Walter Crabtree Dies on Gallows

From The Wheeling Intelligencer, May 10, 1930

Walter Crabtree Dies on Gallows

Romney Killer Pays For Murder Of Trio
Trap Sprung at 8:56 P.M.; Fails to Make Last Statement;
First Execution under Scroggin's Regime

The state of West Virginia was avenged last night when Walter Crabtree, 37, convicted of the murder of Squire H. C. Inskeep, was hanged at the penitentiary. The Mosiac law of a life for a life was carried out to the letter. Crabtree was killed because he killed.

The trip was sprung at 8:56 o'clock and 12 1/2 minutes later the Romney killer was declared dead by Doctors A. R. Ashworth and O. C. Wilson.

Crabtree walked up the 13 steps to the gallows and stood bravely on the trap as the guards of the prison made him helpless before carrying out the letter of the law.

As he stood on the traps of the gallows, Warden A. C. Scroggins asked Crabtree: "Have you anything to say?" The doomed man replied: "No sire. I have not." The death cap was then placed over his head and the noose adjusted. An instant before the trap was sprung Crabtree said audibly: "Good-night, gentlemen, I hope to see you all in heaven." Then there was a crash and the Hampshire county murderer was dangling on the end of a hempen rope eight feet below the traps of the gallows.

Warden Officiates

Warden Scroggins officiated at the execution and placed the death cap and noose over the murderer's head. As the warden pressed the button to signal five guards, detailed to carry out the execution, the guards pressed other buttons and the floor dropped from under the feet of Crabtree.

Crabtree was garbed in a dark blue suit with flowers in his button hole. He was freshly shaven and his hair had been trimmed during the afternoon. His suit, the one in which he will be buried, was given him Friday afternoon. While the condemned man was being given new clothes the gallows upon which he was killed were tested.

52 Witnesses Present

Present at the execution were 52 witnesses, State Trooper J. P. Horn and Sheriff J. P. Saville of Hampshire County, who arrested Crabtree. Sheriff W. W. Williams, Preston County, and newspaper men from various cities.

It was the first time an execution... [unintelligible]

Shortly after Crabtree had hung, taps were sounded marking "lights out" for inmates of the institution, few of whom could rest after hearing the clang of the trap as it was sprung.

The man was led to the gallows by two guards, and was accompanied by Chaplain W. C. Harold. The song, "Let the Lower Light Be Burning," was chanted by a group of prisoners within the walls as the death march was in progress. As the trap was sprung the singing was abruptly halted.

The doctors then took charge and after 12 and one half minutes declared the body lifeless.

Spectators were ushered outside and undertakers took charge of the body that only a few minutes before had been a living, breathing man.

Relatives have claimed the body which will be shipped to Romney today. The warden received the following letter asking for the body.

We, Hazel Sandes nee Crabtree, Edith Crabtree and S. D. Crabtree, the sister, mother and father of Walter Crabtree who you have confined in the penitentiary and sentenced to be hanged on May 9, 1930, do hereby request and desire, in case the death penalty be inflicted that the body of the said Walter Crabtree be returned to us at Romney, W. Va., for burial.

In accordance with the usual custom Crabtree was allowed to select the menu for his last two meals. At noon he chose pork chops. For his last meal he ordered beef steak, vegetables, lemonade and apple pie.

The Wheeling Intelligencer can be found on the Library of Congress web site.