Camden’s Tragedy Still A Mystery

Camden's double murder mystery remains unsolved.

Philadelphia Inquirer – October 14, 1897

Two Men Arrested in Stockton, But They Easily Prove an Alibi.

Police Are Puzzled

Officials Believe the House Was Entered By a Burglar.

Mrs. Zane’s Will Found

Her Son Questioned and the Police Start on a New Clue — Eli Shaw Reticent.

Camden’s double murder mystery remains unsolved. The assassin who shot down Mrs. Emma Zane and her daughter, Mrs. Sarah M. Shaw, at their home, No. 242 Line Street, just before dawn Tuesday morning, is still at large. There is apparently no clue to his identity. Two arrests were made by the Stockton police yesterday, but the suspects can account for their whereabouts on the morning of the murder, and they will probably be released to-day. The rewards for the apprehension of the murderer now amount to $1,000.

Public interest in the terrible crime grew keener yesterday. All day long the street in front of the house on Line street from which two black curious throng. People gathered in streamers fluttered was blocked by a groups on the streets throughout Camden and discussed the details of the mysterious murders. The air was filled with rumors of arrests and with theories of the wildest sort, but at nightfall when the police and the county officials compared notes they were forced to admit that no ray of light had penetrated the mystery.

Prosecutor Wilson H. Jenkins and the Camden police officials got together yesterday and practically agreed to push their investigation along the lines of a theory that the murder was committed by some one who entered the house for the purpose of robbery. They do not believe it was the work of a professional cracksman, but rather of some one who was acquainted with the occupants of the house, and who killed the two women to prevent them from revealing his identity. Eli Shaw, grandson of Mrs. Zane and son of Mrs. Shaw, is not under arrest, but the police are keeping watch on his movements.

Officials In Conference.

About 11 o’clock the officials held a conference at the Mayor’s office in the City Hall. It lasted for over an hour. Prosecutor Jenkins, Assistant Prosecutor Carson, Mayor Westcott, Chief of Police Dodd, Lieutenant Pettit and Foster and Coroner Lippincott were present. They called in Edward Zane, a son of old Mrs. Zane, and brother of Mrs. Shaw. He is 45 years old, a stationary engineer by occupation, and he resides at 623 Gaul street, Philadelphia.

Mr. Zane was subjected to a lengthy examination, during which the officials gained considerbale [sic] information about the murdered women and their relatives. It was learned that old Captain Eli Zane when he died, three years ago, left all his property to his widow, and after her death it was to go to her direct heirs, who were her son, Edward Zane and her daughter, Mrs. Sarah Shaw. The latter having been murdered with her mother, her share of the estate will descend to her son, Eli Shaw. The property consists of two small houses and the dwelling at 242 Line street, where the murder was committed.

The officials opened a tin box containing Mrs. Zane’s papers. It was supposed at first that this box had been taken by the burglar, but later it was found secreted in Mrs. Zane’s room. The box contained deeds and other documents and the old lady’s will. The latter was inclosed in a sealed envelope. Prosecutor Jenkins decided not to break the seal until after the funeral, when all the relatives will be present. The will was subsequently turned over to Surrogate George S. West.

Mr. Zane could throw no light on the tragedy. He expressed the deepest sorrow over the brutal murder of his relatives and urged the officials to use every means in their power to capture the murderer. It was evident that important information was gleaned from his talk, for as soon as the conference broke up Prosecutor Jenkins hurried across to Philadelphia to have a talk with Detective Crawford, of the Detective Bureau, who is working on the case for him.

A Mysterious Letter.

Later in the afternoon Chief Dodd received a mysterious letter from Philadelphia, and he immediately dispatched Lieutenant Foster and Detective Sergeant Beard to Philadelphia to run out what appeared to be a new and important clue. The chief stated that he did not expect his two assistants to return until a late hour. He would not admit that suspicion had been directed to any one by the examination of Edward Zane, but it was learned from other sources that such was the case. Edward Zane, it is stated was asked to account for his whereabouts on Monday night, and he did so, but the police officials decline to tell what he said.

Soon after the officials separated a telephone message was received from Stockton that two men were under arrest there on suspicion of being concerned in the murder. The suspects were “a tall man and a short man,” answering to the description of the mysterious couple who have been blamed with crimes in all parts of the country. The police jumped to the conclusion that these were the two suspicious looking characters that had been seen in the neighborhood of the Zane house a few minutes before the shooting.

The men under arrest gave the names of Harry G. Geesey, of 3032 Market Street, and John J. Doonan, of 661 North Thirty-eighth street, Philadelphia. They had visited several saloons in Stockton during the morning and Geesey had handed a 32 calibre revolver to Proprietor Klecmann of the Stockton Park Hotel, with the remark:

“Take this revolver. I’ve got into trouble with it and don’t want it.”

