God Bless Veneida Smith.
So this whole thing started with this tweet by Katie Henry (@KT_NRE on Twitter). I started plowing through newspapers to find every mention of her – and found most that were out there, but a man named Todd Sanders, who had access to Pennsylvania libraries, found quite a few more. All of this takes place in October and November of 1922, before timeskipping to September 1923 (her third escape), October 1923 (her guilty verdict), and March 1924 (her escape attempt with Roxie Starcher).
I have been unable to find her obituary or anything else out there about my new hero.
[UPDATE -5/2/18:] Holy shit they found out more.
So a woman named Francine Thompson saw the original tweet from Katie Henry and realized that Veneida Smith was actually her old neighbor Verneida — the newspapers had gotten her name wrong — which explains why nobody could find her obituary. She’d died in 1988, and had a difficult life.