3 1833 03334 7896
Gc 929.2 H65901k
Keippel, Lee W,
The deaths of David and
Romie "Doc" Hodell . . .
Digitized by the Internet Archive
in 2010 with funding from
Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center
Allen County Public Library
900 Webster Street
PO Box 2270
Fort Wayne, IN 46801-2270
I spent all my summers as a child with my grandparents, Frank and Marie Keippel at their
place on 3 Mile Road, now owned by Don and Marie Maxson. My exploring of the
woods and my bowhunting took me many times into the area that was referred to as the
"Swamp". I never remember it being called the "Dudgeon Swamp" although I recall
hearing a little of the story from my grandparents. It was not until I was an adult, that
Don and Marie Maxson related what they knew of the Hodell murders, which sparked the
curiosity to research the 1922 incident. I knew two of the "lynch mob", Fred Nestle and
Fred Anderson. William J. Branstrom was my grandparent's attorney.
I remember in the early sixties, before I entered the military, reading and seeing pictures of
the trial in a magazine. I thought it was either "Look" or "Life", but after many hours at
the library, I was unsuccessful in finding this article.
I am not a writer, and I have not attempted to write the a story of what I have discovered,
but rather lis; 'n chronological order the event that took place taken from newspaper
articles and prison records. I have transcribed what I have read, not changing wording or
spelling or inserting my opinion. I have satisfied my curiosity and have typed out this
"outline" for friends, who wanted to know what I had discovered.
I would be very interested in the opinions of readers who may have a different slant on
what took place.
The Dudgeon Family came from Allen County, Indiana and settled near the town
of Holton, Michigan before arriving in White Cloud, Michigan in 1905, where they traded
their Holton farm for two parcels of land equaling 1280 acres, 5 miles northeast of White
Cloud in Goodwell Township, Newaygo County, which at one time was called "Big Bear
Swamp". The Dudgeons reported seeing many bears on their property (Sections 21 , 29,
and 30). Charles H. Dudgeon and Alice Dudgeon had five children: Lee, Wilmer,
Herman, Lola, and Meady. A sixth child, a daughter called "Z" had died earlier.
The Dudgeons began to raise breeder livestock for income on their property which
they referred to as "The Ranch". Their neighbors, who found the Dudgeons hard to deal
with and bullish, called the property "The Dudgeon Swamp". There was a certain amount
of resentment and jealousy in the rural community caused by the Dudgeon attitude and
being able to purchase such a large parcel of land. The Dudgeons were one of the first to
own a new electric truck.
Since there were no buildings on the land, they occupied a sha ity a few miles from
the property while they built their house. Charles and Alice Dudgeon with their son, Lee,
built a two stor>' house with a porch containing four rooms, two downstairs and two
upstairs. The floors were made of rough ash boards and the partitions between the rooms
were very crude and covered with sheets of newspaper. The stairs leading upstairs were
so steep they could be considered a ladder. The rough boards outside were covered with
tarpaper and strips of lathe. The family moved into the house before the windows or
doors were installed. The house was never finished.
The washboard road that ran past the property was a corduroy or log road covered
with dirt and had many chuck holes. The old stagecoach road from Grand Rapids to Big
Rapids crossed the Dudgeon property diagonally. There were remnants of the burned out
Graves lumber camp near the Dudgeon house. The White River originated on the
Only eight hundred of the twelve hundred acres were fenced when Dudgeon
occupied the land, so when he fenced the remaining four hundred acres, the neighbors,
who had been using it to graze their cattle, were incensed and cut the wires to let the
Dudgeon stock out.
Charles Dudgeon mortgaged part of his land for $350. down payment on Fred
Riblet's eighty acres, which was a quarter mile west of the Dudgeon property, for his
daughter Lola and her husband, Frank Priest.
Without telling the Dudgeons, Frank Priest sold his contract for the land to Jake
Terwillegar, who was caught dragging logs off the land by the Dudgeons. A fight ensued
in which Terwillegar took a severe beating. The Dudgeon men were convicted of assault
and served ninety days in the White Cloud jail.
A neighbor, Tom Scott had a dispute with the Dudgeoiis over Scott crossing their
property. Although Wilmer and Lee Dudgeon were both badly hurt by Scott, they were
again arrested, convicted and served more time in jail.
After Charles Dudgeon's death, Alice Dudgeon had an altercation with the teacher
of the school across the road from her house, for which she was taken to court and fined.
She also was accused of having an altercation with Jake Terwillegar at which time she
broke a few of Terwillegar's ribs.
Meady (Dudgeon) Hodell's education ended in the eighth grade at the age of 16, at
which time she worked locally until she married Romie "Doc" Hodell at the age of 20.
Meady, for a time worked in the telegraph ofiBce in White Cloud and a chair factory in Big
Rapids. It was during this time span that Meady gave birth to two children that were
fathered by her brothers. Upon their births, the infants were taken to the Dudgeon bam,
clubbed to death and buried.
Romie "Doc" Hodell was bom and raised in Ensley Township, north of the town
of Grant, Michigan, about a half mile on Trunk Line 54. His four brothers, Gayle, Forrest,
Wayne and Hollis still lived at home with their mother, Nina. His two sisters, Lila and
Lola, were married. Lila Siegel lived in Comstock Park, Michigan and Lola Cook lived in
Goodwell Township, White Cloud, Michigan. In 1920 Romie moved to Wilcox
Township, White Cloud, Michigan where he lived on property on 2 Mile Road. (He was
in the process of buying the property from Fred Anderson at the time of his death.) He
later rented a house in Goodwell Township from J.E. Terwillegar. This was the same
property which Charles Dudgeon's son-in-law, Frank Priest had sold behind his back. ( At
ihe time of his death, Romie and Meady were living with Meady's mother, Alice Dudgeon
and her two brothers, Lee and Herman.)
The majestic white pine forests, for which the region was famous, had been laid to
waste. The lumber barons had sold ofFtheir holdings to farmers and were steadily moving
north. They left in their wake, vast areas of clear cut land, dotted with pine tree stumps,
blackened scars of forest fires, and a barren wasteland of sand.
Romie became a "stumper" who would remove tree stumps in the farmer's fields.
Stump removal was a common profession of the times. He had been "stumpin" in the
Grant area where the stumps were very difficult to remove because of the clay in the soil.
He found his job much easier in the White Cloud area because of the sandy conditions.
Romie met the Dudgeons when he contracted to buy a load of cedar fence posts
from them. It was at this time that Romie first met Meady.
Lee Dudgeon, Meady's brother, who was 22 years old at the time, 5'9", 1 78 lbs.,
brown hair, hazel eyes, and a dark beard, spent 90 days in the White Cloud jail for assault
and battery. He did not drink or smoke and only attended school until the sixth grade.
(THE AFORE MENTIONED ALTERCATION WITH JAKE TERWILLEGAR)
MAY 20, 1920
The head of the Dudgeon family, Charles H.. Dudgeon, died at the age of 68. He
was buried at the Goodwell To\Miship Cemetery, across the road from the north three-
quarter section of his property.
Romie "Doc" Hodell, age 26, and Meady Dudgeon, age 20, were married.
Meady's brother, Lee, gave Romie the money for the marriage license. Romie was aware
that Meady had kept company with Carl Sailors, a man who her brother Wilmer worked
for. Romie was very jealous of Sailors when he would show up at the Dudgeon's house.
JAN 20, 1922
Romie and Meady received a letter from Romie's mother, Nina Hodell, telling them
they would be visited by Romie's father, David Hodell, who was carpenter and bam
builder. David and Nina Hodell were having marital problems, so David Hodell left his
wife running a rooming house in Detroit, to stay with his children.
