Thursday, April 4, 2019

The Murder of Louiza Catherine Fox 1869

The headstone of Louiza Catherine Fox
A reader has written to ask why I never talk about Ohio. She specifically asked about Louiza Catherine Fox who was killed in 1869 by a supposed serial killer. Yes, a supposed serial killer in 1869. And while some people have the notion that serial killers are a modern day creation, sadly such evil has been around for more years than most realize. 

In the case of Thomas Carr, his claims of killing 15 men and 2 women may have been more in his mind than real.

Thomas David Carr was born on March 6th, 1846 in the small town of Sugar Hill, West Virginia. He lived a life that got him hanged in St. Clairsville, Ohio, on March 24th, 1870. At a mere 24 years of age. 

The story goes that he was an arsonist, a thief, and a self-confessed serial killer who may or may not have murdered men and women in Virginia, West Virginia, North and South Carolina, Maryland, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Ohio. All between 1860 and 1869. That is, depending on whether you want to believe him. He was finally stopped when he was apprehended on January 22nd, 1869. 

Before he was hanged for a murder that we know for certain that he did in fact do, he confessed to murdering at least 15 men and 2 women. Some say his confessions were his was of delaying his drop from the gallows. Because of that, the legitimacy of his confessions are in question. Such skepticism is justified since his confessions didn't include specifics such as dates and times where some of his supposed murders were committed. Also, it's said that authorities at the time did their homework when investigating most of his claims and they disproved many of his statements. No differently than today where some crazy wants to take credit for things that he or she had no connection with, much of what Carr knew came out of newspapers and were easily disproved.

Carr was the fourth son in a family of five boys and three girls. His claims of being abused was an attempt to solicit sympathy from his jury. Yes, no different than what some criminals do today. But all in all, since there was no way of proving that his father, William Carr, had been an abusive parent, no one accepted his claim.

We do know that he was sent to prison for theft in 1854. He claimed that he and two other intimates murdered a woman by the name of Mary Montonie who supposedly worked at the prison. His tale is that he got away with it while his two cohorts were sentenced to death and life. Tales from inmates don't impress me. I write their claims off as lies meant to impress other inmates. 

John Wesley Hardin is the most famous example of an inmate who came up with all sorts of claims in his biography which he wrote while in prison. Most of what he wrote still to today cannot be substantiated. But believe it or not, there are people who accept his claims as truly taking place even though no evidence exists to support his claims. 

One of Carr's claims is at the age of 16, he supposedly enlisted with the 16th Ohio Infantry. According to him, he served 3 months with that unit in West Virginia before spending 3 years with the 18th Ohio Infantry. One of the more outlandish yarns he came up with was a tale about how he was saved by a special pardon handed down by President Abraham Lincoln himself. That story goes that Carr was always getting into minor scrapes in the Army to the point where he was supposedly sentenced to be shot for violating regulations such as gambling. 

I bet you didn't know the Army shot people for gambling? Well they didn't and still don't, but that didn't stop that psychopath from claiming such a thing. In fact, Carr claimed that the Army was going to shoot him and supposedly forced him to dig his own grave. Yes, and according to him, that's when President Lincoln found out about the execution, "felt sorry for the boy," and pardoned him.

Friends, there was a time in my life when I dealt with inmates. Unbelievable claims like that always gave me a chuckle. 

During Carr's confessions, he told all sorts of tales about killing all sorts of people. For example, according to him, while in the Army in Virginia's Greenleaf Mountain, he got away from his unit and shot a man who was trying to take him back to his unit. According to Carr, the man died the next day.

About that same time, he said that he was became a prisoner of war while in Columbia, South Carolina. While supposedly a prisoner of war being held by the Confederates, he and two others encountered a man by the name of Edward Berringer. Carr said that he strangled Berringer for just thinking about joining the Confederacy. This while he was supposedly a prisoner of war.

According to Carr, he was released somehow and then rejoined his unit in Mississippi. That's about the time that he supposedly shot and killed two rebel soldiers and shot a prostitute by the name of Annie Whalen.  Carr also claimed that he was one of a gang of 11 soldiers who broke into a store in Petersburg, Virginia. During that break-in, he said that he killed the store owner.

Carr also confessed to a gang-rape and killing in Raleigh, North Carolina. His story on that had to do with he and 14 other soldiers supposedly responded to an incident where a Union soldier was hanged by Confederate sympathizers in the cellar of a house of a prominent Southerner. He went on to tell how they arrived at a residence, and found only a 17-year-old girl there. According to him, they all raped and then he killed her. He said he set the house ablaze to cover up their crime. Another version of that story is that he raped her and left her for dead in an orchard. As with his other stories, this can't be substantiated. 

