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1934: Wife Snores in Morse Code

When 34-year-old Leila B. Hughes married 48-year-old John Lloyd Booth Copley on January 24, 1928, we can presume that it was a loving union between two divorcees. But love doesn’t always last.

On September 14, 1934, Leila filed for divorce from Lloyd in a Spokane, Washington court on grounds of non-support. In addition to withholding her paychecks, she claimed that he “would fly into a rage and call her vile and indecent names.”

The case was assigned to Judge Charles H. Leavy, and he listened to testimony from both sides on November 20.

Lloyd’s biggest complaint was that his wife snored loudly, to which his wife, a telegraph operator, responded, “I know I snore, but when I was sleeping my husband thought I was snoring in Morse code to signal someone outside.”  Leila added, “Then he pounced on me with all fours, blackened my eyes and otherwise beat me.”  Lloyd, who was insanely jealous at times, was certain that she was attempting to signal a lover with her encoded snoring.

Marriage certificate between Leila B. Hughes and Lloyd B. Copley.
Marriage certificate between Leila B. Hughes and Lloyd B. Copley. (Click on image to enlarge.)

On another occasion, she locked her husband out of the house.  He then proceeded to climb in through an upstairs window, which frightened Mrs. Copley.  So, she picked up a 2×2 inch (5×5 cm) piece of lumber and started whacking him with it. And she didn’t let up.  Mr. Copley’s injuries were so severe that he required emergency treatment at the local hospital. The blood-stained timber was introduced as evidence during the hearing.

This was perhaps the toughest case that Judge Leavy ever had to decide.  He could see that this was a couple that was meant to stay together forever.  They clearly loved one another. He would probably need weeks, if not months, to decide such a challenging case.

Not really…

He issued his opinion that same day and granted the divorce. Mr. Copley was allowed to keep their house on North Post Street, but his wife was to get their home on Cleveland plus an additional $300. (Approximately $6,700 today.)

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