“A man would have to be a spider to stand it long up there”
There is a celebrated story of Allied soldier Trooper Patrick Fowler spending the First World War hidden in a cupboard. Theodore Edward Coneys had a similar tale only he was not so heroic. He was born on 10 November 1882 at Petersburg, Illinois and was a sickly child who was not expected to reach adulthood. He did and became a bookkeeper for Denver Brass Works but, despite full-time employment, was homeless for much of his adult life.
In September 1941 he went to 3335 West Moncrieff Place, Denver, Colorado, the home of Philip Peters, a former friend, to ask to borrow some money. When he discovered that no one was home, he broke in. He hid in the attic, accessed through a small trapdoor, for five weeks undetected until 17 October 1941. That night 73-year-old Mr Peters found Coneys raiding his fridge and naturally took umbrage. Mr Peters struck Coneys with his walking stick and he hit back with an old gun that he had found about the house. Coneys broke the gun on Mr Peter’s head and bludgeoned him to death with a heavy, iron stove-shaker. Coneys returned to his attic hideaway. That night Mr Peters’s body was discovered by a neighbour.
The police searched the house but found nothing amiss. The doors and windows were locked, and it was assumed the trapdoor was too small for a man to climb through. Mrs Peters, who had been in hospital, returned to the house after her husband’s death with a housekeeper. Not long after, both women began hearing strange noises and left, believing the property was haunted. On 30 July 1942 Coneys was caught when the police showed up at the house unexpectedly and spotted his legs disappearing through the trapdoor. He was hauled down and taken to the police station where he confessed to the murder of Philip Peters.
3335 West Moncrieff Place, Denver, Colorado, USA
Friday 17 October 1941
After Detective Fred Zarnow said, “A man would have to be a spider to stand it long up there”, the local media dubbed Coneys the “Denver Spider Man of Moncrieff Place”. Coneys was tried and convicted and sentenced to life at the Colorado State Penitentiary in Canon City, Colorado. He was still there when he died on 16 May 1967.