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Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Newmarket Murder.

Around 1:00 am, the morning of February 26, 1867, Israel Coriell, of Newmarket, New Jersey,  was awakened by frantic knocking on his front door. It was Bridget Durgan, servant girl of his cousin, Dr. Lester Wallace Coriell, carrying the doctor’s two-year-old daughter. Nearly hysterical, Bridget told him that burglars were ransacking the house, the doctor was out on a call, and she feared that his wife, Mary Ellen, was being murdered. Coriell sent her to awaken his neighbor, Rev. William Little, while he went to Main Street and rang a large bell as a signal of general alarm. Reverend Little and two other men followed Bridget back to Dr. Coriell’s house.

They found the house filled with smoke and traced the source to a smoldering fire in one of the bedrooms. When they doused the fire and brought some light into the room, the men were shocked by what they found. There were signs of a fearful struggle; clothing was strewn in ragged heaps, and feathers torn from the pillows lay on the floor, all stained and matted with blood and gore. A broken chair was splintered and covered with blood. The body of Mary Ellen Coriell lay in the middle of the floor covered from forehead to breast with hideous gashes, her jugular vein had been torn out, and the deep imprint of four teeth was visible on her neck. It was later determined that she had been stabbed twenty-three times.

When the excitement had died down the men questioned Bridget Durgan on the night’s events.  She told them two men had called at around 8:30 looking for the doctor and they were told that he was visiting a patient. Two hours later they returned, and Mrs. Coriell let them in. Soon after, she heard Mrs. Coriell scream then she called to Bridget telling her to take the child and go for the doctor. Bridget picked up the baby and hurried to Israel Coriell’s house.

The information was telegraphed to police departments in New Jersey and New York. The next day as detectives looked for the murderer a coroner’s jury was empaneled and began examining witnesses. The knife used in the murder was found in the privy; it had come from the Coriell’s kitchen. Bridget Durgan testified that she knew two men, Barney Doyle and John Hunt, who had had a grudge against Dr. Coriell over the treatment he had given family members. Doyle and Hunt were brought into court, and Bridget identified them as the men who had come to the house the night before. But both men had alibis and witnesses to back them up.

Then Bridget told the court that a servant girl named Anne Linnen had perpetrated the deed, planning to rob the house. She took the butcher knife and went into the sitting room where Mrs. Cariell was sleeping and remarked: “An American woman’s life ain’t worth anything anyhow.” Anne Linnen had an airtight as well.

Dr. Coriell testified that his wife had been dissatisfied with Bridget’s work, and she was to have left on February 22, but she had taken sick, and the Coriells let her stay until she regained her health. Another witness testified that she had seen Bridget changing her clothes in the yard shortly after the murder. The teeth marks on the victim’s neck were compared to Bridget’s and were found to correspond exactly.

When it became clear to Bridget that she was now the prime suspect in the murder she sprang up, striking the table with her fist and crying out, “Who’ll dare swear I did the murder? You’ve all questioned me and think I did it. What else do you want to know? I know how did it, but I won’t tell you.”  The coroner’s jury deliberated for fifteen minutes then charged Bridget Durgan with the willful murder of Mary Ellen Coriell.

Bridget Durgan was a stout Irish girl who had been in America for two years and had worked for the Coriell family for four months. Her features were plain and unexpressive and she had drooping eyelids giving her face a somewhat evil look. The newspapers were not sure what to make of her; the New York Herald said, “Her manner throughout the inquest yesterday betokened that she was either a cunning evil doer, hiding her moral ugliness under a simulated appearance of a half idiot, or a half witted creature in the full sense of the word.”

The case went to trial on May 20, amid much public interest. The courtroom was filled to capacity and may spectators were turned away due to lack of space. The trial lasted eleven days, and more than 70 witnesses testified, but there was very little information that was not included in the inquest. Bridget contended that the murder was committed by the two men who came to the house earlier in the evening and her attorney asserted that nothing in the testimony contradicted this. Further, he claimed that it would have been impossible for Bridget to have committed the deed without being drenched with blood. The prosecution presented a compelling case of circumstantial evidence, giving much weight to the marks on the neck but stating, “It was not the single link, but the continuous chain of facts which bound the prisoner to the scene through all its bloody details with links of iron and hooks of steel.”

