Hangman’s Victim – Marshal Clements Strung up for a Double Murder
Dying Statement – Denver, December 3 – A Saguache special to the News
says: Marshal Clements was hung here this morning for the murder of his
brother and sister-in-law, Thomas and Susie Clements. He made the
following sworn statement:
To Whom It May Concern:
Clements, being in sound mind and unimpaired health, solemnly swear and
declare before Almighty God, before whom I expect to be soon ushered,
that what is herein stated is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing
but the truth. In the matter of the death of Thomas H. Clements and his
wife, Susie I. Marshall Clements am guilty of their death and I alone.
No person of my family or otherwise gave me any advice or assistance
previous to or subsequently in thought word or deed and no member of my
family knew of the circumstances attended their death till on the tenth
day of November, I made my statement in Saguache county court house.
This statement is voluntarily made, without fear or favor, at
instigation of no person, whether lawyer, court officer, sheriff, etc.
the seventeenth day of August, 1885, said Thomas H. Clements and I,;
Marshal Clements, were about one hundred yards from where the body of
Thomas H. was found interred. There had been words between us and ill
feeling existed between us for some time previous. I had a double
barreled shot gun; I raised the gun and killed him instantly. I did not
think the shot gun would kill him, and was horrified at finding I had
killed him. After a while I dug a grave and buried him where the body
was found, no one being witness to the whole transaction. The cause of
ill feeling existing between us was that he (Thomas H) had on several
occasions heaped abuse on our sister, to whom both of us owed
everything. Little more than child herself, Tom’s wife imposed upon her
good nature till her health broke down. My brother, instead of finding
out how matters were, abused his mother and sister, and kept it up till
he died. He also abused my father at the instigation of his wife, who
had no respect for age, speaking of her own father as a fool. He spoke
of my father as an old fool and of my other sister as a Jezebel. As for
me, I had, in his opinion disgraced the family in marrying a girl who
knew how to cook a meal of victuals that was digestible. No man will
call my sister a prostitute in my presence or where it will come back
to me and when asked to retract, will add to it, if I had a gun I’d
fire. I was determined she would suffer for alienated affections and
love of my poor brother whom I had just lost by my own hand. I went to
the house where she lived and told her Tom was hurt and was in a cabin
about a mile distant. She put on her hat and started to the spot
indicated. No one saw us leave. She told me of a dream she had, every
word of which stung me like an adder. She walked with a firm step,
sometimes fretting for Tom, then telling me some foolish story. When
within about seventy-five feet of where the body was found, I raised
the gun and fired. She died almost instantly. He was buried almost
immediately. No person saw me either commit the murder or bury the
body. In stating the above I have started on a line of truth and I have
had to my many things which I would very much like to leave unsaid. I
hope to be forgiven by a merciful God for this crime and for greater
sins in His sight and I can well afford to forgive any wrong, fancied
or real, to myself or family. I have not made this statement to justify
my act, which is unjustifiable taken from my point of view, and for
less do I do it to hurt the character of those who lips the tomb has
sealed. Let an intelligent public draw its own conclusions as to
whether any person or persons are guilty along with me of the crime,
previous to doing so or subsequently.
Signed “Marshal Clements”
and subscribed before me, a notary public in and for the county of
Saguache, state of Colorado, this ? day of December, A D. 1885 Signed
L. H. Decker, Notary Public. Witness: N. J. Bennett. (Apen Weekly
Times, December 5, 1885)
The Clements Crime
to the Times – Saguache, December 4 – It is believed the family of
Clements are equally guilty with him and that while in jail together
fearing that all would hanged, they agreed that Marshall alone should
suffer. (Aspen Weekly Times, December 5, 1885)
McGarvey Must Hang
Jan. 9 – Governor Buchtel announced that he would not interfere with
the execution of John McGarvey who is under sentence to hang this week.
(Herald Democrat, January 10, 1907)
Went to His Death In a State of Utter Collapse
John McGarvey Pays the Penalty for his Crime
to The Democrat – Canon City, Colo., Jan. 12 – About 7:30 o’clock
tonight John McGarvey paid the penalty on the gallows for the crime
committed by him in Grand Junction a few months ago.
McGarvey bore up bravely, walking to the gallows with a firm step and bore up well under the strain.
carried a crucifix in his hand and said a short time before that he
expected to have his sin forgiven. Just before the black cap was
adjusted he was asked if he had any statement to make. He replied: “No!”
execution passed without a hitch and there was little contortion of the
body. The man was pronounced dead in exactly four minutes after the
trap was sprung.
