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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

Elizabeth 'Lizzie' Wyllie, the True Beautiful Stranger

Elizabeth 'Lizzie' Wyllie (c1868-29 November 1892). Everything in this story, once we deconstruct the official Hotel del Coronado book (Beautiful Stranger) and other sources, points to Lizzie Wyllie as being the woman who signed in at the Hotel del Coronado under a false name (Mrs. Lottie A. Bernard) on 23 November 1892. She attracted attention because of her poise, beauty, and elegant dress as well as certain erratic behaviors that can all now be explained. She declined in health, due to the 'terrible medicines' she was taking to induce a miscarriage (per Dr. B. F. Mertzmann, San Diego's leading physician). On the night of 28-29 November, she shot herself on the back steps of the Hotel del Coronado during a fierce ocean storm.

Lizzie: Fibs and Blunders. As we see in this concordance, Lizzie was unsure, youthful, and nervous. She made many blunders, and was not a good liar. At best, her little stories may be taken as fibs—like telling people at the hotel she suffered from neuralgia (not today's disease definition, but a general psychosomatic state), and then from stomach cancer, when in reality she was becoming increasingly sick and despondent from her 'terrible medicines' (abortifacients). Posing as Katie Logan, a temporary domestic in several Los Angeles homes, she told another woman her true name was Lizzie. The hankies in her room at the Hotel Del were embroidered with a name that could only be Lizzie Anderson (her mother). Also, when she registered as Lottie A. Bernard, she signed her home city as Detroit (Lizzie's real home). A police sketch of the embalmed corpse does not resemble a photo of Kate Morgan. The reasons go on and on why the dead woman was not Kate Morgan, and could only be Lizzie. Not only is the case for Kate Morgan far more tenuous than believed by those who facilely assume the myths to be true without questioning them, but Lizzie was actually the first and most logical I.D. on the corpse. I have come to believe that, because the dead woman had been pregnant, and because the Spreckels people understood all too well why she was at the Hotel Del, they diverted attention to a grifter (Kate Morgan) who intruded on the picture; although this grifter is connected directly to Lizzie via the steamer trunk in Los Angeles, which contains artifacts of both women. In short, Lizzie was the Beautiful Stranger who ended up dead at the Hotel del Coronado.

Questions about the Beautiful Stranger. At first, when the hotel electrician (Cone) found her body, he thought she was a doll, or sleeping. When he saw the bullet hole in her temple, and the gun at her side, he ran to get help from chief clerk Gomer at the front desk. Soon, a party headed by the Assistant Coroner (Stetson) came from the mainland by launch to fetch her body. It was still thought she was Mrs. Lottie A. Bernard. A search began for a putative Mr. Bernard, whom nobody had met. Soon, it was established that Mrs. Lottie A. Bernard was a fake, as was her 'husband', Mr. Bernard, and likewise her 'brother', Dr. M. C. Anderson and his 'wife'. Quickly, rumors spread in the Yellow Press that she had been involved in illicit sex or similar activities with unnamed powerful men at the top echelons of society. Using the telegraph system, breathless dispatches went out daily, sometimes hourly, from Coronado about the Beautiful Stranger. Who was she? Why did she check in at the most expensive resort in the area, one of the farthest from the city and the train station?There were many such questions, and the press around the country had a field day with the story.   TOP

Candidates for Beautiful Stranger—Lizzie Wyllie. There was a missing persons bulletin going around the country from a distraught Mrs. Elizabeth Wyllie in Detroit, whose daughter Lizzie had gone missing weeks earlier, along with her factory foreman John Longfield, who 'ruined' her. San Diego was a target of interest in Lizzie's case, since she had relatives in the area—but she never contacted them upon her arrival. This has to be because (a) she was pregnant and disgraced; and (b) she was in San Diego for a different reason, in thrall to the hypnotic and ruthless Kate Morgan, in Kate's scheme to blackmail Spreckels. Lizzie's relatives, in any case, had not seen her since infancy, and could not identify the adult body at the undertaker's parlor (Johnson & Co., Fifth Avenue). A police sketch of the corpse's face was sent to Mrs. Wyllie, along with a description of her goods and some bodily characteristics (moles, pierced ears). Mrs. Wyllie collapsed in anguish, wailing loudly: "It's my Lizzie, it's my Lizzie! What is to become of me now?" As we will see amid the copious detail to be examined in this Lottiepedia, every sign points to Lizzie as the dead woman. In the scope of a blackmail conspiracy gone horribly wrong, it all makes sense today.   TOP

