The Evening Standard—Wednesday, May 31, 1893, Page 1


Bloody Work of a Fiend in
Fall River

Further Particulars of the Memorial
Day Murder

Victim of the Butchery Was a
Most Lovable Girl

Did A Man’s Work On Her
Father’s Farm

Perpetrator of the Crime Still at

Family Strongly Object to the
Removal of the Mutilated Body

Scene at the House in Which the
Medical Examiner Figured

A Suspect Run Down By the Police In
This City

The New Bedford police have been on the alert for the assassin who butchered Bertha Manchester in Fall River Tuesday. This forenoon one suspect was run down in this city. A man was reported as making inquiries about the gatehouse to the Old Colony railroad on Weld street of the nearest way to Providence without going through Fall River. The man had gone north after making inquiries. Captain Allen ordered Officer McBay to look into the affair, and he mounted a bicycle, started up Acushnet avenue and overhauled the man, who did not answer the description of the man wanted, and as he gave a satisfactory explanation Mr. McBay allowed him to proceed.


Details of the Horrible Memorial Day
Crime in Fall River

(By Associated Press)
Fall River, May 31. — At 8 o’clock this morning the murderer of Bertha Manchester had not been discovered. Further details of the affair are now in the hands of the police. The Manchester house is a cottage sitting about 30 feet in from the road. It is one and a half story, with an L of the same height at the south and west. There is a piazza on the south of the main house and at the front; running west of the L is still another porch, one story in height. This is the kitchen, the scene of the awful butchery, a room about 10 by 20 feet. The main house rests upon a stone foundation, accessible from the inside by stairs and on the outside from the west. The porches also rest upon a stone foundation, accessible only from the outside and on the north. The door leading to this was closed and the padlock was found clasped, but not locked. On the piazza were two large dogs, one a mastiff, chained to a kennel near the cellar entrance to the main house, and the other an old and large black dog, with a ferocious bark, the terror of all well-meaning people who had occasion to visit the place. This dog was at large. The neighbors report they heard loud barking by the dogs about 10 o’clock, but “as the dogs are always barking,” thought little of the circumstances.

Stephen C. Manchester, father of the murdered girl, is a farmer and milkman. His farm consists of about 40 acres of land, and on it are 20 head of cattle and three horses. He is 63 years of age, and his disposition is such that he has great difficulty in keeping help. The girl lay close beside the stove in the kitchen of the house, her head about on a line with the front of the hearth. Her face was not really straight downward, but a little turned to the right, so that the features could be discerned. Her long brown hair was extended and matted with blood. The head rested upon her right arm, and her right hand tightly and convulsively clutched the hair near its roots. The left arm was doubled under the body. The right leg was also doubled beneath her, bended back against her hip from the knee joint. The left leg was extended and exposed from the knee, the foot resting top down, upon an old red and black check shawl. The bleeding had been profuse. It extended from her head in a strip about a foot wide without diminishing until it was lost under her body. It was still bright at 6 o’clock, but coagulation had taken place to a considerable extent. The top was of thick blood, but by putting one’s finger into it the lower part was watery, and left no stain on the finger. The stream had appreciable depth, and was apparently an eighth of an inch or more through. Behind the body ran a stream about an inch in width, prevented from spreading by the coal hod that stood behind and in line with the north side of the stove. In a semicircle behind the foot of the girl were smooches of blood three feet in diameter that looked as if they might have been made by the girl’s dragging herself on the floor.

As yet the police have no decidedly strong opinions as to who could have committed the murder. In the Borden case it was argued that none but a woman would have so hacked her victim, yet the appearance of Miss Manchester, due largely to the great flow of blood, was fully as revolting as the appearance of either victim in the Borden tragedy, while the hacking was repeated with the back of the axe a number of times, and at least five blows were struck with the edge.

On the other hand it has been claimed by friends of Miss Borden that a murderer always has a horror of being connected to the crime by means of finding the instrument and will take it with him to avoid all risk. This they think is why no hatchet has been found by the police. Yet in this fresh tragedy the bloody axe is left exposed upon the wood pile near the house.

Naturally knowing the disposition of Mr. Manchester, his difficulty in getting and keeping help, the police have sought for information of recent employees. One of them, a Portuguese, is wanted for a robbery committed at Charles Frank’s clothing store in April, for whom a warrant has been out for some time, and whose associate is now serving sentence. He was at Manchester’s for two days about two weeks ago and has been there for one night since. Mr. Manchester says he saw this man in the city Tuesday on the Crab pond bridge about 11 o’clock. Another man who will probably be locked up and made to account for his time is well known to the police and worked for Manchester a few days ago: he can’t remember just when. Two others are French, the last he had. They hailed from Lowell, and one claimed to be a mason, but said he could not get work because he did not belong to a union. They were pleasant and well intentioned fellows, Mr. Manchester thinks, but knew nothing of farm work and could not talk much English. He paid them so as to satisfy them and there was no trouble when they were there or when they left.

“I can’t think of a person who would have done such a deed,’ said Manchester to a reporter. “I wish to God it had been me instead of her. This girl was everything to me, and since my wife left me has done what few men or women would. In addition to doing all the work of the house, looking after the milk, making butter, and its regular duties, even when we could get no woman to help, she has assisted me and the boy. She has done a man’s work as well as a woman’s, and has often fed the stock when I was in the city, and there is 20 head of it.”

