The (Rhetorical) Murder of Dr. Elizabeth D. Woodworth, better known as my Honors English teacher

Closing Argument by the Defense in the Murder Trial of Catherine Elspeth and Katherine Amalie, on Trial for the Murder of Elizabeth D. Woodworth, PhD.

Recorded October 29, 2012

As we have all seen in this long, drawn out, and arduous trial, there is no way that the murder of Dr. Elizabeth D. Woodworth could have been planned or intended by anyone, and most certainly not two teenagers. There is no reason at all behind the prosecution’s accusations! The idea that my clients could have killed her, hah! Not a chance! Neither of these girls possesses the strength necessary to stab her by chance, and there is no reason at all for them to have paid for an assassin, as they both stated clearly that they loved their teacher and were heartbroken at her death.

Neither of my clients was in the room at the time of her murder, nor could they have gotten in, as neither of them knew the code to the door. I don’t mean to belabor a point already thoroughly examined, but I do want to make it perfectly clear that it is absurd to believe that either Ms. Elspeth or Ms. Amalie committed this heinous crime.

(An interruption by the prosecuting attorney)

Absurd? What do you mean, absurd? There is no proof that neither Ms. Amalie nor Ms. Elspeth was in the room at the time. They merely said that they had no memory of being in the room at the time of Dr. Woodworth’s death! They also stated that they had no memory of any events between the times of 10:45 and 11:00 that morning! Anything could have happened! They could have been lying about having no memory; did you ever think of that? When has personal testimony ever been justifiable proof of a solid alibi? We are supposed to ask for witnesses to alibis, are we not? Did anyone think of that before declaring that neither of these young ladies was in the room at the time?

As my opponent the defense so kindly pointed out, and then so pointedly ignored, this point has already been thoroughly examined, beaten, and torn apart, so there is no point in repeating the inconclusive so-called evidence any more. A point I would like to bring up, however, that has not been so utterly hashed and rehashed is the DNA tests received from the coroner’s office. The blood DNA tests clearly point to Ms. Catherine Elspeth, and the hair perfectly matches Ms. Katherine Amalie. What further proof do you need? DNA doesn’t lie, and we know that neither of these students has the means necessary to change the DNA records that are kept. And I’m sure that we have all faced some incident when we found that we had more strength than we thought we had or had imagined possible to have. If Ms. Elspeth had been frightened or angered or hurt in some way, I’m sure she would have somehow found the strength to stab Dr. Woodworth repeatedly. And if it was not Ms. Elspeth, we, or at least some of us, have personal evidence that Ms. Amalie has considerable hand and finger strength, so she would not have needed much of an adrenaline push to amass the physical strength necessary to kill Dr. Woodworth, had she been given the appropriate stimuli.

As to the claims of the defense that Ms. Elspeth and Amalie had no reason to murder their teacher, I concur from my own separate interviews that there is no obvious reason for them to commit this crime as they both appeared quite distraught at her death. However, as previously stated, they would not have needed a previous reason to kill her as Dr. Woodworth’s death was obviously spontaneously. Perhaps she threatened them or frightened them in some way, or perhaps someone else forced their hand. Quite obviously we cannot ask Dr. Woodworth what happened, as she is no longer among the living.

There is one possibility that we have not considered: that of a drug-induced attack. I’m sure we’ve all heard of people on drugs doing things, and violent things too, that they would not have done under normal circumstances. Perhaps it was a form of hallucinogen, as Ms. Amalie’s eulogy hints at a kind of unna-

(There is a scream from the defense table. The lawyers scoot away as Catherine Elspeth and Katherine Amalie tussle for an unknown reason. The table is knocked over, and there is a confusion of papers and shouting.

Police Report, October 29.

Catherine Elspeth, 18, and Katherine Amalie, 14, were killed at the Montgomery Courthouse at 4:17 P.M., October 29, 2012. Both were stabbed numerous times. Cause of death for both was a stab wound to the heart. Evidence of a hallucinogen was found in both women: the same hallucinogen found on Elizabeth Woodworth almost a month before. Katherine Amalie’s stab wounds were made by the same knife that killed Elizabeth Woodworth. The case for Elizabeth Woodworth has been closed, and there will be no trial for the deaths of Catherine Elspeth and Katherine Amalie. All three women were killed because of the effects of a hallucinogen and subsequent frightening hallucinogens. We hope no more deaths of the same kind come through our office. They certainly won’t come through mine. I resign my commission.