The jury took only twenty minutes to return a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree. When the judge sentenced Bridget Durgan to be hanged, many in the gallery applauded.

The date of the execution was set for August 30, and while awaiting execution in prison, Bridget issued three separate confessions. The statements were somewhat contradictory; many believed that she had not acted alone and was still protecting someone else. Mary Gilroy who had testified for the defense was a known pickpocket who had been a friend of Bridget’s in New York was questioned after the trial and was held as a possible accomplice.

Bridget Durgan’s fourth confession, given the day before her execution, was the mot complete. She said she acted alone and that Mary Gilroy was absolutely innocent. The motive, she said, was not robbery as most believed, but to remove Mrs. Coriell so that Bridget could take her place as the doctor’s wife. She stated that when she heard that the doctor was going away, she put the butcher knife in a convenient place in preparation, and she described in gruesome detail how she had committed the murder and set fire to the bed. 

Interest in the execution was intense. On August 30, the 3rd Regiment of the New Jersey Rifle Corps was mobilized to surround the courthouse in New Brunswick where the hanging was to take place. The Sheriff of Middlesex County, J. Manning Clarkson, had hoped to limit witnesses to 200 people but that number soon swelled to 500. New Jersey state law required executions to be private, prohibiting admittance to anyone but the sheriff, his deputies and other specified officials so, in compliance with the law, Sheriff Clarkson deputized all 500 witnesses.

Bridget was accompanied on the scaffold by two Catholic priests. At fifteen minutes past 10:00, while the priests were whispering in her ear, the rope was cut and “after an almost imperceptible quiver, Bridget Durgan was no more!”


Sources:
“Bridget Durgan,” Daily Evening Telegraph, August 28, 1867.
“Bridget Durgan.,” New York Herald, August 28, 1867.
“The Coriel Murder,” World, June 5, 1867.
“The Coriell Murder,” Trenton State Gazette, May 22, 1867.
“The Middlesex Murder Case,” Trenton State Gazette, May 1, 1867.
“Miscellaneous,” New York Herald, February 27, 1867.
“Murder at Newmarket, N. J.,” New York Herald, February 27, 1867.
“Murder in Newmarket, N. J.,” New York Tribune, February 27, 1867.
“The Newmarket Murder,” Trenton State Gazette, May 23, 1867.
“The Newmarket Murder,” World, May 31, 1867.
“The Scaffold,” Daily Evening Telegraph, August 30, 1867.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Slaughter Ends a Wedding Feast.

Trinidad Romer was a wealthy, young Mexican living in Douglasville, Texas, a few miles southwest of Abilene. He was in love with the daughter Julius Larinski, a Polish settler, but her affections were fixed on another man. Miss Larinski was enamored with Nathan Sorowski, another Polish immigrant, who had little to offer other than his love.

Mr. Larinski preferred the wealthy Mexican and told Romer that if he could arrange to put Sorowski out of the way, he would give him his daughter’s hand in marriage. Not long after this, Nathan Sorowski disappeared from Douglasville without a trace.

Trinidad Romer married Miss Larinski on November 11, 1893. The ceremony was followed by a sumptuous feast at which Romer became quite intoxicated. He began to loudly boast of killing Nathan Sorowsky with the help of Julius Larinski. This changed the mood of the celebration and so enraged the bride that she attacked her husband and attempted to cut his throat with a butcher knife. She was prevented by her father, but now believing that they were all in league against her, she turned the knife on herself, slashing her throat from ear to ear. Shocked and enraged by his daughter’s death, Julius Larinski put the blame on the groom. He grabbed his shotgun and emptied both barrels into Trinidad Romer.

The entire tragedy could easily have been averted; Nathan Sorowski had not been murdered. Romer had sent him on a wild goose chase. About a month before the wedding Romer had hired Sorowski to travel to Eddy, New Mexico and see a man about a projected cattle deal. When he reached his destination, he learned that no one had ever heard of the man he was looking for. He returned to Douglasville, arriving the day after the wedding.

Sources:
“His Own Life,” The Cincinnati Enquirer, November 13, 1893.
“Slaughter Ends a Wedding Feast,” National Police Gazette, December 2, 1893.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Augusta Schmidt.

