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


Chapter 10 - Eyewitnesses

            Besides the victim, Benjamin Yost, according to the prosecuting attorneys, there was just one other eyewitness to the crime. James Kerrigan, the prosecutor’s witness, identified Yost’s partner, Barney McCarron as being across the street from Yost, when Boyle and McGeehan fired the fateful shots. Barney McCarron took the stand and testified at the murder trials. He testified that on the early morning hours of July 6th, 1875, near the end of the patrol within the borough of Tamaqua, Yost and McCarron stopped for lunch at Yost’s residence. After completing lunch, both officers left the residence and continued extinguishing the gas lamps throughout the borough, as was the accustomed tasking. Walking north on Lehigh Street towards Broad Street, Yost procured a small ladder to ascend the light pole on the Northwest corner of the intersection.

McCarron stated that he had turned right onto Broad Street. When the shots rang out, McCarron saw two men, “one large and the other, not so large” run westward toward the cemetery. McCarron fired two shots toward the two fleeing men, without results. Returning fire from the direction of the two men missed their target. Mrs. Henrietta Yost ran to help her husband back to their residence, while McCarron testified that he ran to Dr. Edwin S. Solliday’s residence at 134 West Broad Street to get medical attention for Officer Yost.

The defense attorneys maintain that there was an additional eyewitness to the murder of Officer Yost. Defense Attorney, Mr. John Ryon, Esq., had stated that the defense would prove that James Kerrigan shot Yost. The defense attempted to keep that promise by calling James Duffy as a witness. James Duffy stated that as he walking north on Lehigh Street, he saw McCarron and Yost come out of the gate of Yost’s yard. Duffy then stated that he was immediately behind McCarron and Yost, and walked after them as the two men proceeded northbound toward the railroad. He states that James Kerrigan was present. Kerrigan had turned to the northeast corner of Lebo’s house and stood on that corner. Thereinafter, Duffy turned to the left, and walked west on Broad Street toward Odd Fellows Cemetery. Officer Yost crossed the street and started to put out the light. Duffy testified that McCarron was standing in the middle of the road and that Yost was shot immediately after he saw all this (West, page 30).

To stiffen any attempt for witnesses for the defense, James Duffy, approximately 52 years of age, was arrested for perjury and sentenced to three years in prison. He was not the last to be charged by the prosecution for giving testimony on behalf of the defense. This does not negate the testimony given by Duffy. If both Kerrigan and Duffy traveled westward toward the cemetery, this may account for McCarron seeing two individuals fleeing the scene of the murder.

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