by Bill Boone
Late in the afternoon of November 26, 1924, in the quiet, close-knit community
of Fosterville, two young girls met their death at the hands of their mother's
It was a crime that outraged the citizens and shocked the province. The victim's uncle, Claude Peck, one of the party who arrested the accused, Harry Williams, said that had he found him during the night there would never have been a trial. Peck merely stated flatly what everyone thought: an eye for an eye. However, common sense prevailed and the justice system of the day took over.
The subsequent trial occupied a large of amount of space in the provincial papers, notably the Daily Gleaner of Fredericton, and the two Saint John papers. Several reporters covered the event, often repeating or summarizing the preceding day's coverage thereby making it difficult to let the stories flow in their natural progression. Most reporters had trouble initially with the correct spelling of "Neccia."
The newspaper reports are included here not only for a fuller explanation of a crime that shook the Parish of North Lake, but because it also includes the names of residents, provides some insight into their every days lives and thoughts, describes the community, and gives form to raw statistics gathered nearly a century later.
It is interesting --and frustrating -- now, in 1995, to note that not a single official document except newspaper accounts can be found regarding the crime or trial. No court records, no Coroner files, booking sheets, nothing. The Provincial Archives have nothing. The Court of Queen's Bench has no transcript of the trial. Judge LeBlanc's diary may be in private hands, but its whereabouts is unknown. Fredericton lawyer, John Warner, a son in law of Peter Hughes, who prosecuted the case, has Mr. Hughes files, but they contain nothing relating to Williams. Walter Limerick, the police magistrate who held the preliminary hearing in his court in City Hall, is deceased and his office now owned by Lawyer Eugene Mockler. Whether any files from this era exist is unknown. Retired Supreme Court Justice Charles Hughes articled with his uncle, Peter Hughes, but recalls nothing of the case. What became of Fred Peters' files is unknown and few of the present-day lawyers I spoke with remember him.
The only thing remaining is Williams' army medals. They were given to Thomas Dorherty Jr., son of Virginia Foster, sister of the two victims, who donated them to the Canadian Legion in Fredericton where they are on display. Tom has a deep interest in the events hereafter described. When a young boy and walking with his mother on the lake shore where Harry Williams' camp was located, he asked her about it. Her reply was somewhat vague. But it piqued his curiosity and he later haunted the Archives in search of information. Tom had no better luck than I.
Only a handful of people remain who were present at the time: Hilda Foster, sister of the victims and my father, Basil Boone. At 85 years of age, dad's memory of the event is still fairly accurate as to the community's reaction; Hilda, still living in the family house at Fosterville, still feels the emotional impact at age 86. Her younger brother, Beecher Foster, remembers the event although he was only about four or five years old at the time. All principles in the case have passed on.
Note:- Since this was written in 1995, Basil has passed away leaving only Hilda with a clear recollection of the event. It is also worth noting that the National Archives in Ottawa, Ontario, has a transcript of the trial but no further documents have come to light.
The following then is how the Daily Gleaner described it:
The Daily Gleaner, Fredericton, N.B. November 26, 1924
Fosterville, N.B., Nov. 26 — Cynthia Foster, aged 14, and her younger sister, Olivia Foster, aged 10, daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Ward Foster, were found bound, gagged, and brutally murdered with rifle shots through their heads about ll o'clock last night in a camp on the shores of North Lake, the furtherest north of the Chipuneticook Lakes, a chain of lakes which form the international boundary between Canada and the United States.
The camp has been the hermit-like home of Harry D. Williams, a half brother of the girls' mother, and after an all night scouring of the woods by an armed posse he was finally taken into custody this morning by Councillor Arthur Wetmore, Warden of York County, who in addition to being Fosterville's postmaster and merchant, is also a constable. Williams had spent the night in the woods and apparently was driven back to the settlement by the cold and lack of food.
Up to the time he unexpectedly appeared near John Foster's home, not far from the scene of the double crime, it was believed that Williams had crossed the lake which would have landed him upon United States soil. But he is now being held here pending the arrival of Sheriff John B. Hawthorn and Deputy Sheriff Fraser Saunders of Fredericton, who will take him to the York County jail, where he is expected to be safely lodged by to-night.
"This is an awful crime you have committed," Magistrate Foster is said to have remarked to Williams after he had been taken into custody. "Oh, not much of a one," is said to have been Williams' reply, made in an off-hand manner. This conversation has led to the belief that Williams must have been mentally deranged when he committed the crime and that he had not recovered his senses this morning.
Evidently rational but apparently tired after being out in the North Lake woods all the previous night, and with a heavy beard which gave him an unkempt appearance, Harry D. Williams, charged with the first double murder ever committed in York county, who gave himself up to an armed posse who had been scouring the woods along the international boundary at the Chiput-neticook Lakes for him, was brought here last night from Fosterville and lodged in a cell at the city police station.
Williams wore an old brown striped mackinaw coat, a brown cap, a blue shirt with collar attached open at the neck, a pair of ragged khaki fatigue trousers and soft brown boots similar to those worn by lumbermen while in the woods. His hands were manacled together while under his mackinaw coat he wore a sleeveless sweater and grey mittens on his hands. The prisoner was in charge of Deputy Sheriff Fraser Saunders, who was accompanied by his son, and they reached the police station a few minutes after the City Hall clock had boomed out the hour of 9 from the tower immediately above the police station.
Simultaneously with Williams' arrival at the police station, where he was for the first time since the crime faced with the actual iron bars, a large audience in the Opera House above was enjoying the initial presentation of Sick-a-bed. While hundreds were thus in the immediate vicinity of the police station, Williams' arrival was unnoticed except by the officers on duty and one or two people who noticed the automobile carrying the party pull up at the police station entrance. Deputy Sheriff Saunders had with him a 38-55 Winchester rifle belonging to the prisoner, and which had been found in the woods where Williams spent Tuesday night.
After his 81-mile automobile drive, with one stop at Canterbury Station, Williams was turned over to the temporary custody of Chief of Police Nathaniel Jones after the handcuffs had been removed from his wrists, and was permitted to warm himself at the guard-room stove following his 81-mile automobile ride. He appeared to be fatigued and when questioned about the weather assented that it had been a "long, cold road."
