Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Thriller Thursday - Some People Just Can't Be Good, Part III

The Plain Speaker, afternoon edition, August 16, 1950
Here it is!  The last installment of "Some People Just Can't Be Good".

"Betty Bronsavage Shot And Killed In West Hazleton Cafe; Slayer Suicide; Woman Figured In Freeland Death

Double Shooting Occurred at 12:40am - Couple Had Quarreled

Mrs. Betty Bronsavage, 33, of this city, who was acquitted of murder in the shotgun slaying of her common-law husband in Freeland on May 1, 1949, was shot to death early this morning in Beltz' Cafe, West Hazleton.

Her slayer, who police said was Andrew Harvilla, 60, a retired miner of Tresckow, then killed himself.

The murder and suicide is believed, police authorities said, to have been the result of a separation and quarrel between the two, who had been going together the past several months.

Deputy Coroner John Salvator, Jr. and Cpl. Frank Burtner, of the Hazleton detail, State Police, said that Mrs. Bronsavage, whose full name is Helen Elizabeth Bronsavage, entered the cafe alone.  Harvilla came in shortly after, and, with both standing at the bar, asked if he could buy her a drink.

Woman Refused Drink

Police said she was reported as having refused the drink, but that she asked Harvilla to call a taxi, after which she walked to a table and sat down on a chair.

Harvilla, after calling a cab, then walked to where she was sitting, pulled a .38-calibre revolver from his pocket, and fired one shot at her head, according to authorities.

As the victim sprawled into a grotesque position, apparently killed instantly, Harvilla walked away about eight feet, put the revolver to his head and fired again.

Autopsies on both bodies were performed this morning at the State Hospital by Dr. Jules Foldes, staff pathologist.

Results Of Autopsies

Deputy Salvator in releasing details of the autopsies, said Mrs. Bronsavage's death, a homicide, was due to a .38-calibre bullet severing the jugular vein and carotid artery.  It entered on her left cheek and left the body on the right side of the neck.  Harvilla's death, called a suicide by the coroner, was due to a bullet of the same calibre, which entered the head at the right temple and lodged in the brain, where it was found at the autopsy.

Mrs. Bronsavage, was the center of a sensational case last year.  Louis Broton, 30, of Harleigh, with whom she had lived for seven months, was found dead, the victim of a shotgun blast, on the early morning of May 1, 1949, in a small two-room house on Butler Terrace, west of Freeland, which the two had rented only a few hours earlier.

The woman told state police that Broton had committed suicide, but after continued questioning, allegedly admitted that she shot him in his sleep.  She told police Broton had threatened to kill her several times and that night had brought the shotgun home.  In fear of her life, because of the threats, she killed him.

Was Acquitted Nov.1

She was indicted for murder by Luzerne County Grand Jury August 31, 1949 and was brought to trial.  The jury, believing her story of self defense, acquitted her on Nov. 1

After her acquittal she lived in McAdoo and the moved to Hazleton, residing in several boarding houses here.

Harvilla Was Retired

Harvilla who retired from mining work several years ago, had worked in Jeanesville.  He was born in Europe but came to this country as a young man and resided in this section ever since.  His wife died about two years ago.  There are no survivors in this country, but (unk) people said he had two brothers and two sisters living in Europe.

Police said this morning that Harvilla sold his home several months ago, and had been seen in the shooting, which occurred at approximately 12:40 o'clock.

Mrs. Bronsavage is survived by her husband, a crippled miner, from whom she was separated; a daughter, and several brothers and sisters.

Coroner Salvator released Harvilla's body to the Jupina funeral establishment in McAdoo.  The funeral will be held at a time to be announced later.

Up to press time, no one had claimed the body of Mrs. Bronsavage."

"2 Victims of Tragedy Were Buried Yesterday

The two victims of a tragedy, a murder and sucide [sic] at a West Hazleton cafe at an early hour on Wednesday morning, went to their final rest yesterday afternoon.

Andrew Harvilla, 60-year-old Tresckow widower, who fired the shot that killed Mrs. Betty Bronsavage, 33, and then turned the gun on himself, was buried in the Mount Laurel cemetery.  The body had been at the Jupina funeral home in McAdoo.  Mrs. Bronsavage was laid to rest in Calvary cemetery at Drums.  The body was at the Conahan Funeral Home on North Vine street after the Catholic Charities had directed that such provision be made.  As the body was laid to rest in unconsecrated ground.  Rev. A. P. Malony intoned a final blessing."

Anthony Bronsavage Jr
She abandoned her family leaving a husband, severely disabled from a mining accident to care for their small child. Anthony Bronsavage Jr did have some help from family to care for their daughter, but their abandonment is inexcusable.  Perhaps ironically she was in turn her religion.  While Catholic Charities appeared to have claimed the body, she was buried in unconsecrated ground.  This is no doubt a result of her sensational trial from the previous year as well as her habitual infidelity.

Why was she buried in unconsecrated ground?  Now I was always taught that if you were naughty, you were buried in unconsecrated ground, but no additional explanation of what unconsecrated meant was ever given.  I did some research and found a pretty good explanation as to who did not have a right to a "Christian burial" on  It went on to state in a particularly long article on burials, "notorious sinners who die without repentance, those who have openly held the sacraments in contempt... and who showed no signs of sorrow..." were not entitled to Christian burial.  OK...very naughty.

Anyway, enough of that.  So what is the significance of consecrated ground vs. unconsecrated?  Something that has been consecrated takes on a new significance and now falls under "Divine protection".  Consecration is permanent and is only performed once (unless something becomes desecrated), while a blessing is not and may be done over and over again.  

What does this essentially mean? There are many details about the Catholic faith, dying in mortal sin instead of in a state of grace, and the determination of heaven and hell to briefly state the significance.  However, I would think that the blessing was done out of the belief to pray for the dead even though it was probably the belief that her soul was lost.  I will actually have to talk to my priest about this one!  Acquitted of murder, abandonment of her husband and child while sleazing around...I don't think they thought much of her soul, but prayed for it none the less.

Too bad little miss Betty just couldn't be good...