Saturday, October 11, 2014

Fanaticism and Murder.

Little Murders
(From Centinel of Freedom (originally published in The Troy Times), May 10, 1859)

Fanaticism and Murder.

The Quiet Sabbath was broken in upon yesterday by the commission of a horrid murder, in the town of Sandlake, about fourteen miles from Troy, of a daughter by her father and only surviving parent, a man about 60 years of age named John Belding. The scene of the homicide is about four miles East of Sliter’s tavern, and near the steam saw mill on Sandlake road. The parties lived in a little house, in which the father earned a livelihood for himself and daughter by following the trade of a shoemaker. The daughter’s name as Christina. She is about nineteen years of age, and is described by the neighbors as a quiet and well-behaved girl. She had been unwell for some time, and, it is said, had been under the care of a female doctress residing in Berlin, in this county, named Weaver. Her mind, it appears, was somewhat affected, but whether from religious excitement or from some other cause, we are unable to say. She labored under the impression that the devil had possessed her, and used to pray very frequently for deliverance from his grasp. A day or two before he murder, the old man and daughter went over to the house of David Horton who resided opposite the Beldings, when Christina said she had taken medicine of Mrs. Weaver, and it made her feel as if “the devil was in her, and she would scratch him off; but that she had thrown the medicine away, and drove the devil away too.” The old man had not done much work recently, as it affected the  girl’s head, and it is supposed that in consequence of his care of her, want of sleep, &c., his own mind had become temporarily affected, and while under the delusion that “Dena,” as he calls her, was the devil, he killed her.

The account which Belding gives of the affair is, that he saw the devil lying on the bed and he struck it in the face. The girl, it appears, was lying down in the back room. Belding followed her from that room to the front room, in which the murder was committed with a shoemaker’s hammer. Her skull was completely smashed to pieces. Portions of the hair were scattered about the room, and pieces of the skull were lying over the floor. Her face too was considerably bruised and disfigured, but no marks of violence were discovered on the other parts of her body. Belding says he thought she was the devil—that she appeared to him to be four times as large as “Dena”—and from his previous and subsequent conduct there can scarcely be a doubt that the old man imagines he had a fight with the devil, or he he expresses it, with “three devils, and he had all he could do to kill them.” They lived alone in the house.

It is supposed the murder was committed about 12 ½ o’clock yesterday afternoon. The first person who discovered the murder was Nicholas Ryermiller, who first saw the old man outside the house.—He appeared very much excited and told Ryermiller that he had “killed the devil, and it was lying in there”—point to his house. Ryermiller looked in and discovered the dead body of the daughter.—He asked the old man if it was not “Dena” that he had killed? Belding replies that he did not think it was. Belding’s hands and shirt sleeves were covered with blood. Ryermiller testified before the Coroner’s jury that the father and daughter had lived with him about six months, previously to their residing in the house were the murder was committed and that they always appeared happy together, and, as the witness expressed it “never had any crazy times.” Christina was a quiet, good girl.

Coroner Madden, of this city, was notified of the murder and at six o’clock last evening proceeded to the scene of the tragedy. He found the neighborhood in great excitement. Belding was raving like a maniac when the Coroner arrived.

The Grand Jury sit today. The evidence in the case will be handed over to them for their action at once. They will probably authorize a commission to investigate the sanity of the murderer, and if he is declared insane, will send him to the Lunatic Asylum; or they will indict him for murder, as in their opinion the evidence warrants.

The neighbors give both Belding and the daughter a good character. The old man was sober and industrious, and his delusion was the result of some cause other than drink. Dr. Barber of Poesteakill, believes it to have been cause by his incessant care and attention to his sick daughter.

"Fanaticism and Murder." Centinel of Freedom 10 May 1859.


Cat says:
September 20, 2019 at 3:34 PM

I wonder if he could have taken some of the "medicine" that Mrs. Weaver gave his daughter. It made her feel as if “the devil was in her, and she would scratch him off; but that she had thrown the medicine away, and drove the devil away too.” Could he have found it and taken it?

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