Posts filed under 'Theft'

1803: Mathias Weber, Rhineland robber

Add comment February 19th, 2020 Headsman

On this date in 1803, robber Mathias Weber was guillotined.

“Fetzer” made a scintillating career in brigandage in 1790s Rhineland — whose west bank Prussia had been forced to cede to revolutionary France. (The legendary bandit Schinderhannes plied his trade in the same unsettled environs; the two men shared a ride to Mainz as prisoners.)

Fetzer’s gang robbed liberally and violently on the roads; their pinnacle capers were twice raiding the river town of Neuss.

Tried (and eventually executed) in Cologne, he was persuaded to confess — albeit not regret — his considerable career in villainy by a prosecutor named Anton Keil, who made use of his access to this notorious figure to print a little biography of his famous prey. Fetzer, for his part, amused himself by sketching guillotines on his cell wall and building a tally of the distinct robberies he could recollect, eventually cataloguing 178 of them. He wowed the standing-room crowd at his trial with his nerve in the courtroom, joking and sparring and readily revealing all without any expectation of trading admissions for leniency.

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Entry Filed under: 19th Century,Beheaded,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,France,Germany,Guillotine,Murder,Outlaws,Public Executions,Theft

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1819: Pierre Charles Rodolphe Foulard, Henry-Clement Sanson’s first execution

Add comment February 17th, 2020 Henry-Clement Sanson

(Thanks to Henry-Clement Sanson for the guest post. The former executioner — the last of his illustrious dynasty comprising six generations of bourreaux — was the grandson of that dread figure of the Paris Terror, Charles Henri Sanson. Henry-Clement’s Memoirs of the Sansons: From Private Notes and Documents (1688-1847) describes some famous or infamous executions from the family annals. We have observed in previous Sanson “guest posts” that his annals merit caution as pertains to the adventures of his forefathers; in this instance, however, he communicates — albeit in dramatized form, through an interlocutor ghost-writer — his firsthand recollection of his own debut. -ed.)

MY FIRST EXECUTION.

The first year of my marriage was calm and peaceable. I had every reason to be happy. Thanks to the cares of my good mother, we had very little to think of beyond our pleasures and comforts. My young wife was as cheerful and kind as she was pretty, and our union promised to be one of undisturbed harmony.

My father made no allusion to my promise to take his office;* but that promise was constantly in my mind; it was the only thought that clouded my happiness. Sometimes I looked with sadness at my young partner, thinking that a time should come for her to assume in her turn the title of Madame de Paris. The fulfilment of my pledge was even nearer at hand than I expected. My father was taken ill in the middle of the winter of 1819, and he was laid up for two months. His constant preoccupation during his illness was a sentence of death passed by the assize court of the Seine on a soldier of the Royal Guard, Pierre Charles Rodolphe Foulard, who had murdered two unfortunate women, to steal a watch and a pair of earrings. Foulard was barely twenty years of age, but his crime was so atrocious that there was no hope of a reprieve for him. Foulard’s case, however, had still to pass before the Court of Revision; but my father felt that his health would not permit him to superintend the execution. He was thinking of appealing to one of his provincial colleagues. This was rather awkward, as it was well known that I was to be my father’s successor, and the judicial authorities might well inquire why I did not act as his substitute. Since my marriage I had made a point of following my father in the few executions that had occurred, but I had taken no active part in them. I may add that my father’s part was hardly more active than mine; he had said the truth when he told me that almost everything was done by the assistants, and that the executioner only superintended what his servants did.

The time came for Foulard’s execution; it came sooner than my father expected, so that he was unable to secure some one else’s services. He was much better, but certainly not well enough to resume his duties; and my conscience smote me when he expressed his determination to risk his health, perhaps his life, and execute Foulard. I said to myself that, since I must begin, I had better begin at once, and I proposed to my father to take his place.

He gladly acquiesced, and gave me all the necessary instructions; he also pointed out two assistants on whose zeal I could especially rely; and finally I was assured that my attendance at the execution was little more than a formality. The assistants entered my father’s room just as I was leaving it, and he made them a short speech in which he urged them to afford me their best help and protection.

I was very nervous and frightened; nevertheless, I strictly acted upon the instructions furnished to me, and I gave the necessary directions to the carpenters. As night came on, my discomfort increased. I could scarcely eat any dinner. Fortunately my father was in his room, otherwise he might have insisted on doing the work himself My mother and my wife were as uneasy as I was, but they abstained from making any observation on the matter. After dinner I retired to my room, and passed one of the worst nights of my life. When I got up next morning I was feverish and tired. The assistants were waiting for me in the courtyard. My father had ordered out his carriage for me, and with my new servants I silently proceeded to the Conciergerie. The horses went slowly enough, yet the journey seemed to me fearfully short.

It was yet dark when we entered that dismal prison. My assistants followed me at a short distance. I thought I saw an expression of disdain on the faces of the turnkeys and prison officials. I was in no humour to brook the contempt of men whose position, after all, did not much differ from mine. I assumed a sharp and imperative tone calculated to make them understand that I was not to be imposed upon, and ordered the head gaoler to hand us over the culprit. He led us into a low-ceilinged hall, where Foulard shortly after appeared, accompanied by the worthy Abbe Montes, a priest whose friendship I afterwards acquired. Foulard’s consternation struck me. The unfortunate boy was under age;** had his father left him the smallest sum of money he could not have touched it; nevertheless he was considered responsible. This appeared to me iniquitous, the more so as I was only a year older than he. Foulard was a tall and handsome fellow, and his face betrayed no signs of the perversity he had shown in the perpetration of his horrible deed.

Fauconnier, my chief assistant, saw I was flurried; he came forward and told Foulard to sit down. When the young man’s hair was cut, we got into the cart: the Abbe Montes and Foulard were behind us, and I stood in front with my two assistants.† The almoner of the Conciergerie doubtless perceived that I required encouragement and support as well as the man whose life I was going to take, for he spoke to me with much kindness: “I see, sir, that you are now attending to your father’s duties. Such missions as yours demand no small amount of courage. We are invested with duties which in some degree are akin: you represent the justice of men, I represent the mercy of God. You may be assured of my good disposition towards you, and of my readiness to assist you whenever it is in my power.”

