Cordelia Botkin Chocolate Candy Murders

Cordelia Botkin, 1904 (San Francisco Chronicle, via Newspapers.com)

Cordelia Botkin, 1904 (San Francisco Chronicle, via Newspapers.com)

In December 1898, Cordelia Botkin was convicted of murdering (Mary) Elizabeth Dunning, who died after eating chocolates laced with arsenic that Cordelia had anonymously sent through the mail. Elizabeth was the wife of Cordelia’s former lover, John Dunning, with whom Cordelia had engaged in a years-long extramarital affair. Elizabeth’s sister, Ida Deane, also died after eating the poisoned candy. 

The case was one of the first “murders by mail” in U.S. history, as Cordelia had mailed the box of deadly chocolates from California to Delaware. In 1904, Cordelia Botkin was retried and reconvicted, and she died in jail in 1910 at age 56.

Learn more about the Cordelia Botkin Chocolate Candy Murders through historical newspapers from our archives. Explore newspaper articles, headlines, images, and other primary sources below.


Articles and Clippings about the Cordelia Botkin Chocolate Candy Murders

"Poisoning Case at Dover" "Mysterious Death of Mrs. J. D. Deane, Daughter of Hon. John B. Penington" 12 Aug 1898, Fri The News Journal (Wilmington, Delaware) Newspapers.com"Death of Mrs. J. P. Dunning" "Another Death at Dover from Eating Chocolate Bon Bons" 13 Aug 1898, Sat Daily Republican (Wilmington, Delaware) Newspapers.com"Double Funeral Held in Dover" "Candy to Be Analyzed" 16 Aug 1898, Tue The Morning News (Wilmington, Delaware) Newspapers.com"Victims of Arsenic Poisoning" "Verdict of the Coroner's Jury on the Deaths" 17 Aug 1898, Wed The Morning News (Wilmington, Delaware) Newspapers.com"Is Mrs. W. A. Botkin the Poisoner of Mrs. Dunning?" "Story of Her Intimate Relations with Dunning" 22 Aug 1898, Mon The Evening Mail (Stockton, California) Newspapers.com"Dunning Talks of the Crime" "Husband of the Poisoned Woman Makes a Statement" 22 Aug 1898, Mon San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco, California) Newspapers.com"Mrs. Botkin Talks about J. P. Dunning" 23 Aug 1898, Tue The San Francisco Call (San Francisco, California) Newspapers.com"Mrs. Botkin Is Arrested on Two Charges of Murder" "Taken into Custody at the Windsor Last Evening" 24 Aug 1898, Wed The Evening Mail (Stockton, California) Newspapers.com"Box of Deadly Bonbons Probably Fixed in Stockton" "The Candy Clerk Recalls a Strange Customer" 25 Aug 1898, Thu The San Francisco Call (San Francisco, California) Newspapers.com"Writing on the Box of Poison Is Mrs. Botkin's, Says Dunning" 26 Aug 1898, Fri The San Francisco Examiner (San Francisco, California) Newspapers.com"White Says: 'We Have the Murderess'" "Attorney-General Says the State Has Evidence" 26 Aug 1898, Fri The Morning News (Wilmington, Delaware) Newspapers.com"Handwriting Experts May Decide the Fate of Mrs. Cordelia Botkin" 27 Aug 1898, Sat The San Francisco Call (San Francisco, California) Newspapers.com"Which State Has Jurisdiction?" "A Legal Opinion on Two Phases of the Botkin Case" 27 Aug 1898, Sat The San Francisco Call (San Francisco, California) Newspapers.com"Mrs. Botkin's Battle Begins" "Habeas Corpus Writ Is Her First Resort" 28 Aug 1898, Sun San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco, California) Newspapers.com"Mrs. Botkin, Charged with Murder, Asks for Justice" "She Seeks to Prove an Alibi" 30 Aug 1898, Tue The San Francisco Call (San Francisco, California) Newspapers.com"Some of the Proofs in the Dover Poisoning Tragedy" 31 Aug 1898, Wed San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco, California) Newspapers.com"Mrs. Botkin Bought Arsenic" "A Damaging Record Found at a Market Street Drug Store" 04 Sep 1898, Sun The San Francisco Call (San Francisco, California) Newspapers.com"On This Evidence Mrs. Botkin Will Be Tried" 15 Sep 1898, Thu The San Francisco Call (San Francisco, California) Newspapers.com"Superior Court in Bank Says Mrs. Botkin Shall Not Be Sent to Delaware for Trial" 25 Oct 1898, Tue The San Francisco Examiner (San Francisco, California) Newspapers.com"Postal Laws Protect Her" "Officials Cannot Reach Mrs. Botkin" "No Aid from That Source" 28 Oct 1898, Fri The San Francisco Call (San Francisco, California) Newspapers.com"Mrs. Botkin Is Indicted for Murder" "Judge Belcher Receives the Report and Will Not Accept Bond" 29 Oct 1898, Sat The San Francisco Examiner (San Francisco, California) Newspapers.com"Mrs. Cordelia Botkin" "Arraigned Before Judge and Pleads Not Guilty" 30 Oct 1898, Sun The Record-Union (Sacramento, California) Newspapers.com"Mrs. Botkin Faces an Accusing Witness" "Dramatic Scene Enacted at the Trial" 15 Dec 1898, Thu The San Francisco Call (San Francisco, California) Newspapers.com"Dunning Sent to Jail for Refusing to Answer a Question" 20 Dec 1898, Tue The San Francisco Examiner (San Francisco, California) Newspapers.com"Mrs. Cordelia Botkin Is Guilty of the Cruel Delaware Murders" 31 Dec 1898, Sat The San Francisco Call (San Francisco, California) Newspapers.com"Mrs. Botkin, Despite Protestations of Innocence, Is Sentenced to Pass Her Life in Prison" 05 Feb 1899, Sun The San Francisco Examiner (San Francisco, California) Newspapers.com"Mrs. Cordelia Botkin, Defendant in the Celebrated Poisoning Case" 24 Mar 1904, Thu San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco, California) Newspapers.com"Mrs. Botkin Is Once More Found Guilty" "Life Sentence Jury's Decree" 08 Apr 1904, Fri San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco, California) Newspapers.com"Mrs. Botkin Dies in Jail" "Sent Poisoned Candy Through Mails That Killed Mrs. J. P. Dunning" 08 Mar 1910, Tue The Evening Journal (Wilmington, Delaware) Newspapers.com
"Cordelia Botkin Chocolate Candy Murders," Newspapers.com Topics (https://www.newspapers.com/topics/crimes-mysteries/cordelia-botkin-chocolate-candy-murders/ : accessed April 15, 2024)