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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Murder Quickly Avenged.

George Lear, an ex-prize fighter living in Altman, Colorado, had a bone to pick with Irene Good, a pretty barmaid at the Branch Saloon on Bull Mountain, Cripple Creek, Colorado. On November 15, 1893, Lear came to the door of the saloon and called for Irene. She went out and soon after, bartender Sam James heard her screaming. James ran outside and found that Lear had knocked Irene down and run away.

Later, Lear came back and entered the rear door of the saloon, he went into the barroom and began shooting. Irene Good, who had come from behind the bar, fell to the floor and cried, “I am killed.” Sam James then emptied his revolver into George Lear. Though seriously wounded, Lear walked to where Irene was lying, shot her through the temple, then fell dead across her body.

It is not clear what Irene Good had done to enrage George Lear.

“Murder Quickly Avenged,” Muskegon Chronicle, November 17, 1893.
“A Pretty Barmaid Murdered,” National Police Gazette, December 9, 1893.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

A Duel in the Bedroom.

Will Shinall ran a small store and bar in Hackletown, Georgia, a suburb of Augusta. In the backrooms of the store, he resided with his wife and eight-year-old son. Shinall had business interests in Beaufort, South Carolina and would often travel there and stay overnight. When he was out of town, Shinall left his young clerk and bartender, Batty Buck to manage the store. Though not yet twenty years old, Buck was an honest and enthusiastic employee and Shinall had no qualms about leaving him in charge of the business.

But Shinall’s trust had been misplaced; rumors spread through Hackletown that in his employer’s absence, Batty Buck was taking charge of more than just the business— he was sharing the bed of Mrs. Shinall, ten years his senior. Either Will Shinall had heard the rumors and he had observed suspicious behavior in his wife and his clerk, so he decided to set a trap for them.

The afternoon of September 11, 1896, Shinall let everyone know that he was leaving for Beaufort and would be staying overnight. He did not go to Beaufort, he stayed in town until midnight then, armed with a revolver, he crept into the backyard and peeked through the bedroom window. Sure enough, there was Batty Buck in bed with his wife.

Shinall grabbed an axe handle lying nearby, smashed the window and rushed into the room, pistol in hand. Buck jumped out of bed in his nightclothes and grabbed his own pistol. Within arms reach of each other, the men began repeatedly firing, while Mrs. Shinall sat cowering in the corner. It was reported that the shots could be heard for miles. In the struggle, both men ended up outside the bedroom window.

Marshal George Heckle, who lived across the street, found Will Shinall's body covered with blood, lying outside the bedroom window. Before dying Shinall had emptied his pistol into Buck who lay on the ground nearby with five bullets in his body but still alive. He was carried to his home but was expected to die soon.

Batty Buck was extraordinarily lucky and managed to live through the effects of the shooting. His luck was still holding that November when his case when to trial and the jury found him not guilty of murder.

“Abbreviated Telegrams,” Daily Telegram, September 14, 1896.
“Batty Buck Not Guilty,” Columbus Daily Enquirer, November 25, 1896.
“Batty Buck's Luck,” State, November 25, 1896.
“Fought a Duel in the Bedroom,” National Police Gazette, October 3, 1896.
“Husband Shot Dead,” Baltimore Sun, September 15, 1896.
“Wire Whispers,” Indianapolis Sun, September 12, 1896.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Professional Poisoners.

Dr. and Mrs. Henry Meyer used a dazzling array of aliases to stay one step ahead of detectives as they moved from city to city engaging in lethal insurance fraud. It was their livelihood; they were professional poisoners.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

A Kentucky Courtship.

Tom Moore had been courting the daughter of Bud Reynolds, a well-known distiller of Prestonsburg, Kentucky, against the wishes of the old man. On October 29, 1896, Moore walked into town and told his friends that before nightfall he intended to either marry his sweetheart or kill her father. He did not marry his sweetheart.

Moore went to her home and found Bud Reynolds waiting with a loaded pistol. Moore was armed as well and they exchanged shots. After the first volley the men grappled, fighting hand to hand, each still holding his revolver and trying to fire at his opponent. Both men drew blood, but Tom Moore did the most damage. He got to his feet, finished off Bud Reynolds with one shot, and fled to the hills.

Public sentiment was strongly against Moore, and a $500 reward was offered for his capture. Though he was terribly wounded, Tom Moore managed evade capture for several days. Deputy U.S. Marshal Kid Green and Deputy Clark caught him sleeping on a mountain in Pike County and took him to Pike Jail. For his own safety he was not taken back to Prestonsburg. 

“More News Notes,” Interior Journal, November 3, 1896.
“Murderer Moore,” Kentucky Post, November 6, 1896.
“Only a Kentucky Courtship,” National Police Gazette, November 28, 1896.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

A Maniac's Deed.

For several weeks in November 1892, Herman Siegler had been depressed and melancholy. Siegler was a wood carver employed by Wolf Bros. of West Erie Street, Chicago and was known as a man of good disposition who had, to all appearances, a happy domestic life. He and his wife Emilia had been married for eleven years and had three children, the oldest was 10-years-old and the youngest just a few months old. None of his family or friends could explain his recent depression.

The Sieglers lived on the first floor of a house on North Paulina Street and Emilia’s parents, Heinrich and Caroline Siels, lived in the upper story. The morning of November 20, as Caroline Siels walked down the stairs she said “Good morning” to Herman. He responded by raising a shotgun to his shoulder and firing one barrel at her. Caroline’s head was nearly blown off, and her dead body rolled the rest of the way downstairs.

Emilia ran into the room to see what the trouble was, just as her father came running down the stairs. Siegler raised the gun again and fired at Mr. Siels. The shot tore off one of his arms and lodged portions of the shot in his neck and chest. Some of the shot hit his wife, wounding her left ear, arm and breast.

The old man did not die immediately; as Siegler was reloading the shotgun, Siels ran outside to a neighbor’s house. He was taken in and laid on the floor, but he died soon after. Emilia gathered up the youngest two children in her arms and with the oldest clinging to her skirts, she too ran from the house and took refuge at a neighbor’s. 

By this time, neighbors had been attracted by the noise of the shooting and the congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Bethlehem – between 1,200 and 1,500 people – were exiting the church. A crowd gathered in front of the Siegler’s house and someone called for a patrol wagon. 

Two policemen arrived and officer Simonson went inside and tried to arrest Siegler, but when Siegler raised the gun Simonsen turned and ran back out. Siegler followed him out and when he threw the door open wide the people who had gathered out front fell back. Officer Simonson drew his revolver and ordered Siegler to surrender. Siegler replied by firing again, this time the shot went high and injured no one. Simonson fired back hitting Siegler in his right side. Siegler went back inside and the officers waited for reinforcements. 

Another patrol wagon arrived and the officers approached the house. Officer Donaghue knocked on the door but got no response. Just as he moved his hand away, the door was shattered by a shot from inside. Siegler had put the muzzle of the gun against the door and blown a two-foot hole through one of the panels. As this transpired, Officer McCarthy entered the back of the house and got the drop on Siegler. McCarthy disarmed him and led him out of the house. 

Outside the house, men in the crowd had drawn their own revolvers and were hoping to punish Siegler before the police could take him away. Others landed punches on Siegler until the officers had hin safely inside the wagon. The horses were whipped into a gallop and Siegler was taken to the West Chicago Avenue Station. 

