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Carrie Brown/Ameer Ben Ali Discussion Thread Including The Trial & Aftermath

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  • On the question Mark asks about why the Farmhand only decided to leave Damon’s employ after 5 or 10 days I have to say that I’ve always wondered about that myself. Could it have been that some of Damon’s workers (or maybe just one) started making comments as the case continued to appear in the papers? If he matched the description and they knew that he’d visited the area on the night in question and they knew the kind of people he hung around with and they perhaps knew that the guy had a bit of a temper perhaps what might have started out as a bit of teasing gradually got more persistent until he decided it was time to go?

    That said, nothing explains why he would have fled leaving the key to the room and a bloodied shirt?
    Regards

    Michael🔎


    " When you eliminate the impossible whatever remains no matter how improbable......is probably a little bit boring "

    Comment


    • Mike:

      Your observation, as was Mark's, IMHO....is a good one.
      However, at the time the Farmhand returned.....April 24th.....there was only one other hired hand there....the fellow with the broken arm. I doubt that he would have busted the Farmhand's
      balls about anything in that condition. According to Damon's testimony, all the other hired hands had bounced and only the Farmhand stayed.....either because he was deemed a little better
      in terms of performance than the others or because he had handled horses before.....the job the man with the broken arm had been doing.

      The trouble we run into here is that the Farmhand could have come off as Joe Bumpkin until the one day he returned in a pissed off mood. Not necessarily a knucklehead, but morose or introverted.
      We also don't know if he told the dude with the broken arm or Damon himself where he was going that night. We don't know if he had made a trip to the waterfront area before. I have a hunch and it is no more than that and nothing to bank on, but he may have been in the area, if not the Hotel, before. Water Street was loaded with whores. His ability to make it back to Cranford might have been due to his having made a trip down there before.

      What intrigues me even more is that Damon, who probably heard news of the murder all day on the 24th ( a workday, a Friday) which went down only one mile from his joint on Beekman Street,
      wasn't interested enough to ask the Farmhand about his night in the Big Apple. After all, he has a wife and three kids on the premises.

      For someone as indifferent about what his farmhand may have been doing the night of the 23rd, he sure makes up for it with the elaborate visit to the East River Hotel.....only to do jackshit about it until he was outed a decade later.
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      • Originally posted by Howard Brown View Post
        Mike:

        Your observation, as was Mark's, IMHO....is a good one.
        However, at the time the Farmhand returned.....April 24th.....there was only one other hired hand there....the fellow with the broken arm. I doubt that he would have busted the Farmhand's
        balls about anything in that condition. According to Damon's testimony, all the other hired hands had bounced and only the Farmhand stayed.....either because he was deemed a little better
        in terms of performance than the others or because he had handled horses before.....the job the man with the broken arm had been doing.

        The trouble we run into here is that the Farmhand could have come off as Joe Bumpkin until the one day he returned in a pissed off mood. Not necessarily a knucklehead, but morose or introverted.
        We also don't know if he told the dude with the broken arm or Damon himself where he was going that night. We don't know if he had made a trip to the waterfront area before. I have a hunch and it is no more than that and nothing to bank on, but he may have been in the area, if not the Hotel, before. Water Street was loaded with whores. His ability to make it back to Cranford might have been due to his having made a trip down there before.

        What intrigues me even more is that Damon, who probably heard news of the murder all day on the 24th ( a workday, a Friday) which went down only one mile from his joint on Beekman Street,
        wasn't interested enough to ask the Farmhand about his night in the Big Apple. After all, he has a wife and three kids on the premises.

        For someone as indifferent about what his farmhand may have been doing the night of the 23rd, he sure makes up for it with the elaborate visit to the East River Hotel.....only to do jackshit about it until he was outed a decade later.
        Fair point of course How. I was making an assumption that Damon had a crew of guys working for him. I do wonder what triggered his departure though and even more why he left without the key and the shirt? Then there’s your question too of course.

        Could we speculate then that there appears to be a reasonable possibility that a few days after Brown’s murder something occurred that triggered the Farmhand’s sudden departure? And might this have occurred when he was away from the house and that it was so immediate and serious that he couldn’t even return to the house to collect the key and shirt? Further, might this event have involved Damon in some way? Could he have told the Farmhand “just go and I’ll get rid of the key and the shirt?”

        A fair bit of speculation there How but when there are so many unknowns what else can we do?
        Regards

        Michael🔎


        " When you eliminate the impossible whatever remains no matter how improbable......is probably a little bit boring "

        Comment


        • Could we speculate then that there appears to be a reasonable possibility that a few days after Brown’s murder something occurred that triggered the Farmhand’s sudden departure? And might this have occurred when he was away from the house and that it was so immediate and serious that he couldn’t even return to the house to collect the key and shirt? Further, might this event have involved Damon in some way? Could he have told the Farmhand “just go and I’ll get rid of the key and the shirt?”

