Saturday, December 22, 2018

Neal Devaney.

Neal Devaney.

In the summer of 1866, newlyweds Neal and Catherine Devaney left Ireland for New York City. Catherine worked as a domestic servant and had saved enough money to book passage to America for both of them, but they had very little left upon their arrival. They knew no one in New York but Neal had friends in Hazelton, Pennsylvania and planned to find work there while Catherine stayed in the city to work as a servant. Neal thought it would be easier for Catherine to find work if the employers thought she was single, so they agreed to pose as brother and sister. Neal then left for Hazelton promising to send for Catherine when he was established.

In July 1867, Neal wrote to Catherine and asked her to meet him in Easton, Pennsylvania on Monday, July 22. From there he took her to Hazelton and left her at John McKelvy’s boarding house. It had not been a joyous reunion. Catherine confided to Mrs. McKelvy that Neal confessed that he had met and been intimate with a woman named Mary Callahan. She became pregnant and the following Sunday Neal and Mary were to be married. Neal told Catherine that if Mary’s family found out he was already married they would kill him. Neal urged Catherine to return to New York, but she refused. Catherine told Mrs. McKelvy that Neal had shown her a two-barreled pistol and said he had considered shooting himself. 

On Wednesday evening Catherine said she was to meet Neal at the Catholic church at 8:00. Mrs. McKelvy tried to dissuade her from going, believing that Neal would not hesitate to remove whatever obstacle stood in the way of his upcoming marriage. Catherine left anyway, heading in the direction of the Jeansville Road. She never returned.

On Thursday the McKelvys went to the Justice, explained the circumstances and attempted to get an arrest warrant for Neal Devaney’s arrest, but he did not believe it was enough to justify a warrant. The McKelvys continued to tell their story until on Friday they found a lawyer who was able to initiate an investigation. Witnesses near Jeansville Road reported hearing a pistol shot between 10 and 11 o’clock Wednesday night, followed by two screams several seconds apart.  Neal Devaney was arrested on Friday; he was carrying the pistol with only one barrel loaded, and the keys to Catherine’s trunk.

Soon after, the body of Catherine Devaney was found near the Jeansville Road, about 300 yards from the Catholic church. She had been shot in the chest and her throat had been cut, severing her jugular vein and carotid artery. 

Neal Devaney’s trial began on September 5. The evidence was purely circumstantial, and the prosecution was hindered by the fact that everything Catherine told Mrs. McKelvy was ruled inadmissible. Devaney denied killing Catherine, called those who testified against him liars and tried to accuse Catherine’s cousin of the murder. The trial lasted one day, and the jury returned a verdict of guilty. The following day Devaney was sentenced to hang. When asked if he had anything to say, Devaney said:
“I never committed the crime. I am innocent as a child unborn; they sold me for money.”
Neal Devaney maintained his innocence until the night before his execution when he finally admitted to the murder, dictating a story that matched the one Catherine had told Mrs. McKelvy. He ended by saying:
“I do not suppose that any man and wife lived more happily and wished each other better than we until I commenced keeping company. This was the cause of my committing murder.
“I am very sorry that I did it, and I hope to be forgiven. I am now prepared to die at any moment.”
The confession was hastily printed up and as Neal Devaney climbed the scaffold in Wilkesbarre, Pennsylvania on the morning of November 12, 1867, copies of his confession were being sold to the crowd at his public hanging.

“A Horrible Murder of a Wife,” Harrisburg Telegraph, August 17, 1867.
“The Execution of Neal Devaney,” Bloomsburg democrat, November 20, 1867.
“Cold Blooded Murder,” The Columbian, August 9, 1867.
“Neal Devaney,” National Police Gazette, November 23, 1867.
“[Neal Devaney],” Philadelphia Inquirer, November 13, 1867.
“Neighborhood Items,” Pittsburgh Daily Post, August 10, 1867.


Unknown says:
December 23, 2018 at 10:34 PM

All murders are due to sin from fallen mankind. Adultery is sin, and often leads to murder. God's Word warns of the consequences of it.

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