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Albert J. Tirrell, the First Sleepwalking Killer

2013-04-03 | 🔗

On Oct. 27, 1845 Mary Ann Bickford's body was found in her Boston boardinghouse room. Her paramour Albert J. Tirrell was eventually charged with murder. Tirrell hired Rufus Choate to defend him, and Choate claimed his client had episodes of somnambulism.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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hello, unwelcome, do our part cast I'm Holly friendly and I'm Tracy Wilson and her had about a sleep walking. I have never had about of of sleep walking my brother use to when he was very small. My parents had put a lock on on his door so that they could get in an emergency but that he could not get out and injure himself, which is germane to our planet yesterday. It totally the sleepwalking defence in criminal trials is not entirely an uncommon and modern modern trials. Medical and legal experts are continuing to study the validity of such claims and the jealously fucking crime is actually on the rise. It doesn't surprise me it's one of those things aware of as people become more aware of sleep disorders and sleep walking disorders, both there's both be getting diagnosed increase and the use as a defence. Whether act
or not increase yeah, and we also don't know if there is a cultural or social trigger. Some experts in the field have positive that, because we live in a sort of a more nervous anxiety laden culture, its actually triggering more people to have sleepwalking disorders and sleep disorders in general. So we don't know the exact route of why those are on the rise, those three things all factors bites in eighteen, forty, six. It was completely unheard of to claim sleepwalking as a defence. Now no one had used that ever until Albert J to row who trial and his lawyer Rufus Church, who took a really unorthodox approach to defending his client at
where the time it was so out of left field that it was almost like that it wasn't me like. You saw me do it, but that was not me, but nobody did see him do it. We're comes up in the trial of the crime to place on October, twenty seventh of eighteen, forty five and Missus Mary Ann Pickford body was found in a city boarding house in Beacon Hill in Boston. She was only twenty one Her body was found on the bed personally on the bed personally on the floor, their different illustration to conceal my kind of put her in slightly different places and there's an account that comes up in the trial, for they describe part of her body being for choosing a night gown, and she had a wound to the neck that had nearly decapitated her. The bed we had been set on fire, as well as to other places.
The room and bit for its here and skim were singed inverts an airing was missing from one of her ears, which has split open ass though it had been pulled out, and there was a straight razor at the foot of the bed Tis a pretty grisly sea. It is pretty grizzly and an alot there's a lot going on. There Albert terrain had been seen with her earlier that evening and a witness account also described him, speak speaking with a stable keeper to try to get transport away from the city now to give a little bit a backroom uneasy, because this was not Appearing that was unknown already. That was not her first encounter with throughout by any means so they were actually known to be engaged in an affair. Both of them were married, Bickford so it by Maria and some others. Pseudonyms at different times had gotten a taste for city life. When she was visiting relatives and actually left her husband, who was in Maine to stay in the city,
permanently, and she had even written a letter and said you can come and live in the city, but I'm an and will be has the wife, but I'm gonna need my freedom. Kind of thing like I will play the part of life, but I'm not really married to you in my heart, so a one point. Her husband James actually travelled to Boston to look for her discovered her working brothel and headed back to me by himself in court proceedings. The prosecution stated at one point that she had actually moved Sebastian with a pair of more than she presumably met on that first visit to the city. That was obviously her husband and then that man deserted her, which is what led her to prostitution. So many. He had met Albert Corral, while working and the two of them had started a very intense relationship. People described it as both passionate and volatile they well together as a married couple, even though she
already married, and he also was married and had a wife and a family and on September, twenty ninth eighteen, forty five, which was month before the murder Carol had actually been charged with adultery. His trial was delayed for half a year after six months after friends and relatives, and even his wife actually petition the court to delay the proceedings because they wanted to all work together to help Albert reform his ways and they thought if he could be no proof. He was a good citizen for six months and then go back on the adultery charge. Even if he was found guilty of it, they would be a little more lenient because he was clearly trying to mend its ways and the delay was granted and then over was released after you know, posting bond and he right back to Marian. Yes, so that sort of the history of of them as a couple when Tyrrell ran from Boston after
The murderer happened. He went to hide with relatives in Weymouth, then he went north to Canada to get passage aboard ship to go to Liverpool that vote tried to turn back because of bad weather, and he got a second ship in New York to go to New Orleans. On December fancy was arrest, after a Louisiana authorities got a tip that he was aboard a vessel in the gulf, so a dumpling he's in custody and he was transported back to Boston for the trial and he hired trail. We should note was not a poor man had wealth is family was well established in the shoe manufacture, trade And he hired Rufus choked who was a protege of Daniel Webster as his defence and Joe was already a very high profile figure, with both the political and legal career, it served on the Massachusetts State House of Representatives and the state Senate. He had been a member.