The body will be buried Monday in the convicts
cemetery. None of the McGarvey’s relatives were present nor have they
made any request for the body. (Aspen Democrat, January 13, 1907)
City, Colorado, January 12 – McGarvey was in a state of utter collapse
today. He went to his death without one kind word from his father
Barney McGarvey, who is said to be quite well to do and who lives at
Long Branch, N. J. The elder McGarvey has entirely repudiated his
unfortunate son, even to the point of having refused absolutely to
answer some of his numerous letters, some of which plead only for one
kind; fatherly word of encouragement or sorrow.
The condemned man
frankly admitted that he could not fathom or understand his father’s
apparent indifference to him or his terrible fate and his lack of
parental regard had done more than anything else to unnerve the
prisoner for the trying ordeal.
McGarvey was given one hour in which
to eat his dinner, after which he was provided with a new black suit
and a white shirt without a collar. He was told to don these and
prepare for his execution.
Shortly before 7 o’clock, Warden Cleghorn
appeared at the death cell and called McGarvey to the reading of the
death warrant. This was the last communication anyone had with the
McGarvey has spent the past three days during his
waking hours in reading the Bible and receiving spiritual consolation
from Father Lachschmidt of the Canon City Catholic Church. Father
Lachschmida spent the entire afternoon praying for his soul and
administering the last rites of the church. Just before dinner was
served the good priest bade farewell to the prisoner for all time.
(Aspen Democrat, January 13, 1907)
No Case for Mercy
Governor Buchtel Refuses to Change Murderer’s Sentence
– In refusing to interfere with the sentence of the court in the case
of John McGarvey, sentenced to be hanged for the murder of Jailer
Edward Innes at Grand Junction, Governor Buchtel issued the following
“I went to Grand Junction to secure information at first hand in the case of John McGarvey and found these facts:
this man commits burglary at a time when there was a universal demand
for men to work. Instead of earning a living by working he breaks into
a storage house and steals a lot of stuff and sells it. For this crime
he was then indicted and committed to the penitentiary. A well-known
gentleman of Grand Junction appeals in his behalf and the court
releases him on a technicality.
“So McGarvey owes his freedom to the
intervention of a kind-hearted man. This man gives him employment and
he commits an assault on a little twelve-year old girl and one small
for her age. Nothing more brutal can be imaged. The child’s mother was
in Europe at the time. The second crime, too, was against a benefactor.
Then McGarvey runs away and is brought back and put in prison to await
trial. His jailer, Edward Innes was a man held in high esteem at Grand
Junction for gentlemanly qualities.
“Innes knows McGarvey and gives
him privileges not extended to other prisoners. He is permitted to cook
the food and leaves his cell when the others are shut up. One afternoon
at four o’clock as he was preparing supper he selects a stick of wood
from the pile which will serve his purpose and lays it aside. Later
Innes is down on his knees with his hands grasping the iron door of a
cell looking in at some prisoners playing cards. McGarvey steps up
behind him and hits him over the head.
“The first stroke was a death
stroke. Innes was instantly unconscious and grasps the door of the cell
with a death grip. McGarvey takes Innes’ revolver and keys and after
that hits him. Then he ties him with a string. The tying with the
string is the only point made to show that he did not have murder in
his heart. That may be accounted for, however, in another way, It could
have been an exhibition of his being in a panic of fright after killing
It is probably that more appeals will be made to me than
would otherwise be made, became the impression will be that I will be
sympathetic to the extreme, easily influenced in securing reprieves and
pardons. So it is important that I should say, for the information of
the public, what my views are on the subject.
When the courts have
reached a decision and established the fact that a man has committed
some criminal act and has applied the punishment the law provides for
that case, I have no right to intervene and frustrate the work of the
court. The only times when I could intervene would be when new evidence
has come to light which was not known at the time the case was decided
and this evidence must be evidence which influences the court and the
prosecuting attorney. (Silver Cliff Rustler, January 16, 1907)
Death Penalty for Lynn – Negro Who Shot Girl
June 10 – Jim Lynn, the negro who on the morning of May 14 shot and
killed Sarah Jones, a white girl, and seriously wounded her mother,
Mrs. Julia James, was today found guilty of murder in the first degree,
the jury fixing the death penalty.
