• 20/08/1917 - DR. M’ROBBIE WAS FOUND IN A DYNG CONDITION

    20/08/1917

    Local Physician Passed Away Shortly Afterwards Without Recovering Consciousness – Wounds in the Back of the Head and Other Peculiar Circumstances Cause Police to Start an Investigation

    Three Well Known Local Men, Harry Smith, Walter Scott and Joseph McAuliffe, Arrested on Nominal Charge of Vagrancy – Are Said to Have Been In the Doctor’s Company During Yesterday

    DR. D. G. MACROBBIE – Local physician whose death under unusual circumstances is being investigated by the police.

    In a pool of his own blood; which was spattered over everything within a radius of three feet of his body, Dr. D. G. MacRobbie, 56 North Hess street, was found in a dying condition in an upstairs storeroom or stockroom in the Crescent Oil company’s building on the north side of Cannon street, near Caroline street, about 10:30 o’clock last night. He died shortly afterwards without regaining consciousness. Three prominent local men – Harry Smith, 187 West Jackson street, manager of the Crescent Oil company; J. J. McAuliffe, real estate agent, 8 North John street, and Walter Scott, architect, 419 North Bay street – were arrested during the night by Detective Harry Sayer in connection with the case. This morning these three men were arraigned on a nominal charge of vagrancy and remanded for a week, bail being refused.

    FINDING OF THE BODY

    Herbert L. Asselstine, watchman and stableman for the Crescent Oil company, found the body about 10:30 o’clock last night, according to his own statement, but it was not until about 1 o’clock, more than two hours later, before the police were notified. Asselstine, who lives next door to the Oil company’s office, told the police that when he went out to feed the horses about 10:30 o’clock he noticed lights burning in the building, and thinking that something was wrong, entered by the side door, which was open, to investigate. According to the first story which the police say Asselstine told them, he found Walter Scott asleep in the office with the lights turned on and Smith and McAuliffe asleep on a pile of big iron stop-cocks, such as are used on oil and gas pipe lines upstairs, within a few feet of Dr. MacRobbie, who was lying on the floor with blood oozing from a wound in the back of his head. This morning Asselstine, who was plainly much excited by his experiences of last night, stated that his attention was drawn by the light up stairs and that he found all three men sleeping on the pile of stop-cocks. Asselstine insists that Dr. MacRobbie was still breathing but unconscious when he found him, but according to Dr. H. M. Langs, 255-7 East Main street, who was the first medical man on the scene, the doctor’s skull was fractured and he was quite dead when he (the doctor) arrived, immediately upon being summoned over half an hour after the body was found.

    DELAY IN CALLING POLICE

    Asselstine explained the lapse of over two hours between the time he found the body and hour at which he called the police by stating that he first called called Harry Bell, who lives at the home of Harry Smith, and Bell in turn, summoned Benjamin Fowler, a salesman of the company living at 267 West King street. Fowler called Dr. Langs who in turn summoned Coroner McNichol. Then, and not until then, which was about 1 o’clock this morning, the police were notified. Asselstine, who called the station, said that there had been an injury, so the police ambulance was sent out. When the driver, Constable Ince, heard the facts of the case he summoned assistance, but in the meantime Dr. Langs had put in a call to the police. Detective Sayer went out into the yard behind the oil company’s office and arrested McAuliffe, who was found, according to the police, lying on the ground in a drunken sleep with one shoe and his collar off. The patrol wagon was then sent to the homes of Smith and Scott, who had gone before the doctors arrived, and they were brought to the scene of the tragedy, arrested and sent to the police station.

    SOME PECULIAR FEATURES

    According to Asselstine he found the doctor’s still breathing body lying on its back of the floor of a large stock or store room near a door leading into a smaller stock room at the front of the building. The head was resting on a long, sharp-edged iron bar, which may have inflicted the ugly gash and fractured the skull, causing death. There was a pool of clotted blood under the head and blood spattered on the floor for a distance of three feet around his head. Drops of blood were found on the body and seat of a buggy three feet above where the head was resting. There was a smear of blood, such as might have been made by bloody fingers, on the buggy body two feet above the head. There were also bloodstains on the walls.

    This was the position and condition in which the body and its surroundings were found when the doctors arrived, and it was unchanged when the police reached the scene.

    A piece of curved wood about three feet long and hollowed out like a mold was found with what are thought to be blood spots on it in a pile of other such pieces on a shelf about four feet and behind where the doctor’s head was resting. This, according to the police, might have been used as a lethal weapon to cause the wound. Mr. Smith’s straw hat was found in a box near the body.

    It is possible, according to the police that Dr. MacRobbie fell backwards and struck his head on the iron bar, on which his head was resting when found, but they cannot account for his right eye being discolored or for the blood on the buggy and walls. However, the officers have as yet advanced no theory as to how the doctor came to his death.

    Some splotches of dried blood were found on the floor near where the doctor’s hipwasresting. The fact that this blood was dry indicates, according to the police, that he had received the wound some time before the body was found by Asselstine.

    When Scott was taken to the scene of the tragedy from his home shortly after,he was according to the police, in an intoxicated condition, but Smith is said to have been apparently quite sober when arrested. McAuliffe also showed unmistakable signs of having been drinking.

    BAIL REFUSED

    In arguing against C. W. Bell’s request for bail for his clients, Smith, Scott and McAuliffe, when they were arraigned in police court this morning on the nominal charge of vagrancy, Crown Attorney Washington stated that the present indications were that Dr. MacRobbie had been murdered, and therefore, since these three men had been in the company of the deceased a short time before his death, there might be a much more serious charge lodged against them, and they should be held without bail pending further investigations, which might show that the tragedy was simply an accident. Magistrate Jelfs accepted this view of the case, despite Mr. Bell’s eloquent plea for bail and remanded the prisoners for a week, stating that if in the meantime it was proved that the doctor’s death was due to an accident, he would have the prisoners brought before him again and released.

    Last night Detective Sayer searched the prisoner and the premises where the body was found for signs of a possible weapon or liquor, but found no trace of either beyond the piece of wood mentioned above. This morning he made another thorough search of the place, but no new evidence was found.

    WHO THE PRISONERS ARE

    The three men being held in connection with the case, although the only charge against them is vagrancy, are all prominent citizens. Harry Smith has for some time been the local manager for the Crescent Oil Company and as such has had considerable dealings with the city and most of Hamilton’s large manufacturing concerns. Walter Scott is a well-known architect. He learned his profession here and then went to New York, where he practiced successfully for a number of years. Returning to Hamilton a few years ago, he had charge of the modeling of the Lister chambers and other important works. Joseph McAuliffe is a prominent real estate agent. His home is on the Aberdeen Avenue, but his office is at 8 ½ North John Street. He is an active worker in the Knights of Columbus.

    ANSWERS NOT SATISFACTORY

    According to Coroner McNichol, it was 1 o’clock this morning before he was summoned. When he arrived Dr. Langs, who had arrived at 12:30 o’clock, and Asselstine were on the scene, but the three men now being held were nowhere in evidence. Coroner McNichol stated today that Harry Smith told conflicting and very unsatisfactory stories when brought back to the office and questioned. First, according to the doctor, Smith said that he had not seen Dr. MacRobbie after 6 o’clock, and then stated that he had not seen him after 8 o’clock, which was the hour when, according to Mrs. MacRobbie, the deceased left home after having been treating patients right up to that time. Several people claim to have seen Smith, Scott and McAuliffe in an auto riding around on the mountain about 6 o’clock last evening.

    At noon today Coroner McNichol’s jury viewed the remains at the city hospital and examined the scene of the tragedy and then adjourned to hold an inquest at Central police station on Thursday night at 8 o’clock. In the meantime, until the place has been thoroughly searched, the office of the oil company has been locked up and is guarded by Constable Arnold

    DOCTOR WAS WELL KNOWN

    For the past ten years the late Dr. MacRobbie had practiced his profession in this city, recently moving his office and home from the old stand at 209 York street to 56 North Hess street, where he left a wife and two children to grieve over his untimely demise in the prime of life, for the doctor was only 42 years of age. Dr. MacRobbie was well and favorably known among his fellow members in the medical profession, who had honored him with the secretary ship of the local Medical association, a position which he held at the time of his death.

    Dr. MacRobbie was educated at Toronto University, from which he graduated with his full degree in medicine in 1896, taking a post-graduate course in Trinity College, from which he graduated in 1899. He took up the practice of medicine in Victoria Harbor, when he remained for six years before coming to Hamilton.

    His aged father, Rev. Dr. MacRobbie, of Tansley, near Milton, who came to Hamilton this morning, is nearly prostrated by the tragedy. One sister, Mrs. Garrett, lives on St. Clair Avenue, Toronto.

