Part 1 The Victim, The Investigation
Pretty, buxom Margaret "Marie" Lavor usually plied her ancient trade at the corner of Sixth Avenue and C Street in old-time Anchorage. On the night of Aug. 25, 1919, she dressed for an appointment, adorning herself with a valuable necklace and other gold and diamond jewelry that she commonly wore.
Marie had cashed $600 worth of checks. Later, only $25 would be found in the cash register, so it was presumed that she had the money on her. She asked a "frequenter of her place" to sell cigars and soft drinks in her absence, and left.
When Marie had not returned by 8 the next morning, her friends were concerned and the authorities were notified.
During the ensuing investigation, two deputies questioned Marie's associates and identified the man last seen with her. They went to great lengths to search every empty cabin for a clue which might lead them to find the woman. In fact, as reported in the Anchorage Daily Times, they had even "taken the measurements of the footprints and for the first time in Anchorage have taken finger impressions."
The deputies had suspected that the woman had been murdered for her money and valuables, but could not find a body.
The marshal hired a searcher and his dog to track down clues. A few days later, the dog scented blood on the ground at the southeast corner of William Dempsey's cabin on B Street. Following the trail to Dempsey's outhouse, the found a blood-soaked shirt, vest and trousers.
With the help from the same dog, Lavor's body was found on Sept. 4—at the bottom of a well on abandoned property.
The cribbed well measured about 2.5 feet at the top but enlarged as it went downward. A false bottom made of heavy boards was built about 3 feet from the real bottom of the well. Beneath that floor was the body of Marie Lavor.
With assistance of volunteers, the body was removed—no small task since she weighed about 210 pounds. The cause of death was obvious. The lower left side of the woman's head had been crushed by a blow from a blunt instrument. There were no other marks of violence on her body other than those caused by the fall when she was thrown down the well.
The unfortunate victim was dressed in her street clothes. She was wearing a gold bracelet and ring, diamond breast pin, and gold nugget chain and earrings, but no money was found on her body.
Evidence suggested that the crime had been premeditated, for the top curbing of the well had been removed so the opening would be large enough to admit a body the size of Lavor's.