The Old Badger: A little of Eva

The Old Badger:
A little of Eva

First Published September 5, 1984

The following are excerpts from previous badgers pertinent to an event which ended 50 years ago this month.

The murder trial stretched out… The defense attorney’s request for a change of venue was turned down by the judge… the newspaper called the request “BOSH”… the defense wanted the body exhumed… Two hundred prospective jurors were named… members of the media crowded into town… More than 70 witnesses would be called… The District Attorney’s outline of the crime was called a “fairy story” by the defense… Photographs of scenes of the crime were called “trick pictures” by the defense…

When the accused first entered the courtroom she was wearing a “brown tricolet suit with a figured vest effect and a beaded necklace in colors of yellow and brown. She wore a brown straw hat, narrow brim with a white band of organdy in a petal effect, also brown hose, brown oxfords with high heels and black kid gloves.”

“Eva Coo was a tough looking cookie,” said a Cooperstown man recently. “I almost got my arm broken in the crush over at the courthouse. I only went into the trial one day. That was enough. People were lined up for it at six in the morning. What a mob! When Eva came down the steps she had to pass right close to me. Boy, she was some tough number.”

Eva Coo was forty-two.

“I always liked her,” said another. “She ran a roadhouse and rented cabins east of Colliersville. She had a big clientele, lots of storekeepers and lawyers from Oneonta. She was tough, but jeez she still used to feed the tramps who came along. Gave ‘em a piece of change when they left.”

Harry Wright was Eva’s handy-man. He was 54 and drank a lot. He had moved into her place after his mother died. Harry had some life insurance with Eva named as a beneficiary.

District Attorney Grant accused Eva Coo of rapping Harry Wright on the head with a mallet at a farm near Crumhorn Mountain. He also accused her of running over Harry Wright several times with a car. The District Attorney said that she took the body back and left it beside Route 7 to look like a traffic accident. He said she had an accomplice.

“Fairy story,” said the defense.

Witnesses were called. There were some tense moments.

There were some lighter moments. A Mrs. Hunt from Milford was called because she had driven to that farm that day and had seen certain things that could be important to the prosecution if she remembered them clearly. She did.

During the cross examination Eva Coo’s attorney asked Mrs. Hunt if she had thought over her testimony before taking the stand.

“I don’t have much time to think, taking care of six children.” Was her reply.

Attorney Byard then demanded, “Who counts your children? Yesterday Mr. Zindle (a previous witness) said there were five children. Now you say six!”

“Well, Mr. Zindle don’t happen to be my husband.”

Ken Maynard’s trick horse “Tarzan was stabled at the Elk Street Stables that summer… Tommy Choate beat Nick Sterling in the golf tourney… Sheriff Mitchell and his deputies broke into a barn near Schuyler Lake, captured six Utica men and later dumped 5,000 gallons of illegal liquor… A good hop crop was forecast, but the year before there had only been 77 bales… Renowned harpest Mildred Dilling played for the rendering of Lohengrin on the beach at Pathfinder’s Lodge… Dr. and Mrs. Harrison completed their new home at the corner of Beaver and Fair… Max Baer, Myrna Loy, Primo Canera and Jack Dempsey played in the movie The Prize Fighter and The Lady… There was a minstrel show benefit for the Village club and Library. It featured the Panther Mountain Hill Billy Boys and a troupe from the Bayrum and Bursey Circus… Experts said that the Dutch Elm disease would be confined to southern New York… E.S. Clark’s Fenimore Hotel was filled with reporters and others drawn by the Coo case. The flick of cards and the clink of glasses were heard far into the nights as newsmen waited for the next development.

The District Attorney called in a local physician, a friend of his, and asked if he would examine Harry Wright’s body. He agreed, carried out a lengthy examination, and reported his findings. But, that evening, when the doctor returned to his home he was highly agitated and immediately confronted his good wife and asked, rather disconcertingly, “My dear, what have you done with my dark grey pinstriped suit? The one that you and the children insist on calling my ‘suit of iron’.” Unruffled, his pretty little wife replied, “Why, I’m almost certain I gave it to the Salvation Army.

Why do you ask?”

“I have just come from examining the body of Harry Wright, the man who may have been murdered by
Eva Coo. Well, the first thing that I discovered was that he was wearing MY suit. My grey pinstriped suit. There it was with my name right in the pocket. Most embarrassing. I thought we had discussed never leaving identification in the articles you gave away!”

Eva Coo was found guilty in September. She was killed in the electric chair in June 1935.

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