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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Death by Disappearance: The Secret Story of Alice Parsons

By Michael Mauro DeBonis
Copyright ©2019. All rights reserved by the author.

In a noir crime narrative worthy of Dashiell Hammett or Mickey Spillane, a real-life drama played out in Stony Brook, New York, on the late morning of June 9, 1937, with most puzzling and suspicious circumstances surrounding it. It involved the utter disappearance of wealthy New York City and Long Island heiress Alice McDonnell Parsons, from her countryside home, called Long Meadow Farm. Her maid lastly saw mrs. Parsons, a Russian émigré named Anna Kuprianova (also spelled Kupryanova) who came to the USA from Russia, during World War I. Anna told American law enforcement officials probing Alice Parsons’ vanishing she had to leave her homeland because of the hostile Communist takeover there, from Czarist authorities, at that time (Gardner, 1-2).

Mrs. Kuprianova told the FBI and New York State Police (as well as the Brookhaven Town Police) that Alice Parsons left her north shore Long Island estate to show a family property that was then up for sale, to a middle-aged couple, who were both interested in purchasing it. Mrs. Parsons’ home to be sold was called Shoreland (Brosky, 41) and it was located in the Suffolk County town of Huntington (Brosky, 42). Shoreland, like Long Meadow Farm, was also located on the Island’s north shore, and it rose above the Long Island Sound below it (Price, 4) at Lloyd’s Neck and Harbor (Gardner, 1).

Earlier that morning (Wednesday, June 9, 1937) Mrs. Parsons had driven her also rich husband William H. Parsons, to the Stony Brook railroad station, so William “…could make a 7:47 AM train,” (Brosky, 42). Alice Parsons returned home and “…informed her housekeeper [Anna] that a couple was coming over around eleven AM…that she [Alice Parsons] would be taking them over to see her aunt and uncle’s estate in Huntington…” (Brosky, 42). “Alice got inside the [couple’s] car with the couple…and that was the last time Alice was ever seen…” (Brosky, 42).

So began one of the most infamous American missing person cases in history. Mrs. Kuprianova’s alleged account of Mrs. Parsons’ actions on that tragic morning would never be proven or disproven. And with several major law enforcement agencies all simultaneously working the case together, every Long Islander was sure that Alice Parsons would be found alive and well. Sadly, this was not to be.

Contemporary newspaper journalists described William Parsons as “…tall, well set-up, and nice looking in the tweeds of the gentleman farmer,” (Gardner, 1). William and Alice Parsons’ Long Meadow Estate was eleven acres large, where both raised various birds for market, specifically pigeons (Brosky, 41). William Parsons had worked for the very lucrative Standard Oil Company for many years, but he was retired by 1937. Familial relations connected William to the Pratts, the extremely wealthy owners of the aforementioned oil conglomerate (Brosky, 41).

William Parsons was also the “…son of a wealthy paper manufacturer,” (Brosky, 41).

Long Island Newsday described Alice Parsons as being “…a pleasant-looking young matron, five feet tall, with grey eyes and greying hair, and a pretty, gentle face,” (Gardner, 1). William Parsons (who was a US Navy lieutenant during World War I) married Alice M. Parsons in 1925, following Alice’s graduation from the prestigious Miss Porter’s School, which was located in Farmington, Connecticut (Gardner, 1). Long Island Newsday noted both William and Alice as being “…apparently normal, pleasant people…” (Gardner, 1). The Parsons lived in New York City until 1929, when they mutually decided to abandon their urban environs for the country instead, with the couple winding up buying a house at and living in rustic Stony Brook (Brosky, 41). i

Alice Parsons had inherited “a small fortune from her uncle, Colonel Timothy S. Williams, former president of the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company,” (Gardner, 1). Hence, Alice had adequate financial means (just like her husband, William). But both Parsons being well-connected and well-to-do, they usually kept to themselves, and they did not regularly hobnob with their similarly wealthy neighbors (Brosky, 41). The Parsons’ major flaw in their marriage was that Alice was left barren from an accident she suffered in her childhood (Brosky, 42) and the couple, together, were childless. This grim pall was lifted in 1931, when William and Alice hired Anna Kuprianova as their housekeeper, with Anna bringing her five-year-old son, Roy Kuprianova, to live at Long Meadow Farm (Brosky, 42). Both Parsons much doted on young Roy (Gardner, 1).

