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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Murder on a Steamboat; Bowie Knife Involved

From Vincent’s Semi-Annual Register, May 1860:
This day, a terrible tragedy occurred on board the steamer B. L. Hodge, while on her way to New Orleans, and near Shreveport, La., a man named B. L. Heath being the chief actor. His reasons for committing the atrocious deed are variously ascribed to insanity, the ill and morbid disposition of a deformed man who believes himself shunned by his fellow-men, and, lastly, to his being crossed in his love for a beautiful woman, whom he has haunted for years, and by whom he was peremptorily denied and rebuked some two months ago. While Mr. Charles M. Forb, of Robinson county, Tenn., and Mr. R. J. Lyle, of Nashville, were playing cards in the cabin, about midnight, Heath entered and seated himself by them, who paid him no attention. In a few minutes he rose deliberately from his seat, and, drawing a large bowie-knife, seized Forb by the hair of the head, and, before the others of the party were aware of his intentions, stabbed him to the heart, producing almost instant death. Lyle immediately grasped the murderer by the arm, but, freeing himself by a deadly effort, the latter plunged the deadly weapon into the former's neck, inflicting a wound from the effects of which he in a few moments expired. Another man, Mr. F. G. Jernigan, was also stabbed by the monster, but not fatally, when a bystander, getting a large iron chair, dealt Heath a blow on the head which felled him senseless to the floor, and, before he had recovered, he was securely bound and taken to New Orleans. The murderer had upon his person at the time of his arrest several other knives and a revolver. He is a deformed creature, small in stature, broken-backed [hunchbacked], and about twenty-eight years of age. He said he was a native of Weston, Lewis county, Va., and that he had been teaching school at a place called Knoxville, in Cherokee county, Texas. The reason given by him for committing the deed was, that they were the parties who were seeking his life, although they had never met before.

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