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The Murder of Joseph Deny
As Reported By
The Daily Kennebec Journal

Created May-2003

Daily Kennebec Journal, 14-Dec-1883

Augusta, Friday Morning, December 14


Another Murder in the State, this time at Richmond, shows that the shedding of blood is upon the increase in our midst, notwithstanding the capital punishment law enacted by the legislature last winter. No previous period in our history is so dark and bloody with crime as the last eight months of this year 1883.



Two Fiends in Human Form Commit Murder and Assault a Woman.

Richmond the Scene of the Tragedy - King Alcohol Secures Another Victory.

"Ole Joe" Stands up to Defend His Wife's Honor and is Murdered on the Spot.

[Special to the Kennebec Journal]

RICHMOND, Dec. 13.

Wednesday night the town of Richmond, one of the most flourishing and thriving on the Kennebec river, was the scene of an atrocious murder and double crime, the particulars of which are most shocking Two ruffians, Lewis E. Hopkins well known as "Slim Jim" and Lorenzo H. Turner, foully murdered Joseph Dennis, better known as "Old Joe", and an Indian of the Oldtown tribe, and committed a brutal assault upon his wife.


of the murder is about a mile and a half above the village on the direct road to Gardiner. Here stands a story and a half white house on the east road, in a clump of oaks. This was inhabited, it seems, by several families. About a week ago the Indian and his wife moved into the house occupying the lower floor with a man named Sewell Plummer. The upper story was occupied by Joseph Francis, a son-in law of "Old Joe," and his wife and daughter. A man named David Carter also had a room up-stairs. Between ten and eleven o'clock Lewis A Hopkins, Lorenzo H. Turner and Wm Lint under the influence of liquor started from Richmond Village on their way to their homes, which are a short distance beyond the scene of the murder, on the Gardiner road. About eleven o'clock the three drove up to "Old Joe's" house, hitched their horse


Here they commenced to act in demonstrative manner, carousing and talking ugly. Hopkins advanced to the stove to warm himself and remarks

"This is a hot stove, if it wasn't I would make it hot for them before we get through."

In a few moments Lint took Plummer, passed out into a side room, and gave him a drink, remarking to Plummer that he was sick and wanted to stop all night. Plummer told him he might, and then Lint went out of doors and sat down on the banking, where he remained during the events that followed. "Old Joe," seeing that there would be trouble, sent his daughter-in law and her daughter off to bed upstairs. As they were retiring, one of the villains made a dash at the younger woman and attempted to seize her. She escaped, however, and rushing up stairs, both women entered their room and barricaded their door. "Old Joe" and his wife then went into their bed room, which is off of the kitchen and fastened the door and were in the act of retiring for the night. the old lady had disrobed and got into bed and the Indian was sitting on the side of the bed, when the roughs, now thoroughly infuriated, battered down the door, rushed into the room, dragged the old woman from her bed and carried her into the kitchen. She screamed for help and the husband rushed to the rescue of his wife. Hopkins stationed himself in the doorway. When the old man tried to pass, Hopkins struck him, knocked him down and stamped on his head, killing him then and there by his brute strength. While this was going on. Turner had accomplished his foul purpose. Hopkins then seized the old woman and


It was a most brutish and fiendish act, and it seems astonishing that it could occur in this civilized community.

Then the criminals not satisfied with this turned their attention to the girls up-stairs. Turner started up the stairway and attempted to gain entrance to the appartement where the women were. He told them he would kill them and at the same time pounded and kicked against the door. There was a long water spout leading from the upper part of the house to the ground. The young Indian then got his wife and girl out upon the spout and they


Finding that these had escaped them the desperadoes made a dash for Carter's wife and attempted to assault her. She jumped from a window, however, and got away. Turner caught her by the arm just as she was going out, tearing her sleeve. The fugitives went to Mr. Sewall Lancasters, near by, for protection.

Failed here these devils in human form. Hopkins and Turner went to the house of Greenleif Marshall and attempted to break in. Marshall got up and took a gun which he supposed was loaded and went out on the piazza. It was not loaded, however, and they took it away from him and went off doing no damage.


they made another demonstration, and badly frightened the inmates of the house by flourishing their gun. They finally gave up the gun to Mr. Lancaster and went off home, being too inebriated to do further harm.

Plummer and Carter on leaving their house immediately went to the village and notified the deputy sheriff who summoned a posse and went and arrested the two fiends, Turner and Hopkins, and Lint whom he lodged in the lock-up. They were found home in bed.

