ISAAC J. HIBBS was born on March 25, 1848 in Pennsylvania, the son of Isaac G. Hibbs, a carpenter by trade and his wife Mary. He was the youngest of the seven Hibbs children alive at the time of the 1850 Census. The Hibbs family was then living in Middletown Township, Bucks County Pennsylvania. Isaac J. Hibbs married around 1863, and was still living in Middletown Township, Bucks County PA when the 1870 census was enumerated.
When the census was taken in 1880, Isaac J. Hibbs was living in Langhorne PA with his wife Margaret and five children, Wesley, Mary, Katie, Harry, and Herbert, ranging in ages from 14 years to 8 months. Although Isaac J. Hibbs, like his father, generally worked as a carpenter, in 1880 he was employed as a cigar maker. Returning to work as a carpenter, Isaac Hibbs moved to Camden during the 1890s, working for most of the rest of the decade in the cigar business, as did his children.
In Howe's City Directories for 1894-1895 Isaac is in the cigar business at 806 Walnut Street, along with his son Harry. Son Wesley had gone into the cigar business at 453 Kaighn Avenue. The 1895-1896 Director shows Wesley and Herbert at 1144 Broadway. Isaac Hibbs and his wife, son Harry and daughter Kate were still at 806 Walnut Street when this Directory was compiled.
The 1896 City Director shows Wesley Hibbs at 441 Kaighn Avenue, where he had established a cigar store, selling the cigars his family manufactured, among them the "Hibbs Special". Wesley Hibbs remained at this address through 1898. The 1896 Directory shows that Isaac Hibbs hat gone into the saloon business at 1057 Kaighn Avenue, a venture that did not last, as he had moved the following year. The 1896 Directory shows children Katie, Harry, and Herbert Hibbs, also known as Burt, living at 1057 Kaighn Avenue and working as cigarmakers, presumably for their older brother.
The 1897 Camden City Directory lists Isaac, Harry, and Herbert Hibbs at Isaac at 1162 Mt. Vernon Street, making cigars. 1898 shows Herbert living with his brother Wesley at 441 Kaighn Avenue, while Isaac and Harry Hibbs had moved to 1419 South 10th Street. Sadly, Harry V. Hibbs died on December 12, 1898, aged 22 years and 8 months.
The 1899 edition states that Isaac and Herbert Hibbs were once again together, this time at 1419 South 10th Street, while Wesley Hibbs had moved his home and business to 1144 Broadway, where he had been a few years before. Wesley Hibbs remained there for a number of years thereafter. By 1906 he had moved to 1146 Broadway and had gone into the stationary business.
When the census was taken in 1900 Isaac Hibbs was living at 913 South 8th Street with his wife Maggie and youngest son Herbert. He was working as a carpenter, Herbert was still making cigars. This would be Isaac Hibbs' address through at least 1913. The Census indicates that the Margaret Hibbs had bore seven children, only three of whom were living at the time, Mrs. Katie Hibbs Terry, and sons Wesley Hibbs and Herbert Hibbs.
Herbert Hibbs married sometime after the 1900 Census. He was living at 759 Chestnut Street and working as a bartender in 1905. At some point thereafter he was appointed to the Camden Fire Department. Sadly, Herbert Hibbs was murdered on Christmas morning, 1910.
Isaac Hibbs was still working as a carpenter as late as 1913. Looking to find a line for work less physically demanding for a man past 60, Isaac Hibbs found work as a turnkey, what today would be called a guard, at the Camden County jail. He was known as "Daddy" Hibbs by the prisoners.
Isaac J. Hibbs was killed in the line of duty during a jailbreak on July 17, 1916. His daughter, Katie Hibbs Terry, died but three weeks later. Both father and daughter were buried at Middletown Friends' Cemetery in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, as was Herbert Hibbs and other family members. Isaac Hibbs' widow, Margaret Malseed Hibbs, passed away in 1917. Newspaper articles of the day say she died of a broken heart over her husband. Her great-grandson, Pat Terry, writes that she had also by this time seen six of her seven children die before her.
Wilson Ashbridge, the killer of Isaac Hibbs, was already awaiting trial for murder. He was recaptured and executed on January 3, 1917.
Philadelphia Inquirer - April 1, 1916
Cecelia Hoeffler William
B. Knight - Wilson Ashbridge
Camden Post-Telegram * July 18, 1916
AND FORGER ESCAPE JAIL AFTER SHOOTING KEEPERS, KILLING ONE
Wilson Ashbridge, Who Shot and Killed Mrs. Elizabeth Dunbar
and George E. Thompson, Check Swindler, Trap Jailor Hibbs by a Ruse and After Slaying Him Shoot Joe Ellis Who Intercepted Them in Flight.
Used Revolver Smuggled Into Prison by Confederates and Leave Jail Wide Open in Their Flight, a General Delivery Being Averted
by Police Who Were Summoned by the Wounded Men.
Murdering one jailor and wounding another with a revolver that had been smuggled into them by outside confederates, Wilson T. Ashbridge, slayer of Mrs. Elizabeth Dunbar, and Francis Murphy, alias George E. Thompson, a check forger, made their escape from the county jail a few minutes before seven o'clock last night.
Ashbridge with his wife was caught at noon in the Keystone Hotel in Chester PA where they registered at one o'clock this morning.
Thompson is still at liberty but from the confident manner of Prosecutor Kraft his early arrest seems assured.
The murdered jailor was Isaac Hibbs, aged 65 years of 913 South 8th Street. The wounded keeper is Joseph Ellis, aged 45 years, of 416 Carteret Street. Shot twice, he is in Cooper Hospital. His condition today is very satisfactory.
Thompson, who is 41 years old, forged a check for $650 which he gave to V.M. Fulton as part of the purchase price of an automobile. The forgery was discovered before the deal was completed and his arrest followed on June 8. he also passed a forged check for $15 on State Motor Vehicle Agent Kraft. He, too, was awaiting trial. In spite of the positive evidence against him Thompson had spurned all efforts to have him plead guilty and it is now believed that he was sparring for time while hatching a plan to escape. He s no doubt the master mind.
R.L. Hunter, a farmer of Bensalem Township, Bucks County PA, about four miles above Torres dale, reported to the Philadelphia police the morning that he had seen a man answering Ashbridge's description on the Bucks Road at daylight. The man asked the way to Riegelsville.
According to Hunter, the man was dressed in a dark suit, and had no hat. His clothing was wet. Hunter did not see anything suspicious in his actions, and after giving him directions, they parted.
Upon seeing the paper with a picture of Ashbridge, the farmer was struck by its resemblance to the man with whom he had talked. He hurried to Tacony and notified the police.
The State police, who patrol that section of the county, and who have an office at Langhorne, were immediately notified as were the surrounding towns.
The shootings took place in different parts of the jail. Hibbs was murdered in the exercise room just outside the cell room on the Sixth and Arch corner of the building. Ellis was shot down in the corridor just outside the Market Street end of the building when he heroically grappled with Ashbridge after the latter had pointed a gun at his head. In spite of his wounds Ellis dragged himself to a telephone and after notifying Police Headquarters of what had happened he collapsed.
Only one of the two bullets is still in Ellis. It entered the groin on the right side and is buried in the muscles of the leg, having taken a downward course for seven or eight inches. The other bullet struck Ellis in the right breast and came out in the left breast, traversing the upper fleshy parts of the body.
Hibbs was almost instantaneously killed by a bullet that went within an inch of his heart, producing a hemorrhage. The bullet was extracted this morning from the body early this morning in an autopsy performed at the morgue by County Physician Stem. In spite of the fact that it is pretty well established that three shots were fires in the attack on Hibbs, only one of the bullets took effect.
