A mere forty days after being released as “completely rehabilitated”, Jesse Pomeroy took advantage of circumstances and murdered Katie Curran, temporarily fulfilling the blood lust which had built up while incarcerated. Finally able to release his urges upon a helpless victim, Jesse reached another plateau in his serial killer development. Now that he had achieved the ultimate in experience, the taking of another human life, he would not be satisfied with anything less.
As if he was operating in a protected bubble of anonymity, Jesse tried to lure young victims with his tried and true promises of candy, money, the circus — whatever he could think of. Fortunately, most of the children had been warned and refused his offers. Using a new ruse, only two weeks after slaughtering Katie Curran, Jesse asked 5-year-old Harry Field if he knew where a certain street was located and if he would like five cents to take him there. The child walked with Jesse to the location and once there, asked for his nickel. Jesse threatened him and began to seek a deserted area to complete his plan. As he was dragging his victim along, Jesse ran into another teenager who knew what Jesse was up to. The youth began a loud verbal altercation with Jesse, during which Harry wrenched himself away from Jesse’s grasp and ran home.
The time lapse between fantasy and action was shortening. Jesse’s urges were building to a fever pitch, blinding him to the danger he was placing himself in. His presence was known in the area. Parents were starting to learn of the predator in their midst and were becoming more vigilant in their supervision. Sadly, for one child, there would be no knowledge to enable the parents to protect their baby.
In the month of April, the Millen family moved to the area. It was their lack of knowledge of the neighbourhood that enabled tragedy to alter their lives forever.
On April 22, 1874, 4-year-old Horace Millen was to become Jesse Pomeroy’s next and mercifully, last victim.
Horace had a sweet tooth, so he was on his way to the store to get some cake when he met up with Jesse. Asked where he was headed, Jesse said he was going there too. Once at the bakery, Horace bought a small cake and shared it with Jesse.
His new friend asked Horace if he’d like to go to the waterfront. Pleased that an older boy was keen to spend time with him, he happily agreed.
Jesse had decided to kill Horace the minute he saw him. He encountered several witnesses on his way to his ultimate enjoyment, but it did not deter Jesse in the slightest. In fact, he was anxious that no one interfere this time; he was not to be thwarted a second time.
The two continued to the marshes near Dorchester Bay, Jesse settling on Savin Hill Beach as the locale for his next little foray into the darkness of his mind.
Alone and far away from witnesses, Jesse pounced upon the little boy. He failed to kill Horace with the first swipe of his blade and a life-and-death struggle ensued. The pathologist stated that the little child had fought fiercely for his life, defensive wounds up and down his arms and all over his hands. The tiny mits were clenched so tightly that the coroner would later have trouble uncurling them. The deep gouges his feet had left in the marsh sand indicated Horace did not die immediately, that he had tried to stave off the attack, and that he had died an extremely painful death. Jesse was livid when Horace fought back and proceeded to stab the smaller boy again and again. The lust was all that possessed Jesse Pomeroy. Horace’s mutilated body had sustained over 18 wounds to the body alone. Indeed, the coroner counted over thirty stab wounds all over Horace. The two deep lacerations on the throat were cited as the cause of death, but the genitals had been severely mutilated as Jesse once more sought to castrate his victim. There was a lethal post-mortem stab to the right eye, disfigurement of the face, and stab wounds over the entire body, with particular attention to the victim’s genitals.
The estimate is that Horace Millen lost his life around 1:00 p.m. His body was discovered at approximately 4:00 p.m. His father went to the police station to report his boy missing at 5:30 p.m. Neither the police nor his father knew that his body had already been transported to the coroner for autopsy and for evidence. The medical examiner made his observations and conclusions in front of the coroner’s jury: Horace Millen had died as the result of an attack by a madman. It was after 9:00 p.m. when the South Boston station sent an officer to the home of Horace Millen to deliver the news.
