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Primary Sources: Murder at Madison Square Garden

The morning after the murder, the New York Times provided in-depth coverage.

THAW MURDERS STANFORD WHITE
Shoots him on the Madison Square Garden Roof.

ABOUT EVELYN NESBIT
"He Ruined My Wife," Witness Says He Said.

AUDIENCE IN A PANIC
Chairs and Tables Are Overturned in a Wild Scramble for the Exits

New York Times
Tuesday June 26, 1906

Harry Kendall Thaw of Pittsburg, husband of Florence Evelyn Nesbit, former actress and artist's model, shot and killed Stanford White, the architect, on the roof of Madison Square Garden at 11:05 o'clock last night, just as the first performance of the musical comedy "Mamzelle Champagne" was drawing to a close. Thaw, who is a brother of the Countess of Yarmouth and a member of a well known and wealthy family, left his seat near the stage, passed between a number of tables, and in full view of the players and of scores of persons, shot White through the head. Mr. White was the designer of the building on the roof of which he was killed. He it was who put Miss Nesbit, now Mrs. Thaw, on the stage.

Thaw, who was in evening clothes, had evidently been waiting for Mr. White's appearance. The latter entered the Garden at 10:55 and took a seat at a table five rows from the stage. He rested his chin in his right hand and seemed lost in contemplation.

Thaw had a pistol concealed under his coat. His face was deathly white. According to A. L. Belstone, who sat near, White must have seen Thaw approaching. But he made no move. Thaw placed the pistol almost against the head of the sitting man and fired three shots in quick succession.

Body Fell to the Floor.

White's elbow slid from the table, the table crashed over, sending a glass clinking along with the heavier sound. The body then tumbled from the chair. On the stage one of the characters was singing a song entitled "I Could Love A Million Girls." The refrain seemed to freeze upon his lips. There was dead silence for a second, and then Thaw lifted his pistol over his head, the barrel hanging downward, as if to show the audience that he was not going to harm any one else.

With a firm stride Thaw started for the exit, holding his pistol as if anxious to have some one take it from his hand.

Then came the realization on the part of the audience that the farce had closed with a tragedy. A woman jumped to her feet and screamed. Many persons followed her example and there was wild excitement.

L. Lawrence, the manager of the show, jumped on a table and above the uproar commanded the show to go on.

"Go on playing!" he shouted. "Bring on that chorus!"

Girls Too Terrified to Sing

The musicians made a feeble effort at gathering their wits and playing the chorus music, but the girls who romped on the stage were paralyzed with horror, and it was impossible to bring the performance to an orderly close.

Then the manager shouted for quiet, and he informed the audience that a serious accident had happened, and begged the people to move out of the place quietly.

In the meanwhile Thaw had reached the entrance to the elevators. On duty there was Fireman Paul Broodin. He took the pistol from Thaw's hand, but did not attempt to arrest him. Policeman Debes of the Tenderloin Station appeared and seized his arm.

"He deserved it," Thaw said to the policeman. "I can prove it. He ruined my life and then deserted the girl." Another witness said the word was "wife" instead of "life."

A Woman Kissed Thaw.

Just as the policeman started into the elevator with Thaw a woman described as dark-haired and short of stature reached up to him and kissed him on the cheek. This woman some witnesses declare was Mrs. Thaw.

The crowd was then scrambling wildly for the elevators and stairs. The employes of the Garden who knew Thaw, and nearly all of them did, as he visited the place often, did not seem greatly surprised at the tragedy. When Thaw entered the Garden in the early part of the show he seemed greatly agitated. He strolled from one part of the place to another, and finally took a seat in a little niche near the stage.

He was half hidden from the audience, but could see any one who might enter. It is believed that he knew just where White would site and had picked out this place in order to get at him without interference.

Henry Rogers of 222 Henry Street was seated at the table next to the one at which White was sitting when he was killed. He says that Thaw fired when the muzzle of his pistol was only a few inches from White's temple.