    According to local medical men, Dr. MacRobbie was one of the best educated men in his profession in the city, being the only doctor in Hamilton with an M.A. degree.

  • 22/08/1917 - SOME NEW EVIDENCE HAS BEEN UNEARTHED

    22/08/1917

    But Veil of Mystery Still Hangs Over the Circumstances Leading Up To The Tragic Death of Dr. D. G. MacRobbie On Sunday Night

    Police Have Names of Two Men Who Called at Office to See Harry Smith, Their Visit Resulting in the Discovery of the Tragedy

    Several new clues, which are regarded as having a most important bearing on the case, have been unearthed in the police investigation of the mysterious death of Dr. D. G. MacRobbie in a storeroom over the Crescent Oil Company’s office on West Cannon street Sunday night.

    Herbert Asselstine, the night watchman, who claims that he found the doctor in an unconscious condition at 10.30 o’clock, has made a statement to the police to the effect that two men called for Smith that night, and that is was when he took these men upstairs to see Smith that he discovered the doctor’s body and the three men lying asleep on a pile of valves. The two men who called to see Smith are known to the police and will appear at the inquest tomorrow evening to give testimony. The fact that Asselstine took the men upstairs to see Smith is proof according to the police, that Asselstine knew the whereabouts of Smith, at least, if not of the others, some time prior to the tragedy.

    This is a contradiction of Asselstine’s first statement to the police that he was returning from an auto ride in the country with his wife, and seeing unusual illumination in the building, decided to investigate, thereby making the horrible discovery.

    Asselstine explains the finding by the police of McAuliffe asleep in the yard behind the building by stating that McAuliffe was so drunk that he (Asselstine) took him out in the yard and laid him down.

    DOCTORS INTERESTED IN CASE

    Local doctors are taking a great interest in the case and doing everything in their power to help solve the mystery surrounding the death of Dr. MacRobbie, who was very popular in his profession. In order to test the truth of Asselstine’s statement that he found the body lying on its right side (it was lying on its back when the first medical man, Dr. Langs, arrived), Dr. Langs and Dr. Parry this morning poured water on the blood stains on the floor, where the doctor’s head was resting, to discover if the water would run in the same direction as the stains. These tests indicated that the victim’s head had rested in two different positions for some considerable time, as the two larger stains were separate.

    Tests were made to ascertain whether the blood spots on the floor for a distance of more than three feet around the body and more than four feet above, could have been spattered there by the victim attempting to rise from the floor and falling back. Striking the pools of blood with his hand and head. Dr. Langs demonstrated that this would have been quite possible.

    NEW BLOOD SPOT

    A new blood spot has been found, this one on a window about six feet behind the position where the doctor’s head was lying. According to Drs. Parry and Langs the smear of blood found on the buggy box might have been made by the doctor’s fingers as he attempted to rise from the floor. The spots of blood found on the floor close to where the doctor’s hip was resting are supposed to have dripped from the victim’s hand, which he had evidently put to his head when he received the wound.

    According to Constable Arnold, who guarded the scene of the tragedy on Monday, the doctor’s collar was ripped open without being unfastened, and there were marks of two hands on his neck, which may have been made by the doctor himself. The victim’s neck-tie was torn in two and a piece of it is said to have been found under him.

    BOTTLES FOUND

    Yesterday a broken bottle with a fresh Scotch whisky label on it was found in the yard underneath the lavatory window and three bottles – one of them evidently freshly emptied whisky bottle, another that had been empty for some time and an empty soda-water bottle were found in the lavatory. This morning another recently-used whisky bottle was found hidden in the room where the body was found. Upstairs in the attic behind a pile of wooden pulleys, four packing covers, such as are used to protect the bottles shipped in cases, were found.

    In the lavatory of the building (the place had been built and used for a residence before it was transformed into an office) there were two pairs of ladies’ slippers, a lady’s coat, and a powder puff, but no importance is attached to the presence of these feminine articles as lady clerks were employed in the office.

  • 24/08/1917 - WILL DENY THE STORY TOLD BY ASSELSTINE

    24/08/1917

    William Hynes Says It Was After Midnight Before He and Dornan Visited Crescent Oil Company’s Offices – Did Not Go Upstairs

    Last Night’s Session of the Inquest Added to the Mystery Surrounding Death of Dr. MacRobbie – Case Has May Peculiar Features

    That the police still have much hard work ahead of them (unless they have a card or two up their sleeves that they have not yet played) in order to clear up the mystery surrounding the tragic death of Dr. MacRobbie was indicated by the evidence given at the preliminary session of the inquest last night. Neither the police nor coroner made any bones about the fact that they were far from satisfied with the evidence as Asselstine and Bell, two employees of the Crescent Oil company, who were among the first to know of the tragedy and the first on the scene. Both witnesses were warned that they would probably be recalled before the conclusion of the inquest, and they were advised to refresh their memories in the meantime. As matters now stand, so far as the public is concerned, last night’s session of the inquest tended to deepen rather than clear away the mystery

    WILL NOT HELP MUCH

    If they are depending on the evidence of Eddie Dornan and “Bill” Hynes, the two men who are said to have entered the building with Asselstine, to clear matters up, the authorities are likely to meet with grievous disappointment. When seen this morning Dorian would not say plainly what his evidence was likely to be, but hinted that is would not differ materially from that given by Asselstine and Bell last night. Hynes was also non-communicative to newspaper men, but has already told his story to several of his friends, and it is calculated to add greater confusion to the case, in that it will contradict the story of Asselstine in several important particulars

    “If I am called as a witness I will have to contradict Asselstine regarding the time the tragedy was discovered,” said Hynes this morning. “He says it was about half-past eleven when he met Dornan and myself and that we went upstairs together. As a matter of fact, it was after 12 o’clock before we started up to the Crescent Oil building and must have been close to a quarter after twelve before we got there, so that is Asselstine know at 11.30 that somebody had been hurt he knew if before he met us. But I think he is rattled and doesn’t know what time it was.”

    “But Bell says he was called at ten minutes to twelve,” it was suggested to Hynes.

    “I know, but he is wrong. It was certainly after midnight before Dornan and myself came on the scene, and it was at Dornan’s suggestion that Asselstine called up Bell,” was the reply.

    WHAT HYNES WAS DOING

    Hynes says that he spent last Sunday evening at the beach and saw Donan there also, although they were not together. He came home on a late car and, having some business in the west end, called around to see Dornan. They sat chatting until midnight and were standing on the corner of Cannon and Bay streets when Dornan noticed and automobile near the Crescent Oil building. Believing it to be McAuliffe’s, Dornan said:

    “Let us go up and see if McAuliffe is up there and send him home.”

    Hynes says he accompanied Dornan and when they got to the building Asselstine was in the driveway. Dornan asked for Smith and Asselstine led the way to the side door.

    “Asselstine is wrong when he says I followed them inside,” said Hynes today. “Dornan knew Smith and had no hesitation about going in to his office, but I did not know him and hesitated. Asselstine and Dornan went upstairs together and I remained in the driveway. I don’t know what they saw or what took place, but as they came down I heard Dornan advise Asselstine to call Bell on the telephone, and I believe he did so. Dornan told me Dr. MacRobbie had been hurt and was bleeding, but he evidently did not think it was serious, nor did I. I waited around with Dornan until Bell came, and then I went upstairs for the first time. Two of the other men were still asleep on the floor.

    “I don’t remember taking any part in the conversation, but I heard them telephoning for a doctor and, not wishing to become involved in the matter, I went away with Dornan, but even then we had no idea that anything serious had happened. We stood around at the corner until after the doctor came and then walked past the building and saw Bell coming out. We asked him how the injured man was and he replied, “He’s dead”. We left before the police arrived, and I don’t know anything more about the matter.”

    THINKS IT AN ACCIDENT

    “It would not be fair to the other to answer that, so I will say nothing about it,” replied Edward Dornan, proprietor of the Royal Oak hotel at the corner of Bay and Cannon streets, within half a block of the Crescent Oil company building, when interviewed this morning and asked the question: “Was the scene upstairs and the talk that took place when you followed Asselstine into the building the same as described by Asselstine and Bell at the inquest last night?”

    Dornan, who with William Hynes, a boarder at the Traders’ hotel, called at the oil company’s offices and asked to see Smith at 11.30 Sunday night, very emphatically declared: “I have made up my mind to say nothing about it until I get in the witness box. I am not blaming you for asking me, but I have decided that it would be better to save my story until I take the stand.”

    “I think that it will all turn out to be just an accident,” declared Dornan in conclusion.

