Gene Notes

Some random and some not-so-random thoughts on family history.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Thriller Thursday - Murder/Suicide-The Lurid Details

This is a tragic story of an old fool and what appears to be a gold-digger. But you be the judge. 



Kills Mildred McDaniel, Former Lexington Woman, After Quarrel, Then Ends Own Life.


Brother of Girl Says She Will Not be Buried Beside Her Slayer

Kelly C. Kirtly, 70-year old restaurant and hotel owner of Charleston, W. Va., ended his own life in the bathroom adjoining his room in the Lafayette hotel yesterday morning shortly before 7 o'clock, a few moments after he had killed Miss Mildred McDaniel, 26-year-old telephone operator of Brooklyn, N.Y.

A .38 caliber revolver was the weapon used by Kirtly in carrying out the double tragedy. Only one shot, through the right side of the head, was needed to end the life of Miss McDaniel, who was sleeping in a room adjoining Kirtly's on the tenth floor of the tenth floor of the hotel, but the aged hotel owner was forced to fire two bullets to kill himself. The first, through the head failed to bring instant death, and he fired another into his heart with his last dying effort.

In the same bed with Miss McDaniel when Kirtly fired the first shot was Miss Alma Gregory, also of Brooklyn. Both of the girls were asleep and Miss Gregory was awakened by the crack of the revolver as her friend was killed. She heard the second shot, fired by Kirtly into his own head, as she leaped from bed and, through the open door, saw the aged man fumble for the revolver again. A moment later the shot that ended the tragedy rang out.

Girls Posed as Nieces

According to Miss Gregory, Miss McDaniel had been living with Kirtly for months. She said the trio arrived in Lexington Wednesday afternoon ad registered as Alma and Mildred Gregory, both of New York city, posing as the nieces of Kirtly, who was a former Lexington man. They had come from Charleston where the girls had been called from New York by Kirtly, and where he  bought an Essex car which he said he was going to give to Miss McDaniel.

After returning from a trip to visit Miss McDaniel's sister, Mrs. Callie Adams, who lives at Logana, about six miles from Nicholasville, in Jessamine county, they returned to the Lafayette hotel Thursday night and retired to their rooms, Miss Gregory occupying one room and Miss McDaniel and the man an adjoining apartment.

During the day Kirtly gave Miss McDaniel a diamond ring which he had promised her some time ago and Miss Gregory state that her companion was dissatisfied with the gift, as Kirtly had promised her a much larger one. It developed after the murder that instead of paying $300 for the ring, as that man is reported to have told the girl, he really gave only $125 for the ring and instead of it being a three carat diamond, as he told Miss McDaniel he would buy for her, it was of less than a carat.

"Couldn't Stand Old Fool"

The pair quarreled over the gift before they retired and Miss McDaniel joined Miss Gregory in her room saying that she couldn't stand the old fool and that she was going to sleep with her (Miss Gregory) that night.

Alma declared that shortly after 7 o'clock yesterday morning she was awakened by a report of a pistol and found Mildred with the fatal wound in the side of her head, lying beside her.

"Mr. Kirtly went back into the bathroom and I saw him through the door as he raised the pistol to his head. I started for the hall door and as I did I heard the pistol report," said Miss Gregory.

"I called for help and several people came out of their rooms. Mr. Kirtly fumbled for his gun and grasped it. I turned and started back out. Then I heard another shot."

John W. Baxter, Lafayette hotel clerk, then arrived and, going to the telephone in the room, told the telephone operator to call Dr. Fred Moberly.

Two Messages Found

He arrived a few minutes afterward with Coroner Kerr, who found that Kirtly had inflicted two wounds on himself one in the right side of his head and one over the heart.

An examination of Kirtly's clothes and room revealed two written messages. One was termed a will and was addressed to Thomas B. Adams of Brighton, whom he named an executor of his estate. The other addressed to W. R. Milward, undertaker, contained directions for the disposal of his body.

The will dated "August 2, 1896 ," although apparently written recently, read as follows:

"Last will of Kelly Kirtly:

1st, I want my funeral expenses paid, I have insurance in the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, also insurance in the Production Life Insurance Company.