Little Murders
   
J. Oscar Walton, a tenant farmer in Walton, Indiana, had an argument with his landlady, Mrs. Augusta Schmidt, the morning of October 21, 1893. They shared a house on the rented property, Mrs. Schmidt and her family in one half, Walton and his family in the other. They stood in the doorway between the two halves as they argued. Walton was upset that geese and hogs owned by Mrs. Schmidt had been let loose in his cornfields and were scattering the corn all around. As the argument became more heated, Walton threatened to take his gun and shoot the livestock. Mrs. Schmidt went into her side of the house and returned with a revolver, and while Oscar Walton’s mother and ten-year-old son watched, Augusta Schmidt shot him in the head and killed him.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Murder and the Ghouls.

Little Murders
(From Cincinnati Daily Gazette, March 24, 1879)


The Murder and the Ghouls

The course of several of the city papers on the terrible tragedy of the murder of Harry Baldwin is an example of the way in which a mere mercenary desire for a sensation scandal, to sell a few more papers, can overcame all principle, all conscience, all the instincts of decency, all sense of justice toward the dead, and all regard for the feelings of the living relatives. Harry Baldwin was found on the street, after his arrival in the night by railway from Indiana, shot through the head and dying, and with signs of having been robbed. Men have been murdered on our streets for the purpose of robbery before now. And even if the police did not at the moment know who did it, this was no reason for throwing themselves into wild inventions. He was found in this dying slate leaning against the wall of a house nearly opposite the public house of which Kate Bennett is mistress. With no other ground than this, the theories of the police and of these newspapers have centered upon and circulated round Kate Bennett's house, and have persisted in connecting Baldwin’s death with that.

From the first, and up to this time not a particle of evidence has been produced to show that Harry Baldwin ever had any illicit relations with any girl, or was ever in that house, yet the police and these papers have insisted that the solution of the mystery was in that house, and have invented and given currency to a mass of wild fancies of his relations with a woman who had become desperate because of his marriage. No such girl has yet been found nor heard of.

The police arrested the Bennett and all persons in her house—boarders and servants. This was accepted and published as positive proof that Baldwin went from the cars to that house and there met his death at the hands of a desperate woman. Then a woman of the lowest degree of prostitution, living in that vicinity, was arrested with her two daughters, one of them described as having had her face partly eaten up with disease. This conveyed the idea that Harry Baldwin was a companion of all sorts of degraded women. A paper remarked that it did not know which of these Dalton girls was his paramour.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Confession of a Wife Murderer.

Little Murders

Charles Herman
Charles Herman and his wife Eva lived in the upper part of a house on Blossom Alley in the German section of Buffalo, New York. He was an unemployed butcher, and she was worked for a man named Christopher Ziegler, running a small fruit stand in a public market. What little money Eva made went primarily to Charles’s worsening alcohol problem. When he drank, he turned violently jealous, irrationally believing that Mr. Ziegler was too intimate with his wife.        

Their marriage had been on the rocks for several years, and nearly every night Charles and Eva engaged in loud, sometimes violent fights, so neighbor took little notice when they heard the couple shouting on the night of Sunday, November 1, 1885. But the days following that Sunday were quiet, and although Charles Herman left in the morning and returned at night, there was no sign of Eva. On Wednesday, November 4, one of the neighbors became concerned, and after Charles had left in the morning, she went to call on Eva. Finding the door locked, she forced it open and found Eva lying on the floor with her throat cut from ear to ear. Her fingers had been cut as well, and the room showed signs of a terrible struggle. A post mortem examination determined that Mrs. Herman had been dead since Sunday.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Murderous 1850s.

Reports of sensational murders had proven so successful at selling newspapers in earlier decades, that by the 1850s murder had become a front page staple of American newspapers. Murder stories, unfolded in the daily papers as if they were serialized mysteries, and readers could not get enough.


An Unfortunate Organization -1850

Phrenology, the theory that a person’s character is determined by the size and shape of his head, was quite popular in America during the 1850s. A phrenological analysis of Reuben Dunbar in 1851 found him to be excessive in Destructiveness, Combativeness, Aqusitiveness, Secretiveness and Firmness, while being deficient in Self-esteem and Philoprogenitiveness. He had “an unfortunate organization” in which his moral faculties were not sufficiently large to balance his animal propensities. While the phrenologist professed scientific objectivity in the analysis of Dunbar’s head, she may have been somewhat influenced the fact that, at the time, Reuben Dunbar was charged with murdering his two young stepbrothers to protect his inheritance.