          A fair bit of speculation there How but when there are so many unknowns what else can we do?


          Only point I can offer an idea for is that the Farmhand lived on the estate until his departure, There was nothing in Cranford to attract a sailor's attention....like loose broads and liquor. The town didn't have a police force at the time which will give you an indication of how placid is was.

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          • I have to agree with Michael that “Frank” left in a hurry sometime later, without returning to his bunk and leaving the key and bloody clothes behind. The best and maybe only possibility is that it was the latent publicity of the 24th or the following days, naming the crime scene location and the victim and describing the main suspect.

            Without any other alleged hired hands that might have known him and suspected him, the only Frank could have been worried about would be George Damon. I don’t think he could trust George even if he had any way to extort silence. But then from this perspective, the idea that George told him to leave is more than worth considering.

            Comment


            • I have to agree with Michael that “Frank” left in a hurry sometime later, without returning to his bunk and leaving the key and bloody clothes behind. The best and maybe only possibility is that it was the latent publicity of the 24th or the following days, naming the crime scene location and the victim and describing the main suspect.

              I also agree that IF the Farmhand story was true, that he left in large part to his instincts telling him that at some point Damon might be suspicious if he wasn't already. I'm surprised that he would wait for '5-10' days as Damon claimed. In fact, I don't believe that at all. He probably came back in the first place for some personal things which might lead to his identification. Each hour that went by after his return to Cranford even on the 24th must have given him great anxiety. Knowing that Damon worked in the vicinity, there's no way the Farmhand didn't consider that even on the evening of the 24th that Damon wouldn't ask him about the previous night. But, as Damon claims, Damon didn't by virtue of his interest in the murder first coming from the maid after the Farmhand split. This is one of the reasons I am not entirely sold on the Damon story. So, yeah....I also agree he left shortly after returning and certainly not 5-10 days later.


              Without any other alleged hired hands that might have known him and suspected him, the only( person) Frank could have been worried about would be George Damon. I don’t think he could trust George even if he had any way to extort silence. But then from this perspective, the idea that George told him to leave is more than worth considering.

              Damon stated in his affidavit-slash-cover my ass deposition that he was a little afraid of the farmhand. This after keeping him on for further employment. This 'fear' was most likely the result of him
              believing the Farmhand had killed Brown. Had he been fearful prior to April 23rd, he'd have told him to bounce then. IMHO.

              I don't believe that Damon figured out in his mind that Farmhand Frank did the deed and then told him to split. I don't see Damon with the balls to do that.
              The Farmhand would have, IMHO, not could have, assumed that Damon might be on to something. His brain was in overdrive and any suggestion for him to leave wouldn't have to be a 2+2=4
              situation as if Damon 'suddenly' didn't need him after he'd kept him on up until that point in time. I'd be paranoid to the max if I had killed someone in another location, came back and missed work, and then my employer asks me to leave with the murder on the front page. Even if for an unrelated reason ( Damon didn't need anyone to handle the horses, his kids would do that, as an example), the Farmhand would have assumed this meant Damon was suspicious. In any event, he left on his own volition.

              In a case like this, where we have to give everything the once over twice, particularly the chronology of events leading to the Farmhand's departure, made in large part to Damon's shitty decision to retain the key for a decade, any idea is good. Yours aren't bad and neither are anyone's, to be, pardon the pun, frank.
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              • Any idea is definitely good as long as no one feels the need to defend Damon from any aspersions when he obviously subverted justice once, if not twice with the lousy affidavit. The lengths he went to to maintain respectability are amazing to me, not that they really work any more.

                Who really believes he could have picked up the one in a thousand, if that, hardened sailor that came on a passenger ship as an immigrant? Even with a group hire, the odds are against it. And to mistakenly say he hired them at the deserted Castle Gardens instead of the Barge Office…?!…

                Comment


                • It goes without saying that this isn’t a straightforward case or we wouldn’t still be interested in it and I certainly don’t want to labour one particular point but one point just sticks him my mind as making zero sense and I find I impossible to shrug it off. Why did the Farmhand leave without taking the key and the shirt? Surely we can eliminate forgetting about it? It’s the kind of point that if someone read this for the first time they’d be saying “whoa, hold on, this guy left leaving the key to the murder room and a bloodied shirt behind? No way!” It seems so unlikely that I’m leaning toward saying that either this never happened or that there was much more to it.

                  I suppose it’s possible that the s**t hit the fan in some way whilst he was away from Damon’s place and it was so serious that he had to go straight away, without returning to his room? If we speculate along that line, and assume that he wouldn’t have simply forgotten those two items, then it’s entirely possible that he believed that someone would get rid of them for him. It’s hard to see past Damon for this job.