"2nd, I give everything to my sister, Mrs. Price Parker, also my Essex car. I sold my restaurant in Charleston, W.Va. and don't owe anything in Charleston. Would like for Thomas B. Adams to be administrator of my estate and give him my watch and chain for his trouble. I want W. R. Milward of North to put us away.  K. C. Kirtly."


"If anything happens to the girl friend that is with me, would like for her burial expenses to be paid out of the money that is in Second National bank - that is if she is buried in my lot at Lexington cemetery. There are five graves in my lot. That will leave three for my sister.  K. C. Kirtley"

"Second Codicil:

In the event the girl is not buried in my lot then I don't want to pay anything of her expenses at all.  K. C. Kirtly."

The note to Mr. Milward follows:

"W. R. Milward:

I want you to put me away just in a plain coffin. I prefer to not have any preaching as I have not lived within my church.  K. C. Kirtly."

"I hope all will forgive me."

"There is a note to Thomas B. Adams, of Brighton in my pocket.  K. C. Kirtly."

Left Directions to Find Car

"You will find the car in the garage next to the Kentucky theater," was written on the back of the will addressed to Mr. Adams. Mr. Kirtly put the check for the automobile and the bill of sale with his will.

Kirtly obtained those from Miss Gregory Thursday night, she declared. She said she gave them to him after he had come into the room occupied by the two girls and requested them. He thanked her and walked out. This was after Miss McDaniel and Kirtly had quarreled.

Coroner Kerr, arriving on the scene shortly after the tragedy, ordered the bodies removed to the Kerr Brothers' undertaking establishment on North Broadway. They were taken to W. R. Milward's establishment after the will and note had been found.

Gilbert McDaniel, brother of Miss McDaniel, who is employed by a telephone company in Cincinnati, but who has been visiting his sister, Mrs. Callie Adams, near Nicholasville, arrived in the city shortly after noon and took charge of Miss McDaniel's body, having it removed to the Kerr establishment again.

Spurns Offer of Burial Ground

Relative to the "second codicil" which Mr. Kirtly wrote, Gilbert said that he would not tolerate his sister's body being buried beside that of Kirtly, although no funeral arrangements have yet been made in regard to Miss McDaniel.

Miss Gregory, in interview last night, said that although her dead pal had some bad qualities, she also possessed some sterling ones. She stated she had known her about a year and that she had always been a real pal to her.

Miss McDaniel formerly worked for the Ben Ali theater as the keeper of the cloakroom, this being about two years ago, according to reports. She was married for a short time to a Mr. Covey, it is reported, although she is believed to have parted from him more than a year ago.

Miss Gregory says she was born in South Africa and has attended school in Switzerland. She has traveled extensively over Europe and America and came to this country when only 3 years of age.

It is her first trip to Kentucky, although Miss McDaniel and Mr. Kirtly called Lexington their home. She said they lived together in Brooklyn, boarding with a very nice family which thought Mr. Kirtly was Mildred's uncle. Mr. Kirtly bought and sold hotels and restaurants all over the country and was in Charleston, W. Va., when he telegraphed the two girls to come there.

Mr. Kirtly has made intermittent trips to Lexington during the past few years. He formerly owned a colored theater on East Second street, which was then Constitution street and ran a grocery on Wilson street a year ago. He sold these out however when he left Lexington.

Coroner Jury's Verdict

A jury, called by Coroner J. Hervey Kerr, in the offices of County Agent L. C. Brewer at 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon, returned a verdict of suicide in the case of Mr. Kirtly, and a verdict of "death by gunshot wound inflicted by a gun fired by K. C. Kirtly" in the case of Miss McDaniel.

The verdict regarding Mr. Kirtly's death read:

"We, the jury, find the body to be that of K. C. Kirtly, of Charleston, W. Va., age about 60, white American, and from the testimony we find he came to his death on September 3, 1926, by a gunshot wound from a gun fired by himself.  "J. C. Guy, Foreman."