The North Carolina Tragedy. -1852

The Reverend George Washington Carawan, prominent and powerful North Carolina Baptist minister was a man of violent temper and strong animal passions, more apt to inspire terror than piety in those around him. The sorrows he begat in his relationships would follow him to the courtroom for the last savage act in Carawan’s tragedy.

Arthur Spring Jr. vs. Arthur Spring Sr. -1853

On the morning of March 11, 1853, the bodies of Mrs. Honora Shaw and her sister Mrs. Ellen Lynch were found brutally stabbed and beaten in the front room of their home on Federal Street in Philadelphia. Circumstantial evidence pointed to Arthur Spring, a frequent guest of Mrs. Shaw’s, as the murderer. But the most damning evidence against Spring was the testimony of his nineteen-year-old son, Arthur Jr. who directly accused his father of the murders. Arthur Spring vehemently denied the charge and countered by pinning the murders on his son.

The Veiled Murderess -1853

In 1854, a woman calling herself Henrietta Robinson stood trial in Troy, New York, for poisoning a neighbor and his sister-in-law. Despite the judge’s admonitions, she sat through the trial with her face covered by a black veil, hiding her appearance from the throngs of spectators who had come to watch. Everything about the defendant was a mystery—her motive for murder, her behavior before and after the crime, and even her true identity. It was well known that “Henrietta Robinson” was an assumed name, but who she really was has never been determined.

The Killing of Bill The Butcher -1855

Bill “The Butcher” Poole was a champion New York City pugilist in 1855—before the Marquess of Queensbury rules—when kicking, biting and eye-gouging were acceptable tactics and “fight to the death” was more than a metaphor.  It was also a time when a challenge was likely to be issued out of pure hatred for your opponent.  When John Morrissey, the Irish enforcer for Tammany Hall challenged Bill Poole of the the anti-immigrant “Know Nothing” Party it promised to be the ultimate grudge match. But when the fighters turned to knives and guns, all pretext of sport was gone.  It would be Bill “The Butcher” Poole’s last fight.

The Bond Street Tragedy -1857

The townhouse at 31 Bond Street was, to all appearance, a model of staid middleclass Manhattan decorum. In 1857 it was a boardinghouse run by Mrs. Emma Cunningham with the dental office of Dr. Harvey Burdell on the second floor. But after Dr. Burdell was found in his office strangled and stabbed fifteen times, 31 Bond Street was shown for what it was—a hotbed of greed, lust, intrigue and depravity.

The Manheim Tragedy -1857

On a sunny December morning in 1857, Mrs. Anna Garber and Mrs. Elizabeth Ream were raped and murdered in Mrs. Garber’s home in Manheim, Pennsylvania. Evidence overwhelmingly pointed to Alexander Anderson and Henry Richards, two African American workmen seen in the neighborhood. Though there was little doubt as to who committed the murders, a question still remained: would they be tried by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or would the case would be handled by "Judge Lynch."

Dan Sickles's Temporary Insanity -1859

Dan Sickles, congressman from New York, was married to the most beautiful woman in Washington but his other interests, including his mistresses, often kept him away from home. Feeling lonely and abandoned, his lovely young wife, Teresa, found comfort in the arms of Philip Barton Key. When Sickles learned of their affair, he armed himself and confronted Key on the street. Blinded by rage he shot and killed his wife’s lover. Was it premeditated murder or temporary insanity?

A Balance of Probabilities. -1859

The morning of December 11, 1859, eleven-year-old Priscilla Budge carried a cup of tea to her mother’s bedroom. There she found her mother dead, lying on the bed with her throat cut. Mrs. Budge was known to be mentally unstable and her husband, the Reverend Henry Budge, immediately declared that his wife’s death must have been suicide. The coroner’s jury agreed and Mrs. Budge was soon buried—a quick conclusion to an unpleasant event. But as it turned out, it was not the conclusion, just the opening argument of a debate that would go on for years.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

"Yes, I Shot to Kill."