Last report of Detective Amalia H. of the Police Force of County Monaghan, Ireland

Currently reporting to the Montgomery Police Department, Montgomery, Alabama

October 29, 2012

Eulogy by Katherine H. for Dr. Elizabeth D. Woodworth, October 20th, 2012

I am here, on this somber and gloomy morning, to say a few words about a beautiful and wonderful woman: Dr. Elizabeth Woodworth. While I cannot say that I knew her as well as I would have liked, I can say confidently with those of you who knew her best that she was marvelous, charming, and funny.

During the altogether too short period of two months, during which I was a student in the Honors English class that she taught, I came to love her personality and teaching style. She always made every student feel right at home, and if you didn’t understand something, she would explain the subject so thoroughly and in such an amiable way that you didn’t feel bad about not knowing what that thing was or meant. She would listen to your crazy ideas for a project, and then join in with brilliant and equally crazy ideas of her own. She was always flexible and would change the deadlines of projects to meet the needs of all involved. Some days she would bounce into the classroom in the morning and ask us what we wanted to do, rather than telling us what she wanted us to do that day.

Her life story is one of the most exciting I have ever heard, and while I do not necessarily want to do everything she did, I definitely learned from the experiences that she shared so readily and freely. Her stories were delightfully witty, and she laughed at everyone’s jokes. For instance, one morning we spent the majority of the class period listening to Dr. Woodworth talk about her experience both in school and when she worked in the publishing industry. She told us that she got a bucket-load of paid vacation every year when she worked in publishing, and told us also that she missed all that vacation, but she didn’t miss what the managers of that company were doing. She made us all jealous when she said that one year she had thousands of children’s books sitting around her house, and also that every time she needed to go to the airport, the company limo would come to her house with the exact water, mints, and movies she wanted. I think we all sat in silence for a minute after that: Dr. Woodworth remembering how amazing it was, and the rest of us imagining what it would be like.

She knew a lot about many things that we were all interested in, and so could laugh at an obscure reference or joke, and could join in with a joke of her own. When I mentioned that I liked the Percy Jackson book series, she told me when the release of the next book would be. Several other of my classmates mentioned TV shows that they liked, and she was able to recall her favorite lines from particular episodes. She also got us all hooked on TED.com videos and the TV show Firefly by showing us some of the best videos and assigning us to watch Firefly as our homework at the beginning of the semester.

Her seemingly endless excitement and creativity inspired all of us to try harder to think outside the box. Of course, after a few weeks, we decided to “blow up the box,” with Dr. Woodworth’s help of course, but she encouraged us to think outside the shards of the box that remained. She gave us assignments and readings that seemed daunting at first glance, but after her explanations, turned out to be enjoyable and simple. By assigning us to do all our writing homework on a blog, she opened our eyes to the world of blogging, and allowed us the freedom of writing whatever we felt like also; not straitjacketing us into strict essay assignments. I think all of her students felt like 750 words was a huge undertaking, but after about a week of fun assignments where we all went over the word minimum, we relaxed and didn’t panic quite so much at her brilliant assignments for 700 word posts.

Her clothes were as vivacious and quirky as her personality. She always wore Crocs, even when the temperature in the room felt freezing. Several times she came in wearing a cardigan without buttons, but she made it look classy. And the animal prints she wore just seemed to come to life when she wore them. Imagine a friendly leopard with pencils and a laptop bounding around the room attacking you with brilliant assignments, and this was Dr. Woodworth on most days.

So I stand here, in front of all of you who knew Dr. Elizabeth Woodworth for the brilliant, exciting woman she was. I wish I could say that the reports of her death have been greatly exaggerated, but sadly, it is not so. And so I must leave you on this gloomy, somber morning. But we may yet hope that somehow, somewhere, we shall see her again.

Coroner’s Report for Dr. Elizabeth D. Woodworth, September 25th, 2012
Doctor On Duty: C. M. Allen

At approximately 12:00 noon on September 25th, several police officers from the Montgomery Police Department and several EMS personnel brought in a body for me to examine. She had been found dead at 11:00 am this morning in her classroom at Auburn University Montgomery, and the police suspected foul play. The body had been almost completely untouched, except for when they had laid her out on a stretcher to bring her to the hospital. The police reported that there were no other clues around the body as to how she could have died, such as a pill bottle or knife.