The verdict regarding Miss McDaniel's death read:

"We, the jury, find the body to be that of Miss Mildred McDaniel, of New York City, age about 28, white American, and from the testimony we find she came to her death on September 3, 1926, by a gunshot wound inflected by a gun fired by K. C. Kirtly.  "J.C. Guy, Foreman."

The jury was composed of J. C. Guy, foreman; James F. Liston, B. C. Jones, R. D. Warren, W. A. Michler and Frank Gorham.

Party Arrived Wednesday

Miss Alma Gregory was the first called to the stand by County Attorney James Park.

She stated that she, Mr. Kelly C. Kirtly, and Miss Mildred McDaniel had arrived Wednesday afternoon. "We came from Charleston, W. VA, and we registered at the Lafayette hotel at that time," she replied to a question concerning her arrival in Lexington.

"Have you stayed there ever since you came?" Attorney Park asked.

"Yes," she replied.

"I was asleep when I heard a shot," Miss Gregory began in relating the sequence of incidents of the tragedy. "I jumped up immediately and called Mildred. I thought he had killed himself. I looked over at Mildred and the blood was oozing out of her head. Just as I looked at her he shot himself. Just as I looked up the gun fell on the bathroom floor and he fell to one side. He was lying one-half in the bathroom and one-half in the bedroom."

She then testified that there were three shots fired and that he fired the third one into his heart while he was on the floor.

Two Acquainted Two Years

"I ran to the door and called the police or for someone to help. I went in there in time to see his hand move. He was bubbling about the mouth and gurgling some inarticulate sound."

Upon being asked if Miss McDaniel and Mr. Kirtly had every had any words, she replied, "Yes, they had had a few words."

"He has known her for two years and seen her at different intervals. It was the second occasion on which I had ever seen him. Mr. Kirtly wired her to meet him in Charleston, W. Va., and when she left Brooklyn a week ago today, she begged me to come along with her. I didn't want to come but did just the same.

"Thursday we went to Jessamine county to see Mildred's sister Mrs. Callie Adams who lives at Logana near Nicholasville. Mr Kirtly was not with us. We came to Lexington, had dinner at the Woman's Exchange and I drove all the folks back.

"When I got back to the hotel I was exhausted and went to my room. Kirtly passed the door, opened it and said, 'Why don't you come in here?' Mildred said, 'I don't want to.' She said she couldn't stand him and was going to sleep with me.

Was Dissatisfied With Ring

"A few minutes later Mr. Kirtly came in and asked for the car check and bill of sale. I gave them to him. He was very nice about his manners. I didn't know anything more until this morning when I heard the shot."

In reply to a question concerning the ring which Mr. Kirtly gave Miss McDaniel which was found on her person when she was found dead, Miss Gregory replied:

"He gave her the ring in my presence yesterday morning. She was very much dissatisfied with it and they had a few words."

Miss Gregory was then asked to state the time at which she was awakened by the shot and replied: "It was around 7 o'clock."

She then related the incidents leading to their arrival in Lexington Wednesday, stating that "We left New York last Friday and came by Pullman to West Virginia. He had wired a ticket and Pullman. He met us in Charleston and bought a car while we were there and said he would give it to her.

Attorney Park's questions whether she (Miss Gregory) knew Mr. Kirtly had a gun, brought the answer: "I didn't ever know he possessed a gun. He carried a valise, however, along with him and it was invariably locked. He might have carried the gun in that all of the time.

Kirtly Called Lexington His Home.

Miss Gregory state that Kirtly called Lexington his home.

"Where was the bed with reference to the door?" she was asked.

"Directly to the right as you entered from the bath. The end of the bed faced the window and I was on the farther side, Mildred on the right side. The connecting door between the two rooms was not locked."

She stated that Mildred's head was about seven inches from hers when the shot was sent into Miss McDaniel's brain. 

"I think he had everything planned precisely. He planned it deliberately  and knew just where he was going to fall," she further testified.

Dr. Elmer S. Maxwell of 5 Richmond Road, who examined the victims after the shooting, read a statement fixing the cause of the death of each.

In the case of Mr. Kirtly, "death was due to gunshot passing through the heart," he read. There was a little "cooking" beneath the skin, showing that powder and gas had been forced beneath the skin.