JAN 21, 1922
On an errand to his sister's house, Mrs. Roy Cook, Romie found his father, David
Hodell, who accompanied him home to his house on 2 Mile Road at 2:30 pm. Romie,
Meady, and David Hodell ate supper at the Dudgeon's house that night.
FEB 4, 1922
David Hodell, age 67, died at 2:45 pm while Romie was at work in Woodville,
Michigan. He died on his return from the woodpile, at which time Meady ran across the
road for help from Mrs. Fred (Cornelia) Anderson. Dr. Price T. Waters and Undertaker
Alex J. McKinley were summoned from White Cloud. Dr. Waters attributed Hodell's
death to apoplexy. Lee Dudgeon donated the coat from his suit for David Hodell to be
buried in. Romie gave his blue serge pants and Undertaker McKinley provided a shirt.
FEB 8, 1922
David Hodell was buried at the Ashland Center Cemetery in Grant, Michigan
FEB 10, 1922
Romie and Meady, who had previously lived on 2 Mile Road in Wilcox Township
on property owned by Fred Anderson, rented a house from Jake Terwillegar in Good well
Township. Romie had been in the process of purchasing the land from Anderson when his
stumping business faltered and he moved to Terwillegar's place. He was $1 800 in debt.
APR 28, 1922
Romie and Meady Hodell accompanied Meady's brothers, Lee and Wilmer
Dudgeon to Fremont, Michigan in the Dudgeon brother's new Chevrolet truck. (White
Cloud Eagle / East Wilcox Township May 4, 1922).
MAY 5, 1922
Besides Robert Bennett, Elzie Priest was another man who hired on to work fci
Romie. Being short of money, Romie sent Priest to Clarence Rittenhouse's farm to ask
him to buy one of Romie's horses, but Rittenhouse refrised. Romie was so mad at
Rittenhouse for not being interested in purchasing the horse, he grabbed his 22 rifle and
started after him, but Meady stopped him.
stroke, damage of the brain due to a blockage in blood flow, or to a hemorrhage of blood vessels in
the brain. Without blood, sections of brain tissue quickly deteriorate or die. resulting in paralysis of
limbs or organs controlled by the affected brain area. Most strokes are associated with high blood
pressure or arteriosclerosis, or both. Some of the signs of major stroke are facial weakness, inability to
talk, loss of bladder control, difficulty in breathing and swallowing, and paralysis or weakness,
particularly on one side of the body. Stroke is also called cerebral apoplexy and cerebrovascular
The majority of stroke cases are due to arterial blockage caused by either thrombosis or embolism.
Thrombosis involves the gradual building up of fatty substances, or arteriosclerotic plaque, in one or
more of the four arteries leading to the brain. As these arteries become narrowed, a potential stroke
victim often experiences recurrent warnings of transient paralysis, such as in one arm or leg or on one
side of the face, or discovers impairments in speech, vision, or other motor functions. At this stage,
deposits in the linings of the cerebral arteries can often be treated by surgery, including laser surgery
and microsurgical bypass of blockages. Anticoagulant drugs, changes in diet, and even daily doses of
aspirin are also used. Actual thrombosis occurs when an artery has occluded, leading to permanent
Embolism occurs when a cerebral artery suddenly becomes blocked by material coming from another
part of the bloodstream. Such solid masses, or emboli, often form as clots in a diseased or
malfunctioning heart, but can also come from dislodged fragments of arteriosclerotic plaque or even
an air bubble. Treatment is largely preventive, consisting of monitoring of the diet, and, if possible,
use of anticoagulants.
Hemorrhaging of cerebral blood vessels, a less frequent cause of stroke, occurs most often where
aneurysms, or blisterlike bulges, develop on the forks of large cerebral arteries on the brain surface.
The rupture of aneurysms causes brain damage, due to either the seeping of blood into brain tissue or
the reduced flow of blood to the brain beyond the point of rupture.
Rehabilitation from stroke requires specialized help from neurologists, physical therapists, speech
therapists, and other medical persons — especially during the first six months, when most progress is
made. Passive stretching exercises and thermal applications are used to regain motor control of limbs,
which become rigidly flexed after stroke has occurred. A patient may recover enough to do pulley and
bicycle exercises for the arms and legs and, through speech therapy, may regain the language
abilities often lost following a stroke; the degree of recovery varies greatly from patient to patient. The
death rate among stroke victims in the U.S. has dropped noticeably since 1950. In part this may be
due to the increasing recognition of the leading role of hypertension in stroke, with resulting dietary
changes such as lower intake of saturated fats and cholesterol. Increased awareness of the dangers of
smoking may also be a factor. Nevertheless, stroke remains the third leading cause of death in the
U.S., following coronary artery disease and cancer. About 400,000 Americans suffer new strokes each
year, and in about 165,000 persons the strokes prove fatal. Researchers are now studying the possible
use of the brain opiate dynorphin for increasing survival.
"Stroke," Microsoft (R) Encarta. Copyright (c) 1994 Microsoft Corporation. Copyright
(c) 1994 Funl< & Wagnalis Corporation.
Romie contracted to do a "stumping" job on the Dudley Smith farm in Wooster,
1 7 miles away and planned on taking Meady with him to live in a shack. Meady had
accompanied him on other jobs and disliked living in a shack away from family and
friends. Lee and Herman had agreed to drive Romie and Meady's furniture out to the
shack in their truck, when Carl Sailors showed up. Romie had suspected Sailors of seeing
Meady while he was at work, and had a fit when he saw him. Words were exchanged
between Romie and Herman which developed into a fist fight. Lee joined in, and Romie
took a bad beating from the both of them. Romie forced Meady to walk down the road
ahead of him in the rain. He talked at length of them both dying together and finally told
Meady that he wanted her to go to White Cloud to see Attorney Harold Cogger about a
Meady, in a letter written in prison to the county historian, H.L. Spooner,
said that on this day, Romie confided in her that twelve years earlier he had helped
bury a woman named Nellie Reynolds in Ensley Center, Michigan. Romie had
heard that men working on a road had uncovered a skeleton and had taken it to the
local undertaker and that authorities were investigating.
Romie and Meady spent the night at the Dudgeon house, where Romie slept with
Lee and Meady slept with her mother, Alice Dudgeon.
MAY 6, 1922
Romie, who had decided not to work that day because it was raining, went to his
rented bam on the Terwillegar place to feed his horses. He was told by Alice Dudgeon
that his breakfast would be ready upon his return. Not returning for breakfast, Lee and
Robert Bennett (another of Romie's hired hands) went to the bam where they found
Romie hanging by the horse harness. Meady and her brothers, Lee and Herman drove to
White Cloud to notify the authorities shortly after noon. Sheriff Nobel A. McKinley,
Deputy Sheriff Winfie Id E. Patterson, Justice Of The Peace / Undertaker Waker B. Reed,
and Prosecuting Attomey Harold J. Cogger were told of Romie's death. Romie's body
was found by the officials hung with his feet touching the ground and his knees flexed. In
addition, one eye was blackened, his lip was cut, and there was a cut over one eye and
another on his cheek. Ht was also noted that there was evidence of mud or sand on his
shoulders. The authorities had a difficult time putting the body in the rear seat of Sheriff
McKinley's car because Romie had a stiff leg. Attomey Cogger rode in the back seat with
the body, while McKinley, Patterson, and Reed were in the front. Romie and Meady were
only married fourteen months at the time of his death.
Carl Sailors took Meady, Lee, Wilmer, and Robert Bennett to White Cloud in his
car so Meady could deliver some underwear she had purchased to the undertaker for
At the inquest before Justice Of The Peace / Undertaker, Walter B. Reed, the post-
mortem examination by Drs. Weaver, Waters, and Tumer concluded that the cause of
death was not hanging, but a blow on the back of the neck, two inches below the right ear.