"Any harm to smoke here," was Williams' first voluntary utterance after he had warmed his hands a moment at the stove. He was granted this liberty, and produced a package of cigarette papers and a tin of tobacco with which he proceeded with cold-stiffened fingers to roll a cigarette. Meanwhile, a parcel of clothing which the prisoner had brought with him was unrolled, displaying a blue suit, a white shirt and soft white collar, a pair of socks and garters.
While the clothing was being searched by the officers, Williams asked if there was a bath around in which he could take a bath before changing his clothing.Chief of Police Jones suggested that it might be better for him to retain the clothes he was wearing for the present.
A grey and white kitten which had strolled into the guard-room took up a position near the prisoner, who was then the center of an interested group of officers, and before he had completed rolling his cigarette Williams attempted to play with the kitten by waving the cigarette paper in front of it. The kitten was not interested, however, and Williams continued rolling his cigarette, which he then started to smoke.
Chief of Police Jones then proceeded to search the prisoner. Soon after this had been completed Williams rolled himself up in his blankets and was soon sound asleep.
First Double Murder
The heinous crime reported from Fosterville, in the Parish of North Lake, today is the first double murder in the annals of York County which fortunately have been unusually free from capital crimes.
The last murder in York county was the killing of his wife at McAdam by Thomas David, an Assyrian, of Lowell, Mass. David was finally convicted of manslaughter and was sentenced to five years in the Maritime Penitentiary at Dorchester.
Probably the most famous murder ever committed in York County was that which resulted in Isaac Glover, of Stanley, being sentenced to 10 days in the York County jail for killing his wife. Glover died a short time ago at Bangor, Me., where he had been living.
14 Year Old Victim of the Double Murder
Meductic, N.B., Nov. 27 That Cynthia Foster, 14 years old, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ward Foster, had been attacked and defiled by Harry D. Williams, 37 years old, unmarried half brother of the girl's mother, before he murdered Cynthia and her 10 year old sister, Nesia, in his camp on the shores of North Lake, the furtherest north of the chain known as Chiputneticook Lakes which form part of the international boundary between the Province of New Brunswick and the State of Maine.
That at least is the opinion expressed by Dr. W.L. Turner, who was called to Fosterville yesterday and returned to his home last night. In fact Dr. Turner told your correspondent that in a statement as medical examiner which he had turned over to Deputy Sheriff Fraser Saunders he had related conditions of the girl's body and vital organs which made it evident she had been attacked.
Dr. Turner also prepared a complete statement of the locations where the bodies were found in Williams' camp and as to their condition, which he forwarded to Fredericton along with the cords and ropes with which in the presence of witnesses he cut off the two girls' arms and legs where they were bound so tightly as to make indentations in the flesh. The younger girl's body was on the floor, under the bed in the lakeshore cabin, the feet being the only portion of the body in sight when found. The older girl's body was on the bed; her arms were tied and she was gagged. Her head rested on two pillows and part of what is said to be a seamless bag about six inches wide and two feet long, had been rolled up, forced into her mouth as a gag, and secured there; and then over her face was tied a towel.
Gruesome Scene in Camp
"The world has never seen a more gruesome scene than that camp, where the two little girls' bodies were," said Dr. Turner. "Blood was running everywhere and the two children's brains had been blown out, rifle bullets having been fired through their heads. A number of picked men, selected by Councilor Wetmore, Warden of York County, went into the camp with me and we made a completed and detailed report of everything as we found it, including the condition of the bodies. We found one bullet intact and the coat of another bullet we found in one of the walls. We found two empty shells also. We cut the cords and ropes which bound the legs of the youngest girl and the arms of both girls so tightly as to make indentations in the flesh.These we labeled and turned over to the sheriff, along with the seamless bag which had been used to gag the oldest girl. It was all something which cannot be described."
"I was told by the neighbors," said Dr. Turner, when asked if he had learned of any explanation for the crime, "that Williams had been in the habit of having the children go to his camp, where the girls did some cooking for him. On Tuesday he particularly asked for them to be sent to his camp. Some people told me Williams had been friendly with the little girl, too friendly. The examination I made of her body and vital organs, as detailed in the statement that I prepared, corroborated that belief."
Asked as to whether Williams had shown any signs of insanity, Dr. Turner replied: Those who have known him said that he was just the same when taken into custody as he always has been. He was stolid and refused to talk, they told me; but after he had given himself up he told the magistrate at Fosterville that he had hidden his rifle in a fence and where it was found later on. When they came upon him Magistrate John Foster said to him that he was "just the man they were looking for," Williams replied,
"All right, take me." So the magistrate and a constable took him along with them and kept him in their charge until the sheriff arrived.
INQUEST FOLLOWS VICTIM'S FUNERAL
Throngs of People Gathered at Fosterville Today for Double Funeral
Fosterville, N.B., Nov. 27 — The scarred, bruised remains of Cynthia Foster, aged 14, and Nesia Foster, aged 10, each with gaping bullet wounds in their heads, the victims of the most gruesome murder in the modern criminal annals of New Brunswick, were buried here this afternoon.
Stirred and sadden by the heinous crime which has focused international attention upon this little village, people from all over the country-side on both sides of the international boundary flocked here for the last sad rites for the two little victims of the revolting killing.
Because of the delicate condition of health of Mrs. Ward Foster, mother of the two children, the bodies could not be taken to their home, so the funeral had to take place from the cabin on the lake shore where they were found foully murdered on Tuesday night, and where Harry D. Williams, their mother's half-brother, who is charged with the double murder, made his home. The double funeral took place at 3 o'clock this afternoon and was a touching chapter in the tragedy.
Dr. B.H. Dougan, of Harvey Station, who was sent here by the Attorney General's Department as coroner to conduct an inquest, arrived here this morning accompanied by Sheriff John B. Hawthorn and Deputy Sheriff Fraser Saunders. He viewed the remains, then had a jury sworn comprised solely of men who had seen the bodies before the ropes and cords with which they were bound had been removed and before they had been moved from the position in which they were found by the father on Tuesday night, and then gave a permit for the burial.
