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Why the Bogus "Lord de Freyne," Convicted of a
Cruel Murder, Must Go Crazy Once a Day or Run the Risk of Being Taken from the Asylum and Hanged "True, who is clever at most games of skitl and chance, may be watching a close cAtfys match with Jcebn interest, when he will break into a fit of raging < madness as the Broadmoor keepers come to take his daily record." Ronald True, the Bogus "Lord de Freyne," Convicted of a Brutal Murder in London, but Sent to a Lunatic Asylum. LONDON, Aug. 25. NO man in the world, perhaps, fincts himself in such a terrible pre dicament as Ronald True, who used to call himself "Lord de Freyne" in San Francisco, and is, in fact, the son of Annabelle, Dowager Lady de Freyne. True was found guilty in London re cently of the brutal murder of Gertrude Yates, a girl of the bohemian world in London, and sentenced to be hanged. He beat his victim to death in a very shock ing manner and stole her jewels, which were of high value. He appealed to the Criminal Court of Appeal and his sen tence was promptly confirmed. But after his conviction experts de tected signs of insanity in him and by order of the Secretary of State for Home Affairs he was removed to the great Asy lum for the Criminal Insane at Broad moor. His escape from death aroused a storm of indignation and the public pro tests almost endangered the Government, and Secretary Shortt will retire, it is said, from political life. But in the asylum True is doomed to a punishment which many would regard as worse than death, for he is under the con stant and closest^kind of surveillance by the medical attendants and expert ward-, ers, who, unless he acts as a lunatic, will report him as having recovered his sanity. In that event he- is not discharged as cured and restored to liberty, ai would be the case in America, but is recommitted to prison by warrant of the Secretary of State, to fulfill his sentence. And the sentence passed upon him after trial and conviction was to be hanged by the neck until he was dead. Thus Ronald True will always have before him, by day and by night, the shadow of the gallows. English law is very explicit on this point. Under the Criminal Lunatics Act of' 1884 it is distinctly laid down that should a prisoner detained in an asylum for the criminal insane be at any time afterward certified as sane?that is to say, as cured?he must be recommitted" to prison by warrant of the Secretary of State for the Home Department, to com plete his sentence, which in True's in stance is the capital sentence. Reliable reports suggest that True is now aware of the necessity of acting in an insane manner. It has even been stated that Mr..True's wife?she is his third and an American? .lives on the comfortable sum she realized by betting against the noose of death be ing drawn around her husband's neck. \Chen he was first taken to the asylum, some indignation was aroused by his cal lous and cheerful conduct. He arrived in a private motor ar with his handcuffs concealed under a fashionable motoring coat and joked loudly with his attendants. He was at first placed in the so-called "gentlemen's block at Broadmoor, where criminal lunatics of good social posi tion and quiet behavior are lodged. Here he had many privileges. Instead of din i??g with the ordinary inmates in the mid dle of the day, off tinware, he with other occupants of the gentlemen's block, was allowed to dine in the evening, off porce lain, the meal usually comprising a soup, a roast, aP least two kinds of vegetables and a swelt, after which he used to enjoy a game of bridge. He is a splendid bridge player and a very entertaining companion, having a supply of good or exciting ?tories from his experiences as an aviator in the war, r member of the Northwest Mounted Po lice and a stock raiser in Canada. Moreover, he was allowed to wear his own fashionable clothes, instead of crimi nal convict garb. He expressed himself as being quite happy and comfortable, and enjoyed to Ihe utmost the beautiful grounds of the asylum. Then some one, from within or with out, seems td have called his attention to the fact that his sentence was merely a suspended one, and that in the event of his being reported as cured he would have to pay the penalty of his crime. True then became violently insane and had to be removed for a time to the re fractory ward. Since then there has never been a day when he has not shown symptoms of violent insanity, so that it would be difficult to send him to the gal lows. It is stated that he has been known to show the keenest interest in a difficult chess