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Saturday, September 22, 2018

The Annie Dorman Mystery.

John Dorman left the farmhouse to work in his fields at about 1:15, the afternoon of September 1, 1897. His wife, Lizzie, had some banking to take care of and left for Philadelphia at about 2:00. As usual, they left their children in the care of John’s half-sister, Annie. 18-year-old Annie Dorman had lived with John and his wife at their Cobb’s Creek home off and on for the previous five years, working as a nurse to their four children. Around 3:00 that day a neighbor, Mrs. Myers, came by to chat with Annie leaving about ten minutes later. At 4:30 one of the children found Annie lying on the floor of the second story front room, dead from a gunshot wound.

The children ran for their father who returned to the house with Al Myers, stable boss at nearby Melbourne Mills. They found Annie stretched out on the floor with a pistol lying by her hand. There was no sign of a struggle and nothing had been taken; the men could only conclude that Annie had taken her own life.

But suicide was unlikely for a number of reasons. No one who knew Annie could imagine what would have driven her to kill herself. She was bright and pretty, with an even and sweet temperament and was always cheerful. Her boyfriend, Ernest L. Pendlebury, was steady and honest. She was a religious girl, healthy in mind and body; a favorite among the congregation of Sarah D. Cooper Methodist Church.

The circumstance of Annie’s death made suicide all but impossible. The pistol was old and rusty, sitting unused for at least two years, high on a shelf in the room where she was found. Annie was only five feet tall and would not be able to reach the pistol without standing on something, and none of the furniture had been moved. Chief Barry of the Chester Police Department examined the pistol and found it so rusty that it took all his might to cock it and pull the trigger. It had been fired five times; two shots went through the ceiling, one went through a washboard under a window, one shot shattered Annie’s jaw and one shot went through her heart. The shot through the heart had killed her but the shot to the jaw had been so severe that she would not have been able to fire another.

Since nothing had been stolen, it was thought that Annie may have been raped. When the body was found, her dress had been smoothed as if to hide signs of a struggle, but the top had been opened, exposing her breasts. The medical examiner determined that Annie had not been raped and was still a virgin. 

The inquest held at the Dorman homestead on October 5, revealed that the household had not been as peaceful as it first appeared. A letter from Annie’s father said that John’s wife had not treated her right. One witness said he had seen Annie crying on several occasions hand had seen Mrs. Dorman chase her with a broom. Lizzie Dorman admitted that once during a quarrel with Annie she had grabbed her by the throat, but generally their relations had been pleasant. Their disagreements were seen as trivial, hardly provoking murder, and Mrs. Dorman was in the city at the time of the shooting. The Coroner’s jury ruled that Annie Dorman was shot by a person or persons unknown.

The Philadelphia Inquirer speculated that a man who knew Annie and was familiar with the place had been watching and knew when she was alone. He entered the house between 3:30 and 4:00 and approached Annie with one intention; she “at once detected the foulness of that intention.” She pleaded with him, then threatened him. It was someone she knew, and he realized he had gone too far and must silence her. He reached for the gun and she rushed him, fighting for her honor and her life. Three shots were fired wildly before the two that killed her. The murderer then placed the gun by her side and smoothed down the dress to hide evidence of a struggle, “but like all takers of life left the one mute piece of evidence in the shape of the exposed bosom.”

But there was no way to prove any of this and no way to determine the identity of the man or even whether the killer was a man. With no leads to follow and no funds available to hire professional detectives, Delaware County District Attorney W. I. Schaffer was forced to drop the investigation. The circumstances of Annie Dorman’s murder would remain a mystery.

Sources:
“Annie Dorman Not a Suicide,” Times, October 6, 1897.
“Annie Dorman's Death,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 30, 1897.
“Dorman Investigation to be Dropped,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 13, 1897.
“It Seems an Easy Thing for Murderers Around Philadelphia to Escape,” Philadelphia Inquirer, December 19, 1897.
“It Was Murder,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 10, 1897.
“Miss Annie Dorman Was Murdered,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 10, 1897.
“Miss Dorman's Death,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 6, 1897.
“A Rehearsal of Facts,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 10, 1897.
“She Did Not Commit Suicide ,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 10, 1897.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Disorder in Court.



Henry Miller went to the home of his doctor, Zachariah Walker, in Brownsburg, Virginia, to pick up some medicine on Wednesday, November 13, 1889. Dr. Walker was under the weather and could not see Miller, but his wife, Bettie, knew the prescription and she took him to the office while she prepared the compound. Though 50 years old, Bettie Walker was a strikingly attractive woman, delicate and refined, her black hair sprinkled with silver. Henry Miller, nearly 70 years old, could not control himself alone with Mrs. Walker; he tried to kiss her, “offering other indignities which were repulsed.”

Mrs. Miller did not tell her husband what had happened until Friday morning when the doctor was fully recovered.  He was immediately incensed and went out with his manservant and his shotgun looking for Henry Miller. He made it generally known that he intended to kill Miller on sight. 

When Miller heard of this he went to Justice E. B. Bosworth and procured a warrant against Walker and a hearing was held in Brownsburg later that day. Mrs. Walker accompanied her husband to court, and Henry Miller was there with four of his sons. Miller was one of the wealthiest farmers in Rockbridge County and Dr. Zachariah Walker was a celebrated physician and surgeon, a distinguished member of the State Medical Examining Board. Both families were prominent and well respected, but on this day they would not show any pretense of civility.

Justice Bosworth heard both sides of the case. No one denied that Dr. Walker threatened Henry Miller’s life so Bosworth charged him $500 bail to keep the peace for twelve months. He told Walker if he refused to pay he would have no alternative but to send him to jail.

“That’s what I want you to do,” said Dr. Walker, “but I would like to get my dinner before going.” Bosworth agreed to this then Walker said, “There is one other request I wish to make and that is to be allowed to slap Henry in the face.”

Of course, Justice Bosworth said that could not be done, but Dr. Walker insisted that he would do so and as he rose he drew a revolver from his hip pocket. As he tried to cock the revolver, Henry Miller’s son David wrenched the pistol away from him. This ignited a general melee in which everyone in the courtroom was more or less involved either as a peacemaker or antagonist. Pistol shots were fired, and men were striking each other with uplifted chairs. Justice Bosworth later said that the first thing he saw was “Dr. Walker stabbing Henry Miller with a large dirk knife, dealing deadly blows with unstinted vigor.” David Miller fired a pistol hitting Dr. Walker in the back, then Walker went to a bench to lay down.

Mrs. Walker went to the bench and while trying to revive her husband she received a fatal shot and slipped to the floor. Their roles now reversed, Dr. Walker went down to the floor to see to his wife.  He was shot several more times and died on the floor next to her.

Several witnesses saw Miller’s son James shoot Mrs. Walker and heard him say, “You caused the death of my father and you shall all die together.”

When the battle ended, Henry Miller, Dr. Walker, and Mrs. Walker were dead; David Miller was seriously wounded; T. A. Deaver, another participant in the affray had a knife wound in the neck; and John Hempsey had a pistol wound in the side.

