A Gruesome Discovery Behind the Hotel Eliot / by Jason Turgeon

Happy new year! As we enter 2014, I hope to get back on track with the blog. I’ve got a stockpile of great stories to dig into.  But first, I quickly want to share one of my eBay finds.

Late at night when I should be in bed, I often find myself scrolling through the listings on eBay for old Roxbury historical memorabilia. Sometimes I buy an item, but there’s simply too much available to get everything I want.  There’s a treasure trove of old letters, bottles, business cards, match book covers, postcards, and photos.  Especially photos. 

What makes the photos even more interesting is that many of them are old news photos from the archives of newspapers all over the country that were purchased in bulk by several collectors and are now being auctioned off one at  a time.  On any given day, there might be as many as 25 or 30 press photos. These photos, stretching from the 1920s to the 1990s, document all of the changes that befell Roxbury, and since they are press photos there are lots of images of newsworthy events like murders, floods, fires, and the occasional photo op by visiting dignitaries.

So here is one of the those finds, a reference to a long-forgotten mystery. It seems that back in the spring of 1926 someone at the Hotel Eliot found an old cheese box full of human bones.  The back of the photo dryly notes that police suspected foul play. Considering that whoever put the skeleton in the cheese box had to dissect the body and saw the bones, that doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch.

Unfortunately, despite the existence of a news photo it’s not always easy to pick up the story. My search of the Glove archives from around this date didn’t turn anything up, nor did my search of the Google news archive.  We may never know if the police figured out what happened, but I’ll keep an eye out for news clippings just the same.

Here’s to solving more of Roxbury’s historical mysteries in 2013. Happy new year!