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StatNisland Nature Polly B.Part1 Marguerite Rivas sipoet sipoet1@aol.com Well guys, I got some goods on this Bodine case, let me tell you. I've been doing research and have barely scratched the surface. The bare facts are as follows:
On Christmas 1843 flames were discovered coming out of the kitchen of the house of Capt. George, Emmeline and little Ann Eliza Housman. Neighbors were summoned and the fire was put out. It was centered around the kitchen. In going through the charred remnants, two bodies were discovered, one of 24 year old Emeline Housman and her 20 month old daughter Ann Eliza. Both of them had been brutally slain and set afire. Upon first look, it had seemed that the fire was caused by the stove. However, the inside of the stove was cold and the outside was hot, indicating that the fire was started elsewhere. It would seem that the two bodies were placed on the bed and a fire started beneath them. Now just a caveat: I'm piecing this story together from a number of sources, so the ages of the victims, for example, might be called into question, but the bare facts seem the same in most of the sources. Both victims, it would seem were brutally slain (I've got some really horrible details but I'd rather not go into them here). Skull batterings, tied hands with mysterious black silk scarves tied in sailor's knots, a nearly severed, if not severed arm and worse. I think the baby was more horribly slaughtered from what I have read. Horrible most horrible.

Okay, now here's the deal, gang. It seems that the victim's husband ( and little victim's father) a Captain George W. Housman was away on a "sea voyage" to Virginia. I gather he was in the oyster business. He was apparently delayed and could not return in time for Christmas. Now Mrs. Housman is described as a "timid woman" who is afraid to sleep alone and is in the habit of either having a family member of her husband's sleep with her or of going home to her family, the Van Pelts when her husband is away. These two things would lead to her death and to a not so timely detection of said death, if you ask me. One of the people who stayed with Emeline on a regular basis was her husband's niece, Miss Eliza Ann (notice the inversion of the name of the murder victim)Bodine, daughter of Mary (Polly) Housman Bodine and her estranged husband Andrew Bodine. Mrs. Bodine and her daughter were staying with her parents, the Housmans (parents also to the captain) just a short distance away. From what I can reckon the Captain's House was near where the Willowbrook Expressway and Perkins Pancakes is now. It's gone. Well, on Christmas Eve Eliza Ann, for some reason stays at another relative's house and Polly stays with the mother and child in her stead. The next day, according to what I can piece together, Polly goes home to have breakfast with her parents, dawdles around a bit, I guess, and then prepares to make a trip to the city to see her son Albert, who is working for a druggist named Waite in Manhattan. Polly is in the habit of visiting once a fortnight. Okay, this Waite guy is going to turn up again like a bad penny, so if I lost you so far, just try to remember his name. There's conjecture that he's the "real killer" but who knows.
Now bear this in mind also, if you will. Polly is described in various sources as Housman's "widowed sister" or deserted wife. Most accounts indicating that she hadn't seen her husband for years who, according to some sources was in the habit of beating her and throwing her downstairs and the like. That's why she spent time at her own parent's house. Well, I did some research in surrogate's court and believe me the "widowed sister" thing is pure bunk.... more for that later.

Okay now, apparently Polly goes back to her sister-in-law's house and finds it empty and locked and figures that she went to her parent's the Van Pelts. Polly then takes the stage to the ferry to new York where she sees her son Albert and Waite. Polly was informed of the deaths on Tuesday, the day after she arrived at Waite's, returns to the island and coincidentally, her brother Capt. Houseman just happens to be on the same ferry. Aint' life something? He is then, I suppose, informed of the tragedy. Well here's the other thing. Before he left, the Captain had apparently been going around town telling people about this thousand dollars worth of silver coin that he had, and people were like, "whattsmadda wit him, he's tryin to get jumped or sumpin" (They really didn't say that exactly but I'm trying to put myself into the scene, a little poetic license, ya know). Word was out that he'd buried it somewhere, but the truth is, it was in a chest or something at his mother's house where Polly was staying; Polly had access to it as well as access to 1500 more at all times. It seems only the family really knew it was there. This fact would later help Polly, I guess" Now what was that Captain doing going abroad broadcasting his silver coins? Inquiring minds wanted to know -- for about a milisecond-- because everybody suspected Polly from the start -- tried and convicted at the get-go. None of the men could have done it? I'm tellin' you guys, I got a feelin' here. At one point PT Barnum called her the Witch of Staten Island and set up an exhibit in his wax museum right near where she was tried (for the second time) depicting her a hag, toothless and bloodthirsty a baby killer. And you thought the media of today was bad?? Anyway, there's a lot lot more I can tell you if you're interested. Tomorrow: Polly buys a hood and two mysterious green veils and declares that the one who robbed the place had done the crime.
Marguerite



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