The 1904 Charles King murder
For the Lakeside Leader
The conviction of Charles King for the murder of Edward Hayward occurred after a hearing and two trials.
The Edmonton Bulletin reported the hearing began Feb. 20, 1905 at the N.W.M.P. barracks before Inspector Worsley. In all, 80 witnesses were expected, the majority Indians.
C.W. MacDonald appeared for the Crown and O.M. Biggar for the defense.
The brother of the murder victim, Henry Hayward, was brought from England to testify. He was one of the first to give testimony. He identified many of the exhibits as belonging to his brother. He also testified he received a letter from his brother from an Edmonton hotel saying he was heading north on a prospecting trip with another man [King]. This was contrary to King’s statement to police that he met Hayward on the trail and knew only him a short time.
Afterwards, much of the testimony was from the Indians, who established clearly the two men had a relationship.
Feb. 21, Sgt. “Andy” Anderson gave testimony of his investigation. He gave account on how Chief Moostoos took him to the men’s camp, and what he found. He testified how he hired Indians to search a nearby slough for evidence; later, the Indians also testified what they found.
What is interesting is that many accounts of the story reported that Indian women were hired. However, at the trial Feb. 23, two Indians, one named Wittigo and his son, were hired by Anderson. Not women, but a man and his son. It was the young boy who found the boots.
Anderson also testified on his trip to southern B.C., Alberta and Edmonton clearly establishing the two men had a working partnership. His claims were supported later by testimony from several witnesses in those jurisdictions.
Sgt. Low testified he interviewed King. He said King admitted he met Hayward at the depot in Calgary. Hayward wanted to go to B.C., King did not. Hayward then proposed they go the Peace Country to which King agreed. They went to Edmonton, then Grouard. Anderson was able to track the men’s progress through purchases and hotel registries to prove the men were together.
Later, Benjamin Potaskin and his sister testified the former helped the two men cross the Athabasca River.
And, forensic evidence concluded the case. King’s blood-stained bedding was seized, sent to Toronto for examination, and evidence produced of blood on the bedding. In all, four stains were found on the bedding. Another expert testified regarding the bones of the skull.
At that point, the presiding magistrate stated King was guilty and would stand for trial in a case called Rex vs King.
King was arraigned Feb. 25 in front of the Supreme Court and pleaded not guilty. Biggar asked for a postponement to permit him time to investigate the case and build a proper defense. His request was denied and he quit the case.
The next day, Biggar was asked to reconsider and he did. The first trial began March 1 before Judge Harvey and lasted seven days. Through the trial, Biggar felt he was at a disadvantage.
A jury was selected comprised of Messrs. Rice, Sheppard, Foreman, A.W. Toll, F.E. Cuthbert, J. Mellish, W. Dietz and J. Carruthers. The evidence of Henry Hayward was heard, and here he was allowed to tell the story of his dream his brother was murdered.
The rest of the evidence was heard – a repeat of that given at the preliminary hearing. Mr. MacDonald represented the Crown.
King was convicted March 9, 1905 by the jury and sentenced to be hanged May 10.
King stood and his Lordship asked if he had anything to say, why sentence should not be passed. For a moment King did not appear to comprehend, then replied, “Nothing that I know of.”
Biggar played his last card and moved for a discharge on the grounds that no direct evidence was produced to show that Hayward was dead, that no body had been found, nor had the fact of the prisoner having committed the alleged murder been established.
His Lordship declined to take the case from the jury.
Referring to a point raised by Mr. Biggar in his motion for discharge, McDonald said it was absurd to claim that the body must be produced to establish a case of murder. But if the four bones produced in court were human, then a portion of the body had been produced, and the proof was absolutely clear that someone had been killed.
During the plea for King, Biggar rose citing his disadvantages in the case; his own inexperience matched against an expert Crown prosecutor, and the lack of time and means to procure evidence which might throw a different light on the Crown’s case.
Biggar said Hayward was alive in British Columbia, remote from telegraph lines and newspapers.
He cited cases in which men had been hanged and afterwards found innocent.