The doctors also testified that the blow caused instant death. Romie was buried at the
Goodwell Cemetery in Goodwell Township.
MAY 7, 1922
Because of the hard feelings between the Holes and Dudgeons, Sheriff Nobel A.
McKinley attended Romie's funeral at the Goodwill Township Cemetery, where he frisked
the participants for weapons.
MAY 8, 1922
Robert Bennnett, Romie's hired hand, was arrested, but later released for the
murder of Romie. The inquest that started on May 6, 1922 was continued on May 8,
1922. (Robert Bennett was bom in London, England and emigrated with his parents to
Canada at the age of 7. He moved to Newaygo County in the fall of 1921 . In 1922, Mr.
Ward, a man that Bennett had lived with in Canada moved to Newaygo County. It was at
Ward's house that Bennett first met Romie. Robert Bennett had only known the
Dudgeons about a month before Romie's death.) He would later be arrested again and
would spend approximately eleven months behind bars. Bennett received letters daily
from his mother, who had moved back to London, professing her belief in his innocence.
MAY 14, 1922
Mealy and her brothers, Lee and Herman had Romie's body exhumed by the sexton
of the Goodwill Cemetery because of rumors that the body had been taken away on the
night of the fLineral.
MAY 15, 1922
The inquest held on May 6th and May 8th was concluded on May 1 5th.
It was determined during the inquest, that the "suicide notes given to the
authorities by Lee Dudgeon were not in Romie's handwriting.
"Dearest .• / can not write words to the effect that I want to
but tell my mother not to feel bad for me or you either. I wrote a note in my
book for you but my emotions has changed sinse then so I am writing you this.
Please don't marry my last request. One who give his life for you. "
Carl Sailors was the name omitted in Please don't marry my last
The above note was wTitten on a calendar. The following was wTitten on a leaf of
paper from a note book.
" when you read this I will be no more. Don't look for me as
you will never fuid me until it is to late. You hiow I to you J would rather be dead as see
you go wrong. " Qne who loves you.
Mrs. Nina Hodell, Romie's mother and Roy Cook, Romie's brother-in-law testified
that the "suicide" notes were not written in Romie's handwriting. Later confessions stated
that Meady wrote the notes. In newspaper reports during Meady's trial it was stated that
there were not two but three "suicide" notes.
Meady visited iier sister-in-law, Lola (Hodell) Priest in Big Rapids, Michigan wath
her nephew, Cecil Robinson. (White Cloud Eagle / East Wilcox Township July 6, 1922
JUL 30, 1922
Lee and Herman Dudgeon are met on the road near the Fulkerson School on a
threshing outfit they were moving for a neighbor by nineteen vigilantes. (The Fulkerson
School was located on the comer of Thomapple and 1 Mile Roads in Wilcox TowTiship)
They were ordered to get down, but they refused. Roy Cook climbed on the separator
and pushed Herman, who fell against Lee and they both jumped to save themselves fi-om
falling. Lee and Herman were separated and ropes were placed around their necks. They
were told that if they did not confess they would be lynched. Paul Andrews,
Superintendent of Schools, a member of the "lynch mob" stated that when the rope was
pulled tight around Lee Dudgeon's neck he said he would confess. When the rope was
loosened, he refused to confess. This took place twice, when Forrest Hodell, Romie's
brother, tied the rope to his motorcycle and pulled out all the slack. The rest of the mob
got nervous over Forrest's move knowing he had a "suicide clutch" and any attempt to
stop him could cause his foot to slip. Herman was ready to confess almost immediately,
and this final ploy by Forrest convinced Lee to confess. All concerned, later testified that
the Dudgeon brother's feet never left the ground and that the ropes were just pulled tight.
The tree used to "lynch" the brothers was a maple that sat between the Jake E. TerwilTegar
house and bam. (The "lynching" tree was cut down in the late 1980's by the county
who claimed it was a road hazard.) Later testimony revealed that it only took the mob
five minutes to get the confession. The Dudgeons received black eyes Lee, a broken nose,
not to mention the rope bums on their necks.
/, Lee Dudgeon, don'l know how R.D. Hodell was murdered, but I
do know that he was murdered by Robert Bennett. My brother, Herman
and myself helped hang R.D. Hodell in the upper story of Jake
Terwillegar's barn after he was killed. Bennett came to our place and
asked us to go with him. I asked, "What for? And he said he wanted us to
hang "Doc" in the barn. I told him that I didn't wish to do anything of the
kind, and he said, "If you don't I will put you fellows in the same place. "
He had his hand in his coat pocket where his gun was concealed and we
went with him. After hanging "Doc" up, Bennett said, "By God, he won't
bother anybody else. "
The confession was signed by Lee and Herman Dudgeon and several witnesses and
presented to Justice of the Peace / Undertaker Walter B. Reed, who was summoned to the
school house fi-om White Cloud. He left almost immediately because he was conducting a
funeral that aftemoon. The Dudgeons changed their confession and this was recorded by
Justice Guy Merrill. Since Sheriff Nobel A. McKinley was out of town, Deputy Sheriff
Winfield E. Patterson was summoned. Patterson released the Dudgeon brothers and
arrested Robert Bennett for a second time at the home of Frank James in Goodwell
Township. Bennett was kept in a dungeon containing no cot or chair and was compelled
to sleep on the floor with only a blanket. He received as little as four meals per week.
Patterson later arrested Lee, Herman, and Wilmer Dudgeon at their home.
' — ■"
:■■ • '"^ ■ :'
DiiJgean 5m awp
Bam Babys Foui;id Buried
House Rented From Terwillegar
Barp'-Wliere Romie Was Found
Newly appointed Special Prosecutor William J. Branstrom requests help from Roy
C. Vandercook of the Michigan State Police in Lansing after Alice Dudgeon requests
protection for her family. (Branstrom later becomes an attorney for Gerber Baby
Foods in Fremont, Michigan.)
AUG 1, 1922
Sergeant George E. Karkeet of the Michigan State Police arrived in White Cloud
from Lansing, Michigan.
The Dudgeon boys, their mother, Alice Dudgeon, and their sister, Meady are taken
to Fremont, Michigan for questioning by Special Prosecutor, William J. Branstrom.
AUG 2, 1922
Trooper Ernest G. Ramsey of the Michigan State Police arrived in White Cloud
AUG 4, 1922
Prosecuting Attorney William J. Branstrom and Sheriff Nobel A. McKinley sent
the "suicide" notes to a handwriting expert in Detroit with Attorney H.J. Cogger. The
expert declared the notes genuine.
AUG 5, 1922
Sergeant John Palmer of the Michigan State Police arrived in White Cloud from
Lansing. The three policemen arrived at the request of White Cloud's Special Prosecuting
Attorney, William J. Branstrom to protect the Dudgeons and investigate the actions of the
vigilantes. Almost immediately they turned their investigation on the Dudgeons.
Sergeant Palmer and Trooper Ramsey borrowed two white sheets from Mrs.
Beatrice Hurst, wife of Big Rapids' sheriff.
Lee and Herman are driven to Big Rapids by the three policemen and grilled till
they confess to knowing that their sister, Meady killed her husband and father-in-law.
They are left in the Big Rapids jail.
Meady was also driven to Big Rapids and grilled by the police where she confessed
before Prosecuting Attorney Arthur J. Butler to the poisoning of her father-in-law and the
murder of her husband. Meady was also left in the Big Rapids jail.
AUG 10, 1922
After being driven to Big Rapids for interrogation, Alice Dudgeon confessed to the
murder of Romie and knowledge that her daughter, Meady, poisoned her father-in-law,
David Hodell. She was left in the Big Rapids jail. Confessions by Lee, Herman, Alice,
and Meady were taken by A.W. Bennett, notary public.