I could not find a single word to answer, although I felt intensely grateful to the Abbe Montes for his kindness. Foulard was taciturn, but when we reached the quay he became very excited, and cried out in a loud voice:

Fathers and mothers! behold the consequences of neglect of one’s children! I am guilty, but my parents are responsible for my crime, for they gave me neither advice nor education.

We reached the Place de Greve. The guillotine raised her two red arms, and the pale rays of a winter sun were reflected by the polished steel of the knife. A great many people were looking on. Foulard embraced the priest, and looked round before ascending the steps. In the first rank of the soldiers who surrounded the guillotine he saw a sergeant of his company. “Come to me, my old comrade,” he cried to him, “and let me bid you farewell.” The old soldier did not hesitate; he came forward and embraced the dying man. Foulard was very excited. He suddenly turned to me: “Let me embrace you too,” he said, “if only to show that I forgive everybody.” This, I confess, gave me a fearful blow. I stepped back. I really think that if the unfortunate man had embraced me I could not have given the signal for his death.

But even in this I am mistaken; this signal I did not give. My assistants saw my movement of retreat and understood the peril. They pushed Foulard up the steps. In less time than I take to write it he was strapped down and his head fell. I looked stupidly at the bloody scene. I saw one of the assistants pushing the headless trunk into a basket, while another was sponging the blood which had spurted on the scaffold.

I was seized with irresistible terror, and I ran away as fast as my legs could carry me. I wandered about town hardly knowing what I was about. I thought people were following and hooting me. It was only when I found myself at Neuilly that I recovered, and even then my conscience smote me bitterly. At last I made up my mind. I had crossed the line, there was no help for it; I had, as it were, passed my examination of executioner, and I could not return on my steps. I went home subdued, if not comforted, and I found some relief in the thought that the first step was made, and the first bitterness had passed.


Shinichi Sakamoto: The Sansons in tragic manga.

* Narrated by the author in the preceding chapter, in which he solicits an interview with his father for the twofold purpose of announcing that “I have thought the matter over for the last two years, and I have now to express my resolve to select no other profession than yours” and also soliciting the old fella’s permission to marry his sweetheart. (Dad approved both of these questionable decisions.)

** The age of majority was 21; it had been lowered during the Revolution from its ancien regime threshold of 25 — a blow against the prolonged authority of a family’s patriarch. (See Suzann Desan, The Family on Trial in Revolutionary France.) This is distinct from marriageable age, which had been increased by revolutionaries from 12 or 14 (for girls or boys, respectively) to 15 or 18. In today’s France all these ages — full legal adulthood, and marriageability — have converged at 18, regardless of gender.

† Sanson himself has a footnote here, noting a deviation from the traditional arrangement of passengers on the fatal cart with a defensiveness that suggests he got some stick about it: “Until then my father and grandfather had occupied a back seat beside the priest, and assigned a front place to the culprit. I was the first to alter this custom. My object was to leave the culprit with his last friend, the priest. I hope this does not appear childish. I acted with the best intention, and I believe I acted rightly.”

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Entry Filed under: 19th Century,Beheaded,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,France,Guest Writers,Guillotine,History,Milestones,Murder,Other Voices,Public Executions,Theft

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1733: Henry Neal, for shoes and breeches

Add comment January 29th, 2020 Headsman

That life is often cheap is Executed Today‘s stock in trade and few hanged cheaper than Henry Neal on this date in 19733.

Two bare entries at the Old Bailey Online constitute, we suspect, something close to the entirety of the documentary trail civilization holds for this soul.

Working backwards in time, we begin with the customary account of the Ordinary of Newgate, James Guthrie, of the twelvefold Tyburn hanging on January 29, 1733:

Henry Neal, Twenty Years of Age, his Father a Porter at Billingsgate died, and left him young, and his Mother being a poor Old Woman, could give him no Education at School, after he was Four Years Old; since which time he was forced to Work for his Bread at One Shilling per Week, and as he advanc’d in Years they gave him more. He commonly serv’d the Carters and Scavingers, till about Seven or Eight Months ago a Cart run over his Leg, which disabled him for Work. He own’d the robbing of Mr. Graves’s House, as was Sworn against him, but with a variation of Circumstances; for he said, that he only took the Hat, Breeches, and some small Things; but as to the Rings, the Guinea and a Half, he never saw them, as he said. He said, that he kept the Church, and was not very wicked, neither did he know the vile ways usually practis’d by such wicked People; and that what he did was merely for poverty and want, he having been disabled for Work, having fasted for three Days, and every body refusing him Charity. This is the Account he gave of himself, but as to the truth thereof, we leave it to others to judge thereupon. He was a poor ignorant Fellow, and knew but little of Religion. He declared himself Penitent for his Sins, that he believ’d in Christ his only Saviour, and that he died in Peace with all the World.


Here’s the preceding trial record that got him the noose, with testimony by those he robbed (the last of them seemingly written progressively to capture his distinctive accent):

Henry Neal, of St. Giles’s Cripplegate, was indicted for breaking and entring the House of William Graves, and stealing a Pair of Breeches, a Hat, a Pair of Shoes, 2 Gold Rings, a Guinea and a Half, and 2s. 6d. the Goods and Money of Richard Sims, and a Pair of Leather Breeches, the Goods of Tho Cecil, November 16, about ten at Night.

