• Medfield Midcentury Memories: Closure on the 1950 Murder — Sad Ending to Sad Case

    by  • October 30, 2017 • 1950s, Main Street, Medfield • 0 Comments

    Hogan Police Chief c1950 pic (2)Last month I wrote that in the 1950 town report, Police Chief Coleman J. Hogan wrote the digit “1” in the “murders” column, along with other police stats – but nothing else about it.

    When I Googled “Medfield murder 1950” the only newspaper article I found was not in the Globe or the Herald, but, via the Associated Press, in the Chicago Tribune.

    Mother Admits Drowning Baby in Washbowl

    Medfield, Mass. – A 31-year-old wife was held on a murder charge after Police Chief Coleman J. Hogan told him she held her nine-week-old daughter under water in a bathroom washbowl. The report of three physicians who performed an autopsy, however, said the infant died of manual strangulation.

    The wife, Mrs. Marion DeVou, was ordered held without bail by District Judge Gilbert W. Cox of Dedham court for grand jury.

    She was arraigned a few hours after Chief Hogan said she unlocked a bathroom door for a physician, who found the child’s lifeless body in the washbowl.

    Hogan quoted Mrs. DeVou as saying the child was one of twins born to her Dec. 6, 1949. The other twin died at birth. Hogan said Mrs. DeVou told him she left her Cohasset home two weeks ago after a “squabble” with her husband James, a Boston production engineer, and had been staying with her parents in Medfield.

    Retired Police Chief Bill Mann didn’t remember anything about it. However, at the time he was not a police officer but rather an 18-year-old taxi driver waiting to go into the Army.

    Police Chief Bob Meaney, who was away at press time last month, did some research upon his return and forwarded a copy of page 26 of Hogan’s handwritten journal for Monday, February 13, 1950, and page 157, for Saturday, October 14, 1950.

    Monday, February 13, 1950

    5:45 am. Received phone call that police were wanted at 31 Adams Street. Investigated same. Met Dr. A. Ritchey Stagg at home of Mr. and Mrs. G., where he told me that a baby was lying on the table, and Dr. Stagg was working over it. Dr. Stagg said the child was dead.

    I talked with Marion DeVou, their daughter, and asked her what she had done. She said she got up at 5 am and fed the baby.  The food did not stay down, so she got a towel and wiped the child’s mouth, then put the child in bed.

    A little later she went to the bathroom, locked the door, put some lukewarm water in the hand bowl, took the child, put its head in the bowl of water, and held it by the neck. State detective John J. Carney was there on the investigation. Dr. Stagg called medical examiner Harold Shinku of Medway.

    Lt. John J. Carney and I left the district attorney’s office with Marion DeVou and later to Dedham District Court, where she was placed on trial [sic]. She pleaded guilty, and it was changed by Judge Gilbert Cox to not guilty, and she was held on probable cause without bail. [sic]

    Autopsy was held at Joseph Roberts undertaker’s room by Dr. Harold Shinku of Medway and Drs. Adilson and Leabrant of Harvard Medical Legal Society. Finding was homicide by manual strangulation.

    State officer Daniel Driscoll took pictures of house and bathroom. State officer Lydavinis covered house until we returned from Dedham District Court.

    12 noon Returned from undertaker’s rooms with State Detective John Carney. Mr. and Mrs. G. at station – we asked them questions related to married life of Marion.

    Saturday, October 14, 1950

    4:45 pm. Dr. Shinku, medical examiner, phoned and said Marion DeVos, who was committed at state hospital for murder, died in bed, and an autopsy will be held.



    David Temple is the president of the Medfield Historical Society and co-chair of the Medfield Historical Commission. He grew up in Medfield and left to go away to college (history major) and sow a wild oat or two. In 1970 he and Marjorie bought a barn at the corner of South Street and Rocky Lane in Medfield and made it into the home they have lived in ever since.

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