American Serial Killer Profiles: Hattie V. Blackburn Stone of Maryland
It definitely didn’t take much effort to find a Maryland serial killer, but I’m particularly fond of historical true crimes and, as such, I want to report the story of Hattie V. Blackburn Stone of Havre de Grace, Maryland, who in 1929, was charged with the murder of her son.
Are you thinking this is not a serial killer, just another case of filicide? Wrong. Although she never stood trial for them, Hattie is believed to have murdered her husband, her mother-in-law, and another son. Considering she is suspected to have done so with the aid of a couple of lovers who were also her boarders, I think she well qualifies for Maryland’s serial killer spot.
In 1910, Hattie Blackburn married Edward A. Stone. Old newspaper accounts say Hattie worked as a Nurse while Edward worked in nearby Edgewood. The couple had two sons,Edgar Stone and George Stone.
During the 1920s, the Stone family, along with Edward’s parents, moved into a home on Bourbon Street in Havre de Grace. The Stones appeared to be your average God-fearing American family.
And they were – except for one.
Emma Stone, Hattie’s mother-in-law, fell ill in 1925, with stomach pains and nausea being just a few of her symptoms. Reportedly she told her sister-in-law May Barker she had been poisoned, but when Emma died her death went unquestioned.
Two years later in 1927, the Stones eldest son Edgar died of convulsions which were believed to be the result of epilepsy.
Tragedy would strike the Stones again in 1928 when Edward, boarding a train soon after eating a breakfast prepared for him by Hattie, boarded a commuter train for work and, while en route, fell ill and began convulsing. After being rushed to a nearby doctor, 39 year-old Edward Stone, otherwise a healthy man, died. Finding no other possible cause for his death, doctors declared his passing to be because of heart failure.
The widow Hattie had definitely suffered great tragedy and most people in the area looked upon her with much sympathy, but that changed in 1929 when her youngest son, the only surviving child, became ill and suffered many of the same symptoms as her mother-in-law, husband, and older son. When 15 year-old George died, Hattie fell under suspicion – especially considering she had collected life insurance proceeds after each of the deaths.
Unlike the others, an autopsy was performed on young George and uncovered lethal levels of strychnine in his system. The other members of her family were exhumed and autopsied. Unfortunately, too much time had passed and the results were inconclusive with the exception of Edward whose body still had a small trace of the poisoning.
With little evidence in the first three victims, prosecutors charged Hattie with George’s murder only. In addition to the forensic evidence of poisoning, May Barker, Emma Stone’s sister-in-law, served as a star witness with her testimony that Hattie had confessed to murdering her youngest son.
During the trial it came to light Hattie was a woman with secret lovers who may have helped her in murdering the members of her family. The men, identified as James Abert and John Paul Jones, had been boarders in the Stone home in the time just before or during the murders. However, neither man was ever charged with a crime.
After Hattie made nationwide headlines in 1929 for being convicted of the second-degree murder of son George and was sentenced to 18 years in prison, she simply faded away.
There are a rumors Hattie received an early release, that she married the prison warden’s son, and worked as a waitress after serving her sentence but none of things have been confirmed. It’s also said Hattie is buried in an unmarked grave, nearby her family/victims, in Angel Hill Cemetery in Havre de Grace but this too is unconfirmed.
Do you know what happened to Hattie Stone?
© 2016 Kim Bryan