When Siegler had been subdued and was calm enough to speak he dictated and signed the following statement:
About 8:30 o’clock this morning I went to my brother’s house, William Siegler, at No. 832 North Hoyne Avenue, for to get a gun. As I was told by our Lord up above to go and get a gun, I did it. I was born to release this country. The Lord said to me: ‘To-day is the day of judgment, and you’ve got to be there.’ I brought the gun and put it in the closet and after a while, I took it out. Then my mother-in-law came downstairs. She is a witch. She said to me, ‘You’ve got to die,’ and I said, ‘I will not go where you want to send me.’ I shot her in the hall. I then came downstairs and I was confused. I fired at my father-in-law and shot him. I then went out on the steps and the patrol wagons came up. Then I was confused altogether. I belong to the Plattdeuische Guilde and the Red Men. I have been sick and have had trouble. 

“His Fearful Crime.,” Daily Inter Ocean, November 21, 1892.
“A Maniac's Deed,” National Police Gazette, December 10, 1892.
“Seigher Taken to Jail,” Daily Inter Ocean, December 9, 1892.
“Siegler's Awful Crime,” Evansville Courier and Press, November 21, 1892.
“A Terrible Tragedy,” Cleveland Leader, November 21, 1892.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

A Newark Wife Murder.

John Chisholm
Lottie Chisholm left her husband John and, taking their two children, went to stay at her parents’ home in Newark, New Jersey. John had a history of abusing his wife and this time she planned to file a formal complaint. The afternoon of June 23, 1883, John Chisholm went to his in-laws’ house to get his wife and children back. He saw Lottie at a rear bedroom window, sitting with her sister Ella at a sewing machine. According to Ella, John grabbed Lottie through the open window as Ella moved away.

“So, you have been making a complaint against me!” John Said, “I’ll fix you.”

Ella heard Lottie say, “O, Ella, he has got a pistol.”

What happened next is uncertain. Ella said that John raised the pistol and fired at her sister. He put the pistol back in his pocket and ran from the yard. Lottie staggered outside the died a few minutes later.

John Chisholm said that the shot had been accidental. He had gone to his in-laws’ house to peacefully retrieve his wife and children; he carried the pistol because Lottie’s father, James Macomber, had previously threatened him with bodily harm. The pistol was in his pocket but the pocket was torn and Lottie saw it.

In his version, Lottie said, “John, you would not use that?”

“Lottie, you know I would not hurt you,” he replied.

He pulled the pistol from his pocket, Lottie grabbed it, and in the scuffle, the pistol went off and the shot killed her.

A meddling mother-in-law was the cause of all their marital problems, John testified. The couple had married three years earlier against the wishes of Lottie’s parents. He was 27-years-old and she was 20; the Macombers opposed the marriage because of John’s shiftless habits and bad character. The couple eloped and married in secret.

Though they had two little daughters, Lottie and Lillie, the marriage had not been a happy one. The Macombers had been right about John’s character, he had a drinking problem. He had worked as a foreman at a company run by his father but his father had fired him for drunkenness. Several witnesses testified that when he was drunk, John became violent and would beat his wife. During one savage struggle, he tore a ring from his wife’s finger and pawned it for beer money.

In his trial, John Chisholm stuck to the story that the shot had been accidental. It was Lottie’s mother that he hated, not Lottie. “I would not shoot the woman I loved and let the woman I hate pass me.”

But the evidence did not bear him out. A deputy sheriff testified that Chisholm’s pistol cocked very hard and the trigger was stiff. The gun would not fire unless the hammer was partly raised by hand, accidental discharge was impossible. The jury deliberated for five hours then returned a verdict of murder in the first degree. John Chisholm was sentenced to hang.

On November 22, 1883, John Chisholm walked stolidly to the gallows holding a crucifix and accompanied by fathers Toomey and Connolly. At 10:10 the trap was sprung, and twenty-two minutes later Chisholm was pronounced dead from strangulation.

In his will, John Chisholm requested that custody of his children be given to his parents. The Macombers, who had been caring for the girls since the murder, planned to challenge the will.

“[John Chisholm; Newark, N. J.; Mr. Chisholm],” Springfield Republican, October 6, 1883. “Blaming His Mother- in-Law,” New York Herald, October 5, 1883.
“The Chisholm Murder Trial. ,” New York Tribune, October 6, 1883.
“Chisholm to Hang in November,” Trenton Evening Times, October 16, 1883.
“Chisholm's Children,” New York Herald, November 26, 1883.
“Hanged For Murdering His Wife,” New York Tribune, November 23, 1883.
“Hanged,” Kansas City Star, November 22, 1883.
“A Mother-in-Law and Evil Ways ,” New York Herald, October 6, 1883.
“A Murderer's Doom,” National Police Gazette, December 8, 1883.
“Murder in the First Degree,” New York Herald, October 7, 1883.
“Murdered Lottie Chisholm,” Truth, June 28, 1883.
“The Newark Wife Murder,” New York Herald, June 27, 1883.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

A Peculiar Affair.

Mrs. Fanny Bennett excitedly knocked on the door of Charles Bates, the morning of September 10, 1896. Mrs. Bennett, a widow who lived about a mile away in Troupsburg, New York, had come to tell him about an attempted assault at her house at around midnight the previous night. She said that a man entered the window of the bedroom she shared with her 14-year-old daughter, grabbed her by the hand and said: “Lie down there or I will kill you.”

Mrs. Bennett grabbed a revolver and shot him twice. Bleeding profusely, the man snatched the pistol from her then left the same way he came in. Fearing another attack, Mrs. Bennett and her daughter barred all the doors and windows and stayed up until morning. The intruder had been another of their neighbors, Leonard Wilkinson; Mrs. Bennett had recognized him right away.

C. Leonard Wilkinson was a well-to-do, 38-year-old farmer with a wife and children who, hitherto, had a good reputation. When he left his house that night, Wilkinson told his wife he was going to Wellsville to buy a part for a threshing machine. His body was found the next day in a ravine across the road from the Bennett house. A trail of blood led from the house to the body.

Later that day Mrs. Bennett revised her story. She said that Wilkinson had not come through the window, but came to the front door demanding admittance. She refused, he forced his way in, and in the scuffle that followed she shot him twice. The police believed that the motive had been robbery, not assault, but both crimes were out of character for Leonard Wilkinson. Mrs. Bennett was arrested, but apparently, she was never charged in Wilkinson’s death.

The Alleghany County Reporter summed up the situation: “Why he entered Mrs. Bennett’s house and many mysterious circumstances probably will never be cleared up.”

“An Assailant Caught.,” Scranton Tribune, September 11, 1896.
“A Dastard Fatally Shot,” Springfield Republican, September 11, 1896.
“For Her Honor,” National Police Gazette, October 3, 1896.
“Intruder Killed,” Lowell Sun, September 11, 1896.
“On His Way to Wellsville,” Allegany County Reporter, September 22, 1896.
“Widow Bennett's Victim,” Middletown Daily Argus, September 11, 1896.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Williamsburg Stabbing Affray.

The night ended in a melee at Henry Shear’s lager-beer saloon in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn on January 6, 1868, and Henry Shear himself was fatally stabbed. There were two versions of how this tragedy occurred. It was first reported that Otto Schade had come into the saloon for beer but had no money. Shear, being an amiable young man, told Schade he was welcome to all the beer he wanted and could pay later. Schade took full advantage of this offer and “while in a hilarious state” decided to show the other patrons some card tricks. Not everyone enjoyed the show, and someone knocked the cards from Schade’s hands. Schade took umbrage at this, a fight ensued and Schade was roughly handled. Henry Shear intervened and tried to make peace, but Schade had drawn has jackknife and was swinging wildly. Unable to distinguish friend from foe he plunged the knife into Shear’s left breast. As soon as he could, Schade left the saloon, unaware of what he had done.

