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  • Writer's pictureMountain State Mysteries

THE MURDER OF A MATRIARCH JULIETTE BUFFINGTON ENSLOW

JULIETTE BUFFINGTON ENSLOW WAS BORN ON MARCH 9TH 1873 IN HUNTINGTON WEST VIRGINIA.

SHE WAS THE DAUGHTER OF PETER CLINE BUFFINGTON WHO HAD THAT DISTINCTION OF BEING THE FIRST MAYOR OF HUNTINGTON AND LOUISA I. GARLAND BUFFINGTON.


SHE WAS THE GRANDDAUGHTER OF WILLIAM BUFFINGTON, WHO WAS CABELL COUNTY’S FIRST SURVEYOR. HER GREAT GRANDFATHER WILLIAM BUFFINGTON WAS ONE OF THE EARLY SETTLERS OF THE REGION, SO HER ROOTS GREW DEEP IN THE AREA.


HER FIRST HUSBAND WAS CHARLES BALDWIN, AND THEIR CHILD WAS CHALRES BLAWIN JR WHO WAS BORN JANUARY 7TH 1895 IN ATHENS GEORGIA.


AFTER THE DEATH OF JULIETTE’S FIRST HUSBAND, SHE MARRIED FRANK ENSLOW, A LAWYER WHO WAS KNOWN AS OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL MEN IN WEST VIRGINIA. HE KEPT BUSY IN HUNTINGTON BUSINESS AND CIVIC AFFAIRS AND SERVED AS PRESIDENT OF THE HUNTINGTON NATIONAL BANK.

FRANK ALSO OWNED EXTENSIVE PROPERTIES IN HUNTINGTON AND WAS INVOLVED IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF OIL AND GAS THROUGHOUT WEST VIRGINIA.

IN 1890 HE BUILT ONE OF THE AREAS MOST ELEGANT HOMES, BOSTING 27 ROOMS, MARBLE FIREPLACES, AND TIFFANY CHANDELIERS. LOCATED AT 1307 THIRD AVENUE, IT WAS THE SCENE OF MANY LAVISH PARTIES AND OF MEETING PLACE OF HUNTINGTON SOCIETY.


THEY LIVED IN THEIR HOME TOGETHER WITH THEIR DAUGHTER DORTHY WHO WAS BORN ON OCT 22, 1902

FRANKS SON FRANK ENSLOW JR

AND JULLIETTE’S SON CHARLES.


FRANK PASSED AWAY ON FEBRUARY 7TH 1917 IN CHARLESTON WEST VIRGINIA.

AS TIME WENT ON JULIETTE STAYED IN HER AND FRANKS HOME WITH TWO SERVANTS AND HER SON CHARLES.


JULIETTE WAS LAST SEEN ALIVE AT 10:30 PM ON OCTOBER 16, 1936. THAT NIGHT HER SON CHARLES HAD THREE VISITORS OVER PLAYING BRIDGE IN THE PARLOR. ALSO IN THE HOME WAS THE HOUSEKEEPER AND COMPANION OF JULIETTE, ELIZABETH BRICKER (WHO WENT BY LIZZIE SO WE WILL CALL HER LIZZE FROM HERE ON OUT) AS WELL AS A STAFF OF SERVANTS.

THE MORNING OF OCTOBER 17TH 1936 STARTED AS A TYPICAL MORNING AT THE HOME OF JULLIETTE BUFFINGTON ENSLOW.


HER STAFF STARTED TO ARRIVE TO HER MANSION AROUND 8:30AM JULLIETTE’S CHAUFFEUR, JUDGE JOHNSON WAS SWEEPING THE SIDEWALK AROUND THE HOUSE WHEN HE NOTICED JULIETTE’S WALLET LYING IN THE DRIVEWAY, HE BROUGHT IT INSIDE TO THE HOUSEKEEPER, LIZZE BRICKER. SHE RUSHED INTO JULIETTE’S ROOM WHERE SHE FOUND JULIETTE ON THE FLOOR BEATEN AND BLOODY WITH A TOWEL WRAPPED AROUND HER NECK. THEY FOUND FIVE STAB MARKS IN HER HEAD, BELIEVED TO HAVE BEEN MADE BY AN ICE PICK AS WELL AS DEFENSIVE WOUNDS ON HER HANDS.

THEY NOTICED THAT BLOOD COVERED THE SHEETS AND PILLOWS ON JULIETTE’S BED.


THEY BOTH NOTICED THAT THE RINGS JULIETTE WORE TO BED HAD BEEN TORN FROM HER FINGERS. HER WRISTWATCH WAS MISSING AND A DRESSER DRAWER WAS OPEN AS IF VALUABLES HAD BEEN SNATCHED FROM IT.

THE SERVANTS RUSHED TO AWAKEN CHARLES WHO WAS ASLEEP IN HIS SUITE LOCATED IN ANOTHER SECTION OF THE HOUSE. CHALRES DRESSED IN HIS PAJAMAS, RUSHED INTO HIS MOTHERS ROOM AND TO HER SIDE.


