Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Jesse Harding Pomeroy


Ruth Pomeroy, Jesse's mother (CORBIS)
Ruth Pomeroy,
Jesse's mother

On the outside, Ruth Pomeroy stepped up her campaign to free her son, whom she considered innocent of all charges. He was too young, she argued, to be the perpetrator of such crimes. The police arrested the wrong boy. She wrote letters to the board of overseers of Westborough Reformatory and to anyone else who might help her son. She (rightly) pointed out that he had been coerced into confessing and that he should have been able to talk to a lawyer or at least herself.

But the one thing that convinced the overseers to free Jesse Pomeroy was Jesse himself. There was no reason to keep him, they decided, after an investigator from the state had visited the Pomeroy home and found Mrs. Pomeroy to be a hardworking, honest and caring woman. Charles Pomeroy, Jesse's brother, was also considered an upstanding citizen. He had a very large paper route and when he wasn't delivering newspapers, he ran a newspaper stand outside his mother's dress shop.

The Pomeroys promised to put Jesse to work in the newsstand and the dress shop, and Ruth was determined to keep a closer eye on her younger son whose behaviors, the investigator believed, were the result of his lack of supervision. The broken home had left Jesse "to drift pretty much at his own will."

Despite the horrendous crimes Jesse had committed, the police in the South Boston precinct were forgiving. "It isn't best to be down on a boy too hard or too long," said the captain at the precinct house. "Give him a chance to redeem himself."

So, less than a year-and-a-half after his arrest, Jesse Pomeroy was released from Westborough Reformatory and set loose on an unsuspecting public. None of the authorities thought of warning the neighbors, most of whom thought the Boy with the Marble Eye had been locked up tight and wouldn't be coming home until he was at least 18.

For the parents of two youngsters, the ignorance would have tragic consequences.

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