The inquest held several days later found that Mrs. Walker was killed by James Miller, Dr. Walker was killed by pistol shots fired by the Miller boys without individualizing them, and Henry Miller was killed by Dr. Walker. 

William Miller was tried the following February for the murder of Dr. Walker. It could not be determined that he fired the shot that killed Dr. Walker so he was acquitted. In March, James Miller won the sympathy of the jury by stressing the family hardship of losing his father. James was acquitted as well.

Sources:

“Brownsburg's Bloody Scene,” Daily dispatch, February 11, 1890.
“The Brownsburg Tragedy,” Sun and New York Press, November 12, 1889.
“Carved in Court,” National Police Gazette, November 30, 1889.
“A Dramatic Scene,” Daily Dispatch, February 16, 1890.
“A Story of Horror,” Manning Times, November 20, 1889.
“Trial of the Millers,” Shenandoah Herald, February 14, 1890.
“The Trial of James Miller,” Sun, March 13, 1890.
“Verdict of Acquittal,” Daily Nebraska State Journal, March 14, 1890.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Girl Killed in Elevator, A Mystery.

(From New York American, January 3, 1898.)


Girl Killed in Elevator, A Mystery.


Engineer Farrell Can’t Explain the Strange Facts, and is Held.



RECALLS SMITH MURDER.

Janitor Titus Is Now Serving a Life Sentence for he Hackettstown Crime.

Queer Evidence in the Case.

Al the explanations made by Marten Ferrell, engineer of the building No. 119 Mercer street, to account for the strange death of Ellen Ryan, a pretty girl of 22, who was found dead and mangled at the foot of the elevator shaft are regarded with a great deal of skepticism by the police.

This case, in its mystery and its dramatic features, strikingly recalls the murder of Tillie Smith, eleven years ago in Hackettstown, N.J. She was employed in the seminary about a quarter of a mile form Hackettstown, and was found choked to death in the basement of the seminary.

James Titus, the janitor of the seminary, was convicted of the crime and is now serving a term of life imprisonment in the New Jersey State Prison.

THE PRIONER REMANDED.

He protested his innocence when taken to the Jefferson Market Police Court today, but was remanded by Magistrate Meade into the custody of the Coroner.

Coroner’s Physician O’Hanlon testified that the dead woman’s injuries were such as could only have been produced by powerful machinery, such as an elevator.

WHY DID ELEVATOR START?

No case of violent death in this city within a long period has held such elements of mystery or such tragic possibilities. There is, of course, no positive evidence against the prisoner, but his story is regarded as possessing many weak spots.

The police see no reason why he gilr should have tried to start the elevator which he suggested as the cause of the accident, unless she may have been trying to escape from him.

KNEW HER MANY YEARS

Farrell and his wife and two children live on the top floor of No. 226 East Ninety fifth street, and Ellen Ryan has been living with them.

Years ago, when Farrell lived in Carlow, Ireland, he knows a family named Ryan, and went to school with the daughters, Ellen and Stacia.

When he grew up he married and came to this city, where he became engineer in the big feather house on Mercer street.

Six months ago the Ryan girls came to this countgy and the Farrells harbored them until they could get work. Recently Ellen, who was out of employment was again living there.

WENT TO FACTORY WITH HIM.

Yesterday morning Mr. and Mrs. Farrell and Ellen Ryan attended mass at the Church of Our Lady of Good Counsel, in East Ninetieth Street. They had an early dinner, and Farrell sad he would go downtown and look after his fires.

Mrs. Farrell suggested that he take Ellen with him and leave her off on his return at the house where Stacia was working on Fifth-seventh street. This he agreed to do, and he and Ellen went to the shop.

THREW OFF HER WRAPS.

What happened there is the question. Farrell says he raked down his fires and then hoisted the elevator from the sub-basement to the street level, so that Ellen could get to the boiler room and warm herself.

He also says that she took of her hat and cloak and skirt and put them on a chair in the elevator so they would not get soiled by the coal dust. She sat on the edge of the elevator with her feet hanging over, while he went to finish up his work.

FOUND HER DYING.

A few minutes after he says, he heard her scream. He ran to the shaft. The elevator was at top floor, and Ellen lay crushed and insensible at the bottom.

He ran out and summoned Policeman Curtin who rang for an ambulance.

Curtin and several other policemen ran into the building and saw the body of the young woman mangled frightfully. She was still conscious and between her moans and sobs policemen say they heard her say: “My God, forgive me.” She was dressed in her underskirt, her skirt, waist and coat lying on a chair in the elevator carriage, ten feet distance.

A priest from St. Anthony’s Church in Sullivan street was summoned.  The young woman had expired before his arrival.

NEARLY EVERY BONE BROKEN 

Coroner’s Physician O’Hanlon says that almost every bone in the unfortunate woman’s body was broken and almost every vestige of clothing had been stripped off. He will perform an autopsy today.
Our police theory is that Farrell quarreled with the girl and she, in trying to escape from him, started the elevator and was crushed.

Both Mrs. Farrell and the dead girl’s sister do not believe Farrell is guilty. They both say that he is incapable of doing such a thing. Both were in court this morning. The neighbors also say he has an excellent reputation.

FARRELL’S STAEMENT

To Detective Delancey, Farrell mad this statement:

“Miss Ryan, my wife and I went to church yesterday morning. After mass the girl accompanied me to the store, where I went to oil up. We had to get into the basement by means of a manhole and a perpendicular ladder.

“There was so much oil about the placed that Miss Ryan removed her coat and skirt. There was nowhere for her to sit, so I raised the elevator a foot or two from the ground that she might sit on the front of that.

“I was going about the basement doing my work when I heard a scream. I found the girl dead and ran out to fetch a friend and a policeman."

This statement conflicts slightly with the one first made by Farrell.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

The Confessions of Mickey Sliney.

Frank Hronister, the butcher boy at Lyons’s butcher shop on Cherry Street in New York City, wasworking in the rear of the store on November 25, 1891, when Michael Sliney entered the store to speak with his boss, Robert Lyons. Mickey Sliney and Bob Lyons were close friends but that day Sliney was there on business, he and his father owned a coal and ash business and the Lyons family owed them money. 

Frank heard Sliney say, “I want the $35 and I want it quick, see!”  Lyons said he did not have the money but would pay when he was good and ready. There were more angry words exchanged then Sliney left the store.

After he left, Lyons noticed an envelope near the door. He opened it and found a note in red ink saying “Please send boy up to vestry right away.—Rev. John B. Kane.” Lyons sent Frank Hronister to St. James church to see what Father Kane wanted.  Father Kane looked at the note and said it was not his signature, the note was a forgery. When Frank returned to the butcher shop he found the mother of his boss crying over his lifeless body. Robert Lyons had been murdered.

There had been no witnesses to the crime. Robert’s mother had been in the back room when she saw a man staggering against the door, he was covered with blood and blood was streaming from his neck. When she saw that it was her son, she screamed and said, “For God’s sake, tell me who did this.” He replied, “Mother, mother, I’m killed. Mike Sliney did this.” He fell to the floor and died at her feet. 