Alice Dudgeon and Meady told officers that they were bothered by ghosts until the
time of their confessions.
AUG IL 1922
The quartet was brought back to White Cloud where they were arraigned before
Justice of the Peace Walter B. Reed. Each waived examination and were bound over to
the circuit court. Wilmer Dudgeon, who was away at the time of the crime, was detained
for a few days but not charged.
Prosecuting Attorney William J. Banstrom called the newspaper men and gave
them the details of the confessions. "Branstrom fijrther told the family affiliations which
had taken place of a repulsive nature, which cannot be printed." (This was probably the
incest committed bet>veen Meady and her brothers previously mentioned.)
Lola Cook visited her mother, Alice Dudgeon in the Big Rapids' jail.
AUG 12, 1922
Sergeant Karkeet and Palmer, and Trooper Ramsey returned to Lansing,
AUG 15, 1922
David Hodell's body was exhumed, by order of the court, from Ashland Center
Cemetery in Grant, Michigan.
AUG 17, 1922
Sheriff Nobel A. McKinley, who had been criticized by the residents of White
Cloud for his handling of the case, made a statement to the newspaper that he wished the
public to know he had been working quietly behind the scenes.
Alice Dudgeon was visited in jail by her attorney, A. A. Worcester.
AUG 18, 1922
The "h-nch" mob was arraigned before Justice of the Peace / Undertaker Walter B.
Reed where all the defendants pleaded guilty and were fined S25.00 plus court costs. This
was reduced to a fine of $1.00 each. (It was said that if any fines were levied against
the mob, the people of White Cloud would take up a collection for them. There was
also talk of presenting medals to each of the vigilantes, but this never came about.)
AUG 24, 1922
Alice, Lee, and Herman Dudgeon, Meady Hodell, and Robert Bennett all reputed
their confessions. Alice Dudgeon used the deed to her farm to secure the service of
Defense Attorneys Alpheus A. Worcester of Big Rapids, Michigan and Arthur W. Penney
of Cadillac, Michigan. The defense attorneys were secured by Alice Dudgeon's daughter,
An article written by Gayle Hodell appeared in the White Cloud Eagle defending
the investigation being conducted by Sheriif Nobel A. McKinley.
SEP 14, 1922
The vital organs of David Hodell's body which had been exhumed on August 15th
and sent to the State Chemist, Charles Bliss in Lansing, Michigan, were reported to
contain sufficient strychnine poison to kill a dozen men.
* DENOTES MEADY (DUDGEON) HODELL TRIAL IN WHITE CLOUD,
NEWAYGO COUNTY, MICHIGAN
* * DENOTES ALICE DUDGEON TRIAL IN WHITE CLOUD, NEWAYGO
*** DENOTES LEE AND HERMAN DUDGEON AND ROBERT BENNETT
TRIAL IN BIG RAPIDS, MECOSTA COUNTY ANT) HART, OCEANA COUNTRY,
**** DENOTES ALICE AND LEE DUDGEON RETRIAL BY ORDER OF
MICHIGAN SUPREME COURT IN WHITE CLOUD, NEWAYGO COUNTY,
OCT 10-25, 1922
* The trial of Mealy (Dudgeon) Howell came before Circuit Judge Joseph Barton in
White Cloud, Michigan.
* The jury of twelve men were chosen from sixty-seven interviewed during a two
day process. All were farmers with at least ten years in their occupation.
* A.H. Courtney was deputized to attend the door of the court room to see that no
one entered after the room was filled.
* "The sentiment in Newaygo County was very' bitter against the defendants, and
motions were made in this case by the attorneys for the respondents for a change of venue,
on the grounds that the defendants could not receive a fair and impartial trail in Newaygo
County. These motions were all denied by Judge Joseph Barton."
* "Judge Barton made the statement that of about 1 00 murder cases which he had
conducted, this case had the most angles and ramifications of any he had ever heard. His
experience included ha\ang had charge of all the criminal cases in Wayne County for a
period of six years and several cases in the Upper Peninsula. Both places had a large
foreign element among whom murders were not very common."
* The opening statement of Prosecuting Attorney William J. Branstrom, stated that
he would prove Meady had killed her aged father-in-law, David Hodell, by poisoning, and
that she said to a woman at the fijneral "/ am afraid (hey will have me arrested, I think
they believe I killed the old man. " Branstrom said he would prove that Meady admitted
to six person she poisoned Mr. Hodell.
* The Defense Attorneys. Arthur \V. Penney and .AJpheus A. Worcester made a
request, which was granted, that all witnesses except the one being used on the stand be
excluded from the court room.
* Meady sat expressionless, apparently unmoved by what was taking place. She had
thick dark hair which was combed over her narrow forehead and a rather wide mouth,
closed in a straight line o\'er a pointed chin. Also in court was David Hodell's wife, Nina,
who was accompanied by two of her sons, Forrest and Gayle, members of the "lynch"
* Judge Barton admonished the jury not to discuss the case among themseh'es or
read the newspapers. The jury was locked up at night at the Wayside Inn under the charge
of Deputy Sheriff Patterson. Judge Barton also cautioned the jury about over-eating and
insisted that they take a long walk twice a day in custody of the Sheriffs officers.
* Mrs. David Hodell testified she was in Detroit with two of her sons receiving
medical treatment at the time her husband died.
* Mrs. Fred (Cornelia) Anderson, wife of Fred Anderson, a member of the
vigilantes, was called to testify. She testified that Romie and Meady lived across the road
from the Anderson farm in Wilcox Township. She stated that she had seen David Hodell
working on the woodpile at 10:00 am on February 4th apparently in good heakh. Mrs.
Anderson testified that Meady called her over to the Hodell house at 2:00 pm that
afternoon where she saw David Hodell lying dead.
* Dr. P.T. Waters next testified that he was called to the Hodell house at the time of
David Hodell's death and stated that he had pronounced death due to apoplexy.
* Undertaker A.J. McKinley testified about the embalming of David Hodell's body.
The defense suggested that the poison found in the body could have been embalming fluid.
* Forrest Hodell testified that he was called to the Hodell home following the death
of this father and was told by Meady that his father had fallen two or three tiines.
* David Hodell's daughter, Lola Cook testified that her father and brother, Romie
had walked two or three miles to her house and how healthy her father had looked just a
couple of days before.
* Sergeant George E. Karkeet of the Michigan State Police testified that he and
Sergeant John Palmer were driving Meady to Big Rapids when they abruptly stopped the
vehicle at the Cobb School, mile from town and asked her what she put in her father-in-
law's coffee. Meady made no reply until Karkeet suggested that Hodell was a lot of
trouble for her. Meady said, "Yes, the old man was his of care. " She also stated some of
the reasons she thought Hodell was a burden to her. Once again, Karkeet asked what she
put in his coffee, to which she replied, "Some poison someone left in the hovse before
we moved there. " Upon arriving in Big Rapids, Palmer called Prosecuting Attorney
Arthur J. Butler to notify him of the confession. They later went to Butler's office were a
verbal confession was made. A statement made by Meady that the old man would still be
alive if he had not drank his coffee coupled with a clue given by Herman Dudgeon, gave
the police the theory that Meady poisoned her father-in-law.
During Karkeet"s testimony, the jury was removed from the court room, while
Attorney Penney attempted to convince the court that the confessions were obtained
through fear and mistreatment. Penney charged that the trio from the Michigan State
Police took Meady from the county jail late one night to a lonely school house where they '
threatened that unless she confessed, she would be taken to the Terwillegar bam to be
confronted by the spirits of her husband and father-in-law. Penney also claimed that she
was so frightened, that she confessed. It was also alleged, that Lee Dudgeon was taken
from jail late at night to the Terwillegar bam where he was confronted by a "ghost" who
pointed an accusing finger at Dudgeon naming him as one of the conspirators in his death.
