JUSTICE STORY: Love made legal eagle lovesick and homicidal

New York Daily News clippings from April 1924 about the Wanda Stopa story.(Michael Dabin/New York Daily News) In June 1921, when Stopa graduated from law school, one of just two women, newspapers printed a photo of the blue-eyed girl with a mortarboard and a Mona Lisa smile.

In 1922, there was more press for the “youngest Portia in Illinois,” when she became the first female assistant state’s attorney. Reporters dubbed her the “girl lawyer.” Wanda Stopa “Spurned Woman Shoots and Kills,” was just one of many headlines on April 25, 1924, about the one-time soaring legal eagle.

A day earlier, Stopa stepped off of a train in Illinois from New York City, where she had been living a flapper’s life in Greenwich Village since the beginning of the year.

She hailed a cab driven by Ernest Wood and told him to take her to the Palos Park home of advertising man Y. Kenley Smith, 37, and his wife, Genevieve Dawley Smith, who everyone called Doodles. The taxi cab, driven by Ernest T. Wood, that took Wanda Stopa to Palos Park on April 24, 1924. (Chicago Tribune historical photo/Herald & Examiner) When they reached the Smith home, Stopa barged into the house, where she found Doodles in bed with the flu. Kenley was not home. Mrs. Genevieve Dawley Smith “Doodles”, of Palos Park, circa 1924. (Chicago Tribune historical photo) Wood, who was partially deaf and didn’t hear his passenger’s murderous rampage, was calmly waiting for her. Stopa had him drive her to Chicago, […]

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