April 4, 1895
Auburn, New York
William Lake is executed for murdering a woman who did not return his affections
Lake (26) was described in the Buffalo Evening News as “the perfect picture of sullen despair,” spending his time talking to no one but himself. He found himself obsessed with a servant named Emma Hunt (18) who worked on the same farm that employed Lake as a farm hand, though she “gave him little to no encouragement” to believe she was interested in return.
On October 18, 1894, Lake invited Hunt to a play. Hunt declined the invitation prompting Lake to go “off on one of his sullen fits.” The farm owner, Joseph van Camp, left the farm for less than an hour to visit his sister only to return to find the crumpled body of Hunt in a corner.
The Buffalo Evening News painted a grim picture of the scene:
“Miss Lake’s (sic) body was in one corner of the room hacked and gashed in a most terrible manner. There was blood all over the room and there was every evidence of a terrible conflict. The body’s position showed the horror of the murder. The girl’s arms were outstretched in mute agony. Her head had been pounded in with a hammer which lay beside her and her throat had been cut from ear to ear. There were great gashes over her body all telling if the fiendishness of the murderer who had killed her in that Little farm house far from help. Beside her was the bloody razor with which the killing had been done.” Other newspapers reported Hunt’s body had been mutilated with cuts deep enough to nearly disembowel her.
Because Lake was nowhere to be found and van Camp had previously witnessed Lake’s obsession with Hunt, suspicion fell on Lake immediately. He was apprehended, convicted, and made no pleas for leniency, stating he wished to die. The wish was granted and Lake died in the electric chair.
Clipping: Buffalo Evening News (Buffalo, NY) Apr 4 1895