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.”

“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.

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

Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Mabbitt Mystery.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, May 5, 2018

A Wronged Husband's Revenge.

M. F. Boyd, the Tax Receiver of Floyd County, Georgia, suspected his wife of infidelity and had a plan to catch her in the act. On October 11, 1892 he told his wife he would be leaving town for the day, but he secretly returned home that afternoon.

Mrs. Boyd was from a good family but had been somewhat wild before the marriage; she was said to be “fond of wine and a lark.” That afternoon she lived up to her reputation, lying in bed with Walter Mitchell, owner of a steamboat line in Rome, Georgia.

Both were intoxicated with wine and sleeping soundly which was why they did not hear Boyd enter the room. Boyd was disabled and confined to a wheelchair. He had his assistant roll him into the bedroom then told him to leave the room and shut the door behind him. Boyd wheeled himself to the edge of the bed and without warning began to stab Mitchel with a sharp knife. He managed to inflict five wounds to Mitchell’s head and sever an artery in his left arm before waking Mrs. Boyd.

Mitchell was taken to his home where he died soon after. M. F. Boyd went into Rome surrendered himself to the sheriff and was released on bond. He also swore out a warrant against his wife for adultery and she was arrested and put in jail.

“A Cutting Affray,” News and Observer, October 12, 1892.
“A Cutting Affray in Georgia,” The Baltimore Sun, October 12, 1892.
“Wronged Husband,” National Police Gazette, October 29, 1892.