Little Murders

Commerce on the busy intersection  of Twenty-Fourth and J Streets, in Omaha, Nebraska, was interrupted, the evening of October 16, by the crack of three pistol shots. A young woman fired once in the air, trying to get the attention of the man who had just walked away from her. When he continued walking without turning around, she aimed at his back and fired again. Then she pointed the revolver at her own head and fired a third shot. Two bodies fell to the pavement.

Both were still alive and were quickly taken to Presbyterian Hospital. The man was Henry J. Reiser, a well-known, single, man-about-town, connected to the Armour meat packing company. The shot had severed his spinal cord, and he was not expected to live. The woman was Mrs. Eloise Rutiger, a prominent Omaha social leader, whose husband was also associated with Armour. The bullet had only grazed her head, and she was in no danger.

“Is he dead yet?” Mrs. Rudiger asked when she came to in the hospital, “Yes, I shot to kill. It was for my husband to do, but he would not, so I did it myself. The wretch has given me enough cause, and I hope I have accomplished what I undertook.”

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Maniac at Des Moines.

Little Murders
(From Jackson Citizen, July 17, 1883)

The Maniac at Des Moines.

The fight with a maniac at a Des Moines (Iowa) hotel, briefly chronicled previously, was as follows: At noon Sunday a man who apparently alighted from the Rock Island train going west registered his name at the Morgan House, near the station as Henry Seage, of Swans, N. Y. He paid for his room and went thither at once. About 4:30 o’clock a boarder heard the cry of murder, and called the landlord. The latter hurried to Seager’s room, and found the door barricaded with the bed. Seager fired a shot at the landlord, and he fled. Other shots were fired, one of which carried off the door plate, and following in quick succession until thirteen had been fired through the door and wall, several of which scarred the wall across the narrow hall. Seager then demolished the furniture of his room, and did the same in several adjoining rooms, and threw his money, a considerable amount, into the gathering crowd below. He then had a collision with a boarder named Joseph Holmes, in a room at the end of the hall, but breaking away from Holmes he escaped to the roof of the wing to the building, Holmes followed, and while trying to grab seager he was felled by a blow from a bottle in the hands of the maniac, a bad gash being inflicted on the head.

By this time five policemen had reached the roof. A shot was fired, whether by Holmes or Seager is not certain, but it took effect in one of Seager’s legs, and he partly fell. In staggering, Seager fired again, aiming at the center of his forehead. He was then overpowered and taken to the city hospital, where he wounds were dressed. Seager’s skull was crushed by the ball aimed at his forehead, and the bullet that entered his thigh is thought by doctors to have entered his body. They consider his case fatal. He seems to be a mechanic or laborer. His luggage consisted of a pair of shoes, and inside his hat band was written the name of Mary Frew.



Saturday, March 4, 2017

Murder Among the Whyos, Part 2.

Daniel M. Lyons (burglar),
Dan Driscoll and Dan Lyons were the successful leaders of New York City’s Whyo gang in the early 1880s. After Driscoll’s arrest for murder in 1886, Dan Lyons became the sole leader, but his reign did not last long. Confusion surrounds the cause of Lyons’ downfall in 1887—most modern accounts say he was executed for murdering a popular amateur athlete, but in fact, he was shot to death by an angry saloonkeeper. Either way, murder led to the demise of the Whyos.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

A Mystery Solved by a Skeleton.

Little Murders
(From New York Tribune, September 12, 1884)


A Mystery Solved by a Skeleton.

Complicity of a Wife in the Murder of Her Husband and Children.
[By Telegraph got the Tribune]

Beaver Falls, W. Va., Sept 11.—The mystery surrounding one of the most remarkable crimes committed in the Coal Valley has been cleared up by a singular chain of circumstances. Some fifteen years ago the family of John Ireland lived in a cabin a short distance from this town. The family consisted of husband, wife and three children. One Thompson, who had been in the neighborhood for some months was a frequent visitor at the Ireland cabin, called there one morning and found, so he at the time reported, the dead bodies of the three children, all young lying on the floor in pools of blood. Ireland and his wife were missing. Thompson gave an alarm at the nearest house a mile away and a search for the missing people was made. After some time Mrs. Ireland was found gagged and bound to a tree. She affected to be nearly frantic and claimed that her husband had committed the deed. As he was missing she was believed. Soon after Thompson and the woman began living together. They quarreled frequently and one day she was found dead in her bed. No inquest was held and it was given out that she died of heart disease. Thompson disappeared four or five years ago.

