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Henry Francis first met Elizabeth Collins during her college years in the early 1940s. The two began a brief romance with one another that ended shortly before Elizabeth graduated.
Henry always perpetuated an image of austere aristocracy, but in truth, he was a pauper – desperately pretending to be something that he wasn’t. He managed to cultivate a circle of rich friends who were more than willing to help finance aspects of Henry’s rich lifestyle. This behavior continued well into adult hood and Henry became an accomplished, (if unscrupulous) confidence artist.
By the 1960s, he married a young, red-haired woman named Rachel, whom he had actually passed her off as his own daughter. Henry and Rachel embarked upon a scheme that promised to earn them lots of money. They kidnapped a rich, heiress named Grace Fontaine in Philadelphia and fled with her to Maine. Henry kept Grace perpetually insensate through the administration of drugs, and created for her, the alias of his invalid daughter, Dorothy.
In June of 1966, Henry and Rachel brought Dorothy to Collinwood. He introduced her as his second daughter, and stated that she was recuperating from a post-operative brain surgery. Elizabeth, still somewhat smitten by the dashing Henry Francis, agreed to allow Dorothy to convalesce at Collinwood. Henry knew that Elizabeth abhorred outside interference, and felt that Collinwood would serve as a quiet safe haven, while he continued to blackmail the Fontaine family for money.
During this time, Collinwood’s governess, Victoria Winters, believed that she had been seeing visions of the ghost of a woman named Stella Hastings. Her curiosity frequently brought her into Henry Francis’ affairs, and he began to worry that Vickie might eventually discover their scheme. Henry and Rachel made several attempts on Vickie’s life and played up the story of Stella’s ghost so that others would come to believe that Vickie merely suffered from fanciful delusion. This plan worked for a short while, but Vickie eventually discovered the Francis’s great secret.
Henry Francis chased Victoria out of Collinwood and down to the docks where Roger Collins kept his boat. He planned on finishing Vickie off for good, but the timely arrival of a man named Paul Caine changed all of that. Paul was an undercover police officer from Philadelphia who had been tracking Henry Francis on suspicion of a series of silk stocking murders. Henry shot Paul in the shoulder, but Paul fired back, delivering a fatal gunshot wound to Henry’s chest.
- The character of Henry Francis is exclusive to the Paperback Library novels. He has never appeared on the original Dark Shadows television series.
- It is suggested that Henry Francis may have been responsible for three silk stocking strangulation murders in Philadelphia. The motivations behind these crimes however, are never revealed.
- When Henry first arrives at Collinwood, he introduces himself as a retired stockbroker. This is a lie and merely another way of winning Elizabeth’s trust. Henry was never a stockbroker.