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Meady & The Murders

Meady (Dudgeon) Hodell education ended at the ripe old age of 16 - they say eighth grade. But, I don't think I was 16 in the 8th grade. I could be wrong. I don't remember. She worked locally. Doing work that she could find. She worked in the telegraph office in White Cloud for a short time, and then a chair factory in Big Rapids. During this time she gave birth to her brothers children. Which were also brought out to the barn and had their lives ended prematurely. Poor Babies. But, I digress. She did this until she turned 20 when she met Doc Hodell. Then her fairy tale came true and she got married. Okay, lets say "FAIRYTALE" because this was the farthest thing from a fairy tale.

Romie "Doc" Hodell was born and raised in Ensley Township which is just north of Grant Michigan...which is just south of White Cloud. He had 6 siblings that moved all over west Michigan as they grew up. But, good ole Doc was trying to buy property form J.E. Terwillegar. (Remember him? Sporting the broken ribs?) Unknown to everyone. This was the Dudgeon's property he was trying to buy. While trying to buy this property, Romie becomes a stumper. This means he would remove the stumps from farmers field. He started this job in Grant, Michigan. But, found this area hard to stump. Doc moved to the White Cloud area, where the land was better to stump. This is where he contracted cedar posts from the Dudgeon's to purchase and met Meady Dudgeon.

In April of 1921 Doc Hodell and Meady Dudgeon married. Lee Dudgeon paid for their marriage license as a wedding gift. What a good baby daddy! Doc was known to be extremely jealous, and didn't like the company that Meady kept.

Shortly after their wedding Doc's mother informed the newly married couple that Doc's father David would be coming to stay with them. This was due to marital problems between David and Nina Hodell. This was late January of 1922. By February of 1922 David Hodell was dead.

David was found outside Doc and Meady's house unconscious. Meady had run across the road for help, and in that short time David had died. The Dr. and Undertaker from White Cloud was called to the property to retrieve David's body. David Hoddell was burried in the Ashland Center Cemetery in Grant, Michigan.

After Doc's fathers death Meady and Doc moved closer to The Ranch and continued to stump. Romie was then contracted to do a stumping job in Wooster, MI which was 17 miles away from her family. Doc intended for them to live in a shack. Meady hated living so far from her family and in this small space. Meady's brother's helped move their furniture, and a family friend also agreed to help. Doc did not like this as he suspected Meady was sleeping with said friend. This suspicion caused Doc to start a fist fight on the day they moved to the shack. Meady's brothers helped the family friend and Doc suffered a beat down. This prompted Doc to tell Meady to go back to White Cloud and see an attorney for a divorce.

After this altercation, Doc did not work. He said because it was raining and rain was bad for his line of work. Alice Dudgeon made him breakfast, but he wanted to go out to the barn and feed his horse first. Which wasn't a problem, breakfast would be ready whenever. After a while, everyone got worried as Doc hadn't returned. Lee and Herman looked for him, and they found him. He was hanging from a horse harness. He was dead. Meady and her brothers drove into White Cloud to notify the authorities.

The authorities got to Doc's body and found that his body was odd for a hanging. His feet touched the ground and his knees were flexed. His eye was black and his lip was cut. He had other cuts all over his face. He got his face rocked. There was also sand (or dirt depending on the source) on his shoulders. Doc and Meady were only married 14 months at the time of Doc's death. Doc's death was found to be caused by blunt force trauma, not by hanging. Doc was burried in Goodwell Cemetery. Meda had turned over 3 different suicide notes that she had found to the police.

A month after Doc's burial he was exhumed due to rumors that everything wasn't as it seemed. An inquest was held to find out what really happened to the Hodell men. The suicide notes were carefully looked at. Nina Hodell, Doc's mother, testified that the handwriting on all 3 notes were not that of her son's. So, maybe not suicide. The doctor's then tested the blood of Doc and found that he had strychnine in his system. This is a rat poison. This prompted them to test David Hodell's blood, and they found he had enough strychnine in his system to kill 12 men. When the news of murder began to spread through White Cloud the people wanted justice. They formed a lynch mob. This Lynch mob brought Meady Hodell up in front of a judge.

The trial was held in Big Rapids, Mi. This was done to not allow for personal opinions to weigh in on the trial. This still happened though. Half of the jurors were those of the lynch mob that brought Meda forward. The defense tried to shut this down, but it did not work. Every point the prosecutor brought up it was held as gospel. The prospectors could not prove that Alice or Meady went to purchase the strychnine. They checked towns all around White Cloud, and no one had record of this purchase. The defense also pointed out that this was NOT a tasteless poison, so David and Doc would know if they were being poisoned through their food or coffee. This still did not sway the jury. The defense tried to say that the townspeople, and prosecution was just using Meady as someone to blame this crime on. She was known as "the Swamp Child" and was very disliked. This started to sway the jury. This caused the judge to put the trial on hold and order the body to be exhumed for the second time.

After the Doc was exhumed the doctors looked tirelessly to find what could point a finger at who actually killed him. They found that his brain did not have as much poison as it should to have killed him. So, they figured that Meady poisoned his meal, but didn't give him enough to actually kill him. When he was alive the next day Alice noticed. And, took matters into her own hands. She took her rolling pin and bashed his head in. She then instructed her sons to hang Doc's body in the barn, and Meady to write the suicide letters. There wasn't a whole lot of evidence of this, but it was a reasonable story. Alice was then found guilty of first degree murder of her son-in-law. She was sentenced to life in prison. She only served a year in Detroit, before she was transferred back to Newaygo County to await for retrial which was ordered by the Michigan Supreme court.

Meda Hodell was convicted of the murder her father in law and an accomplice to the murder of her husband. She was sentenced to life. Meady received this sentence a week before her mother received hers. When Meady arrived in Detroit she became the housekeeper for the Detroit House of Corrections Superintendent. Meady was a model prisoner, although always maintaining her innocence. Meady found religion while serving time in prison. She served 27 years in prison for these crimes. Meady was denied parole 5 times before she was considered rehabilitated enough for parole.

Lee and Herman Dudgeon both served time in prison for their actions in the murder of Doc Hodell. As well as other crimes as they were bad boys. They bounced around from prison to prison. And, really didn't stay out of trouble.

Meady maintained her innocence during her sentence. There are accounts that she did admit to the murders, but that she only did so because she was being haunted by ghosts. And, these ghosts were of her father, her husband, and her father in law. The same this was said of her brothers. They were being haunted by the same people. They were said to have admitted to committing the murders, but nothing came of these confessions.

"My husband was an extremely jealous and unstable man. My husband killed himself because he suspected infidelity and he could not pay back an $1,800 note that was due a week after his death."

-Meady Hodell upon his release

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