors.  Judge Barratt was visibly affected.

Scott then asked Catherine if she was afraid of Arthur.  She answered that when Oscar made the trip to New York, she had asked an older friend to come over and stay with her because she was afraid of what Arthur would do. 

Scott then produced the note that she had written to Dr. Harris, she identified it.

Attorney Scott then produced a bottle of poison and asked Catherine if she had intended to commit suicide with it. 

Judge Barratt was afraid that she would take her own life on the stand. 

It was the same bottle of poison that she had taken with her the day of the shootings, the bottle of poison that was still in her pocket when she was arrested. 

Artist sketch of murder

Catherine’s intention on going to Oscar’s office was to kill herself.  Catherine held the bottle up, looked at it and opened it.  At that point Judge Barratt shot a quick glance to Court Officer Adamson who stood behind Catherine. 

Adamson gently put his hand over Catherine’s and her palm was empty, she had put the poison back into the bottle.  Adamson shook his head no at the judge. 

Scott then asked Catherine, “When Arthur Rosier told you about the hopelessness of your efforts to get your husband back and told you that your husband and Mildred Reckitt were alone, why did you go to his office?”

“I went up to make a final appeal, thinking that perhaps I could bring about some type of reconciliation.”

“Before Arthur Rosier came into your life, what was the condition as to health and mind and happiness?”

“I was very happy; I loved my husband and he seemed to love me.”

“Why did you purchase the revolver on January 21?”

“To go back to my husband’s office and kill myself in their presence, so they could see what they had driven me to.”

“Did you go back with the intention of killing Miss Reckitt or your husband?”

“Oh no!  I loved him too well to kill him!”  At this point she dropped her head in her hands and began sobbing loudly.

Judge Barratt called a 10-minute recess before the cross examination began.

Every woman in the courtroom was using her handkerchief, most sobbing audibly and so were most of the men. 

To say the cross examination was brutal would be an understatement.  Speiser questioned her about meeting Oscar.  She told about it and that Oscar had asked him to marry him shortly after they met, and she agreed.  When she found out he was married already, she called it off.

Speiser asked, “When did you become intimate with him again?”

Scott objected and Judge Barnatt agreed and Speiser re-worded the question, “When did you affect a reconciliation?”

Speiser then asked a barrage of questions as to what she and Oscar had done before his former wife died.  Catherine repeatedly answered they did nothing as she had broken it off when she found out he was married. 

He then badgered her about expenses, charge accounts, how often she got her hair done, how much did it cost?  Did they go to the theater, the movies?  How often? Did they socialize with neighbors, how often?  Who was invited to their home?  Did she invite Miss Reckitt?  No!  Were there any other stenographers there? Not to my knowledge. 

Then he barraged her with questions about Oscar’s company.  Were there other girls employed there?  While Miss Reckitt was employed? What were their names?  Did they give you anything for the baby? Did you ever complain to Mr. Rosier about any of them besides Miss Reckitt?  Did you ever go to lunch with Miss Reckitt? Did you ever go to lunch with another girl? Did you know your husband’s firm was insolvent?  Did you know that it lacked funds?

Alfred L. Fisher was the next witness to take the stand.  Alfred was an orderly at Jefferson Hospital where Jerry and Oscar had been taken after they were shot.  He testified that as he was wheeling Jerry to the operating room, he asked Jerry if Oscar had shot her. 

“No, we were caught by his wife,” Jerry told him. 

Alfred also testified that Catherine had leaned over Jerry’s bed and asked if she hadn’t told her to stay away from her husband, and Jerry answered yes.

Sue Reid suffered a minor heart attack during the testimony and was taken to the hospital. 

Court was adjourned and Catherine fell to her knees in prayer, whether for her  mother or herself, or both was unknown.

Speiser and Scott

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. 

Sixty-year-old Mrs. Nace was a former servant in the Rosier household.  She testified that she heard Oscar say to Arthur, “he was getting a divorce from Catherine.  You might as well use her as anyone else.”  The women in the audience gasped!

Mrs. Nace continued, “Almost every day Arthur made advances on her.  On more than one occasion he tried to force her.  It might have been 10 times.  The last time that I know of was Thursday night (two nights before the shooting), I was in the kitchen when he tried to drag her upstairs.”

