Rich Divorcee Kills Herself

Editor’s Note: Mrs. Henrich, burned twice by society marriages, departs the world in melodramatic fashion, leaving her estate to a local contractor. Was it love? What “work” did she want carried on? At which “fashionable,” “brilliantly lighted,” “palatial” Park Boulevard apartment house did she reside? Do you know? The home of banker H.E. Anthony still survives in the 3300 block of Front Street.

— two stories as reported in the Los Angeles Times
December 1, 1922
  • Mrs. Helene Henrich found dead in San Diego home
  • Former husband is ignored in farewell letters
  • Will bequeaths bulk of her estate to contractor

Dead by her own hand, the body of Helene D. Henrich, wealthy divorcee, was found late last night in the luxurious suite of the fashionable apartment-house she owned and operated. When the police broke down the doors of the brilliantly lighted apartment, they discovered her body, shot through the head and still warm. All theories except that of suicide were eliminated by the fact that Mrs. Henrich had made careful and detailed dispositions of her estate. Calmly preparing herself for death, Mrs. Henrich wrote four letters and left them with her will on a desk. Members of her family were not mentioned in the will, the bulk of the property having been left to E.F. Bryans, a local contractor.

Shortly before she snuffed out her life, Mrs. Henrich wrote a note to Bryans, asking him to call and fix a door. When he arrived, the builder found pinned to the door a note saying all entrances had been bolted and asking him to notify the police. She left no word of her former husband, who is believed to be in Tennessee. The four letters were addressed to her mother, Mrs H. Deters, St. Louis, Mo.; her banker, H.E. Anthony; a plumber, Daniel Deacon; and her attorney Arthur F. Wright. In her letter to Wright, dated last November 29, Mrs. Henrich wrote; “I’ll cross the Great Divide tomorrow.” Friends in social circles where Mrs. Henrich is prominent inclined to the belief that worry over her divorce may have led her to take her life.

December 3, 1922

A verdict of suicide while despondent was returned by the coroner’s jury at the inquest this morning into the death of Mrs. Helene D. Henrichs, wealthy divorcee, who ended her life on Thanksgiving night in her palatial apartment-house in the fashionable Park Boulevard district. Marriage had been a failure for her, she wrote in a letter to her mother. This, and the fact that she had just divorced her second husband, is believed to have had a depressing effect upon Mrs. Henrichs.

Much interest was attached to the testimony of W.J. Bryans, a contractor to whom Mrs. Henrichs left her estate, estimated to be worth upward of $50,000. Bryans said he met Mrs. Henrichs about six months ago, when he was a bidder on one of the apartment-house projects which she was undertaking. He said they became well acquainted while talking over plans for the new structure. “As she was living alone, I told her I didn’t like the idea of her being by herself and made her promise that if she ever needed a man, to call on me. Thursday night she telephoned me and requested me to come over and fix a door. Her voice sounded as though she was crying. When I found her note pinned to the door, commanding me to summon a policeman, I was alarmed. As the policeman and I were forcing an entrance we heard a sound like the firing of a small pistol. We found the body lying on a blanket in the bathroom.

A letter, one of four written by Mrs. Henrichs before she took her life, was addressed to her mother, Mrs. H. Deters of St. Louis. This letter, written after she had obtained her interlocutory decree of divorce last Monday, read: “Mother dear: my first two marriages were hell. I won’t go through the experience again. I am leaving my property to Mr. Bryans who I feel will carry on my work. Please do not interfere.

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