Murder of an Adopted Child in New-Orleans.
September 28, 1854
The people of the Fourth District have been horrified and excited to an extraordinary degree by one of the most cruel murders that our city has ever been the theatre -of. The coroner was called upon yesterday to hold an inquest upon the body of a male child aged two years and four months, named Christian Rohnor, a native of Germany, which had come to its death by foul means. The child's father, it appears, resides in Europe, and it had been adopted by a German named William Young, who resided on Saraparu-street. It had been treated by its adopted parents with fiendish cruelty for a long time to the knowledge of the neighbors generally, and yesterday morning died from the effects of a blow inflicted on the right side of the head by William Young, its adopted father. The coroner's jury, after hearing the evidence, rendered their verdict as above. Young and his wife Frederika, who are both implicated by the verdict of the jury of inquest, had already been arrested by the police of the Fourth district, and were undergoing an examination before the Recorder.
The child, as it lay exposed before the Jury, presented a horrible aspect. The scars of many a cowhiding, and the evidence of inhuman treatment were plainly visible, and in some cases pieces of flesh were stripped from the poor, emaciated, half-starved infant's back. As the spectators beheld these certain signs of barbarity, it was with the utmost difficulty that they could be restrained from taking summary justice upon the perpetrators of the foul outrage. The evidence before the Recorder, was to the fact that the child had been all along most cruelly treated by Young, and that his wife had not interfered to save it. For days it had been locked up in a garret, deprived of food and almost starved to death. A young Irish woman testified that, having seen the child incarcerated in the garret for over twenty-four hours and knowing that it had no food, she procured a ladder, reached an opening in the garret, and conveyed it food, which it devoured with the most ravenous avidity; and also, that when Young found out what she had done, he censured her very severely, and warned her never again to step between him and the accomplishment of his cruel acts.
Peter Miller testified that he had seen Young beat the child most cruelly, and press and crush its sides together, and that on Monday last, hearing the little fellow complain of hunger, he gave it some bread, which it ate very greedily, and for the act of kindness Young afterwards abused him (Miller) most shamefully.
Several other witnesses testified to having seen him suspend the child by the neck with a scarf and beat it cruelly with a cowhide.
Mary Dudley, sworn - Stated that on last Friday she saw the accused have the child hanging by the neck with a scarf (which was in Court,) and a strap about its middle, and with a cane (all of which articles were in Court,) he struck it whenever it cried or murmured; and on last Thursday or Friday she saw the same treatment of the child repeated; the wife of the accused, did not, as witness know, abuse or beat the child, but she was present when her husband did so, and when asked by witness why she allowed her husband to hang, beat and abuse it, she replied that she could not help it, that it was her husband's fault.
Josiah Miller, sworn - Saw the prisoner, Young, beat the child with the cane shown in Court, and otherwise illtreat it.
Mrs. Darling, sworn - Saw the accused rub the child's face in some nuisance on the floor, and then strip it and whip it cruelly with the rod or cane in Court, and afterwards take it into the room; knows that the prisoner used the child in an inhumane manner.
The evidence proved sufficient to send the accused down for trial. There was a large and excited crowd around the Court room, and the indignation at the horrible inhumanity of this man was quite apparent, and it was feared that the excitement made might end in some act of lawless violence, which would make a further investigation of the matter unnecessary, and defeat the ends of justice.