On August 26th, 1906, five shots rang out in the early evening on a dark Chillicothe, Ohio street. The crowd that gathered found a “man cold in death and his woman companion writhing unconscious with a bullet wound in the breast” (Chillicothe Gazette, 27 Aug 1906). The shooter ran away into the darkness, knocking into several pedestrians in the process before disappearing. The victims were identified as Mrs. Flora H- and Mr. John B-. John died at the scene. There was an attempt to save Flora, but she died in the ambulance as she reached City Hospital.
So, who shot them? Well, Flora had been separated from her husband Jared, a shoe worker, for about 6 months. According to their marriage certificate, the couple had been married since 1899. The census record from 1900 shows them living together as husband at wife. At the time, Jared was 25 and Flora was 17. You know where this is headed, right?
Police immediately placed suspicion on Jared following the shooting (there’s a reason the spouse is always a suspect). Within an hour of the event, Jared was found at the home of his father, about a mile from the crime scene. Not an overly creative place to hide out, but some people panic post-murder.
Upon questioning, Jared denied any involvement. The police began interviewing witnesses and found that John and Flora met in the west end of the city. It was suggested that they met clandestinely on the regular, which suggests no one involved here was good at hiding things. The shooter jumped out at the pair while the walked along the street shooting through John’s left shoulder and severing the artery above Flora’s heart.
Jared was arrested and eventually pled guilty to second degree murder in November of 1906. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. Six years later, Governor Harmon commuted his sentence from life to 20 years because the evidence presented in his trial was circumstantial. It’s unclear how his plea of guilty played into the discussion. The life sentence of Fred Jackson, convicted of killing his father, was commuted from life to 15 years at the same time.
In 1914, several newspapers reported that John’s lawyer had secured him a place on the State Pardon Board’s list of recommended pardons. It’s not fully explained why the board recommended a pardon but it’s noted that John was a model prisoner, and after contracting tuberculosis while in prison, was sent to the state penitentiary farm as a trusty*. An article from 1911 states that John’s attorney argued he was dying of consumption. If he was dying, he got better. It’s not clear exactly when he was release but he remarried in 1921 to a woman named Maude Wilson. I am exceedingly curious why she thought this was a good idea. Just a few years later, in 1927, Jared died from a cerebral hemorrhage with a contributing cause of exhaustion. He was 48 years old.
*As spelled in the paper
The Democrat-Sentinal 22 Nov 1906 pg 8
Chilicothe Gazette 27 Aug 1906 pg 1, 20 Nov 1906 pg 1
The Cincinnati Enquirer 31 Jul 1912 pg 3,