It had been expected to proceed with the inquest so it would be completed by noon today, but it was found impossible to secure the attendance of the witnesses, so the coroner, the Sheriff, and the Deputy Sheriff and the members of the jury joined with the vast throng who had gathered for the funeral, and as soon as the last sad rites have been completed, the coroner's inquest is to commence.
The two victims of the double murder were members of a family of nine children.
Williams Picked Spuds In Aroostook County
Harry D. Williams, charged with the double murder of his half-sister's two daughters at Fosterville, returned to his lake shore cabin only a short time ago from Aroostook County, Maine, he told the Gleaner reporter today.
It had been his practice since his return from overseas to go to Aroostook county, Maine, each fall with the horde of potato pickers who invade Maine's potato belt, and he was there this year.
"I picked three years for John Stithan (he spelled the name out for a reporter) at Monticello, and I also picked for Adair brothers. Their place is in Littleton," Williams told a reporter.
CORONOR TURNER HOLDING INQUEST
Nobody Witnessed the Crime And There is Little Real Evidence
Fosterville, N.B., Nov. 26 — Dr. W. L. Turner, of Meductic, is holding an inquest as coroner into the deaths of Cynthia and Olivia Foster, the young victims of the double murder committed here last night at the cabin home on the shores of North Lake of their uncle, Harry D. Williams, who is under arrest charged with the crime.
Dr. Turner came here this moring in response to an early summons, but the journey was more than thirty miles over roads which are far from good at this season of the year, and it was almost noon when he got here. Inasmuch as nobody witnessed crime about the only evidence which appears available for the inquest is that of the father of the girls, Ward Foster, who made the gruesome discovery of their bodies late last night.
But it is expected that the coronor's inquest will be largely a formality.
The Grim Details of the Tragedy
Fosterville, N.B., Nov. 27 — The following is a copy of the notes made at the examination conducted yesterday at the scene of the double murder under the direction of Dr. W.L. Turner, of Meductic:
Time: 20 minutes to twelve
Dr. Turner, Coroner:
One shell within twelve inches of bed post. Second shell 46 inches from first. Winchester 38-55. Glasses 24 inches from door at left as you enter. Child 10, Nesia Foster, feet nearly under bed and body under. Feet tied 12 inches from rubbers with strong cotton cord. Hands tied behind back with ½ inch rope, body lying on right side and blood running from child's head 34 inches from side of bed.
Four magazines lying at child's head soaked with blood. Half inch rope tied at wrist, also small cord, cotton, tied at elbows. Cotton cord No. 1 at feet, cotton cord No. 2 at elbows, hands tied left hand over right wrist. ½ inch rope around right just below elbow, left, around lower third of arm twice, connection between hands half-hitched three times. Two knots on right wrist, ½ inch rope No. 3.
Bullet entered just behind right ear and came out at right temporal fossa, carrying temporal bone which laid externally. Bullet struck floor and glanced to wall. Two pieces of metal patch found on floor.
Child, 14 years old, Cynthia Foster—Near centre of bed, head upon two pillows. Hands not visible—bound behind her. Face covered with cotton cloth. Body lying a little on left side. Cloth six inches wide and three feet long, rolled into roll and tied into mouth and around back of head. Left hand under body brought to right hip and right wrist lashed to left hand.
String tied on right wrist with double hard knot, cord sufficiently tight to leave visible marks on right arm, lower third. Ring on third finger left hand not disturbed. Hands discolored from rope being tied tight. Bullet entered below right eye on cheek bone. Exit on 1½ inches above left ear. Skull badly fractured. Bullet passed through pillow and mattress and carrying feathers and parts of mattress to wall. Bullet produced. Clothing somewhat disturbed. Dresses drawn up. Boots and stockings on. School coat on her.
Witnesses— Arthur C. Wetmore, Harvey B. Boone, John L. English, Charlie Fish, Arlington Boone, Wesley Buckingham, Wilmot Buckingham.
The finding of the jury of seven "good and lawful men of the County of York," who were at the coroner's inquest at Fosterville yesterday afternoon into the death of Cynthia Foster, aged 14, and her sister, Necia, aged 10, brought in a verdict that "the crime was committed by Harry Williams," together with the deposition of the five witnesses were turned over to Clerk of the Peace, Gregory T. Feeney this morning by Sheriff John B. Hawthorn.
Shortly before noon, the bundle of official documents were filed with Police Magistrate Walter Limerick, a charge of murder was formally laid and this afternoon about 3 o'clock Harry Darwin Williams appeared in the Police Court again and was remanded by Judge Limerick to the York County Jail for eight days. These formal proceedings explain why Williams was held at the Police Station throughout yesterday and last night under a special guard, after Chief of Police Jones had completed the finger printing and other formalities necessary for a prisoner to be held for a capital crime.
Examination To Start December 15th
Saturday, December 6th, at 10 a.m. was named by Judge Limerick as the time when Williams will make his next appearance in court, but it is understood that his preliminary hearing will not commence at that time. In fact, it is stated, that arrangements are already being made for further adjournment and that Monday, December 15th, is the date that has been tentatively set for the commencement of the preliminary examination.
Ample opportunity will then be given for the prosecuting attorney named by the Attorney General's Department to prepare for the hearing and to have the witnesses supoenaed.
Changes in Judges Assignments
There will also be ample time to complete the preliminary examination in time for Williams to be sent up for trial, to appear at the next session of the King's Bench Division of the Supreme Court in York county, which will open here on Tuesday, January 20th, next and at which Mr. Justice LeBlanc will preside and not Chief Justice Barry, as had been expected.
The change is due to a new assignment of the Justices of the King's Bench Division in connection with which Chief Justice Barry today gave The Gleaner the following memorandum:
"In consequence of the death of one of the King's Bench Judges, the absence of another on leave during the summer months, and the transference of a third one to the Board of Railway Commissioners, the last assignment of judges was necessarily considerably disarranged. By the assignments for 1925 which have not been promulgated , it is Mr. Justice LeBlanc and not Chief Justice Barry who will take the York Nisi Prius sittings on the 20th January next."
