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

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.

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