- The story of a woman who killed her husband over a bridge hand.
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- The "Bridge Table" Murder
- Granovetter, Matt - MURDER AT THE BRIDGE TABLE
It was then that Myrtle Bennett turned to Charles and Myrna Hoffman and said that they had better leave.
Charles and Myrna Hoffman politely began making preparations to leave. It was while Charles and Myrna Hoffman were making preparations to leave the apartment that they noticed Myrtle Bennett quickly going into the bedroom of her mother, Mrs. Alice B. Adkins, and it was there that she retrieved an automatic gun from a dresser drawer. It was reported later that Myrtle Bennett said to her mother that John was going to St.
Joseph, Missouri, and that he wanted to be armed. Her mother did not seem alarmed by this. John Bennett had gone to his den, which was located near the bathroom, to pack for the intended trip to the hotel and for the days he wanted to be out of town. Charles Hoffman, putting on his muffler, had turned back and saw his friend, John Bennett, alone. It was during this time that Myrna Hoffman, who was standing at the front doorway, was waiting for her husband, when Charles Hoffman decided to approach John Bennett, hoping to say a few words of comfort which could relieve the feeling of anger and depression.
Charles Hoffman engaged John Bennett in a conversation, and it was at this time that Myrtle Bennett seemed to dart into the room with the pistol unconcealed in her hand. In a matter of seconds, John Bennett saw his wife brandishing the gun, ran hurriedly to the nearby bathroom, and slammed the door behind him. As soon as the door slammed shut, Myrtle Bennett fired two shots which penetrated the bathroom door. As it was pointed out later at the trial, she missed both times.
John Bennett dodged the bullets. Charles Hoffman, evidently too astonished at what had just happened, became immobile and stood standing in the den. Myrna Hoffman, after hearing the shots, ran down the hallway of the apartment building and began pounding on the door of the nearest apartment, apparently seeking help. Myrtle Bennett simply remained standing in front of the bathroom door with the pistol hanging by her side.
However, in the commotion, Myrtle Bennett realized that she had not shot her husband. She heard him nearing the door which lead to the street. She followed, still furious about the play of the hand, the slaps she had received from her husband in front of friends, and determined to take revenge. She fired two additional shots, which allegedly killed her husband. John Bennett did not die immediately, but was able to drag himself back into the apartment, where he staggered to a chair, sat down, and moaned that: "She got me.
Afterwards, he slumped to the floor unconscious. Myrtle Bennett stood rigidly in the room with the pistol in her hand, and then it seemed that whatever power had held her left her mind and body. She had become again a rational person. She immediately went to her husband, she kneeled down, and began to cry uncontrollably. This is how the police found her. Myrtle Bennett was charged with first degree murder.
The story of a woman who killed her husband over a bridge hand.
While this scene was being acted out, it seems that the bridge cards were neglected. When John Bennett was hitting his wife, the cards were flying around and off the table. The exact nature of the holding between North and South, and East and West, will most likely never be revealed, although Charles and Myrna Hoffman attempted to reconstruct the hands as best they could remember. The four hands played that evening, reconstructed by memory, began to circulate in periodicals shortly after the crime, and they were analyzed by the governing authorities on bridge of that time.
The hands, as delivered to the present time, are illustrated below. After the shooting, many bridge players became intrigued by the cards. They were reconstructed by the three remaining survivors to the best of their ability. Sydney Lenz and Mr. Eli Culbertson actually proved that John Bennett could have successfully fulfilled the contract. However, the opening by John Bennett was criticized as being too light since he did have insufficient values to make an opening bid.
Charles Hoffman, after seeing the dummy void of Diamonds shifted to the Club suit, and lead the Jack on the second trick. John Bennett won this trick with his King of Clubs and began pulling trump. The more appropriate play would have been for John Bennett to establish the Club suit after ruffing his last Diamond.
If John Bennett, after winning the Club trick with his King of Clubs, had led his last Diamond and trumped it with one of the dummy's small trumps, he could then lead a trump and go up with the King. Then he would lead the Club 10, and , when Charles Hoffman followed suit, his worries would have been over. If Myrna Hoffman would have played the Queen of Clubs, John Bennett would have trumped and allowed Charles Hoffman to overtrump, if he decided to overtrump. If that were the case, then Charles Hoffman, if he led a Heart, the contract would have been fulfilled.
If Charles Hoffman had instead led a Diamond, the contract would also have been makeable. If Charles Hoffman had decided to lead a trump, then John Bennett may not have been able to fulfill the contract. The conclusion of both Sydney Lenz and Eli Culbertson was that John Bennett did not plan his strategy before playing the cards, and that was his fatal mistake.