Shear was taken to a nearby drugstore and a surgeon was called to treat him, but the wound was too severe to repair. Henry Shear lingered for a few hours and expired sometime after 3:00 a.m. Officers proceeded to Otto Schade’s house and found him in bed with the bloody knife sitting on the bedstead. Shocked to hear what he had done, Schade said it had been in self-defense.

Other patrons of Henry Shear’s saloon told a different story. Otto Schade had not been invited to drink on credit that night and the brawl broke out when Shear asked him to settle his bar tab and Schade refused. As Shear attempted to forcibly evict him from the saloon, Schade deliberately stabbed him in the chest and ran.

At the inquest that followed, the coroner’s jury believed the second story and Otto Schade was indicted for murder. Schade was tried the following March by the Kings County Court of Oyer and Terminer. He pled not guilty, claiming self-defense, but the jury found him guilty of manslaughter in the third-degree. He was sentenced to three years and six months at Sing Sing prison.

“Brooklyn,” World, March 24, 1868.
“Carnival of Crime,” Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, January 25, 1868.
“The Court of Oyer and Terminer,” World, January 25, 1868.
“Fatal Stabbing Affray in Williamsburg,” World, January 6, 1868.
“Miscellaneous,” New York Herald, March 25, 1868.
“Murder of a Saloon-Keeper in Williamsburgh,” New York Tribune, January 6, 1868.
“The Murder of Henry Shear,” New York Herald, January 8, 1868.
“Williamsburg,” World, January 7, 1868.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Margaret Howard.

Margaret Howard.
Mrs. Lavinia Wolf, who ran a boardinghouse in Cincinnati, was working in the kitchen on the afternoon of February 2, 1849, when Mary Ellen Howard, one of her boarders rushed in from the hall, gasping for breath. Her hands were on her throat as blood gushed over them.

“Mrs. Wolf,” she said weakly, then fell to the floor and said nothing else.

Mrs. Wolf called for Captain John Howard, who she believed to be the woman’s husband. Howard ran downstairs and knelt over the dying woman saying, “Mary, Mary, who did it? Tell me quick, I’m a ruined man.” When he realized that she would not recover he said, “I know the murderer.” Then ran upstairs to get his knife.

Not far from the Wolf house, attorney John L. Scott saw a woman he knew hurrying down the street. It was Margaret Howard, one of his legal clients. Several years earlier he had helped Mrs. Howard prepare divorce papers, but in the end, the divorce had not taken place. When he passed her on the street she appeared extremely disturbed, he thought she hadn’t recognized him, but she turned and called to him.

“Mr. Scott, do you think I can make anything out of Howard?”

Bewildered, Scott said, “No, why do you ask me this question?”

She raised her cloak and showed him she was holding a bloody knife, and her arm was covered with blood up to the elbow. “Because there is the heart’s blood of the wretch who has been living with Howard and keeping me from my children.”

The murdered woman was named Mary Ellen Smith but she had been calling herself Mary Ellen Howard, wife of Captain Howard. The murderess was Captain Howard’s legal wife, Margaret Howard.

Margaret Howard was born Margaret Seely in Dunham, Quebec, in 1826 and had endured a somewhat unstable upbringing. Her mother died when Margaret was nine years old, and she was sent to live with an aunt in Ohio. When her father remarried, he came and got Margaret but soon after sent her to boarding school in Peoria.

While living in Peoria, she met Captain John Howard and fell in love. He persuaded her to marry him and in 1841 they eloped to Cincinnati. She was 15-years-old, and he was at least eight years older.

In Cincinnati, they lived in poverty in a cheap Front Street hotel. She learned that Captain Howard was a professional gambler, and learned first hand the insecurities of that occupation. He was not really a captain, in 1833 he was a bartender on a steamboat and when he boat became grounded on a sandbar, and the captain and officers went for help, leaving Howard in command. He gave up his command soon after but decided to keep the title of Captain.

Howard always had a wicked temper and after the birth of their son in 1842, he began beating his wife. He called her a damned whore and brandishing a bowie knife, threatened to kill her. Eighteen months later they had a daughter, but Howard’s temper had gotten worse and Margaret found his treatment of her intolerable. She took the children and went back to her family.

John and Margaret agreed to a final separation; he gave her $500 cash and a $500 note that he knew was worthless, left her with the children and what little furniture they had. Margaret moved to Cleveland with her sister and opened a boardinghouse.

Soon after, Captain Howard decided that he missed Margaret and wanted her back. He promised to change his ways and begged her to return to Cincinnati. She relented and went back to him.

But he did not change. From then on there was nothing for Margaret but suffering, sickness, destitution and mental alienation. Finally, she left him again and went to live in a boardinghouse. She lived on what she could earn sewing and begging and fed the children on scraps from the landlady’s table. While she was living there, Howard stole her children and took them to Kentucky.

She chased after them and managed to get them back through legal means. Back in Cincinnati, she and the children moved from room to room trying to hide from Howard, but he would always find them. One at a time, he kidnapped the children again.

Howard continued to dog her, spreading rumors that Margaret was a fallen woman, ruining her reputation. Meanwhile, he had moved into a boardinghouse with Mary Ellen Smith and she was posing as his wife and raising the children.

Someone at Margaret Howard’s new lodging challenged her identity saying, “Are you Howard’s wife or do you only pretend to be? Are you the woman I saw mentioned in the paper the other day as having a fuss about some children?” Margaret said the reference to her children set her brain on fire. She brooded about the children as she worked that day and after work, she went to Captain Howard’s boardinghouse and asked to see Mrs. Howard. Mary Ellen Smith came downstairs to see her.

“Are you Mrs. Howard?” Margaret asked.

“Yes,” was the response.

“How dare you call yourself Mrs. Howard,” Margaret said, “I am Mrs. Howard”

With that, Mary Ellen reached forward to grab her and Margaret drew a knife and plunged it into Mary Ellen’s neck, severing her jugular vein. Margaret rushed from the house and soon after meeting Mr. Scott on the street, she turned herself in to the marshals.

In May 1849, Margaret Howard was tried for the murder of Mary Ellen Smith. She did not deny committing the murder but pled not guilty by reason of insanity. Her attorney argued that the years of physical and mental abuse by Captain Howard had driven Margaret insane; she was laboring under monomania, a delusion in reference to two subjects—her husband and her children.

On May 5, the jury returned a verdict: “We, the jury, find the defendant not guilty as indicted, by reason ho her being insane at the time of the commission of the act.” The announcement was followed by loud and continued cheers and applause in the courtroom. Margaret’s attorney suggested to the court that she was in a state of mind which made it absolutely necessary for her future happiness that she should be sent to the State Lunatic Asylum.

“Examination of Margaret Howard, The Cincinnati Murderess,” National Police Gazette, February 17, 1849.
“Mrs. Margaret Howard was Acquitted,” Huron Reflector, May 8, 1849.
“The Cincinnati Murder,” Boston Evening Transcript, February 14, 1849.
“The Cincinnati Murder,” Commercial Advertiser, February 12, 1849.
Trial of Mrs. Margaret Howard (Cincinnati: , 1850).
“The Trial of Margaret Howard for the  Murder of Mary Smith, Alias Howard,” Western Star, May 4, 1849.
“Trial of Margaret Howard at Cincinnati, For Murder,” National Police Gazette, May 12, 1849.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

A Cleveland Axe Murder.

