October 6, 1922
Woodstock, New Brunswick, Canada
Benny Swim is hanged, twice, for the murder of the only woman he ever loved and her husband
Swim had been involved in a romantic affair with his first cousin Olive. They had even lived together for nearly a year and a half as de facto husband and wife. When she married a soldier at the age of 17, Swim felt betrayed and confused. He took a gun to the newlyweds’ home and shot Mr. Harvey Trenholm in the face which brought Mrs. Olive Swim Trenholm to see what the disturbance was. Swim tore Olive’s dress, placed the gun between her breasts, and fired. The shot failed to kill her and as she retreated Swim shot her again, killing her this time. He later said “It’s awful what a woman can bring a man to do.”
Devastated, Swim turned the gun on himself and fired a shot into his head. The bullet failed to penetrate his brain as it lodged itself in his skull. Wrapping a bandage around his head, he sought help from a nearby farm. The sheriff followed the trail of blood Swim’s head wound left and arrested the murderer.
After a failed attempt for an insanity plea, Swim was found guilty and sentenced to hang. Already proving himself hard to kill once, he survived his first hanging due to a particularly inept hangman. His drop knocked him unconscious but his neck had not been snapped, and the executioner had him cut down prematurely and moved back to his cell. It was discovered he still had a pulse, regained breathing, and began coughing. Hushed words were exchanged after the botched execution, and Swim was placed in another noose to be hanged again. This time his neck was badly broken but he was left hanging for 20 minutes to ensure death had occurred. He never regained consciousness after the first hanging.