news item from Sandwich Observer October 17, 1911
Death of Avis W Linnell
The news of the sudden death of Avis Willard, the third daughter of Mr and Mrs Edgar Linnell, which occurred Saturday evening in Boston,came as a great shock to the many friends of the family.
Avis was born in this village Dec. 19, 1891, she graduated from the High School in 1908, from the Normal School in 1910 and entered the New England Conservatory in Boston for the study of music, where she was now in her second year.
She was possessed of an exceddingly bright intellect which carried her through school with ease, of a lively and happy disposition, which endeared her to her friends. Her untimely death is a great blow to her parents and sisters, three of whom survive her. They have the sympathy of all in this great affliction.
parents- Edgar W 1841- and Sarah E Linnell-1855
sister Helen 1895
Avis and Richeson were engaged on 19 December, her birthday. He was soon preaching in both Hyannis and Yarmouth for four years. He employed a Southern style of preaching, filled with energy and exuberance. It proved too much for his conservative Cape Cod congregation and in April 1910 he resigned.
The Rev. Richeson had found new employment at Immanuel Baptist Church in Cambridge. He convinced Avis, who possessed an angelic soprano voice, to apply for admission at the New England Conservatory of Music. In the early fall of 1910, she moved into the Y.W.C.A. in Boston to continue her education and to be near her true love.
The two never married. In early 1911 Avis told her mother that she and the reverend were no longer seeing each other. In March the Rev. Richeson announced his engagement to a wealthy Brookline woman.
On October 14, at the beginning of her second year in Boston, Avis committed suicide. They found her near-lifeless body in one of the Y.W.C.A. bathrooms. Before anyone could call for an ambulance, she was dead.
An autopsy revealed Avis was several weeks pregnant and that she had taken cyanide. Authorities wrote off young woman's death as just another good girl who found herself in bad fix.
Earlier that day the minister had given the young woman a chemical preparation that he assured her would cause the fetus to abort. Instead it had killed her.
One of the matrons at the Y.W.C.A. had placed a call to the reverend less than two hours after Avis died. The Rev. Richeson demanded to know why he was being called when he barely knew the girl. "We felt that, since you are her fiancé and that she was out to lunch with you during the day, it is right that we should notify you," the matron replied.
The minister must have known he had made a mistake. He had assumed that Avis had kept their affair secret. Still, he must have been confident that no one could directly connect him with her death. What he did not know was that one man stood in his way -- a Cape Codder named Edwin Grozier.
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