    MAY TELL SAME STORY

    Detective Sayer this morning gave out some interesting information regarding Dornan and Hynes’ call at the old company’s office on Sunday night.

    “Dornan and Hynes were standing at the corner of Bay and Cannon streets in front of Dornan’s hotel when Asselstine and C. V. Scott were taking McAuliffe’s car off the street and putting it in the alley next the office. They thought it was Smith driving in, so they went down to see him.”

    “What do Dornan and Hynes say about what happened upstairs when they went in with Asselstine and after Harry Bell arrived?” The detective was asked.

    “They told the same story as Bell and Asselstine about what was found and what happened up there,” replied Detective Sayer.

    WHAT SMITH SAID

    “He denied all knowledge of Dr. MacRobbie being hurt and kept repeating, ‘I know nothing about it,’ and evaded my questions,” said Detective Sayer this morning when asked what statement Smith had made to him when brought back to the office from his home early Monday morning. In answer to the question, “Was Smith drunk then?” the officer said that it was impossible to tell because Smith habitually stammered and talked in an unusual manner anyway.

    THE DETECTIVE’S VIEW

    Asked if he could explain how Smith, apparently, according to Asselstine’s evidence, sober at 10.30 o’clock, could apparently be drunk at 11.30, Detective Sayer remarked: “It appears that Smith and others showed signs of having been drinking when they were seen riding around in an auto on the mountain in the early evening, so this would be Smith’s second jag and it would not require so much to knock him out.”

    According to station duty officers at police headquarters, Smith was the only comparatively sober one of the three men being held when they were locked up after the tragedy.

    DID NOT CONCEAL WHERE ABOUT.

    That Asselstine did not conceal the whereabouts of McAuliffe to the police after their arrival on the scene of the tragedy is evidenced by Detective Sayer’s statement that after he had learned upon reaching the scene that three men had been there and gone before his appearance, he said to Asselstine: “Where are they now?”

    “I think one is outside.”

    “Where?”

    “Out in the yard,” replied Asselstine

    “Well, then, come and show me where,” ordered the officer and then Asselstine led the way to where McAuliffe was lying asleep.

    WHAT CAR WAS THIS?

    That there was more excitement than the tragedy around that section of the city near the corner of Caroline and Cannon street last Sunday evening was discovered this morning when a lady living on North Caroline street just below Cannon street stated that she had been awakened some time between 10.30 and 11 o’clock by an auto driving down the hill from Cannon street at such a furious rate of speed that is sounded like a motor truck. She looked out and noticed that the car was full of men. The auto turned up Mill Street, taking the corner at a dangerous rate. This woman said she heard no shouts nor singing from the car, but she thought it an “unusual car” because of the speed at which it was traveling and the noise it was making.

    None of the residents on the west side of Caroline Street immediately north of Cannon street could remember seeing Smith walking up in front of their homes on Sunday night although some of them know him by sight.

    It would have been possible for Smith and the man, who Asselstine says he don’t know, to leave the Crescent Oil company building by the side entrance and walk back to Mill street through the alley and then up Caroline and Cannon back to the office, or for anyone to enter from the rear through that same alley.

    TRIO TO BE PHOTOGRAPHED

    According to the police, McAuliffe, Scott and Smith are to be brought from the jail to the police headquarters this afternoon in order that they may be photographed by the court photographer and their finger prints taken.

    In local police circles this morning much importance was attached to different positions of the body as described by Asselstine and Bell. The former swore that the doctor’s head was resting on the iron bar when he went downstairs to ‘phone for Bell, and Bell declared that the doctor’s head was two inches away from the bar when he arrived on the scene.

    MRS. SMITH WON’T TELL

    “I’m sorry, but I have nothing to say. I think it best to say nothing until I am called on,” replied Mrs. Harry Smith this morning when asked: “Is it trust that you did not leave the Crescent Oil Company’s office on Sunday night until 10.15?”

    WHAT THE “NOTE” WAS

    At the inquest last night Crown Attorney Washington questioned Asselstine about taking a note to C. W. Bell’s office. Asselstine replied that is was not a note, but a telegram, which was a bluff. This now, addressed to Asselstine, it was learned today, was written on a telegram form and read: “Tell the people you know.” It was signedby Smith,” but the writing was not Smith’s

    Among other work that he is doing in connection with the investigation, Detective Sayer this afternoon re-examined some of the witnesses who testified last night.

    When the inquest is continued next Friday night the following witnesses will be called, among others, and cross-examined: Benjamin Fowler, salesman for the oil company: Edward Dornan, William Hynes and Mrs. Harry Smith. Asselstine and Bell are sure to be recalled, and again subjected to a rigid examination regarding the position of the body, why they did not awaken Smith and what they said to each other that night. Bell will again be asked what he and Smith said as they drove down from Smith’s house in McAuliffe’s car after the tragedy just before McAuliffe was arrested.

    It was announced today by M. J. O’Reilly, K.C., and C. W. Bell that no further application for bail for McAuliffe, Smith and Scott will be made until after the inquest is concluded, that is, providing they are still held then.

    UNDER GREAT STRAIN

    One of the noteworthy features of the inquest last night that was commented on by the back-benchers was the clarity, distinctness and convincing manner in which the widow, Mrs. MacRobbie, gave her evidence. Her appearance on the witness stand was very dramatic, and she gave her testimony in a most dramatic manner. Only once while in the box did she appear on the verge of breaking down, then she whispered for a glass of water. All through the enquiry Mrs. MacRobbie remained in court and listened intently to the evidence. On one or two occasions, when Asselstine and Bell were talking about finding the body and seeing the blood, she gave little involuntary cries softly at times, but on the whole appeared remarkably composed for one who had been the chief sufferer from such a tragedy.

    MANY DOCTORS PRESENT

    Another outstanding feature of the enquiry was the presence of an unusually large number of local doctors. The medical profession paid tribute to the memory of their deceased fellow-member by evincing the liveliest interest in the enquiry, as was proven by the presence of over a score of physicians. No medical evidence was submitted. As had been expected, nor will it be until the other witnesses have been heard, although Dr. Langs will probably be called next Friday night to tell who were on the scene and what was said after his arrival.

    Dr. Jaffrey, of the city hospital staff, the expert who is conducting the blood tests, was not called, and no blood spots were mentioned last night, except two pools of blood found near where the doctor’s hear was resting.

  • 24/08/1917 - MYSTERY DEEPER AS RESULT OF INQUEST

    24/08/1917

    No Evidence Produced to Show How Dr. MacRobbie Received the Injury That Caused His Death on Sunday Night Last — Inquiry Adjourned For a Week

    Crown Attorney Intimated to Harry Bell and Herbert Asselstine That Their Evidence Was Unsatisfactory and That They Would Probably Be Recalled

    No evidence to lift the veil of mystery that enshrouds the means by which Dr. D. G. MacRobbie received the wound which caused his death, in an upstairs storeroom in the Crescent Oil Company’s office building on West Cannon street Sunday night, was adduced at the preliminary inquest presided over by Coroner McNichol at police headquarters last night. However, many of the strange circumstances surrounding the finding of the victim’s body were explained, although some of the explanations were quite palpably not satisfactory to the crown, as indicated by the questions and remarks Crown Attorney Washington addressed to the two principal witnesses – Herbert Asselstine and Harry Bell. The previously unaccountable lapse of time between the time of the finding of the body and the summoning of the police was cleared up by Asselstine’s statement that it was at 11:30 not at 10:30 as previously stated, that he made the gruesome discovery. He said that he did not remember even having said that he made the discovery at 10:30.

    VISITORS IDENTIFIED

    The identity of the two men who called to see Smith about 11:30 o’clock Sunday night and who accompanied Asselstine upstairs when he found the deceased doctor was revealed by Bell, who said that they were Edward Dornan and William Hynes.

    WITNESS WAS WARNED

    Asselstine appeared so stupid about comprehending questions asked him by the crown and in making replies that Coroner McNichol warned him not to evade the questions or equivocate his answers. He frequently gave such answers that the crowd laughed, despite the solemnity of the occasion. Bell’s evidence also was unsatisfactory and he was plainly told by the crown attorney that he had better try to refresh his memory before the next session of the inquest.

    SOME PECULIAR FEATURES

    Despite a rigid cross-examination by the crown, Asselstine persisted in repeatedly giving the answer, “One of the men, who came upstairs with me (Dornan or Hynes) told me to send for Harry Bell,” as his explanation of his failure to summon medical aid for the police. He failed to give any explanation as to why he did not even attempt to waken Smith, Scott or McAuliffe, whom he claimed to have found asleep on the floor within a few feet of the body. He refused to admit that he even thought they were drunk.

