Poison—Everybody’s Doing It!

poisonJanuary 8, 1927
Los Angeles

Yesterday’s news told of poison booze victim Dennis Cavanaugh. Now it looks like everybody’s trying to get into the act. Take, for example, Mrs. Helen Delamere, who in court papers filed today claims that her husband, P.F. Delamere, has been trying to poison her for several years. First there was the time he tried to get her to eat some poisoned pie. Mrs. Delamare’s nurse wouldn’t let her—but when the nurse ate it (waste not, want not!), she became ill. When on several occasions Mrs. Delamere consumed chicken and soup prepared by her hubby, sickness followed. And when Mrs. D, her sister, and mother nibbled on sandwiches made by the sinister Mr. D—-you guessed it—-the ladies were seized by illness.

Even Aimee Semple McPherson has been gripped by the poison fad. Suspicion was aroused today when a man hurried into a downtown messenger bureau carrying a brown package tied with purple string addressed to the evangelist and marked “rush delivery.” The man then refused to leave the office until the package was dispatched. Due to his erratic behavior, the delivery service sent a messenger boy out with the package, but instructed him to double around the block. The sender (who paid in cash and did not state his name) followed awhile, then disappeared. In the interim, the police were called.

The officers immediately suspected “an infernal machine,” but when the package and a burning dynamite cap were placed side by side, nothing happened. The cops thereupon opened the box and discovered it was filled with candied figs—sweetmeats now suspected of being poisoned. They await analysis by the city chemist.

The Continuing Saga of Aimee Semple McPherson

Aimee Semple McPherson

July 24, 1927
Echo Park

Relations between evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson and her mother, Mrs. Minnie "Ma" Kennedy, are reported to be on the mend today after a recent dust-up concerning the management of McPherson’s Angelus Temple. Kennedy had been acting as business manager while Sister Aimee was off on a preaching tour, but a series of burglaries (whispers said embezzlements) caused some church members—her daughter apparently among them—to lose confidence in Kennedy’s abilities. Sister Aimee cut her trip short earlier this week and returned to Los Angeles, where yesterday she announced that her mother was going to take a "long needed" vacation to the Holy Land.

Today, however, Sister Aimee presented her mother with three options by way of a peace pact. Mrs. Kennedy could either (1) remain at the church but not in a managerial position; (2) take control of the entire organization while Sister Aimee founded a new and separate church; or (3) retire from all active participation in the church and receive "a substantial income from Angelus Temple" for the rest of her life.

Mrs. Kennedy declined comment (though reporters noted her tearful visage). It is anticipated she will choose the first option. Sister Aimee meanwhile emphatically denied any personal animosity between the women (seen here reunited, along with Aimee’s children, after last year’s "kidnapping") or even that anyone had tried to oust her mother from the church in the first place.

In another blow to the scandal-plagued evangelist, former Angelus Temple band leader Gladwyn Nichols today announced his reasons for leaving McPhersons’s church to found his own, chief among them being Sister Aimee’s "sensational" alleged abduction of last May. Nichols also pointed to alleged financial improprieties at Angelus Temple, and condemned Sister Aimee’s "flagrant … activities in obtaining publicity" including "posing before the news camera in stylish and expensive dresses" and "being photographed with bobbed hair."

Diver Down

April 20, 1927
Los Angeles

When evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson, the anointed queen of Echo Park’s Angelus Temple, went to Ocean Park Beach last May 18 and faked her own disappearance so she could run off with a boyfriend, even she could not have anticipated the hysteria that followed. For while her theological appearances were occasion for outpourings of public adoration, in vanishing, she moved into a new realm of fame.

Congregants promptly offered a $25,000 reward for the return of their favorite alive, though she was widely presumed drowned. Word of the reward passed like quicksilver among the community of professional divers, perhaps without the "alive" clause appended. One of these, Edgar Harrison, was already in town from Catalina to testify in an insanity case, and stopped off on his way home to take a dive off the end of amusement laden Lick Pier on May 25, where no sign of the missing woman was found. The water pressure exacerbated an attack of appendicitis, and Harrison died in agony. By the time Aimee stumbled out of the desert crying kidnap (a lie that was soon exposed), Edgar Harrison was in his grave.

Today, his widow Edna sat in court seeking $500 in death benefits that had been denied by the State Industrial Accident Commission, which claimed that Harrison was acting as a private citizen when he went diving for Aimee’s reward. Edna countered that her husband was operating under orders when he received his injuries, and further that she had been receiving threatening letters, ostensibly from the City of Los Angeles, suggesting that she seek payment from McPherson and Angelus Temple, and leave the city out of it.

McPherson’s mother Minnie Kennedy took the stand, and said she had known nothing of Edgar Harrison’s dive until she was invited to attend his funeral, and that she had sent flowers and $500 to the widow, the latter which was returned. Edna countered that indeed $500 had been proffered, by two "impudent" representatives of the Temple, but that when she suggested they talk with her lawyer they had snatched the money away, called her "a bitter woman" and stalked off.

Edgar Harrison was survived by two young children, Edgar Jr. and Lois.