The twenty second and twenty third Congress. He was well respected in legal circles, so it was really like the equivalent of hiring a pretty heavy hitter lawyer. Today, everybody would have only was an tokens. eve of this novel defence for his client, claiming that, in fact, Albert the somnambulist and that he profoundly entire murder in a sleepwalking trains. Now that wasn't his only defense, he also tried to discredit the possibility that he had even committed the murder, but that was sort of one of the new and novel ways that he defended his client right that feeding started on March twenty fourth eighteen, forty six and according to court records, the judges were judges, wilds Hubbard, and do we judge
was also scheduled to be there, but he was out sick, representing the commonwealth, was Samuel De Parker and for Trail Rufus, Shoot and Agnes and Ebby Merrill Esquire jurors work very quickly did that morning. If you read the Boston Daily Times account, it seems like they really whipped through, like Guardia an additional questioning really really quickly. It took about half an hour according to that reporters account of it to select the entire hurry which, if you have ever done, jury duty, it never takes just half an hour to get everybody settled, so that was pretty expedient and then parkers. Opening arguments included a plea to the jurors today guard any bias that they might have as a result of hearing rumours about the deceased, Pickford, professional woman of the night, was not really helping the case by, Open, leading what he called quote: her depraved character
but he reminded the jurors present that the law protects even the wicked, as well as the good when it comes to murder, Parker so asserted that terrain. He was the son of a really successful. Shoe manufacturer had had to get married, very young at the age of eighteen because he had probably gotten his girlfriend pregnant. He dated the cause of so early a marriage in his minority. I need not state as part of an overall scheme and of chip away at twelve moral image showing that he was impetuous, given to impulsive and wanton behaviour. Perker further claimed a bit further had actually been afraid of Tyrrell after his adultery arrest, because she was scared that he would be angry, that their relationship had gotten him into such trouble. These it up when it was very public. What was going on and again there are many many people petitioning the courts, so everyone knew his business at that point. The prosecution also paint a picture of the
ants leading up to the discovery of the Kurds. Body first mention the pair being seen together in the days and almond night, leading up to the mother to describe a faint shriek coming big room early in the morning three, the sound of something to the floor for person running than tumbling down the stairs than being heard. Leaving the house find was a groan or scream of fire and residence and and by room, seeing smoke, come under their door and then six MRS Lawrence, who was the family living below those rooms coming up the stairs to find burning, bedclothes tiled at the top of the stairs and against the door of the other borders room. Then seven help arriving in the room, Missus Vickers, being extinguished, because it was on fire and the realisation that an item that had been stumbled over in the rush to put out the fires, there was a fire in the closet on the
and in the clothing trunk was in fact the body of Mary bickered. So at first they realise there had been a murder. They knew there was a fire which they were putting out and then they realized lake. This person has Paden gruesomely killed right. There was additional evidence. Also, there was no fire in the fireplace say it could not be explained. Is an accident, an accident of the fire used in the room, out of control a man's apparel, which consisted of a vest, drawers, socks and a cane were found in the room, the razor that was and near the body didn't belong to any one who was in the house. And then there was the interchange at the stable that we talked about earlier. Terror threat was reported to have told the man that he was quote Anna scrape about a girl and then, after that, opening on parkers part witnesses were called for the prosecution, and there were many called you won't list all of them, but some of the the
germane points that sort of brought in new information or corroborated specific elements and information that are important to the sleepwalking angle. So first job is Pratt. Who was the coroner firm statements from the opening and added that he had also found a ring in the room with the inscription Agee tee to em a bee, presumably Albert Terrell, to Marian Pickford and proud, also found teeth in the pocket of the Van That was in the room which unlocked the valleys and a trunk which were believe to belong to Toronto? Another witness was Doktor Joseph Moriarty, and he talked about the wound too big for its neck as me From ear to ear and separating the layer and x and the blood vessels, he also said that it would be possible to for a person to perform this at one stroke. herself, and he stated he never knew a person to commit murder on another person with a razor, so
a weird witness for horror the prosecution is am. I was looking over the note to the case. They were published in the Boston Daily Times, and I kept reread passage. Thinking did they really collar witness the said she could adapt it to herself, but they really did for reason. I can't fathom, although I think their initial plan was just to describe the severity of the wound right so that he may or may not have surprised them with those additional comments. They also called a jewel Lawrence who owned the house where Mary was killed and he confirmed confirmed the across that was found in the burning room was one that he had seen to railway. Previously, there was also James Phelim, Hugh was the stable keeper, and he said that terrain. Told him that somebody had come into the room and tried to murder him? This episode of stuff you missed in history, glasses, brought? You buy Norton three sixty with lifelong. Let's just say your shopping online with yours