Alice became ill in 1931, so it was this reason that prompted the Parsons to hire Anna as their house servant (Brosky, 42). Before 1931, the Parsons did not have any maids or butlers at all (Brosky, 42). After Alice Parsons recovered her health, the Parsons decided to keep Mrs. Kuprianova on, since she and Alice “…got along fabulously,” (Brosky, 42). Anna Kuprianova was several years younger than Alice and “…a beautiful Russian immigrant,” (Brosky, 42). An investigative journalist for Long Island Newsday John Gardner (who was covering the Parsons case) commented in 1943 that it was in 1934 that Anna began her work for Alice and William (Gardner, 2). But Gardner’s account factually agrees with Long Island historian Kerriann F. Brosky’s 2017 rendering of Alice’s ominous vanishing. Gardner says in his very detailed newspaper article “…so close was the relationship between the childless couple and their housekeeper, that Anna Kuprianova, a woman whose background was shrouded in the mists of the Russian Revolution and subsequent international marriages, [Anna] legally adopted the name ‘Parsons’ after she came to live with Will and Alice,” (Gardner, 1). 

Before working for Alice and William, Anna Kuprianova worked for Mister Parsons’ sister (Gardner, 2). So, it was William’s sibling who introduced Anna to Alice. Anna had her name legally changed to Kuprianova-Parsons in 1936 (Brosky, 42) at Brooklyn Supreme Court (Gardner, 2) while William and Alice were still married to each other and living under the same roof. Unusual as this was, especially for the 1930s, Anna had both of her employers’ blessings. Their friends and family members did not note the three as being at odds with each other. No historical record currently known disputes this fact.

Alice Parsons, despite being a member of New York State and Long Island’s upper crust, did not, as a habit, keep herself from getting her hands dirty. She “…came up with what became a popular recipe for squab paste for canapés,” (Brosky, 42) …and (Alice) “…also sold squab pies in Stony Brook,” (Brosky, 42). 

As time went on, people of Long Island’s north shore Three Village community were being fooled. The Parsons’ marriage was inching its way (slowly and certainly) towards doom. And not before long, Alice would be devoured by nothingness… not to be glanced again by human eyes. 

If we are to believe Anna’s account of Alice’s disappearance as being factually accurate…we must consider a few things first. Alice’s “…housekeeper was the last person to see her alive---and importantly, the only one to provide this story of her (Alice’s) departure…” (Hunt, 3). Alice Parsons’ “…eleven-acre farm and the countryside for miles around [it] were searched, almost inch by inch and hundreds of clues were run down without finding her,” (New York Times, 1). This means that from Alice’s initial dematerialization, all subsequent police investigations never found a trace of her. This fact also does not verify, in any concrete way, Mrs. Kuprianova’s notions concerning Alice Parsons…or Alice’s demise. What complicates our picture about Alice Parsons’ fate is that Mrs. Kuprianova’s account of Alice’s leaving with a married couple on June 7, 1937, does not contradict itself at all, at least superficially. 

But here, too, there are problems. No one else aside from Anna ever reported to the FBI and New York State Police that they actually saw this couple. A couple, fitting Anna’s description therein, were not seen near Alice Parson’s Shoreland estate, at Huntington, on the day of Alice’s disappearance, or even the days after her disappearance. Furthermore, a ransom note, found early the next morning by NYS Police, was retrieved from the backseat of Alice’s car (Hunt, 3). The ransom note was discovered by a Suffolk County detective named Bert Walker (Gardner, 2). 