On Tuesday, a party of boys came to the mouth of a shaft that had been sunk years before for coal, but for some cause was abandoned. While standing at its edge one of them dropped a knife into the shaft. They determined to recover it. Precautions were taken against foul air and by the aid of a rope and torch the boy was lowered to the bottom a distance of twenty-five feet. A scream of terror caused him to rapidly draw up when he declared there was a skeleton in the shaft. The authorities made examination and brought up few bones and a rusty tin tobacco box. In it was found a document written by Ireland saying that Thompson aided by Ireland’s wife had attempted to kill him but at first only stunned him, that recovering he discovered the three children dead. Seeing he was alive they again beat him and carried him out for dead and threw him into the shaft. He recovered and wrote the note after vainly calling aid. Undoubtedly Mrs. Ireland was bound to the tree by her accomplice to throw suspicion on the husband.




Saturday, February 18, 2017

Murder Among the Whyos, Part 1.

The Whyos, in 1886, were the strongest and most brutal criminal gang New York City had ever known. Under the joint leadership of Dan Driscoll and Dan Lyons, the Whyos grew to control criminal activity throughout the city. But Driscoll and Lyons were too violent and reckless to rule for long and their mistakes led to the demise of the gang. The Whyos’ downfall began when Dan Driscoll stole Beezy Garrity from her pimp John McCarthy. 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Murderous Shooting in a Bagnio.

Little Murders
(From Cincinnati Commercial Tribune, June 2, 1875)


Murderous Shooting in a Bagnio.
A Girl Attacked with a Pistol.
Case of Jealousy and Revenge

The after-dark sporting fraternity was all agog last night over the report of a shooting of the inmate of a house of ill character on Longworth street. The particulars, shorn of the reportorial dressing up and exciting bristles, are these. Shortly before 10 o’clock last night a young man, well dressed, pulled the door bell of Kate Riley’s house, located on Longworth street. He was admitted by the mistress of the mansion, and shown to a seat in the waiting room, where he asked for Kate’s sister, Marla Riley, with whom the young man was well acquainted. Kate agreed to all Marla down form her room in the third story, and in a few minutes the young woman appeared to greet her guest. She found him, on entering the room, seated by a table, with a strange expression on his face and his hand behind his back. She misconstrued the expression and the attitude, cordially greeted the visitor, and advancing toward him, asked him what he was holding behind him—was it a present for her? The man responded with a menacing speech, presented a pistol, cocked it and fired at the girl, who, surprised and sorely wounded, and wildly shrieking, fled into a side kitchen. She was followed by her assailant, who fired at her again, and after she had thrown herself behind the stove for protection he fired another shot, while in the arms of the poor girl’s sister, endeavoring to restrain the murderer. In the struggle he dropped the pistol, and it is said he snatched it up again and fired at the prostrate and screaming girl the only load remaining in the chambers of the weapon, which was a four barreled Sharp’s pocket pistol.

Officers Sullivan and Daley, on their beat in the vicinity, hearing the shots, rushed to the place and arrested the man. He was taken to the Ninth Street Station and locked up giving there his name as George Wilder. He was recognized as Frank Wilder, a three-card monte man, and a character who has latterly made a living by following shows with trick and gambling apparatuses.

Doctors Freeman and William Judkins were called in to see the wounded girl. It was found that she had been struck by but one of the pistol balls, which entered her abdomen and came out under the skin of the left thigh. Dr. Judkins pronounced the hurt mortal, though Dr. Freeman thought it was not necessarily so.

The girl’s account is, substantially, that she is about twenty-five years of age, and has lived at her sister’s house for some time. She had known Frank Wilder intimately, as she had known a number of other men. She had not seen him for three years, until last Wednesday morning. He spent Monday night at the house in company with the girl, and left in the morning. The next time she saw him was last night when he accosted her with the pistol.

Wilder came here last from Newtown, Ohio. Some time ago, it is said he attacked the girl in Indianapolis, and attempted to shot her. This is one of the old cases, undoubtedly, of jealousy resulting from fast life and bagnio attachments.