Richard Sims. I look after the Dog-house Bar. About six at Night the Prisoner came into the House, and desired me to let him warm himself by the Fire, for he said he had been with a Cart to Edmonton, and was very cold. He beg’d an old Pair of Shoes, upon which, I took Notice that those he had on were very bad; but I did not give him any. He staid till eight o’Clock, and then went away, and I shut up the Door as usual, and went to Supper at the Green Man on Windmill-Hill, and after Supper I returned to the House at the Bar, and went to Bed: Next Morning the Taylor came to mend my Breeches, which I had left in my Room overnight before I went to Supper, and there was two gold Rings, a Guinea and a half, and 2s. and 6d. in a brass Box in the Side-Pocket. I look’d for my Breeches but could not find ’em, and at the same Time I mist my Hat and my Shoes. Searching farther I found the Prisoner’s old Shoes, which were tied with Packthread, at the Door, and the Cellar Door was split in two. The Shoes made me suspect the Prisoner. Next week I met with him. He confess’d that he broke the Cellar-Door with a great Stone, and then thrust the wooden Bolt back, and got and took the Goods; that he had pawn’d the Hat in Golden-lane for 6d. and the Breeches in Turnbull-Street for a 1s. He went with me to those Places, and found them there. He had my Shoes upon his Feet.

– Thompson. I took the Prisoner in Coleman-street. I knew him before, and had heard there was a Warrant out against him. He had pilfer’d some Things while he had work’d with me there. I tax’d him with robbing Mr. Sims. He at first denied it, but afterwards own’d that he broke the Cellar-door open with a Stone, and had pawn’d the Hat and Breeches, but said he was drunk when he did it.

Tho. Cecil. I do keep the Dog-house-Bar for Mr. Graves, my Lord-Mayor’s Huntsman. My Breeches did hang up where I did lye, but being Zick, I was vorced to go home and leave’m there, and he have got ‘en on now.

Court. Go and look on ’em.

Cecil. Yes, these be they, I can zafely zwear to ‘n.

The Prisoner made no Defence, and the Jury found him Guilty. Death.

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1779: Claudius Smith, Cowboy of the Ramapos

Add comment January 22nd, 2020 Headsman

Claudius Smith, a feared Tory guerrilla during the American, was hanged in Goshen, N.Y., on this date in 1779.

“The Cowboy of the Ramapos” for his penchant for livestock-rustling in the Ramapo Mountains, Smith headlined a gang of pro-British criminals/partisans operating out of Monroe, N.Y., near the New Jersey border — a zone of dirty irregular warfare.

Quite a lot of legends apparently proliferated about this guy, including in his own time: one wanted poster described him as seven feet tall.

If you were a British loyalist in his neighborhood you might have figured him along the lines of an Anglo hajduk — the Balkan freebooters who straddled the line between social bandit and hero insurgent. To a Patriot, he was little better than a brigand, and not satisfied with riding off cattle and horses ventured also to invade farm houses for plunder. After one of his band’s deadly raids, Orange County Whigs complained to New York Gov. George Clinton, “we have not thought ourselves secure for a long time. We live so scattered that they can come in the dead of night to any one family & do what they please.”

So unsettled were the wartime frontiers that Gov. Clinton was notably unable to satisfy their petition for quite some time, and Smith’s raids, sometimes working in concert with the pro-British Mohawk commander Joseph Brant, continued to frighten those scattered revolutionists.

A Continental Army major named Jesse Brush finally captured Smith on Long Island late in 1778, and delivered him back to authorities at Orange County who gave him a proper trial and condemned him to hang for several robberies. (Murder wasn’t on the rap sheet.)

One month later, Smith’s son Richard with a band of cowboys revenged the execution by slaying a Goshen man named Richard Clark — and pinning to his corpse a warning to their persecutors.

A Warning to the Rebels

You are hereby warned from hanging any more friends to the government as you did Claudius Smith. You are warned likewise to use James Smith, James Flewelling, and William Cole well and ease them from their irons, for we are determined to hang six for one, for the blood of the innocent cries aloud for vengeance. Your noted friend, Capt. Williams and his crew of robbers and murders we have got in our power, and the blood of Claudius Smith shall be repaid. There are particular companies of us who belong to Col. Butler’s army, Indians as well as white men, and particularly numbers from New York that are resolved to be revenged on you for your cruelty and murders. We are to remind you that you are the beginners and aggressors, for by your cruel oppressions and bloody actions drive us to it. This is the first and we are determined to pursue it on your heads and leaders to the last till the whole of you is massacred.

Dated New York February 1779.

It was tall talk that the raiders couldn’t back up: rewards and informants soon broke up the band, leaving the cowboys and Claudius Smith to pass into history.

Ramblers might enjoy a visit to Claudius Smith’s Den, a cave that formerly served as a refuge for Smith’s gang. Beware of ghosts!


(cc) image from The Turducken.

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1836: Pierre François Lacenaire, Manfred of the gutter

Add comment January 9th, 2020 Headsman

The French murderer Pierre François Lacenaire, guillotined on this date in 1836, aspired to be a man of letters … and at least ended up a man in letters.

Lacenaire (English Wikipedia entry | the more considerable French) was a respectable merchants’ son turned ne’er-do-well, dipping in and out of prison after deserting the army in 1829 to wallow in the vices of crime and poetry.

The ensuing years alternate prison stints for various thefts with scrabbling attempts to make a go of it with his quill on the outside that invariably collapse into more thefts. As criminal biographies go, his silverware-robberies and such scarcely leap off the page but his writings in prison flashed even before his homicidal infamy — notably his Villonesque “Petition d’un Voleur a un Roi Voisin” (“Petition of a Thief to his Neighbor, the King”)

Sire, de grâce, écoutez-moi!
Sire, je reviens des galères …
Je suis voleur, vous êtes roi,
Agissons ensemble en bons frères …
Les gens de bien me font horreur,
J’ai le coeur dur et l’âme vile,
Je suis sans pitié, sans honneur,
Ah! faites-moi sergent de ville.

Bon, je me vois déjà sergent,
Mais, sire, c’est bien peu, je pense,
L’appétit me vient en mangeant,
Allons, sire, un peu d’indulgence.
Je suis hargneux comme un roquet,
D’un vieux singe j’ai la malice;
En France, je vaudrais Gisquet,
Faites-moi préfet de police.

