Executions · Illinois · Newspaper clippings

Man executed for bludgeoning wife, hanging son after discovering son had been baptized

December 4, 1896
McLeansboro, Illinois
Benjamin Boehmer, alias Fred Behme, is hanged for the murder of his wife and child after his wife had their son baptized

Boehmer and his wife Mary had been Roman Catholics before Boehmer converted to become a Methodist. The two separated briefly with Mary moving out of state to live with her mother. While separated, Mary had her youngest son, Thomas (reported to be either 1, 3, or 6 years old) baptized by a Catholic priest despite Boehmer previously forbidding any of his seven children to be baptized as a Catholic.

Upon hearing of the baptism, Boehmer bludgeoned Mary with an axe before hanging their son on April 5, 1896. He covered Mary’s body with a piece of carpet and corn fodder to conceal the murder and fled the scene, though he was apprehended the following day. Boehmer did not deny committing the murders, and pointed to his head saying “something there told him to do it” as an explanation. Boehmer made no final statement on the scaffold before he was hanged just under eight months after the killings.

Arizona Weekly Citizen. December 12, 1896

Sources:

  • Arizona Weekly Citizen [Tucson, Arizona]. December 12, 1896
  • “Fred Behme Hanged.” Buffalo Weekly Express [Buffalo, New York]. December 10, 1896
  • “Fred Behme Executed.” The Record-Union [Sacramento, California]. December 5, 1896
  • “An Atrocious Act.” The Chanute Daily Tribune [Chanute, Kansas]. April 7, 1896
  • The Brooklyn Daily Eagle [Brooklyn, New York]. April 7, 1896

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