The Wedding Gift Bomb

In 1936, Postal Inspectors were tasked with solving a mail bomb case involving murder, adultery, scandal, and (ultimately) suicide. Using some of the “cleverest detective work,” Postal Inspectors tracked the “Wedding Gift Bomb” to a jilted dentist.

The Explosion

On July 22, 1936, Curry and Elsie Thomas, who had just married a few weeks prior, drove to their farm in Cape Charles, VA, stopping at the post office for their mail on the way. Included in the mail was a small package addressed to C.F. Thomas with the return address "C.F. Thomas, Richard, VA." The couple assumed it was a joke from friends or a wedding gift.

As soon as they arrived home, Mr. Thomas began to open the package while still in the car. As he did, a snap was heard, followed by the crackling of a burning fuse. Mr. Thomas moved to throw the package out of the window, but it was too late. The explosion killed him instantly and critically injured Mrs. Thomas.

The Investigation

The only witness to the horrific event was Elsie Thomas, who was unable to speak due to her injuries. Postal Inspectors J.E. Sentman, B.B Webb, and C.H. Burrows set out to find the person responsible, with only the wreckage to search for clues. After hours of investigating the wreckage, the Inspectors found fragments of steel pipe and iron caps, a loop of twine, and a torn piece of label from a battery. They also determined that based on the force of the explosion, dynamite had been used.

Using the information, they built a replica of the bomb, but the question of who carried out the attack was still unanswered . Friends and relatives of the couple were questioned, but still no motive was discovered.

Finally, during a second round of questioning, a friend of Elsie Thomas revealed that, prior to her marriage, Elsie had an affair with her former employer, Dr. H.R. Hege - an affair she had ended when he refused to divorce his wife.

The Investigation and Arrest

When the affair had ended, Elsie met and fell in love with Curry Thomas. When news of their engagement broke, Dr. Hege began sending letters to Elsie, pleading for her to change her mind. in one letter, he insisted that if he couldn't; have her, no one could. Now with a possible motive, Postal Inspectors began tracing evidence left by the bomb to Dr. Hege. Each piece discovered in the wreckage was eventually traced back to locations near him in North Carolina.

On October 5, 1936, Inspectors arrested Dr. Hege after a high-speed chase through the Blue Ridge Mountains. After his arrest, he unsuccessfully attempted suicide by cutting his wrists. A couple weeks later, he attempted suicide again and succeeded. Cutting his throat with a broken lens from his eyeglasses, he then placed his head in a travel bag to conceal the blood from guards. By the time they noticed and came to his aid, it was too late.


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