FUNERAL BLAZE AT LAWLEY HOME
SISTER OF DECEASED MISSING IN SUSPECTED ARSON FIRE
22 DECEMBER, 1917 - What should have been a quiet, sorrowful affair was shattered Friday evening when a fire broke out near the end of the funeral services for Hazel Elizabeth Lawley, 25, who died earlier this week.
Although there were no injuries when the blaze was extinguished just after midnight, part of the Lawley home was in ruins and Alethe Lawley, youngest daughter of Everett Lawley and sister to the deceased, was nowhere to be found. As no body has yet been recovered, Ms. Lawley is currently presumed missing.
Crowley Madigan, business partner and longtime friend to the Lawley family, served as spokesperson for Everett Lawley, who was unable to offer comment. He was among the thirty-some attendants at the service, many of whom were either indirect relations to the Lawley family or affiliated with the management of Lawley Orchards. The operation of the orchards has been at the center of a series of strikes and protestations over the past several months, with some fearing that the Lawley family itself might be targeted for attack by disgruntled workmen.
“I simply don’t understand it,” said Mr. Madigan. “Who does something like this at a funeral, of all places? If this was arson, it was an act of evil, pure and simple. To rob a man of his home, the chance to grieve his daughter, and his sole remaining child on top of that - I cannot think of a crime more deranged.”
Preliminary examination of the scene suggests the fire began on the second floor, in what had been Ms. Hazel Lawley’s bedroom. The exact cause of the fire has not been determined. When asked to comment on the likely location of the fire’s origin, Mr. Madigan refused to speculate.
The blaze was concentrated to the opposite side of the house from the funeral service, and Hazel Elizabeth Lawley was buried this morning at White Oak Cemetery, in a private ceremony.
Quinn told me Alethe Lawley had disappeared. She didn’t tell me how. Maybe she didn’t know about the fire, or she didn’t think it was important.
Why would Castile set fire to the Lawley mansion during Hazel’s funeral? Lawley Orchards again - I don’t think for a minute it was “disgruntled workers” or some kind of master plot against the Lawley family. The fire started in Hazel’s room. I can’t explain it, but I feel like this was an act of passion.
Was he still angry that she refused to marry him? Was he so grief-stricken over his death that he set the fire as some kind of tantrum?
Or maybe it was a cover. Alethe disappeared during the fire. I know they never found a body, and from the letter I found in my glove box (which I presume contains her final words), she made her way to the estate before her death. What if Castile used the fire as a chance to kidnap her without anyone suspecting him? It might have been a clever move, especially if he was present at the funeral.
God. What did this guy do to her? And if his body is here, then where is she?