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State Executions

MARSHALL CLEMENTS
Hangman’s Victim – Marshal Clements Strung up for a Double Murder
Clements’ 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:
“I, Marshal 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.
“On 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”
Sworn 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
Special 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)  

JOHN McGARVEY
McGarvey Must Hang
Denver, 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
Special 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.
He 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!”
The 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)

Canon 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 condemned man.
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
Denver – 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 statement:
“I went to Grand Junction to secure information at first hand in the case of John McGarvey and found these facts:
“First, 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 his guard.
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)

JAMES LYNN
Death Penalty for Lynn – Negro Who Shot Girl
Pueblo, 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
Pueblo, 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.
Lynn 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
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
Canon City, Colo. – Lewis J. Wechter is dead. The end came after twentry four hours of agony, the suspense of which was worse than death.
“Thank 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 make it.”
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, 1911.
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
Harry Hillen Must Hang for Murder
Denver, 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
Boy Bandit Calm on Death Trap; Maintained His Innocence to End – Drop Kills Instantly – Stood without Quiver until Hood was Adjusted and Weight Dropped
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.
Shot 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 afternoon.
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 24, 1915.
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.
In 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 rigidly.
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
When 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 tidings.
I hardly expected anything else, he said, with the same air of calm that had characterized him through his battle against the law.
Secrecy 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, 1915)

BENJAMIN RATCLIFF
Killed the School Board
The sauguinary Individual Who Did This wants a ReHearing
Denver, 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)

Radcliff Hangs
The Supreme Court Removes all Hope for the Murderer
Denver, 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)
Ratcliffe 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
Denver, 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, 1896)

Benjamin Ratcliff – Board of Pardons to Meet to Consider his Plea
Denver, 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, 1896)

Ratcliff Hanged
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.
Benjamin 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.
At 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)


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