The mysterious murder of a lovely cigarette saleswoman (8 photos)

Category: Nostalgia, PEGI 0+
24 May 2024

Crimes are committed in this life that, despite their apparent simplicity, even real virtuosos are unable to unravel.

The mysterious murder of Mary Rogers, known to the press as "The Cigar Beauty," in the summer of 1841 remains one of New York's most notorious unsolved cases. Even Edgar Allan Poe tried to solve this case. But although the ghost of the unfortunate woman is said to have haunted numerous suspects, the truth about this terrible crime remains as murky as the waters of the Hudson River where her body was found.

In 1838, John Anderson, owner of a tobacco shop on Broadway in Lower Manhattan, hired Mary Rogers to stand at the counter and attract gentleman customers. It worked, and the dark-haired beauty, described as "ethereal and hypnotically pleasing," made Anderson's tobacco shop one of the most popular in the city. Among the regular customers of the establishment were such famous personalities as Washington Irving and, allegedly, Poe himself. And also a whole crowd of journalists, which contributed to the fact that her terrible death received wide publicity in the press.

One day in October 1838, Rogers disappeared. She suddenly reappeared two weeks later, leading many to believe that Anderson had faked her disappearance for publicity purposes. Rogers' fans flooded the store, and she soon felt depressed and went to work at her mother's boarding house. However, in July 1841 she disappeared again. This time, two men on the New Jersey shore spotted her body in the water near Sibyl's Cave.

Cave of the Sibyl

In 2007, a new gate was built in front of the man-made cave. Many believe that Rogers was killed here, although exactly how is a mystery. Bruises on her body and marks on her throat suggest a robber or a vengeful lover (perhaps one of her many suitors). From the moment the beauty's remains were recovered from the water, the tabloids immediately reported on every new piece of evidence or suspect, breathless with excitement. However, the public liked it, they bought newspapers in an unprecedented rush.

This attention, unsurprisingly, took its toll on people, especially her fiancé Daniel Payne, who had a solid alibi. But the press still hounded him. He was found near Sibylla's cave, dead from an apparent suicide by poison, with a note reading: “To the world - here I am, in that very place. May the Lord forgive me for my unlucky life.”

The furious press also inspired Edgar Allan Poe, who had his own theories about the case. In his story "The Mystery of Marie Roget" he not-so-subtly changed the details to Paris with a murder victim named Marie Roget. His detective C. Auguste Dupin went through many suspects, but never settled on one, although Poe diligently updated the story with new evidence. It is believed to be the first work of fiction to use a real murder as source material.

One of the suspects, Anderson himself, allegedly rejected advances from Rogers.

Although he is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, he died in 1881 in Paris, claiming to his last days that he was tormented by the ghost of a beauty who sold cigarettes in his shop. Before his death, Payne also claimed to have seen the bride in the form of a ghost.

Later, a version emerged that Rogers died from a botched abortion in a tavern located not far from Sibyl’s cave. The woman owner of the establishment was accidentally shot by her own son. And the dying woman, wanting to ease her soul before the inevitable, said that Rogers actually died from a failed abortion.

Most likely, the mystery of Mary Rogers' murder that summer night will never be solved. And only the ghostly image of a girl with cigarettes will forever wander through places that were memorable to her during her lifetime, inspiring poets and scaring tourists.

Add your comment
  • bowtiesmilelaughingblushsmileyrelaxedsmirk

You might be interested in: