|Salem, Oregon Capital Journal, 13-September-1921|
100 years ago today, on 13-September-1921, a San Francisco grand jury looked into the death of actress Virginia Rappe, who died in a San Francisco hospital on 09-September-1921. She had been in critical condition since attending a Labor Day party held by actor Roscoe Arbuckle at the Saint Francis Hotel on 05-November-1921. She died because of a ruptured bladder which became infected. Stories began to circulate that Arbuckle had assaulted Rappe. Tried for manslaughter three times, he was acquitted. Virginia Rappe was 26 when she died. Arbuckle's career was ruined. The newspapers sold a lot of copies. Many people who tried to defend Arbuckle said some nasty and unfounded things about Virginia Rappe. Mrs. Bambina Maude Delmont, who had come to the party with Virginia Rappe, told a doctor at the hospital that Arbuckle had raped her friend. The doctor found no evidence of rape. Delmont had been accused of extortion, and may have tried to get money from Arbuckle's attorneys. San Francisco District Attorney Matthew Brady used the case to boost his career. Comedy producer and director Henry (Pathé) Lehrman said he had been engaged to Rappe, and pushed hard for Arbuckle to be tried. Tried for manslaughter three times, Arbuckle was acquitted. Virginia Rappe was 26 when she died. Arbuckle's career was ruined. The newspapers sold a lot of copies. Many people who tried to defend Arbuckle said some nasty and unfounded things about Virginia Rappe.
In these articles, it is easy to see that District Attorney Matthew Brady had it in for Roscoe Arbuckle. He strongly implies that Arbuckle or some other person was tampering with witnesses.
PERJURY CHARGE MADE
District Attorney Declares "Undue Influence
and Pressure of Sinister Character Brought
to Bear;" Claims Testimony of Woman Is
Changed; Another Witness Missing.
San Francisco, Sept. 13. -- A statement expressing the conviction that perjury had been committed by one of the chief witnesses for the prosecution at the grand jury investigation last night of the death of Miss Virginia Rappe, film actress, for whose alleged murder Roscoe (Fatty) Arbuckle is under arrest, was issued here today by District Attorney Matthew Brady.
District Attorney Brady in the statement also charged that he believed "undue influence and pressure of a sinister character has been brought to bear" upon certain witnesses. Whether or not an arrest would be made in connection with his charge of perjury, he said, would depend on further developments.
In his statement District Attorney Brady charged that Miss Zey Provost, also known as Zey Pyvron, had changed her testimony before the grand jury from that she had given previously to the police and officials of the district attorney's office that Miss Rappe had told her Arbuckle had caused her injuries. Earlier last night it was reported Miss Pyvron refused to sign a statement that Miss Rappe had
told her this and later, it was said, she denied that she had ever made the assertion concerning Miss Rappe, Brady said.
District Attorney Brady also charged in his statement that Miss Alice Lake, another prosecution witness, was missing.
The statement came shortly after the grand jury had concluded a five-hour consideration of the case and adjourned without voting an indictment.
District Attorney Brady's statement follows:
"We have sent Miss Pyvron home under surveillance. The girl changed her story completely before the grand jury. Whether or not we shall arrest her and charge her with perjury will depend on further developments. I am convinced, however, that perjury has been committed by her.
"I am convinced that undue influence and pressure of a sinister character has been brought to bear on her and other witnesses, one of whom, Alice Lake, has mysteriously disappeared from her home in Berkeley. We have been unable to find her.
"In spite of these effort, to thwart the ends of justice the investigation will proceed and no effort will be spared to bring the guilty ones to their just deserts.
"Whenever wealth and influence are brought to the bar of Justice every sinister and corrupt practice is used in an effort to free the accused. It is always easy to convict a poor man. The wealthy malefactors are the ones who find means of using their wealth to their advantage. Wealth and influence should not count in favor of defendant, neither should they count against him. The case should be handled just as the cases of the other gangsters are handled. The Pyvron (something wrong with the following lines - JT)
presence of Captain of Detective
presence of Captain of Detective Duncan Matheson. Assistant District Attorney Milton U'Ren and George Duffy. She repeated this statement time and again. Tonight before the grand jury she changed her testimony."
Arbuckle, the last witness summoned by the grand jury during its five hour session, was aroused from a sound sleep about one o'clock this morning. Arbuckle, it is said, was in the grand jury room only three minutes. He is reported to have declined to make any statement, further than to explain that his lawyers had advised him to keep silent.
Mrs. Bambino Maud Delmont had previously testified concerning the party in Arbuckle's rooms at a hotel here on Labor day at which Miss Rappe was present. Other witnesses were heard.
