February 13, 1915
Roswell Smith (27) is hanged for the murder of 4-year-old Hazel Weinstein
On July 7, 1914, Smith lured Weinstein into a vacant building where he sexually assaulted her and either smothered or strangled her to silence her cries. Smith then carried Weinstein’s body into a house “with the pose of a rescuing hero,” claiming he had found her lifeless in an alleyway. He was questioned and confessed to the assault and murder.
Smith’s lawyers attempted both an insanity and a diminished capacity defense (Smith was apparently intellectually delayed, and was described in newspapers as “a defective”). Sadie Weinstein, Hazel’s mother, was enraged at the attempt to defend Smith and yelled, “You can’t let that murderer escape. It’s his blood or mine. He is the murderer of my baby. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves, you lawyers, for trying to save his life.” She was escorted from the courtroom to regain her composure. Smith was convicted of murder and sentenced to death.
Smith confessed to the murder again on the gallows but offered no official final statement before his execution, carried out 7 months after the crime.
Hearn, Daniel Allen. Legal Executions in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky and Missouri. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2016
“Slayer of Child Executed.” Streator Daily Times. February 15, 1915 (image source, via newspapers.com, aged overlay added)
“Confessed His Crime.” The Ocala Evening Star. February 13, 1915
“Roswell Smith to Die on Gallows Tomorrow.” Belvidere Daily Republican. February 12, 1915
“Tuesday.” Bureau County Tribune [Princeton, Illinois]. January 29, 1915
The Daily Book [Chicago, Illinois]. November 14, 1914. Page 7
“Confesses Girl’s Murder.” The Kenosha Evening News. July 9, 1914