The Alice Crimmins Case
'Sexpot' on Trial
On September 11, 1967, two years and two months after the deaths of little Missy and Eddie, Alice Crimmins was arrested for the first-degree murder of her daughter. She was not charged in her sons death because it could not be medically proven that he had been murdered.
The press, especially the tabloid press, had a field day with the case. Alice Crimmins was invariably called the ex-cocktail waitress even though it was a position she had held for only a few months. As Ann Jones has noted, the word was used as a pejorative to sneer at Alice Crimmins and a whole category of women workers at once despite her future attorneys sound judgment that it was actually a very hard job. But people see the tight-fitting, frilly outfit, not the constant waiting and serving.
Crimminss sexual escapades were raked over for both their titillation value and as a source of moral outrage. Front Page Detective labeled her Sexpot on Trial and described her as an erring wife, a Circe, an amoral woman whose many affairs appear symptomatic of Americas Sex Revolution.
The courtroom trial began in May, 1968 with Judge Peter Farrell, a long-nosed man with thinning silver hair, presiding. It was sensational in the extreme, partly because of the sex-related testimony and partly due to Crimminss emotional outbursts.
The physician who had first inspected Missys body when it was found in the lot was named Richard Grimes. He testified: I saw the body of a girl who appeared to be about five years of age ... She was clad in a cotton undershirt, a pair of yellow panties--
No! The doctors recitation was broken by a shout from Alice Crimmins who began to weep.
Judge Farrell demanded order and told Dr. Grimes to continue. Around the little girls face there was a cloth tie, Dr. Grimes said. "The loose ends of the tie appeared to be the arm of some type of garment. The tie was over the mouth of the child, the knot encircling the neck, and the tie was rather loose. ..."
Alice Crimmins, supposedly a cold and unfeeling woman, wailed and sobbed uncontrollably during this testimony. A few spectators started crying with her and the judge put the court in recess.
A different kind of explosion from Alice took place during Joe Rorechs testimony. Rorech had to be repeatedly reminded to speak up as he testified in what was, for him, an oddly subdued voice. He told the packed courtroom that prior to the murders, Alice had discussed Eddies custody suit and had speculated that she might simply take off with them if she thought she might legally lose them. He also repeated her statement that she would rather see them dead than with Eddie. Later, he said that the two lovers had been talking about the children and a teary-eyed Alice had sadly said, Joseph, please forgive me, I killed her.
At this testimony, Alice Crimmins leapt to her feet and screamed, Joseph! How could you do this? This is not true! Joseph ... you, of all people! Oh, my God!
Sophie Earomirski may have been the trials most dramatic witness. On direct examination by prosecutor James Mosley, she told how she had seen a woman carrying a bundle, a man, and a little boy on that sleepless night at the window. He took the bundle and he swung the bundle under his arm ... and he walked very quickly to the car, Earomirski testified as the courtroom listened in hushed anticipation. ... he took this bundle and threw it in the back seat of the car. She ran over to him and she said, My God, dont do that to her. And then he looked at her and said, Now youre sorry? and ... she said, Please dont say that.
When asked if she recognized the woman in the courtroom, Earomirski didnt hesitate. She pointed an accusing finger at Alice Crimmins and said, Thats the woman.
Again Alice jumped to her feet screaming. You liar! You liar! the defendant thundered. You liar! You liar! You liar! You liar!
Judge Farrell pounded his gavel and demanded Alice Crimmins get a grip on herself.
One of Crimminss attorneys, Martin Baron, tried to point out inconsistencies between the story she related to this jury and what she had told to the grand jury. However, Sophie was very popular with the courtroom audience, most of who were strongly convinced of Crimminss guilt. The spectators often laughed or even applauded at her answers until the judge admonished them that, This is not the Hippodrome. She held up well under cross-examination and, during a court recess, triumphantly held up her hands in a boxers salute.