Murder She Wrote – Twice

Some little children don’t have a fair start in life. Some grow up in poverty, some abused, some unwanted and some simply unloved. This is the story of a multi-millionaire who adopted four children who survived not one but two family murders during their early childhood. Perhaps it’s true that people who have it all suffer as much as the rest of us….in this case, much more.

mosslerMillionaire Jack Mossler,  was worth $30 million dollars in the 1950s, approximately $300 million dollars today). Along with his material wealth he had a heart of gold. Mossler hailed from Houston, Texas and became wealthy through sheer hard work. His motivation was to provide for his widowed mother. It doesn’t get any nicer than that. Apparently, Mossler remained a nice man after he became wealthy.

After his first marriage fizzled, Mossler met the also newly divorced Candace Weatherbee, or “Candy” as she was called, a glamorous platinum blonde and former model who kept her real age a secret but was around 20 years younger than the man who would become her husband. They married in 1949 and as Mossler’s banking millions grew, the couple enjoyed the trappings of easy living, including a 28-room mansion in Houston and a posh vacation apartment in Key Biscayne, Florida.

kidsOn the other side of the tracks, Leonard Glenn was Jack Mossler . In 1954, Glenn had been admitted to the psychiatric hospital per a court order.  After half a year, at the request of his wife, he was paroled, & officially discharged in 1956. They diagnosed him on his release as sane but with chronic alcoholism. However, Glenn’s behavior was questionable and Betty urged Glenn to go back to the hospital, but he was not interested. He told her that if he went, she would have to go, too.

He was relatively poor, and had five children; Daniel, 5, Martha, 6, Edward, 2, Christopher, 4, & Alexander, the infant. On January 12, 1957, Father’s Day, a drunk Glenn murdered his pregnant, sleeping wife Betty by shooting and stabbing her to death. Then he sliced the infant’s abdomen with a knife. He called the children into the kitchen and cooked them breakfast then he piled his five children into his car, drove around Chicago and finally crashed the automobile into a snow drift. Glenn, while lucid, explained to police that “I cut the baby because I didn’t think my wife was dead, and if I couldn’t kill her I was going to kill the baby.” The four remaining, traumatized children survived without injury. However when police found the unfortunate children in the car with their incoherent father, “they looked like they were frozen…. and two of the kids had no shoes.” At the hospital 6-year-old Martha told police “My daddy shot my mommy too.” Daniel, 6, told police their mother was shot in their apartment.

Mossler read about the tragic case, and since he had the means to keep the four kids, they could stay together as a family rather than becoming individual wards of the state, so he decided to adopt them. He already had four biological kids by his first wife, and he was a man who simply loved helping children. In August 1957, Mossler and Candy formally adopted the four children. Never in the history of orphans has anyone been so lucky with the exception of Annie and her benefactor Daddy Warbucks.

02 Dec 1967, Miami, Florida, USA --- Original caption: 12/2/1967-Miami, FL- Candace Mossler and her nephew, Melvin Lane Powers, smile as they show off an engagement ring given her by Powers. The couple announced their plans to be married 12/2. They were acquitted of murdering Candace's multi-millionaire husband Jacques Mossler. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

02 Dec 1967, Miami, Florida, USA — Original caption: 12/2/1967-Miami, FL- Candace Mossler and her nephew, Melvin Lane Powers, smile as they show off an engagement ring given her by Powers. The couple announced their plans to be married 12/2. They were acquitted of murdering Candace’s multi-millionaire husband Jacques Mossler. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

In 1961, Candy’s nephew, Melvin Powers, entered the Mosslers lives. He was hoping for financial help from his rich aunt and uncle after doing a stint in jail for swindling. He was 30 years younger than Candy, and he was her nephew by blood. That didn’t stop the two from beginning a clandestine affair. Ick. But Mossler hadn’t become a multi-millionaire by being a fool; though he initially agreed to help Powers with his business ventures and even allowed the man to move into the Houston house, he became suspicious about the goings-on under his sizeable roof. A servant finally informed Mossler of the affair. Mossler fired Powers from the financial firm and two officials ordered Powers to leave. Enraged, Powers left, claiming one day he would return, “as the owner of the mansion.” This frightened poor Mossler. He wrote in a memo “If Mel and Candace don’t kill me first, I’ll have to kill them!”