Jealousy is thought to have been
the motive. Posses searched for Lynn for several days before he was
captured. (Herald Democrat, June 11, 1908)
Jim Lynn to Hang for Murder of a Pueblo Girl
July 1 – Jim Lynn, the negro who murdered Sarah James a white girl, May
13, was sentenced to be hanged during the week ending October 10 by
Judge Essex in the district court today. Lynn did not show any emotion,
but pretended not to know what it was all about. His attorneys made a
motion for a new trial but it was overturned.
Lynn broke into the
house of Mrs. Julia James and after an altercation with a white man who
was there drove Mrs. James and her daughter into the street. He then
shot both, killing the girl and badly injuring the mother.
escaped but was captured later in Limon. While he was in jail at
Colorado Springs, where he was held for safe keeping a mob broke into
the Pueblo jail bent upon lynching him. Mrs. James is now in Seattle.
(Aspen Democrat, July 2, 1908)
Hanged at Canon
Canon City, Oct. 8
– James Lynn, colored, was executed at the penitentiary at 8:05 tonight
for the murder of Sarah James, a young girl at Pueblo last spring and
wounding her mother.
Though the crime for which Lynn was hanged was
one of the most revolting ever enacted in southern Colorado, Lynn
declared that he was innocent to the very last. (Herald Democrat,
October 9, 1908)
Lewis Wechter Pays Penalty – Goes to His Death Without the Quiver of a Muscle
Killed W. C. Burrowes
Insists to the Last Upon His Innocense of Intentional Murder
City, Colo. – Lewis J. Wechter is dead. The end came after twentry four
hours of agony, the suspense of which was worse than death.
God, it’s over, but I am innocent!” the slayer of Clifford Burrowes
murmured just before he swung from the scaffold behind the cold gray
walls of the penitentiary here.
His face drawn and his eyes staring
out almost sightless from their sunken sockets trying bravely to make
his limpid body stand erect, making one last feeble effort to click his
heels together as he stood on the death trap. Wechter collapsed from
exhaustion as the black cap was pulled over his head and he was jerked
into eternity almost unconscious.
“It if had been last night I could
have been brave and met this terrible fate like one of Uncle Sam’s
sailors,” Wechter murmured to the death watch when the last summons
came. But the strain has been too great. I am all done for, and can’t
But Wechter did make the scaffold. It was a last brave
effort. Even as he mounted the scaffold stairs he rallied his last
ebbing strength and walked unassisted to the gallows and stood under
the dangling noose. Then the collapse came.
The little band of
watchers shuddered as the trap was sprung and the body of the former
sailor dropped down and then stopped with a sickening jerk. There was a
twitching of the muscles in the arms, which were bound to the
sides of the sailor, and then the rigid muscles tightened, and
all was over. The law had exacted its toll for the slaying of the
hardware salesman in the White House Café on the night of February 11,
The little group standing by dispersed sadly.
The body of
the former member of Uncle Sam’s navy was packed in a great
silver-mounted casket that was in readiness, a casket that the executed
murderer had paid for from the pension the United States gave for
bravery and disability in service. Attaches of the prison then bore the
casket to the prison hospital and then it later was laid away in the
prison burial plot. (Colorado Farm & Randh, (Sheridan Lake),
September 6, 1912)
Harry Hillen Must Hang for Murder
Jan. 12 – Judge Butler this morning sentenced Harry Hillen for the
murder of Thomas Chase on the streets of Denver some weeks ago. Hillen
was sentenced to hang during the week of April 20. A stay of 60 days
was granted pending an appeal to the supreme court. (Weekly Courier,
January 16, 1914)
Hillen Must Die Week of June 20
Denver – Unless
the governor and the State Board of Pardons show clemency, Harry Edgar
Hillen, the bandit who terrorized Denver in October, 1913 and finally
killed Thomas Chase, must die during the week of June 20. This was
settled by the Supreme Court of Colorado, denying a rehearing of
Hillen’s appeal. The convicted bandit’s only chance to postpone
execution is through an appeal to the governor for a reprieve. (Wray
Rattler, June 10, 1915)
Harry Hillen Dies on Gallows
Bandit Calm on Death Trap; Maintained His Innocence to End – Drop Kills
Instantly – Stood without Quiver until Hood was Adjusted and Weight
Hillen’s March to Gallows
Born in Cheyenne, Wyoming, July
13, 1889. Ran away from his home in San Francisco when 14 years old.
