Who killed Police Officer Benjamin Franklin Yost? A Mollie Maguire Story


Chapter 16 - Height of the Murderer(s)

            In James Kerrigan’s initial confession to Daniel Schepp, he had stated that he was not present at the shooting of Officer Yost, but had learned of the events from the accused murderers, Hugh McGeehan and James Boyle, personally. He also stated that James Boyle is “a man not much taller than I am.”  Later, during the trial against the defendants, the prosecution witnesses had testified that before Officer Yost expired, he had stated that the men that shot him were described as one being larger than the other. Yost’s partner, Officer Barney McCarron had testified to seeing two men shoot Yost, one being larger than the other one, then running away toward the Odd Fellows Cemetery.

            However, the defense witness, James Duffy swore under oath, that he had seen James Kerrigan at the crime scene, heard the shooting, wherein, both he and Kerrigan ran westward toward the cemetery. James Kerrigan’s official height, according to the U.S. Army records, is recorded at 4 foot, 11 inches. James Duffy’s official height, according to the U.S. Army records, is recorded at 5 foot, 7 inches.

            What was the height of the accused, McGeehan and Boyle? In Pottsville, the undertaker, Herman Raudenbush Kline owned Kline’s Funeral Parlor on Market Street. Kline was given permission from the Schuylkill County Sheriff, John Frank Werner, to measure all of the prisoners for their coffins.

                                                    Sheriff John Frank Werner

Prior to the executions, Kline had displayed the coffins in the window of his showroom. Each coffin had a little sign with the recipient’s name and measurements: Hugh McGeehan, 6’0”; Thomas Duffy, 5’6”; James Carroll, 5’10”; Thomas Munley, 5’8”; James Roarity, 5’10”; and James Boyle, 6’0”. The coffins, according to a large poster which hung above the windows, were donated to the families of the condemned men, “through the generosity of Herman Raudenbush Kline, prop.” Except for its public relations value, Mr. Kline’s benevolence was wasted; the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided sturdier, if less ornate, coffins built of rough pine (Lewis, page 288). Interesting, that the two accused murderers of Officer Yost were both 6 foot even.

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