They said they are steam fitters employed at the Pennsylvania Railroad shops at Thirty-second and Market streets. They were paid on Monday and while carousing together they drifted over into Camden.

Proved an Alibi.

They said they went to the West Jersey Hotel and registered about midnight Monday night and slept there until 6 o’clock Tuesday morning.

Donon [sic] admitted that he got the revolver from the house of a colored man named John Polk, who lives in East Camden.

Chief Johnson last night visited Polk’s residence and corroborated this statement. An Inquirer representative visiter [sic] the West Jersey Hotel and found Geesey’s and Doonan’s names on the register. They occupied room No. 39 together and registered after midnight. The police officials said the men would be released this morning.

Young Eli Shaw, who is still staying at the home of his mother’s cousin, Foster S. Zane, at 321 Beckett street, made a brief visit to his home yesterday about 11 o’clock. It was his first appearance there since the morning of the tragedy. He did not enter the darkened front parlor, where the bodies of his murdered grandmother and mother lay, but passed on to the sitting room, where a group of mourning relatives and sympathetic neighbors were gathered.

Some one began to refer to the tragedy, and the young man, with a look of anguish on his pale face, raised his hands and cried:

“Oh, don’t speak of that; I can’t bear it. I’ve suffered so much already.”

Young Shaw Reticent.

After remaining in the house a few minutes young Shaw, in company with a friend, went to a Federal street tailor to be measured for a mourning suit. This gave the newspaper men their first opportunity to question him, but he had apparently been instructed not to talk about the murders. He said:

“I have made my statement to both lieutenants of police, and would prefer that you go to them for any information.”

“Has any evidence been found of anything having been stolen from the house?”

“I don’t know,” was his reply.

“Are any of the possessions of your grandmother missing?”

“I can’t tell. The police have been there and can tell you if anything was stolen.”

“You are the only person that knew what was in the house and could not tell if anything is missing, are you not?”

“I have not been in the house since yesterday morning and cannot tell anything about it.”

“Is Charles Higgins, whose name has been connected with the case, a relative of yours or of the Zane family?”

“He is a distant relative of the family,” was Shaw’s non-committal reply.

“There are conflicting reports about two men having been seen in the house by you. Did you see any one when you came down stairs?”

“As I stated before, I have made a statement to the police lieutenants, and would prefer that you go to them for any information,” he replied and walked away.

Aiding the Police.

The police have obtained some additional information in regard to two men who were seen in the neighborhood of the Zane house shortly before the murders were committed. Howard Ross, an engineer, living at Third and Pine, says he left his home Tuesday morning at a quarter past 4 o’clock. He had just reached Third street when two men came dashing almost into him. They had run diagonally across Pine street. He says one was rather tall, say five feet ten inches high, wore a derby hat and dark clothes. The other was shorter and stouter than the first described. When Ross reached Line street he heard some one calling murder, was unable to locate the cries and went on to his work.

O. B. Blizzard, of 249 Line Street, adds to this that he saw the elder woman, Mrs. Zane, at 10 o’clock Monday morning, the day before the murder, talking to a tall man. They appeared to be quarreling. He thinks he could identify the man.

James C. Carey, of 225 Pine street, while on his way home, about 1 o’clock Tuesday morning, saw two men as described above sitting on a door-step at Liberty alley and Pine.They disappeared soon after he saw them.

Rewards Amount to $1000.

The Camden County Board of Freeholders at its regular monthly meeting yesterday unanimously voted to offer a reward of $500 for information that would lead to the arrest and conviction of the murderer or murderers. This is in addition to the $500 reward offered by the City of Camden.

The rewards have started a number of amateur Sherlock Holmeses at work on the case. Among the professional sleuths seen in the neighborhood yesterday was Detective Garrison, “the Jersey Hawkshaw.”

Coroner Lippincott last evening empaneled the following jury: William A. Husted, foreman; Thomas Binker, M. J. O’Brien, William Anderson, Chas Folwell and John Irwin. The jury will view the bodies at 10.30 o’clock this morning. The inquest will not be held before Monday or Tuesday of next week.

The funerals of the two murdered women will be held at 2 o’clock Saturday afternoon. They will be buried in the same plot in Harleigh Cemetery. The services will be conducted by Rev. John W. Marshall, pastor of the Broadway M. E. Church, and Rev. William A. Massey, pastor of the Wiley M. E. Church.

James Hough, who was arrested as a suspect by Policeman Myers on Tuesday afternoon, was released yesterday. There was no evidence to connect him with the crime.


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