At last accounts, the wounded girl was sinking, and it was thought she would die before morning.
Wilder, in his cell at Ninth Street Station, did not seem to regard the affair in a very serious light last night, but he refused to make any statements whatever in regard to it. In reply to interrogations of the arresting officers he said, “Oh, let up, now, I am just as ‘fly’ as any of you, and do not propose to give myself away.” He was perfectly sober when the shooting took place, and it is said was trying to borrow a pistol early in the evening.

After he had been left alone, he undressed and hung up his clothing in his cell with as much ease as if he were resting in a first-class hotel, and soon after laid down on the bench and fell asleep, in which condition he remained at 2 o’clock this morning when our reporter left the Station.

It looks very much like a clear case of premeditated murder, without the usual accompaniment of “emotional insanity.” The prisoner gave his age as twenty sever years, and his is rather genteel in appearance, about five feet seven or eight inches in height.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Monster or Maniac?

Sarah Jane Whiteling
On March 17, 1888, Mrs. Sarah Jane Whiteling of Philadelphia sent for the family physician, Dr. George Smith, to examine her husband, John, who was vomiting and suffering from abdominal pains. The doctor diagnosed John’s illness as inflammation of the bowels and prescribed some medicine. It did not relieve the suffering, however, and three days later John Whiteling was dead.

Dr. Smith was summoned to the Whiteling home again about a month later, this time to attend Mrs. Whiteling’s daughter Bertha. She expired as well, and Dr. Smith attributed her death to gastric fever. When Dr. Smith was called again in early June, to treat 2-year-old William Whiteling he refused; having already presided over two deaths in the Whiteling household he referred the case to Dr. George Dietrick. When William died, Dr. Dietrick gave obstruction of the bowels as the cause of death.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Murders, Murder Trials, Confessions of Murder, Discoveries of Murder, &c., &c.

Little Murders
(From Richmond Enquirer November 6, 1845)
The last Chicago Democrat 22d ult., is little better than a continued chronicle of horribles. First comes a confession said to have been made by Birch, one of the murderers of Col. Davenport, in which he discloses all the particulars of that horrible transaction.

“The Redmans, (or Redings,) kept a house which was used as a general rendezvous for the fraternity of rascals in their visits to that part of the country. It was at the house, (on Devil Creek, Lee county, Iowa,) that the plan was devised and conceived of murdering Col. D., and the father of the family, (there are three of them—the father and two sons) was present and assisted in the arrangement for the bloody deed. He has been indicted by the Grand Jury of Rock Island, as an accessory before the fact. A son of this old man (William) assisted at the robbery of Knox and Drury’s office, in Rock Island, about the time of Davenport’s murder, for which an indictment was also found against him.”

The trial of Birch, and two of his accomplices in the murder, was to have commenced last Monday:
“Fox of Indiana, alias Sutton of Illinois, alias Johnson of Iowa, is still at large In the violent indignation of the people against him, woe to the man or woman who secrets him. We fear that any discovery of the kind would lead to Lynch law; and unless he is found soon, some persons who have heretofore secreted him had better leave the State until the excitement is past. There is a point beyond which such knaves as Fox, Big Davis, Favor, Baker , Aiken, Land, Dean, Driskell, Button, &c., &c., cannot go in Illinois.”

Next comes the solution of a mysterious murder, committed some months since:
“It will be remembered that, soon after the two Hodges were hung, one of the brothers of the Hodges was killed in Nauvoo. Among other developments at Rock Island, it has come out that, out of fear of his confessing, he was shot by Jack Reding, or Redman, whose father and brother are now confined at Rock Island. Jack is still at large.”

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Did He Murder His Namesake?

28-year-old Cornelius Callahan and his 23-year-old cousin also named Cornelius Callahan, took a train, on October 24, 1883, from Hartford, Connecticut to Meriden, Connecticut where Daniel Callahan, the brother of the elder cousin had a job opportunity for the younger. After transacting their business, the three had a few drinks before the cousins took the limited express that evening back to Hartford. When the train arrived in Hartford, only the elder Cornelius got off.