Robert Lyons and been killed with his own meat cleaver, which lay covered with blood by the side of the block. The police went searching for Michael Sliney. When he heard the detectives were looking for him, Sliney turned himself in but said he knew nothing about the murder.

The police were sure that Sliney was the killer, but they were hard pressed to find a motive. “Lyons and I were chums,” said Sliney, “and why should I kill him?” It was hard to imagine Sliney cutting Lyons’s throat over a $35 coal bill. Sliney didn’t know who killed his chum but he had some suspicions. He said Bob Lyons and his mother often quarreled and a few days earlier he struck her in the face. Mrs. Lyons did have a bruised eye but said she fell on an icebox. Sliney also cast suspicion on Bob’s brother Jim. He told reporters, “Bob and Jim were not very friendly. The old woman wanted Jim to have the business, and Bob would not permit Jim to come into the store of late.” Jim denied any bad blood between the brothers.

When the inquest began on December 1, public sympathy was with Mickey Sliney. The bogus note
from Father Kane was shown to be the lynchpin of the case, but it could not be determined who had delivered it. The inquest ruled that Bob Lyons had been killed at the hands of a person or persons unknown, but a few days later Sliney was indicted by the grand jury.

With Sliney in the Tombs awaiting trial, Police Inspector Thomas Byrnes decided it was time to give the prisoner a good questioning. Sliney had been instructed by his attorney to keep quiet until his trial, but Inspector Byrnes, known for his harsh interrogation techniques — “the third degree” — convinced Sliney to talk. Inspector Byrnes did not reveal what was said, but Sliney told reporters that on the day of the murder he returned to the butcher shop because he had forgotten to ask Bob if he could borrow his dress coat. He found Mrs. Lyons and Jim in the shop quarreling with Bob. He saw Jim pick up the heavy cleaver and hurl at Bob. As Bob reeled and fell, Sliney left as quickly as he could. 

The police investigated for another three months before arresting Jim Lyons on March 17 and indicting him as a co-conspirator in Bob Lyons’s murder. The two men would be tried separately.
In April Inspector Byrnes went at Sliney again, this time Sliney made a full confession:
“The statements or statement that I have heretofore made relative to myself and Bob Lyons are untrue. I am sorry that I have made them. James Lyons, whom I accused of killing his brother, in the presence of Inspector Byrnes, at Police Headquarters, had nothing whatsoever to do with the murder, and I am very sorry that I made such a statement.”
Sliney said that after refusing to pay the $35, Bob Lyons knocked him down and kicked him in the stomach. Sliney left and spent the afternoon drinking. At 4:00 he went back to the butcher shop and he and Bob went out for a few more drinks, and before parting, Sliney gave him the forged note. After Frank Hronister left for the church, Sliney went back into the butcher shop and asked again for the money. They began to fight and Bob Lyons, who had thirty pounds on Sliney, dragged him toward the chopping block saying, “You ––––, I’ll kill you and make steak out of you.” Sliney broke free and, believing his life was in danger, grabbed the cleaver and threw it at Lyons, hitting him in the neck.

When asked about Sliney’s confession, his attorney, Mr. Levy said, “It does not surprise me a bit. He is crazy.” Jim Lyons’s attorneys, Howe & Hummel, applied for a discharge for their client, but the district attorney refused, saying he believed Sliney was, once again, lying.

When his case came to trial in June, Sliney repudiated his confession. He went back to saying that he saw Jim throw the cleaver at his brother, adding that Jim offered him $5,000 to perjure himself. Jim urged him to say that Sliney killed Bob in self-defense, believing he would be acquitted. Sliney’s lawyer asserted that the murder had been a conspiracy involving Bob Lyon’s mother, his brother, and his wife.

Frank Hronister helped Sliney’s case by testifying that Jim Lyons tried to persuade him to lie on the stand. He told Frank to swear that he saw a red-faced man hand Bob the forged note. Jim told him,“If you don’t do what I tell you I will fix you and that will be the end of you.” He also offered him $500 to do what he wanted.

A handwriting expert testified that he had no doubt that Sliney had forged the note. Bob Lyon’s widow testified that her husband was much larger than Sliney and Sliney could not wear his dress coat as he had asserted. Inspector Byrnes testified that in view of the number of contradictory statements Sliney had made, nothing he said could be trusted.

The jury appeared to believe the conspiracy theory but thought it included Mickey Sliney as well. They found him guilty of first-degree murder. As they filed out, one juror was heard to remark, “Maybe he killed Bob and maybe he didn’t, but he was an awful fool for shootin’ off his mouth. If he hadn’t he’d a been goin’ out with us now.”

Following Sliney’s conviction, James Lyons was released from custody.

Michael Sliney was sentenced to be executed and would have died in the “electrical chair” at Sing Sing prison, but at the urging of Sliney’s friends, Governor Flower convened a committee to investigate Sliney’s mental condition. After reading their report he commuted Sliney’s sentence to life in prison.


Sources:
“'Jim' Lyons Charged with Killing "Bob",” New York Herald, March 17, 1892.
“'Jim' Lyons Killed "Bob," Says Sliney's Counsel,” New York Herald, June 11, 1892.
“'Sliney Did It,' Arkansas Gazette, November 26, 1891.
Byrnes, Thomas. Professional Criminals of America. New York: Cassell & Company, Limited, 739 & 741 Broadway, 1886.
“A Good Day for Sliney,” New York World, June 10, 1892.
“Killed With His Cleaver,” New York Tribune, November 26, 1891.
“Lyons' Inquest Closed,” New York Herald, December 5, 1891.
“Mickey Sliney Sentenced,” Evening world, June 28, 1892.
“Mystery Shrouds the Murder,” New York Herald, November 27, 1891.
“New Light Thrown on the Lyons Murder,” New York Herald, December 14, 1891.
“Saved by Gov. Flower,” New Haven Register, April 1, 1893.
“Sliney Guilty in the First Degree,” New York Herald, June 15, 1892.
“Sliney's Guilt,” Evening World, April 1, 1892.
“Thinks Sliney is Lying,” New York Herald, April 3, 1892.
“Too Many Confessions,” New York Tribune, June 11, 1892.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

The Thirtieth Street Murder.

Residents of West 30th Street, New York City, were startled on the night of October 26, 1858, by the cries of Elizabeth Carr, a servant of the Gouldy family as she ran from the house in her nightclothes, screaming, “Help! Help! Oh, my God! Frank is murdering the whole family. Rouse the neighbors!”

The neighbors, accompanied by several policemen responded by entering the Gouldy home where they found Mrs. Gouldy at the foot of the stairs, staggering and calling for help. She was bleeding from the head, as was her husband, Francis Gouldy, who lay on the floor not moving. Also suffering from head wounds were 11-year-old Nathaniel Gouldy, 7-year-old Charlie Gouldy, and Joanna Murphy, another of the Gouldy’s servant girls. All were alive but semi-conscious. The perpetrator of the crime, Frank Gouldy was found in his room, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Waldron Woods Mystery.

