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Saturday, November 10, 2018

Miser Henry’s Murder.

Charles W. Henry was a cruel and heartless miser. In 1895 he was 70-years-old, living in Brooklyn with his wife and 39-year-old son William. Though Henry was a wealthy man, he kept his family in a state of poverty, spending little on food and the most basic amenities. Their house was large, but the inside was filthy with dust and clutter. Mrs. Henry’s room had a bare floor and a single cot, while Charles slept on four chairs in a row, alternating back and front held together by tape. Mrs. Henry was frail and emaciated, wearing the same clothes she had for twenty years. Charles kept a daily ledger of household expenses, each day on a separate card, the cards were tied together in bundles and the stacked bundles went back many years. An example of an extravagant day was Christmas 1894 when 54 cents was spent on dinner for three.

Henry came from a prominent Long Island family and a street in Brooklyn was named after his father, Dr. Thomas Henry. At an early age, Charles married a beautiful young woman of high social standing but with little money. Charles inherited a large sum of money from his father, allegedly swindling his only brother out of his share. Though his business dealings thrived Charles lived like a pauper and kept his wife a virtual prisoner in the house.

The Henrys had three sons, Charles, William and Walter. Charles Jr. married young and moved out but was soon diagnosed with acute melancholia. Believed to be a vagrant, he was committed to the New York City Asylum for the Insane on Ward’s Island. William, after several failed business venture, became an alcoholic. Still living with his parents, he spent his money on drink when he had it and suffered delirium tremens when he didn’t. 30-year-old Walter was the antithesis of William, successful and sober, he left his father’s house when he married. Although Charles did not approve of Walter’s bride, Walter remained his favorite son.

Charles Henry had a long history of abusing his wife both verbally and physically. She left him once in the 1870s and hired a lawyer for a legal separation but thinking he was acting in her interests the layer negotiated a reconciliation and she returned to her husband. Henry’s attitude did not improve and his abuse of if wife and William increased over time. 

Around the first of June 1895, Charles drove his wife from the house. She showed her neighbor marks on her throat where Charles had grabbed her and said she was afraid he would kill her but she returned to him a few days later anyway. On Saturday, June 8, they fought again and William tried to intervene to protect his mother. Enraged, Charles drove both William and his wife into the street and bolted the door. Next day Charles tried unsuccessfully to get a warrant for William’s arrest for threatening him.

Walter learned what had happened and arranged to send his mother to a sanitarium. On Wednesday he went to see his father to ask if he would help in her support. Charles refused and handed Walter a handwritten letter asking for Walter’s help against his wife and William who he said were conspiring to have him declared insane. He encouraged Walter to disown his brother William.

Thursday, Walter went back and found the shutters closed and the doors bolted, there was no answer when he rang the bell. Then he went to the police station to see if his father could be held responsible for his mother’s board at the sanitarium. When he told the police that he could not get into his father’s house, an officer accompanied him back there to make an investigation. With the policeman’s approval, Walter entered the house through a second story window.

They could not find Charles inside and the officer suggested that they look in the basement. Walter wanted to look in the bedroom first. There they found the closet door opened and documents scattered on the floor around it.

“William’s been here.” Said Walter.

They went up another flight of stairs to Williams’s room, the only clean room in the house.

“Yes, William’s been here,” Said Walter, “He has taken away his clothes.”

The officer again wanted to go to the basement. Walter hesitated so the officer went down first and found Charles Henry lying dead at the foot of the stairs.

“Here he is,” the officer shouted to Walter who lingered halfway up the stairs.

“Yes,” said Walter “this is some of William’s work.”

Walter said his father was subject to fainting spells and had probably fallen downstairs and fatally injured himself. The officer accepted this explanation but when the coroner arrived, he found at least 20 axe wounds in the side of the dead man’s head. He ordered the arrest of William Henry.

The police thoroughly searched the house for clues to the murder and Walter joined them searching for the old man’s will which Walter said left the bulk of the estate to him. Inside the closet, in Charles Henry’s room, they found a leather trunk which they believed contained his important documents. They forced it open and inside were stocks, bonds, crisp new banknotes and gold and silver coins, with a total value of $77,000. Walter did not find the will.

