Palace of Death
by H.M. Fogle, 1908

Chapter 3
Arthur J. Grover Pages 28-30
May 14, 1886

Executed May 14, 1886, for the murder of a peaceable and helpless old woman of Wood County, Ohio. Robbery was the motive for the crime.

The End of a Vicious Career

The third victim of the hangman's knot in the Ohio Penitentiary Annex was a young man named Arthur J. Grover, serial number 17,883. The crime which he committed and for which he surrendered up his life, was one of the most brutal in the history of this fair state. It was a mercenary, premeditated and cold-blooded affair, and the end that he came to, judging from what we are able to learn, was only a fitting climax to his short and vicious career.

Grover was charged with having murdered an old woman in Wood County. The motive for the crime was a paltry sum of money. He then burned the house to hide his fiendish crime. The old lady had been living alone, and by thrift and hard toil had accumulated a small sum of money. Grover visited the house often and familiarized himself with its surroundings. On the fatal night of the crime, Grover had been drinking heavily, it is supposed for the purpose of mustering up false courage for his awful deed.
He went to the house shortly after midnight. Effecting an entrance at the kitchen window, then stealthily creeping to the bedside of the old lady, who was peacefully sleeping, he rained blow after blow upon the prostrate form of his aged victim. When certain that life was extinct, he ransacked the house, secured his plunder, then fired the house, certain that he was covering up all traces of his fiendish work.

But "murder will out." Grover was at once suspected of the crime; and only the prompt work of efficient officers prevented a lynching-bee. Although the evidence against him was mainly circumstantial, there was conclusive proof of his guilt. He died, however, protesting his innocence; and refused to make any confession.

The execution took place at forty-five minutes after twelve o'clock on the morning of May 14, 1886. Grover met his fate bravely and defiantly, reviling and cursing the newspaper reporters and officers of the law with almost his last breath.

It was exactly 12:30 by the great prison clock that had ticked off the hours and minutes for almost a century, when the persons assembled to watch the execution ranged themselves along the wall, directly opposite the place where the murderer was to fall, and awaited the coming of the prisoner and his Guards. They came upon the platform, an officer in advance, closely followed by Grover, who walked up the steep stairway without assistance.

There was a pause, a hush, and the stillness of death pervaded the room as the condemned man stepped upon the fatal trap. Strange to say, his face was no paler than usual, and his appearance was that of sullen and defiant courage. The straps were fixed around his arms, body and legs, and an attendant slipped the noose around his neck. The massive form of the executioner loomed up behind that of the prisoner and overshadowed it. But Grover stood as firm and unflinching as a rock.

Everything being ready, an officer asked quietly, "Have you anything to say, Grover?" Clearing his throat the murderer answered in a firm, monotonous sing-song tone, "Gentlemen, I stand here on the gallows to die tonight. I die innocent, and not guilty. I possibly could say more if I wanted to, but I don't want to. Farewell and good-bye."

The black-cap was then drawn over the doomed man's eyes. There was a quick, "All ready," and the hangman with a quick throw of his body, shot the lever from left to right. A clatter as the trap swung back against the wall, a shoot of the body downward, one convulsion, which drew the legs upwards, one turn of the body, and the victim whirled around with his eyes resting on the crowd, the black-cap having fallen off. One quiver, and the lids closed over the balls, the face darkened and death began to settle. Just fifteen minutes after the drop fell, Grover was pronounced dead.

The day before the execution, Grover received a letter from his aged mother, expressing her sorrow at not being able to pay him a final visit before the execution. The letter affected him greatly, touching the one tender spot in his hard heart.

There was such an intensity of feeling against the murderer in Wood County, that the people would not even permit the burial of the remains there, so the body was turned over to a Columbus medical institute for dissection.

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Palace of Death
The Ohio Penitentiary