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Susan Murphy Barney
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Birth: Aug. 7, 1885
Luzerne County
Pennsylvania, USA
Death: Apr. 5, 1903
Luzerne County
Pennsylvania, USA


Susan Barney age 17, was murdered at her residence at 57 Sanborne Street, Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne county, PA., at 9:00 o'clock in the evening on Sunday, April 5, 1903.

Susan is the daughter of John Felix Murphy and Mary (Kelly) Murphy. Her father died as a result of a coal mining accident in April 18, 1890.

Susan married Fred Barney, on June 24, 1902 at St. Vincent DePaul Church, in Plymouth by Rev. T.J. Donahue. By 1903 Susan and her husband Fred a Bartender employed for two years by John L. Raeder, they resided with Susan's mother on Sanborne Street, with her three sisters.

There were several article's in the newspapers about her murder. When a Wilkes-Barre Record reporter interviewed Fred Barney, he said that his wife had committed suicide because he was cheating on her. When her mother was interviewed she said that her daughter did not committee suicide, and thought originally that they were fooling around with the revolver causing it to accidentally to discharge, however that was not the case. Susan had voiced to her husband how in appropriate it was that he was cheating on her with other woman. Barney unhappy with her persistent shadowing of him had decided to shoot her. Susan was kneeling in front of their bed saying the Rosary, when Fred shot her in the heart at close range. When Susan's mother and sisters ran up stairs, her mother asked if Fred shot her, her mother could not hear her respond, but her sister Mary Murphy was leaning over Susan and heard her whisper in a long breath "A-h-h, Yes, while nodding her head", in her dying breath. It was whispered in a long, deep sigh. At the trial Mary her sister began to cry hysterically and said "her sister lived only ten minutes after the shooting and was not able to talk. Fred just walked up and down the room, saying, send for a doctor, get some whisky. Fred did not put a hand to her or even help us put her on the bed."

The wound in the girl's side was made at close range, as indicated by the powder marks.


I. Jacobosky, Z.C. Troutman, John Rice, John Sweet, Edward Fisher, and Fran B. Brown. The Inquest was held on Thursday, April 9, 1903, and Susan funeral was held in the afternoon. Grand Jury indicted Fred Barney for the member of his young wife.

Chief of police Jones is under the impression that the defendant killed the woman but that the shooting was in part accidental. The chief said the young man was always fooling with firearms and that less than a week ago he shot a hole in the ceiling and another in the floor of the room in which the girl met her death. Dr. E.A.Sweeney performed an autopsy, but did not succeed in finding the bullet. He traced the course of the bullet, and said the bullet was fired so close to the body that it burned the dress and even the skin. The bullet entered about two and one-half inches below the nipple on the left side and took a glancing, downward course, touching the lower end of the lung, piercing the stomach, the upper lobe of the liver and through the transverse colon. The doctor did not trace the bullet any further, but believes it is embedded in the spinal column. The doctor was questioned at length concerning the course of the bullet, and the position a revolver would have to be held in firing the shot, and his evidence greatly weakened the theory of a self inflicted wound. He showed that the revolver would have to be held in the left hand and the arm raised higher and more cramped than in any natural position if the deceased had shot herself. He admitted, however, that it was possible for the decease to inflict the wound.

Susan's sister Rosa Murphy was the last witness. Rose and her mother where having tea in the dining room, when Fred came in and passed up stairs to his room. WE asked him to have a cup of tea he said, no, that he had a sore throat. Soon after Susan called Rose upstairs and asked to go and get medicine for Fred, in which she did get at the drug store. When Rose was up in their room I saw my sister sitting in a chair, crying, Fred was standing up at the chair with his hand on the back of it. I asked her what was the matter ad she said nothing. I though they had a little quarrel. About seven minutes afterwards, I heard the noise of the shot. I did not think it was a shot. Fred waited about three minutes after I heard the noise before he came down to tell us. I though they were quarreling and had started to go up stairs, when he ran half way down the steps and said, "My God, Susan is Shot." I ran up and found her on her knees at the bed with the rosaries in her hand. Rose heard Susan say yes, and nodded to Fred shooting her. When she was dying she opened her eyes wide and looked at him. When asked by Fred's attorney if Susan was left handed, Rose said she used both hands the same. Rose, told of an incident of last Friday morning, two days before the shooting. Susan came down stairs that morning and asked if they heard anything in the house the night before, they said they did not, and she said that she woke up in the night and saw Fred loading a revolver and she ask what he was doing and he said he heard a noise in the house. Susan said Fred put the revolver in his trunk and went back to bed.


