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Posts about Crime

March 2, 1877: What it feels like to be guillotined

Posted by: Ben Welter Updated: February 10, 2014 - 6:13 PM
 
This wire story – the source is unclear – appeared in several U.S. newspapers, including the Minneapolis Tribune:
 

A THRILLING EXPERIENCE.

What It Feels Like to be Guillotined -- a Rare Experience.

We know how it feels to be poisoned, to be hanged and to be drowned, but it has been reserved for M. Mondate, an Italian gentleman, to let the world know, through La Defense, what it feels like to be guillotined.

He was in 1873 condemned to death for a crime of which he was innocent, and it was not the fault of Italian justice that he escaped. The blade of the guillotine fell, but the wood in the grooves of which it ran had swollen slightly, and the knife stopped barely two centimeters from his neck. While they were repairing this defect a reprieve arrived – the true murderer had been found and confessed his crime.

"It was 8 o'clock A.M., August 17, 1873," says M. Mondate, "that my confessor, l'Abbe Fernia, entered my cell to announce to me that I must die. When at the touch of his hand upon my shoulder I awakened, I comprehended at once the nature of his errand, and despite my confidence, it seems that I turned horribly pale. I would have spoken, but my mouth contracted nervously and no saliva moistened it. A mortal chill suddenly invaded the lower part of my body. By a supreme effort I succeeded in gasping, ‘It is not true!’ The priest answered I know not what. I only heard a confused buzzing.

“Then a sudden thrill of pride shot through me. For some minutes I felt no fear; I stood erect; I said to myself that if I must die I should show them that an innocent man died with courage. I spoke with great rapidity; I was horribly afraid to be silent or to be interrupted; I thanked the governor of the prison, and asked for something to eat. They brought me a cup of chocolate, but I refused it. Again I had become fully possessed with the horrors of my situation; I had visions of what the scaffold would be like, and mechanically asked the attendants, ‘Does it hurt much?’ ‘Not a bit,’ answered somebody, and I saw before me a new person in a gown of black woolen – the executioner.

“I would have risen, defended myself, asserted my innocence, but I fainted, and when I returned to consciousness I was pinioned in the cart which was entering the death place. I cast a shuddering look at the horrible machine. I had no more connected and coherent thought, and the uprights through which the knife runs seemed as high as the masts of a ship. I was lifted to the platform. I had but one fixed idea – that of resistance. But how could I resist? I was seized and flung down upon the plank. I felt as if I was paralyzed and lay there for an immense time. Then there was a sharp blow on my neck, and I fainted again with the instinctive idea that the knife had struck me. It was not the knife, but the upper part of the lunette. When I came to myself was in the prison hospital.”

Jan. 26, 1904: Bakes baby in an oven

Posted by: Ben Welter Updated: January 29, 2014 - 4:26 PM
 
Very distressing to read this brief, even 110 years after it appeared on the front page – the front page! – of the Minneapolis Tribune. Still, you have to wonder about the accuracy of the story. What 6-year-old (I'm guessing the subheadline got the age wrong) is capable of committing such a horrifying act?
 

BAKES BABY     
IN AN OVEN


FIVE-YEAR-OLD GIRL ROASTS LITTLE BROTHER WHILE MOTHER IS ABSENT.
 

LA CROSSE, WIs., Jan. 26 – While Mrs. Edward Smith was chopping wood yesterday her daughter 6 years old placed a baby brother in a hot oven, closed the door and baked the baby to death before the mother returned. The oven had been heated for baking.

Jan. 2, 1913: Detective stakes out church, nabs thief

Posted by: Ben Welter Updated: January 2, 2014 - 8:22 PM
 
Some mighty fine police work by a Minneapolis detective, as reported in the Tribune:
 

Detective Hides in Church
To Arrest Poor Box Thief

 
Woman Suspect Caught in St. Anthony of Padua after Three-day Vigil.
 
Tells Police Matron She Was Poor and Had Right to the Money.
 

For three days Detective Wilson of the East Side Police station lay on a church pew in the gallery of the church of St. Anthony of Padua, Eighth avenue and Main street southeast, peeking between two prayer books he had braced against a pew in front of him.

 
 
  St. Anthony of Padua Church in about 1900. The towers were removed during a renovation in the late 1940s. (Photo courtesy mnhs.org)

Yesterday afternoon, after a score or more of worshipers in the church had left, a woman entered and went to the middle of the church. She lighted a candle, took off her shoes and tiptoed to the back of the church. Wilson and the sexton, who was keeping watch with the detective, said they saw her take a key from her pocketbook, unlock the box for contributions to the poor, take out the money and start back to get her shoes.

