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Prison Stories May/June 1931

The White Moll

By Henry Leverage

Bradshaw, the D. A., was a born framer—and he was getting away with it until The White Moll decided to clear up a couple of things—including the innocence of Grace Darling, a young widow, who was sentenced to hang for murder!

IN CENTERVILLE, as in many other cities, there was the usual saying that there were more crooks in the courthouse and the district attorney's office than there were in the county prison.

In the mind of the public that statement was merely a rumor over which it was polite to smile, and about which nothing was ever done. To the thoughtful attaches in courthouse circles and the district attorney's office there was a suspicion of truth in the saying. To Alice Cosgrove the statement was a fact.

For more than a year Alice Cosgrove had bided her time, waiting for the chance to prove to herself, and any other persons who were not totally blind mentally, that the oft-repeated statement was true of the district attorney's office. The chance came in the case of the State vs. Grace Darling.

As District Attorney Jason Bradshaw's private secretary, Alice Cosgrove was in a position to study the evidence which Bradshaw and his assistant, Elliot, presented in court. But the very nature of her position made it dangerous for her to openly oppose the ruthless tactics of Bradshaw.

From the day he took office, Bradshaw had set out to make a record of convictions. His one ambition was to be a judge, a hanging judge. In his present capacity he had started several men on their way to the scaffold, and had obtained a long list of convictions on various minor charges.

That part of his record was public. What was not generally known was that the tyrannous Bradshaw framed evidence and grafted on the side—selling suspended sentences or seeing that indictments were quashed for a price. And the price was never low.

SEVERAL times Alice Cosgrove had suspected that prisoners who had been prosecuted by Bradshaw had been convicted on framed-up evidence. In other cases, she was certain that Bradshaw had received large sums to allow known gangsters to escape the punishment decreed by law.

But knowing those things and being able to prove them were two different matters. And Alice Cosgrove had no desire to lose her job. Bradshaw paid her thirty-five dollars a week and as an employee of the district attorney's office, she had free run of the county prison which adjoined the courthouse.

So she kept her thoughts to herself and dispensed kindness and cheer to those prisoners who seemed worthy of a better break than they were apt to get from Bradshaw, if they couldn't pay his prices for freedom or light sentences.

Late afternoon often saw Alice Cosgrove in the prison, taking a book to one prisoner, some fruit to another, and sometimes cigarettes to those men who lacked the little money necessary to buy even that slight luxury. But she never said anything about her visits while in the district attorney's office.

For through her kindness Alice Cosgrove had become known to the prisoners as a White Moll—a square shooter who tried to temper injustice with kindness. Secretly Alice was proud of the name— the White Moll. But she made no open accusations until Grace Darling was arrested for the murder of Robert Ames.

Grace Darling was a young widow, attractively pretty, but practically penniless. Robert Ames was the orphan son of rich parents, a playboy around town, and known as the most genial host in the city.

At one time he had lavished attention upon Grace Darling, but for several months prior to his death he had seen her only occasionally, usually when she attended one of the frequent parties that he gave at his sumptuous home on Dexter Street.

It was after one of those parties that Ames had been mysteriously shot and killed. Testimony of servants and other guests placed Grace Darling as the last person to leave Ames' house that night.

Questioned by detectives, the woman had admitted that she had left Ames shortly before two o'clock the morning of the murder. Doggedly she insisted that she had returned immediately to her own home in the northern part of the city.

Mrs. Darling's housekeeper, however, told the detectives that her mistress had not returned that night until four o'clock. The housekeeper was certain of the time, declaring emphatically that she heard a clock strike four just after Mrs. Darling had entered the house.

District Attorney Bradshaw, seeing a chance to further enhance his reputation for convictions, ordered Mrs. Darling's arrest, and she was held in the county prison without bail.

To Bradshaw it was an open and shut case. Ames had been shot sometime after three-thirty in the morning. The night watchman on his estate had seen him at that time. Grace Darling was the only one of the guests who could not account for her movements from the time she left Ames' house until she arrived at her own home at four o'clock as stated by her own housekeeper.

With Mrs. Darling in prison, Bradshaw was jubilant. Here was a case to his liking. There was a plain motive—the woman scorned. The evidence was not very strong at first, but Bradshaw's detectives manufactured enough to convict the most innocent person.

And a...

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