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right additional witnesses were called primarily just to corroborate what had been said in the opening, like the the list of things that happen, leading up to the discovery and several were called just to establish the relationship between the deceased and the accused is being romantic and volatile and neat There is also the testimony of Missus Mary Head and she described an odd encounter with with terrible during which he seemed out of sorts and almost asleep. So there was also the testimony of Missus Mary head. He described an odd encounter with terrible during which he seemed out of sorts and almost to sleep, and he also made a bizarre sound with his throat. Do you know more about that? I do it will come. The people come up. Just remember that the opening argument for the defense had some interesting points and it was delivered not by MR true but by his,
yet Mr Merrill, and he one of the quotes from his opening is. It does not follow that because a body has been found exhibiting indications of violent death that a murder has therefore been committed. His argument was very focused on the beyond reasonable doubt angle of finding guilt and he suggested that the clothing found in the room could have belonged to another man or it could have been to rouse, but because he was known to stay with Dick furred. Quite often it could have been left there at any time, not necessarily the night of the murder. He also wanted to dispel me. I be added that running meant that he was guilty, so he asked are not innocent men. Often often afraid of being thought guilty marrow, also read a list of cases where men had been found guilty and executed entirely on circumstantial evidence. So again their building multiple,
go to the case in one. Is that no one actually saw him do it. He also asserted that if Europe had wanted to kill, big Ferdy had out ample opportunity in their travels together before this particular night There was also a little bit of a character assassination going on against big. She was characterized by Carolyn opening as something of a beguiling siren and that she her wiles to infatuate, Caroline, that's what caused him to leave behind his family and turned to her So, after all of those layers of defence marrow introduced the somnambulism defence or waiting at length about the nature of the condition and reading a variety of cases and medical studies to support what he was trying to say and according to the Boston Daily aims. Merrill's opening lasted two hours and forty five minutes. There was a lunch break in the middle and accordingly,
reporter was quote full of ability and research. Throughout till he was impressive, apparently in his open rights and then witnesses for the defense recalled the first of which was Missus Navvy tier of who is the widow of Leonard too Ral and the mother of the and she testified that our had been quote in the habit of getting up in his sleep since he was four or five years old and she describes several episode from the time he was tiny until he was a teenager and then was a young man on his own and left for it. So the time she he lived with her, she described multiple episodes where he would go on walk about and do things completely sleep outwards rather Leonard Vittorio also gave testimony that our was prone to wakeful episodes, while he was still asleep and during some of them he he quote clinched hold of me very hard and it was difficult to force his hands off of me
Additionally, family and neighbours of the terrain family were called to testify that they had also seen Alber in Somnambulist some even asserting that they had interacted with him. During these events and found him able to speak and even answer questions but still seem asleep. The defence attempted to introduce a complaint mentioned by Mary Pickford. That Tyrrell had at one point struck her across the breast forcefully. While he was asleep but it was ruled out. Ass quote coming within the rule of deck of declarations, so they couldn't get a sworn testimony from the deceased to back up this claim right. most witnesses also were used to establish the idea. That Albert was in fact, really quite fond of Mary entreated, her very calm, kindly that he was genuinely in love with her and a doctor e o Finny was called. There were several doctors called for the defense,
He testified that the fatal wound could have been suicide or murder weapon doktor. Walter chiming also testified that he had knowledge of women committing suicide in this manner and had also read about it happening just in his career studies and in new journals and staying up abreast of the information of the time frame. Several other doctors or call to corroborate the argument that a person could easily commit murder wildly walking and one thing that shoot and his associates repeatedly established was that when Albert with sleep walking, he would make an odd vote sound similar to the one described by MRS Mary head when she was on the stand as a witness for the prosecution. So they kind of artfully link that back to you remember that person said he seemed really odd and made a weird clicking