"But it makes little difference which of the two men handled the gun" said Prosecutor Kraft this morning. "Both are equally guilty of this murder and what we are concerned about now is the recapture of the gunmen." Mr. Kraft added that it his purpose to examine all of the prisoners in that part of the jail where Hibbs was murdered to determine fully who fired the fatal shot.
The escape had been carefully planned and timed to the minute. Of course the desperate prisoners were aided by confederates on the outside and it is the general belief that a high powered motor car was in waiting for them not far from the jail. They are known to have been in possession of money and openly boasted yesterday that it was their intention to leave the prison last night. These boasts were made to two young ladies connected with a religious organization who called on the tom men yesterday to offer spiritual reconciliation. The girls are frequent visitors to the jail and naturally their efforts at evangelization were directed in the main toward Ashbridge, because of the fact that he was accused of murder. These girls, whose identity officials will not disclose, were closeted with Prosecutor Kraft until one o'clock this morning. Both declared that on their visit yesterday they were told by Ashbridge and Thompson that it was the last day they expected to spend in jail.
"We are going to get away from here tonight and we've got money to help us after we are out " said Ashbridge, who further told the girls he had considerable cash sewed up in the waistband of his trousers. The girls begged the prisoners not to do anything that would cause them more trouble and they told the Prosecutor that Ashbridge and Thompson promised them that they would not make any effort to escape. In their talks with the girls neither of the prisoners said a word that would indicate that they would kill if necessary to escape. The full force of their boast did not dawn on the religious workers and for this reason it never occurred tot hem to inform the Sheriff of what the prisoners had in said.
A general jail delivery of at least all the men confined in hat is known as the untried department, where the two were held, was only averted by the prompt arrival of the police on their beat, which was made easy by means of the keys taken from the prostrate body of Hibbs. Ashbridge and Thompson left all of the doors open and the vanguard of the inrushing police found the prisoners swarming all over the corridors on the east side of the prison. In the wild excitement following the double shooting and escape none else thought of freedom and a checking up of the inmates after they had been herded in the exercise room of the untried department accounted for all but the fugitive slayers.
The department, in which the two men were confined is the same one which William Brown and Charles Berger made their sensational escape several years ago by sawing away the bars on the Federal Street front of the jail. Thrilling as it was, the former escape was insignificant in comparison with last night's tragic event.
With the full force of the keepers out of the way- one dead and the other suffering from gunshot wounds at first supposed to have been fatal- Ashbridge and Thompson had nothing between them and freedom but the door entering from the spiral stairway leading to the narrow entrance of the Sixth and Market Streets end of the Court House, With the keys taken from Hibbs they opened the door and in a few seconds were breathing the free air. It was still daylight when the daring murderers walked from the building and although they were no doubt seen by some of the scores of persons passing it is certain that they managed to control themselves to such an extent as not to arouse any undue suspicion. The exit they used to escape is that used by the general public and therefore persons passing calmly in and out of the door would not in any manner be thought to have been connected with a jail delivery. However the shots which had laid low the keepers had been plainly heard on all four sides of the building and it is strange that no one has yet been found who can give positive information as to what course the fleeing men took and whether they were aided in their flight by an automobile.
While the police and detectives of Camden and all other cities in the East are watching railroad terminals, steamship lines, and all other avenues of travel in response t the general alarm sent out last night, Prosecutor Kraft is bending all his energies to learn who smuggled in the revolver which the fugitives used. Thus far this feature of the case is as complete a mystery as it was last night. Mr. Kraft and Sheriff Haines are satisfied, however, that only one gun was used for both shootings. It was at first thought that each man had a pistol when they left the jail; that one of them armed himself with the gun that Hibbs was supposed to have carried, but it was determined that Hibbs was not armed when he went into the jail last night. There was no occasion for him to come in contact with any of the prisoners and for that reason he left his revolver in his desk in the office. even had he carried it he would have little chance to use it, so cold-bloodedly was he slain as he unsuspectingly fell into the trap laid for him by the desperate gunmen. There is also some conflict as to how at least on of the fugitives was dressed. Alfred Williams, who witnessed the murder of Hibbs, said that Ashbridge was without coat or ha when he dashed out of the cell-room, and that Thompson carried his coat and hat under his arm. However in a description of the two men given at the Prosecutor's office it was set forth that Ashbridge wore a blue serge suit and a checkered cap. The coat that he is supposed to have taken bore the mark of "Tull- the Tailor," of Jacksonville, Florida. ad had been borrowed by him from another prisoner. He wore tan shoes. Ashbridge is 27 years old, 5 feet 7-1/2 inches in height and weighs 137 pounds. He has brown hair, smooth face and is of light complexion.
Thompson wore a brown suit and a Panama hat. He is 41 years old 5 feet seven inches in height, and weighs 175 pounds. He has brown bushy hair, is minus one of the fingers on his left hand, and is light complexioned.
The tan shoes worn by Ashbridge were also borrowed from one of the prisoners. He got them on Saturday and remarked that he wanted to look neat.
Keepers Ellis and Hibbs were reading in the prison office last evening when Hibbs glanced up at the clock and noticed that it was a few minutes of seven. "Joe, I'm going back and out the boys in their cells," he said to Ellis and with his keys in his hand he started for the cell room in the untried department. A thirty foot long corridor runs from the office to the barred and grated door opening into the department in which the cells are situated. This department is about the size of three ordinary school rooms and in the southeastern corner of the jail are the cells, in two tiers.
Around the cells is a three foot corridor into which all the cells doors open and in which all the prisoners are permitted to walk when they are not allowed out in the main room. When the inmates are ordered into their cells and their doors closed the doors are locked from the outside of the steel cage by means of a lever worked by the jailor. Thus every cell door can be made secure without the keepers coming into actual contact with the prisoners. In addition to the bars around the corridor fronting on the double tier of cells there is a fine mesh heavy wire screening.
As Hibbs approached the lever which is operated to shut the cell doors after the prisoners have retired from the corridors, Ashbridge was leaning against the grating of his cell, Number 18. Thompson was lounging a few feet away.
"Daddy, open the door, I want you to see this note," said Ashbridge to the keeper, at the same time displaying a piece of paper which he had in his hand. Never giving a thought that he was about to perform an act that which was absolutely necessary for the carrying-out of the well laid plot, or that he was going to his doom, or was even in danger, "Daddy", as the aged keeper was known to all the prisoners, opened the door without hesitation.
As he swung wide the big steel frame, Ashbridge quickly stepped out and the next instant was pressing a gun against the abdomen of the jailor.
"Throw up your hands, you ___ ___ ___" he commanded.
"What are you up to, what's this mean, asked the keeper, apparently not realizing he had been trapped.
For reply Thompson jumped out the door, wrenched the gun from Ashbridge's grasp and with an oath began firing at Hibbs, who sank to the floor at the first shot. Only a few feet away and the only other person in the exercise room, although the shooting could have been seen by any other prisoners who had not retired to their cells, Alfred Williams, trusty, is emphatic in his assertion that Thompson fired the shot that killed Hibbs and that he fired three times.
"It's a wonder they did not get me," said Williams. "Ashbridge and I could not hit it and in his desperate mood I am surprised he didn't kill me, too." Williams, who has just completed a six months' sentence for obtaining money from Italian grocers by falsely representing himself as an agent for a wholesale house in Chicago and who is wanted in the Windy City for the same offense, says the whole transaction took less than a minute and that the moves came so fast he and the other prisoners were powerless to aid.
"It was like a flash of lightning" said Williams, "and before I could fully understand what had happened Ashbridge had grabbed Daddy's keys' which had fallen to the floor, and was off like a deer for the barred door. Ashbridge had taken the smoking gun from Thompson, who had his hat and coat under his arm and who was right behind the other one.