The victim was a Caucasian female approximately 50 years old with no significant past medical history. We could find out little more about the victim from either the police or from looking up her medical records, besides the fact that she was an English professor currently applying for tenure.

The most obvious potential cause of death was seven random stab wounds to the back. The stab wounds were mostly congregated around the right side of the victim near the shoulder blade, except for a wound through the right lung and another almost directly through the right ventricle of the heart.  The wounds were made at a slight downward angle. The assault weapon appears to have been a 2-inch long serrated knife, based on the length, depth, and ragged edges of the wounds. The angle at which the knife entered the victim suggests that the wielder was standing above the victim, and the fact that the wounds are mostly congregated on the right hand side of the victim suggest that the wielder was right-handed. The wound through the lung and the wound through the heart appear to be the main causes of death, based on the fact that small amounts of dried blood were found directly under these two wounds and very little or no amounts under the other five.

Some mild bruising was found on the upper right arm of the victim. The bruises were still visible when the victim was brought in, but had not darkened very much, nor had they turned yellow, placing the time of the bruising around the time when the victim was found, earlier this morning. The bruising is in the pattern of a right hand. We also found evidence of fingernails having been dug into the arm directly in line with the bruising. Specks of blood were discovered also on the upper right arm of the victim, slightly above the pattern of bruising. We tested the blood found on the arm, and also tested the blood of the victim. The blood found on the victim’s arm was of type O negative, but the test of the blood of the victim was type A positive, suggesting that the blood on the arm is from the assailant.

In the examination of the wounds in the victim’s back, some small ragged fibers of a dyed polyester fabric were found, likely from the shirt the victim had been wearing. Also discovered around the edges of the wounds – but only around those two wounds that we believe were made first – were traces of a hallucinogenic drug. The drug had not entered the victim’s bloodstream at the time of death, as we discovered when testing the victim’s blood, but traces of the same hallucinogen were found in the spatters of blood found on the victim’s forearm, leading to the conclusion that the drug was on the knife used on the victim. Faint traces of rust were also found in the wounds and in the blood spatters. This leads us to believe that the rust was most likely from the knife that was used to kill the victim. The same blood that was found on the victim’s arm was also discovered in trace amounts around the two stab wounds that were made first, suggesting that the same person who stabbed the victim cut themselves first on the knife and somehow spattered it on the victim before killing her.

During the final examination of the body, we discovered a long curly hair on the victim’s arm. As the victim has curly hair, we did not pay much attention to it, until I realized that the hair was of a much darker shade than the victim’s own. We are currently running a DNA test on the hair.

No other wounds were found on the victim’s body. There were no scars of any kind, no blood clots, no hemorrhaging, no lung fluid, or any other abnormalities that could have cause the death of the victim. The limbs of the victim were not very rigid at the time that she was brought in, so she must have been murdered shortly before she was found.

Conclusion: this victim was killed earlier in the morning on September 25th by being stabbed repeatedly in the back. The killer used a short, slightly rusty knife, and may have been using a hallucinogen at the time. The victim was also held tightly by someone, possibly the killer, around the time of her death. We may be able to find the killer when we have run our DNA tests on the blood spatters and the hair. We intend to inform the police of our findings at that time.

Detective Amalia H.
Detective Report on the Murder of Dr. Elizabeth D. Woodworth
Murdered September 25, 2012
Report Filed September 26, 2012

Dr. Elizabeth D. Woodworth, a professor of English at Auburn University – Montgomery in Montgomery Alabama, was found murdered in her classroom at 11:00 A.M. on Tuesday, September 25, by the students in her 10:50 A.M. Honors English 1 class. The cause of death is, so far as we know, seven random stab wounds inflicted upon Dr. Woodworth’s back. Several assorted items were found scattered around the classroom, possibly from Dr. Woodworth’s purse, which was not found at the scene of her death. The following report is based on evidence found in the classroom and testimonies given by her students.

