Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Katherine Donley -- In a Worse State

The wife of Robert Donley, former chief announcer at Pittsburgh radio station WCAE and currently with WINS in New York, was slowly driven mad by her husband's application for divorce in April 1945.  In court papers the announcer charged his 44-year-old wife with "cruel and barbarous treatment and with endangering his life with indignities."  On November 7, 1945, the distraught woman checked into a 12th floor room of the William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh with her 8-year-old son, James Patrick.  Donley tossed the boy out of the bedroom window and then plunged after him.  Their shattered bodies were found 15 feet apart in a light well on the hotel's marquee three floors above street level.  In two notes addressed to the dead woman's brother found in the room, Donley accused the 24-year-old announcer of being more interested in his career than family.  One read:  "My nervous system is completely shattered and I can't see my way -- the financial insecurity and the worry and hurt over [son] Pat's predicament.  His father hasn't inquired about him since last spring and saw him only once in the fall though we were 20 minutes by subway from where he was.  Pat is bewildered, unsure, and afraid and I know I can't help him understand because I am in a worse state."

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