    Asselstine admitted seeing Smith go into the office at 10:33 Sunday night with another man, whom he did not know. He knew both Scott and McAuliffe by sight, but did not know MacRobbie at all and he denied ever seeing Smith come out of the building.

    Harry Bell explained his failure to awaken his employer, Smith whom he claimed to have found sleeping on the floor with McAuliffe, but not Scott, by stating that he shook Smith’s arm but failed to arouse him, but he admitted that it was a rather feeble effort.

    DECEASED ALIVE AT MIDNIGHT

    That Dr. MacRobbie was still alive when Bell arrived at 12:05 was admitted by Bell himself, who said that the doctor, whom he found lying on the right side, groaned and turned over on his back when he touched the doctor’s right wrist.

    “It was shown by Asselstine evidence that Harry Smith was so sober at 10:30 Sunday night that he was able to walk up Caroline street around to the office and say to Asselstine, “Light the tall lights on that car,” and then stop at the office door to enquire of Asselstine, “Are you coming in?” at 11:30 o’clock, only an hour later, he was so sound asleep that he was not awakened by Asselstine. Hynes and Dornan coming into the room and talking together or by Bell shaking him or the general excitement.

    ASSELSTINE HEARD NOISES

    Asselstine’s testimony about hearing singing in the building at 11 o’clock confirmed at least partially the statement of Mrs. Fowis, the Indian woman that she heard muffled cries from the building at that time. She was somewhat confused regarding which of the four cries were the loudest and said she had thought they were made by some Italians living in that neighborhood, but finally stuck to her original testimony that they sounded as if someone were holding his hand over the mouth of the one crying for help and that they came from the Crescent Oil Company’s building. Although Asselstine said it was singing he heard, he could not say how many voices there were or what was being sung.

    LACKED NATURAL CURIOSITY

    While Asselstine and Bell were on the stand Crown Attorney Washington frequently expressed surprise at what he called the ‘witnesses’ “absolute lack of natural curiosity” in not awakening their employer, Smith, to get an explanation of the presence of Dr. MacRobbie’s body and the fact that no question was asked or information given as to who had been hurt when Asselstine summoned Bell to the scene. The crown attorney said he could not understand such a lack of curiosity on their part.

    PRISONERS WERE PRESENT

    Smith, Scott and McAuliffe were brought from the jail and seated as far apart from each other as they could be placed in the prisoner’s dock during the hearing of the testimony. They listened intently to the evidence, but did not say a word themselves. Smith and McAuliffe were quite evidently very nervous and showed the strain of four days in jail. As many people as could crowd into every nock and cranny of the court room listened eagerly so as not to miss one word of the evidence. A still larger crowd, unable to gain admittance, waited for over two and a half hours outside the doors of the police station until the inquest was over, evidently expecting some sensational developments.

    The clearest and most convincing evidence was offered by Mrs. MacRobbie whose appearance and testimony or the stand was most dramatic, particularly when she spoke of the rough looking party of motorists who called for her husband on Sunday morning.

    MRS. MACRROBIE

    Mrs. (Dr.) MacRobbie, widow of the victim of the tragedy, was the first witness called. Speaking in a low, clear voice she said –

    “He (the doctor) went out of the house at 8 o’clock Sunday morning. He returned between 11 and 12 o’clock and did not go out of the house again until 10 minutes to 8 o’clock. I answered the door. The man who came to the door was a rough looking man in brown clothes and cap. He slouched. I did not like his looks. The man at the wheel of the automobile in which they came had sharp features. That man looks something like him,” said the witness, pointing toward Walter Scott.

    “Then you don’t recognize the other two men?” asked the crown.

    “Not in those clothes.”

    “The two men in the car shouted at me, ‘Is the doctor in?’ I said, ‘No.’ and shut the door for I did not like their rough looks. Then one man came back to the door and asked if the doctor would be back soon and I told him I did not expect hi until evening, and they all went away.

    “The doctor came home and went right upstairs to sleep, without saying where he had been or taking any lunch. He got up between and 3 and 4 in the afternoon and went downstairs. He played with the baby for a few minutes, but did not go out. A lady patientcalled about 7 o’clock in the evening. I went out onto the back verandah and while I was there were two more rings, but I don’t know who called, as the doctor answered the door himself. A few minutes before 8 o’clock he went out but I don’t know whether there was any person with him. He did not say where he was going. He never mentioned either Scott, McAuliffe or Smith to me, and I never knew hm to go to the Crescent Oil Company.”

    “Did you ever see any of these men before?” asked the crown attorney.

    “Not in those clothes, but I think I saw that one once before,” replied the witness, pointing to Scott.

    In reply to M. J. O’Relly, K.C., Mrs. MacRobbie said she did not tell her husband about the visit of the auto party in the morning, because she did not like their appearance.

    Cross-examined by C. W. Bell, the witness said that the doctor had not been in the habit of informing her where he was going on professional visits and had usually slept on Sunday afternoons.

    “It must have been about half past two before I heard of his death,” said Mrs. MacRobbie.

    HERBERT ASSELSTINE

    Herbert Asselstine, 114 North Caroline Street, the Crescent Oil company employee, who discovered the tragedy was the next witness. “In what capacity do you work for the Crescent Oil Company?” asked the crown.

    “I do almost everything,” witness replied.

    “How long have you been there?”

    “About three months.”

    “What time did you leave home on Sunday?”

    “About 9 o’clock. I went up to a friend’s house, and went with him to get an auto.”

    “Who did you get the car from?”

    “I can’t tell you his name.”

    “Who was your friend?”

    “Mr. Dick Harris. He lives on Harriet street.”

    “Who were in the car?”

    Asselstine name such a list of his friend’s relatives who were in the car with his own family that the crowd laughed and the crown asked: “Was your car an auto truck or a freight car?”

    “It was a beer car, if you want to know,” replied the witness. He went on to tell about being away in the car all day and returning in the evening. After tracing his movements all day and evening he went on to say that about 9:30 o’clock in the evening he saw an auto standing across the street in front of the Crescent Oil Company.”

    “Whose car was it?” he was asked.

    “I don’t know. The lights were out so I went over and lit them. I thought that it must belong to someone in the company’s office.”

    “Why did you think that?”

    “Because the lights were lit in the office.”

    “What time was that?”

    “I think it was about a quarter to ten. ‘I had no watch or way of telling the time”

    “Did you investigate the lights then?”

    “No, that wasn’t my business. I’m not the caretaker. They sometimes work at nights.”

    “On Sunday nights?”

    “Sometimes, Mrs. Smith was working there Sunday afternoon. “I thought she was there then.”

    “Which light are you sure you saw?”

    “The one upstairs over the top of the steps.”

    “Is that an office up there?”

    “No.”

    “How long did you notice the lights lit?”

    “I went away and came back about 10:15. And they were still burning.”

    SAW HARRY SMITH

    Explaining how he came to go back to the front of the building a second time, Asselstine said he noticed Harry Smith, manager of the Crescent Oil Company and his employer, and another man whom the witness did not know, coming south on the west side of Caroline street and thought he would take a walk around to see if the auto lights were still burning. He got in front of Smith and his companion and the former called to him “Light up those tall lights for us.” Asselstine crossed the street to do so and Smith and the other man went into the office. As they were closing the door, Smith called back:

    “Are you coming in Herb?”

    “No,” answered Asselstine.

    The two men then went into the office and Asselstine went around the corner and sat on his own doorstep.

    Questioned by Mr. Washington, Asselstine said that when Smith entered the office he turned on the downstairs lights, lighting up the whole of the front of the building. He did not investigate when he first saw lights in the building because he did not think anything about it and anyway, he had no keys to the office. He was not curious to know whether or not there were burglars in the building. At the time he did not know who owned the auto in which he was taking such an interest, but he had since been told it belonged to McAuliffe.

    “What put it into your head to go and look just when Harry Smith went by?” asked the crown attorney.

    “Oh, just to see if he was going in the auto. Smith called out to me, ‘Light the tall light’”

    “Didn’t you know the other man?”

    “No.”

    “You saw the body of Dr. MacRobbie; was it the doctor who was with Smith?”

    “I don’t know, I can’t say.”

    “Was it Mr. McAuliffe?”

    “I don’t know.”

    “When did you see McAuliffe first that night?”

    “About 11:30 o’clock.”

    “Did you know him then?

    “Yes, I knew him by sight.”

    WITNESS WARNED

    Coroner McNichol here interrupted to reprimand Asselstine for giving evasive answers and attempting to quibble. “It seems to me,” said the coroner, “that you are not trying to answer the questions properly and directly. I would advise you to give straightforward replies without any fooling.”

    Asselstine said that he knew neither MacRobbie nor Walter Scott, but admitted knowing McAuliffe by sight.

