Lent in the Newspapers
In August of 1853, the Pittsfield Sun reported an accident involving Theodore Lent and several women. The party had been staying at Lee, a tourist destination in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts, and were traveling to New Lebanon, NY to attend a Shaker meeting. Lent lost control of the horses while descending on a steep mountain road and the carriage overturned. Passengers included "Mrs. S.E. Lent, Mrs. G. K. Marcher, Miss Kate Marcher, Mrs. Huberton, Miss Emma Lent and Miss Emma Staats." Though the passengers all sustained injuries, the article indicates that none were fatal.
This article is not the first one that mentions Lent. In 1848, a series of articles outlines conflicts between the Hatfields and Lent (who in one story is identified as the clerk for Hatfield, a plumber). On October 11, Lent is taken into custody when his employer F. B. Hatfield accuses him of using money collected in Hatfield's behalf. In December, Lent is accused of offering a note in the name of Theodore Hatfield to pay for a watch. He also used the name James Lentell when he signed the note over to the Christian Pfieffer. Several months later, Lent sues Elias Hatfield over the contents of a store on Broadway. Clearly, Lent and the Hatfields had a difficult relationship. At this point, Lent would have been approximately 22. Thus, very early, Lent was involved in controversy.
By 1852, Lent is identified as an auctioneer in newspaper advertisements. A typical ad from September 14, 1852 lists furniture that Lent wil auction at 10:30 that day. Similarly, on April 20, 1853, Lent advertised that he would be auctioning "the fixtures of a barroom and oyster saloon." Throughout the next few years, advertisements occasionally appear for Lent's auctions.
Although these advertisements make it appear that Lent had become a legitimate businessman, a series of legal notices reveal that his corrupt practices continued. In 1853, Lent was involved in a conflict that involved accusations of fraud and prostitution. It seems that Lent was arrested on a charge involving Bertha Juratreke. Juratreke had leased a house at 74 Mercer Street from Lent earlier that year with an agreement that involved her paying $1000 for the furniture contained therein. However, Lent did not have the right to lease it and, furthermore, Juratreke argued that the furniture was only worth $500. D. H. Haight, the actual owner of the property, notified Juratreke that she would need to vacate the premises by a certain date. It also came out in a neighbor's complaint that Juratreke ran "a house of ill fame" on the site in question. Later that same year, Lent seems to have done the same thing at 371 Fourth Street, leasing a house to Sarah Burke who "kept a disorderly house and a common resort for the purpose of prostitution."
In these articles, Lent comes across as a young man willing to cut corners and become involved in disreputable business dealings. Moreover, his involvement in two different brothels brings up the very real possibility that his dealings with Pastrana reflected his experience with sex trafficking.