14 January 2011

The Execution of Santore And Capone

Boston Daily Globe
17 April 1885, p.1

"Double Execution In Maine.
Santore and Capone, the Two Italian Murderers, Die on the Scaffold at Thomaston.

Thomaston, Me., April 17 - The morning of the execution of Santore and Capone dawned fair, but a raw, chilly wind was blowing.  The men both went to bed at 8:30 last evening, and apparently went soundly to sleep.  The men who kept the death-watch looked in at them frequently.

At 2 o'clock Capone opened his eyes, moaned, and then rose, and without dressing sat down and filled his pipe.  He smoked in silence a few minutes and then got into bed again.  In about an hour he rose again and smoked.  Santore was also up once during the night and smoked his pipe.  Towards morning neither man slept soundly.

At 5 o'clock they arose and dressed.  At the usual time the regular prison breakfast of bread and coffee was served.  Capone ate very little.  He was extremely feverish and nervous; his pulse was 100 and irregular.  He muttered considerably, but those about him could not understand what he said.  Santore ate heartily and swaggered somewhat.  Smiting his breast, he said, "Me no 'fraid.  Ready to die.  Justice listened to story of an assassin, and Santore must die on scaffold; but not 'fraid.  Me all right."

Then he pointed upward; cast up his eyes, and struck a heroic attitude.  His pulse was steady, and he seemed really as brave as he professed himself to be.

Capone still persisted that he was not to be hanged.  "Santore hang," said he, with a leer and a grin; "me no hang.  Me all right."

Father Boniface arrived at the prison shortly before 9 o'clock and went at once to the cells of the men and recommenced his labors of yesterday.

Sheriff Irish arrived from his home in Rockland, at 9:30 a.m., and had a private conversation with Warden Bean and Inspectors Porter and Bean.  He brought with him a great bundle covered with blue cloth; it contained the ropes and cords.  One hundred and fifty feet of rope are used in giving the drop of eight feet.

Among the people who came to see the execution are Sheriff Wadsworth of Waldo county, Deputy Sheriff True of Kennebec county, Drs. Gerrish of Portland and Roeth of Boston.  A number of reporters were on hand trying to induce Sheriff Irish to construe the law limiting the number of spectators to twelve liberally enough to let them in.

Father Boniface stayed with the men all morning.  He was joined at 11 o'clock by Fathers Harrington and Peterson.  Santore soon yielded to their persuasion and proffered his reconciliation to God and his forgiveness of all men, inclusive of Capone, whom he had steadily cursed till this time.

Capone was as unmoved as ever.  He declared that he did not believe they would hang him; that they were only trying to frighten him.  Santore accordingly received the sacrament. 

At 11:30 Sheriff Irish and his assistants proceeded to the cells of the condemned men to dress and bind them.  When Capone was taken from his cell and Deputy Porter commenced binding his arms, he weakened, broke down and begged to the priests to come and receive his confession.  They did so and administered the sacrament.

The men were clothed in black alpaca suits, roundabout jackets, and pants made for the occasion.  After their arms were bound, they were led out to the scaffold.  Sheriff Irish walked ahead, followed by Sheriff Wadsworth and Deputy Sheriff Morton leading Santore.  Then came the three priests, wearing their insignia of office.  Deputy Sheriff Porter and Constable Peabody brought up the rear, leading Capone.  

The procession issued from the western door of the prison, crossed the prison yard at the centre, entered the wood working shop, passed down into the basement, which they traversed, emerging at the end on a platform, and then down a few steps to the scaffold.  This is 12 feet square, and has a trap 5 by 4 feet.  This is raised above the level of the gallows' platform, about 18 inches.  The floor of the trap is 14 feet above the ground, and the rope is arranged to give drop of 8 feet. 
 The gallows stands in a disused lime rock quarry, the deeper parts of which are filled with water.  Looking from it, one sees nothing but the blank walls of the quarry and this pond, on which a few ducks are swimming.  All about is grim and dreary.  Santore was feeble, but walked firmly, almost proudly.  Capone's countenance was hushed.  Almost purple; his face wore a smile, but not the old defiant one.  He trembled slightly, and kept swallowing, as if to suppress emotion.

Santore took his stand on the east end of the trap, Capone standing at his right hand.  The officers quickly bound their feet and legs and adjusted the ropes about their necks.  While they did so, Santore spoke with a loud voice in Italian.  He spoke earnestly and rapidly, Father Boniface interpreting.  He said:

"I forgive all my enemies without exception.  Justice has sentenced me to death, and I am fulfilling the provisions of the law.  I am ready to die.  I am at peace with God and my fellow-men.  I forgive all without one exception."

In response to the questions by Father Boniface, Capone said in a low voice that he too forgave all men, and asked God to have mercy on his soul.  Then the black caps were drawn over their faces and tied by Sheriffs Morton and Wadsworth.  The priests recited their prayers, to which the men made responses.  Santore loudly.  Capone just above a whisper.  

At precisely one minute past noon, Sheriff Irish stepped to the front o fthe scaffold and uncovered the spring which releases the trap.  The pins that secured it were removed, and the sheriff, standing uncovered, said solemnly: "And now by the authority in me vested by the Governor of the State of Maine, I hereby hang you by the neck till you are dead, dead, dead, and may God have mercy on your souls."

As he said the last words, he touched the spring, and the men shot through the trap.  As they brought up, they spun around, rapidly for a minute or two, while the priests recited the prayers for the dying.  The bodies then hung motionless, the only movement being a convulsive grasping of the fingers and a drawing up of Capone's shoulders.

The bodies were examined by Drs. Levensaler of Thomaston, Banks and Hitchcock or Rockland, Gerrish of Portland, and Roeth of Boston.  At the end of two minutes Capone's pulse was eighty-four, in five minutes it was sixty-two, in eight minutes no pulse was perceptible, and in thirteen minutes there was no heart pulsation.  In twenty-three minutes he was declared dead.

The record in Santore's case was about the same.  The bodies were then lowered into the coffins.  If not claimed by friends in three days, they will be given to the Maine Medical School for scientific purposes.  The execution was excellently managed throughout."
Geez ... I didn't realize death by hanging took so damned long.

Do you suppose God have mercy on their souls?


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