Inquisition by Coroner's Jury.
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In the matter of the Inquisition upon the body of
Violet E. Whaley
Before H. T. Risdon Coroner.
We, the undersigned, the jurors summoned to appear before H. T. Risdon, the Coroner of the County of San Diego, at North San Diego on the 19th day of August A. D. 1885, to inquire into the cause of the death of Violet E. Whaley having been duly sworn according to law, and having made such inquisition, after inspecting the body, and hearing the testimony adduced upon our oaths, each and all do say that we find the deceased was named Violet E. Whaley was a native of California aged about 22 years; that she came to her death on the 19th day of August, A. D. 1885, in this Connty [sic], by shooting herself through the heart with a pistol held in her own hands, while laboring under mental aberration.
All of which we duly certify by this inquisition, in writing, by us signed, this 19th day of August A. D. 1885.
John N. Young, Foreman
J. A. Altamirano
In the matter of an inquest held upon the body of Violet E. whaley by Coroner H. T. Risdon, at North San Diego, California, August 19, 1885, the following jurors were summoned, and sat as a jury to inquire into and take testimony as to the cause of death of said deceased:
John N. Young,
Louis [sic] Serrano,
Ramon Ossuna [sic],
Salvardo [sic] Estudillo,
Lua Susna [sic],
J. A. Altamirano,
Miss Lillie Whaley was summoned and testified: My name is Lillie Whaley, live in Old San Diego or North San Diego, with my parents.
Coroner—Who is the person lying here dead?
Lillie Whaley—It is my sister Violet E. Whaley.
Coroner—What is her age?
Lillie Whaley—Twenty-two years.
Coroner—When did you last see her alive?
Lillie Whaley—This morning about six o'clock.
Coroner—You may go on and state what was going on at that time.
Lillie Whaley—She left her room about six o'clock, dressed, went out and remained about half an hour.
Coroner—Where was your father at that time?
Lillie Whaley—He had went down to get his breakfast, then came up and asked mama where Violet was, and went down stairs. After he went down second time he opened back door and called to her, and immediately after calling mama and I heard the shot.
Coroner—State what you did? [sic]
Lillie Whaley—Went out of my room, and on coming down stairs found that papa had brought her in, apparently dead, and then he took her up and took her into the parlor. I don't know anything more.
Coroner—How did you know that she was shot?
Lillie Whaley—I could see the blood.
Coroner—Whose garments are these? indicating some clothing saturated with blood.
Lillie Whaley—My sister had them on this morning when she left the room.
Coroner—Had she ever threatened to take her life?
Lillie Whaley—Yes, on the 5th of July, this year.
Coroner—Did you know cause why she threatened to take her life. [sic]
Lillie Whaley—I don't know why—think she was tired of life—tired of living here—thought no one cared for her and that her life was a burden.
Coroner—How did she attempt to take her life on the 5th of July?
Lillie Whaley—By jumping into the cistern out here. (pointing to the back of the house).
Coroner—Did she appear cheerful for the last two weeks?
Lillie Whaley—No; she took no interest in anything. She was under Dr. Gregg's treatment; was anxious to have health, but tired of life.
Coroner—Was she married?
Lillie Whaley—She had been, but got a divorce and took her maiden name.
Coroner—Did she sleep in the room with you last night. [sic]
Lillie Whaley—Yes, she slept in the room with me, in a bed beside the one where mama and I slept.
Coroner—Did any of the family have any words with her the night previous to her committing suicide?
Lillie Whaley—No, had no words with her that night—been long time since we had any words or bad feelings with her—did all we could to make it pleasant for her. Were far from saying or doing anything unkind.
Coroner—Did any of the family have any pistol or revolver?
Lillie Whaley—Yes, it was my father's.
Coroner—Do you know if she had possession of that pistol this morning?
Lillie Whaley—Yes, I am positive about it—it was either yesterday, or the day before, she asked my father for a little bunch of keys he has, and among them is a key that opens a box where he has the revolver. She heard him say long ago that he had the pistol locked up in a box just to have it in the house, and she remembered it. Finding that mother was occupied about the house, she went up to father's room, took the pistol out, or revolver, and took it into an adjoining room, placing it in the bureau. She had been misleading us for two or three mornings by getting up and going down stairs, apparently for some other purpose and coming back again. This morning she went down as usual and I thought nothing of it until she remained so long. At that the suspicions of both myself and father were aroused, but mother thought nothing of it. In going out she passed through my father's room into the room in which she had concealed the pistol, and from that went down stairs.
Coroner—At what time did you hear the pistol?
Lillie Whaley—At about 6:30.
Coroner—Was she in the privy when she shot herself this morning?
Lillie Whaley—Yes, Sir. (Dismissed.)
Thomas Whaley was then called and testified: My name is Thomas Whaley, am 61 years of age, reside in San Diego, by occupation real estate dealer.
Coroner—Do you identify the person lying here? (indicating the corpse) and if so state her name.
Thos Whaley—Violet E Whaley, aged 22 years, a native of this State, born in San Francisco.
Thos Whaley—Living at home with her parents.
Coroner—Had she been married?
Thos Whaley—Yes, Sir, but takes her maiden name.
