Selected Dictionary of Case Details
Indispensible Compendium of Loose but Vital Ends. A section of Dead Move is the Lottiepediareferring to the false name (Mrs. Lottie A. Bernard)under which she (Elizabeth 'Lizzie' Wyllie) registered at the hotel on Thanksgiving Day 1892. The Lottiepedia is an encyclopedic dictionary of selected topics in the investigation. It is useful for explaining every last one of the many loose ends. This online section will not duplicate the book's Lottiepedia, but will offer a sampling of topics that help us understand the true story of the Beautiful Stranger. I will continue adding bits to this online Lottiepedia as time permits. Readers wishing to truly understand this important and remarkable story will find the complete answers in my scholarly analysis Dead Move: Kate Morgan and the Haunting Mystery of Coronado. For a fast-paced, rousing read that summarizes the best of fact and legend, read Lethal Journey.
Note About Lethal Journey: In the original 2008 editions of Dead Move, I included a narrative dramatization based on the sequence of events. In 2009, an interested reader contacted me and suggested that I write a noir thriller or mystery story based on the true story from 1892. We both mentioned fascinating, noir period movies like The Prestige and The Illusionist. I saw the potential for a similar noir, period piece with this true 1892 crime story, and wrote Lethal Journey. At the time, I also became an Active Member of International Thriller Writers, so my heart lay in a thriller direction, with a strong Merchant-Ivory sort of historical flavor. The problem was that I now had two parallel narratives (the dramatizion in Dead Move and my novel Lethal Journey), which cried out for one to be deleted as redundant. The only conflict of theory was that the dramatization does not involve Tom Morgan (Kate's husband), which is the more historically likely version; whereas Lethal Journey borrows more liberally from the legends and has Tom Morgan being a villain as he is portrayed in some San Diego traditions. My solution was to delete the dramatization and publish a double-header (3rd Edition) containing both Dead Move and Lethal Journey. Not having two parallel narratives removes some possibility of inaccuracy. Having a dramatic novel partly based on legend does reintroduce what I feel is the inaccurate presence of Tom Morgan, who in my opinion was never in San Diego and never involved in this situation. The novel simply draws on one of the more rousing aspects of the legend to accomplish its entertainment mission, while the scholarly analysis in Dead Move eliminates this traditional Tom Morgan mythology. See also: Why2Books? on this site.
Lottiepedia Example: Bottle and Sponge, a Strange Request. The true story has many loose ends, but they all make sense when tied together in the proper manner. One of the most glaring examples is that of the bottle and the sponge. Historians have noted that, during the day of Saturday, Nov. 26, at the Hotel del Coronado, Lottie A. Bernard (the Beautiful Stranger, real name unknown) asked bellhop Harry West to run a number of seemingly innocuous and strange errands. One of thesefor which she tipped him an entire day's wages, as he was to comment after her deathwas to bring her an empty bottle and a new sponge from the hotel bar. TOP
This seemingly trivial action takes on ominous, obvious, and heart-wrenching meaning when viewed in the entire context of the recordespecially in consideration of Dr. B. F. Mertzmann's official judgment about her medications and her pregnancy (which he surmised, along with other startling details, such as that she had given birth once before). Remember, no autopsy was permitted as the Spreckels Machine closed in around the case, to protect John Spreckels and spread the false myths that endure into modern timeslike that of Tom Morgan as a criminal and gambler, amplified in 1987 in the spurious Alan May book to make Morgan a murderer. These same false stories ironically function as disinformation, meaning they contain kernels of truth, like the fact that Kate Morgan really was an outrageously bad person. Again, all the fragile details hang together in a sprawling mosaic that only makes sense when all the pieces are seen in connection with each other. When you are given a puzzle of 1,000 pieces, and you assemble it so every last piece fits, it is a foregone conclusion that the puzzle is thus solved. That is the end result of Dead Move, which is a game changer in the true crime and ghost stories of the Hotel del Coronado in 1892. TOP
Blackmail: Motive for the Entire Affair
Another Fake Woman: Charlotte Barnard or Barnes
Summary Sequence of Events
Kate MorganNot the Beautiful Stranger
Tom MorganNot A Gambler, Not in San Diego
Claus Spreckels (Sugar Baron; John's father)
John Spreckels (extortion target; owned Hotel Del)
Lizzie Wyllie, the True Beautiful Stranger, preggers
John Longfield, who 'Ruined' Lizzie
Lizzie's Hankies in Coronado and L.A.
Unusual Request: Bottle and Sponge
The Four Steamer Trunks
Desperation: Burning the Blackmail Papers
Mystery Within Mystery: The Missing Day
American Bulldog: Gun That Killed Lizzie
Image Comparison: Kate and Lizzie
More entries will be added soon. This page remains in work. I may be editing and reorganizing the information in these entries as time goes on, but their content is up to date. The material in these entries represents my professional inquiry and carefully considered results regarding the Lottie A. Bernard 1892 true crime case (as totally separate from the ghost story and any other paranormal elements).