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H2H S.5 E. 217 Mary Marrs Cawein. The Fatal Night Cap.

The Fatal Nightcap: The Mysterious Death of Mary Marrs Cawein

On the night of July 4, 1965, the Idle Hour Country Club in Lexington, Kentucky, was bustling with the sounds of celebration. Among the attendees were Dr. Madison Cawein, a prominent hematologist, and his wife, Mary Marrs Cawein. The couple, known for their social charm and affluence, enjoyed an evening filled with laughter, dancing, and a generous flow of drinks alongside their friends.

As the night drew on, the party at the club seemed nothing out of the ordinary, a typical gathering among the elite of Lexington. However, by the early hours of July 5th, the festive atmosphere took a dark and sinister turn. Mary Marrs Cawein was found dead, slumped in a chair in her bedroom, the victim of a lethal dose of poison.

The immediate aftermath of Mary’s death was shrouded in confusion and disbelief. How could a night of revelry end in such a tragic and unexpected way? The subsequent investigation, or lack thereof, has since been criticized and described as Kentucky’s biggest mystery and its smallest investigation.

The Background:

Mary Marrs Cawein was a well-liked socialite in Lexington, married to Dr. Madison Cawein, a respected hematologist. The couple was often seen at various social events, portraying the image of a perfect marriage. The night of July 4th began like many others, with the couple attending a gathering at the Idle Hour Country Club. Friends recall the evening being filled with joy and an abundance of alcohol.

The Discovery:

In the early hours of July 5th, Dr. Madison Cawein discovered his wife in their bedroom, lifeless and seated in a chair. Authorities were called, and it was quickly determined that Mary had been poisoned. The substance used was never conclusively identified, leading to rampant speculation and theories.

The Investigation:

Despite the suspicious circumstances surrounding Mary’s death, the investigation was remarkably cursory. Key pieces of evidence were overlooked or mishandled, and the case quickly grew cold. Many in Lexington whispered about possible motives and suspects, but no substantial leads were ever pursued with vigor.

The case is often cited as a prime example of a botched investigation, leaving a legacy of suspicion and intrigue that continues to fascinate true crime enthusiasts.

Tune in to our latest episode for an in-depth look at Kentucky's biggest mystery and smallest investigation. Subscribe, share, and follow us on social media using the hashtags #TrueCrime #MaryMarrsCawein #Hitched2Homicide. Join us as we continue to unravel the mysteries of unsolved crimes and bring forgotten stories back to life.

Sources used for this podcast:

1. Find a Grave - Mary Marrs Swinebroad Cawein memorial:

2. - Daily News page from September 4, 1966:

3. JAMA Network - Article on alcohol treatment for carbolic acid burns:

4. BloodHorse - Article about auction company partner Denton:

5. Google News Archive - Newspaper article mentioning Mary Cawein:

6. Southern Mysteries - Article about Mary Cawein:

7. The Blue People of Kentucky - Madison Cawein page:

8. Auction Company Partner Denton Dies at Age 92

9. The Lexington Leader – July 6, 1965 -Death Claims Mrs. Cawein

10. The New York Daily News – December 6, 2015 – Horse Manure

11. The New York Daily News _ September 4, 1966 – Fatal Nightcap

12. Lister and Carbolic Acid

13. The Lexington Herald-Leader – September 22, 1965 – What’d He Say?

14. The New York Daily News – A horse sized hole

15. The Lexington Herald-Leader – September 22, 2011 – Crime Log

16. The Lexington Herald-Leader – August 14, 1965 – Cawein Death officially a Homicide

17. The Cincinnati Enquirer – September 24, 1965 – Struggle on the Street

18. The Lexington Herald Leader – January 16, 1966 – Cawein Top stories of 1965

19. The Kentucky Post – December 1, 1965 – The murder that didn’t fit the mold

21. Sports Illustrated – Horse Show Whodunits

22. Wikipedia – Madison Julius Cawein

23. Idle Hour Country Club, Lexington, KY


 Photos and video clips for YouTube

Jaws | 1975 | Universal Pictures

Seinfeld | S6 E14 | Highlights of a 100 | NBC

Gravity Falls | S1 E4 | The Hand that Rocks the Mabel | Disney

American Dad | S8 E8 | Finger Lenting Good |  TBSFox

Romantic Killer | S1 E10 | Other Way Around Dummy | Netflix

Joe Pickett | 2021 |  S1E6 | Shoot Shovel and Shut up | Spectrum, Paramount+

The Help | 2011 | DreamWorks Pictures

The Happytime Murders | 2018 | STX Entertainment

Perry Mason | 1957 | S2 E25 | The case of the Petulant Partner | CBS

My Best Friend’s Wedding | 1997 | TriStar PicturesSony Pictures Releasing



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All information contained in this video presentation is provided for entertainment purposes only. The authors leave any and all conclusions to individual members of the audience. The author offers no statements of fact beyond those available through diligent private research or through information freely available in the public record. To the extent that pending or settled criminal matters or crime or possible crimes, are discussed in this video presentation. All parties or defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law. To the extent that any pending or settle civil matters are discussed in this video presentation, all parties or defendants are presumed not liable unless proven liable in a court of law. Copyright for material incorporated and presented under Fair Use is retained by the original author or copyright holder where applicable. Our cases are researched using open source and archive materials, and the subjects are real crimes and people. We strive to produce each episode with respect to the victims, their families and loved ones. At Hitched 2 Homicide we are committed to always discussing how victims lived, and not just how they died. All podcast information is gleaned from sources given. All opinions in the podcast are solely of Hitched 2 Homicide.


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