Paternal Brutality: A Son Beaten To Death By His Father 1873


A case of almost unprecedented atrocity came to the notice of the Ninth Precinct police this morning at ten o'clock, in which a German named Peter Fox has been arrested upon suspicion of having killed his boy, John Fox, aged 13 years, by beating him in a cruel and inhuman manner. The facts of the case are as follows:

This morning Officer Sweeney, of the Ninth Precinct, was on duty in Hopkins street, when some people called his attention to the fact that a boy named John Fox had died last night at nine o'clock under very suspicious circumstances. Upon inquiry it was ascertained by the officer that Fox, who has apartments in tenement house No. 52 Hopkins street, has been in the habit of beating and ill-treating his boy. Mr. Bluitzman, another German, who lives in the adjoining apartments to Mr. Fox, told Officer Sweeney that on Tuesday night last and after he had gone to bed, he was awakened by hearing a noise in Fox's apartments. He heard Fox tell his son to go and get some beer. The boy refused to go unless the father gave him some money. According to Bluitzman's statement the father swore in German at his son, and shortly after Bluitzman heard the son cry, this was followed by the sound of blows as though Fox was beating his son with a stick. This noise became so loud that it awakened Mr. Bluitzman's wife and she said to her husband, "For God's sake go in to Fox with a stick and prevent him from beating that poor boy." Bluitzman refused to interfere in the matter. In about ten minutes the beating ceased and to the Bluitzmans it seemed as though Fox was throwing his son from one side of the room to the other.

The poor child's cries were terrible to hear. He said, "Don't kill me father. You'll murder me!" and used just such expressions as these while the noise above referred to lasted. In about half an hour all was still with the exception of the groans of the boy. Added to all this evidence is the fact that the boy has never been seen out of the house since the day on the night of which he is supposed to have received this beating.

Upon ascertaining these facts the officer entered the house and asked if they had anybody dead there. Mrs. Fox replied that her son was dead. What did he die of? inquired the policeman. "Oh," said Mrs. Fox in her broken English, "he fell out of the window yesterday, and he died from the injuries he received." "I want to see the body," said the officer.

"What right have you to see my boy?" demanded Mr. Fox.

Sweeney quietly replied in a practical manner. He locked the door, put the key in his pocket, and then went through the apartments. In a hall bedroom he found the body of the boy. It presented A FEARFUL SPECTACLE.

The body was covered over with bruises, while the back and shoulders were one livid mass of flesh. The skin was actually peeled off, and altogether it was a sight that the most hardened could not look upon without a shudder.

Fox was arrested by Detective Leavy, and he has employed as his Counsel, Mr. John M. Shorter, a young lawyer of tried ability. He, Fox, refused to say anything to the Eagle reporter about the case. He is a medium sized man, very shabbily dressed, and of a rather idiotic appearance.

It should be said that when the officer arrested him he said that he had never beaten his son, but that the latter had fallen out of a sleigh a week ago, and died from the injuries thus incurred. It will be seen that his own story and his wife's differ materially in accounting for the boy's death.

Coronor Whitehill will hold an inquest.

Website: The History
Article Name: Paternal Brutality: A Son Beaten To Death By His Father 1873
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


The Brooklyn Eagle February 8, 1873
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