                  So why did he end up retaining the key? Was it some kind of insurance policy against the Farmhand’s return? As How has pointed out though Damon doesn’t come across as the timid, easily cowed type and yet we know that not a single one of his excuses for holding back on the key for 10 years holds any kind of water.

                  And so if we add the unlikeliness of the Farmhand simply forgetting that he had 2 such incriminating items in his room when he hit the road to the feeble excuses that Damon gave for not coming forward to the fact that he couldn’t even recall the Farmhand’s name (and neither could Brennan?) to the fact that Mrs D couldn’t recall the name of the servant that found the items to the fact that he supposedly didn’t know that Mrs D still had the key - do we think that we might be on solid ground to doubt Damon’s story of how he came into possession of the key?

                  What do we think are our alternatives? I know that How has already mentioned the possibility that Damon might have manufactured a key. Would anyone have been so determined to see Ali a free man that they might have ‘recruited’ Damon for this job? Might someone’s aim have been more toward discrediting the police? Was Lee calling in some kind of favour? Did the key, for whatever reason, originate with Lee and he got Damon to claim possession for some reason?

                  Apologies for waffling on but I was just sitting outside with a beer (only my second) mauling stuff over and deciding that I just struggle to accept that the Farmhand would just leave those two items which were his free ticket to an execution.
                  Regards

                  Michael🔎


                  " When you eliminate the impossible whatever remains no matter how improbable......is probably a little bit boring "

                  Comment


                  • Any idea is definitely good as long as no one feels the need to defend Damon from any aspersions when he obviously subverted justice once, if not twice with the lousy affidavit. The lengths he went to to maintain respectability are amazing to me, not that they really work any more.

                    Who really believes he could have picked up the one in a thousand, if that, hardened sailor that came on a passenger ship as an immigrant? Even with a group hire, the odds are against it. And to mistakenly say he hired them at the deserted Castle Gardens instead of the Barge Office…?!…

                    -M. Franzoi-

                    This sort of re-assessment of the particulars in the Damon Story... Mark pointing out the odds of Damon hiring the killer off an incoming ship....goofing up on the location he allegedly picked the Farmhand up from....an error which, if it was made in some crime study circles such as Ripperology or any other well known and unresolved murder. would have been a source of major arguments for those who study the particular crime it was posited in... and that despite Damon defending his 1891 decision to hold on to the key for his reputation's sake doesn't just shoot himself in the foot in 1901 but practically shoots it off. All these things went over the head of the average Joe back in 1901-1902....Damon came off to some extent to the casual reader as a hero of sorts simply for coming up with the key. We have the advantage of to sit with each other and re-examine the gist of his story whereas people 120 years ago had other things to do in addition to not being as interested in getting to the bottom of a frankly banal murder but undeniably fascinating case as we do.

                    You'll never find an argument from this corner, Nina & myself, about the Damon story, Mark.

                    Here's something I had mulled over before but as folks here were not as knowledgeable in the area of Damon at that time as they definitely are now, it might be time to just post it and see what others think.

                    Damon had possession of the key at approximately the same time ( April 29-May 2) that Ali was being touted as the probable murderer.
                    Damon had possession at the time of the Coroner Inquest, May 13-May 14.
                    Damon had possession of the key at the beginning of the trial and at the end....June 24th-May 3rd...8 trial days and a two day break for the weekend

                    Damon said he felt Ali deserved to be in prison and it is in his affidavit. This clearly shows he had read about him in the papers from April 24-May 14...the latter date the beginning of a 5 week decrease in published stories
                    Damon is quoted in one press report as saying he was concerned for Ali's welfare and that he, Damon, felt it was in Ali's best interest to be in a place where he could be looked after.

                    Is it too much of a stretch to consider that since Ali did not receive a first degree conviction and the accompanying electric chair like the four fellows in the PDF I've added ( all on the same day too), that Damon decided to keep the key to himself ?
                    But if Ali had been given a date with the hot seat, Damon would have gone straight to the authorities and like the Lone Ranger, he comes up with 11th hour heroics and his name will remembered far and wide for the stand-up thing he's done in saving a man from getting a fried ass

                    I also think it's possible that he never intended to turn the key in, which is another story in itself. What do you guys think of the scenario I posted ?
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                    • It goes without saying that this isn’t a straightforward case or we wouldn’t still be interested in it and I certainly don’t want to labour one particular point but one point just sticks him my mind as making zero sense and I find I impossible to shrug it off. Why did the Farmhand leave without taking the key and the shirt? Surely we can eliminate forgetting about it? It’s the kind of point that if someone read this for the first time they’d be saying “whoa, hold on, this guy left leaving the key to the murder room and a bloodied shirt behind? No way!” It seems so unlikely that I’m leaning toward saying that either this never happened or that there was much more to it.