game, whfn all of a sudden he would start tearing his hair and uttering: maniacal shreeks. Was this behavior due to a sudden fit of insanity or because he realized that a keeper was watching him and that it was time to get in the daily asylum record as mad? It must be remembered that judge and jury were perfectly convinced that True was fully responsible for his actions and that there were no mitigating circum stances. It is true that he was shown to be a drug fiend and a degenerate, but these are not regarded as mitigating cir cumstances. It was only after his convic tion and when he was confronted, so to speak, by the spectacle of the scaffold and of the noose, that he gave wav to fits of insanity, which may have been feigned, or which may have been caused by the stoppage of the drugs to which he had become more or less of a slave. On this being reported to the Secretary of State for the Hqme Department, he causal Ronald True's condition to be ex amined by a commission of three experts, two of them former directors of the Broadmoor Asylum, and the third, Sir Maurice Craig, recognized as the fore most alienist of his day in the British Isles. They reported to the Home Secre tary that whatever Ronald True may have been at the time of the murder, he was undoubtedly irresponsible and insane when they exdWiined him. On the strength of this report, the Home Secretary, who acts in the matter in the name and in behalf of the King, ordered a reprieve of the execu tion and a suspension of the sentence, by virtue of the law of the land, which has been in existence for some four centuries, according to the terms of which "an in sane man cannot be sent to execution." When the public learned that this re fiulsive murderer was escaping the gal ows while similar clemency was refused to a poor addle-headed pantry boy, the report was circulated that TrueV escape was due to the influence of his charming Gertrude Yates, Beaten to Death in Her Flat by True, Who Then Stole Her Jewel*. mother, who at one time bore the title of "Lady de Freyne." It was this story of high-placed influence that embarrassed tho Government. Ronald True's family history is, in fact, quit^ romantic. His birth certificate shows that he was born in 1891, at Chorl ton-Upon-Medlock, a suburb of Man chester; that his father's name was Wil liani Thomas True, once a prominent artist and bohemian, and that his mother was Annabel True, formerly Angus, a native of the little Banffshire town of Rothes. What became of William Thomas True is not known. But in 1902 Captain William Alexander, of the Royal Fusiliers, obtained a divorce from his wife in the Ijondon courts, her maiden name being given as Annabel Angus, and named the x Hon. Arthur' French, oldest son of Lord de Freyne, a fellow officer of Captain Alexander, as the corespondent. The Frenches are a very ancient Norman-Irish family. On November 18 of the same year Lieutenant French was married at a registry office at Edinburgh to the divorced Mrs. Alexander, who gave on that occa sion her name and antecedents as Annabel Angus, daughter of the keeper of a small inn known as the Seafield Arms in the Banffshire town of Rothes. She Also served as a "barmaid" for a time. On learning of the marriage, Arthur French's father stopped his allowance, and bereft of resources he and the former Annabel Angus soon parted, he making his wav to America, while she, aslhe Hon. Mrs. I^rMich, became very well known in London bohemian circles. She was in those days a very beautiful and fascinat Ronald True, When on Duty as an Aviation In structor in America. ing woman, with chestnut hair, fresh com plexion, blue eyes and a good figure. Arthur French made hip way to America, enlisted in the Eighth Infantry of the United States Army at'Fort Slocurn in 1905, afterward servf><f as sergeant of the Twenty-third Infant^ in Manila, and eventually, after receiving an honorable discharge from the United States Army, settled down to live on the island of Min danao, the largest of the Philippine group, as a storekeeper, with a native domestics establishment of his owif. In 1913 Arthur French, succeeded through his father's death to the peerage ? &i fifth Lord de Freyne. But as no prop erty accompanied the * title, Lord de Freyne remained at Mindanao. Mrs. French,, nee Angus, thereupon assumed the title of "Lady de Freyne," but was repudiated as such by the nobleman of Mindanao, who had married her. He ad mitted that he had been married at the Edinburgh registry offiice after the Alex ander divorce case, but Insisted that the union was invalid, on the gronnd that she had not beqAfrec to