The note was written in a forced, stilted English, which has baffled readers, ever since being published in the New York Daily News, on June 11, 1937. It read:

“Will Parsons: I have your wife for $25,000.00 ransom. I calculate that you could get that money in 24 hours. I have no place to keep her longer. Meet bus terminal Jamaica 9 p. m. Bring money in box. My man will call you by name, and you go with him. He will take you to your wife, but mind, any cop aboard you’ll pay, and she will never speak again,”(Hunt, 3).

Several contemporary historians, including Brian Hunt and Kerriann F. Brosky, leave the name of the note’s discoverer out of their articles. But Newsday’sJohn Gardner did not, “…the late Suffolk County detective, Bert Walker, found [the ransom note] beneath the footboard in the back seat of the Parsons’ car…” (Gardner, 2). By 1943, Detective Walker was dead, and Gardner noted this fact accordingly (Gardner, 1). Why had Mrs. Parsons’ alleged kidnappers left her ransom note, in a place where Mr. Parson would not have thought to check, especially since Alice did not enter or use her car on the day of her disappearance? How did the supposed kidnappers gain access to a vehicle, which was locked, while police, family and news reporters were all present on the Parsons’ property? Anna, the Parson’s housekeeper, never mentioned to the police that on the morning of June 9, 1937, that she saw Mrs. Parsons or her visitors, ever open Mrs. Parsons’ car or use the car either. Therefore, the ransom note’s author, content, location and finding are all of a truly dubious nature. 

The questions concerning Alice Parsons’ ransom note do not end here. Garbage men, who police interviewed, daily collected garbage from the Parsons’ home. The garbage men told the authorities, “…on the morning of the disappearance the Parsons’ car had been locked up in the garage, where the kidnappers would have been unable to go,” (Gardner, 2). Yet Anna told police the “…car had been parked in the drive,” (Gardner, 2). Anna’s flimsy accounting to the cops was breaking down, though somehow, the nefarious Russian maid kept her cool and her story consistent. 

The same trash collectors also told police, “…that on the morning of the disappearance Anna Kuprianova, in contrast to the custom, had insisted they wait outside the kitchen door for the pail of refuse. They had always gone into the kitchen for it previously,” (Gardner, 2). Things were certainly awry with Anna’s tale to be told…it was remarkably filled with a large number of strange coincidences, that all seemed to defy logic. And somehow Anna was the ironic beneficiary of these coincidences.

Anna said to the cops, “…that she and Alice had been hard at work fixing the broken leg of a gosling, one of Will’s prize fowl. In the end, they’d chloroformed the bird,” (Gardner, 2). This is why Anna told the garbage men to remain in the driveway, while she herself handed them the trash pail from inside the kitchen. And what of that missing bottle of chloroform? It was not to be found anywhere in the Parson home, or outside of it. Anna told police about the chloroform, “…sometimes…[she] used it as a liniment for her legs,” but Mrs. Kuprianova could not answer as to its whereabouts. Nothing is known as to what William Parsons said to police concerning why his wife and their maid were using chloroform to subdue angry or hurt birds occasionally. Both of Anna’s reasons for the presence of the noxious chemical at the Parsons’ house also seemed questionable. 

William H. Parsons told the FBI that when he returned home from New York City, via the Long Island Railroad, to Stony Brook, on the evening June 9, 1937, his wife Alice had failed to pick him up (Brosky, 42) when his train came into the station at around 6:45 p. m. William became upset at this (Gardner, 1) and he had to take a taxi home at a result (Brosky, 42). This was about 7:00 pm on the day Alice went missing (Brosky, 42).

William, once home, “…learned from Anna more details of the day’s happenings,” (Gardner, 1) and “Then he got the police on the wire,” (Gardner, 1). When the police arrived subsequently, William filled them in on what was going on with Alice (Brosky, 42). Long Meadow Farm was completely checked out for clues, without a single trace of Alice being turned up (Brosky, 42). The Parsons’ car was examined for evidence by the police and none was found (Brosky, 42). On the afternoon of June 10, 1937, Detective Bert Walker re-examined the Parsons’ vehicle and discovered Alice’s spurious ransom note (Gardner, 2).