"As they hurried through the door after Ashbridge had opened it with Daddy's keys Daddy called to me to raise him. I put my arm under his head and lifted him slightly from the floor. 'Hold my hands' he sad to me. I took hold of his hands and the next minute he died in my arms. Then I heard two more shots and I knew they got Joe Ellis."
Startled by the shots, and he is emphatic there were three in rapid succession, Ellis leaped to his feet and without taking the time to arm himself ran from the office and turned into the corridor just as Ashbridge, wild-eyed and gun in his hand, came running toward him. Halting three yards away Ashbridge pointed the revolver at Ellis' head and ordered him to throw up his hands.
For reply and without fear of himself the keeper dashed at the murderer and the next instant they wee locked in each others embrace. Working loose the hand which held the gun, Ashbridge pulled the trigger. The bullet struck Ellis in the breast, but the wound was not sufficient to render him helpless. However, before he could grip the pistol arm, Ashbridge fired again and the keeper fell back with a bullet in his groin.
"The second shot got me," said Ellis to Prosecutor Kraft and Assistant Prosecutor Butler at the hospital. "The first one wasn't bad but my strength left me when the second bullet struck. Ashbridge was the only one I saw. I did not see Thompson."
"Dragging himself to the office Ellis managed to reach a telephone and called up the police.
"This is Ellis at the county jail; come quick. Ashbridge has shot me" he weakly said over the phone to Captain Hyde. Then the receiver fell from his hand and he dropped to the floor, but after a minute or two managed to climb into chair.
While patrol loads of policemen where being hurried to the Court House from the First and Second District station houses, Reserve Officer Charles Hose, on duty at Broadway and Federal Street, who had heard the shots, ran to the Court House and from the office of Assistant Custodian John Lack phoned up to the jail. Ellis managed to answer and in a few word told what had happened. They ran up to the jail and were admitted by Ellis, who was rapidly growing weaker from loss of blood, the trail of which plainly showed just where the injured keeper had moved.
"I guess Ashbridge got away and the jail is all open, you had better take care of the rest of the prisoners," said Ellis to Hose and Lack. The fugitive-murderers had left all doors open and the other occupants of the untried department were swarming through the corridors. Their curses and yells and the shrieks and cries of the female prisoners had turned the place into a perfect bedlam. With the aid of other policemen who swarmed into the Court House like bees, the prisoners were soon herded into the exercise room, where Trusty Williams checked the up and accounted for all but Ashbridge and Thompson.
With the faint hope that the missing pair had not risked leaving the building but had secreted themselves in the structure, the courthouse was searched from pit to dome, but no trace of the men were found.
Detective Doran was the first of the Prosecutor's staff to reach the scene. Mr. Kraft and the balance of the staff soon followed. In the lower end of the county, on official business, Sheriff Haines was reached by phone and Under Sheriff Hewitt was summoned from Pitman and until an early hour this morning the officials were is conference and examining numerous prisoners.
State Detective Walter Le Torneau furnished Prosecutor Kraft with a promising "tip" this morning when he learned that Thompson gave a letter to Freeholder Howard Marshall, of the Eighth Ward, to mail on Sunday. Mr. Marshall states that the letter was addressed to a woman by the name or Mrs. Shelton, in Baltimore MD.
Marshall was attending religious service in the jail when Thompson approached him.
"Put this is your pocket and mail it for me when you go out," said Thompson to Mr. Marshall, who agreed to carry out the request. Dropping the letter in the mail box Marshall allowed the incident to pass without further notice.
Detective Le Torneau learned this morning that Marshall had spoken to the incident to a friend and the sleuth notified the Prosecutor, The tip will be run down the Prosecutor stated.
Funeral services for Hibbs will be held on Thursday from his late residence. The body will be taken to Langhorne PA where interment will be made in the Friends' Cemetery under the direction of the Schroeder-Kephart Company. Services will be conducted Wednesday evening by Reverend Henry Bradway, pastor of the Eighth Street Methodist Episcopal Church.
POLICE QUICKLY AT WORK
Although the murderous prisoners made their escape, it was no fault of the local police department, which threw out a "dragnet system" that covered practically every outlet fropm the city. as soon as the call reached headquarters the red lights were flashing and every officer and detective who could be reached was sent out on the "man hunt" which was pursued with vigor.
Passing automobiles were pressed into service by the detectives and officers and all haste was made for the ferries, railroad yards, terminals, and trolley points. Citizens cooperated with the police in their efforts to run down the escaping prisoners.
Assistant Chief Hyde received the call from Jailor Ellis, who though wounded himself summoned strength enough to reach the phone.
"This is Jailor Ellis. Hibbs and me have been shot by that man Ashbridge and help quick!" was the startling message which came over the phone to Chief Hyde about one minute past seven.
It was just at the time the shifts were going on and off at the local station houses. Chief Hyde lost no time. He called to Machine Operator "Eddie" King to send the message to the station houses and flash the red lights. This was done and as fast as the men could run they covered the various points.
The auto patrols were dispatched with all hands to the Court House and the wounded men hurried to the hospital. Coroner Robert G. Schroeder reached the hospital as Hibbs and Ellis were being admitted and he tool charge of the situation and got in touch with Prosecutor Kraft and County Physician Stem.
Detective Captain Schregler was hurriedly summoned, and his men were sent in all directions. Detective Brothers boarded a waiting automobile and a record run was made for the Federal Street ferry. Sergeant Humes was picked up and in four minutes after the call was received from Ellis Detective Brothers had the ferry covered.
Detective Brothers got in touch with the Pennsylvania Railroad officials who put their detective force to work searching freight and passenger cars. The orders were sent out from the railroad office to stop and search every fright train. Dispatches were also sent to Trenton, Mount Holly, and Burlington and it was not long before the news of the atrocious deed had spread throughout the country and many distant places.
Trolley cars were stopped and searched by the police, but not the slightest trace could be found of the escaped prisoners. The police left nothing undone in the "man-hunt."
When news of the affair spread through the city phone calls began to come in to headquarters. Over fifty persons called up to tell the police that they had seen the two men at various places. The "tips" were all run down but none materialized.
Officers Arthur Colsey and Theodore Guthrie, who were on their vacations. lent their aid to Chief Hyde. Policeman Colsey pressed his automobile into service and carried the police to various parts of the city.
Co-operating closely with Prosecutor Kraft's detectives the city officials formed a combination which in nine times out of ten would have been successful, but the escaped men cleverly eluded their pursuers.
Assisted by Coroner Schroeder, County Physician Stem held a post mortem examination on Hibbs' body. The bullet which caused the death was located in the region of the heart, It passed through the victim's lung, causing a hemorrhage, which resulted in death. Following the examination the body was taken by the Schroeder-Kephart Company at the family's orders to be prepared for burial.
ASHBRIDGE'S FIRST CRIME
The brutal crime for which Ashbridge stood indicted but untried was committed on the night of January 22 at Ninth and Market Streets. It developed that the murderer had followed his intended victim from the morning hours. He trailed her to the home of her sister, a Mrs. Meredith, of 911 Market Street, and laid in wait in the darkness of a building that fatal Saturday night.
Mrs. Dunbar came out of the house and stood on the northeast corner while waiting for a ferry-bound trolley car. She intended going to Sicklerville that night to visit her relatives. With her at the time was her 7-year-old daughter, Eleanor, and her father, Charles Dunbar. Ashbridge advanced toward the woman, who was startled when she saw him. She called to her father that she "didn't want anything to do with Ashbridge."
Before the father could interfere the young murderer whipped out a revolver and covered the father and the woman. He then struck the woman violently in the face with his fist and as she was reeling under the force of the brutal blow Ashbridge fired, the first bullet taking effect in the woman's chest. The brutal murderer then stood over his prostrate victim and holding the revolver less than five inched from his victim's body he pumped four more shots into her.
