Sunday, June 5, 2011

Muriel Macey Tetzlaff - A scandal!

Gustave and Agnes Tetzlaff's sixth child (Dulcie Kennedy nee Tetzlaff's younger sister) was Muriel Macey Tetzlaff.  Born in 1907, Muriel was one of the lead characters in a news scandal in early 1926.  The details of her brush with death in early 1926 was recorded in the Evening Post, Volume CXI, Issue 6, 8 January 1926, Page 8:

Last night the Hamilton police received a telephone message from Ngaruawahia to the effect that a young woman, Muriel Tetzlaff, aged 19, was lying in a critical condition in a house in the township. Detective-Sergeant Sweeney and detective Culloty paid a visit to a boardinghouse, where they interviewed Roy Charles Dorn, aged 19 years, and as the result of the interview Dorn was taken to Ngaruawahia, where, at 11 o'clock last night the Court was opened and Dorn was charged with attempting to murder the girl. In the presence of two Justices, the accused, and the detectives, the girl's depositions were taken, by the Registrar of the Court at Hamilton, at the house where she lay. In a very lengthy statement the girl said she and Dorn were keeping company for the past two years, and in consequence of a certain condition she visited him at Hamilton on Wednesday night, where they had a long conversation relative to her condition, and plans for the future. They arranged that they should be married to-morrow, but owing to something he said she gathered that he did not love her. He asked her to call the following evening, and this she did, when he gave her certain things. He then shook hands with her and thanked her for what she was going to do for him. She later went to Ngaruawahia, where yesterday afternoon she took what he had given her. She became violently ill, and a doctor was called in.  As the result of her serious condition he communicated with the police. The accused was remanded to appear at Hamilton on 13th January, and bail was refused.

And in the Evening Post, Volume CXI, Issue 26, 1 February 1926, Page 6:

When Roy Charles Dorn, who is awaiting trial for the alleged attempted murder of Muriel Tetzlaff, admitted the theft of a dozen knives, suitcase, and a ring from Fow and Co. at the Police Court this morning, counsel asked that Dorn be given a short term of hard labour, so that he would have some kind of company, which would be preferable to the mental strain of solitary confinement while awaiting trial on the more serious charge. The Magistrate (Mr. Wilson) said he could not consider what accused wanted, but what was best in the interests of the accused and the community. Accused had been convicted of theft two years ago. He was not a novice. He had to treat him as a man charged with a very serious crime. He thought the proper course was to postpone sentence till the attempted murder charge was disposed of.

Accused was convicted and ordered to come up for sentence on 3rd March. During the hearing of this case Detective Culloty produced a plug of gelignite and a fuse which the detective said were found in accused's possession when he was arrested.

Caught up in the drama of it all, NZ Truth of course printed a fulsome article outlining the whole affair.  NZ Truth , Issue 1054, 4 February 1926, Page 7.  NZ Truth never shied away from 'telling it like it was' and didn't seem to subscribe to discretion:


Did Dorn Persuade His Sweetheart To Poison Herself For His Sake? 
(From "Truth's" Ngaruawahia Representative.) 
"I love you, dear, better than life itself, and for that reason lam going to leave you free. In years to come please do not forge the little fool who loved you not wisely but only too well. "

SHE sat in court a pale, wan, little figure with a wistful face and told her story clearly and frankly, yet with obvious difficulty, for she had only that morning been allowed to rise from her bed in the Waikato Hospital. 

Since January 8 she had lain in danger of death through having drunk a quantity of ammonia and taken several sticks of cordite, which, she said, had been supplied to her by her former lover and the father of her unborn child, Roy Charles Dorn, for the purpose of ending her life. 

Her name was Muriel Tetzlaff, aged 19, and her parents reside at Huntly. The story she told the Hamilton Bench last week, when she appeared as the chief witness against Dorn, who was charged with attempting to murder her, was of a most unusual nature. Detective-Sergeant Sweeney outlined the facts of the case. Dorn' and the girl had been keeping company for a couple of years. About three months ago the girl discovered that- she was pregnant, and told Dorn of her condition. He suggested certain means by which, she might get out of her trouble, and finally she went to live with her sister at Manawaru, near Te Aroha. 

Wedding Arranged 
Dorn at that time was working as a salesman in Fow's auction mart at Hamilton, and he paid her occasional week-end visits.  She pressed him to marry her, and finally he invited her down to Hamilton and bought a wedding ring, which he gave to her, and told her to pose as his wife. This she did. 

Finally, her parents, doubting the validity of the supposed marriage, took Dorn to task, and after an interview with Muriel's father, Dorn obtained marriage forms from the Registry Office. Dorn and the girl filled in the marrage form, and on the night of January 6 they talked the matter over and apparently decided to get married the following Saturday. He asked her if she still loved him, and she replied that she did. When she asked him if he still loved, her, he answered that he cared for her "all right," but that he did not love her, as the only girl he loved was in Gisborne, and he could not go on with the marriage. 

