May <I>Hitchens</I> Carey

May Hitchens Carey

Omar, Sussex County, Delaware, USA
Death 7 Jun 1935 (aged 55)
Georgetown, Sussex County, Delaware, USA
Burial Clarksville, Sussex County, Delaware, USA
Memorial ID 41396745 · View Source
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First White Woman in Delaware History to be Hanged
Mother and Son Die on Delaware Gallows For Insurance Murder

Kingston Daily Freeman (Kingston, New York) 7 June 1935
By Leo W. Sheridan
Associated Press Staff Writer

Georgetown, Del., June 7 (AP)--The first white woman to be hanged in Delaware went to her death at dawn today with a prayer for forgiveness on her lips.

For the seven-year-old "perfect crime" slaying of her brother, Mrs. May H. Carey paid with her life on the gallows in company with her eldest son, Howard, 27.
The mother was taken from her cell at 5:02 a.m. eastern standard time, the trap was sprund at 5:07 and she was pronounced dead at 5:24.

Howard was taken from his cell at 5:31. The trap was sprund ten minutes later and he was pronounced dead at 6 a.m.

Mrs. Carey walked unfalteringly up the 13 steps and before the cap was adjusted she turned to the witnesses and said in a trembling voice:
"My way is clear.I have nothing to say."

Howard mounted the platform and said "What I did was against my will. I feel sure anyone in my place would have done the same. I hope to see my three little ones on the other side."

He mumbled a prayer as the cap was adjusted.

With an escort of Delaware state police, the bodies were taken to Frankford for immediate burial.

Just before she was taken from her cell, Mrs. Carey requested that her body be taken through the town of Omar, past her mother's home.

The couple's crime was the slaying of Robert Hitchens, Mrs. Carey's brother, for the $2,000 insurance on his life.

Fog shrouded the Sussex county jail yard and the high board fence built to hide the gallows from view as the doomed mother and son were led from their cells to death.

As they marched the hundred paces from their cells with their spiritual advisors--the Rev. Richard K. Whyte, Episcopal rector of Georgetown, and the Rev. J. C. Bolton, Methodist pastor of Frankford--they repeated the 23rd Psalm and the Apostles' Creed.

On the ascent to the scaffold, the Lord's Prayer was said. On the scaffold, the ministers offered final prayers.

Mrs. Carey wore a new black dress with a tiny ribbon of white at the throat, black hose and slippers. Her son was dressed in a blue-black suit, a white shirt and a black tie.

Hugh G. Smith, warden of the prison, sat in a windowless booth, out of sight of the hangman's noose, and pulled a rope that slide the bolt holding the double doors of the trap.

Only the legally required jury of 12, Sheriff Robert G. Clendaniel and Dr. A. C. Smott, prison physician, witnessed the hangings.

News men were admitted to the prison grounds but were held in a group near the main entrance until the warden summoned them.

The jury was whisked away in automobiles immediately after the execution as part of the program of strict censorship carried out by the officials.

Fog began shrouding the jail yard in the early morning hours, as the doomed pair met face to face in the final embrace in the prison.

They had read their Bibles "from cover to cover," their spiritual advisors said.

Mother and son dozed a little during the night, spending nearly all their last hours with the two clergymen and their attorney, Frederick Whitney, who drove away from the prison about 5 a.m.

About 2 o'clock Mrs. Carey and Howard ate cake and ice cream.

Mrs. Carey was led from her cell apparently very frightened. She was pale but made no outcry and did not weep as she walked between two guards to the scaffold and up the steps.

When she was pronounced dead, the Rev. Bolton spoke briefly to the assembled witnesses.

The clergyman's talk was based on the hymn, "The Rock of Ages."

Mrs. Carey's body was cut down at once and the rope replaced. An identical procedure followed a few minutes later as Howard stepped from his cell.There was no autopsy and the bodies were placed in caskets immediately.

Eight state policemen on motorcycles escorted the hearse to St. George's Cemetery, situated on a mount east of Frankford.

Never before had Delaware hanged a white woman. In 1860, a negress, Sarah Jane Bradley, was put to death for taking the life of a child.

Two other women were sentenced to be hanged but one obtained a commutation of sentence after an appeal in 1845, and the other, Patty Cannon, a slave dealer, escaped the noose by committing suicide.

Crime annals of the state before the 19th century show a Mrs. Catherine Bevans was burned at the stake under the old English law in 1771 for participating in the slaying of her husband.

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  • Created by: Gen❤Sher
  • Added: 31 Aug 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 41396745
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for May Hitchens Carey (Jul 1879–7 Jun 1935), Find A Grave Memorial no. 41396745, citing Saint Georges United Methodist Cemetery, Clarksville, Sussex County, Delaware, USA ; Maintained by Gen❤Sher (contributor 46991088) .