Policeman Howard Smith and Policeman Taylor were a square distant. Smith saw the entire proceedings and screamed at Ashbridge to stop shooting. A crowd quickly gathered and Dr. Maldeis, who lives nearby, came running to the scene to aid the stricken woman.
Officer Taylor espied Ashbridge in the crowd, The murderer made no effort to run, but stood his ground. Detecting the murderer trying to slip something up his sleeve, Taylor pounced upon him and bore him to the ground, at the same time taking the gun away from him and slipping the handcuffs over the murderer's wrists. Policeman Taylor had to draw his revolver to keep back the large crowd that was threatening. Showing no concern whatever, Ashbridge calmly waited until the police auto arrived. In the meantime the murdered woman's still warm body was placed in a "jitney" and with Officer Smith and Dr. Maldeis a hurry run was made for Cooper Hospital but when the institution was reached, Mrs. Dunbar was pronounced dead.
Ashbridge was taken to the hospital by Policeman Taylor in the police auto. He asked "how she is." Informed that he had accomplished his purpose, the young murderer asked to see the woman. When the white sheet covering the still form of the murdered woman was drawn from the face Ashbridge leaned over and kissed the forehead of the woman. He was then taken to the County jail and locked up. Before Recorder Stackhouse on the following Monday Ashbridge pleaded guilty.
Ashbridge was infatuated with the woman, who was a member of the Temple Theater chorus. Because of Ashbridge's persistent attentions she was compelled to give up her position. Mrs. Dunbar had previously accepted Ashbridge's attentions, thinking that he was unmarried, but upon learning that he had a wife and child she informed him that it would be best for them not to see each other, but the young man refused to discontinue his attentions.
On the day of the shooting Ashbridge was seen in various places. He is said to have followed the woman to the Federal Street ferry, but lost track of her. Around noon he was seen at Front and Pearl Streets by Policeman Boyd, who ordered him to move on. Boyd was about to arrest him as a suspicious character, but Ashbridge pleaded that he was looking for a friend. All that day Ashbridge followed the woman until night, when he cruelly murdered her.
The murderer came from a respectable family. Dissipation is thought to have caused the young man to lose his sense of reasoning. Rather good-looking, Ashbridge had tender baby-like eyes and his case excited sympathy among the more tender-hearted people.
Sweetmeats, tasty sandwiches, and other small luxuries were said to have been given the young murderer while he languished in his cell. He had many visitors. Recently Ashbridge was taken violently ill after eating some crabs which were given him by a friend. He and Jailor Hibbs were very friendly.
THOMPSON A CLEVER FORGER
Thompson, or Murphy, was a self-styled lawyer and was committed by Recorder Stackhouse in June3 for forging checks to the amount of $1,055. The worthless checks were "worked" on the McClelland-Fulton Auto Company and Motor Vehicle Agent A.C. Kraft.
When a check for $150 presented to the automobile company by Thompson and drawn to the order of "G.E. Thompson" on the Harrisonburg, Virginia National Bank came back from the home office of the Studebaker Company as worthless, Mr. Fulton called in the police.
Thompson had previously presented a check for $890 as payment on an automobile. This check was drawn on Thompson's favor on the Coatesville National Bank and was purported to have been signed by Louis L. Gibney, a hotel man of Downington PA. This check was still in the possession of Mr. Fulton when Thompson was arrested after the first check was returned marked "no funds".
The clever swindler also presented a bad check to Agent Kraft for $15 for which he received the license to operate the automobile which he proposed buying.
Giving his home address as Daytona, Florida, Thompson represented himself as a lawyer. well dressed and wearing nose glasses, Thompson was an intelligent appearing man, he had a bushy pompadour which was streaked with gray and talked in a persuasive manner. His forgeries on Mr. Gibney's signature were so clever that Gibney himself could not tell the difference.
After Thompson's arrest Detective Captain Schregler sent out notices to several southern cities. He received responses from Harrisonburg, Norfolk, and Petersburg Virginia and that Thompson was wanted in all three cities for check forgeries.
Bert Hibbs, a city foreman and a son of the slain jailor, was murdered early Sunday morning , December 25, 1910 when his throat was cut by Clement Ridgway, a negro, aged 22 years, of Seventh and Sycamore Streets. It was about 12:20 on Christmas morning that Hibbs while crossing the lots at Seventh and Sycamore was accosted by Ridgeway, who wanted to shake hands with Hibbs. The latter refused, a quarrel ensued and Ridgeway whipped out a razor and slashed Hibbs across the throat with such violence that his head was nearly severed. Hibbs died while on the way to the hospital. Ridgway was arrested after a battle by Detectives Schregler, Painter and Brothers and several officers at his home, 1207 Lilly Row.
Indicted for murder Ridgway pleaded non vult. On April 24, 1911, to a charge of murder in the second degree, he was sentenced to 25 years in state Prison at hard labor.
SECOND MURDER IN JAIL
This is the second murder and second escape from the present jail. The first murder took place in November, 1907, when George Stewart, a young negro, stabbed to death John Snell, who was awaiting trial for carrying in the business of fortune telling. Stewart was in jail on a charge of dealing in opium and cocaine. He had a complete opium layout in his cell. He and Snell had a quarrel and he stabbed Snell to death in his cell. He was tried and convicted and sentenced to be electrocuted during the week of February 8, 1908. He was electrocuted on February 4, being the first man to suffer the death penalty by electrocution.
On July 13, 1910 William T. Brown, alias Gillespie, who had been sentenced to seven years on a charge of forgery, and Charles Berger, who was under sentence for picking pockets, made their escape from jail after sawing the bars on the Federal Street front. They climbed over the balustrade to the roof, descended through a trapdoor, climbed down stairs and walked leisurely through the Court House building and out into the street unnoticed. They entered an automobile and were driven away. They crossed to Philadelphia on a North Cramer Hill Ferry boat.
Several weeks later Brown was arrested in New York City and was sentenced to Auburn Prison on an old charge. His term will expire shortly and he has also applied to the Court of Pardons of this State for a parole. A detainer has been lodged against him at the State prison where he his located and he will; be brought back and resentenced. Berger was captured in Chicago and was brought back and served a term at Trenton.
Camden Daily Courier * July 19, 1916
DIAGRAM SHOWING HOW THE DESPERADOS SHOT THE JAILORS AND MADE THEIR ESCAPE
Camden Daily Courier * July 19, 1916
AND HIS WIFE ARE CAUGHT AT
CHESTER HOTEL WHERE THEY HAD COME
IMMEDIATELY AFTER OUTBREAK FROM JAIL
Desperate Man and Spouse Waive Rights and Will Be Brought Back
MRS. ASHBRIDGE DREW $100 FROM HER BANK ACCOUNT
Believed She Was in Conspiracy to Aid Husband in Desperate Escape
CAPT. SCHREGLER CORRALS THEM
... to be continued...
Click on Image to Enlarge
Camden Post-Telegram * July 19, 1916
IN CHESTER HOTEL ALONG WITH WIFE
Fugitive Murderer Waives Extradition and Detective Schregler Brings Couple to Camden in Motor Car.
PAIR REGISTERED IN EARLY MORNING
Captured at noon with his wife in the Keystone Hotel at Chester PA, Wilson Ashbridge, who escaped from the County Prison last night with George E. Thompson, a forger, after killing Jailor Hibbs and shooting Jailor Ellis, is again in the County Jail.
Ashbridge admits that he shot both men. He said the gun was given to him by Thompson.
The coupe were captured in their room at the Keystone Hotel by Captain of Detectives Schregler and Policeman David Hunt, who hurried to Chester in Chief Gravenor's automobile in receipt of a message that a man answering to the description if the published picture of Ashbridge registered there early this morning with a woman as his wife.
Ashbridge offered no resistance when the officers entered his room. He waived extradition and being handcuffed was placed in the machine with his wife and hurried to this city.