The troopers then took Dudgeon to the ground and placed a rope around his neck,
threatening him with hanging unless he confessed. Penney also stated that Alice Dudgeon,
Herman Dudgeon, and Robert Bennett's confessions were obtained in the same manner.
(Complaints by the defendants in all three trials of "strong arm tactics" by the three
policemen were prominent. It was reported that when a defendant was taken to the
Terwillegar bam, they were interrogated by one policeman while the other two tried to
"spook" them. The two policemen wore sheets, made noises, and spoke from the
shadows trying to convince the defendants that the "ghosts" of David and Romie Hodell
wanted them to confess.)
The statement made by Alice Dudgeon and Meady Hodell on August 10th that they
confessed because they had been bothered by ghosts probably gave the idea to the
police to coerce confessions from the defendants with fear of reprisals from the
ghosts of David and Romie Hodell. Lee Dudgeon had stated that he had seen ghosts
in the fields before he was arrested.
The jury was returned to the court room and upon direst examination by Penney,
Karkeet told about Meady's written confession before Justice of the Peace Waker B. Reed
and Prosecutor Branstrom.
Attorney Penney, considering Karkeet was sidestepping his question, tumed to the
people in the court room and said. He is too cute for rrie. " Later Penney asked Karkeet
"Do you get a commission on convictions?" Branstrom objected and the court ordered
the question stricken from the records.
Karkeet also testified that Meady told him that she had written the "suicide" notes.
* The signed confession, which was identified by Sergeant John Palmer, was read to
the jury. Attorney Penney began snapping his fingers at Palmer and Branstrom and
Penney go into an argument over his actions. Branstrom complained that Penney was
trying to intimidate the witness. Sergeant Palmer fijrther testified that he had accompanied
the other two policemen when the defendants were removed from jail, but that at no time
were they mistreated or were "ghosts" used.
* Trooper Ernest G. Ramsey's testimony was a repetition of Sergeant Karkeet and
* Sheriff Nobel A. McKinley testified of the arrival of the three State Policemen
from Lansing and that Trooper Ramsey had installed a Dictaphone in the jail.
* Miss Fern Miller, stenographer for Prosecutor Branstrom, told of receiving the
confession of Meady on August 1 1 th. "The old man was sick and miserable. He asked
me to put him out of the way, and I thought it would be better for him and better for us if
he were over there— so I did it. "
* Undertaker Alex J. McKinley testified that he embalmed the body of David Hodell
February 7th and disinterred the body on August 15th for the State Chemist, Charles Bliss.
McKinley stated that he gave Bliss a 14 ounce bottle of embalming fluid he used when
embalming David Hodell.
* Charles Egolf, se.xton of the Ashland Center Cemeter\- in Grant, testified that the
grave of David Hodell was undisturbed from the time of the funeral until the body was
exhumed on August 15th.
* State Chemist, Charles Bliss testified to conducting the autopsy on David Hodell.
He stated that he removed the stomach, kidneys, liver, and spleen which he tested for and
found strychnine poison. Attorney goes into minute details on the analysis of the chemist.
Penney, who had shown a remarkable knowledge of chemistry in court, had studied
chemistry at the University of Michigan and later taught the subject in high schools in
Iowa and Illinois. Mr. Bliss described the symptoms of strychnine poisoning. He stated
that at first there was a feeling of uneasiness, followed by a gradual tightening of the
muscles and then intermittent convulsions until death. The defense attempted to have the
testimony excluded when the witness admitted he had never studied or practiced medicine,
but it was allowed to stand. Attorney Penney attempted to lead the witness into the
discussion of medical subjects until the court intervened.
The defense brought out that Mr. Bliss and a member of the state police visited
Big Rapids drug stores in an effort to ascertain if any of the Dudgeon family had
purchased strychnine poison at any time previous to Hodell's death.
Contention of the defense that a person would be unable to swallow a cup of
coffee containing a spoonfiil of strychnine on account of its extreme bitterness was refuted
by the witness who testified that he had known of persons who had swallowed the
* Undertaker McKinley was recalled to the stand to testify that there was no
strychnine in the embalming fluid he sent to the chemist.
* Sexton of Ashland Center Cemetery in Grant, Charles Egolf was recalled to the
stand, where the defense attempted to show that Egolf s advanced years prevented him
from keeping a close vigil on the cemetery. The defense was suspicious that Hodell's body
StP/chnine, poisonous alkaloid, C2iH22N-,02, found in various plants of the genus Strychnos, and
obtained commercially from the seeds of the Saint-lgnatius's-bean and from nux vomica. Strychnine is
obtained in colorless or white rhombic crystals, which have a bitter taste and melt at 286° to 288° C
(547° to 550° F). it is slightly soluble in water but more soluble in alcohol, ether, chloroform, and
benzene, and it forms sulfate and nitrate salts that are moderately soluble in water.
Strychnine has been widely used in medicine as a stimulant and tonic. In larger doses than those used
therapeutically, it causes extreme excitation of the central nervous system and especially of the spinal
cord, resulting in extreme reflex movements, or convulsions, at the slightest stimulus. The convulsions
take the form of tetanic contractions in the muscles of the arms, legs, and body (see Tetanus). Death
from strychnine poisoning, however, results from paralysis of the brain's respiratory center rather than
from convulsions. Strychnine is frequently used as a poison for rats and vermin.
"Strychnine," Microsoft (R) Encarta. Copyright (c) 1994 Microsoft Corporation.
Copyright (c) 1994 Funk & Wagnails Corporation.
had been tampered wdth and that poison had been placed in it before the exhumation on
* It was at this point that the defense attorneys went into the life historv' of Meady
and pictured her as the victim of a plot on the part of cenain authorities who wanted a
"goat" on which to pin the crime. "Our little sister here. " said the attorney, pointing to
the defendant, "is the under dog. She has been made to seem vile and criminal. "
Describing the dinner which the prosecution contended ended fatally for David
Hodell, Mr. Penney said it was a simple country meal of bread, potatoes, beans, tea, and
some cookies brought to the Hodell home that morning by a neighbor, Mrs. Fred
Anderson. David Hodell slept for awhile following the meal and awakening appeared
anxious to help Meady with her household work. Meady was starting to the pump for
water, when Hodell begged her to let him help. He filled the pail and returned to the
house. He complained of feeling cold and went to the woodpile and split some wood. It
was while returning to the house that he fell and Meady rushed to him and asked, "Dad,
what's the matter?" He replied that he felt blind. She then wiped the snow from his face
with one of his mittens which had fallen fi-om his hand. Helping him towards the house, he
fell again and she lifted him to his feet. He fell a third time near the door of the house and
Meady became frightened. Mr. Penney asked the jur>' if they thought Hodell would have
been able to draw water and split wood if he had swallowed a large dose of poison only a
short time before.
* The witness that Sergeant Karkeet had testified had given the police the theory
that David Hodell was poisoned, Mrs. Neva Crawford of Grant was called to the stand.