    Witness said that about 11 o’clock, while sitting on his doorstep, he heard a noise around the corner as though an auto were in trouble and on investigating found that a car with a man and two women in it had had a puncture. He did not know any of the parties, but gave the man a hand to fix the puncture. A neighbor name C. V. Scott also assisted.

    “Have you any idea when you finished this job?” asked Mr. Washington.

    “It would be somewhere around 11:20.”

    “Could you see the Crescent Oil building from where you were working on the auto?”

    “Yes.”

    “Was it lighted up yet?”

    “Yes.”

    HEARD SINGING

    Under Mr. Washington’s questioning Asselstine said that while he was assisting to repair the puncture he heard singing in the Crescent Oil building and went across to stop it, as he did not think Mr. Smith would like it. The front door was locked and he could not get in, but he knocked on the door and the singing, what was being sung or whether it was good or bad singing. He did not recognize the voice or voices.

    After the puncture had been repaired he noticed that the tail lights on the auto across the street had gone out again and, fearing an accident might result or the owner might be prosecuted, he asked C. V. Scott to run the car into the driveway beside the Crescent Oil building. Scott did so and then went home, but Asselstine hung around in front of the building. While he was there two men, one of whom he knew by sight, came along and asked him if Harry Smith was inside. He had seen Smith go in and had not seen any person come out, but he answered that he did not know.

    MADE STARTLING DISCOVERY

    “What did you do next?” asked Mr. Washington.

    “I went around to the side door, found it open, and went up the stairs and found the men.”

    “Did the two men go with you?

    “They were behind me.”

    “Was there a light downstairs?”

    “I don’t know.”

    “What did you find when you went upstairs?”

    “I saw these three men (pointing to Smith, McAuliffe and Walter Scott) lying there and then saw another man lying with his head on the bar of iron. I saw the blood on the floor and I turned around and said, ‘I don’t know what to do next. I guess this man has hurt himself.’”

    “What were the other three men doing?”

    “They were sound asleep.”

    “How were they lying?”

    “Two were lying with their heads together and the other was lying across them.”

    At this juncture the crown attorney introduced a diagram of the room in which the doctor’s body was found. Asselstine pointed out where McAuliffe was lying with his head to the west, Scott with his head to the north and Smith lying next to Scott.

    “Was Dr. MacRobbie lying on his back when you found him?”

    “I can’t say exactly, but he must have been for the back of his head was on the bars of iron.”

    “On the bars or against them?”

    “Well, against them. I went up close and saw the blood and then someone said, ‘Phone for Harry Bell’”

    “Were there two pools of blood?”

    “I didn’t notice.”

    “Was hid head lying over a pool of blood?”

    “It seemed to be.”

    “Was he alive at that time?”

    “I thought he seemed to be.”

    “But did he appear to be alive?”

    “I thought he was, but I saw no signs of life. There was no moaning or cries.”

    “I turned to the two men who were behind me and said, ‘What will I do about this?’ and one of them said ‘Phone for Harry Bell.’”

    “Did it occur to you at all?”

    “Yet, later on, but someone else had called them.”

    “What time did you discover the body?”

    “As near as I can remember about 11:30.”

    “Did you tell anyone that it was 10:30 when you found the body?”

    “Not that I remember.”

    “Did you call Bell right away?”

    “Yes.”

    “What did you tell him?”

    “That there had been an accident and to come down right away.”

    “Where did you go then?”

    “I went out and waited until I saw Bell coming. The other two men came with me.”

    “Didn’t you try to find out who the three sleeping men were?”

    “No, I knew Smith and knew the faces of the others, but not their names.”

    “Didn’t you think of calling a doctor?”

    “It would have taken me 15 minutes to look for a doctor’s name in the telephone book.”

    “Why should you phone for Bell when you had the proprietor of the place right there?”

    “Because one of the men who went up with me said to phone for Bell.”

    “You told me that before. Why didn’t you wake the boss?”

    “Because the man said to phone for Bell.”

    “When Bell came did you and one of the men who called for Smith go up with him?”

    “Yes.”

    “Did you know this other man?”

    “No.”

    “Did Bell seem to know Dr. MacRobbie?”

    “I think he did.”

    “What happened next?”

    “Bell went downstairs to phone for Dr. Langs. Then he went and got the auto to go for the doctor.”

    “What did you do next?”

    “I went out to tell the wife about what had happened.”

    “After you did that what did you do next?”

    “I waited around outside until the doctor came.”

    “Did anyone leave the building?”

    “I didn’t see anyone. They could have gone out the front door without me seeing them.”

    At this juncture Coroner McNichol interrupted to ask the witness: “Did you know when you saw Smith asleep that he was drunk?”

    “No.”

    “Why didn’t you waken him, then?”

    “I wouldn’t want to wake up a man even if he was drunk.”

    “Didn’t you think he was drunk?”

    “No; I didn’t know.”

    Crown Attorney Washington again resumed the examination.

    “When you went inside the building again were the three men still asleep?”

    “I don’t know. I was downstairs. Someone said, ‘You had better put McAuliffe some place where he can lie down and go to sleep’.”

    “Did you know who said that?”

    “No.”

    “Where was McAuliffe then?”

    “At the bottom of the stairs.”

    “Was he drunk?”

    “Well, if I hadn’t held him up in helping him around to the back of the place he’d have fallen.”

    “Did you find any whiskey bottles?”

    “Well, I saw the detective find two or three in behind the bathtub. I found some in my yard and put them in the garbage can, but the bottles didn’t belong to me. My wife wouldn’t allow any bottles around my house and I wouldn’t want any.”

    1. J. O’Relly, K.C., then took up the cross-examination.

    “The only thing you heard coming from the warehouse was singing?” enquired the lawyer.

    “Yes, that’s all.”

    “Did you get mixed up with the blood around there?”

    “Not that I know of. I might have without knowing it.”

    “McAuliffe, you say was very drunk when he came downstairs – so drunk that you had to carry him out?”

    “Yes.”

    “How did you get blood on your hands?” asked the crown attorney.

    “I didn’t say I had blood on my hands.”

    “Did you touch the doctor’s head?” was the next query of the crown.

    “Well, you’ve got me. I can’t remember whether I did or not.”

    “Did anyone see you about evidence you were to give here?”

    “Well, I don’t know whether they did or not.”

    “Did anyone see you about evidence you were to give here?”

    “Well, I don’t know whether they did or not.”

    “Did you take a note to Mr. Bell?”

    “Which Mr. Bell?”

    “He means me; I’m the Bell he’s speaking of,” spoke up C. W. Bell, the lawyer, who continued, “Tell him all you know.”

    “Yes,” admitted Asselstine, “I sent Mr. Bell about a telegram, but nothing was about my evidence.”

    MRS POWIS

    “I heard four cries that came from the oil company’s building. They sounded muffled, as if someone was holding his hand over the mouth of the person calling. I got up and looked at the clock and found that it was 11 o’clock,” said Mrs. Powis, 118 North Caroline street, whose backyard adjoins the oil company’s premises and whose house is only about fifty feet away. “The building was lighted all night after 9 o’clock,” continued this witness.

    To C.W. Bell, Mrs. Powis said that her boy’s crying for food awakened her and it was after that she heard the cries for help. She was certain that the child was not crying when she heard the muffled cries from the office behind her house. She saw the lights still burning in the building and thought the officials of the company were working there, as they had often done before.

    “The first two cries came close together, the third one came about a minute after and the fourth one was quite a loud call and came quite a while after.”

    “Five minutes later?” enquired Mr. Bell.

    “Yes.”

    “Which was the loudest?”

    “The first one, and the last one was louder that the other two.”

    “Did you ever hear a drunken person shout?”

    “Yes, there are Italians living around there. I thought it might be an Italian calling for help.” Mrs. Powis insisted. However, that the cries came from the direction of the lighted building.

    HARRY BELL

    Harry Bell, who was called to the scene by Asselstine and that McAuliffe, called with his car at Smith’s home about 11 o’clock in the morning and that he and Smith went with McAuliffe to the office, and Walter Scott and Dr. MacRobbie came in later. They all sat there chatting for about half an hour, but Bell could not remember what they were chatting about or a word that had been said. He had never seen any drinking or card-playing in the office. He left alone and went to Winona on que 1:10 car, leaving the other four in the office.

    “Did you see MacRobbie come in?”

    “Yes.”

    “Were these men in the habit of meeting there?”

    “Yes.”

    “Just sitting around the office and talking.”

    “Were there ever any card games going on or any drinking in the office?”

    “No, I never saw any.”

    “Did they discuss their plans for the day?”

