Another tragedy is the trial of Mrs. Alice Wrayton, widow of Arthur, accused of murdering her servant, William “Billy” Thurston. The trial begin June 20st , 1893 and finished three days later on June 23rd. It was concluded that there were not sufficient grounds to merit the charge of murder, and Mrs.Wrayton was declared not guilty. In spite of this non-guilty verdict, there is still much wonder about what truly happened between December 22-24, 1892, as there were many witnesses that provided accounts pointing towards the neglect and mistreatment of Billy Thurston by Alice Wrayton. It should be noted that she was an outcast in the community and suspected of having an affair, which would give many cause to testify against her. Till this day, no one knows the truth except for her and Billy. You can read the whole court transcript on the table. Points of interest are highlighted.
The Wrayton House on Emerald Island
“Noticed his boots were burst open and saw his bare heel with snow in around it…I next saw him at quarter to four when I went into the barn. Thurston and Mrs. Wrayton were there. He was behind the cows and she had a stick in her hand. It looked like the rung of the ladder about 18 inches long and 1 ½ inches in diameter. I next saw Thurston, dead at the inquest before Coroner Schrage…His face was scarred and I saw impressions of a rope around the wrist. At the inquest she (Mrs.Wrayton) showed us oil pants, nearly new and said they were what Thurston wore that day. I saw Thurston on the day of his death… and the oil pants she showed were not the ones he wore that day. The latter were dark and all to pieces…I found in the barn, down behind some barrels, the old oil pants he had on when I last saw him alive.” – Fred Greenwood
“I found what I considered to be the result of a blow behind the right ear extending toward the back of the head. I saw also a small contusion on the left temple…There is no way of determining from the contusions what agency it was produced. A blow of that severity would produce partial unconsciousness, faintness and inability to move. It would not necessarily be fatal. This rule is not invariable, sometimes a slight blow….would cause death instantly. I do not think the blow in question would be fatal…There was quite severe contusion on back of left hand from knuckles to wrist. There was a slight lacerated wound at the junction of the third finger of the left hand. I believe it was the effects of a blow. Marks of discoloration were all over the back of that hand.”- Dr. C.M. Freeman
“I saw him last on Sept. 18, 1892. He was coming from the house down to the shore. I saw Mrs. Wrayton at the same time with a stick in her hand trying to make Thurston pack a stick that four men could not carry…Thurston speared scared of her when I first saw him. He was running away from Mrs. Wrayton who had the stick in her hand.” – Angus Greenwood
“Her previous treatment of the deceased made it easy to conclude that the deceased having failed to attend to his duties at the lighthouse she had struck him and knocked him down. Her subsequent conduct, leaving her imbecile servant hatless and wretchedly clothed to die in the cold and snow…never even looking for two nights and a day to see whether he was dead or alive and making no attempt to summon aid, lent strength to the conclusion that she herself had rendered him incapable of motion by the blow…she, with full knowledge of his desperate plight, made no effort to save his life.” – Mr. Congdon
Alice Wrayton’s story to the jury: She had sent Billy for some hay. When he brought it to the barn, the door struck him on the back of the head causing his nose to bleed. When they went back to their house, she found Billy quarrelling with her children. She drove him out and then he came and asked for some matches to go and light the light. Looking out a few minutes later, she saw that there was no light. She went out to the lighthouse and saw Billy crawling around on the ground. She asked him what was wrong and he said that he had hurt himself. She tried to get him into the house, but could not. She stayed there from dusk until half past seven, then went back into the house. It was cold and she was thinly clad.
“I remember the 22nd of last December. It was a storm and a gale of wind…The wind increased later in the evening with continued snow squalls. I judged it blew from 50 to 60 miles per hour…The weather the next day was worse…When I went on the island on Saturday I saw Mrs. Wrayton. She was talking to Adelbert and George and half crying. She told us of the death and the three of us start out to find the body, as we suppose Thurston must be dead…Had on a shirt, a jumper, a coat and an oil jacket over that…I never saw him ill treated. I never saw him indecently dressed.” – Captain E. Larkin
“Yes, the woman who tried to save poor Billy Thurston is by the bitter irony of fate placed in the dock for manslaughter…Mrs. Wrayton came with clothes for the burial but she was told these could not be got without breaking the limbs..Does this look like manslaughter? Does that look like fixing on this poor woman a disgrace…which will cause the arrows of hate and malice to be aimed at her children for years to come.”- Mr.Bulmer