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Arthur Warren Waite- the dessert course was murder

Updated on September 26, 2011

Arthur Warren Waite was a successful New York dentist who married a wealthy socialite Jane Peck in September 1915. He had known Jane since they were both children and the families were well known to each other.

Dental work was his main income source but Waite also worked as a bacteriologist at Cornell Medical School.

In December 1915 Jane's mother came to stay and by the end of January she had fallen ill and died of pneumonia on 30th January 1916. The death was totally unexpected and in his grief her husband John Peck sought solace from his daughter and her husband. John Peck began to feel ill and died on 12th March 1916.

Waite took responsibility for the funeral arrangements, his wife distraught having lost two elderly but healthy parents in a matter of weeks. Waite arranged a cremation for his father in law, just as he had done for his mother in law. Following an anonymous letter the authorities stopped the cremation and instructed that an autopsy take place. The New York Times unearthed the informant as K.Adams a pseudonym for a friend of both families who thought it odd that both parents had died in Waite's apartment. She telegraphed Peck's son and aroused his suspicions. The result of this was that the cause of the death of John Peck was established as "arsenic poisoning".

Whilst the autopsy was taking place Waite fled from New York and attempted to kill himself with a drug overdose. He was not as successful with himself as he was with his in laws and he managed to recover. On recovery he confessed to both murders. He said that he killed Mrs Peck by putting germs from his ersearch work into Mrs Peck's food after trying various methods of killing her. He had tried to kill Mrs Peck by chilling her by taking her out in the car with the windows open in the rain, putting glass in her marmalade and spraying her throat with cultures of anthrax, diptheria and influenza.. Mr Peck was killed by being given samples of typhoid, pneumonia and diptheria in his deserts. When this proved unsuccessful he used a massive dose of arsenic.

In his confession Waite said"Then I gave him arsenic. I don't remember what day it was. I gave him a lot of it in his food. One night I was left to watch by his bedside while my wife got some rest. The old man was groaning with pain. I looked over the medicine bottles beside his bed and found a small vial of chloroform. I saturated a rag with some of this and went over to him and said: `Father, here is some ether and ammonia which will relieve your pain.' I gave him a smell and then I gave him another dose. At last he fell asleep. I continued to put on more until he became unconscious. Then I got a pillow and placed it over Mr. Peck's face and held it there until he died."

When asked why he did it his reply was simple "he wanted the money"


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