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Note : The above picture of Judge Ralph S. Latshaw , the presiding judge at the trial of Mrs. Myrtle Bennett, is by courtesy of Mr. Randal J. Loy , who has proof-read this account, contributed information to the actual facts and events of that time, and reminds the reader that a certain society level existed in the state of Missouri in the early s.
We wish also to extend our thanks to the family members, who provided Mr. Loy with the picture and allowed its publication. Visitors should be aware that any copy should carry the permission of these family members. The reader may address Mr. Loy personally by email. Note : Legend and rumors have been spread and spoken that Judge Ralph S.
Latshaw was himself an avid bridge player. However, the present family members of Judge Ralph S. Latshaw have requested, through their spokesperson Mr. Loy, that the following information be made availalbe to the reader, which we do so willingly and readily. The reference of that statement refers to the rumor that Judge Ralph S. Latshaw was an avid bridge player.
They do know, unquestionably, that Judge Latshaw was an extremely ethical man, who would have been extremely impartial while on the bench. Furthermore, it is known that Judge Latshaw was extremely disappointed with the verdict the jury returned in this case. His widow expressly requested that a full-page tribute, which appeared in The Kansas City Star newspaper on the day of Judge Latshaw's death, not contain any reference to this highly-publicized case, since Judge Latshaw felt that in his instructions to the jury he had not impressed upon them the weight of the evidence entered in the case by the prosecution.
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Note : Although neither confirmed nor substantiated it is related that the fatal last hand was supposedly replayed at the trial and bridge experts called in to examine the deal. These bridge experts are, as of today, unknown and unnamed. They subsequently determined, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Mr. John Bennett had completely misplayed the hand.
Note : The reader must be aware of the fact that the above is only hearsay since there is no actual transcript of the dialogue at the trial. Although the story occurred in Kansas City, Missouri, the larger metropolitan newspapers got a hold of the details and the New York Time and the Chicago Tribune reported it.
At the trial for first degree murder of her husband, Myrtle Bennett was advised by her lawyer to alter somewhat the alleged confession.
The "Bridge Table" Murder
Myrtle Bennett wept ostensibly throughout the proceedings, and at one point avowed that she would rather have been dead than to have in any fashion caused the death of her husband. It seems that this line of defense was advantageous when the judge declined to admit into evidence the original statement Myrtle Bennett had given to the police. Even the last words of John Bennett had been altered to the degree that the impression was left that John Bennett had meant to state that he was leaving his wife forever, and that he was conducting business the next day in St.
Joseph, Missouri. During the trial it seemed that Myrtle Bennett convincingly stated that her husband had requested her to retrieve the pistol, since he normally carried the weapon while on trips out of town. This statement was backed up by her mother, Mrs. Myrtle Bennett was also able to alter the circumstances to leave the impression that while she was retrieving the weapon, she stumbled over a chair and the pistol went off accidentally, wounding her husband, and when her husband grabbed her arm in order to remove the pistol, the pistol once again discharged, this time fatally wounding her husband.
Myrtle Bennett, born in the year and died in the year , was acquitted, because the jury decided to ignore the physical evidence of the two bullet holes found in the bathroom door. The jury also found nothing strange that the body of John Bennett was found lying on the living room floor and no suitcase to be found. The jury also ignored the fact that the pistol had been fired four times.
The jury found that the death of John Bennett had been an accident. Myrtle Bennett resumed her hobby of playing bridge soon thereafter, but it seems that her partners were rather cautious in their bidding and playing. David Daniels , in his book, The Golden Age of Contract Bridge , described the scene, the characters, and the events that followed. In his collection, While Rome Burns , originally published by Arthur Baker, London, England, drama critic and essayist Alexander Woollcott, , reported on the delicate matter of Myrtle Bennett, the shooting, the trial, and the acquittal.
It was Thornton Wilder who convinced Woollcott that his work was important enough to deserve reissue in book form. While Rome Burns was a surprise bestseller and further cemented Woollcott's reputation nationally.
Granovetter, Matt - MURDER AT THE BRIDGE TABLE
It is light reading but includes much that is amusing or quaint and one very fine piece, Hands Across the Sea , about justice during the war. Other Editions 2. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
To ask other readers questions about Murder at the Bridge Table , please sign up. Be the first to ask a question about Murder at the Bridge Table. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. Sort order. Feb 05, James rated it really liked it. A useful guide for duplicate bridge players. But as a bonus, it's also an example of vanity publishing at it's worst, with terrible clip art and line drawings.
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