Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Confession of Manuel P. Garcia

In January 2011, I posted a story on the 1821 murder of Peter Lagaordette by Manual Phillip Garcia from the Torch Light and Public Advertiser, Hagerstown, Maryland. At the time I doubted that I could find any additional information, but I have since found a picture and summary of a pamphlet on the murder printed and sold in 1821. Here is the summary from The Annals of Murder by Thomas M. McDade:
In an empty house in Portsmouth, Virginia, the police found the butchered body, the head, hands and feet partially burned in the fireplace. In an early use of laundry marks, the initials “P.L.” and “M.P.G” helped identify the people involved. Lagoardette had been courting a girl in Baltimore; Castillano was himself interested in her. The three men all were criminal characters.
The Torch Light and Public Advertiser reported that the indictment and witnesses at Garcia’s trial were the same as those against Garcia’s accomplice, Demar Joseph Garcia Castilano. Very little information was given about the crime or the trial except that the jury returned the verdict after deliberating only six minutes. While the trial story gave no particulars, it was followed by a refutation of Manuel P. Garcia’s confession, which nicely summarizes the crime:

Torch Light and Public Advertiser, Hagerstown, Maryland, April 24, 1821
The confession of Manuel P. Garcia, alluded to in a former number of our paper, there is reason to believe, is a perversion of the truth as regards the most material part of its details, made in the hope of evading the hand of justice. It states in substance that he (Manuel) while asleep about 9 o’clock in the morning, was startled by a noise, and raising his head from under the covering, saw Castilano holding Lagaudette down by the throat
with one hand and holding a knife in the other; that he (Manuel) immediately started up, caught hold on Castilano and besought him not to kill Lagaudette, but C. caught his thumb in his teeth and bit it—at the same time threatening to stab Manuel if he interfered. That C. then cut Lagudetette’s throat, took off the head and threw it behind the fire. The innocent, timid Manuel, horror struck at the deed, ran down stairs to make his escape—but was pursued by Castilano and brought back, with a threat of instant death if he repeated the attempt. – That some time afterwards C. began to cut off the limbs, fiercely demanding of him, Manuel, why he did not assist? Who replied, he could not, it was too horrible!—It may be admitted that the murder & butchery was perpetrated in the manner here described, but not by Castilano alone; Manuel undoubtedly was an accomplice, if not the principal in the crime; he is deemed the worst of the two. – He states that he arrived in this country 12 months ago from Porto-Rico, in the schr. Zeno, at Philadelphia. Castilano, according to his own account, has been ten years in the United States, & lived some time in Savannah, where he married.
I am hopeful that with a little more research I will be able to post a full account of this murder.

Torch Light and Public Advertiser, Hagerstown, Maryland, April 24, 1821


Construindo História Hoje says:
May 16, 2011 at 4:38 PM

Hello,Murder by Gaslight.
I really enjoyed the work on his blog, it addresses several topics in his posts.Congratulations the initiative, the blogosphere needs to work well. I have been following your blog, if you want to know my historical studies of the address is

Robert Wilhelm says:
May 18, 2011 at 11:50 AM

Thanks Leandro, and best of luck with your blog.

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