Biggar also attempted to blame the Indians, to no avail.
Biggar’s attempt to call the evidence presented as “circumstantial” was not bought by the jury. King’s fate was sealed.
However, owing to a legal technicality, a new trial was ordered. The second trial took place before Judge Scott in June, and King again was found guilty. King was sentenced to be hanged Aug. 31 postponed until Sept. 30, 1905.
Hayward’s brother saw murder in a dream
For the Lakeside Leader
Adding to the lore of the story is the brother of the murdered man, Edward Hayward, said he had a dream his brother was murdered.
Many newspapers published the story. Sgt. ‘Andy’ Anderson’s family alluded to the story, but there was no testimony at the prelimiary hearing alluding to the dream, only the trial on March 1, 1905.
The King murder was covered worldwide, including England, Australia, and New Zealand. The Auckland Star Aug. 19, 1905 reported:
“The case is rendered remarkable by the fact that the brother of the murdered man, while living at the village of North Mundlam, in Sussex, England, had a vivid dream in which he saw his brother shot. Two days afterwards he received a cable from the Canadian police informing him of his brother’s death and requesting his presence as a witness at the trial of Charles King.”
In an excerpt from a book based on Sgt. Anderson’ diary (Keeping the Peace, by Sheena Meadowcroft, his grandson Andrew Anderson, is quoted as saying:
“Although the case seems to have officially started when Chief Moostoos brought certain circumstances to Anderson’s attention, it is the family’s understanding that it started when the brother of Edward Hayward, the murder victim, contacted Anderson by post from England. He had experienced a most vivid dream in which he witnessed his brother’s murder. Apparently, he was so convincing that Anderson looked further into the circumstances. Although this was not evidence, it did add a surrealistic element to the case.”
Who contacted who first? The evidence is contradictory.
The Edmonton Bulletin seized the opportunity to interview Henry Hayward Feb. 24, 1905 while he was in Edmonton. It reported:
“[Henry Hayward] told a very curious story, one that many psychologists admit is possible and that frequently occurs but which hardly seems in the realm of the reasonable to most of the people. His story briefly told was as follows:
“One night last fall while I was sleeping in my house near North Mundlam, England, I dreamed a dream which greatly startled me and that left a deep impression that was only too soon confirmed, that my brother had been murdered.
“In my dream I could see my brother lying upon the ground and a tall, dark handsome man standing over him with a gun in his hand. I heard the report [shot] of a gun and my brother’s voice plainly as I ever heard it when he was with me.
“My God, you have shot me! You have shot me! I awoke strongly impressed, feeling confident that something had happened to “Ted” [Edward].
“I told my neighbours about it but they laughed at me until a week later when I received a letter from Major Strickland, which confirmed my worst fears.”
The Bulletin reported that in Hayward’s dream the man he saw was a very tall man, and he himself says, “not as tall (as) the appearance of the man King, who is now being tried for murder.”
King’s last meal, the hanging and burial
Sept. 30, 1905
Charles King was hanged this morning at Fort Saskatchewan at 7 a.m. for the murder of Edward Hayward on the 18 of September, 1904.
Father Jan was with the prisoner on Friday evening, when Sheriff Robertson, accompanied by Inspector Strickland, entered to read the death warrant. He listened calmly, as to one reading aloud a tale that he had already heard, showing no feeling at all, apparently not realizing that all hope of a reprieve was passed.
The man who had left home at the age of 12 years, spending his life on the ranches and in the mines of Utah, Idaho, Kansas and Montana, was intellectually an infant, no finer feelings ever having been stirred and knowing naught of the love of parents, friends or home, he was prepared to meet his fate without complaint or whimper.
He had never received any religious instruction but claimed to be a Catholic when arrested because he had while undergoing treatment in a Kansas City hospital, listened to the religious teachings of the Sisters. Father Jan did not remain with him all night, as he would not accept the faith and showed clearly he did not wish to have any further religious discussion. He gave the good father a message to send to relatives at Mount Pleasant, Utah.
