What Really Happen to Effie?

EffiePAGEwebOn September 4, 1897, around midnight, Effie Copley of Hills Creek was shot in the head four times on the bank of what is now part of the Mansfield University campus.

Effie’s estranged husband, Walter Goodwin of Charleston, was accused of murdering her. Walter claimed that it was his 14-year-old girlfriend, Gertrude Taylor of Gaines, who pulled the trigger.

There are still questions about the murder and about Effie’s baby who disappeared immediately after birth.

The following detailed newspaper account of the trial of Effie’s alledged murderer is provided courtesy of  Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice.

Murder at Mansfield: Wellsboro Agitator, September 8, 1897

     Mrs. Effie Goodwin found by the roadside last Saturday nearly dead – she expired in the Blossburg Hospital Sunday morning – arrest of her husband – the inquest and the examination of Goodwin – evidences of a cruel plot and a cold-blooded murder.

Blossburg Hospital, 1895

Last Saturday afternoon there was a great sensation in Mansfield, Pennsylvania when it was learned that Mr. E.L. Palmer as he was driving into town had discovered the apparently dead body of a woman lying on the bank and covered with blood about 100 feet from the road on Sullivan street in the outskirts of the borough. Dr. W.D. Vedder and a number of persons went to the spot and found evidences of a struggle near the place where the body lay and blood trickling down the bank for a long distance. It was found that the woman was not dead, and she was taken to the house of Mr. S.G. Mudge, who lives nearest to the spot. Mr. C.J. Beach arrived and identified the woman as Mrs. Effie Goodwin, who had been employed as a domestic in his home for some time. A message was sent to the Cottage State hospital at Blossburg for an ambulance, and the woman was taken there that afternoon. She did not regain consciousness, and she died about six o’clock on Sunday morning. After her death the surgeons probed the wounds, and they found four bullets from a 32-caliber weapon lodged in the head. That the woman was enticed from the home of Mr. Beach and foully murdered there can be no doubt.

C.J. Beach, Photo Courtesy of Tri-Counties Genealogy and History by Joyce Tice

C.J. Beach, Photo Courtesy of Tri-Counties Genealogy and History by Joyce Tice

The Victim

Mrs. Goodwin was the daughter of Mr. William Copley, of Hill’s Creek, in Middlebury, near the Charleston line, and she was 22 years of age. On February 1896, she made an information before Justice Brewster, in this borough, charging Walter Goodwin with being the father of her unborn child. Goodwin was arrested and brought before the Justice. The case was not tried, but the parents of both parties appeared, and by agreement Effie and Walter were married by Justice Brewster. It is said that their child lived only a short time, and it was not many months after their marriage before Walter abandoned his wife entirely.
On May 31st of this year [1897] the young woman again appeared before Justice Brewster and made information that her husband had deserted her. Goodwin was arrested, and the next day he gave bail in the sum of $300 for his appearance at the approaching term of court, his father, Mr. J. Wesley Goodwin of Charleston, being his surety.
It is said the young Goodwin was very anxious that his wife should withdraw her suit. Last Thursday night he called at the house of Mr. Beach, in Mansfield, at a very late hour and had an interview with her regarding the matter; but it is understood that she stoutly refused to abandon the suit, because she had knowledge that he was running with a number of other girls and he was doing absolutely nothing towards her support.95966490_134599354462

The Husband’s Story

When the young wife was found fatally hurt, suspicion was at once turned to Walter Goodwin as a person who might have a motive for committing the crime. A warrant was issued at Mansfield for his arrest, and the officers arrested him at his father’s home on Hill’s Creek about nine o’clock on Saturday evening, it having been learned that he had spent the day in threshing on a farm near Stony Fork in Delmar township. Goodwin seemed to be quite unconcerned about his arrest, and he claimed that he would be able to prove an alibi. He said that he was 21 years of age, and he talked quite freely about his marriage and the death of Effie, and he did not show any regret for her sad end. He told about his marriage in 1896, and said he had not lived with his wife since last October. He said that the last time he saw Effie was Thursday evening at Beach’s at 10 o’clock. He drove home, a distance of ten miles, arriving there at 4 a.m. on Friday. He worked on the farm all day and in the evening went to Wellsboro. He spent a portion of the evening with Gertrude Taylor and returned home, arriving between 1 and 2 a.m. on Saturday. His wife arrested him for desertion so he went to Beach’s Thursday evening to see if she was going to push the case in the September term of court. He did not made an appointment to meet her again, saying he would write to her if he had anything to say. He did not see her after Thursday night.
C.J. Beach stated on Saturday afternoon to a reporter that Goodwin came to his house, where Mrs. Goodwin worked, after midnight Thursday, and stayed with her about an hour. About 9 o’clock Friday night he heard a door open in the house and he did not pay any attention to it at the time as Mrs. Goodwin told Mrs. Beach that she expected to meet her husband about that hour. He did not know that Mrs. Goodwin was missing until her room was visited Saturday morning. Walter was taken to Mansfield and placed in the lock-up until Monday, when his examination was held and he was committed to the county jail.

The New York Times

The New York Times

Click here to read the rest of this intriguing true story of mystery, sex and murder and what the jury decided.













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