Thursday, April 5, 2012

Two Escapees, A Double Murder & Fighting Fire With Firepower

Hyman Wagman had a grudge to settle and it wasn't with the victims of the hatchet murder he performed on a Detroit couple, Marv and Francis Rumsey or because of his unfortunate name but due to his tilted mental capacity.

A patient at Eloise for about two years he had been let off guarded status just prior to the attack. Taking advantage of his new found freedom Wagman finished his duties washing dishes at the asylum, slipped off the property and then hitched a ride to Dearborn.

There he bought a hatchet with the intention of confronting the Rumsey's son, John, who had been a classmate of the deranged man a decade earlier. Apparently Wagman believed that John Rumsey had insulted the killer's mother some years before and sought revenge. Having gone to the home and not found the younger Rumsey there he quarreled with the parents before hatcheting the family including the dog which survived having its throat slashed.

The irony of the tragedy was that John Rumsey arrived home soon after the killings took place in the family's basement and met Wagman on the stairwell heading up to the first floor. While Wagman balked at the chance to confront the person who had supposedly wronged him, he invited the unsuspecting man to go down and witness the perpetrated violence, saying casually, "Come on down, I've got something to show you."

Having been alarmed by the killer's appearance Rumsey continued down to the crime scene. At that point Wagman fled the scene and John Rumsey phoned the authorities for help. Wagman was picked up soon after by a patrolman who noticed his disheveled state and bloody clothing.

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Confessing to being ignorant about the usage of grenades in fighting fires is about as easy as the inclination to not tangle myself in another paper maze trying to discover the facts of something irrelevant to the task at hand. I have come across several instances of this method in the realm of late 19th century firefighting techniques and most notably in the Gray, Toynton and Fox candy factory fire where the technique was used to stunt a fire that eventually grew out of control and killed three employees.

Seeing as Eloise had fire safety issues throughout its history officials were always trying to reduce the risk of deadly blazes and this was just another method to combat the issue. I'm not sure if they ever kept grenades on hand or employed the technique but it was deemed worthy of a demonstration in January of 1884.

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Joseph Forcier was like the hundreds who escaped from Eloise and remained fugitives until they committed a heinous act, were brought back without incident or returned under the many possible scenarios in between the two. Unfortunately, the initial newspaper blurbs often were unanswered cliffhangers, as this episodes seems to be, or the record of resolution was lost with the original transcripts. Usually, filling in the missing parts via assumption is akin to fortune telling and likewise just as accurate.

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