at his throat. That's what he does any sleep walks we establish. He has lake inability to sleep, walk and do things in his sleep. So on Friday March, twenty seventh eighteen, forty six, the defence made closing arguments shouts. Closing statement was six hours. Long yeah. All pretty much. I felt, like that's filibuster used. He was known as an orator and there are some account that about how astounding it is that he could go on for such length, but he never seem to lose the thread or focus of his speeches, so he had a lot to say and it took six hours to say it. Yes, his his testimony included the following as far as the testimony leave you get any human being see the prisoner strike the blow now than any human see him in the house after nine o clock the previous evening. No did any human being see him when from the house know that
human beings see him with a drop of blood upon his hands. No, can anyone say that on that night he was not labouring under a disease to which he was subject from his youth. Now has he ever made a confession of the deed to seek to friend or thief taker? Not one word so that was part of the six, however, the closing statement and choked finished it about for twenty five in the afternoon and after a brief recess, Mister Perker made his closing argument. Some eating his case. Pretty much is repeating what had come up throughout the the trial and he wrapped up at six. Fifty. And Albert Trail waved his option to address the jury and the court was adjourned until Saturday the following day on Saturday morning. Do we addressed the jury at length? the sun nationalism issue, he said quote: medical testimony is very,
properly admitted. In these cases, but it should be weighed carefully is dangerous to admit the possession of this disease left and the right, freeze of our brains. The possessors might commit needs which in others would be high crimes. So after two hours of deliberation. At ten minutes to one o clock, the jury returned with their verdict, which was not guilty and the format of the jury actually stated, though, that the question- and I quote, the question of some nationalism had not entered into the consideration of the jury, so even with the sleepwalking defences the circumstantial nature of the evidence was actually what hurt the prosecution. However, her this case is usually cited as the first use of the sleepwalking defence and characterizes, though that's the reason for the acquittal that the very foreman said that wasn't even really a factor for them.
Europe was also tried for the arson charges that were associated with the night of the murder, shoot defended him again with the same defence and use many of the same witnesses, and he was once again acquitted, perhaps emboldened by these two successive thoreau. Actually, this is so brazen requested that showed refund half of his fees as the case had both cases have obviously been one with greater ease than expected, choked, of course, refused doesn't even really a factor for them to rail was also tried for the artisan charges that were associated with the night of the murder showed defended him again,
wife and children and Weymouth, and he lived out his days working in the family business, a shoe manufacture. He could never hang on to any of his money. They did have another child, but that was sort of his his life after the trial that pretty quiet after these trials. In his time he went home again and choke continued. His impressive legal career any continue to be involved, politics which can be halted I ask, as he really was at the next point of a lot of important moments, that what's interesting thing about as it from a modern perspective. Would this defence have really have water? We know people use the sea blocking defence in modern times, there's a famous case
from Canada, from early eighties, where a man had driven. I think fourteen miles killed his in laws and woke up while he was driving home and drove himself to the police station and he was actually quitted. So we know these still come up and there are still some. You know that come up even more modern than that they don't always succeed, though STAR and a Michael Cramer born men, who is a medical doctor and a medical director of the cardio sleek services at the University of Minnesota was interviewed by Focus Magazine and he said of sleep walking there's something in the switch between phases goes wrong: creating an abhorrent electrical impulse, tat triggers and overlap between states you're, not fully in ram. So your muscles are relaxed, not paralyzed and you're, not fully in non room, so you can still be dreaming in this state. Some of the brains processes will be awake while others are off line. Why does that we? The violent behavior, you ask
Yeah, he continues as with many things in narrow path. Algae is to do with real estate brain structures like the hypothalamus that regulate sleep sit next through the mid brain where early evolved, behaviors lie. So when this electrical impulses sparked off wakes up this part of the brain, leaving the moral areas like the frontal cortex, asleep that leaves thing to inhibit your rage reaction, while your sleep, walking and people are advised to never wake asleep these their reaction may not be delightful or pleasant. It's completely not. in any way dampened by their morality, we could do something allowing realizing it, but some of else. Behaviors like the fight To conceal evidence and running in hiding are not consistent
reporting actions, as we now understand them, and if he had not tried to include them in his defence, you could make the case, but he used the same defence in his arson trial right right, though, it is feasible from a neurological perspective that is, Sleepwalker could kill another person while sleep, but that then attempting to conceal evidence while asleep likely: that's that's much less likely yeah. So if he were trying to day and uselessly barking defence, particularly for the arson element, he would probably not very well since that was part of the concealment of the crimes. So that's the first in the: U S, anyway, sleepwalking defence, and it was successful. Yes, have you seen the movie sleep block with me?
