Oct. 1920 -Madame Stanley’s Sensational Murder Trial

Mike Ondrick and his wife, the famous Madame Stanley of Follansbee, were found guilty of the cold blooded murder of Stephon Galcheck of Pittsburgh. Galcheck was handcuffed and murdered in Follansbee and his body thrown into the river from the Market Street bridge.  Before radio and TV, trials were the soap operas of the day. Hundreds packed the county court room as the trial began.   The main curiosity for the public was Madame Stanley who claimed to have supernatural powers as a clairvoyant. Initially the accused claimed to be not guilty.   The evidence against the man and wife was entirely circumstantial. However, every point needed by the state was made by Prosecutor Robert Ramsey of Follansbee and his able assistant William Willkin.

In his opening statement, Defense attorney Boyce noted that the relationship between Galcheck and Madam Stanley had been more then just friends; they had been lovers.   In a little graveyard in Sewickley (PA) lies the body of a child born to Mary Ellis, now Madame Stanley, and Stephon Galcheck.   Boyce stated that Galcheck opposed her marriage with Mike Ondrick. Galcheck came to Follansbee to see her and gave her money as a loan.   Out of jealousy he gave her a check for $5,000 that could not be cashed and would get her into trouble.

As the trial progressed, sensation after sensation marked its development.  Evidence was introduced tracing the handcuffs to Mike Ondrick when a witness testified that he gave the cuffs to Ondrick a few months before the murder.   Photographs illustrated that the check for $5,000 was forged by Madam Stanley.    Then came evidence from a man who had seen Madam Stanley at Galcheck’s room in Pittsburgh with the dead man’s keys a day after his murder. A streetcar motor man observed Ondrick’s car nearing the Market Street bridge on the eventful night of the murder.

In order to escape the death penalty, both Madame Stanley and her husband changed their plea to guilty. As part of her deal with the prosecuting attorney, Madame Stanley implicated a third person, Hebert Grimm, a Follansbee youth who helped her husband murder Galcheck.  Grimm was later hanged, Mike Ondrick served life in prison, and Madame Stanley got 18 years.

  • Steubenville Herald Star, “First Degree Murder Trial at Wellsburg Draws Great Crowed,” October 27, 1920, front page.