The Daily Gleaner, Fredericton, N.B. Friday, Nov. 28, 1924
Williams Spends First
Night Behind Bars
Was Evidently Rational But Fatigued on Arrival Here
HAD A SMOKE AND WANTED A BATH
Then Rolled Himself up in Blankets And Soon Fell Asleep
Williams Again in Police Court
Formally Arraigned on Double Murder Charge This Afternoon
REMANDED UNTIL DECEMBER 6th
But Examination Will Not be Started Before December 15th.
Fear Attempt at Suicide
Especial precautions are being taken by the authorities to prevent a possible attempt at suicide by Harry D. Williams, charged with the dual fiendish dual murder at Fosterville, as a result of his having madesome mention of poison during his 81-mile automobile drive from North Lake to Fredericton last evening with Deputy Sheriff Fraser Saunders.
Before he was put in a cell at the police station last night Williams' braces, his boot laces and the contents of the pockets of his clothing were taken away from him by Chief of Police Jones so that no means of self destruction would be available. A handkerchief, cigarette papers and tobacco, matches and several coins were all that police officers could find in his pockets.
Williams, Charged With Murders Denies
Making Any Admission of Guilt
Prisoner Was Arraigned Here To-day,
Remanded until December 5th
HOLDING INQUIRY THIS AFTERNOON
Harry D. Williams was charged in the Police Court here...today with the murder of his half sister's two daughters, Cynthia Foster, aged 14, and Nesia Foster, aged 10, Tuesday, at Fosterville on North Lake, the furtherest north of the chain known as Chiputneticook Lakes which form the international boundary between New Brunswick and the State of Maine.
With several days growth of whiskers and his hair unbrushed, Williams was brought into court in his stocking feet, his shoes having been taken from him so there could be no possibility of using his shoe laces in an attempt at self destruction. Williams was in court only a few minutes and as expected, the proceedings are entirely formal. He was brought into court during a lull between a number of theft cases when there was scarcely a dozen people in the room which previously had been crowded with curious spectators anxious to get a look at the prisoner.
When Judge Limerick called Williams' name he jumped to his feet rather nervously. Without being asked to plead Williams was then remanded and his next appearance in court will not be until Friday, December 5th, at 10 a.m. Later to-day, Williams will be moved from the police station to the York County jail.
FUNERAL OF VICTIMS AND INQUEST TODAY
Just about the time that the heavy steel doors of a cell at the York county jail was expected to behind Williams, the funeral of the two little victims of the crime with which he is charged were being buried at Fosterville. The funeral is being followed by a coroner's inquest which was ordered by the Attorney General's Department when the result of the medical examination made by Dr. W.L. Turner of Meductic, yesterday became known. Dr. Turner acted in the capacity of medical examiner and did not hold a coroner's inquest. The coroner holding the inquest is Dr. B.H. Dougan of Harvey Station, who joined Sheriff John B. Hawthorn and Deputy Sheriff Fraser Saunders after midnight last night: they motored as far as Canterbury Station, remained there until daylight and , accompanied by Edward Lundon, of Canterbury Station, went on to Fosterville this morning.
WILLIAMS DENIES ANY ADMISSION OF GUILT
"I am feeling pretty fair to-day is about all I can say this morning," said Williams, while he waited in his cell at the police station to be brought into court. He had changed his clothes discarding the knockabout clothing he was wearing when brought here last night and had donned a blue suit which he had brought here with him last night from Fosterville.
"I have made no statement and I don't think I should say anything further just now except to deny that I have made any admission of guilt," he continued. "I have not said anything with any hearing upon the crime with which I am charged since I gave myself up yesterday at John Foster's.
Why He Gave Himself Up
Asked why he "gave himself up", Williams replied: "I found out a crime had been committed in my cabin; I knew that I would be suspected and blamed. I was shocked at what I had found and, after spending the night in the woods, I thought I had better give myself up. So I went to John Foster's place knowing he was a magistrate, and was going to the house when they came out and met me."
Ward Foster, father of the two girls made the gruesome discovery of the two girls' bodies in Williams' camp last night. One body was on the bed in the cabin and the other was on the floor under the bed. The arms and legs of both girls were bound with rope and one of the girls was gagged, rope and string being tied about her mouth. She had evidently been the last victim of the double killing.
The girls had been in the habit of visiting their uncle's cabin while en route from school in the afternoon, and occasionally they stayed there for supper with him. So that when they did not return home nothing was thought of their absence until late in the evening. Then their father started out in search. He finally found their dead bodies in the camp—one girl shot through the mouth and the other through the jaw—and, although completely overwhelmed by his awful discovery, he gave the alarm which resulted in a posse of twenty-five armed men being immediately formed to run down the murderer. They scoured the woods and were under orders to shoot Williams on sight if he offered any resistance when they came upon him.
Williams Served in War
Williams is a returned soldier and until this time had borne a good reputation. He is about thirty years old, weight about 165 pounds, stands 5 feet 10 inches, and is a good appearing rosy-cheeked man of medium complexion. He, first enlisted with the 10th Regiment for war years but afterward was transferred to the 9th Siege Battery, and served overseas for a considerable time with that unit. The only explanation that is offered for the heinous crime is that he must have been suffering from temporary insanity, although there was ample evidence in the cabin that the crime had been deliberately committed, and it is evident that he took every precaution to prevent early detection. He had even tied up his dog so that the animal could not follow him. His conversation, after being placed under arrest, has served to convey the impression that Williams evidently had not recovered his mental capacity even by that time.
Thursday, November 27, 1924
MURDER VICTIMS BURIED TODAY
Williams' Rifle, Two Empty Shells and a Bullet Which Passed Through Girl's Head
Cords and Ropes With Which Victims were Bound Also Among Articles
Brought Here Last Night by Deputy Sheriff Fraser Saunders as Evidence in Double Murder
"It was an awful sight for a man to see," said Deputy Sheriff Fraser Saunders on his arrival here last evening with Harry D. Williams from Fosterville, describing the scene which was presented to his view when he visited Williams' little cabin on the shore of North Lake where 14-year old Cynthia Foster, and her 10-year old sister, Nesia, were brutally murdered, and as a result of those deaths Williams, a half-uncle of the children, is charged with double murder.