Two boys looking for chestnuts in Waldron Woods near Astoria, Long Island, found the body of a man lying dead with a wound on the right side of his head on October 10, 1866. Three men hunting in the woods also went to look at the body. No one recognized the dead man. 

The man was about 5 feet 7 inches tall, about 35 or 40-years-old, with black hair, a smooth face, and a slender build. The little finger of his right hand was missing to the second joint. He was well-dressed, wearing a ribbed cassimere coat and vest and a black silk neck handkerchief. In his pocket were a box of percussion caps, a comb, a knife, a dozen buckshot, a brass key, a rosewood pipe, as small oilstone, and a steel tobacco box labeled “James Maher.” He was also holding a pistol.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

The Fort Monroe Tragedy.

Fort Monroe
In June 1891, two young men from Washington D.C., Edward A. “Ned” Hannegan and Thornton J. “Tony” Hains, traveled to Fort Monroe on the Virginia Peninsula for a few days of recreation. They were close friends; both were young men of high social standing from prominent military and political families. Tony Hains was the son of Col. Peter C. Hains of the Army Engineer Corps and the brother of Lt. John P Hains, Third Artillery, both stationed at Fort Monroe. Ned Hannegan was the grandson of former Indiana Senator Edward Hannegan and on his mother’s side Gen. Thomas Nelson, who had served as Minister to Chili and Minister to Mexico.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

A Murder Committed Three Years Ago.

(From Baltimore Sun, March 24, 1882)
A Murder Committed Three Years Ago—
A Dying Woman’s Confession

Norfolk, March 23,— About three years ago the dead body of a stranger, on which was found a card with the name “Schweiner” on it, was discovered lying near the river bank, about a mile form Elizabeth  City, N. C. There were no marks of violence upon the body, but it was apparent that he came to his death by foul means. At the coroner’s request it was shown that he had come into town from toward Norfolk, drank beer at several restaurants, and displayed a roll of money. He also stopped at a disreputable house kept by one Hickman, on Poindexter street, where also live a woman named Narcissas Miller. There were various surmises as to the murder. Among others it was whispered that Hickman had something to do with it. It was proved, however, that the murdered man had considerable money with him when he arrived in the town, and there was no money upon the dead body when found. The murdered man had a brother  doing business in Baltimore who was informed of the tragedy. A detective was sent out from Baltimore to work up the case but nothing came of it.

Soon after the murder Hickman settled in Norfolk, and the murder passed away from the minds of men. A few days ago the woman, Narcissas Miller, who accompanied Hickman to Norfolk, being sick and expected to die, made a dying declaration that Schweiner was murdered by Hicmkan in her house, in Elizabeth City.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Unhappy Returns.

Shale Smith returned from two days away from his home near Pineville, Kentucky on September 14,1896, to find his wife conversing with his neighbor Jake Luttel. Smith entered the room and demanded to know what Luttel meant by being alone with his wife. Luttel assured him that he meant nothing improper, but as Smith drew his revolver Luttel began begging for his life. Mrs. Smith saw that her husband meant to kill them both and made a run for the door. Shale Smith began firing and she fell to the ground mortally wounded. Luttel managed to escape unharmed.




















Sources:
“Shot Down,” The Owensboro Messenger, September 16, 1896.
“This Meeting Was Fatal,” National Police Gazette, October 31, 1896.
“Without Any Chaff,” Democratic Northwest, October 1, 1896.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Insane Jealousy.

Mildred Brewster
Mildred Brewster was the daughter of a wealthy farmer near Montpelier, Vermont. In 1897, 18-year-old Mildred decided to leave her father’s home and move to the city to make her own way. She found a job working for a tailor and took a room at a boarding house. All was going well until she met and fell in love with Jack Wheeler, a young granite-cutter who boarded at the same house. Wheeler knew of Mildred’s affections for him, but, he would later say, he did not return them.

Jack Wheeler was engaged to another wealthy farmer’s daughter named Annie Wheeler—they had the same last name but were not related.  When Mildred learned that he planned to take his fiancĂ© to Barre, the end of May for the Decoration Day celebration she became incensed. She paid a visit on Annie Wheeler and told her in no uncertain terms to leave Jack Wheeler alone. Mildred said she had a prior claim on his affections and if Annie did not give him up, Mildred would kill him.


Sunday, July 8, 2018

Murder Houses of Philadelphia.

Roll over images to zoom:
Rear of Holmes House - 1894
Where serial killer H.H. Holmes murdered Benjamin Pitezel. Click image for more.
Deering House - 1866
Where Antoine Probst murdered the six members of the Deering family and two others. Click image for more.
Deering Barnyard - 1866
Where Antoine Probst buried two of his victims. Click image for more.
Scene of the Wakefield Gaines Murder - 1897
Where George Wilson murdered and dismembered Wakefield Gaines, his rival for the affections of Hannah Tabbs.
Scene of the Modestino Moffo murder - 1897
Where Pasquale Daddario abused and strangled 3-yr-old Modestino Moffo then threw him out a second storey window.
Twitchell House - 1868
Where George Twitchel murdered his mother-in-law, Mary Hill, and threw her out the window. Click image for more.

“Murder Houses of Philadelphia,” Philadelphia Inquirer, August 29, 1897.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

15 Corning Street.

The strangulation of Alice Brown in her room at 15 Corning Street in Boston’s South End dominated the front page of the city’s daily newspapers in the autumn of 1897. It was a sensational crime which seemed custom made for the “yellow journalism” of the era, with a mysterious victim, a colorful cast of witnesses, no clear suspect but several possibilities. The Globe, the Herald, the Post, the Journal and other Boston dailies, aggressively followed clues and gathered background hoping to scoop each other and the police in their vivid reporting of the crime. In the end, they may have been too aggressive, adding more confusion than clarity.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Mysterious Murder.

(From Daily Inter OceanJanuary 11, 1875)


Mysterious Murder.
A Man Found Dead with Three Bullets in His Brain.

Special correspondence of the Inter-Ocean
 Leavenworth, Kan. Jan. 8, 1975.

An intense excitement has been created at Conner’s Station, twelve miles below this city on the Missouri Pacific Road, by the murder of John Stebbins, a former resident of Leavenworth. While here he kept a confectionery stand on Fifth Street, and, becoming mixed up in some quarrel with a woman of the town, closed up his shop and went to Conner’s Station, where he lived in a questionable manner with a widow. His conduct was so flagrant and obnoxious that it was a matter of comment among his neighbors. Finally, he turned his lustful eyes and desires upon the widow’s daughter, an innocent and pretty girl of 16. This was too much for the patience of the outraged community, and Stebbins was pointedly requested to leave town. This Stebbins did not want to do; so, arming himself he refused to depart.

IF NECESSARY, HE PROPOSED TO CLEAN OUT THE WHOLE TOWN.

