On The night of April 6, r83o, eighty-two-year-old Captain \W Joseph White, a wealthy and respectable citizen of Salem, Massachusetts, was murdered in his bed. “The annals of history and fiction furnish nothing which for its cold-blooded and deliberate atrocity can be compared” with this crime, reported one chronicler. The assailant climbed into White’s mansion through an unbarred window, crept up the to his chamber, struck him one blow in the head with a wood bludgeon loaded with lead, then stabbed him thirteen times with dark. That an “aged and respectable citizen, living in the center of this populous town, so long remarkable for its tranquility, peace, and order” could be murdered in his sleep “produced uncommon excitement” in the community. A committee of vigilance was formed to track down the killer, and their efforts led to the arrest of Joseph Jenkins Knapp, Jr., husband of the victim’s grandniece, along with his brother, John Francis Knapp, and Richard and George Crowninshield. To inherit the old J; Iran’s money, Joseph had offered his brother $r, too to kill White, and John Francis had subcontracted the job to the Crowninshield brothers. Dick Crowninshield apparently made the killing, and subsequently hanged himself in custody.
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