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  The Lexington [KY] Morning Herald, 12 June 1896, p. 1 cols 5-6

Over ten years ago the community of Lexington was startled by the news that an attendant at the Eastern Kentucky Lunatic Asylum had in an inhuman manner ruthlessly and recklessly shot down one of the patients under his charge.
So quiet was the cold-blooded murder kept that the Asylum authorities sent the body of the dead lunatic to the morgue and were about to bury him and with him the evidences of a great crime, for dead men tell no tales, when by some accident, Dr. R.C. Chenault, who was then in charge of the Asylum, having since died, discovered a bullet hole just above the heart of the dead man.
This discovery led to an investigation, and it was soon learned that Arthur W. Platt, one of the attendants, while in an enraged state of mind, had shot Jesse Tyree while the latter was not only helpless by reason of the fact that he was subject to epileptic fits, but was also pleading piteously for his life. There was only one witness to the foul deed, and he was Jason Reed, who has since been discharged from the asylum as cured of his malady.
Immediately after the murder Platt made good his escape, and has never been heard of until about a month ago, when Sheriff Gross received official communication from England, published below, also a letter from Platt himself, informing him that Edward Richard Taylor had been arrested for burglary and was confined in the jail at Oxford.
Platt, alias Taylor, wrote to the effect that he was guilty of murdering Tyree on or about December 16, 1885 and was anxious to return and stand his trial. He either is confident of an acquittal, or prefers to be a prisoner in America rather than to be confined in England or even be free in a foreign land. Platt owed allegiance to the crown of England at the time of his crime, but soon after his escape took out naturalization papers at Rochester, N.Y.
There is a standing reward of $600 for the arrest and conviction of Tyree's murderer, $400 offered by the State and $200 by the asylum authorities.
A Herald reporter interviewed Dr. Silas Evans, a son-in-law of Dr. R.C. Chenault, deceased, who was also one of the assistant physicians at the time of the killing, and gathered the following facts in regard to Platt's crime and subsequent flight.

Dr. Evans' Statement
"I was sitting in Dr. Chenault's office on Sunday afternoon, when the supervisor, Samuel Richardson, reported that Jesse Tyree had died of a violent epileptic fit. Superintendent Chenault ordered him to be dressed for burial and placed in the 'dead house.'  It was always the duty of the assistant physicians or the supervisors to examine the patients after death, learn the cause of their death and report to the superintendent. As Dr. W.N. Turner, first attendant physician, was ill, this duty fell to the supervisor and he reported as stated above, namely that Tyree had died of an epileptic fit. I was very busy in the superintendent's office and did not see the patient until early next morning.
"Supervisor Richardson also reported that Arthur W. Platt and Mike McGlede had engaged in a difficulty and Platt had left. Early next morning I went to the 'dead house' and on examining the body of Tyree found a bruise on his forehead and a pistol wound just over the region of the heart, below the left nipple."
The ball had passed directly through his body and lodged under the skin of the back. On making the regular rounds on Sunday evening, Jason Reed, a patient, reported to me that Tyree had been shot, but I considered it merely the delusion of an insane person, and after repeating to the other physicians , what had been told to me, they also laughed at the idea of an attendant shooting a patient. The examination proved the truth of Reed's statements, and I immediately came down and swore out a warrant for Platt's arrest, but he had made good
his escape. The crime was committed about the 13th of December 1885, and near the end of the month a man supposed to be Platt was arrested by a man named Slusher near Pineville. I went up to identify him and found out he was not the man wanted. Prior to the commission of the murder Platt had the fullest confidence of the asylum officials, and was especially complimented for the neat way in which he kept his ward and looked after the cleanliness of the patients under his charge. He was related to Trowbridge, who was the trusted outside watchman for years and secured a position for Platt."

