California · Crime Scene Photography

Vintage crime scene: elderly victim shot during robbery

July 23, 1932
Los Angeles, California
A bystander is killed during a robbery

The victim was William J. Kirkpatrick (76), who happened to look through the shop windows as Dallas Egan and his accomplices were busy holding up the jewelry store. Kirkpatrick, a tourist from Michigan, was looking at the clocks the store sold and comparing their time to that on his watch.

Egan shouted at Kirkpatrick to come behind the counter, but the older man was deaf and did not hear the command. Egan shot him through the glass and he and his gang fled the store into their getaway car with $5000 (approximately $93,000 in 2018) in jewels. The store owner followed them for 5 blocks before they escaped.

After he was apprehended, Egan offered an excuse of “I gave the man full warning,” and blamed his 9 years in Folsom prison, including a long period in solitary, for becoming “embittered against society.” During trial, he demanded the death penalty, rejecting any possibility of an insanity defense. His judge was strongly against the death penalty, though he granted this request for Egan, as well as the request to be hanged in San Quintin rather than Folsom. Even the governor of California, James Rolph, took an interest in the case and attempted to hold a clemency hearing, though Egan thanked him and declined stating “I’m a criminal at heart and I want to be hanged.” He also noted that should his attorney try to appeal on his behalf, he should be “fined $1.98 and court costs for having a heart too big for his Irish soul.”

On Egan’s last night, he requested whiskey which Governor Rolph approved. Egan was to be given “all the whiskey he can safely stand under,” and Governor Rolph requested the prison to “take care of him” and say goodbye to Egan for him. Egan was given 8 ounces of Kentucky bourbon as requested.

On the morning of October 20, 1933, Egan sipped whiskey, smoked a cigar “tilted at a ridiculous angle” according to one witness, and danced an Irish jig as he entered the death chamber between 2 guards. He ascended the 13 steps to the noose happily and alone, offering no last statement before he dropped to his death.

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