Saturday, August 5, 2023

A Youthful Patricide.

16-year-old Herbert Warren woke to the sound of his parents fighting at 2 a.m. on June 13, 1890. His father, J. Frank Warren, was frequently out of town, traveling for the Oswego Wagon Company, but he was abusive and often violent toward his wife when he was home. Herbert looked forward to the domestic peace of his father’s long absences.

Yesterday had been strange; Frank told the family he would be gone for ten days but returned the same night. He handed his wife a letter he had written to her. It was tender and remorseful, promising that Frank would change his ways. The bickering and quarreling between his parents had gone on throughout Herbert’s life. The fights were loud and very public; the family moved several times to protect their reputation before settling in Elmira, New York. Mrs. Warren thanked Frank for his new-found kindness and promised to do whatever she could to make their household happy.

They talked for hours, but by 2:00, they were fighting again. Their problems stemmed from Frank’s philandering, and he could not fix them that easily. Mrs. Warren knew that Frank stayed with other women during his long absences. She found love letters sent to Frank by other women, and when she confronted him, he turned violent.

Herbert had a cheap 32-caliber revolver. When he heard his father threatening his mother that morning, he grabbed it and ran into their room. As his father raised his fist to strike his mother, Herbert fired a shot into his chest. Frank died almost immediately. Herbert gave himself up quietly to the police.

The trial of Herbert Warren for the murder of Frank Warren began the following December. The most compelling testimony came from Mrs. Warren, who testified in a slow and stilted voice and wavered as if on the verge of fainting. She related years of violence from her husband, whom The New York World characterized as “sanctimonious, perfidious, hypocritical, and abusive.” During spells of mad anger, he would choke and beat her. He threatened to kill her and their son.

The proceedings in court were extremely contentious, and the judge had to warn the attorneys against clashes of personality. One sarcastic remark by the defense attorney cost him $50 for contempt of court.

But generally, the judge was sympathetic to the defense. In his instructions to the jury, he said he did not believe the charge of first-degree murder was appropriate in this case. When they returned a verdict of not guilty, the judge made no move to suppress the cheering that erupted in the courtroom. He praised the jury for their judgment.

“"Not Guilty.",” The San Francisco Examiner, January 4, 1891.
“About a Simple Matter,” Nashville Banner, June 13, 1890.
“Bonds That Gall,” The Fort Scott Weekly Tribune, January 29, 1891.
“A Boy on Trial for Murdering His Father,” sun., December 30, 1890.
“Fined One of the Counsel,” sun., January 4, 1891.
“Herbert Warren Acquitted,” sun., January 4, 1891.
“KIlled His Father,” The evening world, June 13, 1890.
“A Mother's Sacrifice,” evening world., January 3, 1891.
“Shot Dead by His Son ,” Philadelphia Inquirer, June 14, 1890.
“Shot His Father to Help His Mother,” New York Herald, June 14, 1890.
“A Youthful Patriccide,” The Holyoke Daily Transcrip, June 13, 1890.


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