A few days after this his body was found in a vacant lot, with three bullet holes though the head, and horribly mutilated by a drove of hogs that were feeding on the carcass. No one know who sent Stebbins out of the world, and the Coroner’s jury failed to implicate any one.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Reverend Green, Wife-Poisoner.

Reverend George W. Long arrived in Western New York in the Fall of 1864, presenting himself a Methodist minister from the south. He appeared to be in good standing, with credentials from several Southern and Western conferences so the presiding elder of the district stationed him at the Methodist church in Centerville. 

Long had a very agreeable personality and had soon gained the confidence of his congregation. Before long he met and married a young woman named Frances Doolittle in a nearby town and brought her to Centerville.

All seemed well except that the meager salary of a minister was not enough to meet Long’s needs. He began to borrow money from the brethren at the church. They were happy to lend him money until it became apparent that he had borrowed more than he could pay back. He told his creditors not to worry, he had money invested in Dunkirk, Ohio and would go there and withdraw some. He borrowed some more to cover his expenses then left for Dunkirk.

After he had been gone for some time he sent word back to Centerville that he had met a claim agent who offered to purchase some land he owned in Texas and had to go to New York City to conclude the transaction. From there he planned to go to Pittsburgh then return home. That was the last letter anyone in Centerville received from Reverend Long.

More than two years later, a Connecticut police detective arrived in Centerville, tracking a man named William Green. The detective was carrying a picture of Green which the Methodist congregation recognized as their own Reverend Long. They were forced to admit that they had been swindled.

When he left Centerville Reverend Long had not gone to Dunkirk, Ohio, he went to Utica, New York where he registered at the Northern Hotel as William H. Green. There, as Reverend Green, he preached sermons and made political speeches, and as Professor Green he delivered temperance lectures.

Though, as Reverend Long, he still had a wife in Centerville, on December 20, 1866, Green married a widow named Searles in Guilford, New York and moved with her to West Cornwall, Connecticut. There he claimed to be from Texas and became active in local politics and gave lectures on political affairs.

The following spring, Mrs. Green’s health began to fail; she was diagnosed with a pulmonary difficulty. On May 6, shortly after tea, she was taken with violent convulsions which continued intermittently until her death at about 12 o’clock. The physician called to attend her remarked on the unusual manner of her death, he could not explain it but suspected foul play.

Mrs. Green was buried four days later and her husband remained in town for about a month then suddenly moved to Utica. A week later he married an Irish girl who worked as a chambermaid at his Utica hotel. 

Suspicions were aroused in West Cornwall when it was learned that Reverend Green’s sudden departure was prompted by improper proposals he had made to a married lady in that town. They also found it suspect that a Methodist minister was married by a Catholic priest five weeks after the death of his wife. The body of Mrs. Green was disinterred, and her organs examined by Professor Baker of New Haven. He detected strychnine in her stomach and liver and concluded that Mrs. Green had been poisoned.

William Green was arrested in Utica and brought back to West Cornwall where he was examined by Justice Gold prior to being bound over for trial by the Superior Court. During an intermission in the examination, Green was sent to the Litchfield jail from which he escaped by jumping from a window. He was recaptured when he was found hiding in a barn where he had attempted to cut his own throat.

Before his trial, Green was confident that he could explain his position and the final determination of the jury would clear him. But his behavior in prison did not reflect this confidence, he made two unsuccessful attempts to take his own life. At the trial the evidence against William Green aka George Long was overwhelming and he was convicted of first-degree murder.


Sources:

“By Telegraph,” Columbian Register, November 16, 1867.
“A Clerical Wife-Poisoner and Chevalier d'lndustrie,” National Police Gazette, September 21, 1867.
“Green the Wife-Poisoner,” Norwich Aurora, November 20, 1867.
“Rev. W. H. Green, the Wife Poisoner,” National Police Gazette, November 16, 1867.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Linville Murderer.

Thursday, December 13, 1877, began as an ordinary day for Alfred Jones, a 72-year-old farmer in Linville, Ohio. He walked to Brownsville and returned home about 11:00, had lunch, sat down to relax and dozed off. He awoke when he heard the sound of squeaking shoes coming from the back porch—he had heard that sound before and thought it meant his daughter was up to no good. 

Saturday, June 9, 2018

A Hidden Skeleton.

Barton Russell and his wife were digging for ginseng in Deer Lick Hollow, half a mile north of Mooresburg, Tennessee the evening of October 16, 1886, when they made a shocking discovery. The skeleton of a young boy lay hidden under the brushwood off the road. The flesh had been torn away by birds and animals and the arm bones were missing. Near the body lay a shirt, a pair of socks, an old pair of shoes and a tattered hat. A depression in the skull indicated that the boy had been killed by a blow to the head with a club or similar weapon. 

In Mooresburg, Mrs. George Armstrong identified the shirt as one she had made for her nephew, sixteen-year-old Charley Young. She said the hat and shoes were not his and said that the missing pants were lined with the same material as the shirt. Young had left her house six weeks earlier to cross Clinch Mountain and visit his uncle and had not been seen since. 

Suspicion fell on twenty-year-old Marcellus Bunch who lived five miles from Mooresburg. About five weeks earlier he had been trying to sell a pair of shoes and a coat he claimed to have won in a game of cards. He had also told several people that he and another fellow had done something on the creek which, if known would put them in the penitentiary. When told that he had better keep it to himself he replied, “I don’t care a damn what becomes of me hereafter.” 

Bunch remained unconcerned when he was arrested for the murder of Charley Young. Young’s coat and shoes were found in Bunch’s house. The hat he was wearing was identified as Young's while the hat found with the bones was identified as one formerly worn by Bunch. 

Marcellus Bunch pled not-guilty but declined counsel. In his trial, he refused to say anything in his own defense and did not question a single witness. It was generally believed that Bunch and Young had met and played cards. With nothing left to bet, Young wagered his suit; he lost and was killed when Bunch took forcible possession of it. Bunch was found guilty and sentenced to twenty years in the penitentiary.

Sources:
“Deer Lick Hollow,” Atchison Daily Globe, October 22, 1886.
“A Hidden Skeleton,” National Police Gazette, November 6, 1886.
“The Hidden Skeleton,” New York Herald, October 21, 1886.
“Two Cases Affirmed,” The Tennessean, November 14, 1888.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

The Bessie Little Mystery.

A swimmer in the Miami River outside of Dayton, Ohio, discovered the body of a young woman floating in the water on September 3, 1896. The coroner found nothing to indicate violence; the cause of death was believed to be suicide and the unidentified body was hastily buried.

When he heard of the body in the river, Dayton Police Chief Thomas Farrell believed he knew who she was, and he had reason to believe that she had been murdered. Farrell had the woman’s body disinterred and soon after she was identified as 23-year-old Bessie Little by her adopted parents and by her dentist who kept detailed records of his patients’ teeth. The coroner still could not determine the cause of death and the body was reburied.

Her parents said they did not report Bessie missing because she had left home several weeks earlier to look for work; she was living in a Dayton boarding house run by Mrs. Freese. The full story was, the Little’s had kicked Bessie out of their house when they learned she had been intimate with her boyfriend 20-year-old Albert Frantz. They told her not to return unless he agreed to marry her. 