Other Candidates for Beautiful Stranger. At least one other candidate name was examined. A woman from out of town had employed a domestic named Josie Brown, who sounded just like the woman in question. I believe that was one of Kate Morgan's many aliases.   TOP

Katie Logan, Maid in Los Angeles. As information was sought about the unidentified dead woman, word came from Los Angeles that the former employers of a temporary domestic named Katie Logan recognized the description as matching Katie's. It is often thought that Kate Morgan used this as yet another of her many aliases. My contention is that Katie Logan was Lizzie, being trained by her mentor Kate Morgan for the larger, later impersonation job ('Lottie A. Bernard') in the upcoming blackmail plot in Coronado. Two clinchers: Katie Logan told another maid in L.A. that her real name was Lizzie. Also, Katie Logan's steamer trunk, at the L.A. Grant home in Los Angeles, contained artifacts of both women—e.g., hankies in Kate Morgan's trunk, with Lizzie's aunt Louisa Anderson's name, in Grand Rapids Michigan, emroidered on them. The mixed artifacts of Lizzie Wyllie and Kate Morgan, in Kate's trunk, further prove the two women were working together as I maintain.   TOP

Ugly Duckling, Beautiful Swan. While this war of I.D.s was going on, police circulated a photograph of Kate Morgan around to any hotels in San Francisco and San Diego where she might have been recognized. Hotel employees universally said the homely, 'gross' Kate Morgan looked nothing like the elegant, beautiful young woman they had noticed, who looked like a star of the stage (a prescient guess, since Lizzie had fantasies about becoming an actress).   TOP

The Spinner Stops: Kate Morgan. A few days later, through a strange confluence of letters from out of town, innuendos, and a contact with Kate Morgan's uncle, W. T. Farmer, in the Hanford area near San Francisco, the focus of police investigations switched away from Lizzie Wyllie to Kate Morgan. The evidence that either woman was present is as circumstantial for one as for the other, though the case for the Beautiful Stranger herself points overwhelmingly toward Lizzie rather than Kate. Since it is possible to strongly pinpoint the woman in the hotel as having been Lizzie, and authorities made a seemingly strong case for Kate, it remains to ask why the authorities (city police, rudimentary as they were, and more importantly the private security agents that John Spreckels employed to cover his vast holdings in the area) fixated on Kate. The answer seems obvious. Lizzie was pregnant when she died. In the coverup orchestrated between the cities of San Diego and Coronado, and the Spreckels Machine, it makes sense to think that, since they understood the nature of Kate Morgan's blackmail conspiracy, and the critical nature of Spreckels' trip to Washington, D.C., a powerful effort was made to shield Spreckels from scandal, and to shift the focus away from pregnant Lizzie to the next best candidate, a woman from out of town, with a dubious reputation, named Kate Morgan. Note that no autopsy was permitted, among the anomalies, and the inquest was a hasty affair convened the day after her death and concluded with a unanimous jury verdict of suicide by early afternoon. Many key witnesses were not called, and in any case the official transcript was conveniently 'lost'. It turned up some time later at the hands of a minor clerk, who penned a note in it to the effect that it had been lost and then recovered.   TOP

A Book's Worth of Evidence. In these web pages, I am limited to relatively short takes on each subject. I will develop some of the major evidence themes regarding Lizzie in separate pages soon. Note that John Longfield is only mentioned in the newspaper stories of the time, but in regard to the Missing Day, he becomes a necessary presence in the story, in the San Diego region, at the time. Between the hankies embroidered with Lizzie's aunt's name (Louisa Anderson, same as the fictitious Dr. Anderson), the maid in Los Angeles who matched Lizzie's description in Coronado, the notes Lizzie left on her table in Room 302, and other details, it becomes inescapable that Lizzie was the Beautiful Stranger. All this took a full book to develop, so I can only do partial justice on this website.   TOP