Saturday, February 29, 2020

Crazy John Daley.

John Daley rushed from his house on Chouteau Avenue, St. Louis, bleeding profusely from the neck, at around 11:00 the night of May 11, 1883. He surrendered himself to Officer Jones, saying that he had just murdered his wife. Officer Jones summoned a patrol wagon to take Daley to the Four Courts, then went to Daley’s house to see about his wife.

Daley, a 55-year-old machinist, lived in a two-room house on Chouteau Avenue, with his 35-year-old wife, Eliza, and eight children, ranging in age from 5 months to 12 years. Inside the house Officer Jones found Eliza lying on the bed, her skull crushed and her throat cut. He found a rusty axe with blood on both ends of the blade. It appeared that Daley had first struck her head with the butt of the axe, then cut her throat, finishing the job with a knife.

There were no signs of a struggle. Eliza Daley was in her nightclothes, her shoes, and stockings by the side of the bed. The incident woke none of the children; the youngest lay by her mother’s side with blood on her head.

John Daley’s self-inflicted throat wound proved too severe to allow him to remain in a jail cell. He was removed to City Hospital, and the wound was sutured. There he told reporters his side of the story. He said that he and his wife had gone to bed around 9:00, but she had gotten up three or four times between 9:00 and 11:00. “She was looking for different things about the house and quarreling with me,” Daley said. She approached him with a knife in her hand, and they scuffled. He killed her in self-defense he said, then tried to kill himself.

John Daley had been an avid member of the Salvation Army, to the extent that those who knew him outside of that organization referred to him as “Salvation Army Daley.” Daley would not discuss his Salvation Army activities with reporters beyond saying that he was a Christian man who had belonged to a church for six years.

Daley had another nickname: “Crazy John.” This one served him well when the case came to trial the following October. The trial lasted three days and included much expert testimony, but it took the jury only fifteen minutes to acquit John Daley on the grounds of insanity. The press summed it up by saying “Daley became a homicidal maniac through a frenzy of religious excitement.”

Originally posted June 17, 2017.

“Another Homicidal Maniac Loose,” Bloomington Leader, October 16, 1893.
“Bad Salvationist,” Cincinnati Post, May 12, 1893.
“Beheaded Her,” Xenia Daily Gazette, October 16, 1893.
“Chopped Her Head Off,” National Police Gazette, November 4, 1893.
“A Shocking Tragedy,” St. Louis Republic, May 12, 1893.


Nellie Lovett Todd says:
March 16, 2020 at 12:02 AM

The idea that he could do that with his five-year-old daughter next to his wife...

rbda51 says:
March 16, 2020 at 1:21 AM

That's what got me, too. I wonder what happened to the children.

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