see how many true 'facts' (as opposed to opinion) you can find in the
and think about: what would today's judicial system do with these "facts"
being reported before any trial was commenced?? LS
Spirit of the Times, Batavia NY
On Wednesday, the 16th inst., one of the most cold blooded and atrocious murders was
committed, in the town of Stafford in this County, which man is capable of perpetrating;
and unless the murderer was laboring under insanity, its parallel for demoniac ferocity,
and heartless and malignant depravity cannot be found in the annals of crime.
Major BENJAMIN WHITE, an old and highly respectable citizen of that town, was shot and
afterwards violently beaten by his son Benjamin W. jr. so as to cause his death in about
half an hour. He then attempted to kill his step-mother, and would have succeeded in his
direful intention, had she not thrown up her arm and diverted the aim of the pistol.
It is by no means our intention to prejudice the public mind against the miserable
parricide, whose conduct is about to undergo a judicial investigation, but we see no
reason for withholding from the public the circumstances of the case, which are notorious
to all in the vicinity of the bloody scene, and which even the perpetrator openly and
audaciously avows. We therefore subjoin the substance of the facts which have come to our
knowledge, and as they were detailed in testimony before the Coroner's Inquest.
Major WHITE, was about 77 years old--a deacon in the Baptist Church in Stafford--an
independent farmer--and one of the earliest settlers in that town. His son Benj. W. jr.
(the murderer) is a professed atheist, and has for many years manifested a strong
antipathy towards his father. Last year he enlisted as a soldier in the U.S. Service, but
deserted to Canada, from whence, in December last, he wrote his father a letter, (now in
the hands of the Coroner,) which is couched in the most gross, abusive, and threatening
language that bitter and rancorous malevolence could conceive. He returned to the
neighborhood of his father about two weeks since, but did not visit the house until the
fatal day. The pistols he scoured up, put in order, and loaded at the house of Mr.
Humphrey. A little after noon, on the 16th, he went home and enquired for his father, and
was answered that he was in the sugar bush, some 100 or 150 rods distant. He started to
go there. Harry White his !
brother followed, and found him with his father. The old gentleman immediately started
for the house. Ben soon followed, and Harry followed some 20 or 30 rods behind Ben. Mr.
White arrived at the house first. Ben soon came up, and his father, who stood in the
door, told him not to come in. Ben seized him, pulled him out of the door, and struck him
with his hand. Mrs. White, (the step mother,) pushed him away, stooped down, picked up
his handkerchief, and told him he had "better go away." Ben then drew a pistol
from his coat pocket, fired at his father and shot him in the breast; he then dragged him
some distance by the arm, threw him down, and hit him on the head with the pistol; Mrs.
White took hold of him with both hands and pulled him away; he threw his pistol down near
her feet; she stooped down and picked it up, and, when rising, he drew another pistol from
his pocket and aimed at her; but she discovering it, instantly threw up her hand when he
was in the act of!
firing, diverted the aim, and the ball passed over her; he then struc
k her with his fist; and after having stopped to view the scene a short time, went away,
taking one of the pistols--no one molesting him. It appears that Harry arrived before the
close of the tragedy, but not in time to prevent it. There were also in the house two or
three neighboring women; but all save Mrs. White appear to have been panic struck, or
unable to interpose any resistance to the savage monster.
Maj. WHITE, survived some 30 or 40 minutes, and expired about 3 o'clock P.M. After
some time had elapsed, Ben was pursued and arrested in the road about three miles east of
Le Roy Village, and ten from his father's. On being charged with the murder by one
of his captors, he said "he did not know that he had done it, but he took good aim,
and meant to kill him."
He was taken back to the house at 10 1/2 P.M., and was present in the room while the
Coroner was holding the Inquest. He heard the proceedings without the slightest
manifestation of compunction or regret. On the contrary he remarked, on viewing the
corpse of his Father, that he was a "modern Herod."
The next day he was safely lodged in the Jail in this Village. The Circuit Court
commenced its session yesterday, and we understand the Grand Jury have indicted him for
murder, but whether he will be tried at the present term or not, we are unable to state.
We forbear any further comment on this horrid transaction tho' it may not be improper
to remark, that we are told a plea of Insanity will be interposed on the trial, as the
only ground of defence; but whether it will be predicated on the supposition that no human
being could commit such a monstrous crime in his senses, or on the ground that he is
actually insane, we are not informed.
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