The G-Men and the Nurse: A 1929 FBI Washington Cold Case

The sensational 1929 death of a strangled Washington, DC nurse investigated by the police and FBI.

By William Plunkett

While doing research on my first book I found there was not much information on SA Nelson B. Klein. In Klein's FBI personnel file there is a Letter of Commendation for his investigative efforts in the murder investigation of Mary Virginia Hurley McPherson. I obtained a copy of the FBI file of the murder investigation from the National Archives in Washington, DC. After years of research and a lengthy quest to obtain the nurse photograph of Virginia for the front cover, The G-Men and the Nurse was published in 2018, by Orange Frazer Press following the same format of the first book.

Patrolman Allen suggests it wasn't suicide and that evidence was destroyed which causes the media and the Bureau of Investigation to take a another look at the case.

Throughout the tempestuous autumn in D.C., an interplay of powerful forces police, DOJ agents, the whistleblower Allen, newspapers, and two powerful and respected attorneys held the public captivated.

William Plunkett, FBI agent-turned-crime writer, has applied his investigative skills to Virginia McPherson's mysterious death, giving the reader an enthralling behind-the-scenes tale of duplicity, political infighting, and human vanity, all set against the backdrop of a tumultuous age about to come crashing down.

It was the sensational Washington, D.C., death case that punctuated the end of the Roaring Twenties. The victim was an attractive young nurse found semi-nude in her apartment with a pajama cord around her neck. Detectives said it was a suicide, but a maverick patrolman thought otherwise and took on the entire metropolitan police force to try and prove it.

The death case of Virginia McPherson became a cause célèbre in the Capital City, where it occupied the headlines for weeks. The turmoil caused by the stormy petrel of the police department, Robert Allen, overturned the coroner's verdict, saw the police investigation criticized on the floor of the Senate, and sent the case before a grand jury, which indicted the husband, a debonair ladies man and semipro football player. And that was only the beginning. For even in exile, patrolman Allen, a two-hitch Marine, doggedly pursued his own investigation, reported by the half-dozen daily papers that hung on every bizarre turn.

Because of the fervor Allen created, the entire police investigation was thrown out, a huge public relations disaster for a metropolitan force already besieged by its futile attempts to police the effects of Prohibition. Into the breach came the Department of Justice with a special squad of agents under the direction of J. Edgar Hoover who was itching to build his reputation. And a second grand jury.

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