                      Mike....lost in all of the discussion anyone has ever participated in...me and you, Mark, whoever.....about the items left behind in Cranford is that it may be significant that these two items are the only two items Damon claimed he left behind. Just a key and just a shirt ? No comb, no old sock, no photo of his sweetie Freja back in Aalborg, no nothing. Pretty convenient, isn't it ?

                      I agree that there's more to it, buddy. I've been down on Damon more & longer than the Ripper was on whores. His story is often too cut and dried to not think of it just being a snowjob.
                      The Farmhand taking the key with him all across lower Manhattan...hopping on the ferry....hopping on the train....walking a mile back to 3 Madison Avenue in Cranford.....and still hanging on to it....ONLY to leave it where it could be found. The Farmhand, regardless of whether he was her murderer or not, hung on to that key with full knowledge that it could hang him if he was caught with it. Like Ali and his potentially true admission of burgling the room and having difficulty in making believers out of the jury...so, too, would the Farmhand. The Farmhand may have been innocent of the crime but if he was caught with the key, he'd have the same obstacles Ali would with his story of burgling the room : Convincing anyone of their innocence.




                      And so if we add the unlikeliness of the Farmhand simply forgetting that he had 2 such incriminating items in his room when he hit the road to the feeble excuses that Damon gave for not coming forward to the fact that he couldn’t even recall the Farmhand’s name (and neither could Brennan?) to the fact that Mrs D couldn’t recall the name of the servant that found the items to the fact that he supposedly didn’t know that Mrs D still had the key - do we think that we might be on solid ground to doubt Damon’s story of how he came into possession of the key?

                      I think we've been on terra firma for a while, Mike. The fact that Damon has 5 different expressed motives for keeping the key is to my East Coast mind, a crock of shit.
                      If you get braced by someone 150 pounds heavier and ten times rougher than you, there's no need for coming up with a bunch of excuses why you turned and ran. There's only one. You were scared. There's no dishonor in that. Damon sounds like a man trying to convince himself at the same time he's trying to convince the person he's telling his story to.
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                      • What do we think are our alternatives? I know that How has already mentioned the possibility that Damon might have manufactured a key. Would anyone have been so determined to see Ali a free man that they might have ‘recruited’ Damon for this job? Might someone’s aim have been more toward discrediting the police? Was Lee calling in some kind of favour? Did the key, for whatever reason, originate with Lee and he got Damon to claim possession for some reason?

                        Apologies for waffling on but I was just sitting outside with a beer (only my second) mauling stuff over and deciding that I just struggle to accept that the Farmhand would just leave those two items which were his free ticket to an execution.
                        -M. Banks-


                        Just to give credit where it's due, it was Professor Bob who suggested, not pushed, the idea that Damon, fully capable of manufacturing hotel keys from the common, garden variety 'blank' that they
                        were made from back then might have made one for reasons that would be beneficial to his printing firm.

                        You're not waffling, Mike...don't shortsheet yourself.

                        The Farmhand, again accepting this story if only for this exercise, might have left the key as an act of bravura believing he'd be too far away to be caught whenever someone put two and two together and linked him to the murder. I don't believe that but it might be true.
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                        • I don’t think for a moment that Damon would have come forward of his own volition to save Ali from the electric chair if he got the death penalty. He might have if he was advised to or forced to as in 1901, and again with an affidavit devised to deflect any questions about him hiring workers at the bars and his indulging in copious cheap beers and cigars and whatnot. A squeaky clean rep was everything in those days.

                          A similar story might not have worked however in those days when the details of his hiring Frank could be checked against the Immigrant Labor Exchange records. I recall there being long term contracts with the employers which would require record-keeping.

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                          • Good points, Mark...Nina also agrees that Damon would have kept the key.
                            In essence, this sort of goes along with my thinking that Damon kept the key as a souvenir and only came forward when outed.
                            It's good to try looking at his story from every possible angle. Who knows ? One day, someone might find something to shatter that sucker for keeps.
                            Not to divert, but here's the PDF I forgot to add before.
                            Attached Files
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                            • A blog commenter, who said she lived right behind the Damon estate, commented on the Cranford Ripper Connection blog that she never heard of the American Ripper in her backyard. I guess they weren’t big on bogeymen on estates! Or it’s just not something for “polite company”.

                              Another commenter flat out said, just to be outrageous, that Damon hired Frank to kill Carrie. That would be going a bit too far even if you’re not serious.

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                              • Mark:

                                Please post a link to that source or send it to me when you have time.
                                Thanks.
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