 

Wilson and the sexton hurried downstairs and arrested her as she was putting on her shoes. She had $1.44, which, they said, she had taken from the box. She gave her name as Alice Eastman. She lived in the University apartments, Fifteenth avenue and Fourth street southeast.

 
Said She Had Right to Money.
 

She told the police matron that she was poor and thought she had a right to the money in the box. This is the third time she has been arrested. Three years ago she was convicted of having broken into a desk in the First Baptist church. She was sent to the House of the Good Shepherd.

 

According to the police she was employed in the office of the board of education, marking examination papers of teachers. The rector of St. Anthony church reported to Captain Quealey that money had been missing from the poor box for several weeks.

 

Dec. 21, 1981: Met Stadium's violent goodbye

Posted by: Ben Welter Updated: December 27, 2013 - 1:43 PM
 
In a column given prominent play on the front page of the Minneapolis Tribune, Joe Soucheray captured the hooliganism that took hold after the Vikings' final game at Met Stadium on Dec. 20, 1981. What inspired the madness that afternoon? A few days before the game, Minneapolis Star columnist Jim Klobuchar interviewed the team's ticket manager, Harry Randolph, about crowd control for Sunday’s game. This quote attributed to Randolph suggested the Vikings were taking a hands-off approach to souvenir hunters:

“All we want to do is to hold down the self-inflicted injuries to minor concussions and treatable fractures. If they are going to carry off their seats, we prefer handsaws to the standard Black & Decker ripsaws in the commercials. If they are going after the goal posts, we suggest they come wearing helmets and hard-toe boots.”

Klobuchar’s column drew complaints from the team, which disputed the quote and said it had to hire extra security for the game. By Tuesday, the Star acknowledged the humorous quote was a fabrication and Klobuchar was suspended for two weeks without pay. But the damage, whatever the proximate cause, was done. Here was Soucheray’s take on Met Stadium's messy final act:
 

Destructive fans bid violent adieu to Metropolitan Stadium

 
Metropolitan Stadium officially expired at 3:10 p.m. Sunday. By then, hooligans had scaled the northern wall of the big red and blue scoreboard, yanking so many wires and popping so many bulbs that the clock stopped dead in its track. It was frozen at 3:10 and will be forever.
 
A great deal of Metropolitan Stadium was destroyed yesterday by thousands of people who never displayed any similar enthusiasm for the games that were played there. And the racket made by those souls who ripped out their own memories of the ball park that has been condemned was louder than any cheer issued for the Vikings yesterday.
 
 
  The trouble begins: Fans in the center-field bleachers hauled down the American flag in the fourth quarter. (Star Tribune photo)
The Vikings went out losers, 10-6 to the Kansas City Chiefs, failing to achieve the milestone of a 10th victory in the only home they have ever known, a home that began to fall down around them in the game's final seconds. And afterward a terrible rending took place, the stomping of thousands of boot heels on chairs, the cracking of wood, pounding and tearing and pulling.
 
The Vikings had promised an increased security force for yesterday's game, but you knew there was a hole in this plan when a man in an extremely obvious gorilla suit waltzed by the enforcers and onto the field with five minutes still to play. It was about then that seats began to disappear from their moorings in the right-field bleachers, whole sections of plank were lifted out and passed down the row.
 
And at the final gun thousands of people stormed the field. The goal posts came down first, on both ends of the field. Set upon and devoured, components of the goal posts were then paraded around the turf as the thieves wondered what in the world to do with such bounty. Or what to do with the iron railings that were worked on by gangs who bent them this way and that until they broke? Or what to do with toilet seats or trash barrels?
 
The field itself was attacked, but it is virtually impossible for even the foulest perpetrator to tear frozen sod from the earth. No one was bold enough to bring a jackhammer into the stadium. Smaller instruments of destruction included wrenches and industrial strength wire cutters.
 
Vikings authorities who witnessed the Met's last act were reluctant to place a dollar value on removed seats. But it became clear that what perhaps began as an act of sentiment turned into random acts of destruction. The scoreboard, for example, was scaled by a hundred or so fools for no apparent purpose other than to destroy the thing. Scoreboard lightbulbs were popped. Lettering was ripped out and thrown to the ground. Speakers atop the scoreboard were yanked out and dropped to the ground.
 
