Arthur Warren Waite – 1916

By | November 12, 2016

Mr Peck was given samples of typhoid, pneumonia and diphtheria in his desserts


Arthur Waite at the courthouse in New York


Arthur Warren Waite was a successful New York dentist, with a wealthy heiress wife Jane Peck, whom he had married in September 1915 but had known since childhood, and a Riverside Drive home on the Upper West Side. As well as his dentistry practice, Waite also worked as a bacteriologist at Cornell Medical School. In December 1915 his septuagenarian mother-in-law Hannah Peck came to stay for Christmas. During her stay she fell ill and died of pneumonia on 30 January 1916. John Peck was stricken with grief and he came to stay with his daughter and son-in-law. He, too, became sick and, after suffering various ailments, he died on 12 March. Waite arranged his father-in-law’s funeral and rang an undertaker to sort out a cremation.

Things changed when the authorities demanded an autopsy. It revealed that the real cause of death was arsenic poisoning. Waite fled and attempted to kill himself with a drug overdose. When he recovered he was put on trial and confessed to both murders. He had killed Mrs Peck by putting germs from his research lab into her food after having tried various methods to kill her. These included taking her out in a car in the rain with all the windows open, putting glass in her marmalade and spraying her throat with cultures of anthrax, diphtheria and influenza. Mr Peck had been given samples of typhoid, pneumonia and diphtheria in his desserts before Waite used a massive dose of arsenic. His reason was simple — he wanted their money.


435 Riverside Drive, New York City, USA


Sunday 30 January 1916


Waite claimed to be insane at his trial, saying that he had been told tokill his in-laws by an Ancient Egyptian but that defence was disbelieved and he died in the electric chair at Sing Sing on 24 May 1917.


An autopsy on Waite revealed that he had slight meningitis on one side of the brain and an abnormally large heart.

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