KILLED THEM WHILE THEY SLEPT
AWFUL CRIME OF A BLACK DEVIL YESTERDAY
MOTHER AND SON FOULY SLAIN
submitted by Ray Boone
from the Americus Times-Recorder
dated Sunday August 21 1898
Their Heads Chopped Open With an Axe as They Lay Asleep. ----- Outraged Citizens Capture and Lynch Perpetrator of Crime
A most atrocious double murder--- the most horrible perhaps that ever blackened the records of Sumter county, was revealed at 8 o-clock yesterday morning when the mutilated bodies of Mrs. Mary McGarrah and her son James Boone, were found in a room of their little home near Friendship, each lying in a pool of blood and presenting a most ghastly spectacle.
A more revolting, damnable crime was never committed by fiend incarnate, and horrified neighbors sickened at the appalling sight.
The body of young Boone was found lying upon his bed, his head split open by a single blow from the cruel axe of the midnight assassin. He probably never knew what struck him, as there were no evidences of a struggle, and without doubt the poor fellow was hurled into eternity while peacefully sleeping. As though not satisfied with his hellish deed, and desiring to render death more certain, the cruel murderer again wielded the axe, splitting open one shoulder of his victim and nearly severing the arm from the body.
KILLING OF MRS. M'GARRAH
Disposing of his first poor victim the murderer turned upon Mrs. McGarrah, who occupied another bed in the same room with her son.
Whether or not there was a struggle is not known, but evidently the aged victim was aroused by the murder of her son and attempted to defend herself, though she was 75 years old and quite feeble. Her mutilated body was found lying upon the floor and not far from an open window through which the murderer had gained access to the room. Her head was chopped open and other ghastly and horrible wounds inflicted. She too, was lying stark and stiff in a pool of clotted blood.
His hellish work completed, the fiend incarnate went through the open window, leaving behind no clue by which his identity might be established.
FINDING THE DEAD BODIES
It was 8 o-clock yesterday morning when Mr. John Boone, whose farm is a half a mile from his mother's cottage, went over to see them. Probably surprised at not seeing either his mother or brother about the premises he walked into the house and entered the room where they slept. There he beheld the appalling spectacle of his loved ones lying dead, their poor bodies horribly crushed and bruised and welting in pools of clotted blood. Mr. Boone was transfixed with horror and almost fainted at the sight.
HUNTING THE HUMAN DEVIL
As soon as he could recover his wits, Mr. Boone rushed from the home and gave the alarm. A number of people reside in that locality, and to many of these, Mr. Boone related the horrible story of the double murder. They could scarcely credit his statement, so utterly appalling did it appear, but a visit to scene of the killing was more than sufficient. Little time was wasted in making an investigation there, as a clue to the identity of the murderer had but just been obtained from another source. This was from the wife of Hamp Hollis, a negro farmer living near the Boone place.
The negro woman had been found in the woods near by, bound fast to an oak tree.
This, in effect, was that a strange negro man had suddenly entered her house the night before while her husband was away, and brandishing an axe in her face compelled her to follow her him into the woods where he assaulted her and then bound her to a tree. Afterwards and even more dastardly crime was committed, and she was left almost dead when found and released. She described her assailant, and also made the statement that the negro man stuttered in talking. From this clue the search was taken up, scores of armed men joining in pursuit of the black fiend.
HE CONFESSES THE CRIME
On the Worthy farm near by lives a negro tenant, who informed the posse that just before daylight he was awakened by a stranger, a negro who stuttered, and was asked for something to eat. The strange negro volunteered the information that he had just killed two white people with his axe, who refused to give him something to eat. "The old white woman", he said, "wanted to give me some food but the white man there wouldn't let her so as soon as I got the chance I killed them both." He soon went on his way, and when the Worthy negro heard of the double murder he at once reported the visit of the murderer to his house the night before.
By this time a hundred farmers, well mounted and armed, were soon scouring the woods and fields in search of the brute, while messengers were sent to the city to secure bloodhounds.
Shortly after 1 p.m. Chief of Police Wheeler, Deputy Sheriff Bell and city Marshal Feagin took the pack of hounds kept at the jail and went to the scene of the horrible double murder. In the meantime, hundreds of people had walked about the locality and some difficulty may have been experienced in getting the dogs started upon the right track.
FOUND THE RIGHT MAN
At 6 p.m. two gentlemen reached the city from the vicinity of Friendship and stated that the murderer had been caught and lynched, the infuriated and outraged citizens riddling the body with bullets as it swung to and fro. They said that the searchers found in the house of the negro woman, who was tied in the woods and maltreated, a bloody suit of clothes belonging to her husband. Confronted with this damaging evidence, the woman, it is said, confessed that it was her husband, Hamp Hollis, who killed Mrs. McGarrah and Mr. Boone. And the brutal act was inspired by revenge only.