A post mortem examination was conducted Thursday afternoon, by Dr. C.W. Price and other physicians, upon the body of the dead Indian. They removed his brain. It was in a perfect healthy condition, but there was a large effusion of blood in it - about four onces. A clot of blood six inches long and four inches wide, was also found under the skin. Coroner Hodges summoned a jury and


was held in the afternoon. Many witnesses were examined. A verdict was rendered "that Joseph Dennis came to his death by a blow inflicted by the hands of Lewis E. Hopkins and that Lorenzo H. Turner being present was an accessory." The preliminary hearing of the prisoners will be held tomorrow, There is much excitement here and large numbers of people have visited the scene of the terrible crime today. Mrs. Dennis, the Indian woman, is much exhausted and suffers from her injuries.

Hopkins is a great hulky, long limbed fellow, 38 years of age and of dark complexion. He is a notoriously desperate character and is much given to inebriation. He has been employed for the Knickerbocker Ice Co. for some time past. Turner is 23 years of age and is also a hard character, drinking quite often, yet his reputation is not so bad as Turner's. Lint is represented as being quite a decent fellow, who got into bad company. Old Joe is aged 65 years and his wife 69. They cam e to Richmond from Oldtown. Plummer is an inoffensive sort of a man and not particularly energetic. He was badly frightened during the perpetration of the crime and kept out of sight.


Daily Kennebec Journal, 15-Dec-1883

Augusta, Saturday Morning, December 15

The Richmond murderers waived examination yesterday and were bound over for trial. They were brought to this city on the 4 P.M. train. At the station a great crowd awaited their appearance and filled the street as they were taken to the jail. There are now three persons in the jail in this city awaiting trial for murder at the court in Sagadahoc County.




The Prisoners Brought into Court and Waived Examination - Both Prisoners Want to Shirk the Weight of the Responsibility.

[Special to the Kennebec Journal.]

RICHMOND, Dec. 14.

Lorenzo H. Turner has now confessed that he committed rape on the old Indian woman Wednesday night, but says that he does not know anything about the murder, as he was outside at the time, and says that when they drove up the road on the evening of the murder they heard the inmates laughing inside of the house and so they thought they would go in, too, for a little fun. After being in the hot room a while, the liquor went to his head and his recollections of the succeeding events are not clear. He admits criminally assaulting Old Joe's squaw, but declares he had no hand in the murder of the Indian. He states that when he left the house he had no idea that murder had been done, and learned of the fact only when arrested. Turner appears to fell his position keenly, but declares he shall tell the whole truth at his trial. The witnesses have all been put under $200 bonds each. Thursday evening, George W. Hussey, W.C. Wyman and Fred Wellman were all arrested for selling liquor to these parties, and great excitement prevails on the streets. Large crowds are standing on every corner. Mrs Denney pointed out Hopkins as the murderer.

The preliminary hearing in the murder case took place before Judge Tallman, Friday forenoon. The design was to hold the trial in the town hall, so great was the crowd that desired to be present. It was given out that the prisoners would waive examination and on account of the consequent shortness of the proceedings, it was decided to have the hearing in Judge Tallman's private office. The office and all approaches to it were packed with people, only a very few of whom could squeeze into the office. The excitement was intense. There were great desire to get a look at the prisoners. As it became evident that Lint was not concerned in the killing or the assault on Mrs. Denny, he was brought into court and given his liberty, after being bound over as a witness. Lewis E. Hopkins and Leonard H. Turner were arraigned. The both plead not guilty and waived examination. At their request Co. J. W. Spaulding acted as their counsel. County Attorney Frank H. Bunker conducted the case for the State. No witnesses were examined, on account of the action of the respondents and the proceedings were very brief. Judge Tallman ordered both men to be held for trial at the December term of the Supreme Judicial Court for Sagadahoc county at Bath. In the afternoon they were removed to Augusta jail. They were taken to the photograph saloon of A.W. Kimball, in this town, and photographed. Both prisoners appear to be broken down in spirits and fully realize the enormity of their offense and the hard place they are in. Both want to shirk the weight of the responsibility. Hopkins called a constable into to his cell Friday morning, and told him that Turner, not he, knocked down the old Indian. Turner has declared that Hopkins killed the Indian. George W. Hussey, Frederick Wellman and W C Wyamn, who sold these parties their liquor, on being brought before the court pleaded guilty and were fined $30 and cost which amounted to $81 each.


Daily Kennebec Journal, 17-Dec-1883

Augusta, Monday Morning, December 17

A Temperance Lesson.

The recent crimes committed at Richmond by two intoxicated men contain a lesson upon temperance which ought to make a lasting impression wherever the facts are known. It is often said that temperance speakers exaggerate the evils of intemperance, but in the face of such a chapter of blood and outrage as that to which we refer, it seems to be impossible to depict the evils that follow intemperance in too strong colors.

