|Death: ||Dec. 10, 1875|
Residence: 900 Forest St. (now E 37th St)
Cause of death: murdered – injuries to head with hammer
William and Barbara Adin ran a peanut stand on Superior before he began work as an expressman and she began to run a small grocery store. Their marriage was a happy one until sometime in the early 1870s, when William suddenly became aggressively violent towards and mistrustful of his family. His stepdaughter, Hattie McKay, became very afraid of him and moved in with friends Elizabeth (58901575)and George Benton. Barbara briefly left William, only to move back in with him a short time later. On April 4th, 1875, William inexplicably exploded in rage, killing Barbara. He then drove to the Bentons', killing Hattie and then Elizabeth when she tried to help her friend. Adin was found guilty of the murders and executed in 1876.
The full story may be read in John Stark Bellamy II's book, "The Killer in the Attic."
Newspaper: Cleveland Leader
Dec. 6: One of the most brutal and horrible af¬fairs which has ever taken place in this city occurred on Dec. 4. William Adin, driver of an express wagon, killed his wife in their home on the corner of Starkweather and Scranton Aves. He then drove to 900 Forest Ave. where he hammered the heads of Hattie McKay, his step-daughter, and Mrs.George I. Benton until they were insensible. Dr. Butler and Dr. Halliday say that neither of the unfortunates will re-cover. The trouble was caused by an argument over money. Adin claims that his wife and daughter were taking his earnings and using it without his consent. Shortly after the arrest of the murderer by Sergeant Hoehn, Coroner Miller held an inquest. During the past year Adin and his wife have been engaged in a lawsuit against each other.
1/10/1876: Two murder indictments have already been found against William Adin, and there is a good chance for a third. Mrs. Elizabeth Benton died on Jan. 8 from her injuries. Adin received the news unconcernedly. Benton, the husband, is utterly broken down. The crime was committed on Dec. 4, 1875. Mrs. Adin was murdered in her home behind the grocery store owned by her husband. Miss Hattie McKay, Adin's step daughter, and Mrs. Benton, Miss McKay's friend, were assaulted and received injuries from which both have now died.
1/12/1876: The funeral of Mrs. George L. Benton, the third victim of the fearful tragedy of Dec. 4, took place yesterday afternoon in the Memorial Presbyterian church, corner of Case and Cedar ave. At the close of the church service the casket was closed and borne to the Woodland ave. cemetery where it was placed in a vault by the side of the bodies of the other two victims, Mrs. Adin and Miss McKay.
2/15/1876: Adin "brought form jail to the criminal court room yesterday . . . tremendous crowds lined the streets." Defense granted postponement to 2/21.
2/21/1876: Interest has again revived the case of William Adin. This morning his case positively will be set for trial. A reported interviewed him yesterday, and was told his life story.
Adin's forehead is high, his cheekbones low, and his mouth expresses determination rather than cruelty. His eyes are close together. He is short in stature and is very muscular, tough, and wiry. His hands are hard and horny, and he appears to be the possessor of immense strength. He was born at Barnsley Commons, Yorkshire, on Feb. 17, 1819, came to America in 1852. When questioned about his trial, he spoke of how he could acquit a man in the same predicament if he were a lawyer, and without any charge. He wa quite bitter against his wife and her daughter, and said they were responsible for the fate that befell them.
He believes that he had sufficient provocation for the deeds he committed, at the same time claiming the acts were done in a state of temporary insanity. In the course of his conversation, he leads one to believe that he expects to be cleared.
2/29/1876: at last a jury is empanelled after 168 prospective jurors were examined. Trial has already cost $400.
2/29/1876: Trial begins for murder of Hattie Mckay. Mitchell, the assistant county prosecutor, made the opening statement for the state; and McKinney, for the defense.
A number of witnesses for the state were called. Otto Schuchard, a fireman, related that on the day of the murder Adin had spent some time conversing with him in the engine house in the early hours of the morning. He said that Adin had spoken to him of financial troubles, blaming his wife and his step-daughter, Hattie, as the cause of his difficulties. Din had told him that he was going to "make a settlement" that morning.
Lizzie Arnold, a girl of ten, said that on the day of the murder she saw Adin go into the Benton home, and shortly afterward she heard a scream and pounding noises. Then, through a window, she saw Adin strike someone several times.
Sergeant Hoehn, who arrested Adin, testified that when he went to Adin's house, Adin showed him the body of a woman. Later, Adin confessed to him that he had committed the crimes.
At the close of Hoehn's testimony, the court adjourned till this morning.
3/1/1876: One of the principal witnesses, Felix Nicola, testified that he had talked with Adin shortly after Adin had been arrested. Adin told him that he struck his wife because she had called him a liar, and when he found that she was dead he had decided to "finish" the rest of them.
The state rested its case at noon. In the afternoon, the defense witnesses were heard. Several persons testified as to Adin's good character, but the main efforts of the defense were concentrated upon an attempt to prove that Adin was insane at the time of the murders. Esther Hague, a sister of the defendant, and George Alberry, who had known the family in England, gave evidence to show that Adin's grandfather was insane. Several witnesses told of their conversing with Adin at various times previous to the time of the murders. On these occasions, Adin seemed obsessed with the idea that his wife and his step-daughter were conspiring to rob him.
3/2/1876: Several witnesses, called by the defense, testified that the defendant was a peaceable, law-abiding citizen, but was monomaniac upon the subject of his family troubles.
Mrs. Hauge, a sister of the defendant, was recalled. She said that her brother suffered form pains in his head. He was very irrational in his conversation and his movements, and he frequently got up two or three times during the night and had to be led back to bed. The defense then rested its case.
Dr. Proctor Thayer and Dr. A. G. Hart were called by the state. They testified that they had known the defendant for years, but had noticed no evidence of insanity. The defense cross-examined them, and brought out the point that a monomaniac might be perfectly rational on all other subjects but the one on which he brooded.
3/3/1876: final arguments. Premeditation vs. mental alienation.
3/6/1876: The Adin trial came to an end Saturday Mr. 4 about midnight, when the jury brought in a verdict of murder in the first degree. Judge Hamilton immediately sentenced the convicted murderer to be hanged on June 22.
Immense crowed "seemed to be possessed of ‘a dogged determination that justice should be done, and had the jury failed in its duty to the State and had been led astray by the specious arguments of counsel, it might have gone hard with the prisoner had he been led into the streets without ample protection. But the result was satisfactory.'"
12/28/1876: on the difficulty that WA's attorneys had getting their $1000 fees paid from Adin's estate. "he possessed some property which was valued at about $6,000. On it there were two mortgages. One was due the savings banks for money loaned, and the other to his attorneys for defending him in the trial for murder. The amount of the latter was $1000."
Barbara McKay Adin (1829 - 1875)
Plot: sect 53, lot 48
Maintained by: CypressGreen
Originally Created by: Russell
Record added: May 16, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 52472030