When Deputy Sheriff Saunders first arrived at the scene of the double murder about 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon, after securing his prisoner, the bodies of the two little victims were being prepared for burial. Owing to the fact that the mother of the two dead girls is in delicate health, arrangements were being made for the funeral to take place from the scene of the tragedy. Both bodies were lying on the bed, under which the youngest, described by the officer as a "tiny little thing," was found bound with a bullet wound through the head which had badly fractured the skull, and on which the older girl, gagged and with her arms bound, and bearing evidence of a vile assault had been discovered, also with a bullet wound through the head.
Horrible Condition of Young Victims
Only a cursory examination of the bodies was made by Deputy Sheriff Saunders, who said he was "sickened by the horrible condition of the young victims."
The cords and ropes which had been found fastened around the arms and legs of the younger girl and about the arms of the older, still bearing blood-stains, as well as the bullet which had pierced the older girl's head and the pillow and mattress and struck against the wall, were brought here by Deputy Sheriff Saunders. The bullet was a soft-nosed type and had been flattened out into a mushroom shape while embedded amongst the lead were traces of the feathers of the pillows and mattress through which it had passed after piercing the older girl's head. He also had six 38-55 soft-nosed cartridges which had been found in the magazine of Williams' rifle, as well as two empty shells found in the cabin. The rifle is a Winchester repeater, 1894 model. Two notches have been cut in the butt for identification purposes, a gruesome reminder of the double tragedy.
Feared Attempt at Violence
Deputy Sheriff Saunders experienced uneasiness all during his trip that some attempt might be made to do violence to his charge, who he found in the residence of John Foster, a mile and a half from the scene of the murder, surrounded by a circle of twenty or more men. At Canterbury Station, a large crowd congregated about the automobile and caused the officer to make his stay there as brief as possible, after securing a meal for Williams who had not had anything to eat since the day before until the evening. Previously he had refused to eat and had mentioned something about poison. This led to a painstaking search of his person at the police station here after he had been delivered into the custody of Chief of Police Jones.
Williams Was Born at Nackawick 37 Years Ago - Served With Trench Mortars of 3rd Canadian Division
Harry D. Williams, who is charged with the double murder at Fosterville, is 37 years old, unmarried and was born at Nackawick, Parish of Southhampton, York County.His father is dead and his mother is Mrs. Joshua Fish, who married a second time and lives at Fosterville. Williams has no brothers or sisters, but has some half brothers and half sisters. He has lived for the past thirteen or fourteen years at Fosterville. By doing farm work and other labor, Williams picked up a frugal living at his shack on the shore of North Lake, the furtherest north of the chain known as Chiputneticook Lakes which form part of the international boundary between New Brunswick and the State of Maine.
In the Great War Williams had more than three years overseas service with the Canadian Expeditionary Force but was never wounded. He enlisted with the Canadian Garrison Artillery and after being stationed at St. John for some time, went overseas in September, 1918, with a draft of the 4th Siege Battery. He later joined the 3rd Divisional Ammunition Column in France, but afterwards transferred to the Trench Mortars of the 3rd Division with which he served throughout the rest of the war until the armistice.
WILLIAMS MARRIED; WIFE GOT DIVORCE
Accused Denies That He Ever Had Another Name — Wife Lives at Houlton
Fosterville, N.B., Nov. 28 — While Harry D. Williams, charged with the fiendish crime committed here this week when his half sister's two little daughters were foully murdered, has been said to be unmarried, he has been married and his wife is living in Houlton, Me., according to a statement credited to Ward Foster, father of the two victims of the crime.
Moreover, it is stated that Williams was known as Darius Thornton, that the matter of his antecedents is a delicate question and that as a boy he served a term in the reform school. His wife is said to be a waitress in a hotel at Houlton, either the Snell House or Clark's Hotel.
From his cell at the Police Station Williams admitted to The Gleaner this afternoon that he had been married a long time ago and said he said he was a single man because his wife, so he had been creditably informed, had obtained a divorce in Maine and had since been twice married. He said he didn't know what her present name is.
They had been married, Williams said, at Woodstock, his wife being formerly Miss Ada Clark, of Woodstock. They lived together, he said, for seven or eight years, mostly at Houlton, and then, Williams said, "she went to the bad." Green Street was where they were living in Houlton when they separated.
"Before the war," was as near as Williams could come to fixing the date when he "left her." He said he afterwards went to St. Stephen, worked on the Canadian Pacific Railway and later at the sardine plant at Chamcook, near St. Andrews. Williams said he didn't know how old his wife was. "She was older than I was quite a lot," he said. He gave his age as 37.
Williams denied he had ever been known by any other name than Harry Darwin Williams and denied that he had ever been in a reform school or any such institution.
The Daily Gleaner, Saturday, November 29, 1924
Williams Unmoved When Charged With Murders
Shows No Emotion
When Formally Arraigned in Police Court
IS TRANSFERRED TO COUNTY JAIL
Move Was Mad Without Attracting Attention Late Yesterday
Two hours after Harry D. Williams had been formally arraigned in the Police court yesterday afternoon on the charge of murdering his two half-nieces at Fosterville, he had been quietly transferred from the city police station to the York County Jail to await his next appearance before Judge Limerick on December 6th, until which date he has been remanded.
The transfer was quietly effected by Chief of Police Jones, Williams being conveyed to the jail in an automobile so as to avoid crowds which it was feared would gather. Ten minutes from the time he was directed to put on his boots and outer clothing at the police station, Williams was divested of the same garments in his cell at the County Jail, where he is without shoe laces or suspenders and the same precautions are being observed to forestall any possible attempt at suicide.
Police Officer Harry McNeil's car was used to transfer the prisoner to jail, McNeil acting as chauffeur, and the Chief of Police and his prisoner were accompanied by a reporter for the Gleaner. The side curtains of the car had been placed in position to shield Williams from the gaze of curious spectators who had hung about City Hall during the day hoping to gain a look at the accused.
At 4:45 p.m. Williams was given his boots and told to don outer garments for the short trip. Completely dressed, his hands were manacled, although this precaution hardly seemed necessary on account of his quiet and differential attitude, and the prisoner emerged from the police station in the gathering twilight. Walking up the steps to the outer entrance he stumbled, but saved himself from falling with his manacled hands. His entrance to the police car was practically unnoticed.