The fingerprints of a student were found on a packet of lens and electronics wipes found on a table in the classroom, but that student reported having left several of them in the classroom the week before. The fingerprints of another student were found around the edges of the two security cameras in the room, and evidence of some sort of cleaning material was found on the lenses of the security cameras. Both the fingerprints and the residue were less than a day old. This student refused to give an interview to the interrogating officer.

A chair was found in a strange position on the floor, leading to the assumption that either there was a struggle in the classroom, or the murderer of Dr. Woodworth escaped through the ceiling tiles. There are no other signs of a struggle, however. Several students reported that, in trying to figure out why the chair was on the floor, the same student whose fingerprints appeared on the lens wipes stood a chair on one of the tables in the classroom and proved that someone could easily lift up a ceiling tile by standing on a chair. This student did admit to trying this, but he also swore that he was not the murderer because he could not possibly fit through the hole left by a ceiling tile. This statement led the other students to believe that he had tried to get through the ceiling, which he had done while proving that the ceiling tiles were easy to lift.

The student whose fingerprints were on the lens wipes was, according to fellow students, the only student who was ever told multiple times to change some part of his homework. This led the other students to believe that he may have been motivated by these reprimands to take revenge on his teacher, although none of them could believe that he would have gone so far as to murder her. He was the first one in the classroom on September 25. He was also split up into the same small group as Dr. Woodworth when the entire class was split into groups for a project several weeks previously. One of the other two students in the same group is the student whose fingerprints were found on the outside of the security cameras. The third student reportedly showed the other students how to do a nerve pinch to immobilize a victim, leading her fellow students to believe that she was an accomplice in the murder of Dr. Woodworth, although she bore no grudge toward her teacher. This third student is also the only student in the class small and light enough to fit through a hole in the ceiling, and she was the second student to arrive in class on the day of Dr. Woodworth’s murder.

After the students in Dr. Woodworth’s class found out about her murder, they broke into their discussion groups to discuss how it could have happened and who could have done it. According to fellow students, when suspicion was thrown upon the three students who were in Dr. Woodworth’s former small discussion group, they immediately began denying vehemently that they had had anything to do with the murder and diverted the blame onto the other students in their group. Many of the other students immediately became suspicious of the three students, saying that if they really hadn’t committed the murder, they would have no reason to deny the blame so violently and would also have no reason to turn on the other students in their group.

None of the other students in Dr. Woodworth’s class were able to say exactly who it was that they thought had killed her. Several of the students said that they were sure that the student with the lens wipes had done it because of his grudge against Dr. Woodworth’s comments on his work. Other students declared that the student whose fingerprints were found on the cameras had done it, because he rarely spoke up in class, and so no one could know what he thought of the class and Dr. Woodworth. Several more of the students believed that the female student in Dr. Woodworth’s discussion group was the murderer because she seemed slightly insane and watched lots of TV shows with fighting, and was also the only one who was small enough to fit in the ceiling holes. The majority of the students, however, agreed that the three aforementioned students worked collaboratively to murder their English professor, Dr. Elizabeth D. Woodworth, on the morning of September 25, 2012.

This report is by no means conclusive, nor is it comprehensive, but is merely a statement of evidence found at the scene of the murder and statements made by the students in Dr. Elizabeth Woodworth’s Honors English 1 class. We hope that more evidence will come to light during the court hearing to be held sometime in the next month, and that the murderer will be held in custody.

 

Report Filed by Detective Amalia H. of the Royal Investigative Police Force of County Monaghan, Ireland
September 26, 2012
Currently Reporting to the Montgomery Police Department of Montgomery, Alabama, USA

6 thoughts on “The (Rhetorical) Murder of Dr. Elizabeth D. Woodworth, better known as my Honors English teacher

  1. I read the whole thing! *whew* I like it; I so wish that I could take your English class, it sounds like a ton of fun.
    Wow… a 2-inch knife? That’s less than the size of a pack of gum or one of my fingers. Whoever did that must have realllllly hated her. *shiver*

  2. She was applying for tenure from the police? very strange indeed!
    Dare I say “lovely” of such a gruesome topic?
    Let’s go with, creatively detailed…
    Write on, fair bookworm, right on.

  3. Concur!
    Elegantly written, It does precisely what a good eulogy should – helps us remember, with laughter and light hearts, the GOOD things about the dearly departed.

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