Grands dieux! que je suis bon préfet!
Toute prison est trop petite.
Ce métier pourtant n’est pas fait
Pour un homme de mon mérite;
Je sais dévirer un budget,
Je sais embrouiller un registre,
Je signerai “Votre sujet”
Ah! Sire, faites-moi ministre.

Sire! que Votre Majesté
No se mette pas en colére!
Je compte sur votre bonté,
Car ma demande est téméraire.
Je suis hypocrite et vilain,
Ma douceur n’est qu’une grimace;
J’ai fait… se pendre mon cousin,
Sire, cédez-moi votre place.n

Sire, please, listen to me!
Sire, I return from the galleys
I am a thief, you are king,
Let’s act together like brothers …
Good people abhor me,
I have a hard heart and a vile soul,
I am without pity, without honor,
Ah! make me a city sergeant.

Well, I already see myself as a sergeant,
But, sire, it’s very little, I think,
Appetite comes to me while eating,
Come, sire, a little indulgence.
I’m snarling like a pug,
As malicious as a monkey;
In France, I would be worth Gisquet,
Make me the prefect of police.

Great gods! such a good prefect am I!
Any prison is too small.
However, this job is not done
For a man of my merit;
I know how to divert a budget,
I know how to confuse a register,
I will sign myself “Your subject”
Ah! Sire, make me minister.

Sire! that your majesty
Does not anger!
I count on your kindness,
Because my request is reckless.
I’m hypocritical and naughty,
My sweetness is only a grimace;
I made … hang my cousin,
Sire, cede me your place.

His cells, he said, were his “university of crime” although they scarcely turned him into a mastermind. He earned the valedictory hood in December 1834 when with an accomplice named Victor Avril he ax-butchered a transvestite pauper and his mother in Passage du Cheval-Rouge. Lacenaire and Avril had the mistaken belief that the victims were flush with cash.

What he lacked in criminal chops he atoned for in theatrical flair. At the men’s trial in November 1835, Lacenaire made the courtroom the anteroom of a society salon where he delighted fashionable intellectuals, taking “command of the proceedings by confessing all of his crimes in detail and stunned the courtroom with an improvised closing soliloquoy. Rumors circulated that he was to be pardoned after conviction and be made chief of a special branch of police. This sounded much like the familiar case of the bandit, Vidocq. In fact, Lacenaire claimed to have been inspired by Vidocq’s memoirs.”

“I kill a man like I drink a glass of wine,” he exaggeratedly memed to the journalist Jacques Arago — one of numerous philosophical bon mots. (“Whilst I had the capacity to write a play, I had also the capacity to kill. I chose the easiest.” “I love life and its pleasures, but if it ends, what does it matter? The punishment of death? A contradiction in terms: it is no punishment to send a being back again to insensibility and nothingness.”)

He occupied his last weeks producing poems and memoirs that were published after his death but the true success of his performance lay in its echoes through 19th century literature: Baudelaire would call him “one of the heroes of modern life,” and no wonder — in the judgment of Executed Today guest-blogger Henry Brodribb Irving, “no French criminal, except perhaps Cartouche, has left so distinct an impression on the minds of his countrymen.”

Gautier wrote a poem about his hand, which although uncomplimentary also salutes its owner the “Manfred of the gutter”; Balzac made room for this Manfred in La Muse du Departement; Stendahl modeled the brigand Valbayre in Lamiel upon him. Victor Hugo, apparently unimpressed with the guy’s literary pretensions, worked him into Les Miserables as the crowning monster of society’s underbelly, “what is called in theaters a third sub-stage. It is the grave of the depths. It is the cave of the blind.”

The savage outlines which prowl over this grave, half brute, half phantom, have no thought for universal progress, they ignore ideas and words, they have no care but for individual glut. They are almost unconscious, and there is in them a horrible defacement. They have two mothers, both step-mothers, ignorance and misery. They have one guide, want; and their only form of satisfaction is appetite. They are voracious as beasts, that is to say ferocious, not like the tyrant, but like the tiger. From suffering these goblins pass to crime; fated filiation, giddy procreation the logic of darkness. What crawls in the third sub-stage is no longer the stifled demand for the absolute, it is the protest of matter. Man there becomes a dragon. Hunger and thirst are the point of departure: Satan is the point of arrival. From this cave comes Lacenaire.

Nor in the 19th century could a touchstone of French literature remain confined within the Republic’s borders. Oscar Wilde referenced Lacenaire in The Picture of Dorian Gray; and Dostoyevsky mentioned Lacenaire in The Idiot and perhaps modeled the famous axe murder in Crime and Punishment upon the same.

Although his fame has faded somewhat this curious figure remains of interest to more contemporary eyes. Michel Foucault juxtaposed him against the Vidocq — an underworld creature who becomes an agent of law, the opposite of Lacenaire’s path from respectability to gutter — and perhaps captured the man’s appeal to his era’s novelists.

As for Lacenaire, he is the token of another phenomenon, different from but related to the first — that of the aesthetic and literary interest beginning to be felt in crime: the aesthetic cult of crime.

Up to the eighteenth century crimes were only heroised in two modes: a literary mode when, and because, they were the crimes of a king, and a popular mode found in the broadsheets which narrate the exploits of Mandrin, or of a great murderer. Two genres which absolutely do not communicate with each other.

Around 1840 there appears the figure of the criminal hero, a hero because a criminal, and neither aristocratic nor plebeian. The bourgeoisie produces its own criminal heroes. This is the same moment when the separation is effected between criminals and the popular classes: the criminal cannot be allowed to be a popular hero, he must be an enemy of the poor. The bourgeoisie constitutes for itself an aesthetic in which crime no longer belongs to the people, but is one of those fine arts of which the bourgeoisie alone is capable.

Lacenaire is the model for this new kind of criminal. His origins are bourgeois or petit-bourgeois.

