Puppy Love Gone Bad

When I started working on this blog, I did a cursory search of my address to see if anything tragic had occurred here.  Sadly, nothing of note turned up.  I did, however, find that an extraordinary tragedy had occurred in the building next door: a murder-suicide committed by a lovelorn teenager, followed by an accidental re-enactment of the crime on the same day by another teenager a couple of miles away.  Here's the amazing story, as told by the Chicago Daily Tribune on December 1, 1931.

RE-ENACTS KILLING; SLAYS GIRL

School Pupils Figure in Two Gun Tragedies

Thwarted in a "puppy love" affair, Henry Sio, 16 years old, 4186 Elston avenue, a student in the Roosevelt High school, early yesterday shot and killed his 12 year old sweetheart, Ruth Wicklund, as she was on her way to the Belding elementary school.  He then raced to his home and, with a single shot, committed suicide. Last night another 16 year old Roosevelt High school student, Joseph T. Wilson, 2537 Argyle street, reenacted the tragedy in which a school mate had figured.  Facing him were Constance Trohatos, 15 years old, and her sister, Cleo, 17, of 2425 Eastwood avenue, also students at the Roosevelt High. As young Wilson reenacted the shooting he snapped the trigger of a supposedly empty revolver.  Constance slumped into her chair dead, a bullet in her brain.

 First Tragedy Described.

The background of yesterday's first tragedy lay in the parental objection to the juvenile courtship by young Sio of the Wicklund girl.  Both resided in the same building, and frequently Sio accompanied her to school.  Recently their affair was ordered stopped.  Yesterday the Wicklund girl left her home as usual.  At Berteau and Springfield avenues Sio halted her.  He drew a revolver and fired, as she pleaded with him not to shoot. His own death followed shortly afterward.
A contemporary view of the apartment building at 4186 Elston avenue where both Ruth Wicklund and Henry Sio resided in 1931. (Photograph by The Comtesse DeSpair.)

A contemporary view of the apartment building at 4186 Elston avenue where both Ruth Wicklund and Henry Sio resided in 1931.  (Photograph by The Comtesse DeSpair.)

A modern view of the intersection of Springfield and Berteau avenues - where Henry Sio fatally wounded Ruth Wicklund. I tried to get ahold of police records indicating precisely where Ruth fell, but was unsuccessful. Ruth would have been walking to this intersection in front of the building shown (which is not the building she and Henry resided in), in a rightward direction, in order to head towards Belding school. Photograph by The Comtesse DeSpair.

A modern view of the intersection of Springfield and Berteau avenues - where Henry Sio fatally wounded Ruth Wicklund. I tried to locate police records indicating precisely where Ruth fell, but was unsuccessful. Ruth would have been walking to this intersection in front of the building shown (which is not the building she and Henry resided in), in a  left to right direction, in order to head towards Belding school.  (Photograph by The Comtesse DeSpair.)

News of the shooting became the main topic of hundreds of students at the Roosevelt High school, where Sio was well known.  It remained as fresh news last night.  Among the few, however, who knew nothing of the double death was Constance Trohatos.  She had played hookey.

Gather in Boy's Home.

Last night she and Cleo left home for a neighborhood library.  They recollected that young Wilson possessed a number of entertaining books and called at his home.  They sat in the living room, discussing literature, when Wilson mentioned the Sio-Wicklund tragedy.  Constance expressed surprise, saying she had not heard of it, and laughingly remarking she "was glad she had played hookey, or she might have been shot." Wilson excused himself and left the room.  He reappeared a few moments later carrying a revolver. "This is loaded with wooden bullets, so don't be afraid," he reassured, smiling.  He broke the weapon and extracted a wooden cartridge.  As he displayed the weapon, he described the suicide of Sio and the killing of his sweetheart.  He inspected the gun, and sprang suddenly to where Cleo was sitting.  He pressed the gun to her head.

Presses Gun to Head.

"See?" he exclaimed, as he pressed the trigger.  There was a harmless snap. "How would you like to be shot?" he asked, jokingly, as he walked over to Constance.  She accepted the threat in fun and laughed.  Wilson stepped up to her, placed the revolver against her temple, and pressed the trigger.  Again there was a harmless snap.  He pressed the trigger a second time.  There was a sharp explosion.  Constance fell over dead. Cleo screamed.  Wilson almost collapsed, but holstered himself sufficiently to summon police.  Lieut.  John O'Brien of the Summerdale station responded.  He took the boy and Cleo to the station, and after questioning them said the killing was doubtless an accident in which the supposedly "empty" gun was loaded.  The basement of the Wilson home was searched, and another revolver, a rifle and a knife were found.  Wilson said he had a flair for military things, and that he formerly attended the Morgan Park military academy.  At the time of the shooting, he wore a military uniform.  He was held last night for the inquest.
Contemporary view of the house at 2425 Eastwood avenue where 15-year-old Cleo Trohatos was accidentally slain in a re-enactment of the Sio-Wicklund shooting by her friend, 16-year-old Joseph T. Wilson. (Photograph by The Comtesse Despair.)

