Thomas complained often that Grace had wanted to “be the boss” ever since they had said their I dos, and he resented her for it. The truth was that Thomas was sly and manipulative and had an unhealthy interest in the fortune Grace and Patrick shared.
At least Thomas was a decent stepfather. He worked hard to ingratiate himself with Patrick, and he was successful. Patrick was very attached to Thomas. But while Patrick was becoming fonder of Thomas, Grace was growing fearful of him.
In late 1924 or early 1925, Grace asked her father, Frank Hunt, to meet with her. She went over to his apartment on Irolo Street and picked him up to go for a drive. She told him that she didn’t want to have a private conversation anywhere but in her car. She was afraid that Thomas had placed a Dictaphone in the house.
If Frank thought his daughter was being paranoid without cause, he changed his mind after he heard her out.
As they drove around, Grace told Frank of the indignities Thomas had forced on her. She told him of intimate photographs which Thomas had taken. He bullied her into posing in ways that sickened her. But Grace couldn’t see a way out. Thomas had threatened to kill her if she ever told anyone how he treated her. He had also threatened to take Patrick away or to have her committed to Patton State Insane Asylum. Grace knew Thomas well enough to be convinced that these were not idle threats.
Father and daughter tried to formulate a plan that would get her to safety, but in the end they were immobilized by their fear of Thomas’ retaliation.
Frank hadn’t known about the photos, but he was aware of an incident which had occurred several weeks earlier – in fact he and Grace had talked about it at the time.
At Thomas’ request, Patrick had visited him in his office to have a tooth filled. Almost immediately following the procedure, Patrick became violently ill. His face swelled up to an abnormal size and he was in excruciating pain. Frank didn’t think that his grandson would “make it for another thirty days” and he was convinced that Thomas had intentionally given Patrick a slow poison to “get him out of the way.”
After conferring with her father and in direct opposition to Thomas’ wishes, Grace brought in Dr. J.A. Le Deux, who actually saved Patrick’s life.
Was Patrick’s close call attempted murder? Neither Frank nor Grace wanted to say anything to him without proof.
Patrick was unaware of his mother’s and grandfather’s fears about his safety. He liked and trusted Thomas. Perhaps that is why, when Grace suddenly disappeared in February 1925, he didn’t question Thomas’ assertion that Grace had left him. And if Thomas said Grace would return, then of course she would. Wouldn’t she?
NEXT TIME: The lady vanishes.