Frank and Eliza Florin of Cleveland, Ohio, had been married for sixteen years and had three children aged 8, 9 and 15. When sober, Frank worked steadily as a plasterer and lived peaceably with his wife, but by 1867 he was rarely sober. When intoxicated, he was convinced that his wife was cheating on him and would drag up incidents from years past during the couple’s loud and frequent arguments. The arguments would often turn violent and policemen in the neighborhood would be called in the middle of the night to protect Eliza from her husband. Neighbors denied Frank’s charges that his wife was unfaithful and said she was an honest, virtuous and industrious woman. They also claimed that Frank often said he would kill her someday.

On Monday, September 16, 1867, Frank Florin was scheduled to appear at Police Court for abusing his wife. The Friday before his court appearance, while out on $100 bail, Frank spent the day in his room drinking. Around 7:30 that evening he emerged from the room, “much stupefied with liquor,” holding an axe in his hand. He came up behind Eliza, who was sitting by the window, and with one blow of the axe, crushed her skull. He then slashed her face and throat with some sharp instrument.

The two youngest children heard their mother’s cries for help and when they realized what was happening ran screaming from the house to find their older sister who was living with a neighbor. The children’s screams interrupted Frank’s work and he fled the house as well.

A squad of policemen was dispatched to search the neighborhood for Frank Florin, but he was captured by John Hayes, a saloon keeper who knew him well. Hayes handed Florin over to Officer Ostemier who took him to the station along with the bloody axe found in the house. The blow had caused the blade and handle to separate, and it was believed that Florin used the blade to cut her face and throat.

Eliza Florin lived through the night, but doctors were unable to save her. She died the following day.


“Brutal Murder in Cleveland,” Boston Herald, September 19, 1867.
“Cleveland (Ohio) Tragedy,” The National Police Gazette, September 28, 1867.
“Criminal Record,” Cincinnati Daily Gazette, September 16, 1867.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Squibb Family Murder.

Scene of the Squibb Family Murder.
George Snelbaker went to the farm of his grandfather, George Squibb, to borrow an auger, the morning of June 18,1866, and found the old man lying face down on the porch in a pool of coagulated blood. He was unconscious but still alive. Snelbaker immediately ran to alert the neighbors.

George Squibb, a respectable, 71-year-old farmer of Quaker descent, had a small farm near Warrington, in York County, Pennsylvania. He lived with his wife Mary and their 11-year-old granddaughter, Emma Jane Seifert. Inside the farmhouse the neighbors found Emma Jane lying dead with her skull crushed and Mary Squib lying unconscious with severe headwounds. George Squibb died around midnight that night, but Mary held on for several more days.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Murder by Wholesale.

Little Murders
(From Portland Daily Press, December 25,1878)

Murder by Wholesale.

A Nebraska Man Confesses to Nine Murders.

Cincinnati, Dec. 21—A special from Steubenville says that Stephen D. Richards, who was placed in jail charged with the murder of the Harebon family at Kearney, Nebraska, has made a full confession acknowledging having committed nine murders within the last three years. The first murder was committed near Sand Hills, Nebraska. He had an altercation with a man unknown to him, and shot him through the head. The next was that of Mrs. Harebon and three children last October. He met Mrs. Harebon in jail, she having been arrested on a charge of aiding her husband to escape. When released, Richards visited her, staying two weeks when he concluded to murder her and take charge of her farm, which he had pre-empted. He broke her jaw and smashed the back of her head with a smoothing iron. He then killed the two oldest children with the same instrument, and seizing an infant dashed its head against the floor. He then gave out that Mrs. Harebon had gone to Texas to join her fugitive husband, but suspicion was aroused, search instituted, and the bodies found under a straw stack. Richards fled. Before the Herbon murder he was assisting a Swede named Peter Anderson in putting up a building. Anderson told some neighbors he believed Richards had poisoned him. The neighbors called next day but Anderson could not be found. Richards was in possession of Anderson’s horses and wagon. While the neighbors were searching the house for Anderson, Richards escaped. Richards admits he killed Anderson with a hammer. He states that he committed two other murders but refused to give the names of the victims. The sheriffs of Kearney and Buffalo counties will take Richards to Nebraska today. They think he is one of an organized gang of outlaws and cut-throats in that region.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

A Christmas Poisoning.

Mrs. Mary Paye.
On Christmas Day, 1882, Captain David W. Paye lay dying with symptoms so severe and unusual that three physicians had been called to his home in Fishkill Landing, New York, to consult on the case. For the previous week, Paye had been violently ill, with a burning in his throat, pains in his stomach, and an unquenchable thirst. Doctors Tiel, Wilson and Jones concluded that Paye was stricken with arsenic poisoning. Late that night, in great agony, Capt. Paye died.

At the time, arsenic in small doses was believed to be a cure for impotence, but Capt. Paye swore, as God was his judge, he had never taken anything to cause this illness. Though he did not accuse his wife, Mary, of poisoning him, he believed that the poison had been in a pie that she had baked; he had eaten heartily of the pie, he said, while his wife had just a little. Mary Paye tearfully denied this, saying that she had eaten most of the pie herself.

It would have been an act of contrition for Mrs. Paye to bake her husband a pie. They had just recently reconciled after a very tumultuous month. David Paye was a 44-year-old Hudson River boatman who was planning to retire from the river due to rheumatism. About four years earlier he had married 18-year-old Mary Ferguson, daughter of a brickyard laborer, and two years later they had a daughter. All seemed well with the marriage until Capt. Paye began to feel the effects of a life on the river. As he spent more time at home he began to suspect that his wife was unfaithful.

Captain Paye confided to his friend, J.D. Tallardy, that a young man named William Crawford would come to his house when Paye was out and stay with his wife until late at night. Sometimes she would meet Crawford at the house of Allen Horton where Crawford boarded. Paye said once he had gone to Horton’s looking for her and found Crawford lying with his head on Mary’s lap.

In the bitter argument that followed, Mary Paye told her husband that he was not the father of their daughter and accused him of drinking and spending money in the society of disreputable women and made other accusations “not of a character to be published.” She moved out and went to live at Horton’s. Over the course of the following month, articles of furniture and bedding were removed from his house by Mary and taken to Horton’s.

In spite of his anger, Capt. Paye pleaded with his wife to come home. She finally relented after they both signed a written agreement, in the presence of the Justice of the Peace, stating the conditions under which she would return. One of the conditions was that he not make trouble for her because of an alleged forgery of his name to draw money from the bank. Mary returned to her husband, but it was not a happy household.

A post-mortem examination of Capt. Paye’s body confirmed what the doctors had suspected, he had died of arsenic poisoning. The coroner’s inquest concluded that Capt. Paye had been murdered by poison administered by his wife, and Mary Paye was arrested for the crime.

The case was brought before a Dutchess County grand jury but there was no hard evidence against Mary Paye. The testimony against her was all gossip and speculation. The jury failed to find a bill of indictment and Mary Paye was released. She was appointed administrator to his estate, amounting to a few hundred dollars.

“Brief Mention,” Port Jervis Evening Gazette, February 12, 1883.
“Mrs. Capt. Paye Arrested.,” The Sun, December 30, 1882.
“Mrs. Paye Discharged,” New York Times, January 6, 1883.
“A Mystery,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 28, 1882.
“The Paye Poisoning Case,” The New York Times, December 29, 1882.
“A Woman Under Suspicion,” National Police Gazette, January 20, 1883.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Shot by Her Lover.

