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
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."
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
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
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
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.
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
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
A Letter From Platt, From No. 722, Edward R. Taylor,
H.M. Prison, Oxford, June 2, 1896, to Sheriff,
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