From the Oregonian, dated July 27, 1909:
New Evidence of Insanity is Given
Examination by Alienists May Bar Trial of Mrs. Collins for Murder
Illness Shattered Mind
Woman Questioned by Newspaper Man Babbles Like Maniac – Actress Brought Into Case – Doctor Says She Is Demented
In all probability Mrs. Kate Collins, to whom all evidence points as having shot and killed her husband, Dr. Roy A. Miles Collins, last Saturday morning, will never be brought to trial for the murder.Instead developments yesterday indicated that a lunacy commission will be called next Thursday to pass upon her mental condition.
If the defense is successful then in supporting evidence it disclosed yesterday for the first time, showing not only that Mrs. Collins is out of her right mind at present and had been for at least a week prior to the shooting, but also that several years ago during a long illness she became insane for several months and had to be closely watched on that account, the commission will undoubtedly adjudge her insane and commit her to the asylum.
Developments following each other in rapid succession yesterday placed a materially different aspect on the case.Immediately after a Coroner’s jury yesterday morning had returned a verdict to the effect that Dr. Collins came to his death by a gunshot would inflicted by his wife.Attorney P.L. Willis, a friend of Mrs. Collins since she came to Portland with her two small children 20 years ago, hastened to the County Court and filed a charge of insanity against her.Later Mr. Willis gave a statement to an Oregonian reporter in which he related much of the evidence on which he expects to prove that Mrs. Collins is and has been insane and is mentally irresponsible for her actions.
One of the most important portions of this evidence, and something that has not before been made public, is the fact, as related by Mr. Willis, that last Monday, July 19, five days before the tragedy, Mrs. Collins visited him at his office and displayed marked signs of insanity.She wished the attorney to make out legal papers by which she could leave all her property to her daughter, spoke wildly of trouble she was having with her husband, and declared disconnectedly several times that she “was going away from here.”More than once she was on the verge of hysterics and had to be quieted by the lawyer.Her actions led Mr. Willis to believe she intended to commit suicide.
Sickness Shattered Mind
Another new feature of the defense’s case is that a number of years ago Mrs. Collins, who had been supporting her two children by the hardest kind of work as seamstress, became sick while at the lawyer’s home and was insane for a number of months.During that time she continued to stay with the Willis’ and was cared for there until she finally recovered.Mr. Willis says he recognized the recurrence of the symptoms of her former insanity while she was in his office last Monday.
Further bearing out this evidence of Mrs. Collins’ previous insanity is the statement of Dr. G. Orlo Jefferson, who has been for many years her family physician.He corroborates Mr. Willis’ statement about the woman’s former insanity.Moreover, Mrs. Collins was in his office also during the week before the murder and showed marked symptoms of being out of her right mind while there.
An Oregonian reporter saw and talked to Mrs. Collins at the Mountain View Sanatorium, at East Thirtieth and Powell streets, yesterday afternoon.It was the first time anyone save her physicians and attendants, her daughter and representatives of the District Attorney’s office had been permitted to speak to her since she was taken from the County Jail to the sanatorium Saturday night.Though attendants at the hospital said her condition was better than at any time since she was brought there, she appeared to be entirely irresponsible and irrational.Her conversation was irrelevant and disconnected.
In response to a question as to whether she had any statement to make, or wished to clear up some of the contradictory statements she has already made, Mrs. Collins turned wildly to her daughter, Mrs. Gertrude Garber, who with her husband was supporting her in bed, and asked: “What’s he talking about?What’s that he’s saying?”
Daughter Near Tears
“I don’t know that man, do I?What does he want?” she cried when the query was repeated.“Is that the man who brought me out here?” she went on, turning to Patrolman Marsh, who stands watch over her room from 4 o’clock in the afternoon to midnight.“He has been very kind to me, hasn’t he?”
“I never saw him before, what does he want?” she repeated a minute later turning to the reporter.
“He wants to learn how you are,” said Mrs. Garber, who was almost in tears as she sat with her arms about her mother.
“Why? I’m all right,” said Mrs. Collins.“I was never sick a day in my life,” she added, but the sentence broke off with a laugh that was followed closely by tears and hysterics.That ended the interview.
Those who have been about Mrs. Collins to any extent since she was sent to the sanatorium are firm in their belief that at the present time at least she is insane.Patrolman Gill, who was detailed by Chief Cox to guard the accused woman during the day, said yesterday that he had no doubt that Mrs. Collins is out of her mind.During his stay at her bedside Gill has been able to quiet the unfortunate woman and sooth her to sleep when no others could.Three times yesterday he put her into quiet slumber merely by laying his hands on her forehead and telling her to sleep.The first time she slept from about 10 o’clock in the morning until 2:30 o’clock in the afternoon.Then she awoke and was able to take a light luncheon, after which she again slept.
According to Gill, Mrs. Collins only on one occasion alluded to the shooting of her husband yesterday, when she repeated to herself as if greatly distracted, “I did it.I did it.”To distract her thoughts the patrolman told her to sleep and she obeyed like a child.She did not again refer to her declaration of the day before that her husband had shot himself.She seemed to have forgotten that side of the story entirely, said Gill.At times the officer said she forgot that her husband was dead and asked for him.
