October 22, 1938
Dollar Bay, Michigan
Marian Doyle (20) is killed by her employers because “she was the devil”
Sometime before the murder, Laura Pichette left her husband and their children to pursue a relationship with another man. In her absence, Wilfred Pichette hired Doyle to be a housekeeper and nurse for his daughter Norma. Laura returned to her family shortly before Doyle’s killing, and Doyle made preparations to leave the Pichettes’ employ.
On October 22, according to Norma Pichette (7), her father stuffed Doyle’s mouth with tobacco then began to bludgeon her with a flatiron. Laura then used a stove poker to further beat Doyle. Norma screamed and attempted to make her parents stop the assault. Doyle’s death certificate listed her cause of death as “fractured skull, neck broken, jaw broken, face and body bruised” with “loss of blood” as another contributory cause.
After Doyle was killed, the Pichettes confessed the crime to their priest who immediately notified the sheriff. The sheriff visited the Pichette home, found Doyle’s body, and arrested both Pichettes who “talked incoherently and appeared to be suffering from delusions based on the idea they possessed strange spiritual powers.”
During questioning, Wilfred spoke highly of himself, claiming, “I am the Messiah, the only man that can bring goodwill and peace on earth. [Doyle] was the devil, and I had to drive her spirit from the house.” He also claimed to have purchased “the power of Christ” from a fortune teller for $2,000 (approximately $36,000 today), which he paid for after borrowing the money from his mother-in-law.
At trial, Laura initially told the court, “I am not guilty. I was forced to do what I did and will stand trial.” While she maintained her stance that she was forced into killing Doyle, both Laura and Wilfred entered guilty pleas and were sentenced to life in prison.
Laura was transferred to a state hospital for mental treatment in 1942 where she was eventually joined by Wilfred in 1955; there’s no records of whether the couple was allowed visitations. Wilfred died in the state hospital in 1969 and Laura was discharged in 1973. She later moved in with her daughter Norma and Norma’s family.
Riippa, Emily. “A Murder in Dollar Boy, Part Two.” Michigan Tech. June 7, 2019. Accessed: October 22, 2020. https://blogs.mtu.edu/archives/2019/06/07/a-murder-in-dollar-bay-part-two/
“Husky Son is Born to ‘Witch Slayer’ in Prison for Life.” The Herald-Press [St. Joseph, Michigan]. May 10, 1939
Lear, John. “‘Bubble, Bubble, Toil, Trouble’; Witches’ Cauldrons Still Brew Murder, Passion, Fierce Hatreds.” Allentown Morning Call. November 27, 1938
“Houghton Pair Held For Trial.” The Escanaba Daily Press. November 10, 1938
“Messiah.” St. Louis Globe-Democrat. October 30, 1938
“Figures in ‘Witchcraft’ Slaying.” Des Moines Register. October 27, 1938
“Admits Killing Marian Doyle.” The News-Journal [Brigham City, Utah]. October 25, 1938
“Criminal Charges Being Considered.” Spokane Daily Chronicle. October 25, 1938
“Couple Arrested After Girl Slain With Flatiron.” Fort Worth Star-Telegram. October 24, 1938
Marian Alice Doyle. Michigan Department of Health. Bureau of Records and Statistics. Certificate of Death (digitized: https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/60872/images/44471_355151-00269?treeid=&personid=&hintid=&queryId=9d4ec68d1d0046034e14aab2e1cde926&usePUB=true&_phsrc=Ggc1&_phstart=successSource&usePUBJs=true&_ga=2.3108272.1268337957.1603398810-401099499.1603398810&pId=1700549)