The Bigelows of E. Norwich St.
“On Tuesday, February 19, 1918, Forest Bigelow, a forty-two-year-old agent for the Ohio National Life Insurance Company, deacon at the Indianola Church of Christ, member of the chancel choir, and former professional bicycle racer, not to mention husband and father, revealed to the citizens of Columbus and the world that he was also quite mad. At about 5:20 a.m., Forest took a hatchet he had spent hours sharpening until not a speck of rust remained and proceeded to murder his wife, Lena, and seven-year-old daughter, Annabelle.”
From Chapter 7, “Insanity Comes Quietly to the Structured Mind,” of the 2010 book Historic Columbus Crimes by David Meyers and Elise Meyers Walker.
Lena, 34, was nearly beheaded in her bed by two swings of her husband’s axe, and Annabelle, – whom he initially intended to allow to live, as he mentioned her in his will – sleeping next to her mother, was also nearly decapitated in her sleep.
Forest set out to kill not only his immediate family that morning, but afterward, walked a few houses down, knocked on the door of his in-laws, killed his sister-in-law and gave his mother-in-law an axe in the neck for good measure.
His mother-in-law, Sallie Cruit, somehow survived the axe blow, but Lena’s sister Hazel did not. She died on the living room floor in front of her four-year-old son Frederick.
When he was all done with the axe, he walked back to his home and shot himself in the head. He was found lying across the bodies of his wife and daughter.
Bigelow seems to have been one of those quiet types you hear about; nice desk job, sang in the church choir, good family man, until one day they just snap. Evidently he took some time after he snapped to plan it all out first, though; time to make out the aforementioned will, time to give all the information on his best clients to his friends and colleagues, time to pay off creditors and tell them he wouldn’t be seeing them again, time to put a note on the door that morning reading “stop the paper.”
Very organized and detail-oriented, Forest was. So when his wife and daughter were buried in the Cruit family plot, instead of with him as he’d specified in the extremely detailed will he laid out (chose his pallbearers and everything), he must have spun in his grave.
It’s a grisly story, and shocking for how modern it sounds, isn’t it?
The book “Historic Columbus Crimes” is well-written and well-researched, and tells some stories I hadn’t heard (“Mama’s in the Furnace” is ohmygod chilling) and very generously gives addresses where possible. You know what that means.
I got pictures! Surprisingly, both houses are apparently, going by the pictures included in the book, architecturally unchanged.
Below, 86 E. Norwich, where Lena and Annabelle were murdered and where Forest shot himself (sorry about the car – this area is now campus housing and if you tried to get a shot of the place without cars or people, you might be waiting for months). Their unit is the one on the far right, nearly hidden by the tree.
Below, 121 E. Norwich Ave. where Forest killed his mother-in-law and sister-in-law:
The Cruit family plot in Green Lawn Cemetery, where Sallie, Hazel, Lena and Annabelle were buried without individual headstones:
And finally, Big Plain Cemetery, way out in the countryside, where Forest himself was buried.
Thanks for sticking with me everyone, and Happy Halloween! Enjoy this little tradition before you go: