23 February 1931 – Irene Schroeder
Like a preying mantis, Irene Schroeder had a habit of destroying the men in her path.
The trigger-happy blonde was not content to continue life with a loving husband and young child and she was forever living beyond her means. These extravagances put strain on their marriage and the arguments led her into the arms of the previously pure Glenn Dague, who had a wife and kids of his own. As a result, both lives were to change beyond imagining and her effect on him was to prove fatal.
Schroeder quickly divorced her husband and Dague dumped his family so the pair could be together. However, within a week he was sacked from his job and the lack of steady money meant they needed to look elsewhere for a means of support.
As a result the pair conspired to fleece petrol stations to fund a lavish lifestyle and Irene hired a car in her dad’s name, roped her brother into the scam and dragged her five-year-old son along by default.
For a time they got away without being bothered by the police but eventually the law caught up with them and they were pulled over.
Amazingly they nearly got away with it because there was a small child in the car, but as the police checked out the motley crew guns were drawn and Schroeder shot one of the policeman before turning the firearm on his colleague. Although one died instantly, the other miraculously survived to provide what became a decisive photofit.
After this, Schroeder became known as the ‘Trigger Woman’ and the deadly bandits knew they’d be rumbled if they didn’t dump the car pretty sharpish. So they did, but in 1930, the photofit paid off when she was recognised by a deputy sheriff.
When asked for her driving licence she barked ‘who the hell are you?’ and when she was told she continued ‘I don’t like sheriffs. They shouldn’t be allowed at large.’
With guns trained on him, the deputy had no choice but to get in their car and if it wasn’t for the ridiculousness of the situation the abduction might have gone unnoticed.
However, it was in a car park…in broad daylight…with witnesses and so as soon as they drove away a chase ensued and it wasn’t long before they were captured.
As the trial kicked off, the sheer audacity of the woman emerged. At one stage she actually denied being called Irene, instead asserting that her name was Mildred Winthrop. However, as she’d admitted her identity when she was captured, it didn’t stand her in good stead with the judge and she and Dague were quickly found guilty.
In the hot seat
The penalty for the lovers was death and Schroeder was the first woman to be sent to the electric chair. She was aged just 22. Her lover Glenn Dague followed hot on her heels.