In August the Griffiths went to the Arcadia Hotel in Santa Monica. Christina Griffith hoped a month in the Presidential Suite overlooking the palisades would help her husband unwind. But the colonel's strange behavior intensified. Waitresses said he switched his food and drink with his wife's. You never know if someone's trying to poison you, he told them. They chalked it up to a strange sense of humor.
But the last day of the Griffiths' vacation was about as unfunny as things get. Christina Griffith was addressing a few last postcards and beginning to gather her things. Her husband entered the room with a prayer book in one hand and a revolver in the other. Unfortunately, he handed her the prayer book.
She was on her knees when the colonel aimed and fired. Christina Griffith jerked her head at the last minute. That saved her life. She hurled herself out a window, landed on an awning below, and crawled to safety through another window. One author who attended Col. Griffith's trial called Christina Griffith "the society wife who wouldn't die."Christina Mesmer wasn't just rich, she was also dignified and respected. Somehow she agreed to become Mrs. Griffith. One account claims the colonel hired a hack writer to compose a love poem and then had it published in a local newspaper, but only after protracted negotiations over the advertising rate.
They remained married for 16 years. Then in 1903 things went tragically haywire. Although the colonel was richer and more powerful than ever, he was also terribly nervous and edgy, his wife later testified. He compulsively bit his nails, his manicurist said. And he was a sneak drinker, his lawyer said, privately putting away two quarts of whiskey a day while publicly aligning himself with the city's strong temperance movement.