Platt's Game
There is no doubt that Platt's relatives have been keeping him informed of occurrences in Lexington and that he now believes that by reason of the death and absence of important witnesses his acquittal would be easily obtained. The chances are ten to one that he also committed the crime in England in order to gain recognition of the officials both there and here and be transported back at the expense of the State government. It has not yet been decided whether or not he is worth going for.
Sheriff E.T. Gross and Commonwealth's Attorney E.P. Farrell went to Frankfort yesterday and interviewed

Governor Bradley.
The next President of the United States examined the papers relative to Platt's arrest in England and said that he would take the matter under advisement and do what was proper in the premises. Doubtless the Chief Executive is worried as to whether he shall certify the record to the government officials at Washington now and ask for requisition papers on the governments of England or wait until he reaches Washington and do the whole thing all by himself.
It was rumored that the Governor was modest enough to acknowledge that he had never had a similar case presented to him before and would have to look up the law.
Today Sheriff Gross and Mr. Farrell will obtain an accurate description of Arthur W. Platt, also a photograph if possible, and gather all other data that may contribute to the identification of the former attendant. The description made of him at the time of the Coroner's inquest does not correspond with the one given of him on the English prison records as may be seen from the following Prison Record.

Great Western Railway, Special Police Department, Paddington May 14. Description of Edward Richard Taylor, at present in custody and stands committed to take his trial at the Oxfordshire Assizes upon charges of breaking into the Great Western Company's station at Hitchington and robbery:
Age about 33 or 35; height 5 feet 7 inches; hair dark brown, thin on top of head; mustache and beard brown; beard on chin of recent growth; eyes brown; eye brows slightly hang over; full pale face; said by trade to be a printer.

Coroner's Inquest
About 30 years of age; 5 feet 9 inches; weight about 165; has a dark complexion; dark gray eyes; black hair; and when last seen had black mustache and short black side whiskers. He is an Englishman and speaks with a foreign brogue.
Sheriff Taylor will go for Platt, alias Taylor, if it is satisfactorily proven that he is the man wanted and the State is willing to bear the expenses of the trip. It is the general opinion that Mr. Platt will find it quite difficult to prove his innocence should he ever be put on trial for the murder of Tyree.

Letters from England
The following are copies of the postal card from Platt signed "A.W.P.," the letter from the Oxford constable and the last letter from Platt.

The Postal Card to Sheriff of Lexington, Ky.:
Sir: Have been arrested and am in charge of Police Constable Goddard. Wish to be brought back to Kentucky to answer charge of shooting Jesse Tyree on or about December 16, 1885. I have found out that there is a reward of $400 for my arrest.   Signed A.W.P.

Letter From the Constable, Police Station, High Street, Oxford, England, May 16, 1896.
Sir: I beg to inform you that on the 30th ult. a man giving the name of Edward R. Taylor, of no settled home, was arrested for breaking into the Bilchington station of the Great Western Railway in this city and stealing a port manteau and its contents. When at this station he, I understand, wrote you a postal card, as stated in attached. He is committed for trial at the next assizes for this county and city, and as this evidence is on deposition, the judges may ask for information as to the truth of this statement, and I shall therefore be much obliged if you shall inform me as soon as possible if there is any truth or not in the matter, or anything known respecting this prisoner. I should state that the place where the robbery was committed in Oxfordshire county but the prisoner was arrested in the city of Oxford by one of my own constables. Please return enclosures. I am yours faithfully, Chas. Hear, Chief Constable.

A Letter From Platt, From No. 722, Edward R. Taylor, H.M. Prison, Oxford, June 2, 1896, to Sheriff, Lexington, Ky.:
Sir: One month ago, May 1, I gave myself up to R.C. Goddard, a constable of the Oxford city police, for shooting an inmate of the Lexington State Lunatic Asylum. I am under remand here until June 20, and if this charge against me is still in force, I should be pleased to stand trial. Kindly let me know of the State is going to prosecute.  If so can they send an officer for me by June 30.
This case has been open since December, 1885, and it is the wish of my parents, who are not aware of this charge against me, that I come home to live with them as they are getting on in years. I want this settled as soon as possible, so that I can comply with their requests. I should have stood trial at the time, but my grand parents were then in Lexington and I did not want to upset the old people. A few years ago I took out naturalization papers at Rochester, N.Y., as Ed. R. Taylor, and this accounts for transposition of name.
An answer to this will greatly oblige. Address E.R. Taylor, 722 Oxford Prison, England.

Contributed by Pam Brinegar

 

 

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