Jury Delays Ballot
After Arbuckle left the grand jury room the jurors began to deliberate upon the testimony given. Behind closed doors, the jurors argued, it is said, for half an hour, having excluded District Attorney Brady and his assistants. The conclusion then was reached, It was announced, to defer action until further evidence
could be presented. No date was set for the resumption of the inquiry. After the adjournment Clifford Curtis, foreman, said:
"We have decided to continue the hearing to give District Attorney Brady the opportunity to secure certain information which we desire. It was thought best not to vote on an indictment tonight."
Tells About Party
Mrs. Delmont testified in detail in the grand jury session regarding the occurrences at the party in which Miss Rappe is alleged to have received her fatal injuries. She had repeatedly knocked and kicked at the closed door behind which were Arbuckle and Miss Rappe, she said, and finally compelled Arbuckle to
open it. She told of having attended the stricken girl and of the girl's removal to the Wakefield sanitarium from the hotel.
Mrs. Jean Jameson, one of the nurses who had attended Miss Rappe at the sanitarium, testified that Miss Rappe had told her that Arbuckle had treated her roughly and that Arbuckle had said that he had waited five years for the girl. At times Miss Rappe said she did not remember what happened in the room and at other times she accused Arbuckle of hurting her, Mrs. Jameson testified. Dr. William Ophuls, who performed the post mortem on Miss Rappe, and Ira G. Fortlouis and Al Semnacher, guests of the party, also testified.
District Attorney Brady announced that he had summoned Miss Provost for an examination today regarding their testimony before the grand jury.
San Francisco, Sept. 13. -- Miss Zey Provost, motion picture bathing girl, was questioned by District Attorney Brady today regarding testimony she gave before the grand jury in supposed conflict with her other statements to the authorities concerning her interest in the hotel party where Miss Virginia Rappe, motion picture actress, is alleged to have received the injuries from which she died. Simultaneously Roscoe C. (Fatty) Arbuckle, motion picture comedian, who is charged with murdering Miss Rappe, went before a coroner's jury in the second day of the inquest into the actress' death.
District Attorney Brady said he was going to endeavor to determine if Miss Provost, who is also known as Zey Pyvron, was induced to commit perjury in her grand jury testimony last night. This testimony differed widely with statements made to himself and Captain of Detectives Matheson, Brady said.
Mrs. Bambina Maud Delmont, who brought the murder charge against Arbuckle, was the first witness at the inquest today. Mrs. Delmont was called as a witness in the inquest yesterday but was not permitted to testify.
Arbuckle Made Date
Today she testified she met Miss Rappe and Miss Rappe's manager, Al Semnacher, by appointment in Los Angeles Saturday September 3. They arrived here Sunday night September 4.
Labor day, while Mrs. Delmont and Miss Rappe were having breakfast at the Palace hotel, Miss Rappe was paged and announced afterward that a Mr. Arbuckle wanted to see them all at the St. Francis hotel. Miss Rappe said "it might be Roscoe Arbuckle, but I don't know."
They drove to the St. Francis and Miss Rappe went to Arbuckle's rooms, telling Mrs. Delmont and Semnacher, who had joined them, to wait until she called for them. She telephoned down to them in a few minutes and they went up to Arbuckle's rooms, meeting Arbuckle, Lowell Sherman, Ira C. Fortlouis and Frederick Fischbach. There were many bottles on the table in the room, she testified. Miss Rappe had three drinks of gin and orange juice and Mrs. Delmont had about ten drinks of whisky. Two more girls came in whom she learned later were Alice Blake and Vey Provost.
The Rappe girl rose and went into the bathroom off Arbuckle's room. When she came out of the bathroom Arbuckle was in his room. He closed the door.
Mrs. Delmont heard screams coming from the room about an hour later and demanded that Arbuckle open the door. He did so and it was noted that he was wearing Miss Rappe's panama hat and the pajamas he was wearing were wet with perspiration. The Rappe girl was on the bed tearing at her clothing and screaming.
"I am hurt. I am dying. He did it."
She removed the girl's clothing and assisted by Fischbach, placed her in a tub of cold water. This had no effect and so Miss Rappe was taken to another room and put to bed.
Arbuckle kept his eye fixed on the witness throughout her testimony, and he appeared to be somewhat affected by it.
Dropped by Club
Los Angeles, Cal., Sept. 13. -- Roscoe Arbuckle was dropped from the membership roll of the Los Angeles Athletic club here last night. President William M. Garland said "It was the unanimous belief of the directors that such a step should be taken."
The L. A. A. C. is the largest club in the city.