The Camden Mystery.

Murder Nurse Stock Photo

Philadelphia Inquirer – January 28, 1889

Nurse Eisenhardt Describes the Murderous Assault.

Doubt As to the Means of Escape

The Night Watchman Gives His Statement, and the Police Admit That As Yet They Have No Clue.

Although it has been two days since Annie Eisenhardt, the night nurse of the Cooper Hospital, Camden, was murderously assaulted in the bath room of that institution, the police are as much mystified as to who the fiend was as ever. Prosecutor [Wilson H.] Jenkins and Mayor Pratt have made every possible effort to get at the facts of the affair, but up to a late hour last night they had not succeeded in securing a single clue.

Story of the Crime.

Miss Eisenhardt was attacked at about twenty minutes to 1 on Saturday morning by a man in the bath room of the male ward, on the second floor. In telling her distressing story she said: “Just as I entered a man sprang upon me and said: ‘I want some money.’ I told him I had no money, but he could have my watch. He replied he did not want that, and, seizing a towel from the roller and drawing it around my neck commenced choking me.

“I screamed, and he pulled the towel tighter. He then threw me down on the floor and tied my wrists and ankles with a piece of twine, after which he attempted to assault me, but I frustrated his fiendish design by struggling. The stranger then pulled a sharp instrument from his pocket and cut my hair off, and then commenced to slash at me with the instrument he had pulled from his pocket.

“He also tried to throw me out of the window, but was prevented from doing so by my struggling with him. He then snatched my jewelry and as he went out of the bath room window I became unconscious.”

Did He Escape from the Window?

The only window in the institution that was found unfastened was the window in the room where the assault occurred. This was up, and a rope made of strips of toweling was found dangling from the window sill.

Here is where the mysterious part of the crime commences. Officer Williams upon arriving on the scene, tested the strength of this rope, and says that he hardly attached to it the weight of twenty-five pounds before it parted. This he thought proved conclusively that no one ever made his escape by sliding down the knotted towels.

Another strange part of the story is the fact that the ground beneath the bath-room window was soft and smooth, and had any one slid down the toweling or jumped from the window foot prints would certainly have been discovered on the ground. No foot prints, however, were to be seen.

What the Watchman Says.

Early on Saturday morning Joseph Ellis, the engineer and night watchman, was summoned to the City Hall and in the presence of Mayor Pratt, Prosecutor Jenkins and the Chief of Police made this statement:

“About twenty-five minutes of 1 o’clock this morning (Saturday) I met Miss Eisenhardt on my rounds in the ward on the second floor. I then went into the convalescing room and commenced talking to a patient named Buchanan about seeing a strange man about the building the night before.

“My conversation was interrupted by the patient, who said there must be a new arrival, as he had heard groans. I next started down into the engine room, but my progress down stairs was arrested by groans coming from the bath room. Going in, I found Miss Eisenhardt lying upon the floor bleeding. I was only twenty-five feet away from where the assault occurred, and had there been any altercation or outcry I must have heard it.”

The watchman concluded his statement by giving it as his opinion that some one in the institution committed the assault or Miss Eisenhardt’s wounds were inflicted by her own hand.

Miss Eisenhardt is 30 years of age. She came to the Cooper Hospital about three months ago from the Jewish Hospital, this city. She described her assailant as being about 150 pounds in weight, and even in the hurry and confusion of the struggle she noted that he had a black mustache and wore a black cap and black overcoat.

What the Officials Say.

Mayor Pratt said to an Inquirer reporter yesterday that the crime was still as much of a mystery to the police as when first reported.” I have made every available effort,” he said, “to get at the bottom of the affair, but thus far have failed. My opinion is that Miss Eisenhardt knows more than she tells.”

Chief of Police Dodd, when asked yesterday if the police were working on any clue, replied: “Sunday is a day of rest, so we will rest to-day and go to work on the case again to-morrow.”

Prosecutor Jenkins and Dr. Jarrett, the resident physician of the hospital, were closeted with the injured nurse for nearly an hour yesterday. Both said that she gave no further details, but merely reiterated her former statement.

Miss Eisenhardt says that she has no friends in this country, but that while she was at the Jewish Hospital a man, whose name she refused to divulge, had wanted her to marry him.

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