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Mary E. Westrope
Birth name Mary E. McFatter
Born September 1864
Died

September 8, 1902(1902-09-08) (aged 37)
Greenville, Mississippi, United States

Cause of death Suicide
Penalty Found to be insane
Parents William Alexander McFatter
Margaret J. Hudson McFatter
Spouse(s) Benjamin Louis Westrope
Attack information
Date June 15, 1902
Location(s) Brandywine, Mississippi, United States
Target(s) Family
Killed 6
Weapon(s) Winchester rifle
Arson

Mary E. "Mollie" Westrope was an American woman who killed six of her children near Brandywine, Claiborne County, Mississippi, United States on June 15, 1902.[1][2][3][4][5]

Westrope was born in September 1864 as the daughter of William Alexander and Margaret J. McFatter. On February 16, 1892 she married Benjamin Louis Westrope, who already had a daughter from a previous marriage with a woman named Martha O. McBride, or McBrier, and had six children with him, the last being their daughter Nellie, who was born on April 9, 1902, two months before the murders.[6][7]

On the afternoon of June 15, 1902 Mrs. Westrope pretended to be sick, when her husband Louis and her stepdaughter Annie E. were about to go to church, and as soon as they were out of house she sent away the farm hands on various pretexts. Subsequently she called five of her children into the yard and sent them to play behind the barn, keeping only her oldest son by her side and ordering him to retrieve a Winchester rifle from the house. When he returned she told him to stand at the fence with his back to her, wherupon she shot him in the head. After dragging his body into the cotton storehouse she called one child after the other to kill them in the same manner. (According to some sources she killed four of the children in the seedhouse and her 12-year-old son in the yard when he tried to escape.)[8]

Having dispatched five of her children Mrs. Westrope went back to the house, where she tied her 2-months-old daughter to a bed and then set fire to the building, leaving her child to burn therein. Afterwards she grabbed her rifle and fled into the woods, where she tore off the blood-stained parts of her clothes. Neighbours rushed to the blazing farm house, soon discovered the murdered children, and formed a posse to search for her. They saw Mrs. Westrope three times running through the woods, but when they were about to close in on her she threatened them with her rifle and escaped.[9]

Westrope fled to a country graveyard where she spent the night. When she was found there by the posse the next afternoon she shot herself below the heart and was taken to hospital in serious condition. During interrogation she stated she did not know how she ended up at the graveyard, nor could she remember that she had killed her children.[10][11][12][13]

Westrope, who allegedly suffered from postpartum psychosis, was found to be mentally ill[14] and sent to an asylum, where she again attempted to commit suicide. According to her doctors she alternated between moments of insanity and sanity, in which she would be oppressed by melancholy and horror over the murders. Nonetheless she was declared sane after about a month at the institution and released on September 8. The same night she wrote a suicide letter and drowned herself in the Mississippi River at Greenville.[15][16][17]

VictimsEdit

  • Lewis Lamar Westrope, 9, her son
  • Jewel McWillie Westrope, 7, her son
  • Mattie Margaret Westrope, 6, her daughter
  • Joseph Dewey Westrope, 4, her son
  • Mary Lou Westrope, 2, her daughter
  • Nellie Westrope, 2 months, her daughter

ReferencesEdit

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