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.