1931 : Witch of Delray Convicted of Murder In Depression Era Detroit

October 5, 2021 all-day


On October 5, 1931, a Wayne County jury reached a verdict in the trial of an immigrant woman –  Rose Veres – finding her guilty of murder and of being … The Witch of Delray.

The story concerns Hungarian immigrant Rose Veres and her son, who became defendants in a sensational murder case in 1931. Prosecutors claimed Rose had murdered one of the tenants in her Delray boardinghouse, and city reporters embroidered those claims into the tale of the “Witch of Delray.”

The real culprits of this caper were the ambitious judges and prosecutors and byline-seeking newswriters. The real victims were the poor immigrant, single mother who spoke little, if any, English, as well as her 18 year old son. They were finally released after spending  years in prison.

Karen Dybis reveals that one of the prosecutors who worked so hard to lock them up – Duncan McCrea -and  one of Michigan’s shrewdest attorneys—Alean B. Clutts – were later able to win retrials for both Rose Veres and her son in 1944 and 1945, earning exonerations.

Rose Veres' grave in Woodmere Cemetery, Detroit. - PHOTO COURTESY KAREN DYBIS

  • Rose Veres’ grave in Woodmere Cemetery, Detroit.

For the full story, see Karen Dybis, The Witch of Delray: Rose Veres & Detroit’s Infamous 1930s Murder Mystery, Charleston, S.C. : The History Press, 2017.

George Hunter, “Book looks back at Detroit’s ‘Witch of Delray’“, Detroit News, November 18, 2017.

Michael Jackman, “Setting the record straight about the ‘Witch of Delray’ “, Detroit Metro Times, December 11, 2017.

Kinsey Clarke, “‘The Witch of Delray’ is Detroit’s own witch trial : The true crime story of Detroit’s notorious Hex Woman“, A Neighborhoods Podcast.

Burn Her Anyway: The (Wrongfully Convicted) Witch of Delray“, Crime Capsule Blog.

Meghan Barret Cousino, “Rose  Veres” , The National Registration of Exonerations.  The National Registry of Exonerations is a project of the Newkirk Center for Science & Society at University of California Irvine, the University of Michigan Law School and Michigan State University College of Law. It was founded in 2012 in conjunction with the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law. The Registry provides detailed information about every known exoneration in the United States since 1989—cases in which a person was wrongly convicted of a crime and later cleared of all the charges based on new evidence of innocence. The Registry also maintains a more limited database of known exonerations prior to 1989.