Schregler sat in the rear of the machine between Ashbridge and his wife.
They reached City Hall at 2:10 o'clock this afternoon. Ashbridge was smoking a cigarette and looked sullen.
When the murderer saw a battery of photographers getting ready to take their pictures, Ashbridge shielded his wife's face with his hat and hid his own face as best he could in his handcuffed condition.
They were taken upstairs to the Chief's office and later sent to the Prosecutor's office.
Ashbridge takes blame for the double shooting, but insists that his wife did not give him the gun, saying that Thompson supplied the weapon.
The police knew last night that Mrs. Ashbridge was with her husband or intended to go with him. This information came in a letter turned over to the police by a Mrs. Dick, of East Camden, who was carting for the children. The envelope cautioned her not to open the letter until 7:00 o'clock last night.
Mrs. Ashbridge said in the note that she was going to do a rash act and might not see the children again.
In the cell occupied by Thompson the following note was found by Detective Painter.
"Ashbridge has made up his mind to leave this place. I have decided to go with him.
"It may seem like suicide and if anything happens send my body to the University of Pennsylvania"
Seventeen loaded cartridges were also found in the cell.
The detectives and their prisoners were accompanied to Camden by E.S. Fry, proprietor of the Chester hotel, where the couple were caught.
There is no question but that Mrs. Ashbridge knew all bout the plan to escape. Where she met her husband has not been discovered.
A reward of $1,000- $500 for each- was today offered by the Prosecutor.
CAMDEN POST-TELEGRAM * July 19, 1916
WIFE SUPPLIED REVOLVER, SMUGGLING IT IN COVERED BY FRUIT
Confessing Supplying Pistol, in Spite of Husband’s Denial That She Was Guiltless, Mrs. Ashbridge Is Held Without Bail on Charge of Conspiracy in Aiding and Abetting Escape From Jail
With Wilson T. Ashbridge under guard in a cell in what was formerly known as Murderer’s Row, the police and county detectives today redoubled their energies towards the capture of George E. Thompson, the forger who escaped with Ashbridge from the County Jail on Monday night after murdering one keeper and wounding another. Stirring the police of all cities in the East to renewed activity, another circular was sent out today by the authorities giving notice of the reward of $500 offered for Thompson’s capture. Attention was strongly directed in the circular due to the fact that one of the fingers of Thompson’s left hand is missing.
The gun with which Ashbridge murdered jailor Isaac Hibbs and wounded Jailor Ellis was smuggled into the jail by Mrs. Ashbridge on Saturday morning. With it went a box of cartridges. The weapon and bullets were passed to Ashbridge in a basket of fruit, being at the bottom of the basket. The jailors were busy at the time she called and as she frequently had brought her husband fruit they did not take precaution to search the basket. Mrs. Ashbridge bought the gun and cartridges on the written request of her husband.
Her confession as to the very grave part she played in the escape and murder was made to the Prosecutor late yesterday afternoon after she had first insisted she had no knowledge if how the gun got into the jail and after her husband had repeatedly declared that the revolver was supplied by Thompson. The revolver, fully loaded, was still carried by Ashbridge when he was captured in the Keystone Hotel......
..... by Recorder Stackhouse without bail for conspiracy in aiding and abetting the escape of her husband and George E. Thompson from the County Jail on Monday night.
The court room was packed to suffocation by a morbidly curious crowd, composed primarily of women. A strange silence spread through the court room when the little woman was led into the court room by Captain Schregler. The regular formality of placing prisoners in the dock was dispensed with the woman's case.
Prosecutor De Unger pointed to the high witness chair and Mrs. Ashbridge sat in it. She evaded the gaze of the crowd, looking intently at the floor and through a window on the Washington Street side. She wore a blue skirt and a white waist. She was without her hat. her hair was carefully arranged and she wore nose glasses.
Resting her chin on her right hand her arm and hand were seen to tremble slightly. So quiet was the room that a pin dropping could have been heard.
"Mrs. Marian Ashbridge," called the Recorder.
"Yes, Sir" was the faint reply of the woman, who did not even look up at the call of her name.
"This complaint charges you with delivering to Wilson Ashbridge and George E. Thompson a pistol and aiding and abetting them in escaping from the County Jail, where they had been lawfully committed. Do you plead guilty or not guilty," said the Recorder as he read the complaint.
"The woman said nothing. Detective Schregler was then called as the complainant. He told of the confession made by the woman and produced the revolver which the woman purchased and which Ashbridge used in his daring escape. The gun, Captain Schregler said, was purchased in a pawnshop at Eleventh and Arch Streets, Philadelphia, on Friday of last week and was delivered to Ashbridge on Saturday morning along with a box of cartridges. "Marian, I will hold you without bail,": said the Recorder.
As the woman was being led from the court room by Captain Schregler and Sergeant Reed the crowd made a rush for the door leading from the court room, whereupon orders were given by the police to the crowd and many were prevented from rushing out. Everybody seemed anxious to secure a closer look at the unfortunate woman.
Visitors were denied Mrs. Ashbridge. Not even her children were permitted to be brought before her, although the broken-hearted mother asked for them.
"Oh, God, I don't know why I did this; why I left the little ones to go with Wilson," tearfully expostulated Mrs. Ashbridge to the kind-hearted matron, who spent the best part of last night with the distraught woman.
"If I could only see little Marian," sobbed the woman in the arms of Mrs. Kirkpatrick, who informed her that perhaps she could see them today.
Last evening the only support Mrs. Ashbridge had was a cup of tea. The morning she sipped a portion of a cup of coffee. She told Matron Kirkpatrick that she was not hungry.
:Everybody hounded me, I had no friends, and that's why I went with my husband, because he was the only friend I had left," said Mrs. Ashbridge. "He was a good boy, but was easily led." The wife said even before her marriage that Ashbridge would run around with other girls, but he always returned to her and she forgave him. She said he seemed to have a spell over her and she couldn't leave him.
"I love my husband, still and will stand by him to the end," sobbed the little woman to Mrs. Kirkpatrick. She told how her relatives disowned her and how after her father's death she went to live with strangers. When her husband fostered the plan to escape she willingly consented to aid him. She drew $100 out of the bank and purchased clothes and the gun and bullets. She never faltered in her plan.
"My heart aches for that woman," said Matron Kirkpatrick this morning to a Post-Telegram reporter. "She's a good girl, but was easily led into her present predicament. It only goes to show what a woman will do for the man she loves, no matter how base a wretch he may be. Mrs. Ashbridge is more to be pitied than scorned.
Recorder Stackhouse this morning produced a copy of the marriage of the couple, performed by him on July 28, 1914. The marriage was performed at the instance of Assistant Prosecutor Butler after Ashbridge wronged the girl. Constable William E. Headley and William C. Ashbridge, the latter father of the murderer, were witnesses.
As told in yesterday's Post-Telegram, Ashbridge and his wife and their captors arrived at the City Hall from Chester shortly after 2:00 o'clock. After a brief stay they were taken to the Court House and turned over to Prosecutor Kraft, Ashbridge being taken into the Prosecutor's private office and Mrs. Ashbridge being placed under guard in the ante room.
Taking full blame for the murder of Hibbs and the wounding of Ellis, Ashbridge declared that none of the shots were fired by Thompson.
"I shot both men," he declared, "but Thompson gave me the gun. He had it since Saturday." He repeated this assertion several times in the course of his examination, adding each time that his wife had no part in supplying the firearm. His voluntary insistence in.....
