Palace of Death
by H.M. Fogle, 1908

Chapter 15
William Fitzgerald
December 18, 1891

Who killed Officer Freed of Youngstown, Ohio, who was arresting him on a trivial charge. Hanged Dec. 18, 1891.

Hanged for Killing an Officer

William Fitzgerald, serial number 22,477, was hanged in the Ohio Penitentiary Annex eight minutes after midnight on the 18th day of December, 1891, for the cold-blooded murder of policeman William Freed at Youngstown, Ohio, May 14, 1891.

Fitzgerald was wanted by the Youngstown authorities for some trivial offense, and when officer Freed went to arrest him he pulled his revolver and shot him to death. Other officers succeeded in arresting him. He was speedily indicted for first degree murder, tried, convicted and sentenced to hang by the neck until dead. He was received at the Annex July 27, 1891, that day being the twenty-fifth anniversary of his birth.

A Disgraceful Scene

Following are the head lines that decorated the morning papers of December 18, 1891, the morning of the execution.

"A hoard of hungry horror hunters crowd the death chamber like so many sheep, pushing and howling in a most disgraceful manner. Bankers, detectives, prize fighters, lawyers, reporters, saloonists, curbstoners, state officials, drunk and sober, all crowded together in a wild conglomeration. There was no order; all was chaos. Jamming into the reception room the crowd pushed toward the door of the death chamber. Some one leaped upon a chair and leaned far over the shoulders of the crowd. Those in the rear yelled, 'Pull the s-- of a b-- down. Give the rest of us a chance to see.' This was the condition of the social atmosphere at a time when reverence should have uncovered the heads of every one present. How hilarity and mirth could have crept into this horrible death-chamber at such a time, is more mysterious, even than the careless recklessness of the man who walked to the scaffold with a bravado that astonished the most hardened criminals."

In the afternoon Fitzgerald parted from his wife, a bride of only a few months. The parting was anything but sensational. Neither shed a tear--a last embrace, a clasp of hands, a good-bye, and the brave, heart-broken little wife turned from the man who was soon to face his Maker.

Midnight approaches. Busy hands have arranged the last details of the ghastly denouement. The preparations for the taking of another human life are complete. At 12:05 the door leading to the scaffold swings open, and Fitzgerald appeared, with Father Logan, his spiritual adviser, clad in the insignia of his office. "There he is, that's him," came from the crowd as they caught sight of the doomed man, and a still worse push was made by those in the rear. Straight as a die, his handsome and clear-cut features white and ghastly, the doomed man walked out upon the scaffold. Calmly as though walking upon the street Fitzgerald stepped upon the trap, not a twitch of a muscle, not a tremor in his voice, as he bade Dr. Warde good-bye, and thanked him for his kindness.

Father Logan stepped forward and the condemned man kissed the crucifix. As his legs and arms were being pinioned, he stood proud and erect. The only thing unnatural about him was the was the wild glare of his eyes. He gave a contemptuous glance at the sea of upturned faces, then the black-cap shut out his light forever. Deputy Porter stepped quickly back, and signaled the Warden that all was ready. At exactly 12:05 Fitzgerald's body shot through the trap. The body swung gently to and fro for a moment, then the lifeless clay hung without a tremor.

Fitzgerald's Marriage

While drifting about through Michigan with no visible means of support, always well dressed, with an inclination to be dudish in both manner and dress, Fitzgerald was destined to meet an agreeable fate. About March 1, 1891, he arrived in Kalamazoo, where he met the lady whom, after a brief courtship, he made his wife. They were married on the 21st of March, 1891. Her maiden name was Carrie Westlege; the young and pretty daughter of wealthy parents who resided in Detroit. For reasons best known only to Fitzgerald he refused to be married in Detroit, and the couple proceeded across to Windsor, Canada, where the nuptual knot was tied. Several efforts were made by Mrs. Fitzgerald while her husband was confined in the Annex to furnish her husband with poison with which he might suicide, but the vigilance of the guards proved her undoing. Although anxious to provide him with poison it was not because she was not devoted to him. She loved him with all the passion of a true and jealous wife, and it was to save the ignominy of the scaffold that she exerted her energy to the craftiness of slipping to him a deadly drug by which he could thus cheat the death-dealing scaffold of its prey.

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Palace of Death
The Ohio Penitentiary