|The Gazette, 20 June 1945, p. 7|
Let's begin with the victim, a wealthy, widowed German immigrant whose only son was off fighting the Nazis. Mrs Wegner was the proprietress of what was cautiously described as "a high class boarding house." Early on the morning of 23 September 1943, police found her bloodied body wrapped in a comforter on the floor of the backyard garage. Suspicion fell first on a gentleman friend, bounced, then landed on Nick and Lana Williams, a married couple who lived in the basement quarters. They'd gone missing, as had Mrs Wegner's 1942 Chevrolet coupe.
|Nick and Lana Williams at the time of their capture.|
They'd arrived in Plainville the previous month. Nicholas worked as fire warden of the Hotel Burritt in nearby New Britain, while younger brother Robert, as "Lana", served as Mrs Wegner's maid. According to one report, "Robert, in his skirts and wig, had the Wegner family fooled to the extent that he acted as personal maid and on several occasions aided Mrs. Wegner and her daughter-in-law in dressing."
The only account of the actual murder came from the brothers themselves. They told police that on the evening of the murder they'd ransacked the house while their landlady had been at the movies. Finding little, they'd waited for Mrs Wegner to return home with the intent of taking her car, purse, and whatever jewels she might've been wearing. Things got out of hand.
|The Hartford Courant, 28 September 1943|
But what of those pulp fiction murder mysteries? Scouring the references, I've not been able to find anything credited to a Nicholas Rossi or Nick Williams... or Squire Williams for that matter. When arrested, police recorded his occupation as "writer". Interesting to note, I think, that along with money, jewels and furs, the brothers had stolen a typewriter from the Wegner house. Sixty-eight years after his death, Nicholas Rossi remains the only writer to have been executed by the State of Connecticut... the only Canadian, too.
|The Milwaukee Sentinel, 20 June 1945|
My thanks to Kirstin Jones for the photograph of Mrs Wegner's gravesite.