Woodmont Union seeks to re-open 1933 local socialite death investigation


The Woodmont Union of the Unexplained and Unresolved (“WUUU”) held its annual meeting last weekend and took up the tragic story of Mary Lydia Fitzgerald, a Tacoma socialite whose body was discovered on Feb. 21, 1933, on Woodmont Beach in Des Moines.

After a full review of the case, the WUUU membership discussed, debated, and passed two resolutions by the unanimous voice vote from the estimated 65 members in attendance:

  1. A rejection of the official cause of death (accidental drowning);
  2. A determination to re-open the case to re-examine the facts to the extent they can be obtained after the passage of 85 years.

BACKSTORY
Ms. Fitzgerald’s death was originally investigated over ten days by law enforcement from both King and Pierce County, and the potentially scandalous nature of her death created a national media sensation updated on a daily basis. As reported in the Seattle Daily Times, on the first day of the investigation, three theories by King County Coroner William B. Jones: Ms. Fitzgerald committed suicide by leaping from the Woodmont Dock; was “taken for a ride,” and then “robbed, slugged, and pushed into Puget Sound,” and “her body washed ashore by high wind and waves;” or Miss Fitzgerald may have turned down the beach road to view the picturesque beach scene, alighted from her automobile, accidentally fallen and received a blow to the head which dazed her – then she may have walked on the Woodmont Pier and accidentally tumbled in the water. The case features many twists, including a second death – the suicide of a prominent Tacoma business man after he attended Ms. Fitzgerald’s funeral, which triggered investigations of a possible love triangle – and much more.

After ten days of nationwide tabloid-style coverage, with law enforcement careening between suicide to murder theories based upon a daily influx of new evidence, there was a sudden shift: as reported in the Seattle Daily Times, according to Captain of Detectives John Strickland, “Mary Fitzgerald was blown off the dock at Woodmont Beach a week ago Monday night and drowned when her head struck the piling of the pier or an object in the water, dazing her, and she frantically swam for safety.”

ACCIDENT REJECTED AS MATTER OF JUSTICE
“We have many amazing stories that seem to radiate out from out small community,” said WUUU spokesperson Steve Edmiston, “and this story is our most tragic. The frustration we feel was identified last night by one of our members – it’s a matter of justice for Mary. There are just so many reasons that this was not an accident, so many motives, and so many loose ends, it just appears as if the sudden conclusion of the investigation, that Mary was blown into the water by a gust of wind (see ‘Gale Blamed for Girl’s Death‘ headline below) – was political. It seems far more likely that someone at a high-level of influence had simply had enough of the scandal and closed it down.” Edmiston cites preliminary research showing that two years later, in 1935, a young Pierce County prosecutor – future Washington Senator Warren G. Magnuson – sought to re-open the case claiming two new witnesses.

The WUUU annual meeting also featured presentations by Vince Ynzunza, founder of television show Pacific NorthWeird, and commentary by the team from Puget Sound Ghosthunters, incluing founders Kenneth and Donna Arnold.

ABOUT THE WOODMONT UNION OF THE UNEXPLAINED & UNRESOLVED (WUUU)
The Woodmont Union of the Unexplained and Unresolved is self-described as “an eclectic collection of out-of-the-box thinkers and philosophers, problem solvers, investigators of the mysterious, intellectually curious believers and skeptics, raconteurs, microhistorians, and a few people that behave like a dog at the other end of the sock and won’t let go until, like an episode of Scooby Doo, the truth is revealed in shocking fashion. Plus maybe – just maybe – feel that late October chill that comes with a good ghost story.”

The WUUU seeks to be the go-to private organization for ongoing criminal, psychical, and theosophical investigation arising out from the Woodmont Country Club (founded 1915), and ranging from Seattle to Tacoma. Holding an annual meeting in late October each year known as “CrowFest,” the WUUU seeks to explain and resolve the inexplicable and unsolvable – local ghost stories and sightings, national scandals, and yes – even murder. Some say the WUUU, along with “The Maury Island Incident Historical Society” and “The Good Bootlegger’s Guild,” completes the Poverty Bay Trilogy of amazing tales and the community events that celebrate them.

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