For this casefile investigation, I chose a criminal case; It is a California, prison and correctional record. I was very happy that I got a woman because in the past, it was a big deal if you saw a woman committing a crime, especially manslaughter. Her name is Ardail Devido sent to San Quentin State Prison in 1931 for manslaughter for 0-10 years. I was automatically intrigued when I saw a woman in prison for murder; I wanted to know who she killed and why and why was she only in prison for 4 years for manslaughter. On Ardail Devido’s record it says that she is a 26-year-old housewife from San Joaquin, California. They describe her race as “fair complexion” with brown hair and brown eyes. It shows that she bounced around a couple of prisons during her sentence.
At first, I was not hopeful at all with finding anything on Ardail Devido, it took me days just to figure out what her name was because the cursive is a little confusing. The first thing I did when I figured out her name was go onto google and typed in her name, obviously that did not find me anything and I needed to dig deeper. I then went onto Ancestry and searched her name; I found her background information and her criminal record. I found out that Ardail was from San Joaquin, California born around 1905 so she was 26 when she committed manslaughter in 1931. After looking on ancestry I went onto the newspaper archive website and typed her name in. I found two articles on her; the first one was titled “Wife Tells Slaying”. Before reading this, all I knew about her was where she was from and when she was born and that she got arrested for manslaughter. In the article, it says that Ardail Devido murdered her husband, her and her husband got married under her name Devido because he was wanted for murder in Denver during this time and wanted to hide his identity as good as possible. Ardail said that her discovery that she had married a man under an assumed name precipitated the trouble which led to the quarrel and the killing on June 19. Ardail took a gun from a closet in their home and fatally shot her husband. After reading this newspaper article, I now knew that the person she killed was her husband and that it was caused by a fight or argument. I then read the next article that I found in the newspaper archives. This one was titled “Woman Convicted by Stockton Jury”. It said that on July 23 Ardail was convicted of manslaughter in connection with the death of her husband, she faced a maximum of ten years in the state penitentiary. The trial was stopped twice in one day because Ardail could not compose herself after crying on the witness stand. She said the shot was only meant to frighten her husband.
I needed to figure out who her husband was because in all of the articles it just says “Mr. Devido”, not stating his actual name. So, I hopped back over to ancestry and spent hours trying to find out the husband’s name. the first thing I did was type in Ardail Devido’s name again to see if I could find a marriage license or any family members but I found nothing. I then did a broad search, and typed in only “Devido” in the last name place and “San Joaquin, California” for the area, because I knew her husband’s last name was Devido and that is where they lived. The name that popped up was “August Devido”, I clicked on his birth index to make sure it was the correct date, and it said he died on June 11, 1931, which is the day that Ardail shot him, so I knew I found the right person. Then I searched August Devido, and found his World War I draft registration. In the registration, it gave me all of his background information. August Devido was born in Naples, Italy on January 15, 1890, he was a white male and lived in Stockton, San Joaquin, California. All of his documents so far have said he was single, so he must have married her later on in life.
After I found out who Ardail’s husband was, I went back onto the newspaper archive and searched his full name and found three newspaper articles. The first one I read was titled “Woman Shoots Mate, Pleads Self Defense”; it stated that “August Devido, 30, believed by police to be a professional gambler, is dead, and his wife Adelle, 28, is in the county jail facing murder charges as the result of a shooting affray at their home last night.” (Reading this I noticed that they spelled her name “Adelle” instead of “Ardail”, which seemed a little off). The next part of the newspaper said, “August Devido died in the emergency hospital early today with a bullet wound in his stomach. The woman admitted shooting her husband to representatives of the district attorney, claiming she acted in self-defense.” After reading this a couple of times, I realized if she really did want to kill her husband, it would not have been in the stomach, she probably would have aimed for the head, so this made me believe that this was an act of self-defense, or just trying to scare him off like she stated. The next newspaper I saw was titled “Woman who Claims Husband She Shot is Murderer, Held”; it read, “Investigation of the claim of Mrs. August Devido that her husband whom she shot to death a week ago was wanted for murder in Denver, will be made if Denver authorities request, Assistant District Attorney H.C. Stanley said Wednesday. Mrs. Devido refused to clarify her statement made during her arraignment on a charge of murdering her husband. Her attorney, Ben Berry, said he knew little about the Colorado murder angle, stating that Mrs. Devido had given him only general details.” A different newspaper in Helena Montana stated all of that but added, “He said Devido and his wife visited Devido’s parents in Denver two months ago. While their officers called at the parents’ home and Devido hid in the basement. Later, it was disclosed the officers carried liquor search warrants. After they left Mrs. Devido said she questioned her husband why he hid and she said he told her he was wanted for murder and thought the officers were there to arrest him. He disclosed, she said, that his true name was August Branetti.” Obviously in the early 1900’s women were not equal to men so if a woman is on trial, then the jury typically would side with the male. That might be one of the reasons why the attorney did not go forward with her husband’s murder charge.
After reading all of these newspapers, I went onto ancestry again and typed in “Adelle Devido” because that is how they spelled it in one of the articles. A city directory popped up for the name “Adele Devido”, and it had all of the same information as Ardail Devido excepts this one listed her spouse which was “Aug Devido”. I then found the 1930 Federal Census which listed the household members: “August Divido, Adele Divido, and Minnie Styche”; it said Minnie Styche was her mother-in-law. By typing in Ardail’s name a couple of different ways and spellings into ancestry, I finally found her family tree. I discovered that her real name was Ardail A. Lyons and that her actual mother was Minnie Beck. I also saw that she had a total of four husbands including August in her life. Ardail was released from jail on December 29, 1935; so, she was only in jail for 4-5 years. I could not find the year that she died in any documents.
When I first looked at the single document I had on Ardail Devido, there was not much to her. After digging through so many documents and newspapers, I discovered so much. I found out who her husband was and that he also murdered someone; a murderer murdered a murderer. She stated that she was simply afraid of her husband and this was an act of self-defense, she was still found guilty and sentenced ten years in prison, but only ending up staying in prison for five years. I then found her family and her real name, Ardail A. Lyons. She married again after the death of August Devido and ended up having one child.