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KILLER OF HER HUSBAND’S SECRETARY

The 1935 Love Triangle Ire of Etta Reisman

A Historical True Crime Short


By R. Barri Flowers



KILLER OF HER HUSBAND’S SECRETARY

The 1935 Love Triangle Ire of Etta Reisman

A Historical True Crime Short


Copyright 2018 by R. Barri Flowers

All rights reserved.


Cover Image Copyright Vyntage Visuals, 2018

Used under license from Shutterstock.com


In memory of Virginia Seigh and other tragic victims of historical
and present-day love triangle fatalities and unexpectedly shortened lives.


* * *


OTHER TRUE CRIME TITLES BY R. BARRI FLOWERS


Dead at the Saddleworth Moor

Kids Who Commit Adult Crimes

Killers of the Lonely Hearts

Mass Murder in the Sky

Masters of True Crime

Missing or Murdered

Murder at the Pencil Factory

Murder During the Chicago World’s Fair

Murder of a Star Quarterback

Murder of the Banker’s Daughter

Murder of the Doctor’s Wife

Murder of the Horse Trainer’s Rival

Murder of the U.S. Attorney

Murdered by the King of Western Swing

Murderess on the Loose

Murders in the United States

Serial Killer Couples

The Amityville Massacre

The Dreadful Acts of Jack the Ripper

The Gold Special Train Robbery

The Pickaxe Killers

The Sex Slave Murders

The Sex Slave Murders 2

The Sex Slave Murders 3


MYSTERY & THRILLER FICTION TITLES BY R. BARRI FLOWERS

Before He Kills Again: A Veronica Vasquez Thriller

Dark Streets of Whitechapel: A Jack the Ripper Mystery

Dead in Pukalani: An Eddie Naku Maui Mystery (Book 1)

Dead in Kihei: An Eddie Naku Maui Mystery (Book 2)

Deadly Defense: A Grace Gaynor Christian Mystery

Justice Served: A Barkley & Parker Mystery

Killer in The Woods

Murder in Maui: A Leila Kahana Mystery (Book 1)

Murder on Kaanapali Beach: A Leila Kahana Mystery (Book 2)

Murder of the Hula Dancers: A Leila Kahana Mystery (Book 3)

Persuasive Evidence: A Jordan La Fontaine Legal Thriller

State’s Evidence: A Beverly Mendoza Legal Thriller


* * *


PRAISE FOR TRUE CRIME BOOKS BY R. BARRI FLOWERS


“Selected as one of Suspense Magazine’s Best books.” — John Raab, CEO/Publisher on The Sex Slave Murders


“A gripping account of the murders committed by husband-and-wife serial killers Gerald and Charlene Gallego.” — Gary C. King, true crime author on The Sex Slave Murders


“R. Barri Flowers always relates an engrossing story.” — Robert Scott, true crime author on The Sex Slave Murders


“A model of exposition not to be missed by anyone interested in the annals of American criminal behavior.” — Jim Ingraham, Ph.D., professor emeritus of American Studies at Bryant University on The Pickaxe Killers


“Would appeal to public library true-crime buffs.” — Booklist on Murders in the United States


“Striking, well-written tales sparkle in this ocean of murder.” — Diane Fanning, true crime author on Masters of True Crime


“This book should be a mandatory purchase and read for any true-crime buff.” — Steven A. Egger, Ph.D., associate professor on Masters of True Crime


“Incredible cases, psychopathic killers, unwitting victims, along with the very best writers, make for an exciting, no-holds-barred, soon-to-be true-crime classic.” — Dan Zupansky, host of True Murder on Masters of True Crime


“Vivid case studies of murder to complement this well researched criminology text.” — Scott Bonn, Ph.D., criminology professor on The Dynamics of Murder


“An indispensable sourcebook for anyone interested in American homicide, from law-enforcement professionals to armchair criminologists.” — Harold Schechter, true crime historian on The Dynamics of Murder


* * *


TABLE OF CONTENTS


Killer of Her Husband’s Secretary: The 1935 Love Triangle Ire of Etta Reisman

Serial Killer Couples: Paul Bernardo & Karla Homolka – bonus true crime tale

Murder and Menace: Riveting True Crime Tales – bonus excerpt

Murder Chronicles: Murder in Bellevue – bonus excerpt

Notes

About the Author


KILLER OF HER HUSBAND’S SECRETARY

The 1935 Love Triangle Ire of Etta Reisman



On the morning of Wednesday, August 14, 1935, Virginia Seigh, an attractive twenty-three-year-old secretary, was shot and killed as she stood in the driveway of a home in Queens, New York. Her murderer was Mrs. Etta Reisman, the thirty-five-year-old wife of Arthur Reisman, a forty-two-year-old well-to-do owner of a beauty salon chain.1 The previous day, Reisman had confessed to his wife that he had fallen in love with Miss Seigh—his secretary, who had resided with the Reismans for seven years—and wanted a separation. This did not set well with Etta, who felt totally betrayed by her husband and their house guest, causing her to snap and go on a shooting frenzy. Along with Reisman himself, also witnessing the shocking homicide was his daughter from an earlier marriage, Annette Reisman. The twenty-three-year-old was injured when she attempted to take the gun from the unhinged shooter. Etta Reisman was arrested and charged with murder in this classic case of a love triangle that ended tragically for all parties concerned. The embittered wife turned vengeful killer was convicted of the crime of violence, resulting in a stunning and controversial action the judge set in motion. The heartbreaking tale of Etta Reisman has endured through the decades as, sadly, many others have followed the same path of jealous rage as an often impulsive and deadly response to being wronged and paying an even greater price themselves in the final analysis.

