James M. “Jim” Lowell turned up in the 1910 Census, living alone in Greene, a small town outside Lewiston where he had resided for a time as a younger man. In the census, he called himself a widowed farmer, 69 years old.

By 1911, Lowell was admitted to the National Soldiers’ Home in Togus, which housed about 2,000 other veterans, mostly from the Civil War.

At one point in 1911, a Journal reporter saw Lowell there.

“Jim Lowell is dying,” the reporter wrote. “A paralytic shock laid him low a few days ago and he lies helpless and insensible” at the home “nearing the end of a life which has had more than its share of notoriety.”

A matron of the facility, A.J. Whittredge, said old soldiers often arrived “in a condition little above that of the breathing animal, broken in spirit and shattered in reason.” Many entered the barracks there bearing cards that asked for the names of wives, relatives or friends.

Whittredge said they often simply wrote “none” in response. “When I am handed one it always causes a sinking of the heart and a wondering as to whose heart was broken when he went away to fall into paths that led so far away from home that none might ever be informed of his passing away,” she told The National Tribune, published in the nation’s capital.


National Soldiers’ Home in Togus, depicted in a turn-of-the-century postcard. Private collection

Lowell spent at least three long stints in the veterans’ home, which recorded that he had problems with both legs, indigestion and other ailments.

His next of kin on the home’s records was listed as William Turner of Haverhill, Massachusetts, his son from his second marriage. Born in Lewiston on July 18, 1872, according to his masonic lodge membership card, Turner married a woman name Lillian Burton in New Hampshire in 1893. On their Dover, New Hampshire, wedding license, he listed his mother as Mary A. Turner. For his father, he wrote “James Mc” without putting a last name.

William Turner’s 1893 marriage certificate listing his father as “James Mc.” Dover, New Hampshire Town Records

Why he chose to leave off a last name is impossible to know. But Lowell’s son, whose father had been in prison for murder every moment he could remember for his entire life, surely had good reason.

William Turner later ran a barbershop in Haverhill and had at least four children with Lillian before his death in 1935. Lillian lived until 1960. Both are buried in the Pittsfield Village Cemetery in her hometown in Maine. One of his sons, also named William, served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and lived until 1978. He is buried near his parents.

Some genealogical snooping around deduced that William Turner’s mother, Mary Turner, was born in 1855 in Providence, Rhode Island, as Mary D’arcy.

James M. “Jim” Lowell, 1917 Lewiston Evening Journal

It is unclear whether Lowell and D’arcy ever formally married. One witness said they married a few months after Lizzie vanished in 1870. If they did, the records have proven elusive. But they may exist somewhere.


In any case, she married James Monroe Turner in 1881 in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The two never had a child of their own.

Why people in Lewiston knew her as Mary Turner is a mystery. It may be that she had known Turner before she met Lowell and then later returned to him.

Mary Turner lived until at least 1920, when she still resided in Plymouth. Her husband was dead by then.

Her birth in Providence explains what would otherwise seem a strange mistake on Lowell’s records at the veterans’ home, where officials cited Rhode Island as his birthplace, though he may well never have set foot in the state.

Since authorities knew about William Turner when they filled in the paperwork, it’s at least possible that Lowell’s son, who was 27 by the time his father got out of prison, had no idea where his father was from so he simply provided his mother’s birthplace as a reasonable guess.

Or maybe just didn’t really care much.


Death came for Lowell at the 50 Academy St. home of a cousin in Auburn on March 29, 1917, about the age of 76. The cause is unknown, but he had been in ill health for years by then. His obituary mentions that his right side was paralyzed after “three shocks” that may have been strokes.

Records in Lewiston show he was buried in the Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery on Riverside Avenue.

It doesn’t appear that his grave in the cemetery is marked. Lewiston city records don’t indicate any plot number, as most do, which may mean he was interred in a small potter’s field section that’s now overgrown.

The city clerk, Kathy Montejo, said that “if you go walking out there, be very careful. The woods are full of snakes.”

She said that when a public works crew had to go look for a marker in the area a few years ago, one of its members returned to tell her “he was kicking snakes off of his boots there were so many back there.”

Snakes or not, an exploration of the area turned up no sign of Lowell’s grave.


Wherever Lowell’s remains lie within the burial ground, the spot is roughly a mile from the spot where he once hid the body of his wife, Mary Elizabeth “Lizzie” Lowell.

Lizzie’s bones, including the skull found years later, were given to her mother and buried in a family plot outside Bangor, probably in a little cemetery in Eddington beside the Penobscot River.

Though some family tombstones remain in the cemetery, including Lizzie’s mother, none of them specifically mention the murdered Lewiston woman.

But one, from another family of the same era, which cannot be far from the murder victim’s final resting spot, evokes her in the one word carved in stone: LIZZIE.

This is the 29th and last chapter of a serial that has run on Sundays for much of the year. All of the chapters are here.

A gravestone in the Eddington, Maine, cemetery where Mary Elizabeth “Lizzie” Lowell is likely buried. It reads LIZZIE, but refers to a woman from a different family of the same era. Steve Collins/Sun Journal

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