Executions · Kentucky · Newspaper clippings

Man executed for beating/robbing man praying at wife’s grave

June 13, 1930
Eddyville, Kentucky
Ballard Ratcliffe is executed for the robbery and murder of a man praying at his wife’s grave

Ratcliffe attacked William Muse (64) on Sunday, May 18, 1928, hitting the older man from behind with a hammer as the victim was bent in prayer at his wife’s grave. Ratcliffe stole $1,020 — roughly $15,000 in 2018 — from Muse then fled the scene. (There was no mention as to why Muse was carrying such a large sum of cash.) Muse died of his injuries on either May 23 (as his gravestone states) or May 29 (as reported by The Los Angeles Times on May 30, 1928).

Shortly before his execution, Ratcliffe told newspaper interviewers, “I am condemned to die. It does not matter whether I am guilty or innocent. I am no better than a lot of other innocent men condemned to die.” When they asked if he was proclaiming his innocence, he replied, “Write something that will be a lesson to others.” Ratcliffe required three shocks from the electric chair before he was pronounced dead.

Clipping: The Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, OH) May 21, 1928

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