A Most Brutal Wretch
January 23, 1877
They were young, four of them, and they already made the acquaintance of Indianapolis's mayor for stealing a quantity of whiskey. One of them was named Macy Warner (birth name Amasa Warner). The mayor took it under advisement, but perhaps he didn't realize this wouldn't be the last time he would hear of Macy.
Eighteen months later, Deputy Sheriff Harmoning took Macy to the House of Refuge for Juvenile Offenders, but that was after the boy had tried to escape from him. Whatever good they taught at the House of Refuge was wasted on Macy because in the 1880 census, Macy was doing a stretch at Indiana State Prison in Michigan City. He'd been sentenced to five years after wounding a policeman that tried to arrest him. He was fourteen years old.
In 1883, he went on trial in Lafayette for robbing the ex-City Marshal along with another boy. The pair gave a list of witnesses that could vouch for them and provide an alibi. None showed up.
Four months later 50 armed, masked men showed up at the Vincennes county jail demanding the sheriff hand over Macy Warner for the murder of Jacob Mandery. It seemed that Macy had refused to pay for a game of pool and was put out by Jacob the saloon keeper. He crossed the street, pulled out his gun and shot Mandery, then at police.
The coroner upon completing his murder case inquest found that Jacob Mandery came to his death after being shot by Warner. One of the revolvers Warner had in his possession was stolen from a junk dealer.
Macy was shipped off to Vanderburg County Jail for safekeeping, but in the meantime there was a scuffle to claim the $500 reward for Macy. Albert Goetz who was a hotel porter in Vincennes claimed it was his because he let the law know when Macy Werner had come back to the hotel where he was staying.
On October 30, 1883 Warner pled not guilty to the charge of murder at his arraignment. He also got a change of venue to Daviess county, however this did not save him from a conviction, and in January 1884 he was sentenced to 21 years in the penitentiary. He was not 21 years old yet.
In 1887 he slipped up behind a fellow convict named Frank Harris and cut his throat with a shoe knife. They both worked in the shoe department, and there was no known grudge between them. Warner was described as "one of the most desperate characters in prison."
In his hometown of Jasper, Harris was known as "Indianapolis Red" and "Reddy the Tough.", who was serving 3 years for larceny.
It came as no surprise when Warner was charged with murder, but the papers noted there was race against time, since it was feared he would die of consumption before the trial which was set for September, 1887.
Macy Warner thought his odds were better, and he pled insanity to the charge. He wasn't the only that was given him better odds than that newspapers. In October just before his trial was starting, the sheriff found a hammer, a chisel and a heavy club under Macy's bed. It was found these had been passed to him by a "notorious character, Mattie McDonald", who was afterwards arrested.
The speech that Warner prepared to read at his trial read, "Your Honor and Gentlemen of the Jury, when I was fifteen years of age I was sent to the house of refuge. From there I escaped and returned to Indianapolis, when a policeman attempted to arrest me. I shot him. For this I served five years at Michigan City. When released I was employed by a commission house in Indianapolis, and was sent to Vincennes to assist in shipping poultry. While there a saloon-keeper put me out of his house, followed me to the street and struck me. I shot him dead, and was sent to the prison in this city for twenty-one years. Frank Harris insulted me and I cut his throat with a shoe knife. I do not want to go to prison for life, and desire you to either acquit me or bring in a verdict of death."
The jury gave him what he asked for, and on October 22nd they found him guilty and he was sentenced to death by hanging. He was known as a "most brutal wretch, unfit to be at large."
However Macy Warner had every intention of being at large once more, and a few days later he was found in possession of shoe-buttoners fashioned into the shape of skeleton keys, several yards of wire, wooden imitations of the jail keys, a box of powder and a big knife fashioned into a saw. He vowed to escape but was turned in by a fellow prisoner.
Macy was no quitter though and in January he escaped from the county jail. His cellmate William McCain helped him to overpower the jailer by seizing his arms from behind and threatening him with a razor. They took the guard's keys, .38 revolver and $3.50. They fled and locked the entrance door. The alarm went off, and they were soon recaptured.
Governor Gray declined to issue a respite to the execution, and hundreds of people came by to see Warner in the last few days before his execution, and 70 tickets were given out to witness the hanging.
His mother had died that year, and his brother Charles came to visit in jail.
On March 9, 1888, at 10:30 a.m. three hundred people assembled to see his end, and many thousands were on the outside. He placed the rope over his own neck, which perhaps was not a wise move since the 3 1/2 foot drop from the trap door did not break his neck. It took 36 minutes before the physicians declared him dead. He was 25 years old.
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Stranger Than Fiction Stories by M.P. Pellicer