Ivlrs. Crawford stated that about a week after David Hodell's fiineral, Romie and Meady
visited her and her husband at their home in Grant. After dinner, the quartet walked to
town when Meady said, "We may get arrested for the old man 's death. " "Just what did
Mrs. Hodell say?" inquired Prosecutor Branstrom. The witness repeated her statement
and added, "she said she didn't want Mr. Hodell in her home, that her husband got him to
come there to spite her and her neighbors had been saying that she killed him. "
Attorney Worcester, on cross-examination, asked Mrs. Crawford if he and
Attorney Penney had not visited her home a few days ago and asked her what she knew
about the elder Hodell's death. She replied that they had. "You didn't tell me anything
about your talk with Mrs. Hodell, did you?" "No, you didn't ask me. " "Didn't I ask you
if you knew any more about the case after we had discussed Mr. Hodell's death?" "J
don't remember that you did. " "Had you ever been told that the elder Hodell had
suffered a stroke of apoplexy? " "I had heard so, but I don 7 know who told me. "
On redirect examination, Mrs. Crawford was asked by the prosecutor if Meady or
she had started the conversation on their walk to town. "She began it. "
* Branstrom who had held the "suicide" notes in his possession, did not offer them
as evidence after having received the report that the notes were genuine. The defense did
offer the notes as evidence when Meady identified her husband's signature.
OCT 17, 1922
* David Hodell's body was exhumed for a second time. His brain was examined by
two Fremont, Michigan physicians, Drs. William h. Bamum and Charles B. Long.
On direct examination by Branstrom, Drs. Bamum and Long testified that they
opened David Hodell's skull to determine if there were any abnormal condition of the brain
or presence of strychnine poison.
Attorney Penney questioned both physicians long and arduously in an effort to
establish that Hodell died from apoplexy. He showed a surprising knowledge of
pathology and toxicology, demonstrating his versatility. Penney also queried the
physicians regarding the extreme bitterness of strychnine and asked if a person could
swallow a cup of coffee containing a spoonfiil of the poison. Doctor Bamum declared
that the person would "know if he swallowed it". He asserted his belief that a single
swallow of the strychnine-dosed coffee would be sufficient to cause death.
Questioned by Prosecutor Branstrom regarding the amount of strychnine which
State Chemist Bliss testified he found in Hodell's organs, Dr Bamum declared that if it was
the poison that passed in the circulatory system, rather than that found in the vital organs
after death, that usually "did the trick".
Doctor Long on cross-examination, clashed several times with Attomey Penney
over the symptoms of apoplexy and as to the number and duration of convulsions a person
so afflicted might have. The physician seemed quite positive as he described apoplexy
symptoms in patients that he had attended.
* For the greater part of the day, Meady answered the questions of her own chief
attomey, Arthur Penney and then went without rest under the grueling cross-examination
of Prosecutor Branstrom. Branstrom was unsuccessfijl in breaking dowTi her story.
Meady spoke in a voice so low that her words often were difficult to understand, but she
answered questions of her own lawyer and those of the prosecutor with frankness.
On David Hodell's death she said, "Last January my father-in-law, David Hodell
came for a visit with us. He was 67 years old, feeble and sickly, but I always like him.
He was something of a care to us, but I never minded that. " "You are charged with
putting poison in his coffee. Did you do that?" asked Branstrom. "/ did not. " "We did
not have coffee in the house for several days before his death, and I had no poison of any
kind in the house. I never bought any poison for any purpose." replied Meady.
Meady testified how the aged Hodell, on the last day of his life, had complained of
the cold, but had brought water and wood into the house for her. She described his fall
near the door on his last trip out for wood, and how she tried to help him into the house.
Frightened, she ran to the nearest house for help. Then she sent for a doctor and tried to
get word to her husband, who had gone to Woodville.
For a second time, Prosecutor Branstrom was unsuccessful in breaking down
Meady's story in the cross-examination.
OCT 23, 1922
* Prosecuting Attomey Branstrom indicated that the body of Meady Hodell's father,
Charles H. Dudgeon, who died in May 1920 may be exhumed. Branstrom claimed he had
evidence that Mr. Dudgeon had died under mysterious circumstances.
* It was stated in court that it was Meady's brother, Lee Dudgeon who started the
ghost aversion to the family by reporting to them and his neighbors that he had seen his
father's spirit running across the field of his farm, long before the Hodell's deaths were to
have revived it.
* Dr. W.T. Dodge of Big Rapids, President of the Michigan Medical Society, and
widely know as a surgeon and physician, was an especially valuable witness for the
defense. He declared flatly, that the symptoms of death, as detailed by Attorney Penney
fi-om he testimony, did not indicate strychnine poisoning. "The man would have died in a
convulsion had it been strychnine poisoning as related. " he said. "The convulsions would
have been practically continuous and it would have been impossible for him to have
walked around and do the work described, after the first convulsion. " "What would the
symptoms described, indicated to you? " asked Penney. "They point to apoplexy,
embolism, blood clot, or an acute dilation of the heart. In fact, it might be almost
anything except strychnine poisoning. "
Referring to the findings and conclusions of State Chemist Bliss, in his examination
of the stomach and other organs of David Hodell, Dr. Dodge said, "In certain forms of
ptomaine or proteid poisoning, the suspected substances might be so broken up in the
body that some parts placed in the hands of a chemist would be impossible to distinguish
from strychnine." He also said that the amount of strychnine indicated in the body and
organs of Hodell, as reported by the state chemist, would not be sufficient to cause death.
• * Dr Glenn Graves of Big Rapids testified that he agreed with Dr. Dodge in
practically all points, and seemed, sometimes to place an added emphasis upon his
* Professor Ernest J. Parr, Head Of The Department Of Chemistry, Pharmacy,
Toxicology in the Ferris Institute at Big Rapids, also took issue with the testimony and
findings of Chemist Bliss, as previously given for the prosecution.
His description of the tests necessary to positively prove the presence of str)'chnine
poison in stomach and other organs went much fiirther than those reported by Bliss. He
also thought that in the case of an autopsy, after six months' burial when the process of
embalming had followed death, the second day, the natural poison in the tissues of the
body produced by probable decomposition would handicap the results of the chemist's test
* The attorneys made their closing statements.
OCT 26, 1922
* After a two hour deliberation, the jury found Meady guilty in the first degree of the
murder of her father-in-law, David Hodell. Meady sat emotionless as the \'erdict was read
by the jury foreman, Jesse Garlough, of Dar>lon, Michigan.. She was wearing a dark dress
with a red coral necklace. On her third finger was her wedding ring. Meady was
sentenced to life in the Detroit House of Corrections.
NOV 2. 1922
* Romie's body was exhumed by order of the court and under the supervision of Dr.
Bamum. State Chemist Charles Bliss found strychnine sulfate in the viscera.
NOV 13, 1922
** Meady's mother, Alice Dudgeon went on trial in White Cloud before Judge
Barton. A change of venue was requested by the defense, but denied by Judge Barton.
Sentiment towards the Dudgeons had become extremely hostile and the attorneys were
having a difficult time choosing a jury.
** Alice Dudgeon did not seem to be as composed and uninterested in the
proceedings as her daughter, Meady. She appeared nervous with her chin quivering and
occasionally held her handkerchief to her eyes. Much of the testimony became repetition
of her daughter, Meady's trial.
DEC 7, 1922
** Alice Dudgeon was found guilty in the first degree for the murder cTher son-in-
law, Romie "Doc" Hodell. It was claimed that Meady Hodell had put strychnine poison in
her husband Romie's coffee and since he did not die immediately, she clubbed him with a
rolling pin. The blow did not kill Romie, so Alice finished the job with the same rolling
pin. She instructed her sons, Lee and Herman to hang the body in the Terwillegar bam
while she and Meady wTOte "suicide" notes. The jury deliberated for an hour and forty-
five minutes before reaching their verdict. She was sentenced to life in the Detroit House
of Corrections as her daughter was six weeks before. Alice Dudgeon spent one year in
prison before returning to Newaygo County jail to await retrial ordered by the Michigan
DEC 12, 1922
* Meady Hodell arrived at the Detroit House of Correction. She became a
housekeeper for the Superintendent of The Detroit House of Corrections, A. Blake Gillis.