As the car was proceeding out York Street to Brunswick Street Williams finally spoke to the Chief with whom he was occupying the rear seat. "I want to thank you Chief for all the kindnesses you have shown me," he said, "I don't suppose I will see you again. I have appreciated your kindness very much."
"Oh, but we'll see you again, if we live, when you come back to court next week," replied chief Jones.
Williams was assigned to a roomy cell on the top floor in the southwest corner of the building where he found awaiting him a loaf of bread and two pans of water.
A request for matches was denied, the barred door of the cell shut behind him, the cell light was switched on from the outside, and Williams was leftalone in the dark with his thoughts.
Williams Cell Looks Out
Upon Where He Will Hang
Site Where Gallows Will Be Erected First Thing He Saw This Morning
When Harry Darwin Williams awoke this morning in a cell at the southwest corner on the top corridor of the York County Jail and peered out through the grating of iron bars which covered the only window, he looked for the first time upon the site where the gallows will be erected for his execution if he is adjudged guilty of the charge of having murdered Cynthia and Necia Foster, aged 14 and 10 years respectively, his half-sister's two daughters, at Fosterville just as it was growing dusk last Tuesday evening. Last night was the first night that Williams ever spent in jail, he says. for according to his own statement he was never arrested before he was charged with the fiendish crime at Fosterville which the coroner's jury found he had committed. Williams is on a bread and water diet, and that will be all he will be given, except for an occasional dose of molasses, until his case is finally disposed of at the session of the York Circuit Court which opens here on Tuesday, Jan. 20th, unless friends, relatives or somebody else provides it or a court order specifies that he shall have special rations.
Everything, except his necessary clothes, was taken away from him before he was put into solitary confinement in his cell.
BELIEVED CYNTHIA HAD PREMONITION
Confided To Her Aunt at Noon She Wished Uncle Harry Was 1,000 Miles Away
Fosterville, N.B. Nov. 23 — Did Cynthia Foster, oldest of the two victims in the double murder here this week that has horrified the people along both sides of the international boundary, have a premonition of the awful fate that was to befall her?
On Tuesday at noon she had dinner with her aunt and to her she confided she did not want to go to her Uncle Harry's camp that day. The little girls is said to have told her aunt that she "wished he was a thousand miles away from here."
Four of the children had been in the habit of going to the camp together, but the oldest girl in the family and a younger sister were busy at home with some work on Tuesday afternoon after school and were unable to go along with Cynthia and her 10-year old sister, Necia.
If all four girls had gone to the camp, there would doubtless have been four victims of the tragedy instead of two. For in the death shack on the lake shore enough extra sets of ropes and cords to bind two more victims, such as were used to bind Cynthia and Necia, have been found.
Williams' Jealousy Noticed by Others
Fosterville, N.B. Nov. 29 — There is a growing belief here that Harry Williams, charged with the murder of his half-sister's two daughters this week, has made advances to Cynthia Foster, the older of his two victims, on previous occasions and that the girl was afraid of him, had repelled his advances and wanted to keep away from him.
Some claim Williams had threatened to shoot any boy or man the older girl might walk out with and that his maniacal jealousy had been asserted in the presence of others.
Valuable Evidence Burned
Fosterville, N.B., Nov. 29—What might have been valuable evidence in fastening the guilt of the crime with which he is charged upon Harry Williams has been destroyed. After permission had been given by Dr. W. L. Turner, of Meductic, the first coroner to come here, to bury the bodies of the two foully murdered girls, the clothing which they wore was stripped off them and burned up together with other bloodstained articles found in the shack where Williams had lived. Deputy Sheriff Fraser Saunders learned this when was here on his second visit and was gathering articles for use as evidence.
Mother of Victims Says
She Could Cut Her half Brother’s Body
Never Thought William
Would So Abuse Trust in Him,
Fosterville, N.B., Nov. 29—In this grief stricken settlement nobody has turned more against Harry Williams than his half-sister, Mrs. Ward Foster, mother of the two girls with whose murder he is charged.
She said she would gladly cut her half brother in pieces bit by bit and consider she had done her duty. She never though he would so abuse the confidence and trust which they had placed in him. The children had always tried to cook and clean, mend his clothes and otherwise help Harry in his camp, and she had tried to encour-age them in helping him, little knowing the ter-rible reward that would come to them.
She had been led to suppose from Harry’s talk she says, that he would protect her children even to the last bit of blood he possessed. Neighbors say they have felt that Harry’s love for his nieces was not the right kind of love. They even went so far as to warn Mr. and Mrs. Foster regarding Harry, who had shown evidence of jealousy if the girls were allowed to go out or take part in plays of any nature. Mrs. Foster thought it was only the safety of the girls he had at heart. Harry worked hard and always spent his money on these Foster children.
Something Not Fully Understood
The young people of the little settlement liked to visit his shanty and enjoyed being with him. Williams was well-read, jovial at times, kind hearted, served meals to them and could talk on almost any subject. He had been in the Canadian Forces for over four years.
But, although he possessed all these good qualities, there has always been something behind which has not been fully understood.
May Have Been Married Twice
Williams had been known by the name of Thornton, later by the name of Darius Nason, but this no doubt is due to the fact that his mother married twice and his step-father had been married before, making a mix-up in families. Williams himself has been married and his wife for a time was cook at Clark’s Hotel in Houlton, while he worked as a section man on the Bangor & Aroostook Railroad. It is said that he has two children. His wife for some reason left him, taking her children.
Rumor has it that Williams may have been married twice, for a citizen of New Brunswick recognized the picture of Williams and thinks he is the same man he once knew who married Miss Brownrig, of Lake George, and if he is, that they had children. Possibly this may have been the wife with whom he lived in Houlton.
But the one outstanding event in his life today is the chapter that just closed in which two inno-cent children were cruelly murdered to gratify the lust of a beast.
WILLIAMS WIFE HOLDS NO MALICE
Mrs. Ada Thornton Convinced Her Former Husband is Insane
Houlton, Me., Dec. 2—Mrs. Ada Thornton says that despite all that her former husband, now known as Harry D. Williams, has said against her and her character, she holds no malice towards him. On the other hand she says that denials he has made that he was formerly known as Darius Thornton, his renouncement of being the father of their child and so forth merely con-vince her that the man held in the York county jail at Fredericton, N.B., for the murder of his half sister’s two daughters, Cynthia and Necia Foster, cannot be in his right mind.
