The Sentence Of Eddie Cook

October 4, 1895
Clinton Public
Clinton, Illinois

The Sentence of Eddie Cook at Lincoln Meets With Approval.

Below we give the particulars of the case of the People vs. Eddie COOK, of Waynesville, tried in Lincoln last week, as presented by the Lincoln Daily Courier.

The opening statement for the people was made by John FULLER, of Clinton, state's attorney for DeWitt county, who assisted Mr. KING. The prosecution outlined their statement of the case about as follows:

In October, 1894, Miss BENNETT removed with her relatives to Maroa, Macon county, where Cook continued to visit her. On February 12, 1895, Minnie Bennett left Maroa, leaving the impression she was to visit in Waynesville. At that point Cook joined her, and they came on to Atlanta. Here they went to the office of Dr. Frank GARDNER, where Cook introduced her as "my patient." The deceased, after two or three hours, left Dr. Gardner's office and spent the night at the Burford house, and in the morning, about breakfast time, she was taken ill. That forenoon she, with Cook, left Atlanta and returned to Maroa. On Friday, the 14th, a miscarriage occurred, and on Sunday, the 17th, she died.

Messrs. BEACH & HODNETT and J. A. BARR, of Bloomington, defended Mr. Cook. Mr. Hodnett stated the policy of the defense to be their belief of the entire innocence of Mr. Cook of suggesting, aiding or any knowledge of the abortion and depending upon the fact of the evidence being wholly circumstantial. They make no denial of the general facts of the case, except as to the knowledge or connection of the defendant of or with the crime.

The defendant, Cook, is a plain-looking man of neat appearance, light brown hair, red moustache, dark eyes and florid complexion. His bearing has been quiet and attentive, as if fully aware of the gravity of the situation.

Stella BENNETT, of Ospur, Macon county, aged 19, was the first witness, and stated that she was at home in Maroa when her sister returned from Atlanta on Wednesday, the 13th. Minnie went to bed about two hours after her return, appearing to suffer pain. She was not suffering or complaining before she left home. Offers were made to procure a doctor, and deceased objected. A physician, Dr. McLEAN, was called Friday, when deceased was evidently worse, having given birth to a fetus a little while previous. She saw a fetus wrapped up under the bed. Miss Stella testified that Minnie frequently received letters from Cook, of which Mr. Fuller has several up to December. After that date she burned all letters received immediately upon receiving them. Testified that Cook and her sister were alone most of the time when he called on her.

Mrs. J. M. EWING, of Maroa, a sister of the deceased, testified that on Monday, February 17th, the day before Minnie went to Atlanta, she noticed her sister to be in evident pregnant condition, but Minnie refused to talk to her about her condition. On Thursday and Friday afterwards she saw her sister sick in bed, evidently suffering. Her sister took medicine. On a visit Friday evening her sister told her she would find a fetus under the pillow, which she did. Cook's last visit to her sister was the Friday before she went to Atlanta. He never visited her again and was not at the funeral.

Mark Bennett, a brother, was the unmarried brother for whom Minnie kept house. He testified as to Minnie's leaving home about the time the train left for Atlanta, and not again seeing her until the next day.

Thos. H. YAKEL and wife, of Waynesville, testified that on the Wednesday in question they saw Eddie Cook and Minnie Bennett enter the train at Atlanta and occupy seats behind them.

After an hour and a half instructions by the court, the case was given to the jury Friday afternoon. At 10:50 p.m. the jury returned its verdict, finding Cook guilty of murder in the second degree, and consigning him to imprisonment in Chester penitentiary for fourteen years.

Miss Bennett died in Maroa on Feb. 17. A startling feature of the case was that Dr. Gardner committed suicide by cutting his throat on May 22, the day he was subpoenaed before the grand jury. The defense claimed that the doctor's suicide was for grief of his mother, who died about the time of the crime. Among those from the defendant's vicinity it is the general report that this is the third case of the kind, three of the girls being dead, one a confirmed invalid. The case was hard fought. The witnesses were drawn from Tazewell, Macon, DeWitt and Logan counties and from a dozen different towns. State's Attorney King was assisted by John Fuller, state's attorney of DeWitt county, where the case was first worked up. —Decatur Daily Review.

(see obituary of Minnie Bennett)

Submitted by Judy Simpson