.... exercise corridor of their cells in response to his request that he wanted to show him a note that had been left for him, he asked the aged keeper to step inside the corridor. Evidently suspecting something was wrong Hibbs refuse to enter the corridor. When Ashbridge repeated his request that Hibbs step inside, Thompson, why was immediately behind Ashbridge, said something to the murderer. Ashbridge could not exactly recall what the expression was. At any rate it was then that he fired and Hibbs fell to the floor with his death wound. To take Hibbs keys and open the door leading from the exercise room to the corridor was the work of but an instant. It was then that Ellis confronted Ashbridge at the other end of the corridor. He refused to throw up his hands when the murderer so ordered. Instead, the plucky jailor grappled with the slayer, who again brought the gun into play, twice wounding the remaining jailor.
Ashbridge did not say why he wanted Hibbs to step inside the corridor. One surmise is that the pair had planned to get the old man into the corridor, overpower him, take his keys and after gagging him place him in a cell, depending ion the gun to awe any prisoners who might make an outcry. But whatever their plan was in this respect it miscarried. Hibbs would not enter the corridor and was shot down where he stood.
Thompson carried both his own and Ashbridge's coats when they fled,. As Ashbridge had decided to do the talking with Hibbs when the jailor came to lock them in their cells it was agreed that it would not be wise for the murderer to be wearing a coat. This might look suspicious to Hibbs and in all likelihood he would refuse to open the door. Hence it was decided that Thompson should take both coats. He also carried Ashbridge's cap and his own Panama.
The coats and harts were adjusted as they ran down the spiral stairway leading to the street. They walked slowly into Sixth Street; increasing their pace up Sixth Street after crossing Market and after turning into Cooper walked very rapidly. They turned north on Third Street to Main and thence to the Vine Street ferry, where they caught the boat leaving at 7:15 for Philadelphia. Landing on the other side the fugitives exchanged hats. They walked rapidly to Broad Street Station, where Mrs. Ashbridge was in waiting, this arrangement having been made when she smuggled the gun in to her husband on Saturday morning.
Accompanied by Thompson the Ashbridges walked out Market Street to Thirty-second Street. Here Thompson left them and after walking the street for a brief while longer the slayer and his wife boarded a trolley car for Chester, where a few hours later the murderer's short-lived liberty was so dramatically terminated.
Although jailor Ellis still insists that three shots were fired before he was attacked and in spite of the positive declaration of Alfred Williams, the trusty, that three shots were fired at Hibbs, Ashbridge claims that Hibbs was shot only once and that two bullets were used on Ellis. He said that the three empty shells which the detectives found in his pocket contained the only bullets fired in the jail. The post mortem examination made yesterday by County Physician Stem bears out his contention as to the number of shots fired. Only one bullet was found and that had penetrated the jailor's heart.
"That's the truth about the shooting," declared Ashbridge. "I fired the shots- three of them in all- and the gun was given me by Thompson. My wife had nothing to do with it. Don't blame her."
Enroute back to the prison from which he had made his tragic getaway on Monday night, Ashbridge passed through the ante room where his wife was under guard. He stopped, kissed her, gently caressed her cheek, told her not to worry and passed on to the jail, from whence his next exit will be to the electric chair.
Haggard and very weak Mrs. Ashbridge was at once taken before the Prosecutor. With due regard for her condition Mrs. Ashbridge was handled very gently. At first she insisted that she had no part in getting the gun, but under skillful handling she finally broke down and confessed that she had supplied the revolver.
She stated that on Friday night she received a letter from her husband telling her that he planned to escape from the jail on Monday night and that he needed a revolver to make certain that his scheme would not fail. He requested that she procure the pistol and cartridges and personally deliver them on Saturday. being anxious to aid her husband in every way possible she readily decided to do as he requested.
Accordingly she purchased the needed articles in a Philadelphia pawnshop on Friday afternoon, paying $3.00 for the pistol and 67 cents for the cartridges. She kept them over night and on Saturday safely delivered the weapon and bullets to her husband in the bottom of a basket of fruit. At the same time Ashbridge asked her to go with him and when she agreed to share his fate he told her to meet him in Broad Street Station, Philadelphia, shortly after seven o'clock on Monday night. He further told her that he had carefully studied the situation and did not see how it was possible for his plan to miscarry. On Monday morning she sent her children to the home of Mrs. Anna Dick and later in the day sent the letter to Mrs. Dick telling of her "rash deed" and enclosing $10 for the children.
As Mrs. Ashbridge told her story she spoke in a very low tone. Most of the time her eyes were cast down and as she concluded her brief narrative she sobbed convulsively and was in a state of utter collapse. Reviving somewhat when given cold water Mrs. Ashbridge was turned over to the police and taken back to City Hall to await her hearing this morning.
The prison key stolen by Ashbridge from Hibbs' murdered body was recovered this morning by Detective Doran in the yard of Dr. Frank, 2025 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia. The recovery of the key was sue to information given by Ashbridge, after he had been locked up in jail yesterday afternoon. Ashbridge, when questioned as to the whereabouts of the key, said that Thompson had it and that he had seen him toss it over a wall of a residence near Twenty-third and Chestnut Streets on Monday night while he and his wife and Thompson were walking to Thirty-second Street.
Detective Doran and Constable Voight went to Philadelphia late yesterday afternoon and searched in vain for the key in the vicinity of Twenty-third and Chestnut Streets until darkness came on. Detective Doran renewed the search early this morning. There is a high wall fronting the yard at the home of Dr. Frank, and a search of the grounds resulted in the finding of the key, which was returned to Sheriff Haines.
Ashbridge is confined in a large cell in what is known as Section E. As cellmates he has two persons who are being held as witnesses to the crime. Sheriff Haines has assigned three constables, Gardner, Ford, and Addison. They will work on eight-hour shifts and will see that Ashbridge does not attempt any further escape or try to end his life.
Sergeant Detective Kane of the Chicago Police Department today took to Chicago Alfred Williams, who was an eyewitness to the murder of Hibbs. Williams, an Italian, served six months here on a charge of false pretence in obtaining money from a number of Italian grocers under the pretence that he represented the Roma Grocery Company. After his arrest and sentence here the police of Chicago lodged a detainer against Williams who is wanted in the West for a like crime.
The body of Jailor Hibbs will be exposed to view tonight at his home, 913 South 8th Street. Services will be conducted by Reverend Harry Bradway, pastor of Eighth Street Methodist Episcopal Church. Members of the Seventh Ward Republican Club, Mutual Aid and the Liberty Beneficial Society will attend in a body.
Tomorrow morning the body will be taken to Langhorne, where services will be held in the Friends Meeting House, after which interment will be made in the burial ground by the Schroeder-Kephart Company. Friends may call this evening to pay their respects.
Ashbridge will not be tried until December. On the day he was listed for trial of murdering Mrs. Dunbar his lawyer, Assemblyman Wolverton, was ill. In the interim the entire panel of jurors for the April term of court was discharged following a case of alleged tampering. This makes it necessary that he be held until September for trial unless the Court should otherwise decree, which is hardly likely.
Ashbridge is 22 years old and not 27, as previously stated. His real age was disclosed by the certificate of his marriage. He was 20 when he wedded two years ago,
The Howard Marshall who mailed a letter to a woman in Baltimore is not Freeholder Howard Marshall of the Eighth Ward, as was reported to the Prosecutor yesterday. Mr. Kraft's investigation disclosed that Freeholder Marshall does not know either Ashbridge or Thompson and that as a matter of fact the Marshall in question is an East Sider and to relative to the freeholder, who was naturally much upset at being mistakenly dragged into the case.
E.S. Fry, proprietor of the Keystone Hotel, Chester, where the couple were caught, told the story of the capture both to the city police and Prosecutor Kraft.
"Late on Monday night I received a call from another hotel, requesting that I take care of a man and his wife for the evening," said Mr. Fry. "I waited until a little before midnight when the couple arrived. He seemed nervous and registered in a shaky hand, and I was suspicious that there was something wrong."
