Henry F Wise

Henry F Wise

Birth
Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, USA
Death 13 May 1880 (aged 34)
Lebanon, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, USA
Burial Green Point, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, USA
Memorial ID 6649030 · View Source
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The Blue Eyed Six were a group of six men, all of them coincidentally blue-eyed, who were arrested and indicted on first degree murder charges in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, in 1879. The Six were Charles Drews, Frank Stichler, Henry Wise, Josiah Hummel, Israel Brandt, and George Zechman. This group of friends and unsavory business associates conspired to murder their neighbor, Joseph Raber, for an insurance pay-off. Raber, age 65, lived in poverty with his housekeeper in a charcoal burner's hut in the Blue Mountain area of northern Lebanon County. Raber had no steady employment and depended mainly on the charity of his equally impoverished neighbors. In early July 1878, four of the conspirators met at Brandt's hotel at St. Joseph Spring and agreed to insure Raber for a total of $8,000. The men told the insurance agent that they had agreed to take care of Raber for the rest of his life and wanted the policy to cover his eventual burial expenses. Several assessment-type life insurance policies were sold on Joseph Raber, with his cooperation, with the men named as the beneficiaries. Later that year they enlisted two other men to drown Raber in Indiantown Creek. Without any evidence to the contrary, the coroner ruled the death accidental. Although the local citizenry suspected foul play, it wasn't until two months later, when Drews' son-in-law Joseph Peters reported to the constable that he was an eye-witness to the murder, that the six men were arrested and held over for trial. In a highly unusual move, the Six were tried together. Due to this and, perhaps, to the fanciful nickname that the conspirators were given by the newspapers, the trial gained more than its share of attention. Reporters from throughout the east coast descended on the city of Lebanon, the county seat of Lebanon County, and the story was carried worldwide. The trial began on 18 April. The Commonwealth's main witness was Drews' son-in-law, but he was only one of thirty-six witnesses called by the prosecution. The defense called twenty-two witnesses. The witnesses on both sides were mainly friends, neighbors, and family members who contradicted each other at every turn. It became evident that there were many people who knew of, or suspected, the plot before and after Raber's death, but who did not come forward for fear of mortal retaliation. At 3:30 p.m. on 24 April 1879, the fate of the Blue Eyed Six was left in the hands of the twelve men of the jury. The wait was not long. Five hours later the courthouse bell rang out, announcing that they had reached their verdicts. The jury returned verdicts of guilty of first degree murder for all six of the defendants. Defense requested that the jury be polled, and so the word "Guilty" was uttered seventy-two times, once for each defendant from each juror. The local newspaper noted that it was the first time in the recorded history of common law of the United States and England that six people were convicted of murder on a single indictment. On appeal, the judge awarded Zechman a new trial, based on the lack of direct evidence presented by the Commonwealth against him personally. He was acquitted in his second trial on essentially the same evidence. The other five defendants were sentenced to death by hanging. Drews and Stichler, who had committed the crime, were hanged first. After all other appeals were exhausted, the accomplices Wise, Hummel, and Brandt were hanged the following year. The acquitted Zechman died of natural causes within the decade. [The biographical information was provided by Wikipedia]


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  • Maintained by: Linda Himpsl
  • Originally Created by: silverblue
  • Added: 30 Jul 2002
  • Find A Grave Memorial 6649030
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Henry F Wise (4 Jun 1845–13 May 1880), Find A Grave Memorial no. 6649030, citing Green Point Cemetery, Green Point, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by Linda Himpsl (contributor 46993321) .