Peter Blimm

[The Covington Journal ran this story on July 9, 1870:]

Terrible Affair in Boone County 

“Thursday afternoon a man named Peter Belew [sic] went to the house of Mr. Huffman, a farmer, living near Burlington, Boone County.  Mrs. Huffman and an orphan boy, six or seven years old, were alone in the house.  Belew enticed the boy to the stable where he cut his throat from ear to ear, causing instant death, and then threw the body into a hog pen.  Belew returned to the house and attempted to ravish Mrs. Huffman, but she managed to escape and gave the alarm.

 The most intense excitement was created in the neighborhood, and Thursday night two hundred men were in pursuit of Belew.  Up to the time of writing this, however, he has eluded pursuit.

 Belew is well known in this city, especially to the officers of the police court.  It is said he was seen here early yesterday morning. 

The Governor, in response to a telegraphic dispatch, has authorized a reward of $500 for the arrest of the murderer.”

[ The following week July 16, 1870, the Covington Journal followed up with this story:]

 “Peter Blinn [sic] – not Belew as we printed the name last week – the murderer of the little boy at Mr. Hoffman’s in Boone County, was arrested last Saturday in a field not far from the scene of his bloody work.  He made no resistance, and was committed to the Burlington jail.  Saturday night a crowd gathered around the jail, for the purpose of taking the prisoner out, and lynching him.  At the insistence of some of the more substantial citizens of the place the crowd finally dispersed without attempting any act of violence.  A special term of the Boone Circuit court has been called for next Monday for the trial of Blinn [sic], but in no consequence of some informality in the notice, it is thought the court will not then proceed with this trial.”

 [Next week’s story ran in the Covington Journal on July 25, 1870, wherein they finally get his name right:]

 The Murder Trial in Boone County

 “The Trial of Peter Blimm, At Burlington, for the murder of the boy Wm. Fields, at Mr. Hoffman’s, in Boone County, some two weeks since, resulted in a verdict of guilty.  Blimm’s counsel – Messrs. Fountain Riddle and S. A. Hagarty, appointed by the court – entered a plea of insanity, a sister of the accused being the principal witness.  She testified that when under the influence of liquor the prisoner was invariably insane, and at such times required to be constantly watched by his friends to prevent him from doing injury to himself or others.

 The prosecution proved that on the day of the murder, Blimm purchased at a drug store a quantity of Spanish flies, which, together with his subsequent conduct at the house of Mrs. Hoffman, where the fatal deed was committed, showed that there was too much method in his madness, and the plea of the defense was not sustained.  After an absence of twenty minutes, the jury returned a verdict of guilty, murder in the first degree. Blimm seemed to take the verdict as a foregone conclusion, and manifested no emotion upon hearing the decision which was so important to him.

 On Wednesday, Judge Pryor sentenced Blimm to be hanged on Friday, the 26th day of August.  By order of the curt the prisoner will be taken to Frankfort, and there confined until the time of his execution approaches, as the jail at Burlington is deemed insecure.

 William Fields was a very promising youth of ten years.  He had been taken from an orphan asylum by Mrs. Hoffman, who had adopted and intended to rear him as her own son.

 Much satisfaction was manifested in Burlington and vicinity as a result of the trial, and at the prospect that full justice will be meted out to the murder.” 

[Over a year later, on September 30, 1871,  The Covington Journal followed up with this item:]

 “Peter Blimm, who murdered a boy in Boone County about two years ago, was tried for the crime a second time in the Circuit Court, at Warsaw, Gallatin County last week.  P. U. Major, Esq., acted as Judge, Judge Drane having defended the prisoner in the Court of Appeals.  The trial was concluded on Saturday evening, resulting in a verdict of manslaughter, and the defendant was sentenced to ten years’ confinement at hard labor in the penitentiary.  The jury upon the first trial found Blimm guilty of murder, but the Court of Appeals reversed the decision, and sent the case back for a new trial.”  


A second follow-up story is here.