His parents have done some bad things, but he has been properly brought up, he has been to school, he can read and write. This enabled him to act the leader in his milieu. The way he speaks of other criminals is typical: they are brutal animals, cowards and incompetents. He, Lacenaire, is the cold, lucid brain. Thus the new hero is created, displaying all the signs and tokens of the bourgeoisie. That brings us in turn to Gaboriau and the detective novel, in which the criminal is always of bourgeois origins. You never find a working class criminal in nineteenth-century detective novels.

Cinemaphiles should look to Lacenaire in the 1945 classic film Les Enfants du Paradis (clip below) as well as a 1990 biopic, Lacenaire.

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Entry Filed under: 19th Century,Artists,Arts and Literature,Beheaded,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,France,Guillotine,History,Intellectuals,Murder,Popular Culture,Public Executions,Theft

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1949: Leander Jacobs and Hector Chavis

Add comment December 30th, 2019 Headsman

Associated Press story from the Gastonia (North Carolina) Gazette, Dec. 30, 1949:

RALEIGH, Dec. 30 (AP) — Two Indian farm workers died today in the gas chamber after a futile effort by one to save the life of his companion in crime.

Leander Jacobs, 28, and Hector Chavis, 29, were executed for the robbery-murder of Martin L. Blackwell, 79-year-old Lumberton storekeeper.

Jacobs yesterday told Prison Warden Joe Crawford and Paroles Commissioner T.C. Johnson that although Chavis participated in the robbery, he took no actual part in the killing.

For this reason Chavis did not learn until about 3:30 a.m. today that he was going to die at 10 a.m.

Crawford told him that Governor Scott had decided not to intervene.

“All he said was, ‘Thank you’.” Crawford said.

Chavis entered the chamber calm. Jacobs walked briskly. They both were pronounced dead in less than 12 minutes.

The governor’s decision followed conferences at the mansion last night and this morning with Paroles Commissioner T.C. Johnson to whom Jacobs made his statement.

Jacobs made his confession to Johnson and Central Prison Warden Joe Crawford. Johnson said Jacobs’ story was a “full confession” and was the first detailed account obtained from either of the men.

The two Indian farmers were convicted last April in Robeson superior court of the robbery-murder of Martin L. Blackwell, 79-year-old Lumberton storekeeper.

Jacobs’ statement came yesterday shortly after he heard that governor [sic] would not intervene. The condemned man said he only wanted to clear his conscience before he died.

Johnson said “He told us that he didn’t want to take another man with him.[“]

However, the paroles commissioner pointed out that despite Jacobs’ attempt to take the full blame the fact remained that both men were present at the murder scene and both shared in the ensuing robbery.

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Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Disfavored Minorities,Execution,Gassed,Murder,North Carolina,Racial and Ethnic Minorities,Theft,USA

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2019: Wei Wei

Add comment December 26th, 2019 Headsman

Japan this morning hanged a Chinese man for a 2003 robbery-murder.

With two other Chinese nationals, Wei Wei robbed and murdered a clothier in Fukuoka Prefecture, along with his wife and two young daughters ages 11 and 8 — scoring ¥37,000 in the process. All four were strangled or drowned, and eventually discovered dumped in Hakata Bay, weighted down with dumbbells.

According to the Japan Times,

The two accomplices fled to China where they were arrested. One of them was executed there in 2005 and the other was given a life sentence.

Wei’s death sentence was finalized in 2011. Prior to the murder, the three had been involved in various robberies.

In a statement released on the same day, international human rights group Amnesty International’s Japanese arm lambasted the execution of Wei, noting that it went ahead while he was seeking a retrial.

“Appealing for a retrial is part of the processes stipulated in the criminal procedure law,” the group said.

“They should have begun a process for suspending the execution while he was demanding a retrial. Failing to do so runs counter to the international human rights law.”

Wei Wei is reportedly the first foreign national hanged in Japan since 2009

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1709: Thomas Smith, Aaron Jones, Joseph Wells, and John Long

Add comment December 16th, 2019 Paul Lorrain

(Thanks for the guest post to Paul Lorrain, the Ordinary of Newgate and a pioneer through these ordinary’s accounts of true crime printed ephemera. -ed.)

The ORDINARY of NEWGATE his Account of the Behaviour, Confessions, and Last Speeches of the Malefactors that were Executed at Tyburn, on Friday the 16th day of December, 1709.

AT the Sessions held at Justice-Hall in the Old-Baily, on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, being the 7th, 8th, and 9th instant, Eight Men, who were found guilty of Death, received their Sentence accordingly. Four of them are now order’d for Execution: The other Four are respited from it by HER SACRED MAJESTY’s most gracious Reprieve, which I hope, and here heartily intreat them, that they will take care to improve to the Glory of God, the Benefit of their Neighbour, and their own Temporal and Eternal Good.

While they were under this Condemnation, I constantly visited them, and had them brought up every day, both in the Morning and Afternoon, to the Chapel in Newgate; where I pray’d with them and instructed them in the Word of God, and in the Duties of Christianity; which they had so much neglected. They seem’d to be very serious and attentive to what I then deliver’d to them, for their Instruction and the Comfort of their Souls.

On the Lord’s Day the 11th instant, I preach’d to them and others there present, both in the Morning and Afternoon, upon part of the Epistle for the Day, viz. 1 Cor. 4. the former part of the 5th Verse; the Words being these, Therefore judge nothing before the time, untill the Lord come; who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the Counsels of the hearts.

Which Words, with their Context, I first explain’d in general; shewing, That by them the Apostle do’s not mean, that no Judgment should be pass’d upon the open Actions of Men; for it is plain, from Reason and the revealed Will of God, that Evil-doers are to be judged and punished by the Magistrate, according to their wicked Deeds, when they come to be known and prov’d by sufficient Evidence. But for those things that are hidden and secret, and of which it is utterly impossible for such as do not know the Hearts of Men, to make a Judgment, they ought not to be meddled with, nor Sentence pass’d upon them by Men, who are absolutely ignorant of them. And therefore they must wait for the time which God has appointed for the bringing forth those hidden Things of Darkness both to Light and to Judgment, when He shall think fit to judge the World; which He will certainly do one day; and that too, in Righteousness, by that Man (i.e. Christ Jesus) whom He has ordain’d; whereof He has given assurance unto all Men, in that He has rais’d Him from the dead; as the Apostle speaks, Acts 17. 31.

