October 22, 2013

Escaped Mental Asylum Patient Kills Neighbor, 1922



[February 22, 1922] -

Relatives of Slain Man Seek to Fix Responsibility for Tragedy

[Special to The Herald]

LONDON, Ky., Feb. 21.-- John Smith, 50 years old, formerly an inmate of the hospital for the insane at Lakeland, was lodged in jail here yesterday on a charge of murdering Chester Jones, an unmarried man of about 25, near Fletcher, this county, Sunday night.  The murder occurred in the yard of Smith's home.

No witnesses were present, but Smith admits shooting Jones in the breast with a shotgun, claiming that Jones had come to his home and attacked him.  So far as is known both men were sober and had never before had any trouble.

Several years ago Smith was adjudged insane in court here and was committed to the asylum.  He escaped after he had been there a short time, it is said.  Since his return he has lived alone in a small barn converted into living quarters, a few hundred yards from the home occupied by his family.  Though regarded as demented he was considered harmless and no effort was made to recommit him to the asylum.

It is said that relatives of Jones are starting an investigation to determine whether the state or county authorities are responsible for Smith's being allowed to go at large.  Smith is being held in jail without bond and probably will be tried at the term of court now in session here. [1]


[1] "Escaped Lunatic is Jailed For Murder." Lexington Herald, Lexington, KY. February 22, 1922. Page 7. Genealogybank.com.


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