A long incision on his temple was caused by the bursting out of this powder and gas, Dr. Maxwell stated. There were no powder burns on the outside skin he said.

Sign of Struggle Seen

In the case of Miss McDaniel, "Death was due to a gunshot wound of the head," Dr. Maxwell read. He further state that there was a powder burn around the wound.

Dr. Fred B. Moberly, physician and surgeon, of 370 South Broadway, who was called to the scene of the murder by hotel officials state that he was called at 7:02 o'clock, that he got there about 7:10 and that he found the victims had been dead 15 or 20 minutes. There was a sign of a struggled and the hair of Miss McDaniel was matted with blood, Dr. Moberly testified. "The pistol was about eight inches to the right of Mr. Kirtly. Mr. Kirtly was fully dressed while Miss McDaniel was in her pajama night clothes. Miss Gregory was not dressed. Miss McDaniel came to her death lying on her right side."

Mrs. Ollie Quisenberry, maid at the Lafayette Hotel, was the next to testify. She said she heard the first shot and she thought it was only the slamming of a door and paid no attention to it. She heard another and still paid no attention to it. "I went out into the hall and this girl (Miss Gregory) was in the hall. I asked her what was the matter. She told me her girl friend had been shot and Mr. Kirtly had shot himself." The last two shots were closer together than the first and second, Mrs. Quisenberry said.

Mrs. Edith Craycraft, who is also employed as a maid on the tenth floor of the Lafayette, said she got to work about fifteen minutes to seven and that the shooting took place about that time, before she had gone on duty.

Had Paid Taxes Thursday

John W. Baxter, room clerk at the Lafayette Hotel, stated to the jury that the murder was reported to him about five or six minutes to 7 o'clock. He said he went up to the scene and stepped inside the door where Miss McDaniel lay and went out again to call the operator downstairs to call Dr. Moberly.

Mr. Kerr state that Mr. Kirtly had gone to Sheriff E. H. Fuller's office Thursday and paid taxes on $600 worth of personal property. He had not paid a real estate tax assessed against him, explaining to Sheriff E. H. Fuller that the property, a house and lot in the east end of town, had been sold and that the purchaser had agreed to pay the taxes.

The signature on the check given Mr. Fuller and the letter which Coroner Kerr found on Mr. Kirtly's person were similar in every respect, leaving no doubt in the minds of officials as to who wrote the note, Coroner Kerr asserted.

J. T. Eads, Lafayette hotel detective, was called to the stand and made the statement that he had found a blank check signed by Mr. Kirtly in the dead man's grip.

[Blogger's note:  Kelly C. Kirtley was related to me four different ways through various ancestors. His father, Isaac Shelby Kirtley, was my first cousin 4 times removed; Kelly's mother, Susannah  or Susan Anna Chinn was my second great grandaunt. After their mother's death (no further record of Isaac) Kelly and his surviving sister Sterling "Price" Kirtley were "adopted" by Susannah's younger sister, Hester Chinn and her husband Joseph Trapp and removed to Lexington, Kentucky from Lexington, Missouri after 1872.]

Copyright 2010, ACK for Gene Notes


  1. Have we already talked about being cousins? 'Cause this bunch of Kirtley's is also in my family tree! I have this Kelly as my 5th cousin twice removed . . . but I did NOT have this story! Thank you, Cuz! Vickie in Texas

  2. Yeah, we have. I came across this quite by accident. I connect through the Chinns and the Kirtleys on this line, I think the Chinn line is a closer connection.

  3. I THOUGHT we had . . . but when I clicked on the KIRTLEY label in this blogpost, no other Kirtley posts showed up . . . so then I was NOT so sure . . .

    Today, after seeing your response, I went back through my private emails and found our previous correspondence . . . and then I used the search box at the upper left of your blog . . . and found the rest of your Kirtley posts . . . as well as our previous messages about us being Kirtley kinfolk . . .

  4. Mildred was not a gold digger she was my great grandmother. Long story behind why she came back to Lexington.

  5. Ollie was apparently my grandfather's step mother. Fascinating!