Later that day William walked into the DeKalb Avenue police station and gave himself up. Since the night his father threw him out of the house he had been sleeping outside in Prospect Park.  He learned that he was wanted for the murder of his father when he read it in the newspaper. To avoid further trouble he immediately turned himself in, but he absolutely denied killing his father.

The missing will was starting to pose a problem for Walter as a number of people came forward claiming an interest in the dead man’s fortune. The New York City Asylum for the Insane said that if Charles Jr. was one of the heirs he should be transferred to a private facility and pay for his own care. The wife and daughter of the insane man were expecting a share. Mrs. Shaw, a niece of the widow expressed her intention to fight when Walter attempts to administer the estate. A. S. Grosser of Richmond, Virginia, who married the daughter of Charles Henry’s only sister, would be making a claim. He also believed that Charles had inherited an even larger amount from a dead relative in Scotland and the assets were hidden in the house or in secret accounts.

Though Walter had done much to implicate his brother William in the murder, he now changed tactics and engaged his own lawyer to defend William and represent both of their interests in the fight for the estate. It was now believed that Walter planned to split the estate with his William and exclude everyone else.

The police claimed that they had additional evidence which they were not ready to reveal and District Attorney Ridgway said that he was confident of a conviction. But the police and the examining physicians could not agree on the time of death and when the Grand Jury convened they did not find enough evidence to indict William Henry for murder. William was released from custody and no one was ever convicted of the miser’s murder.


Sources:
 “Charles Henry Murder,” Indianapolis Journal, June 16, 1895.
“Evidence Insufficient,” New York Tribune, October 2, 1895.
“Henry Murder Inquest Policeman Walsh Details the Discovery of the Old Man's Body,” Philadelphia Inquirer, June 20, 1895.
“Miser Henry's Murder,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 30, 1895.
“New Evidence Now,” New York Herald, June 23, 1895.
“Police Follow the other Son ,” New York Herald, June 17, 1895.
“Still A Deep Mystery,” New York Herald-Tribune, June 17, 1895.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Where is Alice Sterling?

Mrs. Alice Sterling of Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood, traveled to Everett, Massachusetts the morning of Wednesday, April 10, 1895, leaving her daughter Alice in the charge of her husband George Sterling. Mr. Sterling took young Alice along to his barbershop and while he cut hair he could see her playing outside on the steps, but when it was time to go home, Alice was nowhere to be found.

8-year-old Alice Sterling—named after her mother and known as Mamie at home—was a popular and highly regarded child. She was described as “the pride of a household, the pet of a school, and the idol of her brothers and sisters and playmates." Her disappearance caused considerable excitement throughout the neighborhood. Alice was still missing at 5:00 when her mother returned, and her siblings were sent out to look for her. When they were unsuccessful, Mrs. Sterling stopped Officer Perkins as he walked his beat; he made some inequities but found no trace of Alice.

Alice was still missing the next morning and when Mrs. Sterling contacted the police again Officer Perkins began a more thorough investigation. He learned that Alice was seen that afternoon near the barbershop talking with an unidentified man wearing dark clothes. Later she was seen walking down Savin Hill Avenue with a man answering the same description and later near Savin Hill Beach with the same man. Satisfied that Alice had been kidnapped, Perkins relayed the information to his captain who told him to change into civilian clothes and continue the investigation until he could find something definite.

Further down Savin Hill Avenue, he found a woman who had seen a man she knew, Angus Gilbert, walking with a little girl. Later he found a woman who saw Gilbert walking with Alice; she knew them both and had stopped to shake their hands.. 

Angus Gilbert
Angus Gilbert, a 28-year-old immigrant from Nova Scotia, worked as a choreman on the Emmons Estate in Dorchester. He did light work such as chopping wood and carrying water in exchange for board and lodging. At night he worked as assistant station agent in a railroad depot. He lived in a room in the barn at the estate. The barn, all but abandoned, no longer housed animals and Gilbert slept in a room that had formerly been lodging for a hostler. When Officer Perkins learned where Gilbert lived he believed that Gilbert had taken Alice by a roundabout route to Emmons’s barn. 