Mrs. Freese verified that Bessie had been staying at her boarding house and that Albert Frantz had been paying her weekly rent. She said that the last time she saw Bessie was on August 27, when Bessie told her she was going for a buggy ride with Frantz. The following day Frantz came to the house asking for Bessie and Mrs. Freese told him she never came home from the buggy ride. Frantz said she was mistaken about the buggy ride; he had not seen Bessie the night before. He then paid her Bessie’s next week’s rent in advance.

Bessie Little and Albert Frantz were from different economic backgrounds. As a baby, Bessie had been an orphan at the Miami County Children’s Home; Peter Little and his wife adopted her when she was two-years-old. But the Little’s were poor and as soon as she was old enough they put Bessie to work as a domestic servant. Albert Frantz worked as a stenographer for the Mathias Planing Mill Co. He came from a wealthy family; the youngest of five children he was spoiled by his parents and siblings. Those who knew Frantz well described him as “cruel and cunning” but Bessie was infatuated by him.

Shortly before her death, Bessie consulted a physician and some believed that she had been pregnant or had even undergone an abortion. In any case, her parents knew enough about her relations with Frantz to bar her from the house until she either broke them off or married him. Among her belongings, police found an unmailed letter addressed to the father of Albert Frantz, begging him to force a marriage. It had been easy for Frantz to seduce Bessie but he had no intention of marrying her.

Frantz maintained that he had not been with Bessie on the night of her disappearance but Chief Farrell did not believe him and kept Frantz in custody pending the outcome of the coroner’s investigation. Farrell had been able to identify the body because he knew Bessie Little had been thrown in the river even before the body was found. Frantz, with a relative, had gone to see Rev. Teeter for advice, telling him that Bessie had killed herself and he had thrown her body into the river. He wanted to know how the law would view the situation, so Rev. Teeter referred him to Judge J.W. Kreitzer. They attempted to keep the matter secret, but the story leaked out. Judge Kreitzer, acting as Frantz legal counsel would not confirm or deny the story, but Chief Farrell heard it and when the body was discovered in the Miami River, Farrell knew who it was.

Farrell was convinced that Albert Frantz murdered Bessie Little, but Frantz denied seeing Bessie that night and there was no evidence to directly link him to her death. Then on September 5, someone found a freshly dried pool of blood along with two decorative combs identified as belonging to Bessie, on the Stillwater Bridge about half a mile from the spot where the body was found. There were also buggy tire tracks believed to be connected to the blood.

This was enough to justify digging up the body once more. This time the coroner’s close examination discovered two gunshot wounds in the right ear and although the bullets had been shattered by bone, enough lead was recovered for two 32-caliber bullets. The head was then severed from the body and preserved in a jar; the body was reburied. 

Ferrell went to the home of Albert Frantz to try to compare his buggy’s tires to the prints left on the bridge, only to find that the Frantz’s stable had burned down the day after Bessie was last seen. The horse was killed and the buggy completely destroyed.

Frantz now changed his story. He and Bessie had been riding in his buggy and Bessie had been somewhat despondent. When he wasn’t looking, she drew a revolver and shot herself. Panicked and afraid the story would not be believed, he threw Bessie’s body off the bridge. The obvious flaw in this story was that two shots were fired into her head. The post-mortem examination showed two entry wounds and people living near the bridge recalled hearing cries of “Murder!” that night, followed by two gunshots.  

The revolver was still missing, and Chief Farrell was determined to find it. Believing that it had been thrown off the bridge along with the body, he mounted an all-out search of the river below. He obtained twelve powerful magnets, weighing three pounds each, and using two rowboats, dragged them along the bottom of the river trying to attract the gun. When this failed he hired Ben Graham, a professional diver who agreed to work for expenses. A.E. Pate, a champion swimmer also volunteered his services. 

While the river search proved fruitless, Farrell learned that Frantz had purchased a revolver at Dodd’s gun shop in Dayton three weeks before Bessie disappeared. He also learned that while courting Bessie Frantz was also engaged to another woman. With this possible motive, the prosecutors felt they had enough circumstantial evidence to try Albert Frantz for the murder of Bessie Little.

More than a hundred witnesses testified at the trial which began on December 14, 1896. Frantz still maintained that Bessie had shot herself. The prosecution brought out Bessie’s severed head to show the jurors the two entry wounds. Several physicians testified as to the possibility that Bessie had shot herself twice in the head. The defense’s doctors saying it was possible, the prosecution’s saying it was not. The defense did not claim that Frantz had been temporarily insane, but just in case, the prosecution had six doctors examine Frantz and testify that he was perfectly sane. 

Though the evidence was circumstantial it was enough for the jury to convict Albert Frantz of first-degree murder and he was sentenced to death. On November 19, 1897, after all possible appeals failed, Albert Frantz became the fourth man to die in Ohio’s electric chair. He professed his innocence to the end.

Sources:

“A Bullet in Her Head,” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 6, 1896.
“The Death Penalty,” The Dayton Herald, November 19, 1897.
“Devil's Deed,” Kentucky Post, September 7, 1896.
“Frantz's Fight For His Life,” Kentucky Post, December 14, 1896.
“Frantz's Revolver,” The Dayton Herald, December 18, 1896.
“Franz has Another Story,” Plain Dealer, September 11, 1896.
“His Love For Another ,” Kentucky Post, September 10, 1896.
“Is it Murder?,” Kentucky Post, September 5, 1896.
“Located,” Kentucky Post, September 12, 1896.
“Murder or Suicide?,” National Police Gazette, January 16, 1897, 6.
“One Link,” Kentucky Post, September 5, 1896.
“Sentenced Frantz,” Aberdeen Daily News, January 27, 1897.
“She Was Murdered,” Plain Dealer, September 6, 1896.
“Two Stories Of A Crime,” Plain Dealer, December 17, 1896.
“A Woman's Death,” Cleveland Leader, September 4, 1896

Saturday, May 26, 2018

A Grave-Robber’s Fate.

Dr. Henry W. Kendall was found in the graveyard of the Onondaga County Poorhouse with a bullet hole between his eyes the morning of May 19, 1882. He was alive but unconscious when found and died in the hospital later that day.

Exactly how Dr. Kendall met his fate was a mystery, but his reason for being in the graveyard was certain, he was there to snatch a body. He was found surrounded by tools of the grave robber’s trade—two shovels, a piece of old carpet, and a satchel containing a cant hook, a length of rope, a dark-lantern, and a bottle of whiskey. He was also found with a dirk and two revolvers. In his pocket was a card which read “Be sure 8 o’clock.”

Dr. Kendall made no secret of being a “resurrectionist” and bragged that he had stolen bodies from cemeteries in Manlius, Cicero, Cazenovia, and Syracuse and sold them to medical schools for dissection. It was not clear why he did it since he was a promising young doctor with a thriving medical practice in Syracuse. Dr. Totman, who had performed the post-mortem on Dr. Kendall, and had known Kendall in life described him as a monomaniac on the subject of grave robbing and said, “I have known him to rob a grave where there was no necessity for it and no demand for the body. He seemed to think there was something brave and daring in it.”