Having enlarg’d on this, I then proceeded to discourse upon these two Particulars.

I. The Necessity and Certainty of a Judgment to come.

II. The Strictness and Severity of that Judgment, which shall be most terrible to impenitent Sinners.

And to these I added some Directions how Men (by Faith and Repentance) might provide against the severity of that Judgment, and avoid their final and eternal Condemnation.

In the Conclusion of both these Discourses, I apply’d my self with particular Exhortations to the Condemned; and then dismiss’d them for that time, with a Prayer, That God would be pleas’d to seal those Truths upon their Souls, which in his Name, and by his Spirit, I had deliver’d to them; and that He would render them effectual to their everlasting Salvation. This I mention to satisfie those inquisitive Persons who are often asking, What method or means I use, or can be us’d, to bring those sorts of Men to Christ, and dispose them for Eternal Life.

As I publickly taught these poor unhappy Creatures, how they might be made happy, so I had some private Discourses with ’em, wherein such of ’em as are now appointed for Death, made the following Confessions to me, viz.

1. Thomas Smith, condemn’d for a Burglary by him (and others with him) committed in the House of the Right Honourable the Earl of Westmorland,* and taking Goods from thence to a very great Value, in October last. He confess’d that he was concern’d in the Robbery, but not in the Burglary: That indeed he was in the House, but did not break it open; for it was so before he broke out of the Goal at Chelmsford in Essex, where he was a Prisoner. This is all he would confess as to this particular Matter. But as to the general Course of his Life, he acknowledg’d it to have been very bad indeed, though perhaps not so bad as some have represented it, and the generality of the World believ’d it to be. For he had never robbed any House in his Life (saving that Honourable Lord’s above-mentioned) and, That he never did wrong any Person (as it was so-much reported) at Highgate, or Hampstead, or any other Place thereabouts; but all the Facts that he ever was guilty of, were committed in London, Southwark, and Westminster: And, That those Facts were only the taking off Boxes, Trunks, & suchlike things, from behind Coaches or Wagons, and Handkerchiefs, &c. out of Peoples Pockets in the Streets: Of which sorts of Facts he had committed many; so many that he could not remember them all; neither was it (said he) necessary for him to name them, as being of no use to the Persons he had thus wrong’d, to whom he could not make any Amends or Satisfaction, but by asking their Pardon, which he did. He further said, That he was a Cooper by his Trade; That he was born at Highgate, and was now about 33 years of age; the most part of which time he had spent very ill, though his Mother and other his Friends and Relations (who are very honest) were not wanting in their giving him good Advice, which he did not follow; and for that he is now to suffer; the Providence of God having justly brought him under this Condemnation for the punishment of his wicked Deeds in this World; which Puuishment he pray’d might not be extended to the next. He added, that he had served the Crown at times for some years past, both by Sea and Land ; and that by that Service, and his Trade, (which was not a Bricklayer, as some would have it, but a Dry-Cooper) he might have maintain’d himself, and lived comfortably, had he been honest. He wish’d, that other ill Livers might take Warning by him, and be wiser and honester than he had been. He said, he was sorry he ever injur’d any Man, and now was unable to make any Reparation for those Injuries he had done to his Neighbour. He also declar’d, That he forgave all those that had been the Cause of his Ruin, and, That he dy’d in Charity with all the World. I asking him (as I was desir’d) how he made his escape out of the Goal at Chelmsford, he told me, That he broke the Ridge of the House, and so open’d himself a Passage, and went away by one of the Clock in the Morning on the 12th day of October last, unknown to any-body, and was in London on the 14th.

2. Aaron Jones, condemn’d for two Burglaries and a Murther; viz. First, for breaking open and taking by Night several Goods out of the House of Mr. John Moss at Hampstead, on the 30th of June last: Secondly, for another like Robbery committed in the House of Mr. William Heydon, on the 11th of October last: And Lastly, For the Murther of one Lamas, about Marybone, as he was walking that way with Mr. Moss the day after the first Robbery, i. e. the 1st of July, when the said Mr. Moss and Lamas there met with this Jones, and another Person concern’d with him, of whom mention shall be made hereafter, who were then (both of them) carrying away some of the Goods stoln out of Mr. Moss’s House the Day before. He deny’d both the Buglaries and the Murther, and seem’d to be very stubbon and obstinate in that his Denial; tho’ at the same time he confess’d, That he had formerly been guilty of small Thefts, as the stealing of Poultry, and such things; and, That he had been a very lewd and wicked Person; for which he asked God’s Pardon and theirs whom he had offended. He said, he was a poor Labouring-man , who came up some few years since to London for Work; That he was about 33 years of age, born at the Devizes in Wiltshire; and, That he once little thought he should ever come to such an End: But having forsaken God, God had forsook him, and left him to himself; and for his Neglect of Christian Duties, and following ill Courses, God had suffer’d him to fall by this shameful Condemnation.

3. Joseph Wells, condemn’d for the last-mention’d Facts of two Burglaries and Murther by him committed in conjunction with the aforesaid Aaron Jones. He (like his Accomplice) positively deny’d his being guilty of either of those Facts. But confess’d, he had not lived that honest Life which his good Parents had taught him; and, That he had sometimes (tho’ not in great Matters) defrauded and wrong’d his Neighbour; and (to his grief) could not make any manner of Reparation, but he was now severely punish’d, and he look’d upon that Punishment as inflicted on him by Almighty God for all his past Failures. He said, he was about 30 years of age, born at Cobley near Old-Stratford in Warwickshire; and, That he was a Black-Smith by his Trade, which he had follow’d pretty constantly both in the Country, and here. He outwardly appear’d to be very sensible of the Wrath of God upon Sinners, and cry’d for Mercy; but what his inward Thoughts were, God Almighty only knows.

