March 11, 1912


Words can kill.

Floyd and Allen Tibbetts learned this on March 11, 1912.

The father and son knew hard times. They had worked as both detectives and hired guns in all the New England states, and there was little difference between them and the criminal element as far as most law enforcement agencies were concerned.

They arrived in Cross on March 9, staking out the home of Judge Henry Mather. According to information gathered after the fact, the Tibbetts had been hired to execute Mather’s 13-year-old daughter, Erica.

On the morning of March 11, an opportunity presented itself for the killers to do just that. Erica and the maid, Ms. Mary McNernay, were left alone in the home.

Floyd and Allen entered the house through the back door, armed only with knives, certain that they would be able to carry out the task with little fuss.

They succeeded in ascending the stairs to the second floor before they were noticed by Mary, who attempted to lock herself and Erica in the master bedroom.

The men forced the door, sending Mary stumbling back in the process.

Erica sat on her parents’ bed, unfazed by the intrusion. As the men advanced upon her, she began to sing.

Mary could not understand the words, but they were, according to her later testimony, “Sweet and angelic.”

Floyd and Allen would have disagreed.

The men flew into a violent frenzy, turning on one another with their knives.

Their fight was short and brutal; each man eviscerating the other.

As they lay dying on the floor, Erica climbed off the bed, stood between the men and watched them bleed out.

When asked what she had sung to them, Erica smiled and replied, “Their death song.”

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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