Fatal Fortune: The Death of Chicago's Millionaire Orphan

By Virginia A. McConnell | Go to book overview

Chapter 5
The State of Illinois v. William
Darling Shepherd

In this town, murder’s a form of entertainment.

—Mama Morton in the movie Chicago

Isabelle Pope, on her way to Chicago from California on the North Coast Limited with her Aunt Belle, was not eager to get on the witness stand. An immensely private person, she did not believe in airing personal matters in public, and she knew the attorneys on both sides would be fighting over her testimony. Nor was she looking forward to having all those memories of Billy stirred up.

Isabelle was a firm believer in letting God settle accounts, so she refrained from overtly criticizing the Shepherds when talking to reporters. Still, some of her negative feelings seeped out. She couldn’t understand why the Shepherds had left so soon after Billy’s death, she told Chicago Tribune reporter Maureen McKernan. As for Julie Shepherd’s Bible quoting—well, that only appeared over the preceding year when Julie seemed to acquire a “marked religious disposition” around the time of Billy’s twenty-first birthday. Isabelle had plenty of opportunities to see the Shepherds over the four years she dated Billy, and there were never any Bible references before that time.

As Isabelle talked to Maureen McKernan about Billy, she inadvertently slipped into the present tense, describing his many

-73-

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Fatal Fortune: The Death of Chicago's Millionaire Orphan
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Chapter 1 - The Fatal Fortune 1
  • Chapter 2 - The Grifters 17
  • Chapter 3 - The Avenging Fury and the Confidence Man 35
  • Chapter 4 - Hippodrome 59
  • Chapter 5 - The State of Illinois V. William Darling Shepherd 73
  • Chapter 6 - Defending Darl Shepherd 91
  • Chapter 7 - Was It Oysters or Murder? 105
  • Chapter 8 - The Will Contest 125
  • Chapter 9 - Epilogue 133
  • Notes 143
  • Selected Bibliography 167
  • Index 169
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