ET on this day in 1824

Another Executed Today entry: one John Smith, who mixed arsenic into flour and gave it to his pregnant fiancee. Apparently he didn’t give any thought to the idea that she might wind up poisoning others with that flour, or perhaps he didn’t care. Six people in all got sick, but only Smith’s fiancee died.

(BTW, if y’all are wondering about the whole “sheep washing” thing, farmers often used arsenic-based sheep dip to kill any mites or other parasites infesting the fleeces.)

ET: John Holloway and Owen Haggerty

I’ve got an Executed Today entry today: John Holloway and Owen Haggerty, hanged in England in 1807. This is an absolutely dreadful story. First you’ve got a murder, and then two innocent young men, wrongfully convicted on the testimony of an alleged “accomplice” who got a really sweet deal for his testimony (a full pardon, plus a previous sentence respited). Then you’ve got a horrific stampede at the scaffold with numerous fatalities — almost as if God was expressing displeasure at the injustice going on.

Executed Today entry from a few days ago

On the tenth I had another Executed Today entry run: Elifasi Msomi, a sangoma who killed fifteen people in South Africa in the mid-1950s. His was a literal devil-made-me-do-it defense: he claimed a tokoloshe, an evil spirit in Zulu folklore, offered to help his career if he obtained the blood of fifteen victims.

Of course to us nowadays (and to the Apartheid authorities back then) it’s stuff-and-nonsense, but in Msomi’s culture the tokoloshe was very real.

In other news, the headache medicine the pain management doctor prescribed is actually working. His idea was one that literally no other medical professional had thought to try in the storied six-year history of his headache, and I’m delighted by the results: it gets rid of the pain and, after the first few times, it didn’t make me feel the least bit different.

ET yesterday: three alleged rioters

I had another Executed Today entry run yesterday: three men who were alleged to have participated in a riot and machine-breaking in Nottingham. I think this entry is a good example of how well Jason (owner of the blog, aka the Headsman) and I work together. I submitted an entry about the hangings, and then he added the information about the motivations for the riot and how dubious the evidence was against the three condemned, which made the entry much better.

Some other things: after two postponements, I finally saw the pain management doctor about my headaches. I was impressed with him, actually. He told me he had “no idea” what was causing my headaches and then he was like “because of your symptoms, I get the idea that Treatment X might work. Or it might not. We don’t know until we try. So I’ll write the prescription, and next time you get a headache try Treatment X.” I’m supposed to call the office to report the results. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, they’ll try something else. Frankly, it’s nice to hear a doctor admit he doesn’t know what the answers are.

Yesterday and today I spent some time in purging cases from Charley — notably from New Jersey. I went over the entire state and removed a bunch of outdated cases. I also got some additional information on some of them. Stephen Davaris, for example, was declared dead¬†last May, a presumed suicide. His family has actually kept in touch with the people who found his bag washed up on a beach in Ireland. I was struck by this because I’ve actually been to the Cliffs of Moher, in January 2003, about two and a half years¬†before Davaris is presumed to have leaped to his death.

I was going to update yesterday but in the evening the internet unexpectedly kicked it and didn’t come back on for ages. I should get something up today.

ET entry yesterday

Yesterday I had my last Executed Today entry for the month (there were supposed to be four but the Headsman forgot to publish the one I wrote for the 18th). It’s John Johnson, who, together with another man, beat and gut-shot a Chicago cop for no apparent reason and was hanged in 1905. The victim lingered for four months before dying, and this in an age before modern medicine. Johnson’s partner-in-crime only got fourteen years.

This is actually the second time I’ve written about the execution of someone named John Johnson; this is the first one.