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John T. Cullen's two books about the ghost at the Hotel del Coronado, and the 1892 crime that created her legend.Lottiepedia

All Is Lost: Lizzie Burning The Blackmail Papers

Gomer Finds A Very Sick Lottie Burning Her Papers. One of the many remarkable moments captured by eye witnesses reveals a very sick Lottie A. Bernard (Lizzie) crouched by the fireplace in her room, burning what must have been some very important papers. Since she was about to go into town to buy the gun with which she would commit suicide that night, it is clear that these papers must have been of critical importance. I believe they were love notes that Kate Morgan had obtained between John Spreckels and one of his domestics, with whom he may have had an affair. That would imply (logically, and effectively) that the name Kate Morgan chose for Lizzie (Lottie A. Bernard) may have meant something personal to Spreckels—enough to scare him into paying money to receive the letters back. We will probably never know if he committed such an indiscretion, or if the love letters were forged, just as Lottie A. Bernard was a fraud.   TOP

A Dark and Stormy Day. When bellman Harry West called on Lottie to see how she was doing, late in the morning of Monday, 28 November 1892, he found her shivering helplessly in bed. He offered to light a fire for her, but she refused (there may have been a room charge). A while later, when he checked on her again, she asked him for some matches. He gave her some from his pocket, for free. Then, a while later, the Chief Clerk A. S. Gomer came to the room on a mission. He was worried about her mounting bill for extras (she paid for the room itself daily). He found her crouched by the little fireplace in her room. Since the hotel, for all its modern conveniences, did not have in-room toilets or central heating, each room had a small fireplace. Lottie's was to the right as you entered Room 302. Later, during the 20th Century, all these fireplaces were torn out and buried on the beach, east of the old hotel building. The toilets were rediscovered, hundreds of them, when ground was broken later in the 20th Century for the Ocean Towers addition to the Hotel del Coronado. Where the entrance to the bathroom is, today, was the fireplace and in the wall behind it, its flue to the roof. On that final Monday in Lizzie's life, a vast ocean storm was approaching. The skies were gray and drizzly-cold. Gomer came in, and would later testify he saw her burning a stack of papers (perhaps letters) in her fireplace. He asked her about her room charges, and she told him to contact a bank in Fremont County, Iowa, where G. L. Allen (Tom Morgan's stepbrother) was keeping some money on account for her—arranged, we can be sure, by Kate Morgan, who would have been intimately acquainted with George L. Allen. Wiring the money over great distances via telegraph would not have been a big deal by the 1890s (in a business virtually monopolized by Western Union Corp.).   TOP

Blackmail Papers, End of the Line. Lizzie at that point could barely move, she was so sick and depressed from her 'terrible medicines'. These weren't just quinine tablets mentioned by the hotel pharmacist. She had mixed a near-lethal cocktail of unknown drugs in her bottle, to use the pessary-sponge mentioned elsewhere. These were the drugs she obtained at the Hotel Brewster on C Street in downtown San Diego, immediately upon arrival.She went to the Brewster, asking for 'Dr. Anderson and his wife' but was told they were not there (or even known?). She repeated this question at the Hotel frequently, with the same negative result. Kate Morgan had evidently pledged to meet her at the Brewster, but had no intention of ever being seen in her company, and instead simply left the critical abortifacients with instructions on how to use them (get a bottle and a sponge, mix a pessary, etc). She had now been on those drugs for about four days, and the effects had fully set in. One would surmise that her fetus had already kicked and died, horribly, and the poor young woman was utterly alone in the world without a soul to care for her, except the kind bellman Harry West, in whom she could not confide her dark mission. For her to drag herself to the fireplace and go to all this effort meant that she must be burning the blackmail letters, notes, or whatever that Kate Morgan had provided her for the hand-off if Spreckels paid the extortion money. For Lizzie, as she burned those documents, the game was up. And so was her life. She would next take the trolley and ferry, very effortfully, into San Diego to buy the gun with which she would kill herself that night. She did, however, leave a few scraps of paper on her table, which Asst. Coroner Stetson would retrieve after her death, and describe at the inquest.   TOP

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