When confronted with the statement that Thornton, alias Harry Williams, told when questioned at Fredericton, that he had left her because she had "gone to the bad", she said she could not think he said that. She holds no malice.
Mrs. Thornton said a friend saw her husband a few years after he had left her in the woods. He asked him why he went off as he did and he replied he did not know why. This friend asked if hadn’t better return home and he replied: " No, Ada would not take me back now and she is too good a woman for me to have."
She said he was always quiet, unassuming, kind-hearted and she could not think of any motive for the crime except insanity. The papers state he served four years in the Canadian army without any letup, almost always in the trenches, and I feel that his mind was under-mined by the experience of the terrible war. "I cannot believe he did it in his right mind," she said.
When asked why he should have planned everything hours before the crime she replied that it must have been some disease of the mind working towards a certain point planning with cunning to accomplish an end.
Williams’ Explanation Why He Lived in Shack
The first explanation of why he had been living in his hermit-like existence in the shack on the shore of North Lake, where he is charged with killing his half-sister’s two daughters, was given by Harry Darwin Williams before he was re-moved from the city police station to the York County Jail last evening.
"I wanted to get alone and be alone after I had been fooled by that woman," said Williams in a conversation with a reporter regarding his mar-riage at Woodstock, N.B., and his subsequent married life at Houlton, Me., where, he says, he finally left his wife, who has since secured a divorce and married again. " I had been fooled once and once was enough," continued Williams in a slow voice and with a changed demeanor as he discussed the subject. "I wanted no more to do with them. There is so much unfaithfulness in the world—." And that ended what he had to say.
THORNTON WAS WILLIAMS’
Identified By Photographs
as Sent to Reformatory
DIVORCED WIFE SAYS THAT HE "HAD" SPELLS
Man Charged With Murder
Fredericton, N.B., Dec. 1— Harry D. Williams, held for the murder of his half-sister’s two daughters, Cynthia and Necia Foster, at Foster-ville last week has been identified by photo-graphs as Darius Thornton, who was sentenced from Woodstock to a term in the New Bruns-wick penitentiary on a charge of theft.
His former wife, Mrs. Ada Thornton, has been found at Houlton, Me. She secured a divorce from him some years ago, but has not married again. She believes Williams must have been temporarily insane from war service and says he had "spells" before he left her for no good reason 12 years ago. Two children were born to them, one of whom is dead.
Williams since his arrest here has denied that he has ever gone under the name of Darius Thornton and he also denied that he was he father of any children.
Williams spent a quiet Sunday his first weekend in the York county jail. When his record was being made out after his arrest he gave his religion as Church of England. Yesterday, he asked Sheriff Hawthorn if he could see a Church of England minister, and this morning Very Rev. Scovil Neales, Dean of Fredericton, spent a half-hour with him in his cell at the York county jail.
LIVED WITH A LAME MAN WHO USED TO DO ODD JOBS
Woodstock, N.B., Dec. 1—Harry D. Williams, now in the York County Jail at Fredericton charged with murder, has been identified here by Chief of Police Owen Kelly by photographs as Darius Thornton, who twenty years ago was arrested with two other youths named Nason and Embleton and charged with stealing brass from the mill owned by the late Fred Mooers.
Embleton turned King’s evidence and got off with a suspended sentence, but Thornton and Nason were sent to the New Brunswick Reformatory for a term of three years.
Thornton had previously lived with a lame man who did odd jobs about town and he never came back here afterwards, so far as anybody can tell.
Former Wife Believes He Must Have Been Mad
Houlton, Me., Dec. 1—The woman to whom Harry D. Williams, held in jail at Fredericton for the double murder at Fosterville, N.B. last week, has been found here. She is Mrs. Ada Thornton which is the name she has always gone under since her marriage to Williams, who was Darius Thornton when she married him and lived with him until he suddenly left her 12 years ago. They had two children one of which died.
She believes her former husband, from whom she secured a divorce upon the grounds of desertion several years ago, must have been temporarily insane from war service if he committed the crime for which he is charged. She said he was always kind and they had no quarrels, but he " had spells " and used to disappear for several days at a time.
Williams Discharged From the Army Here
Harry D. Williams, charged with the double murder at Fosterville last week, was discharged from the Canadian Expeditionary Force here in March, 1919. He says he got his discharge just a few days before the Discharge Depot was re-moved from this city to St. John. He is therefore not entirely unfamiliar with the city in which his trial of the charge of murder will take place
LAST HANGING HERE FOR DOUBLE MURDER
W.C. Sterling Brannen
Recalls Execution of Man
The double murder of fourteen years-old Cynthia Foster and her ten-years-old sister, Necia, at Fosterville last week, recalls the only hanging which ever took place in Fredericton, according to the memory of older residents, when a man named Smith was executed for murder of two men whose names are now unknown.
Smith was hanged at the old Burial Ground entrance a few years before the county jail was moved from King street to Brunswick in 1842, according to W.C. Sterling Brannen, retired officialof the Provincial Secretary’s office, whose father, Charles Brannen, was at that time Deputy Sheriff of York county under Sheriff D.W. Miller. Mr. Brannen’s father, as Deputy Sheriff, conveyed the condemned man from the county jail on King street below Regent to the gallows at the entrance to the Old Burial Grounds.
WILLIAMS IN POLICE COURT AGAIN TOMORROW
Prisoner Charged With The Fosterville Murder to Come Up in Morning
EXAMINATION NOT TO START FOR SOME DAYS
Harry D. Williams, charged with the murder of his half sister’s two daughters, Cynthia and Necia Foster, aged 14 and 10 years, will appear in the police court here again tomorrow.
This morning, Dr. T.C. Allen, K.C., Deputy Attorney General, stated that Peter J. Hughes, K.C. of this city, had been appointed to carry on the prosecution in the case for the crown, and he is expected to make his first appearance in the case tomorrow, when Williams is arraigned again.
