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Harry Powers (1892 - March 18th, 1932) was an infamous American criminal active in the 1920s through to his arrest and sentence to death in 1931.
After his arrest and death sentence, Powers became one of the most hated men in the history of the United States, and was dubbed "Bluebeard of Quiet Dell"
Powers was born in the Netherlands, and emigrated to the United States alongside his family in 1910.
His infamy came through a series of murders he committed after advertising himself as a single man looking to get into a relationship, in reality, this was to murder the people he was luring and steal their money.
After marrying a woman named Luella Strother in 1927, he continued to submit Lonely Hearts adverts under fake names, Cornelius O. Pierson and A.R. Weaver. His most notable victims were Asta Eicher and her three children and Dorothy Lemke.
One of the most disturbing instances of this included when he began writing letters to a woman named, Asta Eicher, who was widowed and had three children. He would later go to visit Eicher and her three children, one son, Harry and two daughters Greta and Annabel on June 23, 1931 and he left with Eicher several days to build their relationship. During this time he was using a fake identity, by the name of Cornelius O. Person
At the time, a woman called Elizabeth Abernathy was caring for the children and would do so until Powers, using his fake identity informed her he was coming to pick them up. When he returned, Asta Eicher had been murdered and he took her three children to a local bank to withdraw money, the Bank didn't accept the cheque as Powers had forged the signature. Soon after, he and Eicher's children went to Europe. Powers informed friends of Asta Eicher that they had mysteriously disappeared during their trip on Europe, in reality Powers had murdered them, likely due to the fact he was unable to access their family's bank account.
It was later that same year, 1931, that Powers' years of crime began to come to the attention of the public. Police began a search into the disappearance of Asta Eicher and her three children, after people who knew the Eicher family informed them that Asta had been in a relationship with a man by the name of Cornelius O. Person. However, after a lengthy search, police discovered that there was no-one matching that name in the area of Virginia, were Powers claimed to be residing, Police were given a description that matched that of Harry Powers and maintained a search warrant for his home.
When police searched his home, they found the crime scene in four rooms located under the garage. Bloody clothing, hair, a burned bankbook and a small bloody footprint of a child were discovered. Citizens of the town began to arrive at the scene to watch the unraveling of the crimes Powers had committed. Police began to dig up a freshly filled-in ditch found on Powers' property, and the bodies of Asta Eicher, her children and Dorothy Lemke were uncovered.
He was convicted on all accounts of the murders and hung on March 19, 1932.
Powers was author David Grubb's inspiration for the legendary villain Reverend Harry Powell, who was the main antagonist in his novel and it's 1955 film adaption, The Night of the Hunter, were he is played by the legendary actor Robert Mitchum (1917-1997)
Powell shares many characteristics with Powers, they both get into relationships just to end up murdering and stealing the money of their partner. Powell also stocked his partner's children after murdering her, which was likely inspired by Powers taking Asta Eicher's children to Europe to ultimately murder them.