On the Gallows
"God would not let an innocent man be hanged!"
The twelve white male jurors from rural Maine took less than an hour to render a verdict of guilty in the case of Louis Wagner. That same night in June 1873, the condemned man escaped from his jail cell in Alfred, Maine and wandered the countryside for three days. Captured in Farmington, NH, Wagner was soon transferred to the state prison in Thomaston, Maine to await his execution. Another 28-year old ax murderer named John True Gordon accompanied Wagner to the scaffold two years later. In a bloody exit, Gordon attempted suicide minutes before his execution in the prison yard. Wagner proclaimed his innocence to the end, leading to false rumors that persist today. Wagner and Gordon, despite local legend, were not the last men hanged in Maine. And the theory that Maine abolished its death penalty because of Wagner's innocence is also false. (Illustration from broadside on the hanging of Wagner and Gordon courtesy Portsmouth Athenaeum)