Next two alienists (psychiatrists) took the stand.  Dr. Charles K. Mills and Dr. George Wilson both testified that Catherine Rosier was unable to distinguish between right and wrong at the time of the shooting.  Speiser could get neither one to back down from their original testimony. 

Dr. Wilson further testified that even though Catherine acted normal when she called her attorney and refused to lend her coat to Jerry that she was insane at the time she fired the pistol and remained that way for a while.

With this defense rested their case.

Day 12 – November 1, 1922

Rebuttal day.  Speiser goes first.

The first witness was a prison matron, Camille Day, that was booed and hissed by the women sitting in the gallery.  The matron testified that Catherine never acted insane in the prison.

Sally Johnson, the other prison matron was called next.  Sally testified that Catherine Rosier was very nervous and depressed when she first came in.  She complained that she couldn’t eat or sleep.  Catherine did make a bag for Sally to keep car tickets in.  When Sally asked her about it later, she didn’t recall making it.  When Speiser re-examined Sally, he asked why she had never mentioned Catherine forgetting about the purse.  Sally replied, “I didn’t think it worthwhile; you didn’t ask me.” 

Speiser then asked Sally to describe the spells that Catherine would have.  Sally responded that Catherine would faint. 

Speiser responded, “So that is what you mean by a spell?”

“What would you mean by a spell?”  Sally replied and was dismissed from the stand.

Dr. Margaret Nelson, the prison physician, stated that in her opinion Catherine Rosier was sane, however when Scott cross-examined her, she did admit to writing a report that stated Catherine was subnormal and mentally deficient.

Next Frances W. Jones, an agent from the Girls’ Aid Society that Sue Reid had contacted when she thought Catherine was going to elope at 15.   Miss Jones testified that Catherine had been infatuated with a wagon driver, Richard Bent and wanted to marry him but Sue and Frances dissuaded her.

Speiser asked such ugly insidious questions that he was booed and hissed by the women in the gallery.  They also made angry exclamations to an extent that Judge Barratt threatened to clear the courtroom. 

Franz Koenig an agent for the apartment building where Oscar lived prior to marrying Catherine, testified that Catherine went to the apartment once. 

Dr. Horace Phillips of the U.S. Public Health Service testified that he had called on Catherine Rosier in prison to examine her for her state of sanity.  She refused to answer his questions on the advice of Scott, but he thought that she was sane.

Nicholas Bruno was called next.  He was the deputy sheriff in charge of watching Catherine during the trial.  He refused to answer the questions Speiser asked him.

Frances Jones was recalled to the stand.  She testified this time that Catherine had told her that she was doing things she should not have done, and it was worrying her mother.

Court recessed for lunch.

The first witnesses after lunch were the nurses that attended her in the hospital when she gave birth.  Miss Freda Golden was the first one called to the stand.  She testified that Catherine’s case was normal, and she didn’t talk about her husband or homelife.

Dr. Walter J. Daly was called next he was the physician that had attended Catherine Rosier at the police station.  He testified that he had observed her condition, she was in a highly nervous condition and he had to administer sedatives.  In his opinion she was insane.

Arthur Rosier was called to the stand.  Arthur testified that several days before the shooting, Catherine had rushed her husband with a milk bottle screaming, “I’ll kill you!”. 

He further testified that Catherine was unduly jealous of the girls in Oscar’s office and said, “She constantly said she supposed her husband was running around with Jerry Reckitt.”  Uh-huh, poor innocent Arthur.

The next witness was Joseph McClain, the county detective that accompanied Catherine to Oscar’s funeral.  After the funeral Connor, the second defense attorney, suggested they go to lunch.  After lunch they stopped at a drug store to buy some toiletries for Catherine to take back to the prison.  He felt that she acted in a quiet rational manner.

Then comes Scott on the cross-examination. 

“Did you hear anything unusual at the luncheon?”

“There was something said about beads, and she said, ‘I wonder if they found all mine.  I lost them in the office.’”

“Isn’t it true, Mr. McClain,” continued Scott’s cross examination, “that she was so nervous and crying all the time that you pulled down the blinds?”

“I can answer that question in two ways,” replied McClain. 

“You did pull down the blinds?” questioned Scott.