Based on the evidence the body revealed with respect to the type of wounds inflicted, the case was a copy of Jesse’s earlier attacks. He was, however, thought by many to still be in reform school. When the truth was revealed, he was quickly picked up and brought in for questioning. Jesse Pomeroy, however, was a truth psychopath and never worried for a minute that there was any chance of him being held accountable for his actions. Smirking, he told them that they could not prove him anything. The captain forced Jesse to go view the body in the funeral home, at which point Jesse confessed, only asking that they not tell his mother.
After Jesse was arrested for the first-degree murder of Horace H. Millen and held for trial, Ruth and Charles were, eventually, forced to close down the store and remain in their home. Their co-tenant in the building then took over the old Pomeroy store space to expand his business. Then his workmen made a terrible discovery. Roughly a month after finding the body of Horace Millen, the remains of Katie Curran were discovered. Again, Jesse was unfazed with this turn of events. Claiming he had no knowledge regarding the body of Katie or how it came to be in the cellar, the police pointed out that there were really three suspects for Katie: his mother, his brother, and Jesse himself. Realizing that his actions could land his mother and brother in the dock with him, he confessed to the murder of Katie. He explained how he had savaged her corpse which was rather evident as her genital area was torn to pieces. Jesse was very calm and unmoved when recounting the story of how he had murdered these two children in an effort to gain sexual gratification. It was revolting for the men of law enforcement to deal with him. Try as they may, his behaviour defied all explanations.
The papers of the day pointed out Jesse’s “evil looks” as being evidence for the evil inside his soul. Jesse had lost sight in his eye either from the brain fever he had suffered as an infant, or, as his mother stated, an adverse reaction to the smallpox vaccine he received. The eye was white and malevolent in appearance, having an unnerving affect on those who saw it. He had a harelip and a cleft palate. These features supposedly combined to explain why Jesse did the things he did. The prevailing theory of the time was driven by Cesare Lombroso who coined the phrase “stigmata of degeneration” and it was his theory, based on Darwin’s atavistic characteristics which appear in living organisms, that criminal behaviour should be expected from individuals who look a particular way and have certain degenerate features, like, say, a harelip, a large head, a cleft palate, and an evil white eye?
Well, it should come as no surprise to anyone that Ruth Pomeroy refused to believe Jesse was guilty, despite the fact that the police had, in the case of Horace Millen, several reliable eye witnesses, blood from Jesse’s knife, the fact that the knife was the type of weapon which made the wounds on the body, mud peculiar to the area found on Jesse’s boots and knife, scratch marks from Horace on Jesse’s face, and more importantly, his boots were the only ones (given a wear defect on one boot) that could have made the impressions at the crime scene. This last piece was very important as the police had made a plaster cast of the impressions to back their case up.
Defense attorneys for Jesse had him examined by the alienists of the day. Alienists are what we call psychiatrists and psychologists today. The field of examining the human mind was still in its infancy but Jesse Pomeroy was made for analysis. Jesse was examined by no fewer than three specialists (two for the defense and one for the prosecution). The lawyers knew that Jesse was guilty and their only hope was to spare him from the ultimate punishment for the charge of first-degree murder: death by hanging.
Initially, Jesse was only too pleased to talk about his crimes and his feelings. This scenario is every psychopath’s dream. They have important people interested in them. It is only as it should be, as far as the psychopath is concerned. They are special people and are only worthy of being interacted with by other special and important people. Harold Schechter’s work on his book on Pomeroy, Fiend, states that Jesse confessed readily to the murders, giving gruesome details and answering questions on the reasons behind his actions. He claimed he had pain in his head and that it was a signal to him to torture these victims. He said that the pain brought on a feeling that he had to attack these children and that he was helpless before this inner direction; thus, he “couldn’t help it,” and he had to commit these atrocities. It is fascinating to see that even with this early example of a psychopath, the wheedling confession still includes an attempt by the predator to extricate himself from any responsibility and to negate the efforts of society to hold him accountable for his actions. It’s not my fault, I couldn’t help it, my mind told me to do it and I couldn’t fight it. You get the picture.
