The Murder of Mary Nugent In January of 1903 a villainous, non sensible murder occurred against a well to do young socialite of the Pajaro Valley area in Watsonville, South County Santa Cruz. The infamous occurrence resulted in the formation of a posse of upward of 100 men, who descended upon the home to apprehend the crazed assailant, who viciously murdered 22 year old Mary Nugent, daughter of Annie and Lawrence Nugent. The following is what transpired.
The awful crime occurred at 10:30 am on January 28 of 1903. Young Miss. Mary Nugent was in the kitchen of her beautiful Queen Ann Victorian style home, built by William Weeks. She was in her kitchen humming a friendly tune, the smell of warm bread baking in the oven filled the air, as she completed cleaning the morning dishes - all the while day dreaming about a potential suitor who she desired to see before the day’s end. The young maiden had not a worry in the world…until, John F. Brady, cousin to Miss. Nugent, drunkenly entered through the back porch into the kitchen nook demanding the sum of $50.00 from the young miss.
The young socialite told Brady she had given him more than enough money, as this was not the first time that he had demanded funds from her, and insisted she did not have any more to give him. Angry with her refusal, he once again demanded she give him $50.00 and again Miss. Nugent refused his demands. Furious with her response the depraved relative, pulled out his gun and with both barrel’s fired upon the young lass hitting her in the stomach, she fell where she lay, bleeding profusely from the gut.
Meanwhile, another young lady who was upstairs over saw the horrific assault and snuck out an adjacent door undetected from the crazed killer – running to nearby neighbor Mr. Tuttle – who swiftly took action and came to the aid of Miss. Nugent, loading her in a carriage and having neighbors send her to the closest sanitarium for medical assistance. Word of the shooting quickly reached the local constable and a posse was formed and descended upon the Nugent home, as the assailant took refuge in an upstairs room, while attempting to ransack the premises, the crazed man failed to make haste to escape. While the armed posse of men surrounded the Nugent home, the constable demanded that Brady surrender himself. The gunman shouted back “ Leave $150.00 on the front porch and I will surrender!” - Believing this to be a ruse and that the first man who would ascend upon the porch would likely be shot, the posse open fired upon the Nugent house, riddling it with bullets..
The elusive Brady took refuge in the upstairs hallway, the home still surrounded by 50 to 100 armed men. Constable Corr, entered the front of the home, once again, demanding for Brady to surrender, however, instead Brady opened fire, the shots entering the constables vest, but no flesh wound was evident. Once again, the posse opened fire, upward of 70 shots were fired at Brady. One of the posse, William Valencia, who was directly behind constable Corr, aimed and opened fire upon Brady, catching him in the neck. Brady fell and was immediately apprehended – his hands cuffed behind him as he was dragged off for medical attention. He died on the way to the sanitarium.
As for young Miss. Nugent she clung to life until 3:00 pm this same afternoon, in a precarious state, her painful wounds to grave to recover.
The infamous scandal and shooting are still evident to this day. Although the Nugent home was dismantled and moved from its original location decades after the dastardly deed, the home still harbors the original wood work of the infamous shooting with bullets and bullet holes embedded in the wood from where Brady had taken refuge.
The previous owners although uncertain if the home is haunted, had made mention that they occasionally heard unusual noises within the home, making one wonder, if in fact the disembodied spirit of either John F. Brady or perhaps Mary Nugent still wander the premises.