City Marshal H.H. Richardson obtained an extradition warrant from the Lewiston Municipal Court for James M. “Jim” Lowell the day after the discovery in the woods of a body that many suspected was his wife, Mary Elizabeth “Lizzie’ Lowell.

Richardson wrote that he had made a diligent search for Lowell “and am unable to find him.” He said he had reason to believe that Lowell resided in Massachusetts.

Detail from the Oct. 16, 1873 warrant signed by Judge Albion Knowlton to bring James M. “Jim” Lowell from Massachusetts to Maine. Maine State Archives

At that moment, Officer E.D. Wiggin of Lewiston happened to be on his way to Manchester, New Hampshire, on some sort of official business. Richardson managed to get a telegram to him to change his plans and head instead to the industrial city of Lawrence.

The governor also sent a message to his counterpart in Boston requesting help in delivering the missing man to Wiggin.

It turned out, though, that Wiggin had no trouble in Lawrence.

Wiggin said he quickly found Lowell loading rags into a cart outside Munroe’s Paper Mill.


When he approached, Wiggin called out, “Good morning, Jim!” because he knew the man.

Lowell responded in kind, then turned his attention back to the cart and its horses.

Wiggin said he waited about 30 seconds but Lowell paid him no further attention. So the officer called out that he’d like to talk for a bit.

After Lowell stepped down off the wagon, Wiggin handed him a copy of that day’s Boston Journal, which carried an account of the discovery of the headless skeleton in Lewiston.

“He took it in his left hand, looked at it, then caught it with his right hand, then dropped his head so low that I could not see his eyes,” Wiggin said. “I saw him pinch his hand, grasping the paper firmly.”

Lowell seemed to read the story twice.


“What do you know about this?” Wiggin asked.

Details from City Marshal H.H. Richardson’s warrant request for the extradition of James M. “Jim” Lowell from Massachusetts to Maine in October 1873. Maine State Archives

Lowell answered, “Nothing.”

“Where is the head?” the officer said. Lowell responded that he didn’t know.

Wiggin next asked, “Where is your wife?”

At that, Lowell said, “Up to the house,” which caused Wiggin to clarify that he meant, “Where is your first wife?”

Lowell explained that he hadn’t seen Lizzie since “the day after the circus” in Lewiston. They went for a late afternoon ride, he said, and he had not seen her since.


“I always supposed she went off with the circus,” Lowell said.

On the street in Lawrence, Wiggin asked Lowell what kind of dress Lizzie wore on that last wagon ride. A light, spotted one, the suspect answered.

Wiggin asked if she owned a black silk dress. “Yes, I bought it for her,” Lowell said.

Wiggin questioned whether Lowell had heard anything about Lizzie since.

“Yes, once a fellow told me he saw her in New York,” Lowell said. The fellow’s name was “John something, but the surname I forget.” Lowell said the guy lived in Greene, a town not far from Lewiston.

Wiggin finally reached the end of his questions.


He told Lowell that he was under arrest for the murder of his wife.

“All right,” Lowell said. “Where do you want me to go?”

“You will have to go to the station till you go to Lewiston,” Wiggin said. Lowell agreed to proceed without protest, any time.

“I am an innocent man, and I will go,” Lowell proclaimed.

At that point, they walked to a mill nearby, where Lowell told someone he had to depart and could not say when he might return. Then Lowell said he should show the newspaper to his wife so the two went to the suspect’s home, where he changed his clothes before they headed to the police station.

“I had no conversation in the house with him any more than to ask him to hurry up and get ready,” Wiggin said.


But at one point, Lowell’s wife, named Mary Turner at the time of his marriage to her, burst out of their bedroom clutching the paper and asked the officer, “What does this mean?”

It was a question that could hardly be answered.

A postcard depicting the Boston and Maine Railroad depot in Lawrence, Massachusetts, in the 19th Century. Lawrence History Center Photograph Collection

Someone asked Lowell if he lived happily with his new wife. He answered yes.

Wiggin sent a telegram to his boss in Maine to inform him that he had Lowell in custody. He asked what he should do next.

Judge Albion Knowlton sent him a response: “Bring Lowell to Lewiston.”

Richardson, after securing the requisite paperwork in Augusta, took the 4:15 train south from Lewiston to lend a hand.


The following morning, on Friday, Richardson climbed aboard the train going the other way with Lowell, leaving Wiggin to make his way back the following week.

Richardson and Lowell occupied the same seat on the train, saying little until it reached Exeter, New Hampshire, when the constable, who had been reading a Boston paper handed it to Lowell to see an account of the arrest.

“I understand you know what you are arrested for?” Richardson asked. His prisoner said, “Yes.”

But, he added, “I did not kill her. And I can prove it.”

The constable said Lowell read the story repeatedly, stone-faced, without so much as a muscle quivering. Finally, Lowell put it down and said, “They’ve got it so it reads pretty well.”

“Yes,” Richardson said, “and I want you to tell a straight story about this matter. If you are an innocent man, you must tell a straight story.”


“That’s so,” Lowell answered.

As the train pulled into the station in Auburn, Lowell spotted a big crowd waiting there.

“What’s this all about?” Lowell asked.

Richardson answered that perhaps it was a big picnic.

Lowell knew better.

“More likely, it’s a circus,” the prisoner said, “and I’m the elephant!”

This is the sixth chapter of a serial that will run every Sunday for much of the year. Follow the mystery here .

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