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Winifred Ray was a popular Broadway stage performer in the early 1900s. She was commonly referred to as a Ziegfried Beauty. She met a wealthy theatre investor named Henry Collins. The two fell madly in love with one another despite the fact that Henry was already married. Henry's wife was an invalid however and he was unable to maintain any passion with her. Winifred and Henry continued their secret trysts for several years. During that time however, Winifred began having an affair with another man. She sired a child with this stranger, but the infant died minutes after it had been born.
On October 31st, 1916, Winifred stopped at Henry's hotel suite at the Ritz Hampton Hotel on her way to a Halloween party at the Madison Square Roof. She was dressed as a gypsy girl and visited Henry under the pretence of showing off her costume. Winifred was inebriated and gloated to Henry concerning the fact that she had been having an affair. She also told him of the child she gave birth to (she neglected to reveal that the child had died however). Enraged by her betrayal, Henry harshly slapped her across the face. Winifred grabbed a letter opener and tried to stab him, but Henry reacted in self-defence and strangled the drunken girl to death. After which, his assistant Benjamin Willard and he sneaked Winifred's body down the back steps of the hotel and left her body in an abandoned lot.
On November 1st 1916, she was reported missing. The local tabloids sensationalized the spectacle and her affair with Henry Collins became front-page news. Some reporters speculated that the hansom cab driver may have murdered her, while others pointed the finger of blame directly at Henry Collins. Conveniently, the hansom cab driver was killed in an accident that same night, so it was easy enough for Henry to allow the authorities to believe that the driver had killed Winifred shortly before the accident.
On December 19th, Winifred's remains were found in the vacant lot. Despite her betrayal, Henry Collins was overcome with grief and spent the rest of his life morning for his one true love.
- Victoria Winters bore an uncanny resemblance to Winifred Ray.
- Winifred Ray owned a set of exquisite emerald jewellery that Henry had given her. Years after her death, Henry gave Winifred’s jewels to Victoria Winters.
- Jack and Molly Willard staged a hoax in which they tried to make Victoria Winters believe that the ghost of Winifred Ray haunted Collins House.
Strangers at Collins House (referenced only)