"I did not pay much attention to the way he registered until the next morning when I examined the register and saw that he had neglected to register his wife. He signed 'Mr. Smythe, Washington, D.C.' I communicated my suspicions to my wife and told her to go observe the couple, too. Then I went out on the porch and picked up a morning newspaper. On the front page were the pictures of the two men who escaped."
"I instantly recognized Ashbridge, but was not just sure of my identity of the man, so I decided to get a better look at him. At the breakfast table I observed him more closely and feeling sure of my ground I called Captain Schregler, afterward securing the service of two negro policemen, whom I placed on guard outside the hotel, giving them orders not to allow the couple to leave. The officers, William Padgett and William Robinson, took their positions outside the hotel, ready for the signal to enter when I gave it."
"What's the matter," he exclaimed. "You know what's the matter," replied Mr. Fry, who brought in Captain Schregler and Detective Hunt. Schregler and Hunt instantly recognized the fugitive.
Before Ashbridge had a chance to move his arms were pinioned by his sides and Policeman Hunt had extracted the murder gun from his right hip pocket. It was fully loaded. In the same pocket were seventeen additional cartridges and in a suitcase in his room, Number 9, was a fresh box of cartridges.
"The little wife was crying bitterly," said Mr. Fry. "She leaned her head upon his shoulder and the husband tried to console her."
Captain Schregler sent a telegram to Chiefs Gravenor and Hyde with the startling news that Ashbridge had been caught.
On the way back to Camden Mrs. Ashbridge began to cry. She was sitting beside Captain Schregler, and he tried to console her. Her sobs increased, and Ashbridge called to her to "take it easy".
This seemed to quiet her a bit, and Schregler spoke to her kindly, saying that she would not be blamed very much for her part in the escape. "That's not worrying me" she answered. "I am worried about 'Wil'."
"well you women beat me" was Schregler's comment. "What did you want to help him escape for, anyhow? He had beaten you, deserted you for another woman and when she turned him down, he killed her. Yet you make up with him, leave your kids and risk everything to help him escape. Seems to me the worse men treat you women, the more you will do for them."
"Lots of truth in what you say'" remarked Mrs. Ashbridge, with a sigh.
Mr. Fry was the center of attention. Everybody seemed anxious to hear his story.
"I'm not going back until I collect that $500 either," he was heard to say. The capturer was formerly coroner of Delaware County.
Scenes of excitement were prevalent when the automobile of Chief Gravenor with Detective-chauffer David Hunt at the wheel, Captain Schregler and the prisoners in the rear and Chief Dodd, of the Pennsylvania Railroad police force in the front seat came from the Federal Street Ferry. E.S Fry, the hotel proprietor who caught the Ashbridges, was also in the car.
Ashbridge and his wife were instantly recognized. The news spread like wildfire and was passed along the route of the machine to police headquarters.
Thinking that the prisoners would be brought to the Prosecutors office, a battery of newspapermen and photographers were camped on the Court House plaza. When someone cried in bellowed tones "There they go", the scribes and photographers started in hot pursuit behind the automobile.
The officers upon reaching the City Hall had to fight their way through the dense crowd which had gathered outside Police Headquarters. Many stood tiptoed to get a good glance at the prisoners who were abashed at their predicament.
Pulling her black straw hat over her face, Mrs. Ashbridge leaned on her husband's arm. To hide his face the murderer pulled the Panama hat, which he had secured from Thompson, over his countenance.
Preliminary questioning was done by Captain A.L. James, after which the officers and prisoners were escorted upstairs to the office of Chief Gravenor.
Still clenching the stump of a cheap cigarette in the corner of his mouth, Ashbridge had a pitiful look on his face. He was much thinner than he was when he was arrested for the murder of the Dunbar girl. On his upper lip was a small mustache, which he raised during the last week.
His beautiful and baby-like eyes still retained their piercing stare. The murderer looked wild-eyed at persons in the room. He seemed to take delight in singling out persons in the room and "staring them out". None seemed courageous enough to return Ashbridge's strange stare. He looked distressed but the only betraying sign of nervousness was his incessant twitching of his fingers. Sweated on the couch in the chief's room, Ashbridge talked freely.
His wife dried away the tears as they trickled down her reddened face but after regaining her composure she seemed quite calm. She intently watched Captain Schregler and Detective Hunt as they searched through her husband's clothes.
When the trip for the Court House was being arranged the two prisoners, still handcuffed together, walked in the outer room of the chief's office. It was then that the wife broke down slightly. She choked back a sob and leaned her head on her husband's shoulder. Ashbridge did likewise and patted her on the back, at the same time, saying something in a suppressed tone of voice. The only persons in the room at the time were Assistant Chief Hyde and a Post-Telegram reporter. Neither was able to catch the words uttered. Captain Schregler, Chief Gravenor, and Detective Hunt later entered the room and the start for the Court House was made.
The crowd below which was camped about the entrance to the building awaited with patient expectancy, when the news was spread that the prisoners were leaving the building.
Camera men took their positions, ready to snap the couple, but the Ashbridges fooled them. Before the door leading to the street was opened Ashbridge drew his wife to him and with their free hands pulled their hats over their faces, thus eluding the photographers, who resorted top every means to secure a photograph.
Once inside the automobile the prisoners seemed content until the Court House was reached when another large crowd was on hand to great them. Both repeated the trick of hiding their faces.
After Ashbridge was taken to his cell his wife was ordered taken to the detention department in the City Hall. Captain Schregler and Detective Hunt half-carrying the sobbing and broken-hearted woman, who has aroused some sympathy for her courageousness in taking such a desperate chance for the man she loved, the father of her children and a cruel murderer.
"What other woman would do as much as she has for her husband," was the query advanced by one of the spectators in the Court House corridor as Mrs. Ashbridge passed through on her way to the waiting automobile.
Camden Post-Telegram * July 19, 1916
ODD REQUEST IN THOMPSON'S NOTE
is the full text of the
To whom it may concern:
Ashbridge has come to the conclusion that he don't want to stay here any longer, and as I don't care for the place myself, I have decided to go with him.
Now I understand that in leaving this place in this manner I am flirting with the undertaker, so I leave this not behind in such is the case.
In the event of my being killed, I make the following request. That my body be turned over to the University of Pennsylvania for dissecting purposes with this stipulation: That a piece of skin be removed and tanned, of a sufficient size as to cover a small copy of the New Testament, have same made up and presented to my lawyer, who will have instructions to present it to my wife, who, although a Manchu by birth and a Buddhist, yet is interested in the New Testament. Also my ring and pin shall be turned over to the same attorney to be presented to my wife.
GEORGE E. THOMPSON
Monday, July 17, 1916
Camden Post-Telegram * July 20, 1916
THOMPSON STILL AT LIBERTY
Evidently in hiding, George E. Thompson, who escaped from prison with Wilson Ashbridge on Monday night after Murdering one jailor and wounding another, is still at liberty. No trace of him has been found after he left Ashbridge and Mrs. Ashbridge at Thirty-second and Chestnut Streets, Philadelphia, on Monday night, and the police and county officials have assumed a policy of watching, waiting, in the hope that the hundreds of circulars sent to the police all over the country will be productive of the capture of the fugitive or at least some real clue as to his whereabouts.
has not eaten anything since his return to the jail. This, however, is
not regarded by the prison officials as a hunger strike. A man who had
gone through what Ashbridge experienced in the last three days is
naturally not hungry and the fact that he had not touched the food
served to him is not causing any worry. Just as soon as his nerves
settle a bit and he becomes resigned to his fate Ashbridge will likely
eat as heartily as before.
murderer is much more composed today than he was yesterday. Practically
all of yesterday he spent pacing the narrow confines of his cell in
Murderers’ Row and for the greater part of the time he was crying.