Meady was a model prisoner, who constantly professed her innocence. Although she had
no previous religious background, Meady attended religious study sessions.
FEB 22, 1923
*** The trial of Lee and Herman Dudgeon and Robert Bennett began after a change of
venue from White Cloud to Big Rapids, Mecosta County, Michigan, before Judge Barton.
The trial proceeded very slowly due to the difficulty in selecting a jury and a severe
blizzard prevented some jurors from arriving at the coutt house.
The trial was a repetition of the Meady Hodell and Alice Dudgeon trials.
MAR 5, 1923
*** Circuit Judge Joseph Barton declared a mistrial in the Dudgeon/Bennett murder
trial due to the sickness of a juror. J. William Turk, a grocer from Big Rapids, contracted
MAR 6. 1923
* Meady Hodell writes a thirteen page letter containing the story of her life and a
fifty-nine page letter containing the story of how David Hodell died to her defense
attorney Fred R. Everett.
MAY 10, 1923
*** The \enue for the trial was changed one again fi-om Big Rapids to Hart, Oceana
MAY 12, 1923
*** The Defense Attorneys, Worcester and Penney withdrew fi-om the
Dudgeon/Bennett trail and returned the deed to the Dudgeon property.
JUL 9, 1923
*** The trial of Lee and Herman Dudgeon and Robert Bennett resumed before Circuit
Judge Joseph Barton with Fred R. Everett and F.E. Wetmore of Big Rapids as the new
defense attorneys in Hart, Michigan.
JUL 26, 1923
*** Lee Dudgeon was found guilty for complicity in the murder of his brother-in-law,
Romie "Doc" Hodell. Herman Dudgeon and Robert Bennett were found not guilty. For
the crime of manslaughter, Lee Dudgeon received three consecutive terms of 2 1/2 - 15-5
years in Ionia State Prison.
AUG 6, 1923
*** Lee Dudgeon arrived at Ionia State Prison, Ionia, Michigan.
JAN 10, 1924
**** Circuit Court Judge Joseph Barton appoints Special Prosecutor William J.
Branstrom to represent the People VS Alice and Lee Dudgeon in the Michigan Supreme
**** Lee and Alice Dudgeon's cases were appealed in the Michigan Supreme Court.
Meady's case was never appealed to the Supreme Court because her attorneys failed to file
exceptions to the charge of Judge Barton within a specified time.
DEC 24, 1924
**** Lee Dudgeon was released from Ionia State Prison for a new trial. Lee Dudgeon's
sentence was reduced to three years. Upon his release, he settled in Muskegon, Michigan,
where he married and had a son named Lee.
**** By order of the Michigan Supreme Court, Alice Dudgeon and her son, Lee were
retried in White Cloud before Harry I. Dingeman of Detroit, Michigan.
■ ^ 19
William J. Branstrom
Fred R. Everett and F.E. Wetmore
It came out in this trial that besides borrowing sheets from Mrs. Beatrice Hurst,
the three policemen rented automobiles from Mr. Wakeman and Mrs. Sarah Montague on
the nights of August 10th and 1 1th. 1922. They used them to drive the defendants to
different locations late at night.
MAY 28, 1925
E.S. Hitchcock. Commissioner on the board of the Detroit House of Correction,
sent a letter to Judge Harr\' I. Dingeman stating that Meady Hodell is a model prisoner
and his belief in her innocence.
JUN 4, 1925
The Dudgeon house, which had stood unoccupied for three years, had it's windows
and doors removed, the exterior walls of tar paper had been shredded by the weather,
some of the floor boards had been removed by skunk hunters, and the newspaper covered
walls had yellowed, burned to the ground.
JUN II, 1925
**** Judge Harry I. Dingeman gave a direct \'erdict freeing Lee Dudgeon. It was
determined by the judge that it was not a crime under Michigan law to dispose of a body.
The jury could not agree on a verdict for Alice Dudgeon and recessed with a \ote
of nine to three for acquittal. She was held in the White Cloud jail until she was released
to the care of her son, Lee in Big Rapids, who had fallen of a train boxcar and was in
serious condition. She was never brought back to trial.
Harry L. Spooner, reporter and county historian, who had reported for the local
newspaper on the Hodell/Dudgeon murder trials became a crusader on the behalf of
Meady Hodell. Even though he was a close friend of David Hodell he was convinced that
Meady was innocent and spent the next 24 years sending letters to the leading officials of
the time trying to get Meady paroled.
NOV 1, 1925
Sergeant John Palmer resigned from the Michigan State Police.
Lee and Herman Dudgeon brought a damage suit in Newaygo County Circuit
Court against the nineteen members of the vigilantes. Judge John Vanderwerp of
Muskegon, Michigan returned a verdict of no cause of action. A motion for a retrial was
made, but denied by Judge Vanderwerp. The Dudgeons contemplated approaching the
Michigan Supreme Court, but by this time it was financially impossible.
FEB 15, 1927
Trooper Ernest Ramsey resigned from the Michigan State Police.
NOV 9, 1927
Alice Dudgeon sent a letter to the Commissioner of the Detroit House of
619 Rose Ave
Big Rapids, Mich.
Dear Mrs Campbell
Commisiioner of Detroit House of Corrections Board in regard of my
poor little Daughter Meady Hodell Dear ones of the Board I hope to see
my Daughter home on a Parole to stay with her old mother that cant
hardley get around more the Poor Child is thairfor something that she is
not guilty of god bless you Dear Mrs Campbell I do think it is wicked to
keep her thair oh How glad I am the Poor Child is clear of eve thing that
was put on the Poor girl Pleas do let her Come home oh god the Board
will Be reward in the other world with hes to my heart each for his
to think she has to suffer for something that she is not guilty of oh How
grand it is that We Can Say that an say truth god know that she is an
innocent Child Pleas Parol her to me god Will be with you Dear ones of
Poor meady Hodell Mother
god Bless your
DEC 23, 1927
An article appeared in the Big Rapids Pioneer xsritten by Dr. William T. Dodge of
Big Rapids, the former President of the Michigan Medical Society, who had testified at
Meady's trial declaring that he was convinced that she was innocent.
"From the standpoint of simple medicine Dr. Dodge declared, it would have been
impossible for Meady to have poisoned the aged man and his opinion is based upon the
state's own testimony. Dr. Dodge believes that Charles L. Bliss, State Chemist who
examined Hodell's vital organs and found a substance which he said was strychnine, could
easily have mistaken some other substance for the deadly drug."
Even if he actually did find strychnine, the 30-100 of a grain which he testified he
found was hardly sufficient to have killed a small animal, let alone a man even in the
weakened condition that the aged Hodell was said to have been in at the time of his
sudden death. Also, pointed out, the autopsy performed upon the body was limited to a
search for poison only and no effort was made by the prosecution to find out if death was
the result of natural causes.
DEC 21, 1928
Harry L. Spooner received a letter fi-om Governor Fred W. Green who replied that
he had received Spooner's letter and was looking into the case.
JAN 4, 1929
Spooner recei\'ed a second letter from the Governor stating that the Commissioner
of Pardons and Paroles was making a trip to Big Rapids to in\estigate the case of Meady
AUG 12, 1929
Spooner received a third letter from the Governor stating Spooner's letter inquiring
on the findings of the Commissioner of Pardons and Paroles was forwarded to
Commissioner Arthur D. Wood of the Pardons and Paroles of the Detroit House of
AUG 21, 1929
Spooner received a letter from Commissioner Wood stating that he was still
investigating the Meady Hodell case and was trying to arrange a meeting with Judge
AUG 24, 1929
Spoorer received a second letter from Commissioner Wood stating that he would
meet with Spooner the next time he was in Detroit.