Contemporary view of the house at 2425 Eastwood avenue where 15-year-old Cleo Trohatos was accidentally slain in a re-enactment of the Sio-Wicklund shooting by her friend, 16-year-old Joseph T. Wilson. (Photograph by The Comtesse Despair.)

While the shooting of Constance was unmotivated, the killing of the Wicklund girl had a direct inspiration, police said, and that of thwarted love.  When police found young Sio in his den, in the basement of the building, he was unconscious.  The revolver lay beside him, and not far away was a postcard on which he had written: "I'm sorry."  In one hand he clutched a tan glove, once owned by his sweetheart.  On his wrist was her bracelet. Scattered in the den were books, magazines and odds and ends of a boy's workshop.  Sio, detectives were told, aspired to be a scientist or an inventor.  In a small chest investigators found letters written by the Wicklund girl, chiding against his jealousy and protesting her love for him.  A diary also was found, containing mute scrawling of his jealousy, and filled with entries the sense of which was: "The time has come for a showdown."
The entrance to Henry Sio's basement apartment is seen on the far left of this contemporary image. The windows seen on the bottom corner of this shot were Sio's apartment. He was found dead from a self-inflicted bullet to the brain in the den inside. (Photograph by The Comtesse DeSpair.)

The entrance to Henry Sio's basement apartment is seen on the far left of this contemporary image. The windows seen on the bottom corner of this shot were Sio's apartment. He was found dead from a self-inflicted bullet to the brain in the den inside. (Photograph by The Comtesse DeSpair.)

Mrs. Karin Wicklund, mother of Ruth, told police she had asked Sio's father, Matthew, a barber, to stop his son's wooing of her daughter.  The father said he had so notified Henry. A coroner's jury late yesterday returned a verdict that young Sio had murdered the Wicklund girl and then committed suicide.  The motive officially designated was "jealousy and puppy love."
Photographs featured in the December 1, 1931 Chicago Daily Tribune. (Reproduced without permission for personal use only.)

Photographs featured in the December 1, 1931 Chicago Daily Tribune.
(Reproduced without permission for personal use only.)

  Follow-up article, Chicago Daily Tribune, December 3, 1931:

SCHOOL MOURNS GIRL VICTIMS OF 2 GUN TRAGEDIES

Two grief stricken families yesterday made funeral preparations for Ruth Wicklund, 12 years old, and Constance Trohatos, 15 years old.  There was gloom at Belding grade school and the Roosevelt High school, where the girls had been pupils. Both the girls were shot to death on Monday.  Ruth, a Belding pupil, was slain early in the morning by Henry Sio, 16 years old, a student of the Roosevelt High school, who then shot and killed himself.  Constance was accidentally killed in the evening when Joseph Wilson, 16 years old, tried to show how Ruth was shot.  Constance and Joseph were Roosevelt High school students. Yesterday Young Wilson was exonerated by a coroner's inquest.  Deputy Coroner James A. Gleason, however, directed that he be placed in the custody of the Juvenile court for one year during which he will make weekly reports.  The official verdict to the jury was that Constance was killed accidentally. At the Belding school Principal Ida M. Tregellas and Miss Katherine Mahon, Ruth Wicklund's teacher, said they would send flowers for the girl's funeral.  The children in Ruth's room contributed nickels and dimes tot he flower fund. Friends of both Ruth and Constance planned to attend the funerals.  The services for Ruth will be held at 2 o'clock today from a chapel at 3918 Irving Park boulevard, with burial at the Irving Park Boulevard cemetery.  Funeral arrangements for Constance have not been completed.  Ruth lived at 4186 Elston avenue, and Constance at 2425 Eastwood avenue.
The Cooney Funeral Home, 3918 Irving Park boulevard, where the funeral services were held for Ruth Wicklund on December 3, 1931. (Photograph by The Comtesse DeSpair.)

The Cooney Funeral Home, 3918 Irving Park boulevard, where the funeral services were held for Ruth Wicklund on December 3, 1931. (Photograph by The Comtesse DeSpair.)

Funeral notice, Chicago Daily Tribune, December 3, 1931:

HOLD LAST RITES FOR GIRL VICTIM OF YOUNG SUITOR

Funeral services for Ruth Wicklund, 12 years old, 4186 Elston avenue, a pupil of the Belding grade school, who was shot and killed by Henry Sio, 16 years old, of the same address, were held yesterday at the chapel at 3918 Irving Park boulevard.  Sio, the girl's suitor, also killed himself.  Hundreds of friends of the girl attended the services.  Burial was in Irving Park Boulevard cemetery. Services for Constance Trohatos, 15 years old, a pupil at the Roosevelt High school, who was killed by Joseph Wilson, 16 years old, when the latter attempted to show how Ruth was shot, will be held today at noon from St. James Orthodox church, 2727 Winona street.  Burial will be in the Elmwood cemetery.
  Comtesse Note:  One of these days, I hope to track down the graves of these three tragic youths and add images of the gravestones to the blog.  

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