July 7, 1826
Jereboam Beauchamp is executed for murdering a man who denied the parentage of his illegitimate child
In 1821, Beauchamp had become smitten with a woman named Anna Cooke who 16 years his senior. At the age of 18, Beauchamp made his intentions known that he wished to marry Cooke. She agreed, but only if he would kill her former lover, Kentucky legislator Solomon Sharp. Cooke claimed Sharp had sired an illegitimate child, who was stillborn, and that Sharp refused to accept the parentage. Beauchamp agreed to her condition.
On November 7, 1825, Beauchamp carried out his plan. Wearing a handkerchief as a mask, Beauchamp knocked on Sharp’s door around 2 a.m. When Sharp asked his visitor’s identity, Beauchamp claimed he was “Covington,” and Sharp opened the door. Beauchamp entered the home, grabbed Sharp by the wrist, brought him into the light, and revealed his face. Sharp exclaimed “Great God it is him” and fell to his knees. Beauchamp then grabbed him by the throat, said “die you villain,” and stabbed him in the heart with a dagger. He fled the scene and returned to the house where he had been renting a room. Beauchamp feigned surprise the next morning when he was informed of the murder. He returned to his home and was arrested under suspicion of the murder.
Beauchamp pleaded not guilty at trial. Despite little evidence against him, he was convicted and sentenced to hang. However, while awaiting his execution, he wrote a lengthy confession to the murder.
Anna was allowed to stay with Beauchamp in his cell until his execution. The two attempted a double suicide by poisoning on July 5, 1826, but were unsuccessful. Guards put the couple on a suicide watch and threatened to separate them. On the day of Beauchamp’s execution, Anna asked their guards for privacy as she dressed. With the guard gone, she produced a knife she had smuggled into the cell. The Beauchamps stabbed themselves, though they were discovered by guards before they bled to death. Anna was take to be treated for her wounds, and eventually Beauchamp was allowed to see her. He stayed by her side until he could no longer feel her pulse, then was taken directly to the gallows to be hanged before he could bleed to death.