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True Crime in 1831, Part 4 - Lino and Lucretia

Updated: Jan 30, 2021

Lino and Lucretia visited Colonel Estanislao de Cuesta, the Consul of the Mexican government in Philadelphia to ask him to assist in delivering the letters. Lino repeated his story to the Colonel, with minor variations from the one he originally told the Chapmans. The Colonel was skeptical and asked for proof that he was Mexican, such as a passport or certificate of baptism. Without missing a beat, Lino replied that, alas, all of his documents were in the trunk that was taken from him in Paris. All the while, Lucretia sat in and listened to the conversation they carried on in Spanish, oblivious to the questions the Colonel raised about the veracity of Lino's story. The Colonel, nonetheless, relented and agreed to forward the letters to the American Consul in Vera Cruz.

Lucretia excused herself from the meeting and went to visit her old employers, the LeBruns. During this time, the Colonel was called to go to dinner. He asked Lino if he would come and take dinner with him since it was a custom in his country that when a person is called to dinner, he invites the stranger with him. It was customary also, that the stranger never accepts such invitation, because it was understood merely as an act of politeness. Lino had no concept and accepted the invitation and dined with Colonel de Cuesta and his sister, Romania.

After she finished her visit, Lucretia returned to find Lino dining with the Colonel. Romania kept her company while waiting for the men to finish their business. She spoke to Lucretia about Lino and his story, which he told again at dinner. She was impressed and said that his family was very rich. If these two prominent Mexican citizens, and one a government agent at that, treated Lino like a nobleman, then surely he was. Lucretia took this as further and final confirmation that what Lino had said was true. Any suspicion she may have had about him was gone, validated by de Cuesta's dinner invitation and Romania's words.

It was not long after this that Lucretia's feelings for Lino began to change. Perhaps he sensed some need in her, an emptiness or longing that was not being filled or satisfied. After all, she had suffered the experience of being spurned by her early love and the subsequent difficulty she had finding men who were romantically interested in her. She had met and married William, with whom she shared common interests, but that was a while ago as he became so involved and interested with his studies than with her or his family. He was almost a recluse in their own home.

So, naturally when Lino began to show interest in her as a woman, she may have found herself craving what she had longed for throughout her life. She felt wanted, desired. Lino started by engaging her in conversation, something William was never very good at. Lino enjoyed talking, telling stories. He also had a way of making it appear that he hung on every word as he listened to her. Then he expressed interest in her love of music. He encouraged her to play the piano and he would respond by singing the songs he knew...songs of love and romance.

Next he found ways for her to touch him. When they were out in the carriage, he would complain of a headache and stretch out, placing his head in her lap. He would ask if she could soothe him by stroking his forehead. He would also suffer "fits" and needed to be attended by Lucretia, who would ask people to leave the room. It eventually led to Lucretia regularly visiting him in his room.

Ellen the housekeeper took note of how Lucretia took to treating Lino. She noticed how Lucretia gave him some of William's fine linen shirts and one of his blue suits. Ellen would often see her in Lino's room, especially when he would his spells. Sometimes Lucretia would be observed in her night clothes, coming down the stairs in the morning. She even observed them kissing many times.

Another person was Lucretia's friend, Esther Bache, who visited her and found her remarkably attentive to Lino. During the visit, Lino suffered a fit and Lucretia excused herself to go and attend to him. Esther heard their voices distinctly and sometimes Lucretia would laugh. She saw Lino next at dinner and there appeared to be nothing the matter with him.

At one time, Lino and Lucretia were absent for three days. William did nothing but run around the house, like a crazy man, and told Ellen he did not know what to make of it. Ellen suggested maybe they had gone to Mexico, for they had talked about it and did not mention the children. William said he should not be a bit surprised if they did run off together; the way they were going on.

It seemed that everyone who entered the house noticed the interactions between the forty-three year old mistress of the house and the twenty-two year old stranger. Their relationship appears to have been no secret and apparently Lucretia did nothing to hide or discourage it. Perhaps she felt she had finally found the love she felt she deserved and had been neglected. How far would one go to keep that?


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