Inasmuch as no steps have been taken towards procuring the attendance of witnesses, the preliminary examination of Williams cannot be proceeded with and it has been expected that the crown prosecutor will move for adjournment tomorrow for the full limit of eight days for which a remand can be made. That would make Monday, December 15th, as the first date on which the preliminary examination will be commenced. This afternoon it was said that ad-journment might be asked for until the last of next week.
Williams is to appear in court tomorrow in the forenoon. He will have a luxuriant growth of beard, inasmuch as he has not been allowed to have a razor nor has he been shaved since he entered his cell at the York county jail a week ago.
The Daily Gleaner December 6, 1924
Many Witnesses To Be
Alleged Admissions at Fosterville Without Warning
DECEMBER 16th IS HEARING DATE
Williams Appeared in
Almost a score of witnesses may be summoned, it was said this afternoon, to give evidence at the preliminary examination of Harry D. Williams, charged with double murder at Fosterville on November 25th.
The large number of witnesses will be required, it is said, because alleged admissions of his guilt which witnesses related at the coroner’s inquest had been made by Williams, after he had been taken into custody at Fosterville on the morning following the finding of the bodies of the two murdered girls, cannot be offered as evidence in court.
It is said that Claude Peck, to whom Williams is alleged to have made his admissions of guilt, had not warned the man now charged with the murder that anything he might say would be used as evidence against him at his trial and that Peck, who is a provincial game warden and a constable, cannot give his conversations with Williams as evidence.
So far Williams has not secured counsel. If a lawyer is detailed to defend him, that will not be done until the accused is arraigned in the York Circuit Court on January 20th, next, before Mr. Justice LeBlanc.
WAS REMANDED TODAY UNTIL NEXT WEDNESDAY
Tuesday, December 16th, at 10 a.m., has been fixed as the time at which the preliminary ex-amination of Harry D. Williams, charged with the double murder of his half-nieces, Cynthia Foster, aged 14, and Necia Foster, aged 10, will open before Walter Limerick in the city police court.
In the meantime, Williams who appeared on remand before Judge Limerick in police court this afternoon at 12:45 p.m., has been remanded to the York county jail until December 10th, when a further remand until December 16th will be made. P.J. Hughes, K.C., appeared this morning as crown prosecutor under instructions from Attorney General’s Department.
Williams appeared in a complete outfit of clothes today with the exception of a collar when ushered into the dock at the police court this afternoon by Chief of Police Nathaniel Jones. In addition to his ordinary clothes he wore the short mackinaw coat which he brought with him from Fosterville. His demeanor this morning was unchanged from that of his two previous appearances in court and throughout the brief formal proceedings uttered not a word.
Crowd in Court
A few minutes after Williams was brought into court in the presence of a crowd of spectators Judge Limerick arrived and took his seat on the bench. The case was immediately called and Mr. Hughes, the only counsel present, announced that he was appearing for the prosecution on instructions from the Attorney General’s Department.
" When will you be ready to proceed?" asked Judge Limerick.
Mr. Hughes replied that the earliest possible date by which he could secure the presence of his witnesses would be December 16th. The greater number of witnesses, he said, resided at the extremity of the county and it would require some time to serve them with the necessary papers.
Judge Limerick then announced that he would fix Thursday, December 6th, at 10 a.m., as the date for the preliminary examination and that he would remand the accused until December 16th, when a further remand would be made. The an-nouncement was repeated to the prisoner stand-ing in the dock, a silent witness to the proceed-ings, when he appeared not to have received the import of His Honor’s remarks.
Williams was then removed to his cell in the police station to await his transfer to the county jail. Crowds of men and women were around the police station all morning to catch a glimpse of the accused.
Williams Can’t Suffer
"He cannot suffer any too much to suit me," says Ward B. Foster, father of Cynthia and Necia Foster, aged 14 and 10 years, who Harry D. Williams, alias Darius Thornton, is charged with having murdered at Fosterville on Novem-ber 25th last.
" None of us of course know how much he has been suffering and how much he is suffering, but it is all just retribution for his terrible crime," continued the father of the victims of the most fiendish double murder in New Brunswick criminal annals. "I had not seen him from the night before my two little girls were so brutally murdered until I saw him in court here. It is almost beyond reason that, even on a bread and water diet, a man could fall away and change so rapidly; he is certainly an awful looking sight, but I have no sympathy for him. And I don’t think anybody in the Parish of North Lake has any sympathy for him."
Williams Changed His
Letter To Sister Gave
Harry D. Williams, who is charged with the murder of his half sister’s two nieces (sic) at Fosterville, N.B. on November 25th last, changed his name over ten years ago from Darius Thornton to the name which he gives at present in order that his wife, Mrs. Ada Thorn-ton, would not be able to find him.
At least that is the reason he gave for making he change in name in a letter which he wrote to his half sister, Mrs. Ward Foster, mother of the two victims of the North Lake tragedy, and which letter is said to be still amongst a file of letters that are kept at the Foster home.
Ward Foster, father of the dead girls, gave that information to the Gleaner when asked if any reason had become known why Williams had changed his name and had denied after his ar-rest that he had ever been known as Darius Thornton. He said that published reports that the accused was born at Nackawick, York County, were correct, that his mother afterwards married a man named Nason and that she is now Mrs. Fish and lives at Fosterville.
But, according to Mr. Foster, Williams was not married at Woodstock, as he has stated, but at Victoria Corner, Carleton County, and while his wife had, as previously reported, been originally Miss Ada Clark, she had been married before she married Williams and was then a widow—a Mrs. Saunders—with four children. To Wil-liams she gave birth to two children, one of whom died while the other is still living.
Mrs. Foster showed considerable feeling when it was suggested that inquiries had been made as to Mrs. Thornton’s whereabouts by the crown prosecutor and that she might be called here when Williams’ trial comes on at the sitting of the York Circuit Court in January. " I see that she has expressed the opinion that Williams could not have been in his right mind, " said the father of the dead girls. &dquot What can she know about it? She said at the time she suggested his war service had affected his mind that she had not seen him for two years. No insanity pleas can excuse Williams. He had a bad streak in him, but he was so kind to the children and seemed to think so much of them all that we overlooked his former bad record and allowed him privileges which we now find—all to late—that we never should have permitted."
Mr. Foster said that Williams’ relatives say that he is older than 37.
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Last updated: February, 2001