Michigan's Strychnine Saint: The Curious Case of Mrs. Mary McKnight


The spring of 1903 proved disastrous for the Murphy family.  On April 22, the infant Ruth Murphy died in her crib.  Within an hour, her mother, Gertrude, experienced a violent spasm before she, too, died.  Ten days later, John Murphy followed his wife and child to the grave after suffering from a crippling convulsion.  While neighbors whispered about a curse and physicians feared a contagious disease, Kalkaska County sheriff John W. Creighton and prosecuting attorney Ernest C. Smith searched for answers.  As they proved deeper into the suspicious deaths, they uncovered a wicked web of intrigue.  And at the center stood a widow in a black taffeta dress.