Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Frances Creighton & Everett Appelgate

Bryant Place

In the spring of 1924, John and Frances Creighton left New Jersey to settle briefly in Boston. Unable to find work, they decided to go to Roosevelt, Long Island where John had friends. By 1930, they had moved to the nearby town of Baldwin in Nassau County. Because of his membership in the American Legion at that time, John became associated with an Everett "Appy" Appelgate, an investigator for the Veteran's Administration earning $38 per week. For many years, Everett's highest goal in life was to obtain a promotion in the legion to County Commander. John and Everett were war veterans, which forged a bond between them.

Everett Appelgate
Everett Appelgate

Everett lived with his wife, Ada, and their teenage daughter, Agnes, in a house owned by his in-laws in Baldwin. Ada was an introverted, obese woman who stayed in bed most of the day. By 1934, she weighed 280 pounds and was still gaining. Ada was not well liked by most of her neighbors and Everett had once told friends that he "couldn't stand the sight of her." One local storeowner later said to police, "Mrs. Appelgate was a pest anyway, she did Appy more harm than good!" Ada had a habit of screaming at her husband whenever something went wrong, which was often. When Everett came home late from Legion meetings, Ada and her parents were always there to greet him. One neighbor told police that they "were always fightingshe would accuse him of being too friendly with the women, he would curse and swear at her and she would do the same!"

Since his free time was spent mostly with the American Legion and the Baldwin volunteer fire department, Everett asked his co-workers to find him a place to live. John Creighton volunteered his home, provided Appelgate contributed toward house expenses. They quickly agreed and in November 1934, Everett, Ada Appelgate and their daughter Agnes moved into the Creighton home at 12 Bryant Place in Baldwin.

Agnes Appelgate
Agnes Appelgate

Although it was cramped inside the tiny house, which was originally a bungalow designed for just four people, no one seemed to mind. Sleeping arrangements were chaotic. Ada usually remained in the front bedroom on the first floor, while John and Frances slept in the back bedroom of the house. The younger John Jr. slept wherever he could find an empty spot, usually on the front porch. The Creighton's teenage daughter, Ruth, shared the filthy space in the attic with Agnes Appelgate where a mattress was thrown on the floor. There was no heat in the attic or running water. But the girls didn't care since it was a way to escape the cramped conditions below.

Though Ruth was only fourteen in 1934, she was an unusually pretty girl who had the body of a woman. "I saw at once that Ruth Creighton was developed beyond her years," said one investigator in his report, "her body more closely resembled that of a girl of twenty-one than fifteen." When warm weather arrived, Ruth showed up in school wearing shorts and showing lots of leg. She was fresh to students and teachers alike, had a spoiled demeanor and quickly became known as a girl who was much more experienced than her age. "She always seemed to have money to spend" said one of her friends to police. None of her friends could understand the curious transformation of Ruth since the Appelgates had moved in. Unlike her contemporaries, Ruth wore lipstick and makeup, something that was considered especially shocking during that era.

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