On Saturday, Officer Perkins arrested Angus Gilbert on suspicion that he abducted Alice Sterling. With Gilbert in custody, the police began a thorough search of the barn. After two hours of unsuccessful searching, one of the officers struck something projecting from the dirt floor of the barn’s cellar. It was a child’s foot. 

The officers sent for the medical examiner. News of the discovery traveled fast in Dorchester and before the examiner arrived a curious crowd had formed at the barn. More officers were dispatched and they held the crowd back while in the cellar the medical examiner, a doctor and two reporters watched, by the light of a lantern, as four police officers dug out the body of Alice Sterling. She had been buried vertically, head first, in a small hole in the cellar floor. If the hole had been three inches deeper, they probably would not have found her.

A superficial examination of the body revealed that the left side of her head had been crushed, probably by a blow from an axe. On the forehead over the right eye was an ugly looking lump. The police found a bloody axe and a blood-stained piece of wood nearby. After a thorough post-mortem examination, the medical examiner confirmed everyone’s worst fear, Alice had been sexually assaulted before she was murdered. 

George Stirling was astonished —Angus Gilbert had been one his best friends for the last four or five years. Gilbert often came to visit the family and had been especially fond of Alice. He would take her on his knee and they would laugh and talk. He jokingly told her if she would hurry up and grow he would marry her. Mrs. Stirling swooned when she heard of Alice’s death. She had been suffering from nervous prostration since Alice’s disappearance and her physician did not believe she would survive.

In police custody, Angus Gilbert denied any knowledge of the murder, but he could not adequately account for his time. He vaguely remembered walking home on Wednesday but was sure that Alice was not walking with him. He had been drinking heavily and could not remember what happened that afternoon, but he knew he hadn’t murdered Alice. He was not capable of murder and even he had done it while drunk he would not have been able to forget. Under severe interrogation, Gilbert admitted that he did bury the body. He had stumbled on it in the cellar and when he saw who it was he was afraid that he would be blamed. But he steadfastly refused to say that he killed her.

Angus Gilbert was indicted for the murder of Alice Sterling. As a formality, to make sure all bases were covered he was charged with three counts—murder by smashing the left side of her head with an axe, by blows to the forehead with an unknown weapon, and by inflicting mortal wounds with a blunt instrument unknown. The court appointed Col. William W. Doherty, a former U.S. Marshal as his public defender.

At his trial in June, Gilbert pled not guilty and Doherty perused an insanity defense. Mrs. Sterling, who had recovered from her prostration but not her grief, provided some drama when she ended her direct testimony by exclaiming from the witness stand, “Only that man has killed my Mamie, my darling! He has murdered her, murdered her!” Then again after her redirect testimony, she shouted, “That is the murderer of my little Mamie; the murderer of her, the murderer!”  Col. Doherty moved for a mistrial after the outbursts, but the motion was denied.

The trial lasted four days and on June 28, the case was given to the jury. After deliberating for an hour and twenty-five minutes they found Angus Gilbert guilty of first-degree murder. The courtroom erupted in applause when the verdict was read. 

The case was appealed but the appeal failed. Gilbert was sentenced to hang on February 21, 1896. The sheriff erected the gallows in the Charles Street Jail; it was last used some twenty years previous to execute Thomas Piper for a similar crime. Though it was not a public hanging, 300 seats were set up on two sides of the gallows for invited witnesses including the family of the victim, members of the jury, lawmen, politicians and reporters. At 10:49 that morning Sheriff O’Brien sprung the trap and at 11:19 Angus Gilbert was pronounced dead.  Gilbert never confessed, asserting his innocence to the end.


