June 23 - Anniversary of a Victory for "Mrs. Sherlock Holmes"

Posted on June 23, 2018

Today is the anniversary of a successful bit of detective work - detective work done by (gasp!) a woman!!!

Let's go back to the year 1917, in New York. In February of that year, an 18-year-old named Ruth Cruger disappeared. The police investigated but came up empty handed. The case was declared a "cold case," even though the Cruger family had money and privilege.

The father of the young woman who had vanished, Henry Cruger, worried that the police hadn't investigated properly. He hired a woman named Mrs. Grace Quackenbos Humiston to look into his daughter's disappearance. Humiston, who was a Special Assistant U.S. States Attorney, had made a name for herself by investigating mistreatment of workers and the awful peonage system. 

Humiston did look into the Ruth Cruger case and by June 18 was able to establish that the likely suspect was a man named Alfredo Cocchi, who ran the repair shop where Cruger was last seen. There had already been a quick search of his place, which didn't find any evidence on Cruger's disappearance, and several police officers had vouched for Cocchi's honesty. But Grace Humiston insisted that the police search again, this time while she watched. When they did, they found the body of Cruger.

There was a ton of attention given to Humiston's successful detective work. As a matter of fact, many people began to call Humiston "Mrs. Sherlock Holmes."

Alfred Cocchi had fled to Italy - but he was located and put on trial there on this date in 1917.

As for why the police hadn't found the girl's body, investigation showed that Cocchi had had a "kickback" scheme with the local police - and it was those dirty cops who had vouched for him.

As a result of her work, Humiston won another special investigator position, this one charged with finding missing girls.

Hooray for Grace Humiston!

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