    “I didn’t hear what they were going to do.”

    “What was their condition?”

    “They were perfectly sober when I left them.”

    “Did MacRobbie and Scott come in together?”

    “Yes.”

    “Did they often meet there together?”

    “I often saw McAuliffe and Scott there, but not MacRobbie, although I saw him there before some time ago.”

    Bell said he returned from Winona about 10 o’clock at night and went to Smith’s home on West Jackson Street, where he boarded. He went to bed and knew nothing about the movements of the four men during the day. He had been in bed some time when he was called to the telephone and told by Asselstine that somebody had been hurt down at the office. He did not ask now was he told who it was.

    “What time were you called to the office by Asselstine?”

    “At ten minutes to twelve.”

    “What did Asselstine say over the telephone?”

    “’Someone is hurt; you’d better come right down’.”

    “Did you ask who was hurt?

    “No.”

    “How long did you take to get down?”

    “I think it was about 15 minutes.”

    “Who was the first person you met when you got down there?”

    “Mr. Dornan – Ed. Dornan. I met him on the corner of Caroline and Cannon Streets.”

    “What did he say?”

    “He said, ‘Someone is hurt. I think it is Dr. MacRobbie’.”

    “Did you ask Asselstine anything?”

    “No.”

    “Still no curiosity?”

    “No.”

    “When you went inside the side door was there a third man there?”

    “Yes.”

    “Who was he?”

    “I think it was Hynes.”

    Bell swore that he found three men lying in the room. He recognized them as Dr. MacRobbie, who was lying by himself and Smith and McAuliffe, who were about five feet away. He did not see Walter Scott at that time.

    “I went over to see the doctor,” continued the witness. “He was lying on his right side, and held a cigarette in his right hand. His head was about two inches from the iron bar. His legs were slightly bent, not straight out.”

    This testimony differed from that of Asselstine, who had sworn that the doctor’s head was lying right on the bar.

    “Did you touch the body at all?” inquired the crown attorney.

    “I touched his wrist.”

    “Did you get any blood on you?”

    “No.”

    “Was his right hand lying in any blood?”

    “Not that I know of.”

    DOCTOR WAS STILL ALIVE

    “Did you notice any sign of life?”

    “When I took hold on his wrist he gave a groan and turned over on his back.”

    Bell swore that he touched nothing else in the place but the doctor’s wrist.

    “Did you get any blood on your hands?”

    “No.”

    “What did you do next?”

    “I went downstairs and called a doctor.”

    “Did you wake the three men who were lying there?”

    “There were only two men asleep there.”

    “But you said there were three men.”

    “Yes, but that included the doctor. I didn’t see Scott around at all then.”

    Bell then told of going after the doctor in the auto he found in the alley west of the office.

    “Did you attempt to arouse Smith and McAuliffe before you left?”

    “Yes.”

    “Did you succeed in waking them?”

    “No; I shook their arms but they did not wake up.”

    “Did you smell any liquor around them?”

    “No.”

    “When you got back were these men still there?”

    “McAuliffe and Smith were still asleep in the same place.”

    “What time did you get back?”

    “About a quarter to one.”

    “Who woke them up?”

    “Mr. Fowler, one of our salesmen. He lives on King street and I called for him. They appeared dazed when they woke up.”

    “Did they say anything?”

    “Smith muttered, ‘What’s the matter?” Fowler said to him, ‘Wake up; don’t you know the doctor is hurt?”

    “What did Smith reply?”

    “He muttered something. I couldn’t hear what.”

    “Did McAuliffe say anything?”

    “He didn’t seem any better.”

    Bell said that while he and Dr. Langs were downstairs Smith and McAuliffe came down and Smith went home, but didn’t take McAuliffe’s car. He did not see McAuliffe go out and thought Smith must have walked home.

    In reply to Coroner McNichol, Bell said that the cigarette found in Dr. MacRobbie’s hand was about half smoked.

    “When Detective Sayer arrived you took McAuliffe’s car and went after Smith?” inquired the crown attorney.

    “Yes.”

    “Was he dressed when you got to his place?”

    “He was about half dressed.”

    “What were you and Smith talking about as you rode back to the office?”

    “We didn’t talk at all. I was driving the car.”

    “But that isn’t reasonable. Haven’t you any curiosity at all? Do you mean to stand there and tell me that you found Dr. MacRobbie in that condition in your employer’s office and your employer lying asleep beside him and were not curious enough to ask him any questions about it?”

    “I didn’t talk to him because I was driving the car,” persisted Bell.

    “Oh, I’ve often driven cars and talked at the same time. That will do now, but you had better think it over and see if you can’t remember what you said to Smith before you are called again,” significantly replied the crown attorney.

    ADJOURNED FOR A WEEK

    Crown Attorney Washington then announced that he had called all his witnesses for that sitting of the enquiry and asked for an adjournment until Friday, August 31st, which was immediately granted. In the meantime the police, with Detective Sayer in charge of the case, will continue to search for more evidence and follow up the clues already in their hands.

  • 25/08/1917 - SCREAMS HEARD BY ANOTHER WOMAN

    25/08/1917

    Police Have Unearthed An Important Witness Who Will Give Evidence At the Next Sitting of the MacRobbie Tragedy Inquest

    Tinsmith Who Assisted to Repair Punctured Tire Corroborates the Story That It Was After Midnight Before the Tragedy Was Discovered

    Further evidence that screams were heard coming from the Crescent Oil building shortly after 11 o’clock last Sunday night was discovered by the police investigating the MacRobbie tragedy today when they found another woman who heard cries for help.

    This woman who with her 14 year-old son, was passing the place is quite certain about the time, because the clock in the Hess street school tower struck 11 just as she was leaving the home of her sister’s to where she heard the cries for help, about which both she said her boy are quite positive. Her description of the calls tallies almost exactly with the story told by Mrs. Powis at the inquest.

    This new witness will be put on the stand next Friday night.

    SCOTT CORROBORATES HYNES

    One of the most puzzling features connected with the tragedy is the conflicting statements made by witnesses regarding the time that the tragedy was discovered and the time that Harry Bell was summoned to the scene. Asselstine has sworn that it was immediately after Hynes and Dornan, called and asked to see Smith at 11:30 that he made the discovery. He claimed to have phoned to Harry Bell at Smith’s home at 11:30. Harry Bell has sworn that it was 11:50 before he received the message from Asselstine, and Mrs. Smith corroborates that statement.

    Hynes and Dornan emphatically assert that it was after 12 o’clock before they went to the Crescent Oil Company’s office, and state that they both noticed the time particularly because the clock in the tower on the Hess street school struck 12 as they stood on the corner of Bay and Cannon streets, just before going to the factory.

    This statement of the time by Hynes and Dornan is corroborated by C. V. Scott, tinsmith, 107 North Caroline street, who said this morning: “Asselstine came to me and said, “I wish you would run this car in the yard for me if it’s not too late.” I looked at my watch and replied, “It’s early yet – only 12 o’clock.” I helped him run the car in the alley, then Dornan and Hynes arrived and asked for Smith. I went away then and did not hear or see anything that happened after that. I did not hear any singing or other noises from the building.”

  • 28/08/1917 - NO ROOM TO DOUBT MRS. BAKER’S STORY

    28/08/1917

    Before She Heard of the Tragedy She Told Her Neighbors About Having Heard Cries for Help Near the Crescent Oil Company’s Building Late Sunday Night of Last Week

    Body of Dr. MacRobbie, Victim of the Tragedy Was Exhumed Saturday – Harry Smith, Walter Scott, J.J. McAuliffe Again Remanded Without Bail

    Mrs. William Baker, 83 East Barton street, is the name of the new witness unearthed by the police who says she heard cries for help coming from the office of the Crescent Oil company las Sunday night about 11 o’clock, shortly before Dr. D. G. MacRobbie was found in a dying condition, with two wounds in the back of his head. Mrs. Baker’s story bears out the testimony of Mrs. Powis, North Caroline street who swore at the inquest that she heard four distinct calls for help about 11 o’clock on the night of the tragedy.

    Mrs. Baker was visiting her sister who resides in the west end, las Sunday evening. Returning home from her sister’s house that night, Mrs. Baker walked along West Cannon street, passing in front of the Crescent Oil Company’s building. She is positive, she says, as to the crime of the night when she walked by the Crescent Oil company’s establishment – it was 11 o’clock. Immediately after passing that place, Mrs. Baker declares she heard cries for help. The cries were uttered by a man, so she maintains, and the sounds of the voice seemed to her to come from the Crescent Oil Company’s establishment. All this Mrs. Baker admitted this morning, when a Herald reporter called at her home to interview her.

