Slaughter of the Innocent

Nov. 23, 1907, Baby Killed With Ax

Note: This is a post I originally wrote for the 1947project in 2006.

Nov. 23, 1907 South Pasadena

Warning: This is a grotesque, tragic story with graphic details.

Pasadena Detective Wallace H. Copping is investigating the murder of a young baby boy, whose half-eaten body was found in a pigpen on the Berry ranch in South Pasadena.

Authorities say the boy, weighing about 14 pounds and less than 10 days old (yes, quite a large baby by today’s standards), was discovered by Mrs. J.H. Anderson, whose husband leases the ranch. Apparently Mr. Anderson picked up the baby’s body as he made the rounds of about 20 homes gathering garbage to feed his pigs.

Nov. 23, 1907, Baby Killed With Ax After the garbage was dumped into the pigpen, Mrs. Anderson “was surprised at the uproar among the swine and investigated.”

“To her horror, she saw the nude body of a baby, with the legs eaten away above the knees and the right arm torn away.” The Times said: “Mrs. Anderson risked her life to rush in and rescue the body of the infant.” Further investigation showed that the baby boy had been struck in the head with a hatchet.

Police dug through the debris, gathering anything that would identify the source of the garbage, and accompanied Anderson as he retraced his route, making inquiries at each home. The body was put on display at a local mortuary, with police taking the names of the hundreds of people who came in an unsuccessful attempt to identify the boy.

Police theorized that the mother had entrusted the baby to the father, who killed the boy rather than find it a loving home. Given the sensational publicity, they hoped that she would recognize the baby’s description and contact authorities. But unfortunately, The Times has nothing further about this case.

Bonus fact: Wallace H. Copping, a Spanish War veteran, died in 1949, at the age of 75.

Update: A search of the online Los Angeles Herald indicates that the paper didn’t cover this incident.

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About lmharnisch

I work at the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1907, Crime and Courts, Homicide, Pasadena and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Slaughter of the Innocent

  1. What is not generally appreciated today is the fact that in the early part of the 20th Century (and prior to that) many people just disappeared. Murder was common, and if the person was not closely connected to the community, their disappearance went unnoticed. Communication was difficult, so families didn’t often know about what was going on with someone living far away. So, no one reported the disappearance, and no one really missed the person. Bodies were sometimes found, but no one could identify the person.
    When it comes to a baby in a rural area being murdered and disposed of, it was even more problematical for anyone to question what happened to the child. Today, better communication and scientific investigations have changed all of that.

  2. moviepas says:

    My mother’s now late brother(he got to near 90) was born about 1920 and he was 14lbs when born. He was a big man all his life. The norm was about 8lbs but I was under that and a prem baby.

    Tragically, the circumstances theorized in the article are too often the case even today in my country as well as many others. The hours detectives and pathologists spend during to establish the truth out of the perpetators’ lies is incalcuable. There are too many joint efforts discovered of a mother and a boyfriend, not always the father of the baby or toddler ding such acts. Disgust is felt when you find other kids have been roped into the attack of the victim child and cameras used to record their dastardly acts.

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