The Suffolk County authorities had put out an interstate teletype bulletin on the evening of Alice Parsons’ disappearance (Gardner 1). The frantic and frenzied search to find Alice out had begun. Little did Alice’s two brothers, Frank and Howard McDonnell, ever suspect their sister would be forever lost to history. 

Although Will Parsons’ explanation to Long Island authorities rang hollow and tasted stale, it did not contradict the comments about Alice’s vanishing given to police by Anna. But this was only the beginning of Alice Parsons’ long and complicated case. As Newsday journalist John Gardner noted on this topic in 1943, “Thin Air Swallowed Up Mrs. Parsons,” (Gardner, 2).

At this point, the Brookhaven Town Police Dept., Nassau County Police, New York State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation had all combined their resources and their efforts to find Alice (Brosky, 43). Historical accounts differ as to what William Parsons did next, regarding Alice Parsons’ ransom situation. While John Gardner, who investigated the Parsons case, stated that William did go into Queens to meet with the hypothesized kidnappers, (Gardner, 2) historian Kerriann F. Brosky claims this alleged excursion never took place (Brosky, 43). Investigative journalist Brian Hunt reinforces Brosky’s assertion, “By 6:15 pm Thursday, June 11, William Parsons said he would not keep a scheduled rendezvous with the kidnappers set to occur at 9 pm due to the publicity surrounding her [Alice’s] disappearance,” (Hunt, 4). 

Gardner said Will Parsons went to New York City secretly followed by police, but the kidnappers never materialized (Gardner, 2). The disparity here in what happened is confusing for historical researchers. I tend to agree with Brosky and Hunt, in that Mr. Parsons never left Stony Brook for Queens to converge with Alice’s purported accosters. Brian Hunt adds, “This should have stood out [to authorities] as an alarming clue,” (Hunt, 4). William Parsons did not at any time following his wife’s theorized abduction ever pay out any money to any kidnappers, to retrieve Alice. This point of fact is clear and undisputed. 

Alice’s strange devouring by nothingness could be partially dispelled, in that on the day she went missing, the Stony Brook Postmistress, Leona Newton, said she saw Mrs. Parsons driving past the Stony Brook Post Office at 1 p. m. (Gardner, 2). Mrs. Newton told authorities there was another woman in Alice’s car at the time of this sighting (Brosky, 43). The FBI and New York State Police were both unable to confirm Leona Newton’s alleged viewing of Alice Parsons. Hence, Mrs. Newton’s purported sighting of Alice led investigators nowhere.

Near June 15, 1937, Alice Parsons’ disappearance had become a major nationwide news story. The sweep to find Alice at this time was national as well. False leads came into investigators’ offices from all over America…from Chicago to New England. And all these tips turned out to invalid and useless. But there was new hope injected into the Parsons’ case in mid-June 1937. FBI director J. Edgar Hoover placed one of his most brilliant and unyielding agents to head the Federal probe of Alice Parsons. Hoover’s man went by the name of E. J. Connelley. 

Connelley was a very well respected criminologist and a thorough investigator. He was always aloof when it came to revealing private details of any cases he had worked on or was working, to the press (Hunt, 5-6). The Cincinnati Enquirer and the Associated Press both described Connelley as a ‘…will-o-wisp of G-Men,’ (Hunt, 4) and ‘A fast traveler, a silent tireless worker…[a] mustachioed well-attired federal agent,’ (Hunt, 4). Other newspapers noted Connelley’s appearance as slight and frail and not what a federal agent should be (Hunt, 4). Yet, E. J. Connelley was the proverbial “real deal.” He was an experienced and seasoned crook-hunter. “By 1937, Connelley had investigated a number of the nation’s highest-profile kidnapping cases,” (Hunt, 4). Connelley and his bloodhounds carefully combed and re-combed Long Meadow Farm for clues, which were not found by him or his other law-enforcement officers (Hunt, 4). The Parsons’ estate was densely populated with thickets, thorn-bushes and poison ivy (Hunt, 4).