INVESTIGATORS WERE CALLED TO THE SCENE AND THEY SUSPECTED THAT JULIETTE HAD AWAKENED AND STRUGGLED WITH HER ASSAILANT.


ALTHOUGH THE TOWEL INDICATED THAT STRANGULATION WAS THE LEADING CAUSE OF HER DEATH, THEY ALSO NOTICED THE ABRASIONS ON THE FACE AND FOREHEAD THAT THEY ALSO SAID WOULD HAVE BEEN MADE WITH AN ICE PICK. IT APPEARED THAT JULIETTE HAD RISEN FROM BED AFTER HER ATTACKER DELF AND PULLED A SIGNAL CORD CONNECTED TO THE KITCHEN BEFORE SUCCUMBING TO HER INJURED AND CALLING TO THE FLOOR.

THE COOK, NELLIE BIAS, TOLD POLICE THAT JULIETTE CUSTOMARILY PULLED THE SIGNAL CORD IN THE MORNING TO SIGNAL FOR HER BREAKFAST. BIAS NOTICED THAT THE CORD HAS BEEN PULLED WHEN SHE ARRIVED FOR WORK THAT MORNING SO SHE IMMEDIATELY BEGAN TO PREPARE BREAKFAST.


AFTER THE AUTHORITIES ARRIVED, THEY LOCATED THE TWO RINGS IN THE YARD NEAR WHERE JOHNSON HAD FOUND THE WALLET.

AUTHORITIES BEGAN TO WONDER WHY IF IT RAIN ALL NIGHT HOW THE WALLET WAS FOUND OUTSIDE DRY, LEADING TO SPECULATION THAT IT HAD BEEN PLANTED. THERE WERE NO FINGERPRINTS FOUND IN THE ROOM AND NO SIGN OF FORCED ENTRY, LEADING POLICE TO BELIEVE THAT IT WAS AN INSIDE JOB. THEY THEORIZED THAT THE BURGLAR HAD ENTERED THROUGH THE GUEST WINDOW AND AFTER THE STRUGGLE HAD EXITED THE HOME THROUGH THE WINDOW OF THE DRESSING ROOM.



JULIETTE’S FUNERAL WAS HELD IN HER BEAUTIFUL MANSION, AND SHE WAS LAID TO REST IN SPRING HILL CEMETERY.


JUST FOUR DAYS AFTER THE MURDER THE CITIZENS OF HUNTINGTON WERE SHOCKED WHEN THEY READ THE NEWSPAPER HEADLINE. 41-YEAR-OLD CHARLES BALDWIN HAD BEEN CHARGED WITH WITH MURDER OF HIS MOTHER. HIS TRIAL WAS SCHEDULED FOR MARCH 25TH 1937.


THE WITNESS LIST READ LIKE A SOCIAL REGISTER FOR THE OHIO RIVER TOWN AS THE TRIAL STARTED.

CHARLES APPEARED TO BE SOFT SPOKEN AS HE MAINTAINED HIS INNOCENCE AND HIS PLEA OF “NOT GUILTY”.

THE FORMER ARMY CAPTAIN IMPRESSED THE PUBLIC WHEN HE ENTERED THE COURTROOM SUPPORTED BY A CANE DUE TO THE LOSS OF HIS LEG IN AN ACCIDENT SEVERAL YEARS BEFORE.


THE PROSECUTORS CALLED DR. WALTER E. VEST TO THE STAND. DR. VEST TESTIFIED THAT HE HAD REGISTERED BALDWIN AS A DRUG ADDICT IN 1935. UNDER THE CONDITIONS OF THE REGISTRATION., BALDWIN WAS ALLOWED 5 GRAMS OF THE DRUG EACH DAY.

TO PROTECT THE ADDICT, THE DRUG WAS OVERSEEN BY MRS. ENSLOW WHO GAVE HIM HIS PRESCRIBED AMOUNT ON A STRICTLY REGULATED TIME SCHEDULE. THE PROSECUTION MAINTAINED THAT BALDWIN HAD KILLED HIS MOTHER TO GET MORE OF THE DRUG.


AS EVIDENCE, THEY SUBMITTED A CAN OPENER FROM BALDWIN’S ROOM, WHICH THEY BELIEVED TO HAVE BEEN THE MURDER WEAPON. THEY MAINTAINED THAT BALDWIN HAD TAKEN THE CAN OPENER TO HIS MOTHER’S ROOM WHERE HE HAD PLANNED TO USE IT TO BREAK THE LOCK PROTECTING THE DRUGS. THEY ALSO SUBMITTED BALDWIN’S PAJAMAS WHICH WERE STAINED WITH WHAT WAS BELIEVED TO HAVE BEEN HIS OWN MOTHER’S BLOOD.


THE PROSECUTION MAINTAINED THAT BALDWIN WAS DESPERATE BECAUSE HIS MOTHER WAS TRYING TO BREAK HIM OF HIS DRUG HABIT BY LIMITING HIS SUPPLY. THE STATE HOPED TO SHOW THAT THE BLOOD ON HIS PAJAMAS WAS THE RESULT OF THE STRUGGLE WITH HIS MOTHER DURING THE MURDER.

