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


Chapter 15 - The Weapon

            When James Kerrigan was arrested in the Odd Fellows Cemetery, located in the West end of the borough of Tamaqua, a hidden cache of weapons were confiscated. Among the pistols found, a Smith & Wesson .32 caliber pistol was found to be the murder weapon of both mine boss, John Jones and Officer Benjamin Franklin Yost. The revolver was a single action, Smith & Wesson model 1 ½, that chambered .32 rimfire cartridges within a five shot cylinder. The Model 1 ½ had three issues, with the first two having a “tip-up” barrel, with the release catch located in front of the trigger. The second issue can be identified by its fluted barrel and the round shape of the butt grip. The murder weapon was blued steel and having a 3 ½ inch barrel.


            According to statements made by Fannie Kerrigan and her sister, Mary Ann Higgins, James Kerrigan had obtained the pistol, from a man named Charles Mulhearn and that, Mulhearn would swear that he had sold it to James Kerrigan many months before. Kerrigan’s wife also said, she would ascertain a few cartridges belonging to the revolver from James Kerrigan’s drawer, since she was positive that they would correspond with the one found in Yost’s body (Broehl, page 277-278). The gun was one supposed, at some previous time, to have been given to a man named E. B. Whitenight for repair. Whitenight indeed testified that he had repaired one which he thought resembled that shown in court (Bimba, page 97). In the present day, the pistol is in the possession of the District Attorney George Ringgold Kaercher’s descendants and currently on loan for display to the Schuylkill County Historical Society.