This young lady has been called Michigan’s first female serial killer…but is she?

Rose Veres was a Hungarian immigrant and widow who, for years, had operated her own boarding house throughout the early part of the 20th Century.

According to the Detroit News, Rose kept “a tight leash” on her boarders, keeping a watchful eye on them as if they were her own children. In 1931, it was the death of one particular boarder who fell from a ladder outside the house; the suspicious nature of this ‘accident’ eventually spread and led to a trial for murder. What made it suspicious? Maybe because it was the latest in a string of deaths that took place in Rose’s home. The death toll was up to ten…a man a year from 1921-1931.

Police rounded up Rose and her 18-year-old son Bill who were accused of complicity and conspiracy to murder for insurance money. After what seemed to be a half-hearted confession by Rose regarding the death of Steve Mak, she and Bill were convicted of first-degree murder on October 15, 1931 and sentenced to life in prison. Supposedly, Rose had pushed Mak out of the attic window.

But were these charges actually true? Thanks to the nosy reporters wanting desperately to find any little thing that could easily be stretched into some sort of evidence, many rumors, gossip, and untruths were flying through newspapers. Headline stories screamed about Rose’s appearance: “cold blue eyes, a deeply lined face, a silent tongue!” Even neighbors got into the act when grilled by pushy reporters, calling Rose the ‘witch lady’ as they congregated around her home on Medina Street.

Two of Rose’s boarders who died in 1924 and the other in 1925, were said to have been poisoned after Rose slipped something lethal into their drinks…but post-mortems did not show any proof of that claim.

According to the book “The Witch of Delray”, Rose had acquired insurance policies on her male boarders…with her as the benefactor. Seventy-five policies were said to be found in Rose’s account books, waiting when it would be time to claim.

Years later, here comes attorney Alean Clutts who was known for fighting for the rights of women who were believed to be treated unjustly. A new trial for Rose occurred and she was released from prison in December 1945.

After being a free woman for fifteen years, Rose Veres passed away in 1960 and is buried in Woodmere Cemetery off W. Fort Street in Detroit (photo below). So, while she has yet to shake the somewhat title of Michigan’s first female serial killer, I guess questions of her guilt will always arise and answers will be sketchy.

Rose Veres: Michigan's First Female Serial Killer?


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