Monday, November 18, 2013

Roy G. Daniels -- Mr. Clean Meets Death

Failing in his bid to control all the popular priced vaudeville and picture theatres in Arkansas, Daniels, president of the Arkansas Amusement Company of Hot Springs, lost his business to creditors in 1909.  In ill health and facing imminent financial ruin, he returned to Topeka, Kansas, where longtime residents remembered him as a wild young man who as a bartender in the 1890s beat a man to death with a beer mallet in a seedy dive.  Tried for the murder, Daniel was acquitted in a controversial verdict that had turned the town against him.

On October 4, 1909, the promoter (age unreported) took a room in the National Hotel and committed one of the most fastidious suicides on record.  After writing notes to his mother, the press, the undertaker, and the coroner, Daniels removed pillows and a sheet from the bed, spread them on the floor and laid down to wait for the strychnine he swallowed to take effect.  Fearful the poison would act too slowly, he shot himself once over the heart and in the side of the head with an old fashioned cap and ball revolver.  The notes revealed Daniels' unusual attention to detail and a concern over how he would be remembered.  In one he wrote:  "This medicine is too slow.  I have taken off the clothes I wish to be buried in, so as not to soil them."  Another addressed to the newspapers begged:  "Please be merciful...I have been unsuccessful...This and sickness caused me to do this and for God's sake be merciful, this, the last, time."  And to the coroner:  "No investigation is necessary.  I have done this myself owing to business failure, sickness and despondency."

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