Stanford White Murder
Stanny and Evelyn
When White first saw Evelyn in the chorus of Florodora, he was entranced. He knew another member of the chorus, Edna Goodrich, and arranged for her and Evelyn to meet him in the tower apartment for lunch. Mrs. Nesbit balked, but Ednas mother (also a chorus girl) convinced her that White was a gentleman and could be very good for her daughters career.
Edna and Evelyn dined with White and another man at the tower. After the meal, White gave the girls a tour of the studio, which contained multiple rooms and floors. To Evelyn, the place seemed like a fairy world. In Whites spectacular studio, she saw opulent tapestries, antique furniture imported from Europe, valuable paintings and gorgeous lighting. On the second floor, there was a huge room filled with Whites sketches, drawings and paintings. The plush red velvet swing hung in the center of that room.
White invited Evelyn to swing. She hopped upon the seat and swung as high as she could, laughing brightly. White had placed a paper Japanese parasol within reach of the swingers feet. Evelyn delighted in punching holes in the fan.
Soon, she was exhausted with joy. White made charming conversation and offered to pay his dentist to fix Evelyns teeth. He sent her home with the dentists card and a promise to invite her again soon.
Evelyn raved to her mother about White. He was the most charming, magnetic, smartest man shed ever known. She couldnt wait to lunch with him again. The second lunch happened shortly thereafter, and again Evelyn had a splendid time.
Except, Mrs. Nesbit avoided taking Evelyn to the dentist. Evelyn pouted and repeated the fact that White thought her bad tooth ruined her smile. White pressed to meet the mother and plead his case. Finally, Mrs. Nesbit visited White at his office, and to Evelyns pleasure, returned from the meeting convinced of Whites good intentions.
Evelyn went to the dentist. A week later, Mrs. Nesbit, Evelyn and Howard moved from their small rooms to the luxurious Audubon Hotel. Shortly thereafter, White arranged for Howard to attend Chester Military Academy outside of Philadelphia.
When Mrs. Nesbit planned a trip to Pittsburgh to visit her new fiancé, Mr. Holman, she left her daughter in Whites care. Whites car picked up Evelyn after the evenings performance and brought her to the tower apartment. She had never been there at night, much less un-chaperoned. Evelyn, feeling very grown-up, had several glasses of champagne during their intimate dinner. White amused her with stories of peoples odd decorating requests. Evelyn gossiped about her cast mates.
After the meal, White served her more champagne. He brought her to the bedroom and asked her to try on a silky yellow kimono. She put on the garment and enjoyed the exotic vision of herself in the bedrooms gilded mirrors. She noticed that White trembled whenever he got close to her. Lying there, she began to feel groggy and lost consciousness.
Hours later, Evelyn awoke to find pain between her legs. She saw the evidence of Whites violation on her thighs, and she gasped with fright.
Now you belong to me! declared White with gentle triumph. He caressed and kissed her.
In the ensuing years, Evelyn told different versions of the story from this point forward. In some cases, she screamed in terror and anguish at her ruin. She claimed to hate him but believed no decent man would have her. So, she remained his mistress. In other versions, her cries were of delight at becoming a woman at the hands of such a magnificent man. Given her youth, the truth probably lies somewhere in between.
Evelyns diaries indicate she bore White a certain amount of affection, but there is little doubt he took advantage of her. He was in his late forties, a married man and treated Evelyn with fatherly affection and indulgence. She was only sixteen, had grown up in miserable poverty and had missed the love and support of her dead father.