Palace of Death
by H.M. Fogle, 1908

Chapter 10
Ellis Miller
December 2, 1890

A drunken brute who killed an inoffensive neighbor lady near Marysville, Ohio, while heavily intoxicated. Hanged Dec. 2, 1890.

The Deed of a Liquor-Crazed Fiend

Ellis Miller, serial number 21,582, the murderer of Emma Johnson, was hanged in the Annex at six minutes after twelve o'clock on the morning of December 2, 1890. He met death in a courageous way and died as he had hoped to--as game a man who ever went through the trap.

A few minutes before twelve o'clock, the Warden, Deputy Warden and physicians, accompanied by the nespaper men, followed by a pushing crowd, proceeded to the scaffold. The Warden appeared on the scaffold just at twelve o'clock and adjusted the rope. Three minutes later, Miller stepped from the death cell to the scaffold. He stood erect and walked firmly to the trap, stepped firmly upon it, as if he had rehearsed for his death. There was no expression of fear to be noted on his countenance, nor was there a tremor to be observed in his frame. The man who, when brought to the Annex, wept and shrieked like a child, was facing death in the bravest way. As he stepped on the scaffold, he glanced around over the crowd. The look was a peculiar one, like that of a hunted and cornered animal, and baffles description.

"Boys, good bye, all of you," uttered the man, which was met by a chorus of "Good-byes" and a "God bless you." At this time the Deputies were adjusting the straps, and Miller, thinking they were hurrying matters, cautioned them, "Don't rush things Warden--waste makes haste." He got the old quotation mixed.

Just before the cap was placed over his face, the Warden asked him if he had anything to say, if so, now was the time to say it.

Miller, without a change in his position, in a loud and clear voice said: "Good-bye, gentlemen. I hope to meet you all in heaven." Again there was a chorus of "Good-byes." It was then but a moment until the trap was sprung. The body shot down without a perceptible movement of a muscle, and the murder of Emma Johnson was avenged.

The rope slipped a little and the knot passed around from the side to the back of the neck, but not until after the fall. It took twenty-seven minutes for death to ensue, the longest time known in the executions at the Annex, up to this time.

The crime for which Miller forfeited his life was a cold-blooded murder. Miller was always characterized as a man of brutal propensities, his nature being devoid of the slightest spark of sensibility. He lived with his wife and family about four miles from Marysville, Union County. Close by lived Mrs. Benjamin Johnson, sister of Miller's wife, with her husband. It was known that Miller abused and beat his wife shamefully; there being no time in the latter years of their married life, at least, when Mrs. Miller did not bear somewhere on her body evidences of the cruel blows dealt by her detestable husband.

For his treatment of his family, some time previous to the murder, Whitecaps appeared at his house one evening, took him out and gave him a severe flogging. Miller swore vengeance against his wife, Mrs. Johnson and others, whom he blamed as being instrumental and implicated in the dose of whitecapism that had been meted out to him, and soon afterward he caused a separation between himself and his wife, by running her from the house at the muzzle of a shot-gun. On the day of the murder he came to his home in an intoxicated condition, and not finding his wife there, meditated on his condition until his brain was at a fever heat. Mrs. Johnson came along the road on her way to a neighbor's and Miller ran out and stopped her in the road. He inquired the whereabouts of his wife, and Mrs. Johnson not being able to tell him, he drew a revolver with the intention of shooting the woman down. She begged for mercy, and with a bitter curse he allowed her to pass by. She had not gone far, however, when he called to her to stop, and as she did so he fired the fatal shot. The ball entered the side of the neck and she fell to the ground. He covered her face with her shawl and proceeded to her home with the intention of shooting her husband. His further plans, however, were frustrated, as he was overpowered, disarmed, and tied to a tree, where he stood cursing and damning every person he could think of. He narrowly escaped lynching and was successfully landed in the jail in Marysville.

Mrs. Johnson lived for four days; knowing that she must die, and as a consequence, made an ante-mortem statement, detailing the assault and the assailant's previous threats against her during the day.

The trial of Miller occupied nearly three weeks in the Common Pleas Court of Union County, and the jury brought in a verdict of murder in the first degree.

During the trial Miller's attorneys made no defense other than an attempt to show that the murder was prompted by insanity, and about a hundred witnesses were brought into court to testify to that effect.

The evidence showed that Miller had been drinking for several days before the shooting, and the popular impression seemed to be that the whiskey was at the bottom of the murder.

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Palace of Death
The Ohio Penitentiary