Forged checks, using his father’s name. Later forged uncle’s name to
checks. Found guilty for first time and sentenced to serve one year in
Utah penitentiary. Robbed a number of homes on a trip to the East.
Robbed stores in many cities including Chicago, Philadelphia, Kansas
City and San Francisco. Joined the U. S. Army. Deserted from the Army.
Came to Colorado as a “hobo” in October 1913. Desperate for money, he
and a mysterious friend known as “Curley” planned crimes and procured
revolvers. Terrorized Denver with Curley during the week of Oct. 20,
1913; holding up a score of men taking money only and returning
jewelry. Murdered Thomas Chase, a Denver real estate man in cold blood,
because Chase smiled at him and didn’t move fast enough to suit him.
Pullman Conductor Clark. Robbed A. D. Hensley’s grocery at 617
Twentieth street, Oct. 26, 1913. Arrested Oct. 26. Confessed to the
murder of Chase and numerous other sensational crimes, oct. 27, 1913.
Convicted of murder in the first degree, Dec. 18, 1913. Sentenced by
District Court to be hanged some time in the week of April 20, 1914.
Appeal denied by Colorado Supreme Court March 1, 1915. Again sentenced
to be hanged some time in the week beginning June 20, 1915. Appeal made
by committee of representative women to Board of Pardons to commute
sentence to life imprisonment June 15, 1915. Board refuses, same
Appeals made to Governor Carlson by condemned man’s
uncle, R. H. Hillen for commutation. Hill’s last hope of executive
clemency dies, as governor refuses even to see his beautiful sister,
Irene Hillen, June 23, 1915. Hillen looks for the last time on his
sister’s face, when she visits him in the death cell in Canon City
penitentiary afternoon of June 24, 1915. Hillen hangs, night of June
Canon City, Colo., June 25 – Harry Hillen, Denver boy
bandit, slayer of Thomas Chase in October 1913 last night took the step
on the gallows drop that ended his life. A career of lawlessness,
marked by half a hundred crimes, was closed when he walked upon the
little square platform in the state penitentiary death chamber; a
moment later he was dangling from the end of a rope. He was pronounced
dead at 10:30 o’clock.
Blamed Deed on Companions
Until the final
minute of his life Hillen maintained his innocence of the murder of
Chase in Denver a year and a half ago. He blamed that deed upon two
companions, youths who had helped him in other crimes to which he
confessed to the Denver police.
The last hour of Hillen’s life began
with the assembling of witnesses and officials in the penitentiary. The
slayer had made his spiritual peace earlier in the day with
ministrations by Prison Chaplin Blake and the Rev. C. P. Ilsley, a
Baptist pastor. His sister, Miss Irene Hillen had spent most of the day
with him bringing confirmation of the news that the governor had
refused to interfere in the case.
His spiritual adviser, Chaplain
Blake and the Rev. Mr. Ilsey, stepped forward and in tones audible
onlyl the man between them, commended his soul to his Maker. Their
rites performed, they retired.
Then the black cap – and from the group came shudders. Heads were adverted and remained so until the end.
a twinkling the guards had hobbled the prisoner, leaving him just
enough foot freedom to step backward once more. His arms and wrists
were fastened to his sides and the guards adjusted the knot carefully
and then they stepped back. A low word of command was given from some
one in uniform and obedient though he knew it was fatal, Hillen took
the step. He felt the little platform sink slowly and he braced himself
The platform’s sinking released an 800 pound weight in a
side room. The weight fell, carrying with it the other end of the rope
which was stretched over a series of pulleys.
The prison physician Dr. Hart Goodloe stepped forward and examined the pulse. Shortly he pronounced Harry Hillen dead.
Message by Sister
Hillen received a message from his sister in Denver saying she had been
unable to obtain the governor’s clemency, he seemed unmoved by the
I hardly expected anything else, he said, with the same air
of calm that had characterized him through his battle against the law.
as great as that preceding the hanging was maintained afterward by
those who had seen it. Witnesses evaded questions by saying they were
not permitted to discuss the affair. (San Juan Prospector, July 3,
Killed the School Board
The sauguinary Individual Who Did This wants a ReHearing
Colo., Nov. 21 – The case of Benjamin Ratcliff, plaintiff in error vs.
the people, etc., defendants in error, error to the district court of
Chaffee county is being heard in the court of appeals today. Ratcliff
is the man who killed an entire school board in Park County last
spring, because he had a slight grudge against each of the three men.
