An Heiress Admitted To Taking Her Ex-Husband’s Life, But Her Motive Let Her Walk Away Scot-Free

In a Long Island courtroom in 1917, a beautiful and wealthy woman stands calmly in the dock. She is accused of killing her ex-husband in cold blood. And while Bianca de Saulles certainly doesn’t look like your average murderer, she doesn’t deny that she pulled the trigger. Despite her obvious guilt, though, the trial takes a turn that nobody could have expected. She walks away a free woman, and her case will become one of the most notorious in history.

A wartime scandal

As a brutal war waged across the world in August 1917 a scandal unfolded that would distract the American public from the horrors playing out overseas. In Nassau County, New York, heiress de Saulles confronted her philandering former spouse over custody of their young son. And before they could find a resolution, the conflict turned deadly.

New York society

With both the victim and the accused occupying a high place in New York society, the resulting trial made headline news. And for months, the jury deliberated over de Saulles’ guilt. Eventually, though, she walked from court a free woman, sparking both sympathy and outrage across the U.S. So what really happened on the day that her ex-husband John was murdered?

Blanca Errázuriz Vergara

Born Blanca Errázuriz Vergara in April 1894 the future Mrs. de Saulles spent her early childhood in the Chilean city of Viña del Mar, some 80 miles northwest of the capital Santiago. Her mother, also named Blanca, was a renowned beauty of the day, while her father, Guillermo, was from a family which wielded great political influence in the region. 

A fitting education

The young woman was set to inherit a great estate — one of the finest in Chile, to be precise. But first, she needed to get an education befitting of an aristocratic young lady. And when her father passed away, she was sent to London to study at a convent school.