Kendall was known to use morphine; some believed that under its influence he became frightened and accidentally or intentionally shot himself. But the shot could not have been accidental, the angle of the wound indicated that the gun had been level with the forehead. The lack of powder burns near the wound ruled out suicide.

Perhaps Kendall had gone to the graveyard with an assistant and the two had quarreled. Kendall was described as “fearfully reckless” with a violent temper and he was always armed with a revolver. He may have drawn his pistol on the assistant who fired back in self-defense. But if Kendall had an assistant, no one could say who it was.

An organization called the Grave Protectors had recently been formed to combat the rash of graverobbing around Syracuse. Kendall might have lost a gunfight with one of its members, he had boasted that he would shoot any person who had the temerity to disrupt his right to steal a corpse. Even if Kendall had been caught in the act of robbing a grave, his shooter would face murder charges, and no one came forward.

None of these theories could be proved. With the lack of any suspects, the coroner’s jury found that Dr. Henry Kendall “came to his death from the effects of injuries received from a pistol shot in the hands of some person unknown.”

Sources:
“Body-Snatcher Shot,” Cleveland Leader, May 19, 1882.
“The Coroner in the Dark,” Syracuse Standard, June 12, 1882.
“Dr. Kendall's Death,” Syracuse Herald, May 21, 1882.
“A Ghoul's Death,” Critic-Record, May 20, 1882.
“A Grave Robber's End,” Evening Star, May 20, 1882.
“A Grave-Robber's Fate,” Indianapolis Indiana State Sentinel, May 24, 1882.
“Shot in a Graveyard,” National Police Gazette, June 10, 1882.
“Topmost Topics,” Middletown Daily Argus, May 19, 1882.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Who Shot “Tonce” Joy?

Fireman Doherty was on duty at the 3rd Street engine-house in Cincinnati in the early hours of Monday, November 30, 1896. A little after 3:00 a.m. he heard a gunshot coming from Muldoon’s Saloon across the street. He went to the door to see what had happened and was met by Pat Muldoon himself who rushed in and told Doherty to call a patrol wagon, someone had been hurt. Doherty sent for the wagon then looked across the street and saw two other men he knew—Billy Farrell was holding up “Tonce” Joy as if Joy was about to fall over.

Joy was unconscious when the wagon arrived to take him to the hospital. Police officers stayed behind to question Muldoon and Farrell. They told the officers that no one else was in the saloon and they were playing cards when they saw “Tonce” Joy staggering outside his hand clasped to his stomach. He told them he had been shot and showed them the wound. Muldoon and Farrell had not seen the shooting and Joy had not told them what happened. The officers took their statements and left. Joy died in the hospital at 7:48 without ever regaining consciousness.

Thomas “Tonce” Joy was a well-known sporting man in Cincinnati, likely to be seen on Vine Street at any time, day or night. Joy was 31-years-old—“a quiet, inoffensive man when sober, and even when drunk was not considered a desperate man.” But in his younger days, he had been a scrapper and carried the scars to prove it. He was a shoemaker by trade and in a melee, at a shoemaker’s ball someone drew a knife and gave Joy four deep slashes in his face. Joy was very nearly killed when a man named Smithy fractured his skull with a billiard cue. He was later stricken with paralysis; he no longer had the use of his left arm and his left leg could just bear his weight. Physically, he was not a threat to anyone.

The following day Coroner Haerr performed a post-mortem examination and officially declared Joy’s death a murder. The angle of the fatal wound indicated that either Joy was laying down when shot or the killer held the gun low down and shot up in an underhanded way. Haerr was upset that the police officers had not arrested Ferrell and Muldoon at the scene of the shooting.

In addition to being a saloonkeeper, Patrick Muldoon was a prominent ward heeler connected with the political machine of “Boss” George Cox. Billy Farrell was an ex-police officer. Friends of “Tonce” Joy said that there had been bad blood between Joy and Farrell, but no one knew the cause. Muldoon and Farrell were brought to the police station and both were quite indignant when they were put under arrest.

The story they told in police custody was essentially the same story they had told the night before, but the police knew these men and had a different theory. They believed that Joy, Muldoon, and Farrell had been playing cards with a fourth man who they were cheating. After their victim had been skinned, it was Joy’s job to steer him away. When Joy returned for his share, they wouldn’t pay, a fight ensued, and Joy was shot. The general impression was that Farrell had done the shooting and Muldoon was protecting him.

On December 3, James K. Kelly, a saloonkeeper who worked for “Boss” Cox, and Attorney Cabell paid a visit to Police Chief Deitsch. They said that they had the man who killed “Tonce” Joy but did not give his identity. The man was a city official, ready to surrender provided Muldoon and Farrell were released on bond. Chief Deitsch was anxious to talk to the man but was not willing to release his prisoners.

The following day the mystery man surrendered himself at the office of Coroner Haerr. His name was James Welton and he was a park policeman. He said he had been drinking with Joy, Joy got drunk and started to get abusive. Welton drew his revolver from his overcoat pocket. Joy grabbed him, a scuffle ensued, and the revolver went off. Joy said, “Oh, I’m shot.” Welton said, “I don’t believe you, but if you are it is your own fault.” Then Welton left him.

The police were skeptical. It came out that Welton was a friend of the prisoners and owed his city job to Muldoon’s influence. They believed that Welton had confessed to an accidental shooting to take the heat off of Muldoon and Farrell.

At the inquest, the coroner’s jury heard testimony against all three prisoners and there were a few surprises. Muldoon and Farrell changed their stories; they now said that Welton was in the saloon that night with two women. Joy came in and made some disparaging remarks about the women and Welton shot Joy in cold blood. Another witness also changed his story with contradictory results. Fred Burkhardt, a waiter who had been walking home that night, first testified to seeing Muldoon, Farrell, and Joy together on the corner but saw nothing more. But after testifying his conscience overcame his fear and he returned to the stand to say he had seen Farrell and Joy scuffling and could say without any doubt that Billy Farrell shot “Tonce” Joy. The jury decided to err on the side of caution and charged all three with murder.

When the case went before the grand jury, all the same evidence was presented but by now the police and prosecutors were convinced that Farrell was their man. But as the jury deliberated, four men known to have connections to “Boss” Cox refused to indict anyone but Welton. The District Attorney protested and managed to move the case to the next session with a less political jury. This time they followed the lead of the coroner’s jury and indicted all three.

Farrell , Muldoon, and Welton each pleaded not guilty. Though the prosecutors were convinced that Farrell was the killer there was not enough evidence to prosecute. Eventually, all three were released on bond and were never brought to trial. The identity of “Tonce” Joy’s killer remains a mystery.


