Monty Mug Shot

BACK WHEN: Part 2: ‘Lady of the Lake’ murder mystery

LAST MONTH, I gave you Part 2 of the “Lady of the Lake” murder mystery. The mysterious body had been identified as Hallie Illingworth. Good old detective work flushed out the likely suspect in the murder. An arrest had been made. The trial was next. Monty pled not guilty.

On Feb. 24, 1942, the trial began. It was only two and a half months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The world was at war. For many, the trial was a diversion from the brutal events around the world. So many people attended the trial that it was standing room only. At times the crowd overflowed into the corridor.

Kitsap County Superior Court Judge H. G. Sutton of presided over the trial. The man on trial was Montgomery J. Illingworth. He was born on Sept. 24, 1908, at Ruskin, Neb. He worked primarily as a beverage deliveryman.

The trial began with jury selection. 74 prospective jurors were called. The twelve selected were Ivan Messford, T. T. Carlson, A. A. Evans, Thomas J. Barton, Kenneth Reid, E. W. Kreaman, David Warnock, Ed Rushford, Ray Goss, Ralph Edgington, Mrs. Jesse McCourt and A. A. Schmith.

The prosecution started with the fiery relationship between Monty and Hallie. Lois Bailie, Hallie’s sister, testified that Hallie had been seen with two black eyes. Even Monty admitted they had numerous quarrels during their married life.

Early testimony also centered on when Hallie was last seen. Lois, who worked at the Loop Café (104 W Front St., Port Angeles), recalled that Monty came by for breakfast telling Lois he had not seen Hallie since the night before. He said he thought Hallie was at Lois’ house. Later he implied that Hallie may have gone to visit a naval officer in Bremerton.

Monty’s friend and coworker, Tony Enos, testified that Monty took the day off work to take Hallie to the Port Ludlow ferry. The prosecution was exposing Monty’s various stories.

The prosecution brought forth other witnesses to testify about the items found on the body. Was that Hallie’s kind of underwear? Was the dress like one that Hallie had? Was the hair like Hallie’s? Where did the rope come from? All the answers pointed to the body was that of Hallie Illingworth.

The most damning piece of evidence was the dental plate. Dr. Albert McDowell of South Dakota testified that he made the dental plate for Hallie. The defense attorney grilled Dr. McDowell hard, but the old dentist stood his ground. He was positive that dental plate belonged to Hallie because it had some peculiarities that did not exist in most other plates. The dental plate was custom made for Hallie.

Two pathologists had examined tissue from the body. Both testified that saponification had taken place. Both testified the body must have been in the lake for over a year. Both testified that strangulation was the cause of death.

Further, both testified that the body had reached an extreme stage of saponification and that this process would make the body lighter, thereby allowing the body to float to the surface.

Prosecutor Max Church pressed Monty hard about when he last saw Hallie. His response, “I am trying to tell you the truth, Max. I never killed anyone. You are trying to get me mixed up.”

Monty insisted that he and Tony Enos were at Fort Worden on the evening of Dec. 21, 1937, putting on entertainment for soldiers. When he returned the next morning Hallie was in bed asleep. He said that Hallie later got up and went to work but came home “tight.” He said he walked out because “no one could argue with Hallie when she was drinking.” Monty said that he returned home that evening and Hallie, and all her clothes were gone.

Monty’s attorney, Joseph H. Johnston, asked Monty about his innocence. “I had nothing to do with putting that body into the lake.” He also denied that the body’s clothing or hair were Hallie’s.

On Monday, March 2, 1942, the prosecution rested their case.

Monty’s attorney immediately made a motion to dismiss the case due to lack of evidence connecting Monty to the crime. Judge Sutton denied the motion.

The defense proceeded to attempt to show that Hallie had been seen alive in 1938.

Testimony was given that Mr. P. C. Garrett had seen Hallie sometime in 1938. Under cross examination, Mr. Garrett stated, “If I said that I had seen Hallie alive in Seattle I was either drunk or crazy.”

The defense called three doctors to the stand. They testified that the body could not have been in the water for 31 months without becoming a skeleton. Instead, they believed the body had been there only four to six months. Under cross examination, the doctors admitted they had not examined the body or made microscopic examination of body tissue. Their testimony was based upon their medical understanding of saponification.

One doctor believed that fish would have eaten the body before 31 months elapsed. But that did not account for the body being tightly wrapped in blankets.

The defense brought out other witnesses who claimed to see Hallie alive in 1939 and 1940. One claimed to have seen Hallie in Sitka, Alaska. That testimony was based this person stating their name was Hallie Illingworth Goodwin. Under cross examination, the witness admitted he did not know Hallie, but was acquainted with Monty.

Flossie Illingworth, Monty’s mother, testified to seeing Hallie in Long Beach, Calif., one day. Of course, the veracity of that was questioned.

The trial lasted nine days. During the nine days, 65 individual witnesses had been called. Some were called to testify as many as four times.

The prosecution and defense made their closing arguments. In the afternoon of March 5, 1942, the jury retired to the jury room taking more than 50 exhibits in evidence with them.

The judge gave the jurors the choice of four verdicts: guilty of first-degree murder, guilty of murder in the second degree, guilty of manslaughter or not guilty.

The jury reached its verdict in about four hours at 7:35 that evening. Monty was guilty of second degree murder.

Monty was sentenced to life in prison at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. Monty was eventually paroled on Jan. 10, 1951. Monty died in Los Alamitos, Calif., on Nov. 5, 1974.

________

John McNutt is a descendant of Clallam County pioneers and treasurer of the North Olympic History Center Board of Directors. He can be reached at woodrowsilly@gmail.com.

John’s Clallam history column appears the first Saturday of every month.

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