October 10th, 2009 Headsman
On this date in 1923, Susan Newell achieved footnote status by hanging for the murder of her 13-year-old paperboy … the last Scottish woman to die on the gallows, and the only one in the 20th century.
Newell was nabbed by nosy neighbors who noticed her dumping John Johnson’s body a few blocks away from prison* where she would ultimately expiate the crime.
Newell pointed the finger at her husband (she never admitted guilt), but John Newell produced a fistful of alibi witnesses to the effect that he was staying with relatives after a couple of nasty domestic fights.
Susan — so the jury believed — had worked off the stress solo by throttling the newsboy when he’d had the temerity to ask her to pay him. Paid content: the hidden killer.
Well, sometimes, you can only take so much.
Despite the guilty verdict, the jury entertained her insanity defense and plumped for mercy when it convicted her. But the crown was having none of it, in part because the murderess wouldn’t admit her crime in her clemency petitions, and perhaps also because “the application of the law in Scotland had to be seen to be in line with that in England where Edith Thompson had been hanged for what most of us would regard as a much less serious crime only 10 months earlier.”
Thompson’s same executioner, John Ellis, unhappily handled the Newell job just 20 days after her conviction. The condemned woman managed to wriggle her hands out of their bonds while her legs were being pinioned, and she ripped the hood off her face with the words “don’t put that thing over me!”
Wanting to get the distasteful procedure over with, Ellis obligingly dropped her barefaced.
* She was also the only woman ever executed at Glasgow’s Duke Street Prison.
Part of the Themed Set: Women Who Kill.
On this day..
- 1783: Jacques Francois Paschal, rapist monk - 2016
- 1867: Not Santa Anna - 2015
- 1932: Lee Bong-chang, would-be Hirohito assassin - 2014
- Corpses Strewn: The Streltsy - 2013
- 1698: The Streltsy executions begin - 2013
- 1987: Eshan Nayeck, the last executed in Mauritius - 2012
- 1707: Johann Patkul, schemer - 2011
- 1800: Prosser's Gabriel, slave rebel - 2010
- 1911: Several revolutionaries on Double Ten Day - 2008