Governor Green and Commissioner Wood were not convinced of Meady's
innocence and parole was denied. Spooner spent the 20's, 30,s and 40's keeping up
correspondence with the Hodell/Dudgeon defense lawyer, Fred R. Everett and
numerous other people who could, if not help get Meady paroled, help him get
information on the story of the case he was attempting to write.
APR 27, 1934
* Meady Hodell was denied parole.
** Alice Dudgeon died at her son, Lee's house in Muskegon, Michigan
JAN 10, 1935
* Meady Hodell, on guarded release, attended the funeral of her mother, Alice
Dudgeon, in Muskegon, Michigan. Meady paid for her mother's funeral with the money
she had saved from her S. 10 a day prison salary.
APR 30, 1936
Sergeant George Karkeet resigned from the Michigan State Police due to ill health.
OCT 29, 1936
* Meady Hodell was denied parole.
DEC 10, 1937
* Meady Hodell was denied parole.
MAR 30, 1938
* Meady Hodell was denied parole.
FEB 12, 1948
* Meady Hodell was denied parole.
FEB 2, 1948
* Meady Hodell was denied parole.
JUN 16, 1949
* Meady Hodell's parole is considered.
JUL 26, 1949
* Meady Hodell's sentence was commuted by Governor G. Mennen Williams.
AUG 8, 1949
* Meady Hodell was released from the Detroit House of Correction after serving 26
years, 7 months, and 23 days. The Superintendent of the prison, A. Blake Gillies, gave
Meady the $400. in cash and S850. in bonds she had saved from her S. 1 0. a day prison
salary. She became a housekeeper for four priests at the St. Matthew's Roman Catholic
rectory in Grosse Point, Michigan. Meady died just a couple of years after being released
from prison. She was buried in Muskegon, Michigan.
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WHITE CLOUD, MICHIGAN
PARTICIPANTS IN THE HODELL/DUDGEON MURDER TRIAL - 1922
Dudgeon Family (Meady (Dudgeon) Hodell's Family):
Meady (Dudgeon) Hodell age 20
Charles H. Dudgeon (father) died May 20, 1 920 at age 68
Alice Dudgeon (mother) died Jan 1935 at age 67
Lee Dudgeon (brother) age 25
Wilmer Dudgeon (brother) age 22
Herman Dudgeon (brother) age 1 8
Lola Dudgeon (sister)
Hodell Family (Romie "Doc" Hodell's Family):
Romie "Doc" Hodell died May 6, 1922 at age of 26
David Hodell (father) died Feb 4, 1922
Nina Hodell (mother)
Gayle Hodell (brother)
Forrest Hodell (brother)
Wa>Tie Hodell (brother)
Hollis Hodell (brother)
Mrs. Lila Siegel (sister)
Mrs. Lola Cook (sister)
Hodell's Hired Hands:
Robert Bennett age 24
Sheriff of White Cloud, Michigan:
Nobel A. McKinley
Deputy Sheriff of White Cloud, Michigan:
Winfield E. Patterson
Justice of the Peace / Undertaker of White Cloud, Michigan:
Walter B. Reed
Undertaker of White Cloud, Michigan:
Ale.x J. McKinley
Post Mortem examination of the body of Romie "Doc" Hodell:
Dr. Weaver, Dr. P.T. Waters, and Dr. Turner
Fred Anderson, Paul Andrews, Charles Burkett. Roy Cook, Willie Cook, Preston
Denton, Forrest Hodell, Gayle Hodell, Frank LeBottte, Orson Miller, Fred Nestle,
Clarence Rittenhouse, Nate Ryter, Arthur Snyder, Jim Stoner, Leo Stutt, Carl Watkins,
William Watkins, and J.F. (Deek) Wood
Michigan State Police (Detroit, Michigan):
Sergeant George E. Karkeet, Sergeant John Palmer, and Trooper Ernest G.
Circuit Court Judge of White Cloud, Michigan:
Circuit Court Judge of Detroit, Michigan:
Harry I. Dingeman
Prosecuting Attorneys of White Cloud, Michigan:
WiUiam J. Branstrom of Fremont, Michigan, Arthur J. Butler, and Harold J.
Alpheus A. Worcester of Big Rapids, Michigan, Arthur W. Penney of Cadillac,
Defense Attorneys after the change of venue to Oceana County, Hart, Michigan:
Fred R. Everett of Big Rapids, Michigan and F.E. Wetmore of Big Rapids,
Newaygo County Court House Deputy:
State Chemist, Lansing, Michigan:
Stenographer for Prosecuting Attorney William J. Branstrom:
Sexton of the Ashland Center Cemetery in Grant, Michigan:
Witnesses for the Prosecution:
Mrs. Cornelia Andrson of White Cloud, Michigan
Mrs. Neva Crawford of Grant, Michigan
Dr. William H. Bamum of Fremont, Michigan
Dr. Charles B. Long of Fremont, Michigan
Dr. P.T. Waters of WOiite Cloud, Michigan
Forrest HodelJ of White Cloud, Michigan
Mrs. Lola Cook of White Cloud, Michigan
Undertaker Alex J. McKinley of White Cloud, Michigan
Witness for the Defense:
Dr. William T. Dodge of Big Rapids, Michigan
Dr. Glenn Graves of Big Rapids, Michigan
Professor Ernest J. Parr, Ferris Institute in Big Rapids, Michigan
Department of Corrections
Grandview Plaza Building
P.O. Box 30003
Lansing, Michigan 48909
Attn: Linda Wittmarm
Request for prison records for Meady Hodell and Lee Dudgeon was fonvarded to :
Department of State, Bureau of History, Archives Section Library and Historical Section
717 W. Allegan Street
Lansing, Michigan 489 1 8-2 1 00
Attn: Leroy Bamett
(Prison records of Meady Hodell and Lee Dudgeon. Nothing found on Alice Dudgeon)
Fremont Public Library
104 E. Main Street
Fremont, Michigan 49412
Attn: Judy McNally
(Historian H.L. Spooner's account of the Hodell/Dudgeon murder trial)
HodelJ, Forrest (son of Forrest Hodell)
6990 Baseline Road
White Cloud, Michigan 49349
(Hodell) Addis, Marie (granddaughter of Forrest Hodell)
380 S. Cherry Avenue
White Cloud, Michigan 49349
Maxson, Don and Marie
5445 3 Mile Road
White Cloud, Michigan 49349
Mecosta County Court House
400 Elm Street
Big Rapids, Michigan
(Court transcripts of Lee and Herman Dudgeon and Robert Bennett's muder trials)
Michigan Supreme Court
3 1 5 W. Allegan Street
Lansing. Michigan 48933
(Court transcripts of Lee Dudgeon's appeal to the Supreme Court)
Newaygo County Society of History and Genealocv
P.O. Box 68
White Cloud, Michigan 49349
Attn: Virginia Steele
(Newspaper accounts of Hodell/Dudgeon murder trial)
Newaygo County Court House
P.O. Box 885
White Cloud, Michigan 49349
Attn: Kim Werner
(Court transcripts of Hodell/Dudgeon murder trial)
Oceana County Society of History and Genealogy
114 Dryden Street
Hart, Michigan 49420
Attn: Ruth Ann Kelley
Oceana County Court House
Hart, Michigan 49420
(Missing court transcripts of Lee Dudgeon murder trial. Possible these documents were
sent to the Michigan Supreme Court on his appeal)
Oceana County Treasure
Hart, Michigan 49420
(Newspaper accounts of Hodell/Dudgeon murder trial)
Richards, Ted (Grandson of Fred Nestle, one of the vigilantes)
2851 N. Poplar Avenue
White Cloud, Michigan 49349
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