E. J. Connelley’s presence in the Parsons’ case must have given the McDonnell brothers some degree of sunshine, in what already seeming a dismal, futile enterprise. A year went by with no trace of Alice Parsons turning up. In the meanwhile, “in December 1937, it is said William [Parsons] moved to California, where he began proceedings to formally adopt twelve-year-old Roy,” (Brosky, 45). Roy and Anna Kuprianova followed William to California, shortly thereafter (Brosky, 45). William did adopt Roy by 1938. The investigation in Alice Parson’s missing person case was not going well, “…the local [Long Island] police and the FBI were not seeing eye to eye on how the case should conducted,” (Brosky, 45). E. J. Connelley had determined that Alice’s disappearance was the result of a homicide and Brookhaven Town Police thought Alice had been abducted only (Gardner, 2). Yet, Connelley could only hint at his suspicions with Alice Parson’s body being in absentia. 

Connelley and his crew went back to Long Meadow Farm and dug it up. He relentlessly searched the Long Island Sound and Stony Brook and Setauket’s countryside looking for Alice. Mrs. Parsons was as elusive and evasive as she was ever. Nothing of Alice was to be uncovered. And roughly a year after Alice Parsons first went missing, Connelley and the Federal Bureau of Investigation called an end to their probe in the Alice Parsons’ case, deeming it unsolved (Gardner, 2).

At the height of Alice Parsons’ investigation, in the summer of 1937, police officers, journalists and curious on-lookers from all over Long Island, and beyond, invaded Long Meadow Farm. This increased amount of attention at his home made Will Parsons very uncomfortable. He scattered away newsmen and police to make contact with Alice’s alleged abductors. Will thought the unwanted focus and elements of law-enforcement and the press would scare away any and all parties responsible for Alice’s would-be kidnapping. William Parsons’ efforts to find Alice backfired on him. Alice and her supposed accosters never again surfaced after June 9, 1937. Suffolk County officials also marked Alice’s case, “temporarily unsolved,” (Gardner, 2). It remains so, to this very day. But this was far from the end of Alice Parsons’ story.

By May of 1938, there was a newly-elected district attorney in Suffolk County named Fred Munder (Gardner, 2). Munder publically declared to journalists, ‘If there was a murder committed in my county, I’m entitled to all the records in the case,’ (Hunt, 6). After fiercely demanding these records from Federal investigators (namely Connelley) and being sharply rebuffed (Hunt, 6), D. A. Munder went to Washington, D. C. to petition the government for their documents pertaining to the Alice Parsons’ case (Gardner, 2). Subsequently, the FBI caved in and complied with Munder’s request (Gardner, 2). Munder then, after looking over Connelley’s records, decided not to proceed with a more aggressive inquiry, due to his perceived lack of evidence in the Parsons’ case (Gardner, 2). Munder’s legal reasoning for this was that, since Alice Parsons’ body was not present, he could not prove a homicide had taken place (Gardner, 2). With Alice’s body lacking, Munder could not have even be certain that Alice had been kidnapped either. Will Parsons, now living in California, was truly sitting pretty.

Because a criminal examination against William was severely unlikely, Mr. Parsons married Anna Kuprianova in 1940, in California (Brosky, 45). At this time, Alice (though her body was still missing) was then legally considered alive (Brosky, 45). Were the newly-married couple lawfully married in 1940, or afterward? The answer to this question is entirely debatable. But William and Anna’s conduct throughout the whole of Alice’s disappearance was controversial. And Alice Parsons’ tale, instead of fading into oblivion, was only heating up.

