The Hawes Murders - Birmingham, Alabama
N 33° 34.272 W 086° 43.439
16S E 525616 N 3714647
Quick Description: The Hawes murders were a notorious and sensational crime in 1888 Birmingham that produced a deadly riot and gained nationwide media attention for the young city.
Location: Alabama, United States
Date Posted: 9/5/2008 9:42:08 AM
Waymark Code: WM4M4N
On December 4, 1888, boaters found the body of a seven year-old girl floating in East Lake in eastern residential Birmingham. After an autopsy determined the cause of death to be murder, thousands attended a viewing at the local funeral parlor. It was not until the next day that the girl was identified as May Hawes, the daughter of Richard Hawes, a Georgia Pacific engineer and his wife Emma.
At a murder inquest, witnesses revealed that Hawes often left his alcoholic wife to care for their daughters. Others said that the couple were divorced and Hawes was in Mississippi taking a new wife.
After this fact was confirmed, Hawes was taken into custody.
On December 8th, four days after May Hawes body was discovered, the scandal grew with the discovery of the bodies of Hawes wife, Emma, and his other daughter, Irene, bound with weights and submerged in another neighborhood lake.
Community outrage boiled over when a mob estimated between 1000 and 3000 converged on the City jail. Sheriff Joseph Smith, concerned for the safety of staff and prisoners, armed his deputies and ordered them to shoot into the crowd if necessary. Ten died in the ensuing violence including the postmaster and a deputy U.S. marshal. The sheriff and the police chief were arrested the next day as the state militia restored order.
Hawes was found guilty on May 23, 1889 of murdering his family and sentenced to die by hanging.
Date of crime: 12/04/1888
Public access allowed: yes
Fee required: no
Web site: [Web Link]
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