(Boulder Daily Camera, November 21, 1895)
The Supreme Court Removes all Hope for the Murderer
Jan. 15 – The supreme court today affirmed the decision of the district
court of Chaffee county in the case of Benjamin Radcliff, the murderer
of three members of a school board and set the date of execution during
the week of February 2. (Boulder Daily Camera, January 15, 1896)
Must Hang – Benjamin Ratcliffe, the murderer of Douglass Wyatt, Samuel
Taylor and L. F. McCurdy, will pay the penalty of his crime in death
during the calendar week commencing Feb. 2, unless executive clemency
is extended him. The supreme court last Wednesday affirmed the judgment
of the lower court, which convicted him of murder in the first degree.
The decision was concurred in by the entire court, which held that the
errors in the district court of Chaffee county which were used in
Ratcliffe’s behalf, were not substantiated and that the sentence of the
lower court must be carried out. This was that the warden of the Canon
City penitentiary hang Benjamin Ratcliffe by the neck some time during
the week beginning Feb. 2 and ending Feb. 9. (Chaffee County
Republican, January 22, 1896)
Benjamin Ratcliff – The Park County Murderer’s Letter to The Governor
Jan. 29 – Benjamin Ratcliff, the Park County murderer, under sentence
of death in the penitentiary has written a letter to the governor
asking for a commutation of sentence. Ratcliff claims that when he
entered the school house on the day the murder occurred, the three
members of the school board made a rush at him, one of them being armed
with a rifle. Being afraid he fired a shot into the floor and then as
they still persisted he killed them. The board of pardons will probably
hold a special session to consider it. (Aspen Weekly Times, February 1,
Benjamin Ratcliff – Board of Pardons to Meet to Consider his Plea
Feb. 4 – The board of pardons issued a call for a special meeting to be
held tomorrow evening for the purpose of considering the application of
Benjamin Ratcliff for a pardon. His plea for killing the three members
of a school board in Park County is one of self-defense, but his
attorney declares the old man is insane.
Judge Holliday of Fairplay,
attorney for Ratcliff was closeted with the governor today making
another plea for a thirty-day respite for his aged client, whom he says
is insane. (Aspen Daily Times, February 5, 1896)
Canon City, Feb. 7
– Benjamin Ratcliff, the murderer of the three Park county school
directors, paid the penalty of his crime at the state penitentiary here
this evening. Ratcliff’s nerve did not desert him and he walked to the
trap with firm step. At exactly 8:05 the trap was sprung and death was
instantaneous, his neck being broken. (Aspen Daily Times, February 8,
The Murderer of Three Men Hanged at Canon City
Canon City, Colo., Feb. 8 – Benjamin Ratcliff was hanged at 8:05 o’clock in the penitentiary last evening.
Ratcliff’s crime is still fresh in the mind of the public. He was tried
and convicted in the Chaffee county district court. He was not tried in
Park county because it was feared that the neighbors of the three men
killed might take his life into their own hands and end without the
approval of judge or jury. After sentence was passed upon him his
counsel took appeal to the state supreme court on the ground of errors
in the judgment of the lower tribunal. It was passed upon by the
supreme court on Jan. 15 with the result that the sentence of the
Chaffee county district court was confirmed. So much time has been
allowed to elapse since then without any further essay being made to
save Ratcliff from death by strangulation as to the cause an impression
that his friends had abandoned him to his fate. They were working all
the time, however, and when his application for an abatement of penalty
is entered in document form it will have many signatures attached to it.
the time Ratcliff shot down the members of the Jefferson school board
they were holding a meeting in the district school house. Out of the
membership of five two were absent, which fact probably prevented
Ratcliff from wiping out the entire board. Ratcliff rode to the school
house on horseback, entered the door and then accused L. F. McCurdy of
slandering himself and his children. As proof of it he produced a
letter from a Mrs. Crockett telling him of McCurdy’s alleged talk. Hot
words ensued, when Ratcliff, who carried a rifle in his hands, began
shooting indiscriminately at the three school directors. They all
received fatal wounds before Ratcliff ceased firing and rode away.
Douglas Wyatt lived long enough to describe what had occurred. (Boulder
Daily Camera, February 8, 1896)