The True Crime of Grace Lusk
Summoned to the home of his mistress Grace Lusk by telephone, Waukesha veterinarian Dr. David Roberts found his wife, Mary, dying in the parlor, a bullet through her heart, and Grace bleeding from a self-inflicted wound, standing at the top of the stairs where she held the police chief and a doctor at bay for over an hour before she shot herself again.
When the married veterinarian Dr. David Roberts, a renowned expert on exotic cattle and distributor of a line of patent medicines for pets and farm animals, approached the spinster schoolteacher Grace Lusk about helping him edit a textbook on cattle, he sparked a three-year illicit relationship that ended in the killing of the doctor’s wife. The veterinarian and the school teacher would travel separately to hotels in Chicago and Milwaukee while working on the cow book and would take long rides in the country in the wealthy veterinarian’s touring car. On June 21, 1917, Dr. Roberts received a phone call summoning him to the boarding house where Grace Lusk lived, only to find his wife Mary bleeding on the parlor floor, a gunshot wound to her heart and Grace Lusk bleeding from a self-inflicted wound. For nearly an hour Miss Lusk held three grown men–including the chief of police–at bay from the top of the staircase, and even had a doctor take dictation for a farewell note to her father. Her plea would be insanity, and the trial filled with shocking revelations and torrid love letters. Read how the affair and all of its intrigues led to “The Blood-Soaked Woman at the Top of the Stairs,” A Two-Dollar Terror No. 5.
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