The arriving Cornelius Callahan told the family that his cousin had been standing on the platform outside of one the cars and had fallen off the train near the town of Berlin. He said he told the conductor and a porter, but was not believed. The family was also slow to believe this story, but the following day the brother of the missing man and the father of his cousin, walked the track near Berlin. They met a crew of railroad men who said they had found a body underneath a pile of crossties; it was their missing relative, almost exactly where Cornelius had said it would be.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Unsolved Massachusetts.

Massachusetts was the site of America’s most famous unsolved murder – the shocking daylight axe murder of Andrew and Abby Borden. The prime suspect, Andrew’s daughter Lizzie, was acquitted, a verdict that remains controversial. A number of lesser known nineteenth-century Massachusetts murders have also remained unsolved and are shrouded in mystery just as deep.

Lizzie Borden Took an Axe...Or Did She? -1892

Either Lizzie Borden got away with murder or someone else did. Lizzie was acquitted of the axe murder of Andrew and Abby Borden and no one else was ever arrested.                    

Her Miserable End. -1885

Alone and troubled in a strange town, Carrie Whitney fell prey to despicable men who were never brought to justice.

Two Shots, a Shriek. -1891                   

Josephine Brown, a Boston prostitute, was murdered on Christmas Eve, 1891. Her alleged killer was never captured.                   

The Medford Mystery. -1892

The mystery of Walter Debbins murder in Medford, MA, grew more dense with each new revelation. No motive was ever determined and the mysterious suspect was never captured. 

The Webster Mystery. -1887

Alice Hoyle must have known something about her sister Lillie's violent death, but each time she was questioned she told a different story. What actually happened that night in 1887 remains a mystery and her killer or killers were never punished.                   

The Boston Barrel Tragedy. -1872

The dismembered body of Abijah Ellis was found stuffed inside two barrels, floating in the Charles River. Despite impressive detective work by the Boston Police and the most advanced blood analysis available in 1872, no one was convicted of his murder.                   

Saturday, January 7, 2017

A Murderer’s Death Dance.

Little Murders
(From New York Sun February 10, 1888)


A Murderer’s Death Dance.
      
Fiddling and Singing the Night Before His Execution.


The Utica, N.Y., Feb. 9—Clement Arthur Day was executed in Utica jail at 10:24 ½ o’clock this morning in the presence of 24 citizens, including all officials. He was declared dead in 11 ½ minutes. His neck was broken. Before he left his cell, he declared that he had nothing further to say to the public. On his knees, in the presence of the Rev. E. Owen, his spiritual adviser, he declared himself guiltless of premeditated murder. Four drams of croton oil, sufficient to kill four men, were found in his cell within a week. His father declared he would never be executed.

Day clapped his hands after the death warrant was read, and smiled. On walking over the ice in the jail yard he laughed heartily over the falls of the sheriff, Rev. E Owen, a newspaper reporter, and Special Deputy Burke, exclaiming: “That’s four of them.” He yawned while his legs were being strapped on the scaffold. He shook hands and kissed Deputy Burke, and assisted Deputy Ballow in adjusting the rope about his neck, He smiled as the cap was drawn over his face and the smile was still there when the body was cut down.

The crime for which Day was hanged was the murder of his paramour, Johanna Rosa Cross. The crime was committed on the banks of the Black River canal the 9th of last June. Day’s father, a lock tender, was the only witness of the tragedy. Day was jealous of his mistress and feared she would leave him. She had tried many times to get his permission for her to visit her mother, but he always refused, saying she would never return. The day before the tragedy she received a letter from her mother saying she was dying and asking the daughter to come to her. She wrote a reply to the letter and she and Day started down the bank of the canal toward Boonville, where they intended to mail it. They had gone but a short distance when Day turned on her and struck her with a butcher knife. She fell and he continue cutting until eight distinct cuts were made, one of which entered the heart and another the abdomen. The father informed the authorities of the crime, and after spending a day in the woods the murderer gave himself up. In the interviews with him after his arrest not a particle of regret for what he had done could be drawn from him. He pretended to have been converted and to be penitent, but his conversation and instincts were vulgar and beastly to the end. The condemned man passed the last night of his life on earth without displaying any nervousness. On the contrary, he seem to enjoy his violin, and sang and danced with jail officials and others with apparent unconcern for his future until 12:30 this morning. He then went to bed and slept until 6:30.