4. John Long, condemn’d for assaulting and robbing upon the Queen’s High-way near Tyburn, Mr. John Nichols, and Mr. William Cure, taking from them, viz. from Mr. Nichols 36 Guineas, and from Mr. Cure 12 Guineas, a Silver-Watch, and several other Things, on the 19th day of November last. He deny’d these Facts at the first, and persisted long in that denial, and protestation of his Innocence in that Matter; but at the same time he confess’d, That though he was but a Young-man (not 20 years old) yet he had done many ill things, and been very loose in his Life and Conversation for which he craved God’s Pardon; being grieved at his heart, that he had been so wicked. He said further, That he was born of good Parents, at Leeks in Nottinghamshire; That he was a Stonecutter and Bricklayer , by his Trade, and, That he listed himself about a Twelvemonth ago. This is the substance of what he said to me before he went to Tyburn. Of which Place when I come to speak (at the end of this Paper) I will say more of him,

This Day being appointed for the Execution of these Malefactors, they were all carry’d from Newgate (in two Carts) to Tyburn, where I attended them for the last time. There I exhorted them again to stir up their Hearts to God in Faith and Repentance, and clearing their Consciences of all things they were to declare to the World, before they dy’d. I asked Jones and Wells, What they now said to the Robberies and Murther for which they were come to suffer in this Place; and, Whether they knew any thing (as I had asked before in Newgate) of the Murther of Mr. Dudley Carlton, or of any other Murther. To which they answer’d me, That they never were concen’d in the Murther of Mr. Carlton, neither knew who had committed it, nor any thing of it. As for the Crimes for which they were to suffer, Wells said, He was guilty of the Burglary, but not of the Murther of John Lamas. Jones (tho’ I press’d him much and long, to speak the Truth concerning those Burglaries, and that Murther of Lamas) he would not say any thing, but this only, That he would tell me no more Lies, and, That all he had to confess to Man, was, that he had been a great Sinner, and done too many ill things in his Lifetime. By which Answer he seem’d tacitely to own, that he had committed both the Burglaries, and the Murther, for which he was to die.

Then I asked Thomas Smith, Whether he still persisted in his Denial of the Burglary for which he was condemned, or would acknowledge it now (as it greatly concerned him to do). To which he reply’d, That he had nothing more to say in the matter than he had said already; which was, That the House was broke open long before he went into it.

Lastly, as for John Long, who had all the while deny’d the two Robberies for which he was condemned, he own’d them here; saying, That he was guilty of them, and pray’d God and the World to forgive him. He cry’d very bitterly, wished he had lived a better Life: And both he and the other three desired all Offenders to take Warning by them, and see that they do not by their wicked ways follow them to this Place.

After this, I pray’d for them all, and sung some Penitential Psalms with them, I made them rehearse the Apostle’s Creed; and when they had spoken to the Standers-by, That they would pray to GOD for their departing Souls; I returned to Prayer again; and having recommended them to their Creator and Redeemer, and to the Spirit of Grace; I left them to their private Devotions, for which they had some time allotted them.

Then the Cart drew away, and they were turn’d off; they all the while calling mightily upon GOD, to forgive their Sins, and have Mercy upon their Souls.

This is all the Account here to be given of these Dying Persons, by me, PAUL LORRAIN, Ordinary of Newgate .

Friday, Dec. 16. 1709.

ADVERTISEMENT.

Books set forth by Paul Lorrain, Ordinary of Newgate .

A Guide to Salvation, or the Way to Eternal Bliss: Being a Collection of Meditations and Prayers, suited to the Exercise of a Devout Christian. Printed for W. Meadows at the Fann in St. Paul’s Church-yard, 1709.

The Last Words of the Lady Margaret de la Musse: And, The Dying man’s Assistant. Both Printed for, and Sold by John Lawrence at the Angel in the Poultry.

A Preparation for the Sacrament: with Moral and Divine Maxims. Printed for B. Aylmer at the 3 Pidgeons in Cornhil.

ROBERT WHITLEDGE, who formerly lived at the Bible in Creed-Lane, is removed to the Bible and Ball in Ave-Mary-Lane, near Ludgate, where all Booksellers and others may be furnisht with Bibles and Common-Prayers of all Sorts, with Cuts or without, Ruled or Unruled, Bound in Turky Leather or Plain. Mr. Sturt’s Cuts Curiously Engrav’d; also other fine Cutts fitted for all Sizes and Common-Prayers. The Welsh Bible, Welsh Common-Prayer, and Welsh Almanack. The Duty of Man’s Works of all Sizes. The Duty of Man in Latin. Latin and French Common-Prayers. Tate and Brady’s New Version of Psalms, with the New Supplement. Dr. Gibson on the Sacrament. The Statutes at large, in Three Volumes. Washington and Wingate’s Abridgment of them. The Lord Clarendon’s History of the Rebellion in Folio and Octavo. The New Translation of AEsops Fables. Also Bp. Beveridge’s Works, in 5 vol. And Dean Stanhope on the Epistles and Gospels, in 4 vol. All which Books and Cuts are likewise Sold by J. Baker in Mercers-Chapel, in Cheapside.

Lately publish’d for the Use of Schools,

Vocabularium Latiale; or, a Latin Vocabulary in two parts. The First being a Collection of the most usual and easie Latin words, whether primitive or derivative; with their signification in English, after the order of the Eight parts of Speech, giving a Specimen of each, and most naturally shewing the gender, increase, declension and motion of Nouns and Pronouns, with the Conjugation-Preterperfect Tense and Supine of Verbs both Simple and Compound. The Second, shewing the variation and declining of all the declinable parts, both regular an irregular. By Tho. Dyche, School-Master in London, Author of a new Spelling-book, entitul’d, A Guide to the English Tongue. Printed for S. Butler, at Bernard’s-Inn-Gate, in Holbourn, J Holland, near St. Paul’s Church-yard, and A. Collins, at the Black-Boy in Fleet-street. Price 1 s.

