Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Frances Creighton & Everett Appelgate

Mrs. Appelgate's Injustice

After Frances discovered that Everett was having sex with her 14-year-old daughter, she became severely despondent. She was also humiliated that she herself had slept with the prolific Mr. Appelgate, who seemed to fall in love with every woman he met. Her depression increased when Ruth told her that she might be pregnant. Frances did not want to be disgraced in the eyes of the community if her teenage daughter had Mr. Appelgate's baby. As a mother, she could not allow that to happen. To make matters worse, Frances had heard rumors about Ruth and Everett through friends in Baldwin. The lurid story of their relationship was spreading. These rumors apparently originated from Mrs. Appelgate herself.

"I spoke to Mrs. Appelgate about it," Frances later said to police, "I went where it started to find out if there was any truth. I told her I thought it was an awful thing to do, to start circulating rumors. If she had a girl of her own I wouldn't pass any remark about her youngster and that she shouldn't do it to Ruth. If she didn't stop of her own accord, I would have to speak to her." But her hostile feelings toward Ada worsened. "I guess you could say that I hated her," Frances later told police.

"I felt she allowed herself to do an awful lot of talking with her big mouth," Frances said. But her anger grew while Everett and her daughter continued their illicit union. The situation flaunted her authority as a mother and shamed her husband, even though he had no idea of what was taking place. "I was pretty sore at the way Mr. Appelgate was carrying on with Ruth and the way he forced himself on me," she later explained to detectives, "and the remarks passed about it, that he had passed and she had passed and the expenses he put us under. It was under the spur of the impulse, which I deeply regret, I decided to do an injustice to Mrs. Appelgate." When detectives asked Frances what she meant by an injustice, she said, "Give her the poison!"

Perhaps in a way to make Everett part of the plan, she had him take her to a drug store on Merrick Road in Baldwin. There, Frances purchased a quantity of Rough on Rats. On Friday, the 13th of September, Frances gave Mrs. Appelgate her first dose of arsenic in a cup of coffee. She was careful to give her only a small dose at first. She waited two days and then gave Ada a generous second helping of the poison.

"She was not throwing up," Frances said of Ada, "but she said she felt miserable." After that, Frances increased the amount and frequency of the doses. Ada became ill very quickly. She began to vomit yellow-green bile and had continuous diarrhea. She was unable to get out of bed. Everett called a doctor who responded to the Appelgate home. Ada was taken to South Nassau Community Hospital that same night under the doctor's orders. However, physicians were unable to diagnose Ada and since she appeared to be getting better, she was discharged on September 25.

By 5:00 p.m., Ada was sitting at the dinner table with Frances, John Creighton and Everett. They ate roast lamb, potatoes and spinach. Frances gave her more poison. "I put some in the milk," she later told police. The following night, according to Frances, Everett put some of the rat powder in Ada's eggnog before she went to sleep. Later, Ada awoke from her sleep extremely sick and began vomiting. The huge woman fell out of bed and Frances went to help Everett. "Mr. Appelgate had quite a job on his hands," she said in her statement to police, "and I helped straighten Mrs. Appelgate and change the bed. Then we stayed around and tried to help as much as we could."

But it was not the sort of help the victim needed. Though Ada had already ingested a fatal amount of arsenic, Everett propped her up in the bed and put another glass of eggnog to her lips. He forced her to drink the deadly concoction while he gently consoled her. "He put his hand underneath her back," said Mrs. Creighton, "she swallowed it through a straw but she never did take it all." Soon, Ada began to see a pink piano in the corner of the room and raved about animals crawling on the walls. At 8:30 a.m. the following day, she lapsed into a coma and died. The cause of death was listed on the death certificate as a "coronary occlusion."

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