Dorn their threatened to drink a quantity of ammonia, but the girl prevented him from doing so. He said that unless she drank it, he would.  She declared that she would rather drink it than let him do so, and he then asked her to write a letter stating that she did it of her own free will. This she did, but subsequently tore the letter up and asked him to leave, the matter over till the morning. 

He Thanked Her 
He stayed with her that night, leaving early in the morning, but called at "Almadale," the boardinghouse where she was staying, on his way to work. He then brought her a pen and paper, and told her to call at the auction mart for the bottle. She called later and he gave her a bottle of ammonia- and some small sticks of cordite, which he told her to take.  He then shook hands with her and thanked her for what she was, going to do for him. 

The girl left and went to friends at Ngaruawahia, where, later in the day, she 'first' took the cordite and then the ammonia. She became violently ill and her life was despaired of for some time. 

Muriel Tetzlaff, who was very pale and obviously far from well, spoke with difficulty as she sat m a chair closely attended by her mother while giving her evidence. She stated that after Dorn had said he loved another girl in Gisborne, and could not go on with the marriage, he took a small bottle of ammonia from his pocket and told her he would take it.  Removing the cork, he put the bottle up to his mouth, and when she thought he was really going to drink it she knocked his hand away.  Dorn declared that unless she drank it he would, and he handed her the bottle. 

"A Black Streak" 
She asked if it would burn her throat, and he replied that it would not, though it might make her cough. He asked her first to write a note saying that what she did was of her own free will.  This she did, but later she tore up the letter and asked him to give her till the morning to think it over.  Dorn then told her she "had a black streak in her," meaning that she was afraid to take it. She said she would take it the following day.  

He also showed her a larger bottle, and said that this also contained ammonia. He stayed with her that night, and several times she asked him to change his mind, but he replied that nothing would make him go on with the marriage. When she went round to the mart about nine o'clock that morning Dorn handed her the bottle and some small sticks of cordite. He told her to take three or four sticks and to take the ammonia with it "to make sure of it." He asked her if there was anything he could do for her, and on her replying that there was not, he asked her if she would keep her promise about taking the stuff, as, if she did not, he would take the contents of the larger bottle. He then shook hands with her and thanked her for what she was going to' do for him. 

"The Little Fool" 
On the notepaper which Dorn had previously given her, Muriel wrote the following letter, which was later found in her possession: 

"My darling Boy,—  "After what you told me last night I can't go on. "I love you, dear, better than life itself, and for that reason 1 am going to leave you free. "Please, Roy, in years to come, do not altogether forget the little fool."

On Dorn's persuasion, she said, she had, previously written a letter which he promised to show to no one but his mother, to the effect that he was not the father of her unborn child.  Dorn said his mother was going to Melbourne, and he wanted to send her the letter so that she should not worry.  

About this time accused went to Auckland and asked her if she would give him all the letters he had written her.  He said that if she would do so he would return her the letter in which she stated that he was not the father of her child. She sent him the letters, but  he did not return the other one as he had promised. 

"Heartless Cruelty" 
When Dorn gave her the cordite he said he had got it out of a .303 cartridge, as he knew men who had taken cordite to get out of going to the war. He added: "Cordite stops the heart."  

Medical evidence as to the girl's condition after taking the cordite and ammonia was given by Dr. Martin, who stated that at the time he was called m the girl was in immediate danger of death. 

The Government analyst, Mr. Griffen, said that had prompt medical aid not been available, the girl would probably have died.  Detective Culloty said that on searching Dorn's bedroom at "Hazelwood" boardinghouse, where he stayed, he found a "large number of letters from Miss Tetzlaff, and several written by Dorn to the girl.  In some of these her condition was discussed, and Dorn urged her to do what she could to "get out of the fix."  

In one of her letters the girl accused.  Dorn of "heartless cruelty," and asked him whether he was "utterly devoid of sympathy and conscience."  She declared that she would rather he had struck her down than have written as "cruelly and insultingly" as he had.  

"Oh, God," the letter continued, "it hurts so when I love, and trusted you with all my heart and soul, and then for you to let me see in such a cruel way that you wanted to leave me to face everything alone."  

The detective read a long statement made to him by accused on the night on which he was first charged with attempted murder. Dorn said that after Muriel had told him that. he was responsible for her pregnancy her father and mother came to see him. 

Last Night Together 
He showed them a note in which she said he was not the father of her child, but they would not believe that she wrote it.  Dorn said he did not induce her to write the note. He denied that he asked her to take the ammonia and cordite. She told him, he said, that she knew he did not really love her, and that was why she had attempted her life before. She said she was just taking ammonia when Dr. Martin walked into the room. 