Jane Finlay was a young woman employed as a lady’s maid by the family of T.B. Stork, in Germantown, Pennsylvania, who had recently discarded her lover, William Dunlap. Dunlap went to the Stork house at around 11:00, the night of September 1, 1894 and called Jane out of the house. They spoke for a few minutes on the front lawn. Passers-by heard two shots and ran to the scene to find the young woman lying on the grass with a bullet wound in her left breast. She was only able to say that Dunlap had shot her before becoming unconscious. Dunlap was nowhere to be seen. Jane Finlay died in the hospital at around midnight. Police had a good description of Dunlap but it does not appear that he was ever caught.

“Shot by Her Lover,” Philadelphia Times, September 3, 1894.
“Shot by Her Lover,” National Police Gazette, October 13, 1894.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

A Romantic Story.

(From New York Tribune, September 20, 1871)

A Romantic Story.
A man accused of murder proved innocent after death.

Some workmen, digging holes for the posts of a fence, in Unionville, Westchester Co., a fortnight ago, unearthed the skeleton of a man, evidently long buried. From the position of the bones, the skill resting between the knees, it was surmised that the unknown deceased had not received the customary burial, and that murder had been committed. A shoemaker—Ephraim Jones—lived near the spot where the skeleton was found, and the gossips of Unionville quickly connected him with the supposed murder. It was remembered that nearly 23 years ago, Thomas Brown, a journeyman shoemaker, had suddenly disappeared from the village. Some one of tenacious memory called to mind that Brown had been paid $175, due as wages, by Jones, and that the shoemaker had removed his shop from its site in former years. Upon further investigation, it was found that the old shop stood directly over the place where the skeleton was discovered.

With these facts in their possession, Coroner Weeks and Detective Stoway of Westchester County determined to search for further proof against Jones. The story of the finding of the skeleton and the suspicions of the community against Jones soon came to the newspapers of this city. When the journals reached Unionville the account was read by Jones, who appeared greatly horrified that he should be accused of murder. He was an old man, and was so greatly shocked at the charge that the following day, while lamenting it, he was prostrated by some sudden attack, and died in a few moments. The neighbors loudly hinted that Jones has poisoned himself, but a Coroner’s inquest disproved this suspicion, and proved that the deceased died of heart disease.

On Monday evening a nephew of Jones visited Police Headquarter in this city, and asserted that facts were in his possession which fully proved his uncle’s innocence. He said that Sergt. Louis Young of the Twelfth Precinct, testified that 23 years ago he had witnessed the death of Brown at No. 43 Courtlandt St. The Sergeant was a step-son of Brown, and was 12 years old at the time. He recollected clearly Brown’s return from Unionville, the money he had with him, and his death soon after.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

The Laws of Compensation.

John Dougherty, a sixty-year-old farmer in Big Bend, Washington, decided he needed a wife and in 1892, he placed an advertisement in a Chicago matrimonial paper. He received a response from Mary E. Phillips, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. They corresponded, and she agreed to move to Washington and marry him. It was not a happy marriage, however; for a year they “lived a cat and dog life,” constantly fighting and threatening each other.

On October 30, 1893, the body of Mary Dougherty was discovered partially hidden under a pile of straw. She had been hacked to death with such ferocity that her face was mutilated nearly beyond recognition. In a vacant building not far away, John Dougherty was found dying from exposure and hunger. He was arrested and taken to jail in Waterville. 

While in the Waterville jail, Dougherty made a full confession. He and his wife had been fighting as usual and he suspected that she had poisoned his tea. As an emetic, he drank a glass of salt and water, but it was too late. She laughed at him as he vomited saying, “You old Irish son-of-a-bitch, I’ve got you now. I’ll sit on your grave before a week.” At this point, Dougherty grabbed a butcher knife and chased her out of the house, overtook her in the straw stacks and stabbed her to death. Dougherty expressed no remorse.

Shortly after making his confession, Dougherty died in jail. A post-mortem examination of Dougherty’s stomach proved that he died from consuming rat poison.

This would have been the end of the story, but the sheriff began receiving letters from people related to both of the deceased. A young woman who had read about the murder believed that she was John Dougherty’s daughter from his first marriage. The family had sold their farm in Salem, Oregon and moved to San Francisco, where Dougherty abandoned them and moved to Chicago. A letter from Dougherty’s second wife bore this out. They had met in Chicago, married and moved to Arizona where Dougherty decamped, carrying off $3,000 of his wife’s money.

Perhaps the most interesting letter came addressed to John Dougherty from a Mr. M. D. Brown in Minneapolis. It read, “A friend of mine just handed me a paper with the account of the murder. I think Mary Phillips Brown Dougherty got what she deserved. I was her second husband and tried to live with her, but it was three years and a half of hell upon earth.”

Before meeting Mary Phillips, John Dougherty had already, bilked and deserted two wives. “In his third venture, however,” wrote the Tacoma Daily Ledger, “he appears to have met his match and by the laws of compensation they both met with terrible and tragic deaths.”

“Dougherty Dies of Rat Poison,” The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, November 9, 1893.
“Hacked Her to Pieces,” National Police Gazette, November 18, 1893.
“Killed his Wife,” Muskegon Chronicle, November 2, 1893.
“The Last Chapter Told,” Tacoma Daily Ledger, December 15, 1893.
“Murdered His Wife. ,” Idaho Statesman, November 1, 1893.
“Murderer Dougherty's Three Wives,” The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, December 1, 1893.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Baptized in Blood and Flames.

About four a.m. the morning of February 16, 1896, Robert Laughlin appeared at his sister’s door clad in his nightclothes and bleeding from the neck. He told a harrowing story, he had been awakened by someone drawing a knife blade across his throat. He grappled with his assailant, arose from the bed and knocked him down with his fist. Then the man’s confederate hit Laughlin across the face with a burning torch. He ran to the door, chased by one of the men but was able to outrun him. His wife Emma and his niece May Jones—who was reported variously as 12, 13, or 14 years-old— were still in the house. Laughlin and his brother-in-law went back and found the house in flames. When the fire was put out, they found the bodies of Emma and May, burned nearly beyond recognition.

Laughlin had no idea who the men were or what their motive was. R. W. Fitzgerald, a detective with the C & O Railroad, working for the coroner immediately began an investigation accompanied by Marshal William Barren of Augusta. Though some of the neighbors doubted Laughlin’s story Barren and Fitzgerald sent for bloodhounds to search for the assailants Laughlin described. The bloodhounds, however, would only follow Laughlin’s trail to his sister’s house. The men tried several times to send the dogs off in different directions but they always ended up at the sister’s house. Fitzgerald began to suspect that Laughlin himself was the killer and requested the clothing he was wearing at the time of the attack. They found that his shirt and undershirt were saturated with blood.

Fitzgerald and Barren brought the evidence to Sheriff Frank of Bracken County and requested that he arrest Laughlin, but the sheriff refused to do so. Emma Laughlin was a sister of the Jones boys, who had a wide circle of violent friends and relations. May Jones was a daughter of one of them. If he arrested Laughlin without preparing, he thought it would lead to serious trouble. The coroner also decided to defer any verdict until the following Monday.

That night detective Fitzgerald, along with a Marshal Sayers of Augusta, caught up with Laughlin at his father’s house. Sayers had known Laughlin from boyhood and doubted his story from the beginning. As they sat around the fireside Sayers said to Laughlin, “Bob, you know I have been your friend. The best thing for you is to tell us all about it here in the home of your old, broken-hearted father.”

