The unusual baby name Dewilla debuted in the baby name data in 1935:
- 1938: unlisted
- 1937: 6 baby girls named Dewilla
- 1936: unlisted
- 1935: 8 baby girls named Dewilla [debut]
- 1934: unlisted
What put it there initially?
A murder that began as a mystery.
On November 24, 1934, the bodies of three slain girls were discovered in the woods near Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The case was dubbed the “babes in the woods” mystery by the press.
After about a week, the police were able to identify the bodies as belonging to sisters Dewilla Noakes (age 10) and Cordelia Noakes (age 8), and their older half-sister Norma Sedgwick (age 12).
They were originally from Roseville, California, and had recently traveled east with their father, Elmo, and his teenage niece, Winifred — both of whom were later found shot to death over 100 miles away in Altoona. Contemporary sources guessed that Elmo and Winifred were on the run because they were in an illicit relationship.
That doesn’t explain how or why the three girls ended up dead in Pennsylvania, though. The assumption is that Elmo suffocated them, but his motive isn’t known for sure. (Perhaps the family was out of money and Elmo didn’t want the girls to starve.)
Do you like the name Dewilla? (How about the names Cordelia and Norma?)
- Babes in the Woods – Digital History – Dickinson College
- “California Clue Links with Death Mystery.” Standard Sentinel [Hazleton, PA] 30 Nov. 1934: 1.
- ‘Tenderly tucked under a blanket:’ The Babes in the Woods found 85 years ago, vintage photos
Image: New York Daily News 2 Dec. 1934: 92.