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LUCY CORNFORTH


Lucy is one of our better known female inmates. Her trouble started when Wallace Holbrook, a local sheepherder, wrote a not to the daughter of Lucy's neighbors and had asked Lucy to give it to her. Though it was never told what was written in the letter, apparently Holbrook's intentions were improper. The parents of the little girl confronted Lucy and threatened to ruin the lives of her and her daughter, Mary.


Fearing she was going to go to prison, she purchased strychnine and was planning to take Mary's life and then her own. Before swallowing the liquid, Lucy set the cup aside after changing her mind. Knowing what was in the cup and what Lucy had planned, Mary seized it and drank the poison, saying that she "wanted to go."


Lucy first plead not guilty to poisoning her daughter, then changed her plea to guilty. The judge almost gave her the death penalty, but because of her being "marked as an intellectually deficient" the judge decided to follow her attorney's recommendation and sent her to the prison in Deer Lodge.


In 1954, twenty-five years after Lucy's incarceration, a retired teacher from Butte wrote the parole board, asking for a review of her case. The board replied that Lucy had been in and out of the state hospital at Warm Springs, had the mental capacity of a 12-year-old, and would be unable to cope with society on the outside. It was the last time anyone spoke on her behalf.


Even though she was sentenced to life in the Deer Lodge Prison, she was transferred to the Warm Springs Mental Facility starting in 1952, and was eventually released and lived out the rest of her days in Florida until her death on September 15, 1966.

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