This information startled the men who had been searching for the murderer inasmuch as Hollis with wellfiegned indignation, was wild to avenge the assault upon his wife, which the murderer was also supposed to have committed.
Several hours before this the pursuers had captured a negro, Eugene Reese, against whom suspicion was directed. Reese was carried into the swamp and placed under guard until more evidence as to his supposed guilt could be secured. Hamp Hollis was with the guards put over Reese, and was paralyzed with astonishment when told that his own wife had betrayed the secret of the killing and of the finding of the bloody clothes and axe in his cabin. Before being lynched, Hollis, it is said, made a brief confession, though this was not needed.
He was quickly strung up to a limb and 500 shots fired into his carcass. Reese, the negro first suspected of the crime, was set at liberty.
PLANNED THE BRUTAL CRIME
It is now said the a week ago, Hollis' wife stole a lot of meat from Mrs. McGarrah; that Hollis was incensed at the charge against his wife, and the killing was done for revenge. He, it is said, tied her to the tree in the woods in order to avert suspicion from himself. Their scheme was well planned, and but for the accidental finding of the bloody clothes in Hollis' house an innocent negro might have suffered for his atrocious crime. The story first told by the woman of being assaulted "by a stuttering negro" is believed to be a lie of the whole cloth, derived for the occasion.
FUNERAL OF THE VICTIMS
The remains of Mrs. McGarrah and son, Mr. Boone, will be laid to rest this morning at Friendship, and an immense concourse of sorrowing friends and relatives will attend the funeral services.
FURTHER FACTS OF KILLING
EUGENE REESE IS BELIEVED TO HAVE A HAND
In the Atrocious Murder of Mrs. McGarrah and Mr. Boone --- Committal Trail Produces Damaging Evidence and Reese Held
That Hamp Hollis had an accomplice in the murder of Mrs. Mary McGarrah and Mr. James Boone on Saturday morning last there is no doubt, and damning evidence points to Eugene Reese as the one who assisted in this most heinous crime --- the blackest ever committed in Sumter county.
Reese was suspected from the first and was promptly taken in custody, tied with rope and placed under guard, but when Lucy Hollis, the wife of the negro lynched, made a statement implicating her husband, Reese was allowed to go but was again arrested later in the day, brought to Americus Sunday morning and placed in jail. Had Lucy Hollis told the whole story on Saturday as she told it upon the committal trail yesterday morning Reese might have shared Hollis' fate at the ropes end.
The courtroom was jammed when Judge Maynard called the case, scores of people crowding about to hear the testimony.
The testimony of Lucy Hollis, in substance, was that her husband and Reese came to her house about midnight Friday night, Hamp Hollis entering first and putting out the light. He and Reese then held a conversation in whispers, in which one said, "we have committed murder." She knew nothing of the killing at that time. Hamp Hollis then ordered her to out of bed and accompany them to the woods, beating her when she refused. Finally she got out of bed and followed the pair to the woods a short distance from her house.
It was then the two gagged and bound her, and told her to tell a plausible story of assault at the hands of some negro tramp. This she did through fear of her husband, but after hearing he had been lynched she made the statement implicating Hamp Hollis and told where the bloody clothes he wore could be found.
The testimony implicating Reese was brought out at the committal trail yesterday. The statements made by the negro woman were clear and straight- forward, and impressed all who heard it as being true and correct.
Several other witnesses gave testimony damaging to the accused, though his mother swore he remained at her house all of Friday night. Reese's mother had scoured her doorsteps about sunrise on the morning of the murder; that charred remnants of cloth were found in the fireplace, and that an apron similar to the one worn by her son the night before had been washed and hung out to dry. This, it would seem, was to hide evidence of bloodstains. The old woman, it is said, told the searchers who came to her house that they would find no bloodstains there.
Other very strong evidence against Reese will be withheld until the final trail. Judge Maynard committed him to jail without bail.
Parties who visited the scene of the atrocious murder state that there were two sets of tracks leading out of the house. There is no doubt upon this point. The shoes worn by the murderers were well wrapped with pieces of corn sacks and left no imprints. This shows that their plans were well laid. Robbery as well as revenge was a motive for the crime, as young Boone's trunk was broken open and a sum of money stolen. Two dollars paid him Friday night by Lucy Hollis for the meat she was accused of stealing, could not be found among his effects.
There is little doubt in the public mind of Reese's guilt and he will probably pay the penalty for this most foul crime.
The carcass of Hamp Hollis, who was lynched a 2 o-clock Saturday afternoon, was cut down at dark. It had been pierced by hundreds of bullets as it swung to and fro, and hardly a square inch of hide was left unbroken. Hollis was of light ginger cake color, about 40 years of age, and had previously borne a good reputation. The verdict of the coroner's jury was that Hollis came to his death at the hands of unknown parties.