Sources:
“Angus Gilbert Hanged,” Boston Daily Advertiser, February 22, 1896.
“Angus Gilbert Talks,” Boston Herald, February 20, 1896.
“The Arrest of Gilbert,” Boston Herald, April 14, 1895.
“Buried Her in the Barn,” Boston Herald, April 15, 1895.
“Child is Missing,” Boston Journal, April 12, 1895.
“Confessed He Buried Her ,” New York Herald, April 15, 1895.
“Dead!,” Boston Journal, February 22, 1896.
“Gilbert Convicted,” Boston Post, June 29, 1895.
“Gilbert in Court,” Boston Journal, April 15, 1895.
“Gilbert's Trial,” Boston Journal, June 24, 1895.
“A Horrible Crime,” State, April 14, 1895.
“Indicted for Murder Alice Sterling,” Boston Daily Advertiser, April 19, 1895.
“Is He Insane?,” Boston Journal, June 25, 1895.
“Motion Denied,” Boston Daily Advertiser, June 28, 1895.
“That Man Killed My Mamie,” Boston Herald, July 12, 1895.
“Where is Alice Sterling,” Boston Herald, April 12, 1895.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

A Murder in Pantomime.


Lizzie Lochner returned home from a night on the town sometime after midnight the morning of June 2, 1894. Her husband Joseph, who stayed home with the children—4-year-old Rosa and her infant brother— berated Lizzie for her for coming in so late. They began to loudly argue the matter as they had done many times before.

Their lodger, Gus Englund, was used to being awakened by the Lochner’s arguing but this night was different. The voices grew to a crescendo followed by a few minutes of silence, then the sound of a gunshot. Joseph Lochner burst into his room and said, “Oh, Gus, Gus, I have done it. I have killed my wife.” He then ran out of the building by the back door.

Englund went into the other room and found Lizzie Lochner lying on the floor, a puddle of blood by her head. The baby was still on his mother’s arms and Rosa stood over her dead mother, trembling in fear. Englund sent for the police and the children were taken to the home of Lizzie’s half-brother, Abe Slupsky. 

Rosa Lochner was a witness to the murder, but she had been deaf since birth and her spoken vocabulary was limited to the words: mamma, papa, baby, and bye-bye. It appeared that she would not be able to supply any information. However, after she regained her composure Rosa gave Mrs. Slupsky a detailed account of what happened in pantomime. Her mamma rocked the baby to sleep, then papa woke her up, pointed a revolver at her head and fired, mamma fell dead on the floor, papa took off her rings, then fled.

Mrs. Slupsky notified the police, and after some coaxing Rosa repeated the show for the police and reporters. The St. Louis Post sent an artist who drew Rosa’s motions and his series of pictures was printed in the paper.

The police found Joseph Lochner at his brother’s house at around 2:30 the morning of the murder. He surrendered quietly to the police and admitted to killing his wife, but said she was unfaithful, and he had no regrets over shooting her.

Lochner was 38-years-old and had come to America from Bavaria as a young boy. He had worked hard and saved enough money to open a small bakery in St. Louis. Around the same time, he married Lizzie Rosenstein—ten years his junior and daughter of a well-to-do painter. Lochner’s business failed and his marriage grew cold. Lizzie was young and full of life, but Joseph had not the time, money or inclination to take her out. Despite his admonitions, Lizzie went out anyway and came home late.

While in police custody, Lochner gave a sworn written confession to the murder of his wife. She had gone out that night as she did very often, leaving him at home with his heart full of anger and sorrow. When she returned he asked where she had been, and she told him it was none of his business.

He responded, “Lizzie, if you go on like this I will leave you in the morning.”

“Good you -------,” she said, “Oh, I am so glad. Go to-night for all I care.”

She began singing and dancing in her joy. Lochner was outraged, became crazy and determined to kill her. When she sat down and began to rock the baby he took his revolver and shot her in the head. Lochner was now remorseful and sorry that he killed her telling the police that he wanted to hang, as he had nothing more to live for.

It looked like an open and shut case of first-degree murder—the prosecution had Lochner’s sworn confession, the testimony of Gus Englund, and Rosa’s eye-witness account. Rosa Lochner’s pantomime of the murder was sure to gain the jury’s sympathy.

But there was sympathy for Joseph Lochner as well; his friends in the Bohemian community raised $4,000 for his defense and hired Col. Robert S. MacDonald to represent him. Not to be outdone, Abe Slupsky retained Judge Chester H. Krum to assist the prosecution. Lochner agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder. Without consulting Krum or Slupsky, Circuit Attorney Zachritz accepted the plea and sentenced Lochner to ten years in prison. There would be no trial.