“She was crying?”

“Yes, she cried.  Shall I tell you why I pulled down the blinds?”

“Yes, tell us why,” interrupted Speiser.

“To keep the newspaper men and photographers away.”

“She was crying all the time, “asked Scott.

“I had other things to watch so she wouldn’t be annoyed, so I couldn’t say she was crying the whole time.”

McClain was dismissed and John McCarry an attaché of the coroner’s office was the next witness called by Speiser.

McCarry testified that Catherine Rosier seemed a little depressed and excitable when he picked her up from the county jail to attend the Coroner’s Inquiry.

He also testified that he took Catherine to a hotel after the Inquiry.  This started another battle between the attorneys.    

McCarry could not testify whether Catherine had eaten lunch or not.  Mr. Paul his supervisor was at the table with them.  Speiser tried to get Mr. Paul in court to testify, but he was in Baltimore.  They telegraphed him to be in court the next day.

Dr. Daniel McCarthy was called next, he was a professor of medical jurisprudence at the University of Pennsylvania.  As his credentials were being qualified, Catherine had a heart attack and was carried from the courtroom.

Court adjourned at 3:00.  When it did a group of women descended on the Defense table.  They were trying to embrace Mr. Scott for his defense of Catherine.  One fell to her knees and kissed his hand.

Day 13 – November 2, 1922

Dr. McCarthy was recalled to the stand. 

Catherine entered the courtroom looking pale and wan. 

Dr. McCarthy testified that Catherine was sane at the time of the murder.

John R. K. Scott waived his sur-rebuttal.  Feeling that the prosecutions rebuttal was weak and needed no more witnesses.

Speiser then summed up his case.  He then declared that it was a cold-blooded murder and deserved the death penalty. “It can’t be heralded throughout the land, one can take human lives two at a time, if you please, because one happens to be an emaciated woman.  Nothing has been shown in this case to prove that Mildred Reckitt, her victim was anything but a pure sweet girl.  The correct name for this defendant should be a jealous little fool – just what her husband called her.” 

He then went on to say that Oscar Rosier was a good and thoughtful husband.  He said aside from Catherine’s testimony that there was no evidence there had been a love affair.  I guess he forgot about Oscar telling his neighbors about Jerry’s gorgeous underwear…

His address to the court was halted by the noon recess of the court, due to the funeral of a judge who had died recently.

Catherine Rosier and son RIchard

Day 14 – November 3, 1922

Catherine the day before had received a note from Anna K. Jarvis, originator of the Mother’s Day movement.

If the courtroom had been packed before today it was more than usual.  Fifty women were waiting outside at 7:00 am.  Those that arrived late didn’t even make it to the courtroom doors.  As soon as the doors opened there was a mad dash for seats.  Almost every chair had two women sharing it, and for the first time there were men present too!

John R. K. Scott gives his closing.

Before he speaks, Judge Barratt warned the jury in his most severe voice, “I want to warn everyone that any expressions of approval or disapproval that might influence the jury in coming to a just decision will impel me to clear the court of all spectators.”

John R.K. Scott began, “Gentlemen of the jury, we have now happily for this young woman, reached the conclusion of this case.  It has come after two weeks and you receive it as you sit in judgement, to weigh the information that has been offered. 

“I take it that this is not a hard case for you to come to some conclusion in.  You have heard the case presented by the District Attorney, who has acted with great fairness, but he has presents in this case evidence which was not evidence of the entire transaction.”           

Scott said that the shots fired, “were not controlled by the hand of this young woman but controlled by an unseen power in the mind of a young woman, over which she had no power.”

He paced the floor, flung out his hands and called down Heaven’s pity on “this innocent child.”  He was dramatic!  The women in the courtroom loved it!  He thanked God for little Nick Bruno who dared Speiser’s wrath for testifying for Catherine.

He then reviewed the testimony of the reports that were immediately at the scene and their descriptions that Catherine Rosier was irrational and unstrung.

Scott then called Speiser “terribly unfair”.  This was because he had suppressed witnesses that would testify that Catherine was emotionally insane.

He then took on the police officer’s that testified about the holes in Jerry’s dress.  About how the fact that they took the dress to the basement and fired more holes into it, didn’t come into play until the cross-examination.  He doubted that Speiser didn’t already know about that.