On Saturday morning April 11th, in the case of Fred Barney who was in prison, charged with the murder of his wife, a true bill was found and the indication are that Barney will be compelled to face a jury before the tragedy is a month old.

Monday, June 22, 1903, Trial of Fred Barney. Monday June 29, 1903, the verdict of second degree murder once more illustrates and emphasizes the difficulty in securing verdicts, even when the evidence is overwhelming in its conclusiveness of murder in, the first degree.

The opposition to capital punishment is undoubtedly the principal cause of this constant failure to punish deliberate and cold-blooded murder as the law provides it shall be punished. It is not a pleasant duty to dissent form a verdict which saves a fellow being from the death penalty and sentences him instead to a long period of imprisonment; but it is also an unpleasant duty to be compelled to chronicle the fact that so frequently the murderous miscreants who kill their innocent victims escape the punishment so richly deserved by them, and which should be administered, not in the spirit, of vengeance, but as a possible restraint upon others equally murderous.

The jurors in the Barney case stood ten for conviction of murder of the first degree, and that the ten yielded to the two, who either favored acquittal or conviction of manslaughter. The Second degree murder verdict was a compromise, and as is usual in such cases, is utterly illogical. Barney is either guilty of murder in the first degree, or his wife killed herself, and her blood is not on his hands, in which case he was entitled to a verdict of acquittal. Taken into account the nature of the wound that caused the young wife's death, as well as the despicable phases of Barney's life as evidenced by witnesses whose veracity was not attacked. The consensus of opinion of community is that justice miscarried in the case of the awful crime by which the child-wife of Barney was sent into eternity.

JURORS - Murder Trial;

William Bowen, Duryea, Charles Pierce, West Pittston,, James Keiser-Newport twp, William Alden, Luz. Boro, Edward Smith, Jenkins Twp., John Jopling, Jenkins Twp., P.F. Nolan- Pittston Twp., Josiah Trumpore-Wilkes-Barre, F.Z. Zerby - Kingston, John Loftus-Fairview Twp., Harry McDonald-Wilkes-Barre, Joseph Goss- WIlkes-Barre.

Attorney Jones, Barney's lawyer, detailed all that happened the day of the murder. A graphic description of all the occurrences previous to the shooting. Barney desire to leave the house on that Sunday evening. Barney determined to keep an engagement with a friend, determination of the wife to accompany him, the quarrel that followed, then the hurried exit of Barney from Mrs. Murphy's residence, the return to the house, the second quarrel and the the sound of the fatal shot and the finding of Susan kneeling on the side of her bed with rosary beads clasped in her hand as if in Prayer. The quarrel was prompted by an engagement he had with another girl - Katie Scheckenberger and that Susan suspected in that what was up, made up her mind that she would frustrate his plans. The testimony of a girl who admitted she kept company with Barney after his marriage and made frequent trips to the surrounding towns with him. Showing that Barney refused to give his wife that consideration and treatment which should be accorded to his wife.. Fred freely admitted that he had done wrong in seeking the company of other women, and he did not abuse his wife. Witnesses spoke of the deceased mention of committing suicide, in which she expressed an intention to do away with herself unless her husband gave her that undivided affection which should have been hers. Some of these stories were a little overdrawn. Mrs. Murphy the deceased mother testified that Barney did little to support his wife and that he frequently ill treated her. She stated that one time Barney bit his wife on the check and that marks on her body were of common occurrence. Another sister Mrs. Williamson, said how Barney stayed out all night saying he had to work, saying Barney has threatened to shoot his wife and himself. Testimony of previous landlady Mrs. Teel, W. Market St., W-B, heard loud talking and a nose of someone being thrown against the partition. The next morning Mrs. Tell went to Mrs. Barneys room and found her unconscious, in bed with blood oozing form her nose and mouth. Walter Williams a boy was sent to get Fred 4 times, and final he said he would send a doctor, Fred was at the Raeder hotel, where Katie Scheckenberger, a chambermaid worked on South Main st, Katie swore that Barney kept company with her for two years previous to the time of Susan being shot, she said that she went trolley riding with him and also went with him to several hotels, Fred repeatedly asked her to marry him.

