February 23, 1869
Albert Tyler poisons a boarder who was going to report his abuse of his stepdaughter
Albert Tyler (referred to as Andrew in at least one article) lived with his stepchildren after the death of their mother, the oldest of whom was around 12 years of age. Tyler soon opened his home to renters Pauline (sometimes documented as Paulina) and Henry Hubbard, under the condition Pauline cook for the entire household.
On the night of February 21, 1869, Pauline heard a “smothered cry” from the children’s room and woke to ask who was there. When she received no reply, she fell back asleep but was soon awoken again by Tyler’s 12-year-old stepdaughter’s plea for help. Henry later testified his wife immediately got up to investigate the possible outrage (an outdated euphemism for sexual assault) but Henry attempted to stop her fearing Tyler would kill her and “it would raise a fuss.”
The following morning on February 22, Pauline “scolded” Tyler for the assault on his stepdaughter and threatened to report him to the authorities. That same day, Tyler purchased rat poison which he mixed into the flour at his home.
Pauline prepared bread on the morning of February 23, unknowingly using the contaminated flour. She ate some of the bread and asked the children why they did not eat any themselves, to which they replied their father had instructed them to only eat corn bread. Pauline later bundled some of the bread and other food to take to Henry’s place of employment about three-quarters of a mile (1.2 km) away, but became violently ill as she approached the brickyard. Henry ran to Pauline when she collapsed, and Pauline warned her husband not to eat the bread while alleging, “Albert Tyler has poisoned me.” Henry took Pauline to the drug store to seek medical attention, but it was too late to administer any remedy. Pauline died during the night.
The bread Pauline carried and the flour at Tyler’s house were analyzed and determined to contain fatal quantities of arsenic. Additionally, Pauline’s autopsy revealed she had died of arsenic poisoning.
Tyler was immediately arrested after Pauline’s collapse, and was swiftly convicted and sentenced to death while he proclaimed his innocence. He admitted his guilt on the scaffold as he delivered his last statement to those who witnessed his public execution: “I am prepared to meet God. You hear it. I hope everybody here will forgive me for what I have done. I want to know who is going there where I am, right to Heaven. I tell you I am sorry for what I done. What is done can’t be helped. You must look to the future. I have fought the battle and kept in the faith, and there is a crown in Heaven for me. Farewell. While the rope is put round my neck I want you all to sing.”
Tyler was executed on May 29, 1869, just over 3 months after Pauline’s murder.
Ward, Harry M. Public Executions in Richmond, Virginia: A History, 1782-1907. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2012
“Execution of Albert Tyler.” Daily Dispatch [Richmond, Virginia]. May 31, 1869
“The Death Penalty.” New York Herald. May 30, 1869
“The Case Of Poisoning In The County.” Daily Dispatch. February 27, 1869
“Fiendish Charges.” Norfolk Virginian. February 26, 1869