Two men, converted by strong drink into fiends, enter a humble home in one of our pleasantest towns, outrage a woman, murder an unoffending old man who hastened to defend his wife against the assaults of the infuriated brutes, and would probably have committed other acts of outrage and murder upon neighboring families, had not the terrified people fled and escaped the clutches of the monsters. To-day those men are confined by strong bolts and bars in the cells for criminals of the deepest dye in the Kennebec county jail, there to lie until they are removed to be tried by the Supreme Court for murder, the penalty for which is hanging by the neck until they are dead. But for the imbibing of intoxicating liquors these crimes would not have been committed. But for this that old man whose life was savagely taken would now be living quietly at home with his wife, following the humble occupation by which he obtained a livelihood; while the men who perpetrated those dreadful deeds would be free, with no charge of capital crime against them, instead of occupying murderers cells and awaiting a trial the results of which may be to end their lives upon the gallows.

This is no sketch of the imagination. It is the unvarnished truth. The picture is not colored in the least degree above the reality. Indeed it does not describe in full the terrible scenes connected with the awful tragedy. There is no need of exaggeration. A recital of the simple main facts of the case are sufficient to strike with horror anybody with a spark of humanity in his breast.

To men who follow the business of selling ardent spirits this tragedy speaks with trumpet tongue. In this they read the effects of their traffic as plainly as they can read in the statues that the sale of intoxicating drinks is forbidden by the laws of the State. If the maddening drink had not been supplied to these men they would not have committed the crimes for which they are to suffer. They say the liquor crazed them and they did not know what they were doing. The poison created a fever in the blood that clouded the brain and set on fire every brutal and hellish passion. The measured cup overcame what manhood they possessed and made them demons, fit for the perpetration of any crime. These who make it a business to sell ardent spirits do not need to be told of the fearful effects that strong drink produces. If there are any who are this ignorant let them visit the house where this simple old man was murdered and his wife outraged, consult the neighboring people and then ask the criminals what caused them to do these deeds of darkness and horror. There can be but one conclusion - rum did it. Perhaps it may be said that the murderers are men of low instincts, base passions, bad men in their best condition, but it was the liquor that quenched the light of what reason they had and stimulated all their brutishness into demoniac activity. The lesson to rum sellers is to stop the traffic the results of which are murder, rape, and every other crime. In States where license lends a shade of respectability to the traffic of liquor sellers may plead this as an apology for engaging in the business. But in the State of Maine there is no such excuse. The traffic is under the ban of the law. The statutes forbid it and make it a criminal offense. Public sentiment and our courts of justice have declared it illegal. He who enters into it sins against light and engages in that which is unlawful as well as degrading to individuals and dangerous to the community.

But the lesson of the Richmond horror is one that comes home to every man, especially to those who indulge often or seldom in the habit of drinking ardent spirits. No man is safe who partakes of the intoxicating cup. The habit steals upon its victims almost imperceptibly. Very few will admit, even after years of indulgence, that it has obtained the mastery over them. It is insidious in its progress. It may reduce men tot he gutter, to the most miserable poverty and wretchedness, and yet they continue the habit while exclaiming that they can drink or leave it alone and regard as personal enemies those who interfere to save them in their downward course. Undoubtedly the Richmond criminals never supposed that the use of drink would injure them, or cause them to commit murder. but nevertheless they fill to-day murderers' cells. Others will pursue their course and meet the same fate, but there is no habitual drinker who dreams that he will be the man. But is he certain that he stands on safe ground? When the reason is found, as it is under inebriation, who will answer for what any man may do in that condition? No man who is a moderate drinker should boast of his ability to take care of himself. He may awaken to his error when it is perhaps too late, who the dungeon is closing upon him and the hangman's halter is above his head. Touch not, taste not, handle not is the only safe rule in regard to intoxicating liquors. Every young man should make it the rule of his life. It may keep him from shame, poverty, the prison. He should heartily co-operate in all efforts to promote temperance. Never begin to drink and there will be no necessity to leave off. If he never looks upon the wine cup he will never fell the sting of the serpent concealed under its seductions.

More than ever public sentiment is demanding that those who commit high crimes under the influence of intoxicating liquors shall not be permitted to escape on that account the penalty for their crimes. If men will drink, after the lone experience the world has had in the results that may follow inebriation, let them take the full responsibility for their acts when in that condition, is the kind of talk that is now often hears. the frequency of crime caused by dram drinking is bringing the public to this point. We urge fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, to consider thoughtfully and wisely the evils of intemperance as presented by the recent murder, and redouble their efforts for the banishment of liquor drinking and selling from every community where they exist.

Source: Daily Kennebec Journal
Transcribed by: Canyon Wolf for Ne-Do-Ba

Additional Documents in this Series:
Newspaper Coverage of the Murder - Lewiston Evening Journal
Newspaper Coverage of the Murder - Boston Daily Globe
Newspaper Coverage of the Trial - Lewiston Journal
Elizabeth Polis - In Her Own Words