Saturday, July 6, 2019

Shot Down Remorselessly.

In January 1881, Adolph Sindram was a boarder at the home of Mrs. Catherine Crave on Charlton Street in New York City. Catherine was the second wife of a Frenchman named John B. Crave and gladly took over the responsibility of mothering his five children. She was a kind woman, loved by the children and esteemed by all who knew her. 

The house on Charlton Street was larger than the family needed, so they took in boarders and lodgers. Adolph Sindram, one of her boarders, approached Mrs. Crave to ask if his brother William could share his room. Adolph was an amiable and agreeable young man, well-liked by the other tenants of the house. He told her that William worked as a printer as he did. She thought Adolph’s brother would be a welcome addition to the house and agreed to let him share the room with an appropriate increase in the rent.

But William’s temperament was the opposite of his brother’s. He was irascible and sullen by nature with a tendency to become irrationally violent. He had once assaulted his father with a knife, and later, after his father’s death, he broke into his mother’s house and stole some money. He was completely self-centered, spending most of his time concocting schemes to make money without working. At Charlton Street, he was surly and disagreeable to all who lived there. 

He was also behind in the rent. The last week in January 1881, Catherine Crave told William he had a week to either pay up or move out. Instead of trying to raise the rent money, William spread stories about Catherine, impugning her morals before she married John Crave, and accusing her of swindling him. The stories came back to Catherine, bringing her to tears. She sent her son Emil to evict William immediately; William packed his bag and left.

William was back the following day, and as he stealthily climbed the stairs, he attracted the attention of Catherine’s daughter Henriette who thought there was an intruder in the house. When she saw who it was, she told William to leave. He told Henriette to shut up and pulled a revolver from his pocket. Catherine heard the commotion and started downstairs to ask William what he wanted.

“Come down and I will show you what I want,” William said.

“Run upstairs, mother, he has a pistol and he is going to shoot,” Henriette shouted.

Catherine ran upstairs, opened a window and shouted for help. William followed her upstairs and when he got close enough to touch Catherine, he raised the revolver and shot her in the temple. She fell to the floor and William ran downstairs and outside. Catherine’s calls for help had attracted a crowd and a bystander caught William as he ran out and held him for the police. Catherine, still alive, was taken to the hospital where the doctors said she had no chance of recovering.

The people of New York City were appalled by this unprovoked attack on a good woman. An editorial in Truth, summed up the crime this way:
“There have been murders in the hot blood of passion, assassinations prompted by wrong, by jealousy, by greed of gain but this is none of these. It is simply the crime of a vile-tempered bilious wretch, far too many of whose like are still at large, perpetuated not only on a victim who had more case to feel aggrieved at them than he at her, but perpetuated with every suggestion of premeditation.”
Though the physicians who treated Catherine Crave were correct that her condition was fatal, she remained alive for another five months. During that time William D. Sindram was held in the Tombs and that July, following Catherine Crave’s death he was indicted for first-degree murder. Sindram’s trial for murder was not held until December. While awaiting trial in jail, Sindram wrote at least ten letters to John Crave and to District Attorney Lyon.

The letters to John Crave were quite offensive and hurtful with statements such as, "Write to me how your dear wife felt when the Coroner told her she would have to die. She was a wicked old hag." To the district attorney, he wrote that he would absolutely not be pleading insanity because he did not want to be compared to Charles Guiteau who assassinated President Garfield in September 1881 and claimed he was insane at the time. Sindram also told the district attorney that he did not fear the gallows “…and would, therefore, disappoint the public, which had no interest in a hanging when the victim was not afraid to die.”

Taking insanity off the table left Sindram’s attorneys with very little to work with. They could not deny the murder but tried to reduce the charge to manslaughter claiming that Sindram had not planned the murder but acted in a fit of passion. The district attorney argued that Sindram had gone to the house, armed with a revolver, intending to kill Catherine Crave. The letters, which would probably be used by the defense if insanity were the plea, were read by the district attorney as evidence of Sindram’s character. The jury had little trouble returning a verdict of guilty of first-degree murder.

William Sindram was hanged in the yard of the Tombs prison on April 21, 1882. True to his word, he went to his death without fear and remained stoic to the end.


“Arraignments and Sentences,” New York Herald, July 14, 1881.
“The Charlton Street Tragedy,” New York Herald, December 7, 1881.
<i>Defenders and offenders</i> (New York: Buchner & Co, 1888.)<br />
“His Own Prosecutor,” New York Herald, December 8, 1881.
“How Sindram Was Hanged,” Truth, April 22, 1882.
“The Reign of the Revolver,” Truth, January 28, 1881.
“Shot by a Printer,” Daily Illinois State Journal, January 27, 1881.
“Shot down Remorselessly,” New York Herald, January 27, 1881.
“The Sindram Trial Ended,” Truth, December 11, 1881.
“To Be Hanged as He Wished,” New-York daily tribune, December 11, 1881.
“[William Sindram]” New York Tribune, December 8, 1881.

1 comments :

Unknown says:
July 8, 2019 at 1:08 AM

A Evil and Reprobate Man... his soul is now in the Outer Darkness awaiting the Day of Judgment and the Great White Throne of God... he knows fear now... but he will intensify it beyond human comprehension then.

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