September 14, 1894
Lehi Junction, Utah
Wife-murderer Enoch Davis is executed by firing squad
Davis was executed to the June 5, 1892 murder of his wife after allegedly discovering her “in the act of criminal intimacy” with a man named Dr. Butler and, in anger, grabbed his revolver to shoot the doctor but missed and killed his wife by accident. However, evidence did not support his claim as Mrs. Davis had been shot twice in the skull instead of the single shot Mr. Davis mentioned, and Dr. Butler had been in Salt Lake City the night of the shooting.
A newspaper account of Davis’ last day, written by The Salt Lake Herald, held Davis in low regard, headlining the article with “Died As He Lived. Enoch Davis, the Murderer, Meets Death Like a Wretch. Shocking Conduct of the Condemned Man Just Before the Execution. With Curses on His Lips. All Effort to Make Him Act Decently Were Without Avail.” The article also mentions Davis’ Last Words could not be printed in the newspaper as they were so vulgar and obscene they could not be published.
The morning of his execution, according to an article in The Salt Lake Tribune published January 28, 1996, Enoch had asked if there were any “prostitutes available,” a request which was denied. He had also asked not to die hungry and when he was offered food he quipped “No hot coffee? Then give me hot whiskey. I like that better anyway.”
Shortly before the execution was carried out, he asked to speak to his sons and brother, which was permitted. After this private meeting, a reporter from The Herald asked if Davis could speak slowly and clearly, and the paper would deliver his last wishes to the readers. Davis replied (censored in the same manner the original newspaper censored the reply) “All you sons of b—–s can go to h–ll.” The newspaper added “The subsequent dialogue was of such a disconnected character that reproduction is impossible. First, because it was too filthy; second, the same. And so on ad infinitum.”
On the way to his death, Davis kicked and whined, refusing to sit still until those overseeing the execution were forced to strap Davis down. Once strapped and a piece of paper with a black mark pinned to his chest by a doctor to help the sharpshooters’ aim, Davis protested the way in which the execution was carried out, with the firing squad under a tent (as pictured). Davis requested his executions emerge from the tent, wanting to see the faces of the men who were to kill him, stating “he didn’t want to die “like an Indian.”
According to The Herald, 5 of the 6 guns were loaded with powder and ball while the 6th contained a blank cartridge, as is common with firing squad executions. The intent behind this tradition is so none of the shooters is aware if they fired a fatal shot and will in theory have a clean conscience about the execution if they otherwise would not. Four of the five shots struck the paper pinned to Davis’ chest while the fifth entered his breast slightly to the right of the target. He died almost instantly.
Article: The Salt Lake Herald, published September 15, 1894