On this date in 1909, Fred Seward was hanged at the Boise penitentiary.
Seward developed an obsession with a “notorious woman” named Clara O’Neill, of Moscow. (Idaho, not Russia.)
When O’Neill spurned his suit, Seward shot her dead. Then he turned the same gun on himself: the shot gruesomely disfigured his face and cost him the sight in his left eye — but it did not kill him.
The state of Idaho was more than willing to pick up the slack.
From the Idaho Daily Statesman, May 8, 1909
His last words were simply, “Do a good job, boys.”
The boys — Seward’s executioners — did so, and cleanly snapped his neck in the fall.
“The official murder at the penitentiary the other day was most demoralizing in its influence upon the people who read the horrible details of the transaction. Let men who are a menace to the public be shut up where they can do no harm to their fellows, but let the state learn to help, reform and save them, but not destroy them. ‘Thou shalt not kill’ is as good scripture for a state or nation as for a church or an individual.”
-Rev. A.L. Chapman (Boise, Idaho)
May 16, 1909 “Peace Day” sermon