An Unexpected Christmas Gift

On January 1, 1930, members of Naomi Hall Brady’s extended family gathered around to watch 18-year-old Naomi unwrap a just-delivered Christmas gift.

Although it was the start of the New Year, the package had only made its way to the home after a neighbor brought it by; it had been mistakenly left on the neighbor’s porch a few days prior.

Curious about the gift, Naomi’s brothers, sisters, mother and grandmother joined her in the kitchen of the Halls’ Seat Pleasant home (Prince George’s County) to see what was inside. A news report from International News Service later described the package looking “as if it might contain candy” and “wrapped in brown paper and had Christmas seals and Yuletide greetings pasted on it.”

But it didn’t contain candy. Inside the package addressed to Mrs. Naomi Hall was dynamite, nails and metal.

As Naomi opened the festively wrapped box, it exploded.

Everyone in the kitchen was injured by the blast. Naomi was rushed to a hospital and died shortly after arrival. Her 4-year-old sister Dorothy and her 19-month-old brother Samuel were also killed from the explosion. The force of the blast was so strong that it “blew [Naomi’s] grandmother into an adjoining room,” according to The News, and caused Naomi’s mother, Nora Hall, to lose the sight in one of her eyes.

A little more than a week after the explosion, authorities had arrested a suspect: Leroy Brady, the brother of Naomi’s husband.

Naomi had secretly married her beau, Herman Brady, in August 1929, and had only made the marriage public a few days before the blast. Several news reports stated that Naomi was “an expectant mother.”

At the time of the blast, Herman told authorities that he was looking for a house for his new family.

Later, Nora Hall testified that “Naomi and Herman had been ‘going together’ since childhood and that he was her only ‘boy friend.'”

But that wasn’t what state prosecutors were contending. “The State charged that Leroy had been intimate with Naomi Hall before she married Herman and had constructed and dispatched the bomb,” according to Associated Press (AP) reports in Maryland papers. Later that year, Leroy was tried for the murder of Naomi Brady, resulting in a hung jury.

During Leroy’s second trial, special prosecutor J. Wilson Ryon again introduced the motive for the murder. According to AP news coverage of the second trial, Ryon said that “Leroy had been intimate with Herman’s secret bride of a few months before her marriage, a fact that Herman did not know until afterward.”

Leroy Brady was convicted of manslaughter in February 1931 and sentenced to 10 years in the Maryland Penitentiary.

Herman had also been charged for the murder of his new wife, but those charges were ultimately dropped due to a lack of evidence.

In January 1932, two years after the bombing, 17 sticks of dynamite were found in the ceiling of the auto garage where Leroy worked as a mechanic. The dynamite was wrapped in newspapers around the time of the bombing, according to news reports.

Sources: The Evening Review, January 2, 1930; The Sedalia Democrat, January 2, 1930; The News (Frederick), April 5, 1930; Cumberland Evening Times, June 6, 1930 and January 27, 1931; Morning Herald, February 14, 1931 and January 21 1932.

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