Some of Carr's other confessions include his stating that while on guard duty that he shot a Southerner in Raleigh who he thought was breaking into a house. Carr said that he supposedly threw a black waiter overboard while on a steamboat. And according to him, while in Baltimore, Maryland, he stabbed and disemboweled a streetcar conductor. According to Carr, he got away with the later by cutting off his mustache and getting lost in the crowd. In Newark, Ohio, Carr said that he killed a man with a bottle and joined a train load of Union soldiers to get away. 

Remember, this is the sort of stuff that comes from someone who thinks other people will believe his yarns without questioning any of it. In reality, Thomas David Carr had the same problem that John Wesley Hardin had, Carr had no witnesses of any of those killings and there were no reports of such things ever happening. Yes, especially in a time when everything was written about and reported on in journals and in newspapers.

Following his time in the Union Army, Carr worked at assorted jobs and became a petty thief. After arriving in the town of Egypt in Belmont County, Ohio, he met 13 year old Louiza Catharine Fox. They met through a their common employer, Alex Hunter. Carr worked at the coal mine which Mr. Hunter owned, and Louisa worked as a servant girl for Mrs. Hunter at the Hunter's home. According to Carr, they immediately became engaged and he had her parents' consent. In reality, that was not true.

Born on February 8th, 1855, to John and Mary Fox of Egypt, Ohio. She was still 13 years old on January 21st, 1869, when she was mercilessly killed by Thomas Carr who was 11 years older and obsessed with her. 

While some want to make this into a story of young love gone bad, Louiza Catharine Fox did not love Thomas Carr and refused to marry him. This angered Carr so much that he decided to kill her. While she was working, he went to find her. All the while with a razor that he had previously stole.

After he found her, he again asked Louiza to marry him. Again, she rejected him. The story goes that Carr got drunk and during his drinking decided to ambush and kill Louiza Catharine Fox as she was on her way to her grandparents' home. 

He told investigators that he wanted to use the razor at first and positioned himself near a large oak tree on the road out of town. Then after sitting there a while, he changed his mind and decided to shoot her. It was then that he left his position on the road, to fin a gun. Unable to find a gun, he returned to his original plan. At the large oak tree, he waited for her. 

There, Carr is said to have noticed tracks that he believed had to belong to her. He also saw smaller tracks that he believed was her little brother Willie. His being with her didn't matter to him, since he was intent on killing her. If he couldn't have her, no one would ever have her was believed to have been his motive for murder. 

It's believed that he waited until he saw Louiza with her little brother walking along the road. Carr met up with Louiza before she knew it. They immediately began to argue. Carr then told Willie to go down the road, and that they'd be along in a minute. Willie was a few yards ahead of them heading down a hill when Carr decided to kill his sister. As Carr and Louiza reached a ravine, talking the whole while, he grabbed her by the arm and began forcing her towards the ravine.

Now Willie heard his sister screaming as Carr kept asking Louiza if she was ready to die. The 13 year old girl begged for her life, but that didn't stop Carr. Carr pulled the razor and instantly slashed the right side of her neck. He cut her across the jugular vein 10 inches long and 2 inches deep. 

Willie saw what happened and ran home to tell his father of what took place. In the meanwhile, Carr hid out knowing full well that he was now a hunted man. Around dawn on the next day, Carr came out of hiding. And soon enough, he was found and the call went out, "Murder! Murder! Murder!" 

In June 1869, Carr was found guilty of murdering Louiza Catharine Fox. He was sentenced to hang. His lawyer lodged an appeal, but it failed. Young Willie was allowed to testify as to what he witnessed with his own eyes. 

On the day of his execution, once on the gallows, Carr was asked if he had any final words. With that he began praying out loud, he sang a couple of hymns, and then made a long speech about how tough his life was. No, he did not take responsibility for his heinous act. Instead he blamed whiskey and guns and Louiza Catharine Fox for rejecting him.

After finishing, the trap door opened and he dropped. As God would have it, Carr's neck wasn't immediately broken. Instead, he slowly strangled and jerked and kicked and gurgled in pain before finally dying. 

A doctor pronounced him dead and he was finally cut down. He was buried in the pauper's graveyard in St. Clairsville. He was legally hanged within six months of murdering Louiza Catherine Fox in 1869. His hanging was the first legal execution carried out in that county. 

Today, a plaque marks were young Louiza Catherine Fox's body was found on the night of January 21st, 1869. It's said that the murder of the young girl hit the small farming village of Egypt, Ohio, pretty hard. Such a crime was unheard of at the time. Such things took place in big cities like New York, certainly not a small town like Egypt, Ohio. 

Tom Correa

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