The alienist who spent the longest time with Jesse came away very disturbed by what he discovered. Jesse had no feelings of remorse for his victims; none whatsoever. Furthermore, he knew the difference between right and wrong. Finally, he stated that Jesse would always be a threat to society and he would have to be incarcerated forever to protect others from his actions.
Now, with a report like this, what do you think his ultimate decision was of Jesse’s sanity? Just like today’s so-called experts, the doctor concluded that Jesse Pomeroy was insane.
The report was for the defense team, so perhaps the result should not be too surprising. However, based on what the legal system states, if an individual knows the difference between right and wrong, then that person is not insane.
Not that Jesse was concerned. After divulging his inner thoughts and confessing to intimate details about the two murders, Jesse received a note from his mother telling him not to confess. He promptly recanted everything and denied everything he ever said. He felt, ‘so what?’ if they convicted him; he figured he would get out when he was eighteen and then join the navy. Really. He really believed this. His legal team was working to save him from swinging at the end of the rope, but Jesse felt they could do no more to him than send him to reform school until he was 18. This type of magical thinking is also typical psychopathic behaviour. One need look no further than the case of Ted Bundy and how he had ruined his chances to live his life out to old age in a Florida prison by deciding that he alone could win the case and prove his innocence. Ted also shared Jesse’s inner self-belief that if he denied his guilt that he could somehow WILL it into reality, despite the eye witnesses, despite the forensics, despite the plethora of evidence (i.e., past crimes indicating patterns). So Ted took the reigns of his legal future into his own hands and fumbled. He was fried in 1989.
Back to the psychopath that is Jesse Pomeroy. He was unconcerned and even bored during the trial. No one missed his attitude.
As the alienists were placed on the stand, the case was made for Jesse to be declared insane. The prosecutor, however, forced the experts to admit that Jesse had no intellectual impairments, that he knew right from wrong, that he did not suffer from delusions. The testimony was that he was morally insane by virtue of being a moral defective, a moral degenerate, a …. well, you get the gist of the idea: Jesse Pomeroy was morally bankrupt.
But then so are all psychopaths. They know the rules of society; they just choose not to abide by them. Rules are made for other less important people, not them. For the psychopath, whatever they want, they take. Whatever they want to do, they do. Whatever they want to say, they say. There is no confusion in this regard. The only confusion the psychopath ever experiences is when society holds them accountable for their actions — that’s confusing as the rules aren’t supposed to apply to them.
Jesse was matched in his stubborn assertion that he was innocent by his mother. She claimed that the grieving family, the Millens and the Currans, had made her boy the scapegoat, her Jesse, and railroaded him into court. This nauseating type of behaviour is, of course, also prevalent in today’s world. Again, Ted Bundy’s mother is a classic example of the modern-day Ruth Ann Pomeroy. Until the night of his execution, she claimed he was innocent. And then Ted called his mother one last time and told her the truth. Wherever she is, whatever she is now doing, Eleanor Louise Cowell Bundy must live with the knowledge that her boy slaughtered dozens of bright, young women in a foul, disgusting manner, and any word, thought or deed she pursued in an attempt to protect and to shield Ted from the ultimate debt he was charged with owing, any bit of negativity is hers to own with all her heart and soul.
Ruth Pomeroy put pen to paper in later years to describe to a friend how her little Jesse had confessed originally only to spare his family. What he was sparing them from is a puzzle, for if she and Charles were innocent of any wrong-doing, then she should not have had anything to worry about, nor should Jesse. But then logic and facts were not a strong suit for Ruth. She had to know Jesse was responsible for the crimes. The problem is that Ruth felt it was Jesse’s right to do whatever he wanted to, and if that meant torturing and killing others, well, then, that was fine by her. If the alienists had had a chance to chat with Ruth, then I’m sure that this would have been her ultimate reasoning. To my mind, Ruth Ann Pomeroy has the blood of Katie and Horace on her soul as she was the reason that Jesse was released early and she worked to keep his presence a secret from wider knowledge within the community.
It was the contention of the defense lawyers that the statue regarding insanity should be put on trial, not Jesse Pomeroy.
Quite the trick if they could pull it off.
Written by Avianlvr