THE STATE MAINTAINED THAT IT HAS FOUND TWO BLOODY HANDKERCHIEFS AND A BLOODY KEY TO THE BATHROOM IN JULIETTE’S IN THE BASEMENT HIDDEN BY BALDWIN.


THE HANDICAPPED ARMY CAPTAIN PROVED TO BE AN IMPRESSIVE WITNESS. AS A FORMER ATTORNEY, HE WAS COMFORTABLE AND CONVINCING ON THE STAND… BALDWIN STATED THAT THE BLOOD STAIN ON HIS PAJAMAS WAS HIS MOTHER’S BUT HE GOT IT WHEN HE EMBRACED HIS MOTHER AFTER FINDING HER BODY. HE ALSO MAINTAINED THAT THE DRUG THEORY WAS SIMPLY RIDICULOUS. BALDWIN ALSO STATED THAT HE OBTAINED MORE THAN 400 GRAMS OF THE NARCOTIC DURING A RECENT TRIP TO CANADA AND THAT HE HAD FAR MORE IN HIS POSSESSION THAN THE 5 GRAMS HIS MOTHER GUARDED.


THE DEFENSE MAINTAINED THAT THE MURDER HAD BEEN COMMITTED BY A ROBBER WHO WAS SURPRISED BY MRS. ENSLOW. THEY PRODUCED WITNESSES WHO CLAIMED TO HAVE SEEN A PROWLER AROUND THE SPRAWLING ENSLOW MANSION THAT NIGHT. THE WITNESSES ALSO TESTIFIED THAT THEY HEARD SCREAMS AND LATER SAW A CAR LEAVING THE HOUSE.


AN LIST OF CHARACTER WITNESSES FROM SOME OF HUNTINGTON’S MOST PROMINENT FAMILIES TOOK THE STAND IN DEFENSE OF BALDWIN. AMONG THEM WAS HIS HALF-SISTER BY A LATER MARRIAGE WHO TESTIFIED THAT THERE WAS NOTHING BUT LOVE, AFFECTION, AND UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN THE MOTHER AND SON.

THE TRIAL LASTED NINE DAYS BEFORE THE JURY WAS RELEASED TO DELIBERATE. AFTER TWO HOURS, THE JURY RETURNED WITH A VERDICT OF NOT GUILTY FOR CHARLES BALDWIN. WITH HIS CHARACTERISTIC CHARM AND GRACE, BALDWIN IMMEDIATELY STEPPED FORWARD TO SHAKE HANDS WITH THE MEMBERS OF THE JURY.


FOLLOWING THE VERDICT, HUNTINGTON POLICE RETURNED TO SEARCH THE MURDERER OF JULIETTE BUFFINGTON ENSLOW BUT TO NO AVAIL.


HUNTINGTON POLICE RETURNED TO SEARCH AND ON FEBRUARY 27, 1940, ONE OF JULIETTE’S DIAMOND RINGS WAS FOUND IN A CATCH BASIN BEHIND THE ENSLOW MANSON. IT DESCRIBED AS A LARGE DIAMOND SOLITAIRE SET IN PLATINUM WITH A BLACK ONYX MOUNTING. HUNTINGTONIANS WERE SKEPTICAL THAT SUCH A LARGE RING COULD SIT THERE FOR ALMOST FOUR YEARS AND SURVIVE THE 1937 FLOOD, HOWEVER THE CASE WAS NOT REOPENED.

SO, YOU MIGHT AS YOURSELF WHO KILLED JULIETTE BUFFINGTON ENSLOW? WAS IT HER SON? AT THE TIME OF THE MURDER, HE WAS NOT PRACTICING LAW AND WAS LIVING WITH HIS MOTHER.

COULD HE HAVE BEEN SHORT ON FUNDS? COULD HE HAVE BEEN MAD WITH HER HAVING CONTROL OVER HIS DRUGS?

COULD LIZZIE HAVE BEEN AN ACCOMPLICE? WAS SHE MORE THAN JUST A HOUSEKEEPER TO CHARLES?

COULD’VE CHARLES GUESTS MURDERED HER?


UNFORTUNATELY, THESE ARE THE QUESTIONS THAT WE HAVE THAT WILL NEVER BE ANSWERED.


ANOTHER SAD FATE TO GO WITH THIS STORY IS THE ENSLOW MANSION. IT ENDED UP BEING SOLD AND WAS A STEELE FUNERAL HOME FOR MANY YEARS UNTIL IT TRAGICALLY BURNED TO THE GROUND IN A FIRE.

WE BELIEVE THAT SOMEONE KNEW THE TRUTH, SOMEONE WITH ACCESS TO THE STOLEN RINGS.. SADLY WE WILL NEVER KNOW..


IF YOU HAVE ANY INFORMATION ON THE CASE OF JULIETTE BUFFINGTON ENSLOW EMAIL US AT



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