Beautifully clear, and with the first suggestion of the coming winter in the air adding a quickening touch to the slothful pulse and awakening a joy in life that could not be withstood, Charles King awakened in his prison home to see the last sunrise that he would ever behold.
He had slept well, and at 6 o’clock sat down to a hearty breakfast of poached eggs, salmon cutlets, cheese, coffee and toast, which he had calmly ordered the previous evening.
Under sentence of death for four months, he had been a model prisoner, liked by the death watch, quiet and wanting little, and now that his end had come the R.N.W.M. Police guard showed their sympathy for him in numerous ways, hoping to make his last moments as pleasant as possible.
Promptly at 6:30 a.m., he was taken from the guard house and the procession, composed of Sheriff Robertson, accompanied by Major Strickland in his capacity as jailor, led, followed by King and Father Jan, with a policeman on either side and one in the rear. Jail Surgeon Dr. Aylen and Provost Rockwell came next, while the coroner, coroner’s jury and others, whose presence was necessary, completed the company.
Winding through the orderly array of buildings that comprise the Fort, the melancholy procession arrived at the driving shed, above which in the carpenter’s shop, the scaffold was. Father Jan led the condemned man into a room for a last few words and soon Radcliffe knocked at the door announcing to King he had come for him.
In the moment’s pause that ensued, King, speaking in a low, sturdy voice said, “I do not know what you are hanging me for, I am an innocent man – God knows that I am an innocent man. I have nothing on my mind, I would not have that crime on my mind for killing him.”
He [King] arose and walked calmly to the trap, standing motionless with downcast eyes, while Radcliffe hastily bound his legs, put on the white cap, and adjusted the noose. Father Jan repeated the Lord’s Prayer. King followed in a clear, low voice.
“Deliver us,” he said as the sheriff gave the signal. Radcliffe sprang the trap and he was hurled into eternity.
Death was instantaneous and painless: his neck broken. When the doctors reached the body the pulse had ceased to beat.
The body was placed in a rough coffin, face downward, hands behind, underneath them the death warrant was placed, then three prisoners bore the remains to the southwest corner of the Fort enclosure, where it lies beside the remains of Bullock, who was hanged in 1902. The earth was leveled and not even a mound remains to mark the spot.
Spare no expense
The importance of the Charles King murder trial in 1905 was not lost on the North-West Mounted Police.
In Policing the Plains Being the Real-Life Record of the Famous North-West Mounted Police, By R.G. MacBeth, the author suggests the case was not only a portrayal of the persistent methods of the police, but it was a case where the police had won the friendship of the Indians through guarding the Indians against exploitation by white men.
In other words, the white man and Indian man would be treated fairly by police and prosecuted fairly by police.
The police and Sgt. “Andy” Anderson transported 40 Indian witnesses 250 miles from Sucker Creek to Edmonton to make its case. The evidence was placed before the jury and the Indians returned to their homes. A legal technicality cropped up and the trial had to be repeated. Once more the 40 Indians traveled to Edmonton to repeat their story.
Anderson himself went on a trip to southern B.C. and Alberta, and back to Edmonton, to gather evidence.
Hayward’s brother, Henry, was even brought over from England to testify.
In The New North by Agnes Deans Cameron, she reports the trial cost the Canadian government over $30,000 – “all to avenge the death of one of the wandering units to be found in every corner of the frontier, one unknown prospector.”
And how much is $30,000 to today’s money: Saving.org converts the cost to $770,922.
For two men – one from the United States and other from England – the question arises, was it worth it?
Sources for this story include the following:
Dictionary of Canadian Biography,
Richard T. Price and Cora Voyaguer
South Peace Historical Society
The New North by Agnes Deans Cameron
RCMP Veterans’ Association
Policing the Plains. . . by R.G. MacBeth
Icelandic National Leage of North America
Keeping the Peace [Kristjan’s Diary]
by Andrew Anderson
Edmonton Bulletin newspaper [various editions]
Provincial Archives [Charles King photo]
Editor’s note: Reports of this case vary. Spelling of the Indian witnesses also vary. Edmonton Bulletin reports were given highest priority.