The Story of the Real Odessa Molinari
|I write under the name Odessa Molinari but that is not my real name. Whilst studying at Dartington College of Arts I needed a name for an author character in a performance piece. The names were taken from bottles in the bar. It could have been a throw away gesture but I was asked to use it again as the invented author of a short story.
The alter ego took hold when I started writing seriously. There are too many Sue Cooks in the world, so I stuck to the pen name for my fiction writing. I have even created a back story for the enigmatic, reclusive Odessa. My real name I have retained for serious works of non-fiction.
Little did I know all those years ago that the name was that of a murder victim. It was only when I Googled the name that I discovered the truth.
This is the story of the real Odessa Molinari.
Will the real Odessa Molinari please stand up
Born Odessa Frances Molinari 14 August 1917 in Maryland, USA, Odessa was the daughter of Anthony Francis Molinari and Odessa Culp. She married Thomas C. Meister (Date) and had a daughter Nancy born (Date)
Both she and her husband worked at the Celanese plant in nearby Amcelle. The Corporation were major employers in the area.
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Her life would have passed unrecognised had she not been brutally murdered in 1953.
December 20th 1952 was a cold, dry day in Cumberland, MD. At 1.50pm Odessa Francis Molinari Meister said goodbye to her daughter, Nancy, 11, and left her home at 104 Columbia Street. It took her approximately seven minute walk to catch the bus to her job at the Celanese Plant on McMullen Highway. She was due to work the 3 - 11 shift but failed to arrive. The bus would have taken her through the city and then directly to the Amcelle plant where there were two stops she could have gotten off.
When people on the bus were interviewed many remembered the attractive 35 year old getting on but most could not tell police where she got off. Two witnessed her leaving the bus. They say she responded to a car horn and walked to a dark grey Buick where she had a conversation with the driver before getting in and driving off.
The Dolly brothers, Roy and Harry, later saw a car matching the description parked up in Leiper Street. A man and woman sat in the car talking.They both ducked down when the boys approached. The brothers noted the license number at the time but when interviewed forgot it. They did say it was a 1939 Buick, dark grey, with Maryland plates.
On 16 January 1953 in Cumberland, Allegeny County, Maryland, two boy found the battered body of Odessa Molinari Meister on McNamee's Hill. The finding of the body was the culmination of a 15 state search which started when she went missing from her home at 104 Columbia Street on December 20. The first clue was the discovery of a red pocketbook belonging to Odessa in a back road in the rear of Bowman's Addition. It was found by Mrs. Annabelle Clem who lives nearby.
On 21 January a number of suspects were taken to the Algonquin Hotel and interviewed. The victim's husband, Thomas C. Meister, was subjected to a lie detector test which cleared him of any involvement in his wife's death. State's Attorney, Paul M. Fletcher, said that Meister had taken the test voluntarily and he was satisfied that Meister had 'no guilty knowledge' of the murder
The victim's sister, Mrs. Victoria Farrin, was questioned at the Hotel for an hour and a half during the early hours of the night but was cleared of any involvement and returned to her home in Glenn Street by Detective Law. Several others were interviewed that same night
A pair of spectacles were found 50 yards from the body. A gold wrist watch, which Odessa had won in a raffle, was not found on the body.
Cumberland Evening Times
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 21, 1953
OFFICERS DIG AT SITE WHERE BODY WAS FOUND
Peddicord Held In Jail,
SUSPECT LEAVES HOTEL--Bayse Peddicord, a, Cumberlander who has been residing in Green Spring in recent months, hides his face as he is whisked from the Algonquin Hotel following an all-day grilling yesterday as a suspect in the brutal slaying of Mrs. Odessa Frances Meister, local 35-year-old mother. Officer Leo. Law of the City Detective Bureau accompanies Peddicord, A press photographer snapped the picture as the two men were walking along Cumberland Street after emerging from the side entrance of the
hotel. Peddicord was, taken to the County Jail.