    “I’ve told all that I know about this case.” Mrs. Baker remarked, as a preface to the interview.

    “To whom did you tell it – to the police?” she was asked.

    “Yes,” came the answer; “I gave all the details that I know to Detective Sayer. My knowledge of the affair was purely accidental; I just happened to be passing the Crescent Oil Company’s place when I heard the cries for help.”

    “What time did you pass there Sunday night?” was the next question.

    Mrs. Baker replied: “At 11 o’clock.”

    There’s another angle to Mrs. Baker’s statements which lends to them additional importance. She related the incident to friends early on last Monday morning, hours before the MacRobbie tragedy had been published in any newspaper and before she had even heard of it.

    The police evidently esteem Mrs. Baker’s story as of prime importance, for they have been suppressing from the newspapers all knowledge of so material a witness.

    WERE AGAIN REMANDED

    Smith, Scott and McAuliffe, who are held in connection with the case, were brought up from the jail this morning and placed in the police court dock with the other prisoners. They were placed as far apart from each other as possible but were allowed to talk to their lawyers, who were present to ask for bail, which was not granted, the men being again remanded for another week on the nominal charge of vagrancy on which they are held. All three were well-groomed and showed no sign of their jail experience except a rather worried and haggard appearance. Smith and Scott were visibly nervous and anxious, particularly when the request for bail was made.

    In making his request for bail for his client, McAuliffe, M.J. O’Relly, K.C., said: “The only charge against this man is vagrancy – the least offence he can be charged with. It would be most unfair to keep him here any longer without bail.”

    “The same argument appeared to the other two also as well. The charge is only a nominal one so bail should be granted,” declared George Ballard, representing Scott and acting also for C. W. Bell, counsel for Smith.

    “Well, I’ll be guided by what Mr. Washington says, answered the magistrate.”

    “Oh, no, the matter is too serious for bail. It may be very unfortunate for them, but they’re in a very unfortunate position. It may be all right, but I’m not going to take any chances,” said the crown attorney.

    ONE POINT CLEARED UP

    At the inquest held last Thursday night Mrs. MacRobbie, widow of the deceased doctor, stated that three men called for Dr. MacRobbie about 10 o’clock on Sunday morning. They were in an automobile. She stated that she did not like the looks of the trio, and thought one of them was Walter Scott. That these three were not Scott, Smith and McAuliffe, as thought, is stated by Detective Harry Sayer. The detective stated that he knows who they were, and that their visit to the doctor’s house was on business.

    BODY EXHUMED

    After listening to the testimony of the witnesses on the stand at the preliminary inquest last Friday evening, Doctors J. Y. Parry and H. M. Langs, who performed the autopsy, decided to make assurance doubly sure by performing a second postmortem to verify to verify some points in their first examination and in order that they might be able to say with absolute certainty whether some of the statements made by the witnesses could or could not possibly be true. For that purpose, according to a statement handed out by Coroner McNichol yesterday, the body of Dr. MacRobbie was exhumed and re-examined on Saturday morning. The coroner stated that he had not yet received a report from Doctors Langs and Parry, who performed this second post mortem.

    BODY AGAIN BURIED

    The body of Dr. MacRobbie was re-interred on Saturday immediately after it had been exhumed and taken to the hospital for a second examination. Drs. Langs and Parry, who performed the second postmortem, have not yet submitted their report to Coroner McNichol, nor is it expected that they will do so before Friday. In the meantime, they will go over the evidence they have found very carefully, so as to be able to submit a perfect report such as can be readily understood to the jury.

    The marks found on Dr. MacRobbie’s neck were not such as could be used to take finger prints or impressions from, so it cannot be determined whether the doctor himself made them after receiving the wound that caused his death, or if they were made by some other person or persons either before or after the wound was infected.

    WHY THE NEED

    The second autopsy on the body is arousing considerable adverse comment among the general public, who think and say that they cannot understand why, when the doctors are paid for making a thorough and exhaustive postmortem, a second examination should be necessary, unless that duty were not properly performed the first time. To the man on the street this move indicates that the authorities have changed their theories about the case and are now working along a new line.

    MYSTERIES WITHIN MYSTERIES

    Coroner McNichol, who has had experience with murder mysteries before, having officiated at more than one murder inquest, declares that this is the most puzzling case he has ever had to deal with, because there are so many mysteries within mysteries in the affair, all of which must be cleared up before the scene that was enacted in the tragedy chamber just before Dr. MacRobbie received his mortal injury is recapitulated before the jury.

    ELIMINATING THEORIES

    The method of procedure being adopted by the authorities in charge of the case is to thoroughly probe and dispose of one theory at a time. By this process of elimination they hope to arrive at a solution of how Dr. MacRobbie received the wounds on the back of his head. At present, this important point is all that the medical authorities are concerned with, and to it they are devoting their whole attention.”

    MAY AGAIN ADJOURN INQUEST

    That the inquest will not be concluded next Friday night, but will probably be continued on Saturday, and longer if necessary, was the opinion expressed by Coroner McNichol yesterday. He stated that the medical evidence may not be submitted until the last. The coroner said that one reason for the long adjournment was the fact that the great interest taken in the case caused people to talk, and in that manner new witnesses and new evidence were often secured. The coroner pointed out that it was better to secure all the evidence in that manner then to hurry the enquiry to a finish and then have to reopen it for more evidence that cropped up later. 

    VOLUNTEERED INFORMATION

    Much importance is attached by the police to the fact that when this blood-stained molding was found, Asselstine, without being asked, offered the following explanation regarding the red marks on it: “Oh, those are likely paint marks. The fellows working around here often handle those things when they have red paint on their hands.” In fact, Asselstine is said by the police to have been very free in volunteering information to show how the tragedy might have been an accident. His explanation about the paint marks may possibly be correct, as the result of the analysis has not yet been made know.

    WILL BE COMPARED

    Not only will the stain and the spots on the piece of wooden molding found on a box beside the body of the doctor be analyzed to prove whether they are blood or red paint, as was suggested by Asselstine, but the molding will be examined for fingerprints which, if any are found, will be compared by experts with the fingerprint of Smith, Scott and McAuliffe, which had photographs and measurements taken at police headquarters last Friday. This molding, according to the authorities, could have been used as a lethal weapon.

    WILL BE RECALLED

    It is now quite certain that both Asselstine and Harry Bell will be recalled to the stand and again questioned about their failure to awaken Smith and his companions, and what they said to each other over the phone, what Bell and Smith talked about on their way down to the office from Smith’s home after the tragedy, and various other points. The authorities are still far from satisfied with the evidence these two witnesses gave on these points. In explanation of the severe reprimand he addressed to Asselstine on the stand on Thursday night, Coroner McNichol said yesterday: “It seems so unreasonable that he should not even try to awaken his employer (Smith) particularly when he swore that he did not think that Smith was drunk, that I felt that he deserved a warning about his evasive answers.”

    Coroner McNichol was present when Smith was brought back by Bell to the scene of the tragedy on Sunday night and placed under arrest by Detective Sayer. “Smith was certainly very evasive in his answers that night,” said the coroner. “He was careful not to say anything that would incriminate himself. To every question he gave his answer: ‘I don’t know a thing about it.’ If these men had been sober they would have, at least been able to give a plausible explanation of their predicament.”

    GAVE FEW PRESCRIPTIONS

    In the course of his search for the source through which the liquor reached the Crescent Oil company’s office. Inspector Sturdy learned from the records of the liquor dispensary on Charles street that the late Dr. MacRobbie gave fewer prescriptions for liquor than any medical man in Hamilton. “He gave very, very few prescriptions for liquor,” said the inspector.

    NOT O.T.A. PROSECUTIONS

    The inspector also stated this morning that no O.T.A. prosecutions would be launched against Smith, Scott or McAuliffe, because all the whiskey bottles found on the premises of the Crescent Oil company were empty, hence there was no evidence of their having had liquor illegally there.

    However, the inspector is still searching for the source of the whiskey on which the three prisoners became intoxicated on the night of the tragedy. He has the police watching a suspected blind pig in that neighborhood. Every other possible source of supply has been thoroughly investigated without result, so the home of this supposed bootlegger is the last resource. A raid would have been made before this but the authorities wish to capture their man with the evidence on him or in his home.

  • 29/08/1917 - EVIDENCE OF DOCTORS WILL BE IMPORTANT

    29/08/1917

    May Determine Whether or Not Doctor’s Death Was Accidental

    Quite Evident Police Have Not Accepted the Accident Theory

    According to the authorities conducting the investigation into the mysterious death of Dr. MacRobbie, the medical evidence will be of great importance. The testimony of Dr. Parry and Langs, who performed the two post mortem examinations, is expected to establish beyond reasonable doubt whether the wounds which caused the doctor’s death were or were not the result of an accident. What this evidence will be is said to be known only to the doctors themselves and the crown attorney.