“My first wife was a daughter of Benjamin Davis, and we lived together 18 years. We had four children, the oldest, Harry E., resides in Chelsea, and has been away from home 12 years. The second was my daughter Jennie, she is 26 years old, and is the wife of W. W. Coolidge. Bertha was the third, and Fred, who is 12, the other. My second wife was a Whittle, and I have one child by her, Alexander, 8 years old. This child resides with his mother. She has not lived with me for five years. It was when she went that Bertha left the High school, and has had charge of the house since.”

The second Mrs. Manchester is a sister of the late Samuel Whittle, who was drowned with 6 others while crossing North Watuppa pond three years ago. The marriage was an unhappy one, and both have recently had counter-trials for divorce, which libels are now pending, Mrs. Manchester being decreed a monthly allowance, which Manchester is paying. He is a man of considerable property, both acquired and inherited. The latter may be said to be in a sense prospective, as there have been constant wranglings over the estates by the different heirs. In court he had testified that he had braved the deep, and had been on angry seas, heard the thunders of war and seen vivid lightening, but never anything like that woman. His daughter Bertha accompanied him at the court hearing. (Between her and her father there is said to have existed the pleasantest of relations.)

The girl herself is spoken of by her neighbors and all along the road as a fine woman. The Reeds did not like the old man, but the daughter was a noble girl. She is not known to have any lover or regular callers. All speak of her as modest, retiring, self-sacrificing. She would seldom take any outing or attend church services, and even except at repeated urging, and then rather to please others than to gratify her own wishes. She possessed a good figure, and face, and was attractive and loveable.

If the motive was robbery the thief probably gained access to the house in some way as yet unknown. His rifling of her room called her from the closet, where she was mixing ginger bread, and pursuing her to the kitchen he struck her and secured the axe with which the murder was committed.

It is reported that some bruises were found upon her.

One story is that certain neighbors heard shrieks from the Manchester house about 11 o’clock, but that they were not accustomed to pay much attention to noises at the Manchesters.

Medical Examiner Dolan states that in his opinion the girl had been dead six or seven hours when he first saw the body not far from half-past three o’clock. If the shorter time, this would make the hour of the murder at 9:30 a.m., not far from “the about 10 o’clock” that the neighbors heard the dogs barking.

A woman is reported to have seen Mr. Manchester near Orange street about 8 o’clock yesterday.

About 6 o’clock last night, the medical examiner having completed his work preliminary to the removal of the body, word was communicated to the father and aunt of Miss Manchester, who were in the room next the kitchen, that the body was to be removed. An undertaker had been summoned an hour or more before, but was very late in appearing. When this word was given, both relatives protested to the medical examiner against removing the remains, showing both a sense of shock and indignation at the proposal.

Dr. Dolan calmly assured them that he was acting in the interest of the state, and that it was his duty to remove the body, and added that he should do it; the father insisted, with an oath, that enough violence had already been done to his child, and he would not allow any more to be done — evidently decapitation after the removal — and he maintained that she could be examined as well in that house as anywhere. He was reinforced by his sister, who piteously pleaded for the retention of the body, and he allowed to call Dr. Dwelley to examine the body, and who at the same time said that the medical examiner had no right to prevent her from doing her pleasure in this matter.

After Dr. Dolan had reiterated his authority and his duty, and his determination to do as he was told by superior officers, and after the assistant marshal and several members of the police force had emphasized Dr. Dolan’s claims, Mr. Manchester and Mrs. Terry were sent back into the other room and the door was forcibly shut upon them. They were still firm in their protest, however, and referred to the decapitation of several persons by Dr. Dolan in an accusatory manner. Mrs. Terry came at last once afterwards to the kitchen and announced that the medical examiner ordered the family to leave the house and would close it up, taking full possession.

The reporters who were in the kitchen at this time continued their work and it was about 7:30 when the room was cleared of all but the family. The medical examiner kept his eyes strained for the undertaker, and finally, as the clock neared the strike of 8, D.D. Sullivan & Sons wagon arrived. The father and the aunt renewed their prostrations against the removal of the body and against closing the house but the authorities prevailed and the body was carried away.

Officers Ferguson and Wilson were detailed for guard duty at the house during the night, and the family were ordered to provide themselves quarters elsewhere.

Joseph Corri, the Portuguese for whom the police are looking, is 19 or 20 years of age, but looks to be 22, and has a smooth face.

At 1:30 this afternoon the police authorities gave out the fact that nothing new had transpired in the Manchester case toward developing a positive clew to the murderer. An autopsy is being held at the undertaker’s warerooms under the direction of the medical examiner, Dr. Dolan, but little has yet been determined, except that the girl was not outraged. Even this has not yet been given out officially. Every inspector and police captain is at work on the case. The house is still in the hands of the authorities.

Stephen Manchester, the father of the murdered girl, would not leave the premises last night, but insisted in sleeping in the barn, where he was watched continuously by a policeman. The men employed at different times by Manchester had characters in many instances, and these are now being sifted by the police and the whereabouts of the men are being traced.