Murder in Cross: December 6, 1881


Madelaine St. James was an eccentric. Even for Cross. She was a widow, her husband, Daniel, having committed suicide less than a year into their marriage. Some say it was her sharp tongue and acerbic wit, which drove him to it. I know for a fact that Daniel was a drunk who quite literally challenged an ongoing train to a fight.

Madelaine enjoyed the company of only her dog and brought him everywhere with her. She spoke only to him and often asked his opinion about various items she intended to purchase. Several times she attacked random individuals in the street because they looked askance at her dog and there was, for a brief time, talks about putting her away.

In December of 1881, she took to chasing people off her street when she saw them walking, and the police had to inform her that she was not allowed to do so. Her defense was that she didn’t want them sullying the ground where her dog walked. The police told her, in no uncertain terms, that she needed to stop. For several days, she did, but on December 6, she did something far worse.

I was escorting a friend of mine home. A young lady whom I was, I readily confess, rather smitten with. As we strolled through a gentle snow, discussing what the future might hold, Madelaine came out onto her porch and shot us both with her deceased husband’s revolver.

The bullet passed through my arm and into my dear friend’s chest, killing her.

As Madelaine screamed obscenities at me, I laid my friend in the street, turned, and walked up to Madelaine’s porch, where she tried but failed to fire a second round.

On the street behind me, people raced from their homes, and by the time they reached my friend, I had disarmed Madelaine St. James. She started to tell me that I was trespassing, and I blew off her lower jaw with her husband’s weapon.

I did not finish her off. Instead, I stood there and watched her die, her dog feeding on the scraps of her jaw which littered the porch floor.

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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