* * *

The year of 1935 brought about some memorable achievements in American society. On Friday, January 11th, pioneer aviator Amelia Earhart flew solo from Honolulu, Hawaii, to Oakland, California, becoming the first pilot to do so.2

On Thursday, May 30, 1935, George Herman Ruth Jr., better known as Babe Ruth, baseball great and future Hall of Famer, played his final game in the majors for the Boston Braves against the Philadelphia Phillies in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.3 On Thursday, June 13th, James Walter Braddock won the world heavyweight championship by defeating Max Baer at New York City’s Madison Square Garden Bowl.

On Wednesday, August 14th, the Social Security Act of 1935 was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and on Saturday, November 30th, the British film, “Scrooge,” “the first all-talking film version of Charles Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol, open[ed] in the U.S. after its British release.”4

That year was also marked by a number of notable crime-related stories in this country. On Thursday, January 3, 1935, in what was called the “Trial of the Century,” Bruno Richard Hauptmann went on trial in Flemington, New Jersey, for the kidnapping and murder of twenty-month-old Charles Lindbergh Jr., son of famed aviator Charles Lindbergh.5 Hauptmann was convicted and executed in April of the following year.

On Wednesday, January 16, 1935, the infamous Depression-era Barker Gang and its family matriarch Kate Barker, often referred to as Ma Barker, were gunned down by the FBI in the course of a last stand shootout at a house in Ocklawaha, Florida.6

On Sunday, September 8th, Huey Pierce Long Jr., U.S. Senator and former governor of Louisiana, was assassinated in Baton Rouge at the Louisiana State Capitol by physician Carl Austin Weiss Sr., who was also shot and killed that same day by the politician’s bodyguards.7

On Monday, December 9th, American investigative journalist and newspaper editor Walter William Liggett was murdered in a gangland drive-by shooting in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with the shooter using a Thompson submachine gun.8 Liggett wrote exposes on organized crime in the city. Mobster Isadore Blumenfeld was acquitted of the murder, in spite of witnesses and solid evidence to the contrary. No other person would ever be charged with the crime.

In the midst of these murder cases of 1935, on Wednesday, August 14th, an attractive secretary, Virginia Seigh, would be shot to death in the wee hours of the morning in the New York City Borough of Queens by a vindictive wife, Etta Reisman.

* * *

Queens originated in 1683 in being amongst the twelve counties that made up the Province of New York. “Coterminous with Queens County since 1899, the borough of Queens...is the easternmost and largest in area of the five boroughs of New York City [and] is geographically adjacent to the borough of Brooklyn at the southwestern end of Long Island, and to Nassau County farther east on Long Island.”9 Additionally, “Queens shares water borders with the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx.”10

Between 1920 and 1930, the population of Queens grew by more than 130 percent, to over a million residents. With the Great Depression, the rate of growth slowed by 1940, but still grew by more than 20 percent from 1930. Within the decade was a boom in construction in Queens. This included “the Triborough Bridge in 1936 and the Bronx-Whitestone [Bridge] in 1939...the Interboro Parkway in 1935...the Grand Central Parkway in 1936 and...LaGuardia Airport, [opening in northern Queens] in 1939.”11 Also that year, Queens hosted the 1939 New York World’s Fair, with the site morphing at the fair’s close into Flushing Meadows Park.12

In the summer of 1935, one of the best neighborhoods in Queens was called Beechhurst. It has been said that:


during the Silent Movie era, it was a favorite vacation area for the rich and famous. Estates lined the waterfront, including those of industrialist Harvey Firestone and entertainment impresario Arthur Hammerstein.... The Beechhurst Towers hotel...was a favorite of actress Mary Pickford and was frequented by many Broadway and early movie stars, including the Marx Brothers and W. C. Fields.13


With its nice homes and well-manicured lawns, Beechhurst was located in the northeastern part of the borough of Queens as a desirable place to call home.

The early morning of Wednesday, August 14th of that year could have been like any other morning for local residents, whether asleep, still awake, or otherwise. But it turned out to be anything but normal.

This was especially true for the residents of 14-37 Utopia Parkway. Living in the posh brick house that was two and a half stories tall with a backyard swimming pool, were forty-two-year-old Arthur Reisman, the balding, successful owner of six beauty parlors; his wife of twelve years, Etta Reisman, age thirty-five; their nine-year-old son, Elias; Reisman’s twenty- three-year-old daughter, Annette Reisman, whom he had fathered with his first wife who was now deceased; and his live-in secretary, twenty-three-year-old Virginia Seigh.

Unfortunately, Reisman found himself smitten with his much younger and striking blonde secretary, and apparently vice versa. A day earlier, he had informed his stunned wife that he was in love with Virginia and offered Etta the sum of $30 a week, if she would only consent to a separation.

While she had evidently begrudgingly accepted the offer, by the next day, Etta had a change of heart. More likely, the idea of giving up her husband to his attractive secretary who had lived in their house for seven years and betrayed her trust in the worst way, was never seriously considered by Etta.

Instead, she was much more intent on stopping Reisman from moving on with his new life at her expense. Or at least preventing Virginia from ever taking away what was hers.

Armed with a gun, Etta confronted the younger woman outside the house. Fearing for her life, Virginia cowered in the driveway before Etta, without much ado, opened fire, shooting her husband’s lover to death. Looking on in disbelief was Etta’s stepdaughter, Annette. She suffered an injury to her hand when making a valiant effort to take the weapon out of Etta’s hands.

As the murder took place, Arthur Reisman sat in his vehicle close by, apparently not believing that things could escalate to this tragic turn of events until it was too late. A little earlier, he had supposedly told his wife with a note of finality about the young woman residing with them “first as a matter of business convenience” before things developed well beyond that: “I love Virginia and Virginia loves me!”14


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