Saturday, October 15, 2022

Mysterious Murder in Baltimore.

Dr. Merriman Cole was a retired physician with an office in the heart of Baltimore. In 1872, he was 73 years old and living off the income from his rental properties. Cole’s daughter went to his office on the evening of January 6 and found him dead on the floor. He had thirteen wounds about the head and face and his skull was crushed in three places, apparently with a hammer.

One of his pants pockets was torn out but the motive was not robbery. About nine dollars were scattered over the floor and twenty-four dollars were found in his wallet. It was a Saturday, the day he collected rents on his properties. On his desk was an unfinished receipt. The police suspected one of his tenants as his killer. By Monday they had several suspects in custody, but their names were not made public.

The early suspects were released, and no further arrests were made until the following September. On September 21, the police arrested Charles R. Henderson in Baltimore. Henderson was a printer who was one of Cole’s tenants. He changed his residence shortly after the murder, and the Baltimore Police had been following him night and day since. The prosecuting attorney waited until he was sure of conviction before arresting Henderson, and the police believed they had a strong case of circumstantial evidence against him. On October 8, the grand jury indicted Charles R. Henderson for the murder of Dr. Merriman Cole.

Henderson’s trial did not begin until the following June. Apparently, the evidence against him was not as strong as it first appeared. The brief newspaper report on the trial said only, “The case was submitted to the jury without argument and in five minutes they brought in a verdict of not guilty.”

No one was ever convicted of Dr. Merriman Cole's murder.

“Acquittal of an Alleged Murderer,” Germantown Daily Chronicle, June 6, 1873.
“Another Horrible Tragedy,” Chicago Tribune, January 8, 1872.
“Dr. Merriman Cole found Murdered in his Office.,” Illustrated Police News, January 18, 1872.
“Merriman Cole Murder,” Philadelphia Inquirer, June 6, 1873.
“A Murderer Traced Out,” Pittsburgh Daily Commercial, September 24, 1872.
“Murderers in Maryland,” Herald, June 3, 1873.
“Mysterious Murder in Baltimore,” New York Tribune, January 8, 1872.
“News and Gossip,” Paterson Daily Press, September 23, 1872.


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