All marriages have their ups and downs. It’s not always an easy thing living with another human being. More than sharing space and material goods, living with someone else is also the sharing of moods and attitudes toward life in general. Like so many other things in life, these things aren’t always positive.
No one needed to tell that to Mrs. Geneva Angle as she crashed through the window of her second story apartment on Perry Street in Davenport, Iowa.
Landing heavily on the concrete below, Geneva was miraculously unhurt by her fall. Shaking off the shock, she gathered herself and ran as fast as she could to the nearest police station.
Her husband, Horace Angle, had just threatened to kill her. But Geneva was no shrinking violet, ready to give in to his violent, insane whim. She had run for her life, and had taken the best escape route that she had within that moment.
It was just after 1 a.m. when she stumbled in and told the authorities of her dramatic escape. A short time later, Horace was escorted into the same station by a police detective and an officer. The strange thing was that the police had already been outside Geneva’s apartment – at Horace’s request.
Suffice it to say, the police were confused. What exactly was going on? Under questioning, things began to become clearer.
A few months earlier, the Angles’ marriage had begun to unravel. They fought over bills, and Horace wouldn’t take Geneva out, which she blamed on him being jealous of other men. Finally, in April 1920, they agreed to separate.
Geneva had moved to the apartment on Perry Street with her fourteen-year-old daughter, Dorothy. The two women worked as seamstresses and lived fairly comfortably.
The separation had allowed the pressures of their married life to calm down. Geneva and Horace talked and mostly reconciled. She told him that she’d move back in with him on the first of September, but not before. While this was a strange kind of ultimatum, Horace accepted it and carried on as usual.
But living by himself gave him too much time to think. During the day, his mind was occupied by his work as an engine inspector for the Rock Island Railroad. At night, it was free to roam to the wildest stretches of his imagination, and before too long, his mind had turned down a dark road.
Before long, Horace had determined the best course of action might just be to kill her and then commit suicide. He took his time, looking over the problem as he would one of the trains at work. Of course, all of the fault was to lie with her. Horace had told Geneva time and time again how he wanted things done, and she just wouldn’t step into the role of a dutiful wife and simply obey. It was her fault that all of this had happened.
So that other people might understand his point of view after the fact, Horace wrote his thoughts out in a suicide note. Then he went out and bought a .32 caliber revolver.
But the strange thing is that he still must have been in love with Geneva. Horace didn’t simply write the note and then go kill her. He decided to wait for several more days, mulling over the problem in his head.
Angle was obsessed with the idea that Geneva was having affairs with other men. The thoughts tormented him, fueling his anger. But still, he didn’t want to carry out his murder plot. Finally, he had a stroke of genius, a plan that he thought would get him exactly what he wanted.
At the end of July 1920, Horace went to the police and told them that there were several strange couples staying with his wife at her apartment on Gaines Street, doing who knows what. Angle suggested that it might be worth their time to take a look. That night, a detective and an officer went to the address and waited to see if there was indeed anything going on.
As they waited, they noticed a strange man lurking in the area. He kept to the shadows, deliberately trying not to be seen. After watching him for a while, they figured out that it was none other than their tipster, Horace Angle, wearing a fake mustache. He had apparently come to see if the police would find anything that Geneva might be up to.
The two policemen eventually decided that there wasn’t anything happening there that was out of the ordinary, and so they left. Shortly thereafter, a furious Angle went to see his wife.
At around 12:30 a.m., Horace knocked on Geneva’s door. She was at home alone with Dorothy, so she let him in. He immediately started an argument with her. As it began to escalate, Horace produced his revolver from his coat pocket and informed Geneva that he was going to kill her.
Geneva ran, frightened for her life. Horace gave chase through the apartment, pointing the gun at her. Finally, she jumped through the window to the street below.
After the story was told, Horace was placed under arrest and placed into jail for the night. The police found the revolver, a box of cartridges, and Angle’s suicide note in his pockets.
The Morning After
The next morning, the Angles were questioned about the previous nights events. Within a few moments, the two were arguing again. Not surprisingly, it was the same song they had been singing to each other since January.
Geneva wanted to go out, but Horace didn’t want to take her. Geneva did nothing but nag and complain about finances to Horace. However, they still loved one another.
Geneva couldn’t bring herself to press any charges against her husband, regardless of his behavior. The police, however, couldn’t in good conscience allow him to walk free. They charged him with carrying a concealed weapon while the judge deliberately set his bond at $5000, far above what they knew Angle could afford.
A few days later, Angle promised his attorneys that he wouldn’t try to attack his wife again. His bail was reduced to $300, which he paid and was let go.
Horace never did kill his wife. Chances are, he never really wanted to in the first place.
Personally, I’d like to think that maybe they moved somewhere else, and lived out a long, happy life together where they put all of their problems behind them. But life doesn’t always have a fairy tale ending.
Sometimes, we just have to settle for the knowledge that for at least one July night in 1920, a resourceful woman was able to escape the wrath of her jealous husband.
“Woman’s Wit Foils Murder Suicide Plot.” Davenport Democrat and Leader, 7/28/1920
“Angle Held to Grand Jury on Bonds of $300.” Davenport Democrat and Leader, 8/1/1920
“Man Planned to Kill Wife and Then Self.” The Daily Times, 7/28/1920
“Angle is Held to Grand Jury.” The Daily Times, 7/31/1920