w&d Captain Alex ander. She then instituted proceedings for a divorce against him, thus asserting (0) 1922, by America? Weekly, lac. Or?A Britain Ritht* Rmwv?i Annabel le Angus, the Dow ager Lady de Freyne, Who Made a Heroic Struggle for Her Son Ronald True'* Life. her status as his lawful wife. For some reason or other these proceed ings, instituted in 1913, were dropped. In the following yeftr,, on the out break of the war, Lord de Freyne sold his store on Min danao, rid himself * of his native entan glements and hur ried home to Eng land. - Enlisting in the ranks of tty? .army, he rose rapidly to a captaincy of the South Wales Bor derers, and fell fighting at the front in France early in 1915. His peerage passed to his half brother, now mar ried to one of the twin daughters and heiresses of the Dublin multimillion aire, Sir John Ar nott. In spite of this, Ronald True, son of the former Annabel Angus, after deserting from the Canadian Mounted Police, as sumed the title of Lord de Freyne and was posturing a s such when arrested and convicted of forgery at Alameda, in California, in the latter part of 1915. It is a remarkable fact that whereas some of the "peerages" and standard works of reference mention the former Annabel Angus as widow of the fifth Lord de Freyne, withotit giving her address, # others ignore her existence altogether. * But she is known as Annabelle, Lady de Freyne. She still retails much of her youthful charm. She has married a fourth husband, a man of wealth and re sponsibility, who has generously enabled her to pay Ronald True an allowance and also to defray the expose of his defense. There are actually three Ladies de Frpyne. They are Annabella, Lady de Freyne, who is Ronald True's mother; Marie, Lady de Freyne, and the Lady de Freyne, wife of the present peer. The second Dowager, Marie, Lady de Freyne, has been distressed by persons assuming that she was ?he mother of Ronald True and expressing sympathy with her. Broadmoor has sometimes been described as "The Murderer's Paradise" and by others as Great Britain's "Bastille," and is undoubtedly one of the greatest and most interesting institutions of the kind The British Home Secretary, Who , Saved True's Life by Sending Him to an Aaylum After Hi* Conviction and Will Retire, It I* Said, from Political Life. ? in existence, with accommodation for sev eral thousand inmates of both sexes, every one of whom is an insane criminal Broadmoor stands not far from Wel lington College, on a plateau, in?the midst of the sandy pinewoods of Berkshire, sur rounded by beautiful grounds. The vast majority of the inmates are known as "the King's pleasure lunatics." These are offenders who have perpetrated crimes and who have been found "guilty, but irresponsible." This is a form of ver dict unknown in the United States, where, if an offender is pronounced insane he is held to be legally innocent because irre sponsible. Thus, the New York jury that was called upon to determine the fate of Harry Thaw when placed on trial for the murder of Stanfprd White having found him insane, had no alternative but acquit him. His insanity being thus legally established, the presiding judge was able to commit him to Matteawan as a dangerous lunatic, but only until pro nounced cured. When an English jury finds a prisoner "guilty but insane," the judge commits him t?v the Secretary of State for the Home Department, who issues an order for his transfer to Broadmoor, to be de tained there "during the King's pleasure." It is very rare, indeed, that a homicidal maniac thus committed ever recdvers his liberty, even if cured. He pannot be freed by any judicial process, but only by the warrant of the Secretary of State for the Home Department, acting in the name of the sovereign. A murderer who has been declared "guilty, but insane"?that is to say, to have been demented when he per petrated the crime?remains always guilty and a criminal in the eyes of the law,>an<! as such never recovers his or her ci\il rights. It is assumed that such cases are beyond cure, and since the King is theoretically and in point of law the guardian and the trustee of all lunatics, he or she is held there "during the King's pleasure." But in the case of Ronald True, who was held sane by the judge and jury which convict ed him of the murder of Gertrude Yates, he is held at Broadmoor not during the King's pleasure, but only until he is de clared cured of the insanity developed after his trial and conviction; and on the report of his recovery he will have to face th?> fulfilment of his suspended sentence? "to be hanged by the neck ufttil you arc dead."