Monday, June 29, 1903, Jury finds Fred Barney was guilty of murder of his wife in the second degree and got 20 years in the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. Fred could get out in 7 and one half years on good behavior. All Jurors believed that Susan could not have inflicted the wound to herself, believing that Fred shot her.

From another article published in the Wilkes-Barre Times in 1906, says that he was taking it easy in prison saying that he was quite satisfied with his fate, saying that he wished his time was up. In 1906 while in prison, his job was assorting underwear, in which he received one pound of tobacco every month for as payment.

I find Barney in this prison in 1910.

In 1913, I found an article in the Wilkes-Barre Times, stating that Convicts were going to be paroled; The list of second-degree murder convicts who will be paroled comprise, and on that list of names is Fred Barney, who only served 10 years of the 20 for the murder of his wife Susan. I had not learned what happened to him afterwards.

What was surprising to me is that my Uncle Michael Brown Detective a Policeman for Wilkes-Barre, escorted Fred Barney into the court room. Michael Brown's niece my maternal grandmother Gertrude married into the Cassidy family in 1924 some years later, her mother in law was the Aunt of Susan Murphy Barney. Susan's father and my great maternal grandmother Bridget Murphy Cassidy where brother and sister. I thought what were the chances that both relates would have connected at this time.

Susan was survived by her mother, and sisters; Mary Murphy, Rosa, and Verna, Mrs. Williamson, and another sister both from New York, Ester Murphy Connors of Hazle street, Wilkes-Barre, and Felix J. Murphy of Pueblo, Colorado.


Welsh Hill Cemetery, which is St. Vincent DePaul first Cemetery located on Cemetery Street, in Larksville. In 1911, all the bodies at this cemetery were removed and buried at the second St. Vincent DePaul Cemetery at Mountain Road, Larksville, the reason for moving the bodies was due to the Kingston Coal Company mining beneath the first cemetery causing cave ins at this cemetery.

Resources: Newspaper articles from the following newspapers, the Wilkes-Barre Record and the Wilkes-Barre Times, Census records. Researcher: Mary Emmett Langdon.

Family links: 
  John Felix Murphy (1851 - 1890)
  Mary T. Kelly Murphy (1850 - 1907)
  Elizabeth Murphy Ash (1883 - 1974)*
  Susan Murphy Barney (1885 - 1903)
  Rosa G Murphy Stephens (1887 - 1960)*
*Calculated relationship
Saint Vincent DePaul Cemetery
Luzerne County
Pennsylvania, USA
Plot: Sec 2
Maintained by: Tweety Emmett
Originally Created by: Jack Galuardi
Record added: Apr 02, 2002
Find A Grave Memorial# 6313369
Susan <i>Murphy</i> Barney
Added by: Tweety Emmett
Susan <i>Murphy</i> Barney
Cemetery Photo
Added by: Ron Buchinski
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for my distant cousin, may you rest in peace.
- Terry Harter Snovel
 Added: Sep. 3, 2015

- Diana
 Added: Oct. 27, 2008

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