Reported in the News Letter on October 31, 1955: Wife shoots dead owner of champion racehorse


Mr William Woodward, 35-year-old owner of the champion racehorse, Nashua, was shot dead accidentally at about 3am yesterday by his wife, a society beauty, when they got up to investigate noise at their home at Oyster Bay, 30 miles from New York.

Mrs Ann Woodward fired twice from her shotgun. She telephoned for the police immediately.

Investigators found Mr Woodward’s body sprawled face down in his bedroom. One shotgun blast had struck him in the head, and a second had smashed into the woodwork.

Mrs Woodward, who was hysterical, was placed under the care of a doctor.

She was featured yesterday in the “Sunday Mirror” as “one of New York’s most distinguished hostesses”. She was a big game hunter and was photographed recently sitting on a camel at a society ball.

The couple’s two children, William, aged 10, and James, 8, slept through the shooting.

Police said the Woodwards had attended a party for the Duchess of Windsor at a neighbouring estate. The couple were in good spirits when they left about 1am and there had been no sign of discord.

Mrs Woodward told the police that on Friday and Saturday her husband and she found evidence that prowlers had been around their house. They agreed to keep firearms handy. Mr Woodward took a pistol to his bedroom, and his wife a 12-gauge shotgun loaded with duck-hunting pellets.

[The press labelled William Woodward’s death “the shooting of the century”. Although a grand jury determined that no crime had been committed, suspicion followed Ann and she was shunned by high society. She took her own life in 1975, aged 59, after Truman Capote published a thinly veiled account of the Woodwards’ story, Answered Prayers, which accused Ann of murder.]