Jesse Harding Pomeroy was the youngest individual ever sentenced to ‘Murder in the First Degree in the history of Massachusetts, having been found sinful by a jury trial held in the Supreme Judicial Court of Suffolk County in December 1874.
At the age of 12, he was charged for brutally injuring seven boys – all of whom survived, but less than two years later he was charged with two counts of killing.
Jesse was Born In 1859
Jesse Harding Pomeroy was born on 29 November 1859, in Charlestown, Massachusetts, to Thomas J. Pomeroy and Ruth Ann Snowman. He was the youngest of two kids, his brother Charles Jefferson Pomeroy was two years older. His mum was a dressmaker.
Due to having a bad hair lip and one white eye, he endured some degree of bullying whilst at school.
When Jesse turned 11 nonetheless, he began bullying others and taking it onto an entirely new level. He would take little kids into the woods and would urge them to take their clothes off. He would fasten them up and whip them, poking them with sharp objects, slashing them, etc. After harming seven children, he was charged and sent to the Westborough Reform School. The Boston Globe covered this story… the final line of the article stating “It is generally concluded that the boy is mentally deficient.”
Jesse Was Released
A year and a half later he was released, due to nice behavior. It looks like that he developed a better strategy while he was in Reform School, which was basically that he couldn’t get into difficulty with the police if the children he hurt were dead.
Ten-year-old Mary Curren vanished in March 1874. She vanished without evidence, and the police had no clues.
One month later, four-year-old Horace Mullen also vanished. His corpse was discovered though, in the marshlands on the outskirts of the city. His corpse had been cut with a knife and he was almost decapitated.
When his corpse was discovered, Jesse’s name, as having a record as a child torturer, was at the top of the list. Jesse was 14 at that time. The police discovered a bloody knife in his trousers. While Jesse was locked up in preparation for trial, his mum moved house, to avoid the press and censoring of her neighbors.
Once she had vacated, the landlord decided to rebuild. The basement was dug up, and the corpse of the missing Mary Curren was discovered. Her remains were rapidly and rashly hidden in an ash heap.
When police inquired Jesse about her corpse, he confessed to murdering her, as well as 27 others, 12 of which he alleged he buried around his mum’s house.
At the trial, Jesse was found sinful of the two original killings, and even though he was a 14-year-old boy with mild mental retardation, he was convicted to death. This sentence was finally over 18 months reduced to life in jail, and he was to be kept in solitary imprisonment for the rest of his life.
Jesse Harding Pomeroy expended a total of 41 years in solitary detention. He attempted to murder himself many times, without success, and continually attempted to escape.
In 1917, Pomeroy’s sentence was commuted to the extent of authorizing him the privileges afforded to other life captives. At first, he denied, wanting nothing less than a pardon. He finally modified to his changed conditions and occurred in a minstrel show at the jail. In 1929, by this time an elderly man of 70 in frail health, was transferred to Bridgewater Hospital for the Criminally Insane, where he perished just 2 years later on September 29, 1932, at the age of 72.