Notorious Life Prisoner Dies In MassachusettsJesse Pomeroy, 74, Spent Life Since he Wat 14 in Prison
Bridgewater, M*m. —lt;jp— Jesse Pomeroy, Massachusetts* notorious life prisoner who spent all of his years since the age of 14 behind prison bars, died at the state farm here, last night at the age of 74 years.
Robert C. Sherman, superintendent of the state farm, announced the death this morning and said that heart disease was the cause.
^Pomeroy was transferred . here from the state prison in Charlestown four years ago because of declining health. He had spent the most of his time at state .prison in solitary confinement, although the last rfew years at that institution he had been accorded the liberties of a “trusty ” He strongly opposed his transfer to the more liberal atmosphere of the state farm because, he said, he did not want to leaye his friends at the prigon which had been his home since the age of 14.
Saved from the gallows because of his youth, Jesse Pomeroy lived to spend more' than 55 years in prison, more than 40 of it in solitary confinement during which he saw only his guards.^
• Starting ' his sentence Sept. 1, 1876, it was not until 1917 that he was permitted to eat in the company f of; other prisoners or to at-tezid^ religious services and entertainments in the state prison at Charlestown,' Mass,
Set* Prison Record
. Penal authorities said that it would be difficult to find a parallel for the tittie he spent in “solitary.” Some believed that he was ' thus imprisoned longer lhan any other man in American history. r -This- circumstance overshadowed the atrocities conceived by the perverted' mind of his boyhood. ' He was only 14 years old when lie* was convicted of‘ murdering a four yearrold boy and sentenced to be hanged.
But William Gaston, then governor of Massachusetts, was opposed to capital punishment and refused to sign a warrant for the execution. His successor, Gov, Alexander H. j Rice, communited the sentence to | life* imprisonment at hard labor.
The hard labor part of the punishment did not, however, work out. The keepers found that Pomeroy managed to fashion tools for escape from almost anything upon which he could lay his hands. He v?as given only food and books, but even then managed to contrive tools.
Saws made from scraps of steel, from the leg of a cot and from cans; drills fashioned from screws and pieces of scrap metal, files and knives were products of his ingenuity. With these he made at least 12 attempts to escape.
In one of his essays toward freedom, he tunneled with a nail, an improvised chisel and a home-made file to within a few inches of liberty when a trail of lime dust exposed his work. At another time he cut an opening through his cell door, rigged a conductor from a gas jet into his cell and ignited the gas in the hope of burning a hole in the wall. Instead he burned himself, severely.
His last serious attempt was in 1912 when he sawed three bars from his cell, fitted dummies in their places to cover his activities and, when ready for the dash, slipped through the hole and was creeping along the corridor toward an unsuspecting guard when he aroused a sleeping cat. The startled feline yeowled and jumped at him. The guard found him armed with a dagger and equipped with a file and three saws.
In June, 1930, alter he had been transferred to the state farm at Bridgewater, knives, saws and files were found in his room, but the authorities declared this was only a publicity stunt.” They said the articles were a lot of junk” and that .the aging Pomeroy was physically unable to use them.
Pomeroy made frequent efforts to obtain a paidon, petitioning governor after governor for executive clemency. But the only glimpse he had of the outside world was in 1929 when he was whisked in a closed automobile from Charlestown to the Bridgewater state farm, the transfer being made so that he could receive better medical care.
On that trip he marvelled when he saw an elevated tram, a steam shovel and a steam roller, asked bewilderedly where the horses had gone from the roads, saw his first ice cream cone and, noticing a newspaper bulletin board, was puzzled bccause he was still described i as a slayer.;
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