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.

Thus was it determined from the first by the police and by these papers that Harry Baldwin  should be murdered in a house of prostitution, and thus did they refuse to consider any other theory or to search in any other line. And thus did they go on from day to day to make this murdered man a degraded character, and to torture the stricken young wife and parents with their defiling of all his life. And all for a more newspaper sensation, to feed gossips with lies which in due time would he proved false.

One of these introduced a stroke of the ludicrous into this dreadful business by consulting a fortune teller, and announcing that it had plucked the heart out of the mystery, and that the killing was done by his deserted paramour, and it would give full particulars in a sixteen page Sunday edition. But the sixteen page Sunday edition came, and was empty, for the Coroner bad not examined the fortune teller.

Let it be remembered that in all this there has not been turned up a jot of evidence that Harry Baldwin ever had any illicit relations with n woman, and not a jot to connect his murder with the Bennett house or the Daltons, and therefore that all this is a most cruel slander of the dead, and a most savage torture of the feelings of the stricken families. Up to this time the police, thus set on, have refused to consider any other theory than those which revolve around Kate Bennett’s and make a had character of young Baldwin. Having determined that this should be so, they have made no intelligent investigation in any direction. Even if it shall be proved —as it has not yet been—that Lowther did not come to Cincinnati that night, still, are there not other persons who might shadow a man whose appearance and business indicated that he had money on his person, and who had incautiously said at the railway station that he had collected some money? When the police and the certain portion of the city press shall have turned their efforts from blacking this dead young man's life, and the police shall have started upon a rational Inquiry, then the public may hope for a solution of this mystery.

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