“There is certain sentiment in trying to take a seat home,” the ticket manager of the Vikings, Harry Randolph, said yesterday as he watched the destruction from the press box. “But people climbing the scoreboard are sick. They endanger themselves.”
 
“There must be more destruction than you anticipated,” somebody said.
 
“Our main concern was that people didn't hurt each other,” Randolph said.
 
It did not seem possible that long-standing season ticket holders led yesterday's chase to ruin. Over the past couple of seasons, the Viking crowds have become as dull as the Vikings, and yesterday's game might have been the dullest ever played at the old ball park. Randolph said nearly 4,000 tickets are sold for each game on an individual basis, tickets that might attract a “transient” crowd. And other customers could have sold their season tickets to yesterday's game, perhaps anticipating cold weather. But Randolph did not dare venture a demographical profile of those customers who went slightly mad for about an hour after the conclusion of yesterday's game.
 
As usual, the entertainment proceeded at its own crawling pace, with only scarce clues as to what would follow. Patrons in center field bleachers did haul down the American flag and cut loose its halyards in the fourth quarter. And the St. Louis Park Parkettes wisely vacated the premises earlier than they ever have, to preserve their 21-year virtue, not to mention hide and hair.
 
But no one could really have anticipated the mob reaction that followed. By comparison, the crowd after the last Twins game at the Met conducted itself as though on a tour of the Louvre.
 
By dusk yesterday, the Met was empty of all creatures. The field remained uncovered in the sleet that began to fall. In the failing light, some merciful electrician pulled the plug on the scoreboard. Those bulbs not destroyed flickered and went out.
 
The Met is closed.
 
 
Minnesota nice: One Vikings fan brought a sign to show his displeasure with the stadium's demise. (Star Tribune photo)
 
The oh-so-frozen tundra: The sun set on Metropolitan Stadium and its snow-covered parking lot in 1981. (Star Tribune photo)

Oct. 12, 1913: Judge lets 'Workhouse Kelley' sentence himself

Posted by: Ben Welter Updated: October 16, 2013 - 7:50 PM
 
Remember Otis Campbell, the town drunk on "The Andy Griffith Show"? He frequently let himself into Sheriff Andy Taylor's jail to sleep off a bender. Meet George Kelley, a Minneapolis resident whose struggle with alcohol landed him in the workhouse more than 100 times. A Minneapolis Tribune reporter was in court when a judge invited Kelley to set his own sentence.
 

Kelley Gives Himself
Thirty-Day Sentence


Man Who Has Been to Workhouse 102 Times Chooses Own Time.

Associates on Bridge Square Call Him “Workhouse” Kelley.

Judge Smith Gives Him Option of Time in City's Institution.

George Kelley, known to hundreds of bridge square men as “Workhouse Kelley,” went to the workhouse 102 times because judges of the municipal courts sentenced him there. Yesterday he made his record 103, but he sentenced himself after Judge C.L. Smith told him he could go up for as long as he liked.

“Well, give me about 30 days, judge,” said Kelley.

“Don't you think 90 days would be better for you,” said the judge. Kelley was stern as he faced the judge. “No, sir, I only want 30 days.”

“Thirty days it is,” said the judge. “You've been up there enough times so that you perhaps might think you have a right to say how long you'll go up for.”

18 Years in Workhouse.

Kelley gives his age as 82 years. He looks about 70 years old. He has lived in Minneapolis for the past 40 years. Of the 40 years, he has spent about 18 years in the workhouse. He has served more time than any other prisoner who has ever been in the workhouse.

Saturday was the first time Kelley has been in the workhouse in 1913. Last December he went to Oshkosh, Wis., to visit a brother, W.J. Kelley, who has given “Workhouse” Kelley an allowance of $20 a month for years. Before he got to his brother's house he was arrested and sent to jail. He got out of jail a week ago and returned to Minneapolis without having seen his brother. Friday night two police found him in lock-up alley, drunk.

He lives at the Grand Central hotel, 110 Second street south, when not in the workhouse.

 
"Lockup Alley" is in Block 38 of this section of a 1903 Minneapolis map. The narrow passage behind the Central Police Station was familiar to many of the city's unsavory characters in the late 1800s and early 1900s. (Image courtesy of Hennepin County Library's Minneapolis Collection)
 
The Minneapolis workhouse at 50th and Lyndale Avenues N. in about 1902. (Image courtesy mnhs.org)

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