Memoirs of the right Villianous John Hall, the late famous and Notorious Robber. Pen’d from his Mouth some time before his Death. Containing the exact Life and Character of a Thief in General. As also a lively Representation of Newgate, and its Inhabitants, with the Manners and Customs observed there. The Nature and Means by which they commit their several Thefts and Robberies, and the Distinctions observed in their respective Functions. To which is added, the Cant generally us’d by those Sort of People to conceal their Villanies; and Rules to avoid being Robb’d or Cheated by them. Usefully set forth for the Good of the Publick, at the Instance of many honest People. The third Edition, with large Additions, and a Description of Ludgate, the two Compers, and other Prisons for Debt.

The wooden World dissected in the Character, of, 1. a Ship of War; 2. a Sea-Captain; 3. a Sea-Lieutenant; 4. a Sea Chaplain; 5. The Master of a Ship of War; 6. The Purser; 7. The Surgeon; 8. The Gunner; 9. The Carpenter; 10. The Boatswain; 11. a Sea-Cook; 12. a Midship-man; 13. The Captain’s Steward; 14. a Sailor. By a lover of the Mathematicks. The Second Edition, corrected and amended by the Author. Price bound, 1 s.

The Satyrical Works of Petronius Arbiter, in Prose, and Verse. In three Parts. Together with his Life and Character, written by Mons. St. Evremont; and a Key to the Satyr, by a Person of Quality. Made English by Mr. Wilson, Mr. Burna by, Mr. Blount, Mr. Brown, Captain Ayloff, and several others. And adorn’d with Cuts. To which is added, the Charms of Liberty; a Poem, by the late Duke of Devonshire.

All 3 Sold by B. Bragge, at the Raven in Pater-noster-row.

London Printed, and are to be Sold by Benj. Bragge, at the Raven in Pater-noster-Row.

* The Earldom of Westmorland still exists to this day and the same family as our crime victim here still holds it: it belongs now to Anthony David Francis Henry Fane, the 16th Earl of Westmorland.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 18th Century,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,England,Execution,Guest Writers,Hanged,Murder,Other Voices,Theft

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1994: Raymond Carl Kinnamon, filibusterer

Add comment December 11th, 2019 Headsman

On this date in 1994 — the ten-year anniversary of the robbery-murder that earned him his death sentence — Raymond Carl Kinnamon died to lethal injection despite his loquacity.

A career criminal with 17 felony convictions and three prison stints previously to his name, Kinnamon robbed a Houston bar at gunpoint on December 11, 1984. The crime escalated to murder when one of the patrons, Raymond Charles Longmire, smacked the gunman’s hand away from his pocket.

On this unusual Sunday-morning execution, the death warrant specified the execution be completed before dawn. Kinnamon received a last-minute stay that was subsequently overturned by an appellate court, but the legal chicanery ate up most of the window. Seeing an angle, Kinnamon delivered a rambling, 30-minute last statement looking to run out the clock on his executioners. According to the Associated Press (here via the Paris News of Dec. 12, 1994), prison officials eventually forced the start of the lethal drugs while the prisoner was still mid-filibuster, to the complaints of Kinnamon’s family.

“I’ve got a few things to say,” Kinnamon said as witnesses filed into the death chamber about 5:15 a.m. CST.

Thirty minutes later, after thanking dozens of people, criticizing capital punishment, expressing love for his family and getting a drink of water from the prison warden, he was still talking.

“I can see no reason for my death,” he said, then began squirming, lifting his head and shoulders and tried sliding his right arm from a leather strap.

Warden Morris Jones and a prison chaplain, Alex Taylor, both stationed a few feet away at opposite corners of the gurney, stepped in to control the inmate and executioners behind a one-way mirror in an adjacent room began the lethal dose.

Kinnamon’s niece, standing with her mother and a friend behind a clear plastic shielded window, began sobbing loudly.

“They didn’t let him finish,” Natasha Fremin cried out. “I didn’t get to say goodbye.”

The dispatch notes that “it was not clear what would have happened if Kinnamon had continued to speak past sunrise.”

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,Lethal Injection,Murder,Texas,Theft,USA

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1816: Marci Zöld, Hungarian outlaw

Add comment December 6th, 2019 Headsman

Legendary Hungarian outlaw Marci Zöld was executed on this date in 1816.

Zöld — Hungarian link, as are most in this post; we’ve inverted the Hungarian surname-first naming convention for ease — followed his father’s footsteps into outlawry; his heyday comprised the months following a Christmas 1815 escape from a previous imprisonment after which he and a confederate “kidnapped and plundered for several months in Sárrét, and in Bihar, Szabolcs, Heves and Szolnok counties.” (Heves was his native soil, so he’s also known as Marci Hevesen.)

By summer he had teamed up with another bandit named Pista Palatinszky and formed a gang that raided promiscuously throughout Transdanubia, escaping justice until he didn’t.

The allure of the road — moreso than any evident virtue distinguishing the brigand’s actual conduct — qualified him to be taken up by poets of the emerging Romantic age, like Sandor Petofi‘s poem which inaccurately portrays Marci doing Robin Hood wealth redistribution. Mor Jokai, Jozsef Gaal, and Lajos Kormendi are among the many other authors who have paid him tribute.

To some extent, his defiance of the Austro-Hungarian empire expressed an inchoate longing for rebellion, like the Balkan hajduks. Even moreso, it was a matter of good timing — for the 18th-19th century pivot was a peak era for romanticizing highwaymen, now that the species was disappearing into the crucible of modernity. This is the same period for the likes of Schinderhannes and Diego Corrientes Mateos; equally, it’s the moment when artists of various nationalities elevated into the cultural canon decades-dead outlaws like Dick Turpin (England) or Juraj Janosik (Slovakia).

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 19th Century,Arts and Literature,Austria,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,Habsburg Realm,Hanged,History,Hungary,Murder,Myths,Outlaws,Theft

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