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Belva Gaertner

Belva Gaertner, American murderess.

On March 11, 1924, Belva Gaertner, a twice-divorced cabaret singer, shot and killed her lover Walter Law (a married man with one child). Law was found sprawled out dead in the front seat of Belva's car, a bottle of gin and a gun with three shots fired lying beside him: Belva, found at her apartment, with blood-soaked clothes on the floor, confessed that she was drunk, was driving with Law, but couldn't remember what happened. Belva was arrested for the murder of Walter Law in Chicago on March 12, 1924, and admitted drinking with Walter Law at various bars and jazz houses, saying she carried a gun for fear of robbers. One of Law's co-workers testified that Law had confided that Gaertner was a possessive lover who had threatened him with a knife when he tried to leave her, and that Law believed she would kill him one day.

Maurine Dallas Watkins covered the story: Belva told her "No woman can love a man enough to kill him. They aren't worth it, because there are always plenty more. Walter was just a kid - 29 and I'm 38. Why should I have worried whether he loved me or whether he left me? Gin and guns - either one is bad enough, but together they get you in a dickens of a mess, don't they?" Belva Gaertner was defended by William Scott Stewart.

Belva's defence was that Law might have killed himself: she was acquitted in June 1924, and remarried her second husband, William Gaertner, a wealthy industrialist. She was convicted of drunk driving in November 1926. By 1930, she and Gaertner had moved to Europe. Her ultimate fate and date of death are unknown.

She attended the 1927 opening of Watkins's play Chicago in Chicago, Illinois.