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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Topics:  Henry Ford


The New York Times
December 9, 1922

Mrs. May Ford Says She Was Insane if She Plotted With Detroit Detective.

Special to The New York Times.
DETROIT, Dec. 8.—Intermittent lapses into insanity which she says may have caused her to forget whether in reality she ever schemed with Detective Lieut. Kunath, posing as a gunman from Kansas City, to slay he wealthy farmer husband, Ney J. Ford, will probably form the chief bulwark of her defense when Mrs.at B. Ford, Ney's estranged wife, is tried on a charge of attempted murder.  Mrs. Ford pleaded not guilty at her arraignment today and she was held in $25,000 bail.

"There is a doctor in Detroit who knows all about my physical and mental condition," Mrs. Ford told a reporter, naming him.  "This doctor has given to me a certificate to the effect that I am a nervous wreck and should have been in a hospital months ago.  He first examined me a month or so after I married Ney Ford.  After that I continued to live with Ford for six months, which was six months too long.  If I have met a detective and devised a plan whereby my husband was to be killed, I don't remember it.  I do forget things.  There have been times during the past few months that I did things and forgot completely about them."

Mrs. Ford's admission that she might have talked with Kunath while insane came after an examination in which she had repeatedly denied all knowledge of the plot charged against her.  She had insisted that the whole proceeding was a fabrication of her husband's, aided by detectives.

"This tale about my conspiring with a gunman to have Ford killed is a 'frame-up' by my husband," she first said.  "He has often threatened to have me locked up in jail.  In his cross bill, which he filed shortly after I sued him for divorce in July, he charged that I once ran out onto the porch and aimed a revolver at him.  Well, he has carried out his threat and here I am."

Kunath had asserted that he had learned through underworld channels that Mrs. Ford had gone to Toledo to hire a gunman to slay her husband, so she could inherit his estate, which she said was worth $350,000.

The Toledo man, according to Kunath, was unwilling to undertake the killing, but suggested a Detroit gunman known as "Eddie the Gun."  When this information reached Kunath, he said, he conceived the idea of posing as "Eddie the Gun."  Assuming this character, he continued, he met Mrs. Ford, and while other detectives were listening, she offered $20,000 to him to slay her husband, the money to be paid as soon as she came into her husband's estate.  She gave a photograph of Ford to him, the detective stated, and suggested that he kill Ford on his farm and burn the body in a haystack.

"This is not the first time she has threatened me," said Ford tonight.  "On the night of July 1, I was forced to leave my home when she threatened to kill me in my sleep.  Again on Sept. 14, she threatened me with a shotgun."

Mr. and Mrs. Ford separated on July 12 of this year.  On August 9 she filed a bill of divorce, charging extreme cruelty and complaining that the day she left her husband he and his brother Emery attacked her and her son Roy and inflicted injuries which impaired her hearing.

Ney Ford asserts that he is a second cousin of Henry Ford.  Ernest F. Liebold, Ford's private secretary, today denied there was any relationship.

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