yes, it's reminded me of that and how a warmed he is when he hears that people wildly blocking when having slickers orders have either inadvertently or sort of acting out a rage impulse killed the person that that they were sleeping when again fascinating stuff. I was worried secretly that I will one day magically begin sleepwalking in doing bad things. That too little will fear of I'm Laurie Signal and I spent the last decade reporting on technology. I helped introduce the world the companies like Instagram manoeuvre when they were just a handful of people and an idea. Interviewing founders like Mark Zuckerberg, can Jack Dorsey as their companies quite literally changed the world. But now I want to show you my Silicon Valley. It's a new weekly podcast series, hot first contact with lorries. Siegel first contact will give you what I like to call the dinner table: access, detect leaders, how I see them. Human love nuance
sometimes emotional conversations about us humans and technology and will tackle ethical issues of the future, because these not come get really quickly from engineers coating thoughts to surf the dating adds to enter my conversations with tech leaders. First contact will bring you rare. as to the billion areas, and also the people on the fringes, the ones that you made for we're, but I called the future listen a first contact with lorries evil. That's me: I'm a radio out on apple pie, chasms or wherever you get your podcast a real now for my heart, a new series presented by T Mobile for business, the restless ones join me Jonathan Strickland, as I explored coming technological revolution and the business leaders who stand right on the cutting edge. There are certain decision makers that are restless they No, there is a better way to get things done and they
ready, curious excited for the next technological innovation to unlock their vision of the future. These restless ones are in pursuit of bigger, better still under they seek new partners, new strategies, new processes, they pursue innovative platforms and solutions to propel. There teams, businesses and industries forward in each episode will and more from the restless ones themselves and dived deep into how the five g revolution could enable their teams to thrive. The restless and is now available on Iheart radio AB or wherever you the pod guests? The answer may, I do have two pieces of mail today. These please one is of very lovely postcard from our listener Alisha and she, right. I recently discovered your Pakistan have heard about your interesting postcards. I also play postcards and thought I would send you a historical postcard from my own college. So it's a phone
from Bryn Mawr of the first class in it include some interesting, a notable people potentially one of them. It says Emily Green mulch of That's really nine one of the first two american women to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Maybe one of the I'm a dignified members of this group Poltrot in its system of literature and ensuring the historical clothing, which I am it's kind of a nice reference point. I think I actually have a pattern based off am, I also have an email from our listener. Thomas Amy's, dear Tracy, unholy awhile, back Syrian Katy did a couple of forecasts on famous historical pet, I wrote them to tell him a rumour I heard and calling Mccullough historical novel set in the Roman Empire Masters room. She mentioned a mutant horse, a Jew, Caesar would ride into battle rather than hooves it had toes. It would greatly enhance his image with the superstitious Romans and their enemies,
I wrote to ask if either of them knew of this or was it an invention of Miss MC colors? I did come across in other reference to this horse when I was reading the essence of Michel the mounting, so this rumour goes back to at least the sixteenth century. I too have seen this rumour several times and I do know a couple years ago there was a beautiful exhibit at the Field Museum in Chicago, which is my favorite museums in the? U S about horses, and they do mentioned this- your toes and how some horses will actually display. What look mostly can now be to above the hoof level, so guessing at something to that effect that I want to do more research sure, because there are a lot of stories that talk about Caesar's toad horse and how it was considered lucky
He was the only man alone to ride it. Interesting stuff, but I know forces can have a single doze re Mamma. We just reblong, really wonderful infographic about some of the most famous forces in history on our tumblr yesterday is a mere haven't. Looked at it. That there is a horse of Caesar's on there and no more a call seeing the tow part. Three will do your research. I love weird animal stuff, so I am always glad to research. If you would like Emulous that weird animal, this digital bits or anything else, you can do so. History, pike, ass, it discovery, dot, com or also on twitter atmosphere. History on Facebook, at Facebook, dot, com, slash, history, class stuff were also it missed,
history, dot, tumblr com. You were up interest. If you would like to learn a little bit more about what we ve talked about today, you can go to the website and taken solely parking into the search bar. Then you will turn up the article how sleepwalking works. If you would like to learn about almost anything, you're mine can conjure. You knew that at our website, as well, which this house to work stuck, for more on this and thousands of other topics. Housetop works outcome, Netflix streams, tv shows and movies directly to your home, saving you time, money and hassle. As networks number, you can instantly watch tv absurd and movies streaming directly to your pc MAC or right dear tv, with your Xbox three. Sixty ps3 organ tender, we Council was Apple devices, candle and look get a free thirty, they travel membership.
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