Unsolved: Who Murdered Louise Carroll?

Carroll Family Plot, Old Saint Joseph’s Cemetery (AKA: Drury Run Cemetery)

“Are you sure you know where you’re going?” My father asked as I turned off Route 144 and immediately turned onto the narrow road that went uphill to the old cemetery located just west of Renovo. The walls of green that bordered both sides of the roadway made the road seem even narrower than what it was.

“Drury Run Cemetery,” I replied. I had been here years before and as the cemetery came into view I was disappointed to discover that since my last visit years ago it had been the victim of vandals. The official name of the hillside cemetery is Old Saint Joseph’s Cemetery, but to many the cemetery is simply known as Drury Run Cemetery or, as many newspaper articles call it, the cemetery at Drury Run.

“And who are we looking for?” my mother asked as I parked in front of the maintenance shed.

“Carroll,” I replied. I had been searching for the burial location of a young girl who had been murdered in 1915. I knew that she was buried here, but I had no clue of where she was within the cemetery. The cemetery records have her and her parents buried on this hillside, but I had not been able to discover among the genealogical records her exact resting place.

“Like that one?” mom inquired as I turned the vehicle off. A short distance up the hillside from where I parked was a large stone with the name Carroll engraved on it.

“Yeah, like that one.” I made my way up the hillside to the stone that marked a family plot. No other stones existed in the plot to show who exactly was buried in this piece of sacred ground. Examining the graves in nearby plots, I was positive that this was the place where the murdered girl rested.

As I stood there paying my respects, my mind drifted to a couple years ago when I received an email from a lady who asked: “Have you ever looked into the case of the murdered girl who is buried at Drury Run?” At the time, I did an initial investigation into the murder and failed to discover anything about any murder victim buried in the Drury Run Cemetery.

A couple years passed and in the spring of 2019 I received another email from the same lady. “Did you ever look into the murder of the girl buried in Drury Run Cemetery?” I replied I had looked into it when she had contacted me years ago, but had found nothing at the time. To be truthful, seeing I turned up nothing at the time, I had forgotten all about it. I replied, asking if she knew the name of the murder victim. “Carroll. Her name was Louise Carroll.”

The headlines of the July 30, 1915 edition of The Clinton County Times screamed Renovo Girl Murdered. Found in Road Unconscious and Died of Fractured Skull. The article told of the murder of Miss Louise Carroll, a murder that has been forgotten as the years have passed.

Even in the modern day, I could discover very little about the murder of Louise Carroll. Her death in Buffalo, New York made the Buffalo newspapers and also the newspapers of Clinton County, Pennsylvania, but apart from the initial articles, I could only find one follow-up article. As far as I can determine, her murder has never been solved.

Miss Louis Carroll was the daughter of William and Anna Carroll of Renovo. Louise had gone to Buffalo to visit a friend, Mrs. Prentiss – who was the wife of a Pennsylvania Railroad engineer – a couple weeks before her murder. While in Buffalo, Louise found employment at the home of Dr. Ray Johnson.

Note: There is a conflict of her exact age at the time of her murder. Newspapers state her age was twenty-five, but within a genealogical site, I discovered her name mentioned (but not the murder) and it lists her birth as being in 1886, which makes her twenty-nine at the time of the murder.

Miss Carroll was discovered near midnight on Tuesday, July 20 by Dr. D.C. Mackay (also spelled Mackey) along Broadway near the Buffalo city limits, close by to the dwelling place of her friend Mrs. Prentiss. Mackay’s group, which consisted of the doctor, his wife, and another male friend, had come upon a car stopped in the roadway ahead of them. As they approached, the red car sped away. Mackay discovered Carroll’s body in a pool of blood next to the road at the location where that car had been stopped. They gathered her unconscious body and took her to the nearest hospital. Before she died the next morning, Louise regained consciousness and stated her name and she was from Renovo.

Authorities initially believed that Louise was the victim of a hit-and-run accident and her body was prepared to be sent back to Renovo. The train carrying her body home was detained in Olean, New York on Thursday and Louise’s body was removed for a closer inspection. Medical Examiner Stoker of Buffalo stated that Louise had been murdered. Stoker believed that Louise’s death occurred by a blow to the base of her skull, which happened between 11:30 pm and 12 o’clock Tuesday night. With this evidence, authorities now believed the driver of the red car was in the process of dumping the body.

The identity of her killer(s) has not been solved, or at least not that I have discovered, but newspapers did present a motive for her murder. It was believed that Louise had witnessed the robbery of Dr. Johnson’s house and the burglars, in order to keep their identity a secret, killed Miss Carroll.

The exact date of the robbery is not clear. One account states it happened on June 20, but the other hints that Louise was abducted the night of the robbery and murdered. However, if the robbery did happen on the night Louise was discovered, then another question arises. One of the articles mentions that Miss Carroll spent the evening at her friend’s house. If Louise was abducted during the robbery that evening – as the article theorizes – then she could not have been spending the evening with her friend Mrs. Prentiss, as Mrs. Prentiss claimed.

One of the last mentions of the murder states Mrs. Prentiss and a Mrs. Wenrick were arrested and held as witnesses. They supposedly were seen helping an “apparently helpless girl” into a red car driven by a bearded man wearing a grey suit. This happened near Seneca and Wasson Streets.

Louise’s body was taken to Renovo on Saturday and was buried Monday morning at Drury Run.

The next mention of Louise’s murder was two weeks later, when Buffalo’s District Attorney asked Nellie Carroll to come identify an article of clothing that had been discovered in an abandoned vehicle near Abbott’s Corners, south of Buffalo, the night of Louise’s murder. Nellie did not think the article of clothing belonged to her sister.

Then nothing.

The news about the murder seems to have vanished into the mists of time. I scanned through numerous newspapers trying to find something – anything – as to what happened next and have not been able to find anything. Emails were sent out in hopes of finding out what happened, most of which have not been responded to.

But I did get an email and the response I got was not what I planned “I was informed you were looking for the grave of Louise Carroll. Yes she is buried in Drury Run Cemetery. It is only marked by a family stone and none of the family graves are marked in that plot. You really should let the Louise Carroll case lie. She’s at peace and the whole thing should be forgotten.”

I replied back asking why I should avoid researching the case. After all, it had been over one hundred years since the murder and anybody who might have been associated with the murder would be dead by now. I did not expect an answer, but was surprised to receive one. “Like you said, nobody’s looked into it for a hundred or so years, why start now? Everyone involved in it or has memory of it is dead and gone. It’d be best to let it rest now. Why bother bringing up a past that nobody wants to hear?”

My follow up email bounced back stating the email address is no longer valid. Did my writer know something that I had somehow missed? Note: If my writer is reading this, please message me.

As I stood there remembering the young lady buried here in an unmarked, forgotten grave, I was filled with questions that I could not answer. Who murdered her and why? Why did the newspaper quickly forget about her? What happened to the two ladies who were arrested and held as witnesses? I knew that the answers would not come easily.

As I made why way back to the vehicle, the words of Buffalo’s District Attorney Dudley entered my mind: “There seems at present to be little hope of a speedy clearing up of the mystery.” Over a hundred years later those words proved to be correct.

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