Saturday, September 29, 2012

For Murdering his Mother.

Little Murders
(From The Boston Daily Globe, Boston, Massachusetts, January 1, 1886)

For Murdering his Mother.
Opening of the Trial of James F. Hodgdon at Bath.

Bath, December 31—The trial of James F. Hogdon of this city for the murder of his mother, Mrs. Esther L. Hodgdon, who was shot on the morning of May 7 last, and who died from the wounds on the 18th of the same month was commenced in the Supreme Judicial Court this afternoon, Judge Virgin, justice presiding. The prisoner was indicted for murder at the August term of the court. By request of his counsel, who held that Hodgdon was insane when the crime was committed, Judge Walton ordered him to the insane asylum till this term.

The prisoner was brought into court today, looking much thinner than when he was previously arraigned. In a firm and loud voice he pleaded not guilty. County Attorney Baker and Attorney-General Baker are counsel for the government; William E. Hogan and George E. Hughes of this city for the prisoner.  Nine of the jury had been accepted when the list became exhausted. Three of the jurors challenged were recalled and the jury competed.

After the opening of the case for the government by County Attorney Baker, Walter F. Brookings testified that he was about 100 feet from the scene of the shooting when he heard the pistol shots; he saw the father of the prisoner rush from his house and cry “Murder! Police!” went into the house. He saw Mrs. Hodgdon in bed. Blood was flowing from a wound in her forehead. The prisoner stood at the food of the bed and held in his hand a pistol. Ira Hodgdon, the father of the prisoner, followed me into the room and stood in the doorway. He said to his son: “James what have you been doing?” The prisoner replied: “I’ve killed her, it is too bad.” It was between 5 and 6 o’clock in the morning when the shooting took place; was present when the police made the arrest; heard the prisoner say that he would protect himself; he was then in his room; saw him the next day after the shooting in the police station; he was greatly excited and complained of a bad feeling in his head. Court adjourned at 6 o’clock till 9 o’clock tomorrow morning.

The Boston Daily Globe, Boston, Massachusetts, January 1, 1886

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Oregon Hamilton.

Little Murders:
From Defenders and Offenders:

Oregon Hamilton.

"In the month of May, 1888, Oregon Hamilton of Newaygo, Mich., was convicted of murder in the second degree. He is a widower and the crime for which he was convicted was in whipping his nineteen months old daughter to death. The case excited the inhabitants of this small town, and the verdict met with general approval, as the case was one of horrible cruelty, and if the inhabitants could have taken summary punishment in their own hands, the wretch could have saved the county the cost of a trial."

Defenders and offenders. New York: D. Buchner & Co., 1888.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


Poisoners are the most dispassionate of murderers, killing their victims at a distance, sometimes over long periods of time. In the days when the deadliest of poisons were readily available and difficult to detect, they were used to eliminate unwanted spouses and paramours, and to hide indiscretions. Poison was the preferred tool of a particular type of serial killer. And a poisoner had a better than even chance of getting away with it.

Here, in chronological order, is the Murder by Gaslight poisoners hall of fame:

Lucretia and her Cuban lover were accused of putting arsenic in her husband’s chicken soup.
Cult leader Mathias was accused of killing his most ardent follower with poisoned blackberries.

Henry G. Green - 1845
Eight days after their wedding, Henry poisoned his wife Mary. His mother did not approve of the bride.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Alfred Packer, Man-eater.

From Harper's Weekly, 1874
In February of 1874, a group of six men led by Alfred Packer, ventured into the San Juan Mountains in Colorado territory in search of gold. That April, Packer arrived alone at the Los Pinos Indian Agency, somewhat wild looking, but remarkably healthy for someone who had endured two month of brutal winter weather in the mountains. Packer claimed that he had taken ill, his men had abandoned him and he had traveled alone to the Agency. But when confronted with evidence that suggested his story was false, Packer made a full confession. He had survived the San Juan winter by eating his companions.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Cruel Boys Who Become Murderers.

Little Murders
(From The Palo Alto Reporter, Emmetsburg, Iowa, June 30, 1877.
- quoting The Cincinnati Commercial)

Cruel Boys Who Become Murderers.

It is set down as a veritable fact and a warning to boys that George W. Fletcher, a murderer and repeater who was hanged in Philadelphia on the 11th for a very cowardly murder, began his vicious career at the early age of 11, by cutting off the tails of pigs for amusement. The inference is that boys who begin life in that manner will end it as Fletcher ended his. And the inference is not much out of the way. The wanton killing of innocent birds and the torture of domestic animals for amusement cultivates a hardness of heart and an indifference that soon qualifies a man for any criminal act. No doubt if all the dogs to whose tails Fletcher tied tin canisters, and all the cats that he illuminated with turpentine, and all the pigs whose tails he cut off, could rise in judgment against him, the verdict that he was served right would be unanimous. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals should issue a tract setting forth Fletcher’s career as an awful example. - Cincinnati Commercial