Sources:
“Criminal Business,” The Cincinnati Enquirer, May 20, 1897.
“Delving,” The Cincinnati Enquirer, December 2, 1896.
“Died,” The Cincinnati Enquirer, December 1, 1896.
“Ferrell,” The Cincinnati Enquirer, December 5, 1896.
“J. S.,” Kentucky Post, December 3, 1896.
“Jim Welton,” Kentucky Post, December 4, 1896.
“Murder,” Kentucky Post, December 1, 1896.
“Murder In Sporting Circles,” The Daily Herald, December 1, 1896.
“Shot to Death,” Kentucky Post, November 30, 1896.
“Startling ,” The Cincinnati Enquirer, April 9, 1897.
“'Tonce' Joy Murdered,” The Indianapolis News, November 30, 1896.
“The Women ,” The Cincinnati Enquirer, December 6, 1896.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Mabbitt Mystery.

Luella Mabbitt.
Luella Mabbitt and Amer Green made a handsome couple. 23-year-old Luella was an attractive,   well-formed young lady—“of the blonde type of beauty and very winning in her ways.” Amer Green, 34-years-old, was tall and good-looking with manly features. But Luella’s father, Peter Mabbitt, did not approve of his daughter’s suiter, so reluctantly, Luella told Amer that they had to break up. She would return his letters and he was to return hers.

On August 6, 1886, Amer Green, with his friend William Walker took a buggy ride to the Mabbitt home in Wildcat, Indiana. Her parents saw Luella leave the house with the letters, but she never came back.

Peter Mabbitt believed that his daughter had been kidnapped by Amer Green. Green and Walker were questioned by authorities, but both denied any knowledge of Luella’s whereabouts. In the days that followed search, parties were organized in the area around Wildcat Creek. Peter Mabbitt hired a private detective and offered a reward of $500 for the apprehension of his daughter’s kidnappers.

When it was learned that Amer Green had left town, many believed that he had murdered Luella and had fled to avoid capture. The night of August 12, a group of masked men broke into the home of Amer Green’s mother, put a rope around her neck and demanded that she either divulge the whereabouts of her son or say her prayers. She told them she did not know where Amer was and they could go ahead and pull the rope whenever they were ready. She remained defiant as the men continued to question her. Eventually, they left without doing any further harm or gaining any information.

A portion of Louella’s dress was found in the creek near her father’s farm, its torn condition indicated a struggle. While this tended to reinforce the theory that Luella had been murdered, there was a growing belief that she and Amer had eloped and would turn up safe and sound in due time. It was rumored that Amer had secretly appeared at his mother’s house and told her that all was well, and Luella was being well cared for.

Amer Green.
With a lack of anyone else to prosecute, William Walker was tried for his alleged role in the abduction of Luella Mabbitt. As the Delphi Times pointed out, “The trial was much less than a farce.” On the stand, Walker gave a detailed account of his time on the night of Louella’s disappearance and it was corroborated by Luella Mabbitt’s sister Cynthia (who would marry Walker the following year). In addition, it could not be proven that Luella was actually abducted. Walker was found not guilty.

As the months passed, the mystery of Luella Mabbitt’s disappearance came no closer to being solved. It was rumored that Luella’s body had turned up in Wildcat Creek, and it was reported that a detective had found Amer Green and Luella Mabbitt happily married in Dallas, Texas. The first story was proven false, the second could not be verified. As the Delphi Times stated, “One of two conclusions can safely be arrived at—either Amer Green is the most diabolical, infernal scoundrel or the most cruel joker that Indiana ever produced.”

In February 1887, the badly decomposed body of a woman was found in the Wabash River near the mouth of Wildcat Creek. The body was identified as Luella Mabbitt by her mother and sister, but Peter Mabbitt said it was not her and the examining doctor said the body was of a woman in her forties.

As the story of the elopement of Luella Mabbitt and Amer Green was gaining acceptance, authorities in southern Indiana remained convinced that Amer Green had murdered her. Amer Green and his brother William were known troublemakers, and William Green was already on the lam for murder. William, who was described as “a hideous hunchback” murdered Enos Broombough after a disagreement at a picnic in Young America, Indiana, and managed to escape capture. Detectives and lawmen were searching for both Green boys in Tennessee, Texas, and Missouri.

On July 15, 1887, both of the Green brothers were arrested in Fort Worth, Texas by Sheriff J. G. Stanley and brought back to Cass County, Indiana. While Amer Green was awaiting trial in Logansport, Indiana, he was visited by Peter Mabbitt. Green assured Mabbitt that he daughter alive and well. He offered no proof, however, saying that all would be made plain at the proper time.

Now that Green was captured, the people of Cass County were growing impatient with the legal process. The Circuit Court found an error in the indictment against him and a grand jury was hastily convened to draft a new one. In the meantime, Green’s attorney moved for a change of venue. With no positively identified body and no hard evidence against Green, it was viewed unlikely that he would be found guilty of murder.

Around midnight on October 21, 1887, a mob of 200 men surrounded the jail in Delphi, Indiana where Amer Green was being held. After being refused the jail keys by the Sheriff, some of the men, armed with sledgehammers battered in the door. As Green begged for mercy the mob pulled him from his cell and put him in a wagon and take to the woods. The leader of the mob told green he must either produce Luella Mabbitt or die. Green said that Luella was alive and living with a man named Samuel Payne in Fort Worth, Texas; he hadn’t said so before on advice of his attorney. Convinced he was lying, the mob hung him from a tree. It was reported that the body was viewed by thousands of people before being cut down the following morning.

The death of Amer Green did not end the mystery of Luella Mabbitt. Some newspapers reported that an innocent man had been lynched, while others sent reporters to Fort Worth but were unable to find anyone named Samuel Payne.

On the night following the lynching, a young woman, heavily veiled, stepped off an eastbound train in Delphi, Indiana. She went to the baggage room and asked if her trunk had arrived from Fort Worth. The Mabbits denied that their daughter had returned. The mystery woman was never seen again, but rumors persisted.

Sources:
“[Amer Green],” Logansport Journal, August 12, 1886.
“Alleged Kidnapping,” Logansport Pharos Tribune, August 9, 1886.
“Amer Green Murdered,” National Police Gazette, November 12, 1887.
“City News,” Logansport Pharos Tribune, January 8, 1887.
“Died Lying,” Wheeling Register, November 6, 1887.
“Found in the Wabash,” The Inter Ocean, February 9, 1887.
“Found to Be Not Guilty,” Delphi Times, August 27, 1886.
“The Green Boys,” Evening Leader, July 18, 1887.
“Innocent but Lynched,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 24, 1887.
“Is Luella Mabbitt Alive? ,” New York Herald, October 25, 1887.
“Lou Mabbett's Fate,” Elkhart Daily Review, February 11, 1887.
“Lou Mabbit Mystery,” Monmouth Evening Gazette, August 19, 1886.
“The Lou Mabbitt Mystery,” The Journal Times, August 18, 1886.
“Lou Mabbitt's Disappearance,” Daily Register, August 14, 1886.
“The Mabbit Mystery,” The Indianapolis News, August 20, 1886.
“Walker Skipped,” Delphi Times, September 3, 1886.