Toward evening he became less restless. A little after 9:00 o’clock he
threw himself on his bunk and was soon in a sound sleep, which lasted
until 6:00 o’clock this morning.
food handed into the double murderer through the opening in the door of
his cell has been taken out untouched, and not a mouthful of the
nourishment has been taken by the prisoner. He drank freely of water and
craves for tobacco, which thus far has been denied him. The food served
him is the same given the other prisoners. In the morning it is half a
loaf of bead and a cup of coffee. For dinner they get pea or bean soup
with bread, and for supper some sort of stew or soup with bread and
sometimes boiled potatoes with the skins on. Fish is served on Friday.
None of this has looked good to Ashbridge, who probably would not touch
a more tempting menu. At
any rate he has not asked for anything for the very simple reason that
he is not hungry.
more composed and realizing the gravity of her position, Mrs. Ashbridges
still languishes in the detention Department of Police Headquarters,
where she is under the care of the kindly matron, Mrs. Kirkpatrick.
woman frequently expresses her regret for her rashness. She confides in
Mrs. Kirkpatrick, who has given her every care.
“I don’t know why I did it,” said Mrs. Ashbridge to the matron several times.
"Oh, I wish someone had shot me, because I deserved it," she tearfully cried when the matron tried to console her. To Jailor Fred Lechleidner, who knew her when she was a little girl, Mrs. Ashbridge also expressed regret for her act.
Since her hearing yesterday the woman has talked very little of her husband. When mention is made of his name she seems indifferent, and the police suspect that her affections for her murderer-husband are cooling.
When told that Mrs. Gick had agrees to take her two children to Wildwood for a vacation, Mrs. Ashbridge smiled and clapped her hands in joy.
"Thank God for that; I know they'll be alright now" she said to the matron.
For supper last night Mrs. Ashbridge ate a chop, a large quantity of tomatoes and potatoes, a cup of tea and some sliced peaches. She said she felt much better after eating. For her breakfast she ate two slices of toast and drank a cup of coffee. Mrs. Kilpatrick said she slept soundly all thorough the night and arose about six o'clock this morning.
The circular being sent out to the police all over the country contain front and side likenesses of Thompson and read as follows:
On July 17th, 1916 at 7 o'clock p.m., George E. Thompson, alias Francis Murphy, shot and killed a jailor at Camden County Jail, Camden, New Jersey, shot and wounded another jailor, and escaped.
George E. Thompson, alias Francis Murphy, is white, 41 years of age, 5 feet 7 inches in height, weighs 175 pounds, has dark brown hair mixed with gray, very bushy, light complexion, gray eyes, smooth face, first and middle finger of his left hand are missing, wears nose glasses. He was confined in the County Jail on charges of forgery and obtaining money under false pretences. He is well-educated and represents himself as an attorney-at-law.
Bertillon measurements: 70; 70; 91-0; 19-1; 15-4; 0-2; 12-4; 24-4; First and L.M. Fing missing; 8-4; 43-8.
Five hundred dollars reward will be paid for the arrest or information leading to the arrest of this man.
The circular, which is signed by Prosecutor Kraft and Chief of Police Gravenor, discloses the fact that the first and middle fingers of the fugitives hand are missing. In the prior descriptions mention was made of but one finger gone. The fact that two of his fingers are gone should serve to make his capture all the more certain should he venture out in Public.
City and county detectives spent several hours in Philadelphia last night scouring the Tenderloin and other places where crooks are likely to gather, but no trace of the fugitive could be found.
Asked today if he would represent Ashbridge for the murder of Hibbs, Charles A. Wolverton, who is counsel for Ashbridge on the charge of shooting the Dunbar woman, said: "As an officer of the court I am subject to whatever order Judge Garrison may make. In representing Ashbridge in the former matter I am operating under an order of the Court which was made by Judge Garrison on the application of Ashbridge for counsel to represent him, as he was without means to employ counsel. For a great many years it has been the custom of the Court of this country to grant such requests and this was accordingly done when Ashbridge made application; in fact, it is a right that the accused person has under the laws of the State. Whether I will be appointed to act for him in this last case I do not know. The matter is entirely in the hands of Judge Garrison, who has the right to appoint any member of the Bar he desires."
Provisions for the temporary care of the Ashbridge babies- Marian and Thomas- was made last night. Mr. and Mrs. Gick, of 2744 Pierce Avenue, East Camden, notifying Secretary Walsh, of the S.P.C.C. that they would take the kiddies with them to Wildwood this afternoon.
Jailor Ellis is rapidly recovering at Cooper Hospital, Police Surgeon Schellenger stating today that is condition is fine.
Camden Post-Telegram * July 20, 1916
VIEW JAILOR’S REMAINS
Thousands of persons last night paid tribute to the memory of “Daddy” Isaac J. Hibbs, the jailor, who in Monday night was murdered by Wilson Ashbridge. The humble Hibbs residence at 913 South 8th Street was visited by over 5,000 people, who came from all sections to gaze on the death-stilled features of the aged jailor who sacrificed his life in the performance of his duty. Many were unable to gain entrance.
The remains reposed in a handsome black walnut casket, trimmed with solid silver cradle handles. The name plate bore the inscription:
The casket was banked in a shroud of Nature’s sweet blooming buds. The designs were from relatives and friends. Particularly beautiful were the floral pieces from the attaches of the Court House. The Seventh Ward Republican Club also contributed a design of beauty.
Services were conducted last evening by Reverend Harry Bradway, pastor of Eighth Street Methodist Church. Members of the family and close relatives attended the services.
This morning the funeral occurred, the body being taken to Langhorne PA where interment was made in the Friends burial ground, following the holding of the Quaker service. It was an auto funeral, and the arrangements were made by the Schroeder-Kephart Company.
The pallbearers were selected from fellow employees of the Court House, the Seventh Ward Republican Club and the Liberty Park Beneficial Association.
Long before seven o’clock a waiting crowd gathered about the Hibbs residence. Policemen William Crouch and Clarence Boyer were stationed outside the residence to keep the crowd in order.
A line of people formed when the doors to the Hibbs residence were opened. The procession reached over two squares in length and for over two hours the crowd wended its way into the little home and took a parting gaze upon “Daddy” Hibbs’ peaceful countenance.
There were old folks, young folks, and the little children. Even the kiddies looked saddened as they tiptoes to look at the dead jailor’s face. Older persons kindly lifted the little ones up to give them a better view. “Daddy” Hibbs was loved by everyone, especially by the children. Many tear-stained faces were seen.
The grief stricken wife, who is not seriously ill, was able to walk into the room and gaze upon the features of her beloved helpmate. A daughter, Mrs. Katie Terry, of Langhorne PA, is reported as being quite ill.
At ten o’clock it was necessary to lock the doors of the Hibbs residence, so numerous were the visitors.
In the visiting assemblage was Sheriff Haines and other well-known county and city officials. Members of the Seventh Ward Club, the Mutual Aid and the Liberty Beneficial Society attended in a body to pay their respects.
Banked on al sides of the bier were the floral designs. Among the prettiest designs was a seven-foot standing broken circle from the Seventh Ward Republican Club. Court House attaches sent a large anchor and wreath, a star and cross, a large spray of red roses, a beautiful pillow and a broken circle. The liberty Park Beneficial Association gave a large standing wreath. The wife gave a handsome pillow with the attached inscription, “My Husband”. Mr. and Mrs. F.J. Tatem sent a spray, and a like design was the offering of Raymond and Elsie Hibbs. There were many other smaller and pretty pieces from friends of the deceased,
Mr. Hibbs and his wife in March quietly celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of their marriage.
Two sons and a daughter survive beside the wife. The sons are Wesley W. and Benjamin Hibbs, and the daughter is Mrs. Katie Terry of Langhorne PA.
Frederick MD Post
January 5, 1917
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