On this day began the trial of Arthur Waite, son-in-law of prominent Grand Rapids drug store millionaire, John Peck. Waite is charged with the poisoning of his wife’s father when he visited them in NewYork. Waite had married Clara Louise Peck in 1915 in one of Grand Rapids largest social events of the fall season, and the couple moved to New York City where he established a dentall practice. A few months later, early in 1916, Mrs. Winifred Peck went to New York to visit her daughter and fell ill and died. In March John Peck went to visit the young couple and he too fell ill and died. Waite determined the cause of death was heart trouble, which was reasonable. But some of the Pecks became suspicious and when the body returned to Grand Rapids, Clara’s brother had it examined. Arsenic was discovered in the body.
Confronted by NY police, Waite confessed his guilt and even told how he had planned to kill his wife, to get the family’s fortune.
Readers in Grand Rapids and all over the United States were riveted by this tale and the trial. You can read clippings from the local newspapers in the John Peck Biography file in the Grand Rapids History and Special collections area on the 4th floor of the Main library.
Information taken from new book, Michigan Every Day by Patrick Sullivan and Carole Eberle