Scott next took on Arthur Rosier.  “What have we against the character of that brother Arthur? We know that he is a married man.  We have heard the District Attorney refer to him as a boy.  We did not hear that he left a wife and children in Australia on a bare floor, starving.”   

Speiser jumped up in outrage at this.  “This is not in the evidence, Your Honor.”  And Judge Barratt agreed.

He described Arthur as “taunting, slimy, crawling, lustful, despicable creature.”  He also called him a snake and blamed him for driving Catherine insane by his barrage of taunts about Oscar and Jerry.

Scott continued to list a slew of witnesses who had nothing bad to say about Catherine, all of it came from Arthur. 

“This child was crushed, beaten down.  She had no hope all hands were turned against her; there was none to help her or her baby.  And the madness borne in her from her ancestors started to take it’s ascendency in her mind, and started to manifest itself.”

The case was sent to the jury at 2:55 pm. 

Catherine Rosier

The jurors had a smoke break, discussed the case, had another smoke break, and returned to the courtroom at 4:41 pm, this all took one hour and forty-eight minutes. 

Catherine Rosier was ordered to stand and face the jury.  She had to be supported by Mr. Collins. 

“How do you say Mr. Foreman, guilty or not guilty?”

Mr. Robinson whose face was expressionless, said, “Not guilty.”

The courtroom went silent. 

Then Catherine screamed and fainted.  She was carried from the courtroom.

As she left the full weight of the verdict descended on the 1,500 people gathered in the courtroom.  Chaos erupted!  Women began screaming and crying and cheered themselves hoarse.  Men threw their hats in the air and cheered.  Many women began dancing for joy.  Men and women overwhelmed Scott and Collins in their congratulations!  Speiser was the first to congratulate them.

Judge Barratt called the attorneys to a side bar.  Chief District Attorney Rotan accompanied them.  A few minutes of discussion and the attorney’s returned to their seats.  Speiser moved that the charges of manslaughter of Oscar Rosier be submitted for a verdict of “Not Guilty”. 

Catherine Rosier returned to the courtroom and shook the hands of the jurors who had acquitted her, saying “Thank God”.

She then asked for her baby who was brought to her.  Women in the courtroom fought to be able to kiss little Richard. 

When the jurors were asked, they said that it only took one vote to acquit Catherine.

Catherine left with her attorneys and returned to their offices.  There she met with her mother, brothers, and friends.  She left to go home with her mother.  They intended to keep her in seclusion so that she could regain her health after nine months in prison and the stress of a two-week trial.

She was met by reporters.  “Did I expect an acquittal?

“Well, I can only say I feel it was an answer to prayer.  I have prayed day and night that I would be set free, and now I know that God heard and answered me.  With the help of God, Mr. Scott, and Mr. Connor I have been acquitted.

“I haven’t had a chance to make any definite plans as to what I am going to do.  But I know I want to get away and get a good rest first of all.  I am really exhausted.

“I want to get away from the crowds, but not from my friends that have stuck to me so loyally and been so kind to me.  I think I will spend my time just visiting my friends in the country for a while, for I know it is going to take a long time for me to regain my health.”

And so, the story ends…

Catherine Rosier's Jury

After the Acquittal

Arthur and Oscar Rosier
Arthur and Oscar Rosier

Not really Catherine had more in front of her.

First, Catherine Rosier was offered $2,500.00 per week to go into Vaudeville which she refused.

Then there was the matter of the will that Oscar dictated from his death bed.  Oscar handwrote a new will on his death bed leaving everything to Arthur and Oscar Jr.  The will was finally admitted to probate on July 20, 1923.  Catherine protested it but her petition was thrown out.

Arthur testified that he had helped Oscar sign the will.  Richard and Frank Clegg testified next. 

Richard testified that he and his father met Arthur at a police station.  Arthur then produced a small book with the will written in it, Arthur told them that he was forced to help his dying brother write his signature on the will. 

Mrs. Clegg testified next.  She told the court that Arthur had come home with Richard.  The first thing Arthur did was ask for a drink.  Mrs. Clegg told Arthur he could have a drink of water, as he had the appearance of having been drinking. 