May Become Rational
At the sanatorium it was said that if Mrs. Collins continued to improve as rapidly as she has since Sunday night, in two or three days they believe she will become rational enough to be able to make a connected statement of her connection with the shooting of her husband.
Mr. Willis told some of the past history of Mrs. Collins that had not hitherto been given out in discussing the case yesterday.Mrs. Collins’ first husband, Mark Van Winkle, was a nephew of Mr. Willis’ wife.Van Winkle, however, deserted the woman nearly 25 years ago, leaving her with two children to support.About 20 years ago she came to Portland.
“She went to sewing then,” said Mr. Willis.“She performed splendid duties as a mother by her children.By her own unaided efforts she brought them up.She is a woman of more than ordinary energy, and is entitled to unusual credit for what she did for her children.Her son died, I believe in California, about two years ago, but her daughter, Mrs. Garber, lives in Camas.”
“It was due to overwork more than anything else, I think, that Mrs. Collins was taken ill a number of years ago and it unbalanced her mind.She was at our house for several months during her sickness.At no time was she violent, but I remember on one occasion while we were at the dinner table, she got up and ran out of the house crying that it was afire.Her physician at that time said she was unbalanced.”
“Just one week ago today she was in my office to arrange for property to be left to her daughter.I saw that she was again affected in the old way, and it was my impression that she was intending to kill herself, for she repeated a number of times ‘I am going away. I am going away.’I saw clearly that her mind was affected.She would ask a question about one thing and then jump to something else.Her conversation was disconnected.There is no question about her insanity at the time.”
“I suggested to her to make a visit to her daughter, as I feared she was thinking of suicide, but she refused.Mrs. Collins spoke Monday of her husband’s relations with another woman (it was not with his first wife however) which was evidently worrying her greatly.This woman was a variety actress who had gone to Dr. Collins to have her throat treated.This actress is now supposed to be in San Francisco.”
Would Let Husband Go
“At that time, however, Mrs. Collins said to me that if Roy wanted to go with this other woman, he could go and she would not place any obstacles in his way.”
“She also said, but she was partly wild at the time, so that her statement may or may not have been accurate, that she herself was not going to marry Collins, but that it was he who insisted.I know, however, that she was very much in love with him.”
As County Judge Webster and Dr. W.T. Williamson, of the County Lunacy Commission, who pass on all cases of alleged insanity coming under the jurisdiction of the courts here, are out of town and will not be back before Thursday, it will not be possible to have Mrs. Collins examined by the Commission, even if her condition is such that she could undergo the examination before that day.Dr. S.E. Josephi is the third member of the Commission.Mr. Willis said yesterday that he will ask to have the Commission pass on Mrs. Collins’ case as early as possible.
Among the witnesses who testified at the inquest held by Coroner Norden yesterday morning were Dr. Charles B. Frisbie, who was first summoned to her husband’s side by Mrs. Collins; Detective Frank Snow, who was called by the physician; Deputy Coroner James Dunning, Dr. Percy J. Wiley, autopsy physician, and a newspaper man.Deputy District Attorney J.H. Page conducted the case for the state.Supporting the theory of the defense that Mrs. Collins has been insane for some time was Dr. Frisbie’s answer to a juror’s question whether Dr. Collins thought his wife insane.Dr. Frisbie replied that “Collins had thought so for some time prior to the shooting.”
Suicide Theory Scouted
The theory that Dr. Collins might have committed suicide was aired when Autopsy Surgeon Wiley showed that it would have been unlikely for anybody to have committed suicide by shooting himself as Collins was shot.The bullet entered his left side, said the physician, in such a way that in case of self-destruction, Collins would have had to put his right hand to his left side.
Detective Frank Snow testified that Mrs. Collins at no time had stated definitely to him that she had done the shooting, her answers at all times being, “Well, if you say I did, I must have done it,” or words to that effect.Deputy Coroner Dunning, however, said she had said before himself, Snow and Frisbie, “I am guilty, I did it.”
A newspaperman said that in response to a question put by Deputy District Attorney Fitzgerald as to the number of shots she fired, Mrs. Collins answered, “What difference does it make how many shots I fired?I am guilty.I did it.Why prolong my misery by these questions?”
Part of the jury’s verdict was as follows: “From the evidence submitted to this jury we are of the opinion that said gunshot wound was inflicted by Mrs. Kate Collins, the wife of the above-named deceased.”The jury was composed of Frank Barry, foreman, C.R. Price, James Brown, C.L. Haynes, E.F. De Grandpre and Henry Chambers.
Proceeding on the theory that Mrs. Collins was perfectly sane when she killed her husband, Deputy District Attorney Fitzgerald, for the state, said yesterday that the insanity plea of the woman will have little weight in his office and that she will be tried on the charge of murder in the first degree, placed against her Saturday.
“We don’t want another statement from the woman,” said Fitzgerald.“We already have her full voluntary statement that she committed the murder, given before witnesses.It makes no difference what she may say now or later in the light of this statement and the facts.”
Mr. Fitzgerald said that Mrs. Collins would be arraigned in Judge Bennett’s court this morning, unless she is too ill to appear.He scouted the statement that she would be committed to the asylum by a lunacy commission, saying that she would be tried on the evidence.