The Return of the Hobo Heiress

The adventures of Runaway Heiress Laura Louisa Fletcher did not end after her disappearance in 1920. Her tragic life continued to entertain readers from coast to coast.

A young woman admires her face in a mirror. Cosmopolitan Magazine Cover.
A young woman admires her face in a mirror. Cosmopolitan Magazine Cover.
Cosmopolitan Magazine Cover. Public domain; Karen Arnold/

Suicide and Bankruptcy

After Louisa’s Massachusetts’ escapade, the family managed to stay out of the newspapers for seven months. But in March 1921, the Fletcher name again sold papers across the country.


The shock of the double-suicide had scarcely abated before fresh troubles arose for the Fletcher family. Before his wife’s death, Louisa’s father, Stoughton Fletcher II, had enjoyed a pleasant life. He ran the bank he had inherited from his father; he bred champion race horses in his Indianapolis stables.

The Count and the Heiress

Spring 1925. Louisa’s friends thought a European trip might take her mind off her troubles. They persuaded the ex-heiress to join them on a tour of Germany. While in Berlin, she met 24 year old Count Ernst Gottfried von Schmettow of Berlin. Captivated by Louisa’s beauty and vivacity, the young count proposed. A cable from Berlin announced an imminent marriage.

The RMS Berengaria
The RMS Berengaria
The RMS Berengaria. Public Domain,

Louisa and the “Lady”

After a couple of years of quiet obscurity, Louisa reappeared in the national press. She had moved to Los Angeles to live with her brother, Stoughton III, who was trying to launch an acting career. In January 1927, Los Angeles County Sheriff Deputies arrested Louisa and her friend, Ruth Miles. The pair were charged with assault and battery.

The Sad End of the Hobo Heiress

After her brush with “Lady Diana,” few days remained for the hobo heiress. In mid-July 1927, newspapers from Honolulu to Miami announced the death of Laura Louisa Fletcher. She died, July 18, in Los Angeles “from the ravages of a lingering illness.” Her father, Stoughton Fletcher, had her body returned to Indianapolis and interred in the city’s Crown Hill Cemetery.

Author and history professor. Excavating the past for fun and profit. Web-site:

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