Monday, May 15, 2006

5/15/06- The Hunt For Chester Gillette

In the late evening hours of July 11, 1906, a young man dressed in slightly damp attire entered the Arrowhead Hotel in the town of Inlet, which was located on Fourth Lake in the Adirondacks. When he registered for a room there, he signed the register as "Chester Gillette of Cortland, NY." He was shown to his room where he had something to eat and went to sleep.

Little did the people at the Arrowhead know that several hours earlier, Chester (under the assumed alias of "Carl Grahm of Albany) murdered his pregnant girlfriend Grace Brown in a secluded area of Big Moose Lake. By the time he got to the Arrowhead, Chester had only his suitcase. The tennis racket he had with him was gone. On the way to Eagle Bay, he buried the racket under a log near a group of trees along the road that connected Big Moose Lake with Eagle Bay.

Over the course of the next three days, Chester enjoyed the life of a normal Adirondack tourist, taking in the sights, going mountain climbing at nearby Black Bear Mountain, and going for canoe rides on Fourth Lake. He also had an appointment to keep with two girls that he knew from Cortland who were vacationing on Fourth Lake. Soon, he was reunited with Josephine Patrick and another girl, Gladys Westcott in a gift shop in Inlet. They were staying on Seventh Lake and Chester had made arrangements to meet them at their camp that Saturday.

And all that time, Chester was unaware of the fact that the law knew what happened to Grace and was rapidly closing in on him.

On Saturday morning (July 14) after a leisurely breakfast, Chester was shocked to see Albert Gross, his friend and co-worker at the Gillette Skirt Factory in Cortland in the hotel lobby. He was there in response to Chester's request for money that he sent three days earlier. With him were three men. Two of them worked for the Herkimer County Sheriff and the third man was a maverick Herkimer County District Attorney.

In greeting, Albert blurted out, "Chester, do you realize that Billy Brown has drowned?"

Chester seemed surprised to hear this and pretended that he didn't know about it. Then District Attorney George Ward started asking him questions and when he wasn't satisfied with Chester's answers, he ordered Undersheriff Austin Klock to arrest him.

Within hours, Chester was arrigned in the Old Forge Hotel for the first-degree murder of Grace Brown and was on a train bound for Herkimer, where his fate was to be decided by the grand jury.

For George Ward, the hunt for Chester Gillette was over and his crusade to send him to the electric chair had just begun.

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