Cape Breton murder mystery from 1923 presented tonight
SYDNEY — A murder mystery once called “one of the most baffling in the criminal records of Cape Breton” will be the subject of a talk at the next meeting of the Old Sydney Society.
Matthew Cook’s talk, Murder or Suicide? The Mysterious Death of Edie Brailsford, Dominion, 1923, will be held at 7 p.m. today at the Centre for Heritage and Science (the Lyceum), 225 George St, Sydney.
On the evening of Nov. 23, 1923, in the busy Cape Breton coal mining town of Dominion, a young English immigrant was found shot to death in her fiancé’s house. John Doucette was immediately accused of the murder of his fiancé, Edie Brailsford.
The grand jury and trial that followed in the winter of 1923-24 heard the testimony of the local doctor and many neighbours. Rumours and hearsay were brought before the court. Testimony and newspaper articles revealed the rocky relation- ship for which Brailsford left her previous fiancé, Charles Higginbotham, who paid her passage from England.
The doctor claimed that Edie could not have killed herself; a letter to her uncle in England suggested she had no intention to harm herself, but everyone in the house at the time was nowhere near the girl when the shot was heard.
In a mystery worthy of an Agatha Christie novel, each person was an alibi for the other. Brailsford’s death, ruled a suicide, remains a mysterious event that is now revisited after more than 80 years.
Old Sydney Society presentations are recorded for broadcast by Eastlink television, and are also streamed lived on the Internet. This week’s talk will be available at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/murder-or-suicide-the-mysterious-death-of-edie-brailsforddominion-1923-by-matthew-cook.