Six years would pass, when Suffolk County magistrate Richard W. Hawkins legally declared Alice McDonnell Parsons dead (New York Times, 1) in Riverhead, New York. William and Anna Kuprianova-Parsons were then living in Carmel, California (New York Times, 1). Judge Hawkins in this same year of 1946 made several significant legal determinations concerning Alice Parsons’ considerable estate. Firstly, Judge Hawkins opted not to honor a will Alice had drafted twenty-two days before she went missing in June of 1937 (New York Times, 1). One estimate placed Alice’s estate’s total worth in 1946 at about $74,000.00. But Alice’s estate was very likely to have been worth as much as $134,000.00. This spurious last-minute execution of Alice Parsons’ second will left $35,000.00 to her husband William, $10,000.00 to Anna Kuprianova (Parsons) and $15,000.00 to Roy Kuprianova (Parsons) to be held in trust until Roy turned thirty years of age (Brosky, 45). 

In Alice Parsons’ first will, Alice had an estate whose 1938 recorded total worth was about $125,000.00 (Gardner, 2). Sources vary as to exactly how much money Alice had to her name, making it somewhat haphazard for historians to come to a reasonably exact monetary value. This first will of Alice left her husband only a few pieces of jewelry appraised at roughly $200.00 and Anna Kuprianova nothing (Price, 1). Roy Kuprianova, in Alice’s first will, was to be awarded $15,000.00, to be held in trust for him, until Roy came of age (Price, 1). 

In 1938, just as E. J. Connelley’s probe of Alice Parsons’ hypothetical kidnapping was winding down, her two brothers, Howard and Frank McDonnell successfully petitioned a Suffolk County judge to appoint an impartial conservator to supervise Alice’s estate. This conservator would manage all of Alice Parsons’ money, until Alice was officially declared dead by Judge Richard Hawkins, in 1946. Hawkins’ second act as a judge was to enact the terms Alice’s first will (which was drafted well before 1937)…after he (Judge Hawkins) voided the contractual obligations of the second (and highly suspicious) Alice Parsons’ will. Following some transient bickering between William Parsons and the McDonnell brothers, all contesting parties unanimously concurred with Judge Hawkins’ decision (New York Times, 1). Although Will agreed to Judge Hawkins’ verdict, one can only be cynical that Mr. Parsons’ was happy about it.

On July 20, 1951, construction workers digging a trench at Lloyd’s Harbor, Huntington, near Shoreland, accidentally came upon a shallow grave containing the skeletal remains of an unknown woman. This unfortunate discovery instantly reopened Alice Parsons’ missing person case (Price, 1). Alice Parsons’ dentist, Doctor Russell Sammis, was then contacted by the Suffolk County district attorney’s office (Price, 1). Dr. Sammis told Suffolk County investigators from the DA’s office that the dental patterns exhibited by the freshly found corpse did not match the dental records of Alice Parsons at all (Price, 1). 

But Dr. Reuben Cares, a pathologist at the Kings Park State Hospital, stated after he made a seven-day study of the aforementioned remains, that he strongly felt them to be those of a woman, between thirty to sixty years of age (Price, 1) and that these remains were buried no more than thirty years prior (Price, 1). Suffolk County homicide detectives found no traces of clothes, jewelry or identification on or near the dead woman’s body (Price, 1). Jane Doe in this instance was considered someone other than the missing Alice Parsons.

Both Long Island Newsday and the New York Times reported to their reading public on August 4 and 5, 1961, that there was a new development in the Alice Parsons’ case (Newsday, 29 and New York Times, 18). Two native Stony Brook farmers (and brothers) who had once leased a field for cultivation from Alice Parsons, while she was a Brookhaven Town resident, had both been determined by the recently created Suffolk County Police Dept. to possibly be connected to Alice’s infamous vanishing (New York Times, 18). Sixth squad cops explored this anonymous lead, which had been mailed into them, naming Alice Parsons’ location under the fallow field in Stony Brook (Newsday, 29). Suffolk County Policemen with the help of one of the farmers marked off the field and excavated it (Newsday, 29). The farmer’s name was Carl Gayweiller, from Saint James (Newsday, 29). After an extensive search, this “new” lead was determined by Suffolk County Police to have been unproductive and false.