    Dr. Jaffrey of the city hospital staff, the expert who analyzed the blood stains, has completed his tests of the two pools of blood found near the doctor’s head and the blood spots which were spattered on the objects all around the body, but he has not yet examined the stains on the molding found near the victim’s body.

    That the medical evidence indicates that the tragedy was not the result of an accident is indicated by the fact that the police are still searching for and following clues based on other theories, although they will not definitely discard the accident theory unless the autopsy report shows clearly that the doctor’s death could not have been accidental.

    DID DOCTOR WIN MONEY

    At present the police are investigating information they have received to the effect that on the Saturday night preceding the tragedy Dr. MacRobbie won a large sum of money in a poker game. Efforts are being made to trace the movements of Dr. MacRobbie on that night and whether such a game took place.

    If the police know who Dr. MacRobbie met or what he did after the was seen to enter the Royal Oak Hotel at the corner of Bay and Cannon streets, at 9 o’clock on the night of the tragedy, they are not divulging the information to the public.

    A MISSING LINK

    As yet the police have not been successful in their attempt to trace the movements of Smith, Scott and McAuliffe from the time they returned to this city from Smith’s farm on Sunday afternoon to the hour when they were (according to Asselstine) found asleep near Dr. MacRobbie’s body. It is of great importance, according to the police, that it should be established whether or not they remained together during that interval or if any one of them was alone with Dr. MacRobbie before his body was found.

    ANOTHER ADJOURMENT

    It is now known for a certainty that the inquiry will not be completed when the jury meets again on Friday night. There are twenty witnesses, including Asselstine and Bell, who will again be placed on the stand in the hope that a week’s reflection will have refreshed their memories, yet to be heard. The police has been busy serving subpoenas on the different witnesses, but it is not definitely known yet who will be called first.

    WITNESS BEING WATCHED

    The police have received a tip that one of the important witnesses in the case contemplates leaving the city. He is said to have confided to a friend that he was considering the advisability of leaving Hamilton for good. A close watch is being kept on this man and if he should attempt to get away, he will be arrested at once and held as material witness.

    ALL VISITED ROYAL OAK

    As the result of devoting much time to making enquiries regarding the movements of Walter Scott, Harry Smith and J. J. McAuliffe on the day of the tragedy, the police have learned that the three visited the Royal Oak hotel together, and that Dr. MacRobbie also called at the hotel, but not in company with the other three. The movements on Sunday, August 19th of the trio held as witness have been traced as far as Smith’s farm, to which they motored early Sunday evening, but what they did between the time of their return to the city and the time they were found lying asleep beside the dying doctor is still a mystery.

    SATISFIED REGARDING TIME

    Detective Harry Sayer met Mrs. Smith, Harry Bell and Benjamin Fowler together in the office of the Crescent Oil company yesterday afternoon and questioned them about some points which were rather hazy and tangled. He did not state the result of his interview except that he hoped it would enable him to clear up the muddle about the time at which the tragedy was discovered. Personally he is satisfied that it was about midnight. According to the police there is no dearth of evidence, but the difficulty is to piece the tangled skein together in such a manner that it will make a connected and reasonable web in which to capture the truth of the night’s fatal events.

  • 29/08/1917 - FINGER PRINTS WILL PLAY IMPORTANT PART

    29/08/1917

    By Means of Them the Police Hope to Clear Up Some Points in Connection With the Tragedy of a Week Ago Sunday Night

    Heavy Stick Found In the Death Chamber Sent To Ottawa For Expert Examination By Dominion Police Mystery Still Unsolved

    In order that the stained, spattered and indented piece of wooden molding found near the body of Dr. MacRobbie on the night of the tragedy in the Crescent Oil company office may be examined by finger-print experts this important exhibit has been sent to Col. Sr. Perey Sherwood, head of the Dominion Police Service at Ottawa. This examination will, according to the local authorities, show how the stick was held – whether it was grasped tightly and firmly, which would have been the case if it were used as a lethal weapon or merely picked up and handled casually after the tragedy in such a manner as to become stained with what is supposed to be the doctor’s blood. This stain and the spots on the molding will be analyzed by Dr. Jaffrey of the city hospital staff, but several doctors have already expressed the opinion that they are blood.

    The fingerprints of McAuliffe, Scott and Smith have already been taken and filed away for future reference at police headquarters.

    THE MYSTERY DEEPENS

    An entirely new line of investigation into the tragedy has been opened up by the discovery of witnesses who claim to have heard two men climb into a buggy in the driveway alongside the office shortly after muffled cries for help were heard coming from the building, and drive away at a furious pace around the corner of Cannon and Caroline streets. So far, the police have been unable to secure any clue to the identity of the mysterious pair, whose actions were so significantly suspicious, but the authorities are of the opinion that they could not have been in the building without Smith, McAuliffe and Scott, knowing of their presence at least, so even if the search for the two unknowns proves fruitless, the police expect to obtain at least a description of the pair when the three men held as material witnesses take the stand.

    MRS. SMITH IS MUM

    When interview yesterday at the office of the Crescent Oil company regarding the time that Harry Bell was summoned to the scene of the tragedy from her home. Mrs. Harry Smith absolutely refused to make any statement about the matter. Asked if she and Harry Bell were certain that the phone message from Asselstine was received at 11:40 that night she replied, “I do not think that it would be good taste for me to discuss that with the newspapers.”

    “I thought you might be able to clear up the muddle about the time.” Observed the interviewer.

    “Yes, there does seem to be a mix up about the time,” enigmatically agreed the lady.

    “Did you or Mr. Bell specially note the time that the message was received?”

    “I do not wish to be interviewed on the subject at all” smilingly answered Mrs. Smith.

    According to the police, Mrs. Smith left the office at 8 o’clock Sunday evening, but if they have any confirmation of the hour of her departure or any evidence that she met any of the four men – Smith, Scott, McAuliffe or MacRobbie – there prior to her departure, they are as reticent on the subject as they are uncommunicative on the other points of the investigation.

    WERE UNOBSERVANT

    One strange feature of the case is the fact that the neighbors living across the street from the office all claim that they did not notice MacRobbie, Scott, Smith or McAuliffe around the premises of the oil company on Sunday night, although they admit that they usually observe the regular daily routine of the place, and most of them were sitting out on their front steps or porches that evening.

  • 30/08/1917 - OTHER MARKS OF VIOLENCE WERE FOUND ON BODY

    30/08/1917

    But Doctors Refuse to State Their Nature or Extent

    MacRobbie Tragedy is Still Exciting Lively Interest

    Ever, according to the authorities in charge of the MacRobbie tragedy mystery, in the history; of inquests in the city, has there been observed greater exactitude in perfecting even the most minute details of a post mortem examination than is being exercised by Dr. Langs and Parry, who performed the autopsy on the doctor’s remains, in making out their report. Consequently, neither Coroner McNichol or Crown Attorney Washington have as yet been officially informed of the results of the medical probe, and the doctor refuse to make any statement regarding what they discovered.

    However, the two examining doctors made an important statement this morning regarding the condition of Dr. MacRobbie’s body.

    “Not to that extent.” Replied Dr. Langs, when he was asked: Is it a fact that Dr. MacRobbie’s body was badly bruised and battered and showed considerable signs of violence, indicating that he had been struck, kicked or knocked about just previous to his death.”

    When the same question was put to Dr. Parry he also replied, “Not to such an extent at that.”

    Asked if the body had been bruised and battered, Dr. Parry answered, “Not very much.”

    HIS MEMORY A BLANK

    It was learned today that the police have further evidence to show that J. J. McAuliffe, one of the three men held as material witness was not just merely intoxicated, but paralyzed drunk on the night of the tragedy; that McAuliffe, Smith and Scott and MacRobbie were together previous to the time that the doctor received his death wound, and that McAuliffe did not know until the next morning when he was brought up in the court that MacRobbie was dead.

    When Constable Fielding in charge of the detention room at the time, went to unlock McAuliffe’s cell preparatory to taking him upstairs to the dock, the prisoner enquired: “Where are MacRobbie, Smith and Scott?”

    The manner in which McAuliffe received the news of MacRobbie’s fate – according to the police his surprise and sorrow was unforced and natural and undoubtedly genuine – has convinced the authorities that he did not know or at least did not realize even that the doctor had been hurt by the police the next morning. McAuliffe is reported to have brushed his hand across his eyes in the manner of one just awaking from a disagreeable dream and remarked more to himself that to the officers: “I can’t remember anything about what happened last night.”

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