Krum and Slupsky were livid. Lochner’s sworn confession had mysteriously disappeared from the police station, prompting Slupsky to publicly question who had received the $4,000 raised for Lochner and how it was spent. However, nothing could change the outcome. 

On a positive note, Abe Slupsky agreed to adopt his half-sister’s children and planned to take Rosa to Chicago where he was confident that her deafness could be cured.

Sources: 
“Goaded Him to Madness,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 3, 1894.
“In Pantomime,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 21, 1894.
“Lochner's Confession Lost ,” St. Louis Republic, October 26, 1894.
“Murder in Pantomime,” Boston Daily Globe, June 22, 1894.
“A Murder in Pantomime,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 24, 1894.
“Murdered by Her Husband Mrs. Little Lockner Shot in the Night,” St. Louis Republic, June 2, 1894.
“No Regret for Uxorcide,” Decatur Daily Review, June 3, 1894.
“Took His Plea,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 16, 1894.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

A Most Horrible Affair.


A report from Vicksburg, Mississippi stated that William Montgomery, a citizen of Harrison County, Indiana, was murdered in Vicksburg around the first of August, 1867. His body was found in the Yazoo River, with a grindstone tied to his stomach, apparently in a failed attempt to keep him from floating to the surface. Montgomery’s throat had been cut and his head was hewn to pieces with a hatchet.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Brooklyn Murderess.

When William W. Place’s first wife died, he was anxious to remarry, looking for a mature woman who was a good housekeeper and most importantly could take care of his young daughter, Ida. In 1893, he hired a servant named Martha Savcoll, a widow from New Brunswick, New Jersey, to keep house at their Brooklyn home. He was happy with her work and she seemed to lavish a great deal of affection on Ida. Soon William was showing her more attention than would naturally be given to a hired servant, and in a month or two he was seen with her at the theater.

After a whirlwind courtship, despite objections from his relatives who thought she would bring him trouble, William married Martha Savcoll. Sure enough, not long after the marriage, Martha’s true nature came out; she had a quick temper and she often quarreled with other family members. She was annoyed that William had put the house in Ida’s name. She wanted her adopted son to live at the house and William objected. But the biggest difficulty was Martha’s jealousy of William's affection for his daughter. Ida played piano and loved to accompany her father who had a fine tenor voice. They also shared a passion for amateur photography. Martha resented the time they spent together and had been heard to say, “Ida and her father will be married someday, I suppose.”

Saturday, October 6, 2018

The Mysterious Murder of William Wilson.

Major William C. Wilson was a dealer in old manuscripts and proprietor of Wilson’s Circulating Library on Walnut Street in Philadelphia. He had fought in the Civil war with the 104th New York Infantry and received two field promotions for bravery, first to captain then to major. After the war, he settled in Philadelphia where he led a solitary and somewhat eccentric life. He had few acquaintances outside the Franklin Chess Club which he visited each evening between 7:00 and 10:00—the Philadelphia Inquirer would later call him “one of the most lonely characters in the city.”

Around 7:30, the night of August 16, 1897, Officer Smith of the Philadelphia Police found the back door of Wilson’s store open and suspected burglary. Investigating by candlelight, Smith found the store in disarray and saw a pool of blood on the floor with a trail of blood leading behind the counter. There he found Major Wilson’s body, with a towel around his neck and his face and head “beaten to a jelly” by a hammer which lay near the body.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Rum, Jealousy and Murder.

George Widman and Thomas Brownlee accompanied a young lady name Miss Norris on an excursion up the Hudson River from Yonkers, New York to Newberg, aboard the steamer Grand Republic on Sunday, October 5, 1879. Widman, a 25-year-old carpenter, and Brownlee, a 27-year-old blacksmith were good friends, members of the same hose company of the Yonkers fire department. Widman was a steady man with quiet, temperate habits; Brownlee was a hard drinker known to become quarrelsome when drunk.

As the trip progressed, it became clear the Miss Norris favored the attention of Widman, who had taken her to the circus the previous Friday. Brownlee drank heavily on the boat and expressed his feelings toward Widman in very intemperate language.

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.

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. 

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.

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.