An old postcard that has survived the years, turns up in a Vermont antique shop. It's a tidbit with a personal message from a person long forgotten, but in the message is a reference to a murder that has never been solved.
The front of the card shows a colorized image of a lakeshore, complete with canoes. Printed along the bottom is the identification of the site: "Boat Landing, Crystal Lake, Averill Park, N.Y." But it's the information on the back that is more interesting - and definitely more surprising.
The card, postmarked at 10 a.m. on July 15, 1908, was addressed to Miss Alice Snell in Nelliston, Montgomery County, New York. Writing to her was H.D. Cameron, who chose to jot the message sideways on the postcard.
"Papa & I are out here," the message begins. "The Drew murder happened only a little way from here last Sat. This is a dandy place."
The disconcerting juxtaposition of a nearby murder and "a dandy place" might have caused Miss Alice to do a double-take. So, too, might have the phrase "the Drew murder."
Who was Drew, and what happened to this person? Who did the deed?
Early on July 6th, 1908, a day before Hazel Drew was murdered, Mrs. Edward Cary, wife of Rensselaer Polytechnic Professor Edward Cary, asked her governess to do the laundry.
The job of the governess doesn’t typically involve laundry, that was the job of a domestic servant. So without notice, the governess quit. She packed her things and moved out of the Carey’s Pawling Avenue house the same morning. To many, including Mrs. Carey, quitting her job over something so small was strange and uncharacteristic.
In recent months Hazel's travels became more frequent – trips to New York City, Boston and beyond. Her wardrobe became increasingly more fashionable, this made Mrs Carey and others wonder how someone with the salary of a governess could afford the lifestyle she was living?
Had her travels offered her new opportunities? Had she met someone or had the time away given her the confidence?
Hazel left the Carey’s in good spirits, she then visited her aunt and then made her way into Troy to see her mother. But exactly where she went that afternoon and where she spent the night is a mystery.
There were things about this pretty blond that those closest to her didn’t know. What was known about Hazel was:
Before these facts were learned, it all started when police pulled the body of 20-year-old Hazel Drew from Teal Pond in Sand Lake on July 13, 1908, two days before the postcard was sent.
Since there was no water in her lungs, the authorities concluded that the young woman was dead when she entered the pond and had been killed by a blow to her head. Due to her state of decomposition, the coroner guessed that she had died a few days earlier. It was also believed she had been raped during the attack. She had last been seen on July 7.
The Drew murder case became a newspaper sensation and the police, reporters and neighborhood gossip soon assembled a list of suspects that were never convicted of the crime.
Was the killer:
Or was it any one of a dozen other suspects?
The 1908 Hazel Drew murder would have stayed forgotten if not for grandma Calhoun’s bedtime stories and the imagination of her grandson Mark Frost, a future storyteller and co-creator of 1990 and 1991 television series Twin Peaks.
In an essay for a Sand Lake newsletter Mark writes;
The inspiration for the television series Twin Peaks sprang from a nightmarish little bedtime story my grandmother Betty Calhoun planted in my ear as a young boy.
Both Hazel Drew and the fictional character of Laura Palmer, both had well kept secrets. In 1908, District Attorney O’Brien unraveled the clues to a girl with a double life. What he found in her trunk opened questions and pointed to the fact that Miss Drew was not all she seemed.
It was first reported that Hazel had “no known sweetheart.” Rensselaer Polytechnic Professor Green, employer of Hazel’s good friend Carrie Weaver, said “Miss Drew met Miss Weaver and soon after her arrival became intimate. No young men ever called on them.”
But contradicting that – on July 15th the Troy Record reported that “the dead girl had an engagement with a real estate dealer and insurance man”.
The papers also reported wealthy businessman Henry Kramroth’s glasses were found near Teal Pond. Kramroth owned a camp in Sand Lake where neighbors reported orgies and women being held against their will.
One newspaper report described a woman “clad only in a rubber overcoat” and neighbors had heard screams emanating from the camp near the time of the murder. Kramroth defended himself against allegations, including that women were being held against their will at his resort.
Hazel checked a suitcase into storage, but no one ever found out why. There was a newspaper clipping in the case, a notice that said Edward LaVoie had departed for Chattanooga, Tennessee. Was Hazel’s suitcase awaiting her return for a trip to Tennessee?
Miss Drew was classy, polite and fashionable, and many men were fond of her. Her older brother Joseph said, ”Hazel was a pretty girl, and had many admirers. I am inclined to think she cared more for girls than for men.”
For all the answers that were found surrounding Hazel, there were still many unanswered questions, and in the end a murderer slipped away probably aware that among so many suspects, they would not be considered.
Source - TroyRecord
Stranger Than Fiction Stories by Marlene Pardo Pellicer