Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Bridgewater Beauty Killing Pt 4: A Smoking Death

Bridgewater Beauty Killing Pt 4:
 A Smoking Death

Justice Angus Parson sentenced William Ephraim Peter Haines to be hanged at the Adelaide Gaol, the 55th execution to be held within the buildings walls, at 8am on December 16th 1927 for the willful murder of Miss Devina Nellie Schmidt.
 The conviction was recorded on November 18th 1927, for the murder, which took place on October 12th 1917, at Bridgewater in the Adelaide Hills.
Haines was attended by the Gaol Chaplains the Reverend R. M Fulford and Reverend J.P.H. Tilbrook.
 On the Thursday before his sentence was to be carried out, Haines was visited by his family. Later that day the Rev Fulford called upon him to pray for his soul.
Haines sat in the condemned man’s cell overnight, with a warder on “death watch”, who sat staring at him all night to make sure he didn’t try and commit suicide before justice could be served.
 Friday morning, Reverend Fulford again visited Haines, this time praying with him before the Sheriff, Mr Otto Schomburgk called upon him to deliver his punishment.
Haines, lit a cigarette, and asked to see the world one last time. He was taken to one of the nearby upstairs windows (New Building, Adelaide Gaol). He attempted to look upon the world, but could not see anything, due to the large gaol walls.
 He walked on to the “drop” still puffing his cigarette. The hangman pulled a black mask over his head, then the noose…and whilst he puffed his last ever cigarette, there was a “click” and the floor fell from under him.
 William Haines was dead in less than 10 minutes.

As was procedure, his body was left to hang for some time, before the Coroner, Mr Matthews examined the body and decreed the death was due to strangling by hanging, in accordance with the court sentence.
So ended the life of William Haines, either a jilted boyfriend who murdered his lover, or a demented obsessed man who murdered an innocent girl – either way, he paid for the murder with his own life.

The Advertiser: Saturday 17th December 1927: http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/47440488
Observer: Saturday December 3rd: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-title823