Anne Marie Miller McGrevey
45-year-old Contract Bridge Instructor
Cause of Death: Arson Fire
Motive: Romantic Entanglement
Murder Scene and Date
6505 Forest Court
Des Moines, Iowa
January 30, 1948
By Nancy Bowers
Written December 2010
At 1:40 a.m. on Friday, January 30, 1948, firefighters broke into a blazing home at 6505 Forest Court in the upscale Windsor Heights area of Des Moines.
Inside the fashionable home, they found the nude body of 44-year-old resident Anne Marie McGrevey on the living room floor near the front window.
The fire was discovered at 1:40 a.m. by McGrevey’s two maids and a houseboy — Florence Carter, 22, Norvaline Stewart, 18, and Amos Holt, 19.
The three domestics were returning to the house in a taxi after escorting McGrevey’s guests home following a contract bridge party at the residence.
The blaze was quickly determined to be arson. A large hole was burned in the living room floor, the kitchen was gutted, and two bedrooms were consumed — all from separately-set fires.
☛ Foul Play Investigations ☚
The Windsor Heights Mayor asked Iowa Bureau of Criminal Investigation Director R.W. “Doc” Nebergall to assist the investigation. Polk County Sheriff Howard C. Reppert also worked the case.
Authorities immediately suspected 25-year-old Harold Maupin, described by one newspaper as “an Omaha Negro musician.” Maupin had lived for three weeks in the McGrevey home, working as a house boy and a bartender for McGrevey’s contract bridge parties and lessons.
During the week after the fire, Robert Miller, McGrevey’s son by her marriage to Emmett Miller, filed charges against Maupin for assault with intent to commit great bodily harm, claiming Maupin attacked him with a knife three weeks before his mother’s death in an argument at the home. Although Maupin was held for the assault, he was never indicted for it.
Maupin admitted being at the McGrevey home until “after midnight” the night of the murder, but insisted he was not involved in the death of his employer. After spending three weeks in jail, he was cleared by a lie detector test.
Florence Carter, Norvaline Stewart, and Amos Holt — the McGrevey employees who discovered the fire — also passed lie detector tests.
☛ Exhumation for an Expert ☚
Acting Polk County Coroner Dr. J. E. Kessell performed the original autopsy on Anne McGreevey’s body.
Polk County Attorney Carroll O. Switzer believed Kessell’s post mortim was inadequate because it was conducted after the body was embalmed and he believed it “was incomplete in many respects.”
On February 28, District Judge C. Edwin Moore ordered McGrevey’s body exhumed for a post mortem exam by nationally known pathologist and homicide expert Dr. Lemoyne Snyder, the Medicolegal Director of the Michigan State Police.
Anne McGrevey’s body was exhumed on March 1 and examined by Dr. Snyder, who concluded she died from the fire.
☛ Tangled Matrimonial Web ☚
Because of missing jewelry, it was first believed the death was related to a robbery. Polk County Sheriff Howard C. Reppert learned, however, that McGrevey recently pawned her wedding ring, a diamond ring, and a wristwatch.
She may have been getting rid of these items because she was divorcing her third husband, James E. McGrevey, whom she married only months before.
Anne McGrevey filed for divorce four days before her death and had a court order restraining James McGrevey from the home while the suit was pending.
There was a stir when McGrevey’s will, drawn up on January 7 — only 23 days before her death — was filed.
The Windsor Heights home where Anne McGrevey died and all its furnishings were willed to her second husband Emmett L. Miller, an air conditioning engineer and Secretary-Treasurer of the York Products Company in Des Moines.
She divorced Miller in July 1947 and quickly married James McGrevey.
James McGrevey was not mentioned in the will. However, Polk County Attorney Carroll O. Switzer ruled that because the divorce action was not final at the time of Anne’s death, McGrevey was entitled to a “dower right” of one third of her estate.
Please note: Use of information in this article should credit Nancy Bowers as the author and Iowa Unsolved Murders: Historic Cases as the source.
- ☛ “Firemen Find Body of Woman in House,” Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 30, 1948.
- ☛ “Iowa Bureau Enters McGrevey Fire Case,” Waterloo Daily Courier, February 4, 1948.
- ☛ “Maupin Free Under $1,000 Bond,” Mt. Pleasant News, February 26, 1948.
- ☛ “Maupin Freed; Grand Jury Studies Case,” Burlington Hawk-Eye Gazette, February 26, 1948.
- ☛ “Negro Freed in McGrevey Investigation,” Waterloo Daily Courier, February 26, 1948.
- ☛ “Negro Musician To Undergo Test On Lie Detector,” Mt. Pleasant News, February 19, 1948.
- ☛ Oracle, U.S. Yearbooks, Ancestry.com.
- ☛ “Orders Post Mortem on Mrs. McGrevey,” Waterloo Daily Courier, February 29, 1948.
- ☛ “Police Continue Questioning Negro,” Burlington Hawk-Eye Gazette, February 6, 1948.
- ☛ “Question Maupin In McGrevey Case,” Oelwein Register, February 6, 1948.
- ☛ “Says Fire Caused Death of Woman,” Mt. Pleasant News, March 2, 1948.
- ☛ “Seek Aid In Solving Mystery,” Mt. Pleasant News, February 27, 1948.
- ☛ “State Bureau To Make Investigation of Woman’s Death,” Mt. Pleasant News, February 4, 1948.
- ☛ “State Enters Probe Of Fire Fatal to Des Moines Woman,” Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 4, 1948.
- ☛ “Three Pass Lie Detector Test,” Burlington Hawk-Eye Gazette, February 25, 1948.
- ☛ “Woman Dies in Flames of Home After Card Party,” Waterloo Daily Courier, January 30, 1948.
- ☛ “Woman’s Death Investigated,” Burlington Hawk-Eye Gazette, February 4, 1948.