Laughlin buried his face in his hand and sobbed for several minutes, then made his confession. He said, he waited until his wife and niece were both sleeping, then hit his wife in the temple with a poker, and with one convulsive quiver she expired. The attack on his wife woke the little girl who got out of bed saying, “What are you doing, Uncle Bob?” He hit the girl with the poker, then set fire to the house. For the sake of his story, he cut a slight gash in his throat then ran to his sister’s house. He could not say what possessed him to commit the murders.

Laughlin was arrested and quietly taken to jail in Augusta. News of the confession was withheld for fear of mob violence, and for his own safety, Laughlin was moved to a strong jail in Maysville, Kentucky. Once he felt safe, Laughlin changed his confession, he said, that night he had attempted to rape his young niece and when his wife tried to stop him he murdered them both then set the fire. When news of the confession came out, hundreds of men in Bracken County pledged their help in dragging Laughlin from the jail and lynching him.

Anger increased as newspapers reported that Laughlin’s open knife was found under the body of May Jones revealing that “the murder was more atrocious than the confession indicates.” Laughlin was secretly transported to Augusta, by way of Cincinnati, just long enough to appear for a preliminary hearing charging him with murder, rape, and arson.

Laughlin was tried in July; he was convicted and sentenced to hang. While Laughlin’s attorney appealed the conviction, the mob in Bracken County grew restless and planned to storm the Mayville jail. The authorities moved Laughlin again, to the jail in Covington, Kentucky which was already well guarded as it was holding the convicted murderers of Pearl Bryan. The Court of Appeals upheld the verdict and the date of Laughlin’s execution was set for January 9, 1897.

A tall fence was erected around the gallows in Brookville, where the execution was to take place; only those holding tickets would be allowed inside. Around 7:30, the morning of January 9, a large crowd gathered outside the fence and began shouting “Bring him out! Bring him out!” The door of the enclosure was opened at 9:10, prompting a mad rush; the crowd pulled down the fence and filled the jail yard to capacity. Deputy Sheriff McAfee mounted the scaffold and asked the crowd to be quiet. His wishes were respected and the crowd stood in relative silence.

At 9:20 Laughlin was brought to the gallows. The Reverend Mr. Lee read Bible verses requested by Laughlin, then at Laughlin’s request, sang the hymn “Nearer My Home Today.” At 9:29, the trap was sprung; Laughlin fell, the noose broke his neck, and he died instantly.

“Baptized in Blood and Flames,” The Cincinnati Enquirer, February 16, 1896.
“Confessed the Murder.,” New Haven Register, February 17, 1896.
“Details,” Evansville Courier and Press, February 16, 1896.
“Doom of Death,” Kentucky Post, November 14, 1896.
“Laughlin Burned Them,” Daily Illinois State Journal, February 18, 1896.
“Mob,” Cincinnati Post, January 9, 1897.
“Mob Wanted Laughlin,” Morning Herald, September 15, 1896.
“Report of Another confession by Murderer Laughlin,” Evansville Courier and Press, April 28, 1896.
“Robert Laughlin.,” Knoxville Journal, February 19, 1896.
“Wife and Niece.,” Boston Journal, July 17, 1896.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Murder by Little Girls.

(From Macon Weekly Telegraph, September 26, 1884).

Murder by Little Girls.

St. Louis, September 24. – The story from Ottawa, Kan., that on Monday last Carrie and Bessie Waterman, aged 12 and 11 years, daughter of James Waterman, a farmer, tied a rope around the neck of a half brother, 6 years old, dragged him about and beat him with sticks until he was dead. The girls stated at the coroner’s inquest that they hated the child and wanted him dead. They were held for murder.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

First Avenue Butchery.

Charles Jacobs, a 27-year-old German immigrant, ran a butcher shop at 262 First Avenue in New York City. His business was being hampered by loafers loitering on the sidewalk outside the shop. On Saturday, January 4, 1868, one of the loafers, a man he knew only as Kelly, decided to loiter inside the  shop. Kelly was clearly drunk and loudly making his presence known so Jacobs tried to rush him back outside. In the scuffle that followed Kelly grabbed a butcher knife from the counter and plunged it into Jacob’s abdomen. Reportedly, the wound was so ghastly that Jacob’s bowels could be seen protruding.

Kelly fled, and Jacobs was taken to Bellevue Hospital. The hospital staff knew that Jacobs was beyond saving, and they sent for Coroner Schirmer to take his ante-mortem statement. Jacob declared Kelly was his killer; he died soon after. As of January 25, Kelly was still at large; it is unlikely he was ever arrested for this crime.

“Carnival of Crime,” Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, January 25, 1868.
“City And Suburban Facts,” Commercial Advertiser, January 6, 1868.
“Murder in First-Ave,” New York Tribune, January 6, 1868.
“Stabbing Affray,” The Buffalo Commercial, January 6, 1868.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

A Fiend's Work.

Birdie Baugh, the 20-year-old daughter of C. C. Baugh, was much admired in the town of Alliance, Ohio. She was “a handsome girl of pleasant, winsome ways,” and quite accomplished for an Ohio farmer’s daughter as a student of the music conservatory of Mt. Union College. The family had a large farmhouse outside of Alliance where Birdie lived with her parents, her younger brothers Herman and Garfield, her uncle Thomas, and a farm hand named Curt Davidson.

Mr. and Mrs. Baugh went to visit some friends in Pennsylvania, on November 14, 1893, leaving the rest of the household alone. Curt Davidson had gone out that night and at 10:00 he had still not come back. This was odd because he was usually in the house much earlier, but his behavior was known to be somewhat eccentric. Birdie told her uncle and brothers that they could go to bed, she would wait for Davidson and close up the house after he came in. She was  exasperated with Davidson and said she wished her father would fire him.

It was not the first time Birdie had expressed this sentiment. 40-year-old Curt Davidson was gruff and surly and did not hide the fact that he had become infatuated with Birdie Baugh. She did not return his affections and after repeatedly fighting off Davidson’s advances she had asked her father to get rid of him.

When the boys awoke the morning of November 15, they found that Birdie had not gone to bed the night before. In the kitchen, they found signs of a struggle, a pool of blood on the floor, and bloody footprints leading outside toward the barn. On the floor of the barn, they found Birdies body. Her skull had been crushed and her face and throat had been slashed with a razor. Later, a post-mortem examination would determine that she had been ravished as well; it was unclear whether this occurred before or after her death.

The neighbors were alerted, and a search began for Curt Davidson. They found him lying near a near a neighbor’s barn about a quarter mile away. He also had a gash across his throat. The wound was self-inflicted, the bloody razor still in his hand as he lay unconscious.

Davidson regained consciousness while in police custody. He denied any knowledge of the crime, saying he had been in bed all night. He got up at 5:00 and met a man who was drunk. They quarreled, and the man slashed his throat. But Davidson's bed had not been slept in, and the razor was his own.

As the news of the murder spread through Alliance, men were calling for vengeance and a lynch mob gathered around the jail. A physician addressed the crowd saying that Davidson was near death and not worth lynching, but he was not believed and his words did nothing to reduce their anger. Neither did the arrival of Company K, Eighth Regiment of the Ohio National Guard, ordered to Alliance for Davidson’s protection.

Under a strong military guard, Davidson was loaded onto a train and taken to Canton, Ohio. He did not last long in Canton, on December 4, Davidson died from blood poisoning as a result of his wound.