Accused added that he told her he did not want her to poison herself, and that he would rather take the ammonia himself. Muriel, however, said that it was no good her living without him and having a child with no one to look after it and give it a name. This conversation took place the night before she took the stuff. She asked him if he would stay the night with her, as that would be the last night they would have together, and he told her he would stop with her to please her. 

When, next morning, he handed her the bottle of ammonia, he did hot think she was going to take it, as he thought she would change her mind. It was not true, as he had previously stated, that he gave her the stuff to take inkstains out of her dress. He had another lady friend m Gisborne, but was not keeping company with her. He did not desire to disclose her name. 

Bail Refused 
Accused, who had nothing to say, reserved his defence, and was committed for trial.  On behalf of Dorn, Mr. Tompkins asked for bail, but the Bench regarded the charge in a more serious light than one of attempted murder by bludgeoning, and refused to grant the request. Accused was then charged with the theft of a quantity of cutlery, the property of Fow and Co., where he was employed, and which was found in his room.  He was convicted and/ordered to come up for sentence on March 3.

The verdict came on 26 February 1926:

(By Telegraph.—Press Association. HAMILTON, 26th February.
A young man, Roy Charles Dorn, stood in the dock at the Supreme Court to-day, charged with attempting the murder of Muriel Tetzlaff on 7th January, and with counselling her to commit suicide. The major charge was withdrawn before: the case went to the jury. The prisoner pleaded not guilty.

Muriel Tetzlaff was attended by her mother, but Mr. Tompkins, for the prisoner, objected to the too close attendance by the parent, stating that in the lower Court the mother had noticeably prompted her daughter in certain answers. The mother was permitted to remain, but at some distance from the girl. Brokenly the girl told her story along the lines of the evidence given in the lower Court. Dorn told her he could not marry her, as the only girl he loved lived in Gisborne. She wrote a letter to Dorn to the effect that she was going to leave him free and get out of' the world. She wrote, as follows to Mrs. Dorn: "Dear Mrs Dorn,
— I promised Roy that I would not write to you again, but I think he will forgive me under the circumstances. When you receive this I will probably be where I will be no further bother to anyone. I know you practically hate me, but I learned to love you as dearly as if you were my own mother, and you have no idea how it hurt me to know you disliked me so. My father was going to force Roy to marry me, but I love Roy, and I thank God my love is not selfish, so I am taking the only way out to save Roy. So this is good-bye, and God bless you and, Roy.—Your broken-hearted friend, Muriel." 

The letter to her mother read:—"Dear Mother, —When you receive this I will probably be beyond recall. I only hope to God I am. Roy went with dad yesterday, and got the thing fixed up, and yesterday afternoon he got a letter from that girl in Gisborne, and owned up to me that he had been down there at Christmas, so last night he came and told me he could not go on with it. He said he would rather die than tell her anything. He said that it was either him or I that would have to do it, because he would never marry me. So, mum, I can't bear it. I told him I would, mum. I love Roy better than life itself, so I can't go on without him and bear the shame. As soon as it's over ring him up; and tell him, dear. Give my love to all.—Your broken-hearted daughter, Muriel." The girl stated in another letter that she wrote her letter to Dorn, in her sound mind, and she had added that she could not ruin the man she loved by letting him marry her when she knew he loved someone else. Under cross-examination, witness said she had on more than one occasion threatened to take her life, but this was only to frighten Dorn into marrying her. She had no intention, however, of committing suicide.

Dr. Martin, of Ngaruawahia, -- said that when he called on Muriel Tetzlaff she was in immediate danger of death. Dorn gave evidence admitting intimacy with the girl. He always intended to marry her, but was unable owing to his financial position to do so at the time. On one occasion when she was pressing him to marry her, she put several moth balls in her mouth. He seized her by the throat and forced her to eject them. She threatened suicide on several occasions. On the night before she attempted her life she said she knew he did not love her, and the best thing was to end things. She asked him if he had any poison.  He tried to persuade her against attempting her life. She seemed determined to commit suicide, however, and he gave her the cordite, thinking it would merely give her a headache and frighten her. The ammonia was weak, and he did not expect it to kill her, or even that she would take it. So contradictory was the prisoner's evidence, compared with the statement given to the police when arrested, that the Crown Solicitor was given leave to attack the prisoner's credibility. The prisoner was questioned as to previous convictions for theft, which he admitted.

After a retirement of fifteen minutes the jury brought in a verdict of guilty. Mr. Justice Stringer, in passing sentence, said the prisoner had been found guilty of a cruel, cowardly, and contemptible crime. It was very fortunate for the prisoner that the law allowed him to be charged on the minor offence. The maximum sentence of two years was passed.

I have yet to find out what happened to Muriel or her baby.

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