Those words proved eerily prophetic. After the fight, the Mosslers formally separated, though neither wanted to file for divorce since their prenuptial contract posed a dilemma: if Mossler filed, Candy would get half of his millions; if she filed, she’d get only $200,000. She was already getting $5,000 a week to keep up her lifestyle, more than enough to live comfortably. But the only way Candy, and by extension Powers, could get their mitts on the $33 million was in the event of Mossler’s death. Uh-oh. You can see trouble brewing on the horizon.

In late June 1964, Candy brought their four kids (sans the five adopted kids) to visit Mossler in Florida. It was the last  deadtime the children would see their father. Conveniently, Candy and the kids weren’t in the apartment between midnight at 4:30am, when the murder occurred. She’d had a severe headache and had taken the children with her to the emergency room in search of relief, a very auspicious alibi, something that Powers didn’t have. On June 30 1954, a terrible interaction was heard in Mossler’s Key Biascayne apartment in the Governor’s Lodge Apartments. A man’s terrified, heart-wrenching voice was heard yelling “Don’t! Don’t do that to me!” Heavy footsteps were heard pounding down the stairs toward the exit. Poor Mossler had been murdered and mutilated by Powers. He was wrapped in an orange blanket and doused with blood. His skull was broken and thirty-nine stab wounds littered his chest, with half a dozen puncturing his heart.

Powers was arrested in Houston a few days after the murder. His fingerprints had been found at the scene and in a bloodstained car belonging to Mossler. After police found Jacques Mossler’s diary entry, it became another piece of evidence, and Candy was also arrested and charged with murder. The Mossler-Powers trial was so lurid that the judge admitted no spectator under 21.

POWERS2-obit-popupThe story caused a national scandal. The media fought over the rights to the story. Powers and Candy’s trial officially began on January 17, 1966 and it captivated the nation. Paul Holmes of the Chicago Tribune, described the trial as “lubricated by sex, nourished by sex, varnished by sex.” During the trial, witness Billy Frank Mulvey ruined the credibility of four other witnesses who had testified on Powers behalf when he claimed that he had been offered money to murder Mossler. He accepted the money and did not follow through with the murder. He also claimed that he shared a cell with Powers and that Powers had confessed the crime to him.The investigators lined up a long list of witnesses being neighbors, employees, hotel clerks who said they saw Powers and Candy share affectionate moments. Cops found a photographic record of Candy and Power’s travels which included souvenir snapshots from nightclubs, ski slopes, concerts.

In spite of the incredible evidence against Candy and Powers, the couple was found not guilty, Candy gleefully “kissed every juror.” To the public it appeared as though the rich got away with everything and I believe they were right. With her money Candy probably bought the jury. The lawless couple drove off in a gold Cadillac. Candy did inherit all of Mossler’s millions. She and Powers lived together for a few years then separated.

Candy went on to marry another much younger man, Barnett Garson, 19 years her junior. However, the honeymoon did not last long. On August 13, 1972 the pair fought after a night of drinking. Candy locked Barnett out of their home, and a severely intoxicated Garrison attempted to climb to their third-floor bedroom. Garrison fell off of the house, was left crippled and suffered brain damage. Following this accident, Candy divorced him. Candy’s men seemed destined for tragic endings.

4813-caroline-fireplace-photoCandy died in 1976 of an accidental overdose of migraine medication. She was found in a Miami hotel room wearing a nightgown and a full face of make-up.  Her real age was finally revealed: 62 years old. Powers attended her funeral accompanied by “an attractive blonde.” By then he had become a flamboyant real estate developer in Houston, wearing ridiculous ostrich- and alligator-skin cowboy boots and owning an immense yacht. By 1979, Powers had built a fortune estimated to be worth $200 million. By 1983 he was bankrupt but he rebuilt his fortune in real estate. Powers died at the age of 68.

As for the little children who had suffered first the death of their mother and infant brother, then the death of their adoptive father, and the sensational criminal trial of their adoptive mother, the press didn’t seem interested in their experience. I should think the children were emotionally scarred for the rest of their lives. I haven’t been able to find research about them. If you know what happened to the poor children, I’d like to hear from you.

 

 

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