“Birdie Baugh Murdered,” Daily Illinois State Journal, November 16, 1893.
“A College Girl's Throat Cut,” National Police Gazette, December 2, 1893.
“Died in Jail,” Cincinnati Post, December 4, 1893.
“A Fiend's Work,” Omaha World-Herald, November 15, 1893.
“A Foul Crime,” Cleveland Leader, November 16, 1893.
“In Cold Blood,” Repository, November 15, 1893.
“A Lynching,” Repository, November 16, 1893.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Sudden Death, Foul Suspicions.

Maria Hendrickson
Sudden death seemed to be John Hendrickson’s constant companion. When his six-week-old baby died suddenly, it was viewed as a tragedy. When his father-in-law died suddenly in a farm accident it raised a few eyebrows. But when his healthy teenaged wife died suddenly with symptoms of poisoning, foul suspicions ran wild.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Curley Confesses.

(From Harrisburg Patriot, July 12, 1877).

Curley Confesses.

Miss Whitby’s Murder—The Result of a Bloodthirsty Impulse.

The New York Herald publishes the following dispatch from Pottstown:

“Thomas Frances Curley, who has been sentenced to hang at Norristown on the 9th day of August next for the murder of Mary Ann Whitby, near the Trappe, in May 1875, has made a full confession of his terrible crime to his counsel. At his trial Curley was convicted on purely circumstantial evidence, and doubts existed in the minds of many persons as to his guilt, but these are removed by the startling statement which has been made to his legal advisers. Though the facts were known to his attorneys some time ago, they have just been made public, and though it is denied by the counsel, it is generally believed to have been made in order to have the death penalty commuted to imprisonment for life. This belief is strengthened by the fact that, at the meeting of the board of pardons at Harrisburg, today, Curley’s case was postponed until the September meeting, and thus a new lease of life is given the condemned man.

“From the meagre facts that can be obtained, Curley, in his confession, states that he has had an insatiable desire for blood form childhood up; that he had previously inflicted unnecessary cruelty to dumb animals—stuck a penknife into calves, in order to see the blood flow, and committed other inhuman acts. In the killing of Miss Whitby he says that a desire to murder her seized him on his way home to dinner and that he struck her with a hoe handle and not the stove lifter, which was believed  to have been the instrument of death from evidence give at the time of his trial. He states that no words passed between them; that no quarrel took place, but he came directly home from the field, secured a hoe and dealt her the murderous and fatal blow.

“The ground on which the commutation of the sentenced to imprisonment for life is asked is that the murderer is a monomaniac and is not responsible for his acts. His whole demeanor during and since the trial proves him to be, what is now beyond question, a person of low, brutal instincts, devoid of all human feeling and sympathy, and but little above the brute creation. It will be a relief to the community to know that Curley was justly convicted of the awful crime, and it is but a just atonement that he shall suffer the death penalty.”

Saturday, October 14, 2017

A Deliberate, Damnable Murder.

William B. Baldwin
Around 2:00 a.m., the morning of November 25, 1879, the citizens of Hastings, Nebraska, were awakened by frenzied cries of “fire!” The Burlington & Missouri Railroad Depot was burning. Firemen were dispatched to the blaze but, in the words of The Nebraska State Journal, Hastings had “as poor a Fire Department as could be well conceived.” The depot burned to the ground along with two freight cars, for a loss estimated at $20,000.

When the smoke cleared an even greater loss was revealed, the partially consumed body of Allen J. Yocum, a brakeman on the B&M line. Two other men at the scene Ralph M. Taylor, another brakeman, and William B. Baldwin, the telegraph operator at the depot said that an oil lamp had exploded and they managed to escape the fire. Baldwin expressed regret that he hadn’t tried harder to rescue Yocum.

But Baldwin and Taylor were clearly drunk when they were questioned and their stories were confused and contradictory. Witnesses stated that they had heard two or three gunshots prior to hearing the alarm. Rumors began to circulate that the fire was not accidental. Yocum’s body which was in the process of being transferred to his parents in Albia, Nebraska, was stopped in transit. A post-mortem examination revealed that Allen Yocum had two bullet wounds on his left side.

A coroner’s jury determined that Yocum had been murdered, shot by either Baldwin or Taylor. William Baldwin had a 22-caliber revolver which had recently been discharged. It was supposed that Baldwin had quarreled with Yocum and killed him, then set the fire attempting to hide the crime. He forced Taylor at gunpoint to keep quiet. “A Deliberate, Damnable Murder,” said The Nebraska State Journal.

But when the case went to trial the following June, the charge had been reduced, probably due to the circumstantial nature of the evidence. William B. Baldwin was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to ten years at hard labor in the Eastings Penitentiary.

“Burned to Death,” The Nebraska State Journal, November 26, 1879.
“Caught By the Fire,” Chicago Tribune, November 26, 1879.
“A Hardened Villain,” National Police Gazette, November 27, 1880.
“The Hastings Affair,” The Nebraska State Journal, November 29, 1879.
“Murder and Arson,” Chicago Tribune, November 29, 1879.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

A Cowardly Lover.

James “Jap” Rainey was engaged to 21-year-old, Lettie Jackson of Osawatomie, Kansas until she broke it off in October 1893. It is not clear why she ended the relationship; newspapers described Rainey as “a gambler and an all-round sport” which may have had something to do with it. Rainey did not handle rejection well and in a fit of jealous rage, he swore he would kill Lettie Jackson.

On October 27, Rainey made good on his promise. Lettie called at the home of Bosworth Morgan around 7 o’clock that night; Rainey followed her and started shooting through the window of the house. One of the bullets struck Lettie’s through heart killing her instantly. Rainey fled into the dark woods.

Lettie Jackson’s friends and relatives lived in Greasy Bend, a settlement about four miles outside of Osawatomie. When they heard the news, a posse of about 75 Greasy Benders took off after Jap Rainey, bent on lynching him. Realizing the trouble he was in, Rainey went to Paola, Kansas and turned himself in. By the time the posse caught up with him, Rainey was safely behind bars in Paola.

At his trial, the following February, Rainey pled temporary insanity, but the jury found him guilty of first-degree murder. When Rainey appealed the conviction that March, the judge overruled his motion for a new trial. Rainey begged for mercy but the judge said only one sentence was possible under the verdict. He sentenced Rainey to one year in the penitentiary, then, “whenever the governor should so will it, to be hanged.”

The governor never willed it and the hanging never took place. It is likely that Jap Rainey died in prison.

“A Cowardly Lover,” National Police Gazette, November 18, 1893.
“Gave Himself Up,” Tyrone Daily Herald, October 31, 1893.
“Jealous Rage,” Indianapolis Sun, October 28, 1893.
“March of Avengers,” The Pittsburg Daily Headlight, October 31, 1893.
“A Murder At Osawatomie,” The Topeka Daily Capital, October 28, 1893.
“Murdered his Sweetheart,” The St. Joseph Weekly Gazette, March 13, 1894.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Culture of Murder.

(From Grand Forks Daily Herald, December 10, 1888.)

The Culture of Murder.

How Impulsive Organisms Are Prepared to Do Dark Deeds.

No fact is more patent to science than the direct effect of influences exerted through the medium of the senses upon the brain—that particular part we of the organism whose function we call “mind.” Darwin, Ruskin and all the great students of development have labored to bring this fact within the cognizance of the general thinking public. That they have failed is only too painfully evidenced by the persistence and surprising ingenuity of the practice of cultivating homicidal propensities, and collatorally murder, by a refined use of the art of mural decoration.

