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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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