Since 1961, Alice Parsons’ story is a mainly silent one. Only occasionally does her name surface in historical articles or news segments. Sometimes, she is mentioned by various historical societies in Brookhaven, New York. Looking back on Alice’s nefarious vanishing, no two people stood more to gain from Alice Parsons’ disappearance than did her husband William H. Parsons and his much suspicious second wife, Anna Kuprianova. Although they both were omitted from Alice’s probate settlement, their son Roy K. Parsons was the beneficiary of a $15,000.00 trust, when he turned thirty years old. Williams Parsons was immensely wealthy himself, even before he knew Alice McDonnell. Will Parsons, hence, did not require her money.

Yet , William Parsons as a matter of fact and Anna Kuprianova could not keep the many would-be doubters at bay, following Alice’s abduction. This is why they both relocated from the American east coast to resettle on the U. S. west coast. Even there a black cloud of suspicion lingered over the Parsons. When they both died, Roy Kuprianova naturally inherited their property. But Roy, like his adopted father William, always kept mum about his family’s suspect beginnings.

After Alice’s estate was settled in 1946, the McDonnell brothers never spoke to or saw William Parsons again. The two of them never stopped believing that Anna Kuprianova and Will Parsons murdered their sister. Who could blame them? The evidence, both physical and circumstantial, each strongly suggested that Alice Parsons’ vaporization was caused not by abduction, but it was more the product of deliberate and cold-blooded homicide. The FBI and E. J. Connelley thought so, as did the national and New York press outlets. It is not out of the realm of possibility that a man of power and wealth such as Will Parsons was, did bribe local Long Island police and authorities to hide Alice’s dead body and remain wordless on the matter to the very end. William was obsessed with having a son to bear his family name into the future and quite likely he was hell-bent on doing whatever was necessary to bring the task to fruition. Anna Kuprianova was married twice before in Europe, even before her coming to the United States (Gardner, 2).

Anna Kuprianova does seem to be a typical gold-digger and the proverbial “bottled spider” Shakespeare mentions in several of his plays. Opportunist and murderer Anna very likely was. To modern eyes, it looks as though Anna and William slowly and surely nudged Alice Parsons out of their lives, without any reservations or regrets. No two people had more opportunity and means to slay the frail and sickly Alice. Alice, who was unfertile, was deeply begrudged by her husband because of it…and she paid with her own life as a result. What happened to Alice Parsons on or before June 9, 1937 will not be known until her body is recovered from its hidden place. Alice Parsons’ highly probable murder in 1937 remains a tragic blot on the history of Long Island and on the history of the McDonnell clan. Will she ever be found? Only history knows…

About the Author:  Michael Mauro DeBonis is a poet and a historian from Long Island, NY.  A graduate of both Suffolk County Community College (A. A.) and SUNY Stony Brook (B. A. English),  Michael’s work first appeared in The Village Beacon Recordand The Brookhaven Times Newspapers.  Michael’s latest work can be found in The New York History Review (poetry and prose) and the New York History Blog (prose only).  Mr. DeBonis is dedicated to studying and learning the history of the great State of New York.


1)                   Kerriann Flanagan Brosky.  Historic Crimes of Long Island: Misdeeds from the 1600’s to the 1950’s.  Charleston, South Carolina: The History Press, 2017.
2)                   John Gardner. Parsons Case Is Still a Puzzle. Melville, NY. Long Island Newsday, February 27, 1943.
3)                   Brian Hunt. The Parsons Case.  BrianHuntBooks.Com, June 25, 2017.
4)                   Kirk Price. Mystery Skeleton Baffles Police.  Melville, NY. Long Island Newsday, July, 31 1951.
5)                   The Editors. Cops Dig for Clues To 24-Yr. Mystery. Melville, NY.  Long Island Newsday, August 4, 1961. 
6)                   The Editors. Vanished Heiress Is Declared Dead.  New York, NY. The New York Times, June 8, 1946. 
7)                   The Editors. New Lead To 1937 Mystery.  New York, NY.  The New York Times, August 5, 1961.    






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