While we empower the police to put down with a strong hand the exhibition in shop windows, and the censor of stage plays and spectacles to interdict the parade in theatres of pictures and scenes of an “immoral” character, because it is recognized that these have a tendency to corrupt the mind of youth—and age too—nothing whatever is done to restrain the daily increasing evil of pictorial placards displayed on every boarding, and of highly wrought scenes produced at nearly all the theatres, which not only direct the thoughts, but actively stir the passions of the people in such way as to familiarize the average mind with murder in all its forms, and to break down that protective sense of “horror” which nature has given us, with the express purpose, doubtless, of opposing an obstacle to the evil influence of the exemplification of homicide It cannot be disguised that even the most sensitive nature is to some extent brutalized by the display of these pictures.

We are none of us as shocked at the spectacle of a knife driven into the chest of a young woman, and do not recoil as violently from the idea of this form of murder, as before the display on all sides of an elaborate, nearly life size picture of the deed. Nor do two men grappling, together and stabbing each other, or one man shooting another with a revolver, strike us as presenting spectacled of such hideous enormity as they would have done had we not been familiarized with these scenes by impressive placards staring us in the face at every turn. It does seem strange—passing strange—that this murder culture by the educationary use of the pictorial art has not been checked by public authority.

We have no wish to make wild affirmations, but knowing what we do, as observers of development, we can have no hesitation in saying that the increasing frequency of horribly brutal outrages is by no means unaccountable. The viciously inclined are, in a sense, always weak minded—that is to say, they are especially susceptible of influences moving them in the direction their passions incline them to take; and when the mind (or brain) impressed through the senses, and particularly the area of sight, in such manner as to produce menial pictures, either in waking thought or dreams, of homicide, the impulsive organism is, as it were, prepared for the performance of the deeds which form the subjects of the consciousness. We are, of course, writing technically, but the facts are indisputable, and we trust they will be sufficiently plain. It is high time that this ingenious and persistent murder culture should cease.— Lancet

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Confession of Jacob Harden.

Reverend Jacob S. Harden felt he had been roped into an unhappy marriage by Louisa Dorland and her conniving parents. His new wife threatened his promising career and put a damper on his active social life as well. When the young bride passed away mysteriously, Harden acted like a guilty man but professed innocence almost to the end.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Avenged Her Father’s Murder.

Around 1:00 a.m., the morning of September 7, 1892, Richard Wright was awakened by a man calling his name, outside his farmhouse in Payne, Indiana. He recognized the voice as that of his son-in-law, Dell Judah, and went outside to see what he wanted. Judah told him angrily that his wife had walked out; he thought she had gone back to her father and he had come to take her home. Wright assured him that his daughter was not there, but he had not assuaged Judah’s anger. As Wright turned to walk away, Judah drew a revolver and shot him in the neck. Wright turned and grabbed him and as they clinched two more shots were fired.

Wright’s eldest daughter, Minna, ran from the house then, wielding an axe. Seeing her brother-in-law struggling with her father, she hit Judah in the head with the axe, knocking him off. She continued to hit him until he was dead. When she turned to her father, she found that he was dead as well. Minna walked a mile through the woods to their nearest neighbor to alert them to what had happened.

The Wrights were highly regarded in Payne, but Dell Judah had a bad reputation and was known as a rough character. Many believed that he had gone to Richard Wright’s house specifically to murder his wife and her father. Minna Wright was not arrested.

“She Killed Him,” Kalamazoo Gazette, September 18, 1892.
“A Terrible Tragedy,” The Topeka Daily Capital, September 9, 1892.
“Too Bloody to Believe,” The Indianapolis Journal, September 8, 1892.
“Two Lives Wiped Out,” The True Northerner, September 14, 1892.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

An Indignant Husband’s Crime.

In April 1891, Mrs. Sophia B. Dunham of Montgomery, Alabama received the following anonymous letter:

April, 1891,
Mrs. B. Dunham.

Dear Madame,

I guess it is quite a surprise and something very unusual for you to receive a note of this character from a stranger, but, my dear woman, it is very much to your interest for me to write it, not that the matter in the least interests me, but that I feel it is my duty as a man not to conceal from you a thing which will cause you no little trouble if not corrected at once. Now, if you will meet me on Catoma Creek Road Sunday afternoon at 4 o'clock, I shall inform you of something, that by your not hearing and acting accordingly will cause you an abundance of trouble. Oh, woman, don't fail to meet me, for the result would be certainly disastrous; and you may be assured I shall not say anything that would be improper for any man to say to one of your sex. Now, do not fail to come, for by doing so you shall reap benefit. I am not one whom you have never seen, but one to whom, perhaps you have never paid the slightest attention.

I am, yours truly,
light tan leggings with brass buttons, on a black horse of good gait, around the park, Sunday.

Mrs. Dunham immediately took the letter to her husband, Colonel Bradford Dunham, General Manager of the Alabama Midland Railroad Company. Though the matter to which the letter alluded was never revealed, Col. Dunham viewed the anonymous letter as a grave insult to his wife’s honor. He planned to uncover the writer’s identity by replying with a decoy letter in which Mrs. Dunham agreed to the meeting in the park. He then arranged to have the meeting place watched.

Mrs. Dunham did not keep the appointment, but the letter writer did; it was 19-year-old, James Cunningham, an employee of Alabama Midland Railroad Company. Col. Dunham put an end to the problem by summarily discharging Cunningham.

Five months later, Col. Dunham learned the Cunningham had been showing the decoy letter around town, saying he had received it from Mrs. Dunham. The colonel was so enraged by this that he procured a shotgun and went looking for Cunningham. He was sitting in the doorway of a drugstore, and when James Cunningham passed by, he picked up the shotgun, loaded with buckshot, and without a word, fired both barrels into the young man’s chest. Cunningham died instantly. Col. Dunham then walked to the police station and surrendered.

Public sentiment in Montgomery was divided regarding Col. Dunham’s case. The coroner’s jury called it first-degree murder, but some felt the Colonel’s action was justified. At the grand jury hearing, a detective testified that Cunningham told him he had lost his position with Midland Railroad for undue intimacy with Mrs. Dunham and intended to kill Col. Dunham on sight. In a decision harshly criticized by the friends of James Cunningham, the grand jury failed to find an indictment against the Col. Bradford Dunham. The colonel was released from jail and resumed his position as General Manager of the railroad.

“Col. Bradford Dunham's Case,” Evening Star, September 29, 1891.
“Col. Dunham's Examination,” Baltimore Sun, October 3, 1891.
“Defended Her Honor,” Fort Worth Gazette, September 28, 1891.
“The Grand Jury Criticized,” Bradford Era, October 24, 1891.
“An Indignant Husband's Crime,” National Police Gazette, October 17, 1891.
“Killed His Man,” Evansville Courier and Press, September 28, 1891.
“Sunny South,” Cincinnati Post, December 7, 1892.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Connell Homicide.

A little past midnight, January 4, 1868, William Connell, age 21, was standing at the corner of Bowery and Bayard Streets, New York City, conversing with Maggie Brown and Emma Gardner, two young women in their teens. Richard Casey came up to them and flourished some bank notes in the faces of the women in an insulting manner, implying that they were prostitutes—which in fact they were. Connell took offense to the action and asked Casey what he meant by it. Casey asked if he was going to defend the women and Connell replied that he was a stranger there but did not like such conduct.

“Well I’m no stranger here,” said Casey, and knocked Connell’s hat off his head.

As Connell stooped to pick up his hat, Casey drew a revolver from a breast pocket and fired at his head. Connell cried out in agony and fell into the gutter; Casey shot him again. Then he pointed the pistol at Maggie Brown and said with a foul epithet, “I’ll finish you too.”