New York

Attempted rape leads to murder (1902)

September 18, 1902
New York City, New York 
Anna Pulitzer is drugged, stabbed, and thrown into a canal

Pulitzer had been arrested on several occasions for solicitation of prostitution. She met with William Hooper Young who brought her to his room. He did not have the money to pay her for her services; instead he gave her a beer spiked with chloral hydrate, a colorless sedative referred to as “knock out drops.”

After Pulitzer passed out, Young believed she had been killed by an overdose of the drug as she appeared to not be breathing. He stabbed her abdomen and fractured her skull, both injuries possibly occurring after death. The stab wounds were from an attempt to dismember Pulitzer’s body but the knife was too dull and Young didn’t have the stomach to continue the process.

Young stuffed Pulitzer’s body into a trunk, tied a weight around her nude body, and threw her into a canal near Jersey City, NJ. It was discovered September 19 and police knew immediate,y the killer was not local; the low tide in the area reached only 6 inches deep which was far too little to submerge or hide a body. After dumping Pulitzer’s body, Young filled the bloody trunk with any evidence of the murder, including the knife used to stab Pulitzer, bloodied clothing belonging to both Young and Pulitzer, and Pulitzer’s false teeth. Young has the trunk shipped to a non-existent address in Chicago (which seems to be a rather common way to get rid of evidence), dressed himself as a tramp, and fled the city.

Pulitzer’s husband reported her missing and detectives quickly learned where she was last seen. Upon investigating Young’s room police found a note containing Bible verses and the phrase “blood atonement“, evidence of a murder, and empty beer bottles with chloral hydrate crystals. Police were able to track down the trunk’s shipment and apprehend Young in Connecticut. He was tried, pleaded guilty to second degree murder, sentenced to hard labor for the duration of his natural life, paroled in 1924, and seemingly disappeared.

At the time of the murder, Young (the grandson of Brigham Young) was serving as a missionary in New York, despite being anti-Mormon. The murder fueled the anti-Mormon sentiment in the area, regardless of the Church of Latter-day Saints being officially cleared of having any involvement in the murder.

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