Monday, July 01, 2019

The Elizabeth Pillow Murder

On the evening of January 28, 1912, Ed Pillow spent the evening with a group of friends. He and his wife, Elizabeth, had been fighting and had separated. Pillow then went to where Elizabeth was staying, her sister's house in North Topeka, and proceeded to enter through a window in her bedroom. She awoke and the two started arguing. He said that he was there to take back some clothes and furniture that had been left. The quarreling continued and Elizabeth started approaching him. Scared for his life, as he said Elizabeth had shot at him before, Pillow pulled out a revolver and shot twice--once into his foot when the gun got caught and again into Elizabeth's left breast. She died almost instantly.

Pillow pleaded guilty to first degree manslaughter on Friday, April 26, 1912 and was sentenced to 5 to 21 years in Lansing State Penitentiary. Witnesses included neighbors who heard the argument and the gun shots and Elizabeth’s sister, Ethel Caldwell. Caldwell had been sitting on Elizabeth’s bed when the argument and shooting happened. This was the second time that Caldwell had been witness to the murder of a sister. She had witnessed the stabbing of another sister several years prior when in Missouri.

Pillow was sent to Lansing on August 1, 1912 along with three other convicts. Charles Smith, who was convicted of horse theft, B.F. Graff, convicted of embezzlement, and Joseph Glabasnia, sentenced for wife desertion. Glabasnia was the first Shawnee County resident sentenced for family desertion. Roughly 20 cases had been brought with the defendant pleading guilty and their sentence suspended as long as they began supporting their families. Glabasnia pleaded guilty and given freedom but failed to support his family thus violating his parole.

Elizabeth Pillow was buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery, her grave unmarked. I was unable to find what happened to Ed Pillow or Ethel Caldwell.