Coroner—When did you last see her alive?
Thos Whaley—In my room this morning—she passed in and out again.
Coroner—What time was it?
Thos Whaley—I think it was about 6 o'clock, before I was dressed.
Coroner—Where did she go after leaving your room?
Thos Whaley—She went into the adjoining room, my wife and daughter's sleeping room and I heard her unlock the door, go down stairs, and unlock the back door.
Thos Whaley—Shortly afterward I got up, dressed hurriedly and went down stairs into the back yard, wishing to go into the water closet. I thought she might be there, and I called to her to know whether she was there or not. I asked her if she would be out soon, that is out of the water closet. She said "No." I walked up and down the back porch maybe a couple of minutes, and then asked again if she would be out soon. She said "No." I then said I would be obliged to go into the adjoining water closet—that is the one in this yard, which I did. After getting through there I went to the stable, attended to my horse, giving him hay, water, etc. I then went back to the house, up into my room, washed and dressed myself, or finished dressing, then came down stairs, went into the dining room and sat down at the table in order to get an early breakfast, intending to get down town as quickly as possible, owing to the excessive heat of the day. I was eating a peach. I thought possibly Violet would like to have a peach, so I arose from the table with a peach in my hand, went to the back door, and standing in the sill of the door I called: Oh, Vi! No answer. Thinking that perhaps she might be somewhere else in the yard, I called louder: Violet, don't you want a peach? As I then called I heard the shot from the pistol.
Coroner—What time do you think the report was?
Thos Whaley—I think at about half past six. I sprang immediately forward and went to the water closet back of the house, knowing the sound came from there. I found her, Violet, sitting upon the lower seats of the water closet. I took her into my arms and carried her from there into the house. As I entered the back door I called to her mother saying: Mama, Violet has shot herself! I brought her into the back parlor and laid her upon the lounge.
Coroner—Was she apparently alive when you laid her upon the lounge?
Thos Whaley—Yes. By that time her mother and Lillie had come down stairs.
Coroner—How long did she live?
Thos Whaley—I don't think she lived longer than ten or fifteen minutes. She never spoke a word—never groaned. My impulse was to harness up and go immediately for a doctor. Mrs Whaley suggested I had better go down to Altamirano's as they could go quicker than I could. This I did.
Coroner—Was she alive when you came back?
Thos Whaley—I don't think she was; still we thought better to have a doctor come up.
Coroner—This morning when you went back up stairs did you say anything to your wife in regard to Violet being gone so long?
Coroner—Did you find any weapon in or about the water closet?
Thos Whaley—No. I looked in and about the water closet but could find none. I then raised the lids of the water closet, and saw the barrel protruding, which I think was my revolver, and I have since looked into the box where I usually kept my revolver and found it gone.
Coroner—Was the box locked?
Thos Whaley—Yes. It was kept in the box where I kept my private papers, and the revolver had been there a year or eighteen months.
Coroner—What was the caliber of the revolver?
Thos Whaley—A small revolver and had six or seven chambers, I think six. It had been loaded for about three years. Is about 32—caliber.
Coroner—How could this revolver possibly came into the hands of Violet?
Thos Whaley—Day before yesterday, in the morning as I was about to leave the stable, Violet came to the side bars and asked me for my keys. I said: "What do you want them for? [sic] She said she wanted to open a little box. I gave them to her and told her to return them as I should want them in San Diego. She brought back the keys, and I asked her if she had opened the box, and she said no. And again yesterday morning she asked for the keys and I gave them to her. I wished her to return them. She returned them and I asked her if she had opened the box, and she said yes. I told her she was fortunate as there were but two keys on the ring.
Coroner—Was she cheerful at that time?
Thos Whaley—Yes, as cheerful as she had been for some time.
Coroner—Had she attempted to make away with herself at any time?
Thos Whaley—Yes, on the 5th day of July. I was in the stable harnessing my horse and heard a screech issue from the cistern. I went to the cistern and found Violet clinging to the pipe. I asked if she could hold on and she said yes. I ran into the house and called to my wife that Violet had jumped into the cistern.
Coroner—Did she say anything to make you think it was accidental or suicidal?
Coroner—Was any one in the house this morning when the shooting took place?
Thos Whaley—No, no one but my wife and two daughters.
Coroner—What was her mental condition?
Thos Whaley—She had shown no particular life or interest for some time. She was naturally of a lively nature, and loved music very much—played the piano and guitar; seemed to take more interest in such things lately, and we thought she was getting better.
Coroner—Do you identify these bloody garments?
Thos Whaley—Yes, they are Violet's.
Coroner—Was any writing or anything found tending to explain the cause of her committing suicide?
Thos Whaley—Yes. Here is a letter found upon the back porch stating she was tired of life, etc.
The letter was then read, and the witness dismissed.
No other witnesses were summoned and the jury after examining the body, cistern and water closet, brought in a verdict of death by Violet E Whaley shooting herself with a pistol held in her own hands while laboring under mental aberration.
In the matter of
the Inquest on
Violet E. Whaley
Verdict of Jury
Filed August 31/85
J. M. Didge
WHALEY HOUSE MUSEUM
2476 San Diego Avenue, San Diego 92110
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