Arthur told her, “Catherine was not as smart as she thought she was.” He then told her how he had assisted his brother write the new will.

Even though Catherine Rosier was not named in the will, as the widow, in the state of Pennsylvania she received a third of the estate.  Richard her son, also received a third of the $54,000 estate.  That left the final third for Arthur and Oscar, Jr. to split.

Next, in April 1924 Catherine sold the house in Stonehurst. 

Oscar and Richard Rosier
Oscar and Richard Rosier

Catherine’s custody battle for Oscar Jr.

une 1924, Catherine is in a custody battle for Oscar, Jr. , 11 years old.  During the hearing, the judge asked Mrs. Fischer who Oscar was staying with in a home and school for motherless children, whether he wanted to live with her or with Catherine. 

Before she could answer Oscar answered, “You see, I hated her ever since she killed my daddy, for my daddy was good to me.  Well while she was in jail, I told people at Stonehurst that I hoped she would be electrocuted and when she found it out, she fussed so much I was afraid to say anything. 

“When I got to Mrs. Fischer’s, I asked Mrs. Fischer not to call that creature ‘mother’ to me but of course Mrs. Fischer did not obey me.  Mrs. Rosier sent for me to visit her last summer in Pottstown.  Mrs. Fischer persuaded me to go.  When I went to retire, I found I did not have a nice room to myself as I do at Mrs. Fischer’s, but I was told to get in bed with her. 

“I was afraid of her and I tried to stay awake.  When I returned, I said to Mrs. Fischer ‘never again’.  But after that she asked Mrs. Fischer to send me to her for a day just before Christmas. 

“Mrs. Fischer said I had to go and greet her with respect.  On the way home Mrs. Rosier asked how I would like her to get married.  This showed me that she intended to make her home and take me with her to witness more fighting.  It will all happen again if she marries for, she has a jealous disposition and a terrible temper.”

In a surprise decision Vice Chancellor Leaming allows Oscar, Jr. to choose where he wants to live.  When Oscar chooses to stay with Mrs. Fischer, she is instructed by the court that it would be her “duty to use every means within her power to induce the boy to respect and love Catherine Rosier.” 

Mrs. Fischer’s response was “I am no hypocrite.  I never promised to teach this boy to love the woman who shot his father, and I don’t propose to do it.  I can’t instruct this boy to love that woman.  I won’t do it.”

Arthur Rosier

Battle with Insurance Companies

Then there were the Insurance Companies.  For the first time Catherine and Arthur were allies.

The Insurance Companies had no problem paying out the policy value, however the policies were accident indemnity policies, which meant they paid double if the death was the result of an accident.  In Pennsylvania, if the shooter, in this case, is acquitted for insanity it is considered an accidental death.

However, there was a clause in the policy that said that if the policy holder was killed during an illegal act, the indemnity portion of the policy was null and void.  Adultery was illegal in the state of Pennsylvania, so the Insurance companies claimed that the indemnity portion was null and void.

The court found in favor of Catherine and Arthur.

In December 1924. the insurance companies with the Accident policies appeal the decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals.  The point of the appeal is that Oscar and Jerry were breaking the law at the time of their deaths.  This testimony was barred by Judge Thompson in the original trial.  The three judges, Buffington, Wooley and Davis heard the arguments but reserved a decision. 

The Missouri State Life Insurance company and the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States lost their appeal and had to pay Oscar’s estate an additional $35,888.00 per the ruling of Judge J. Whitaker Thomas.  Catherine Rosier received 1/3 of it or almost $12,000 which would be about $180,000 in today’s currency.

John R.K. Scott - Catherine Rosier's Attorney

I could find nothing more about Catherine Rosier after this, except in an interview that John R.K. Scott gave, when asked about Catherine, he said that she was working in a department store for $18 a week.

John R.K. Scott died at the age of 71, December 10, 1945.  Scott was said to have gotten more acquittals for murder for his clients than any other attorney in the history of Pennsylvania.  His defense of Catherine Rosier brought him national attention and boosted his career. 

Some say the saying get off “Scott Free” was inspired by him and all of the acquittals he won for his clients.

This was a really long story that lasted over two weeks. Did you like the longer format broken up like that or would you rather have shorter stories that you can read all at once? Please let me know in the comments section!

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