Another witness said that after firing three shots and looking at White as if to be sure that he was stone dead, Thaw uttered a curse and added: "You'll never go out with that woman again."

A Woman Sat Near White.

At another table adjoining that at which White was killed sat a woman dressed in white. It was believed for a time that she was a companion of White's and it was reported that she leaned over and kissed the face of the dead man, but this could not be verified, and it is positive that White was lone when he entered the Garden.

Some one in the audience hurried to the fallen man to see if assistance was needed. A great pool of blood had quickly formed on the floor. The tables had been pulled back and in the bright glare of thousands of electric lights it was quickly seen that White was beyond any earthly help.

A number of the actors and actresses left the stage, and away from the calcium and the footlights their painted faces showed strangely in the group of employes and friends of Thaw and the dead man which formed as the last of the audience left.

Thought It a Stage Trick.

Two of them said that the reason the fright of the audience was not worse when the shots rang out was that just before the tragedy a dialogue concerning a burlesque duel had been carried on by two of the characters, and many people thought that the old trick of playing in the audience had been tried again.

As the lights of the Garden were dimmed, the body of White was straightened out, the arms brought to the sides, and the legs placed together. A sheet was obtained in one of the dressing rooms, and this was stretched over it.

While all of this was going on, Policeman Debes and his prisoner had reached the street entrance. Thaw never once lost his composure. His linen and evening suit showed no signs of ruffling. Only the paleness of his face showed that anything had happened to excite him.

Wanted Mr. Carnegie to Know

"Here's a bill, officer," he said to the policeman before he started for the station. "Get Carnegie on the telephone and tell him that I'm in trouble."

The policeman and prisoner then walked through the crowd to Fifth Avenue, up the avenue to Thirtieth Street. As they turned the corner at the Holland House a number of cabmen who knew Thaw tipped their hats to him and he recognized their salute in return.

The trip up Thirtieth Street, across Broadway and Sixth Avenue, was without any excitement, and the prisoner reached the station without the usual crowd of curious people following.

Thaw did not seem to be intoxicated, but walked in a sort of daze. He made few comments on the way to the Tenderloin Station. Sergt. McCarthy asked him what his name was, and he answered: "John Smith, 18 Lafayette Square, Philadelphia." "What's your business?" he was asked. "I am a student."

No charge was made on the books against this "John Smith." The detectives were sent out to investigate fully before a charge was made. Sergt. McCarthy asked him: "Why did you do this?" "I can't say," he replied apathetically.

Cards found on the prisoner read "Harry Kendall Thaw, Pittsburg." He made no comment when they were pulled out of his pocketbook.

Thaw Sent for Two Friends.

Young Thaw walked dazedly to the back room. He waited a while, and then sent for Frederick W. Lowenfellow and Frederick Delafield. The reporters asked him to make a statement. He refused to do it.

Young Thaw had lighted a cigarette while he stood in front of the Sergeant's desk. In the back room he sat on a long bench that is used by reserves, between two big policemen. He pushed his hat back on this head, stretched out his feet, and lit another cigarette. His eyes had a far-away look.

A number of his friends hurried over to the station to talk with the prisoner, but they were not allowed to see him. William Thaw, a brother of his who is stopping at the Holland House, had not been to see him up to nearly 3 o'clock.

When the detectives put on the case had brought in the witnesses and they had been examined in Capt. Hodgin's room, Thaw was charged with homicide and was locked in a cell.

The following witnesses were detained until the arrival of Coroner Dooley: Paul Broodin, a fireman, 607 Prospect Avenue, the Bronx; Lionel Lawrence, manager of the company playing at the Madison Square Roof Garden, 325 West Forty-second Street; Harry Silverstein, Marvin Pincher, 84 West Thirteenth Street; Warren Paxsen, 146 East Twentieth Street; Edward Carney, 467 Second Avenue.

Thaw Not Ready To Talk.

Coroner Dooley reached the Tenderloin Station at 1:30 this morning and asked to see the prisoner. Thaw had sent the doorman out to buy him some cigars. He was smoking and seemed calm when the Coroner entered.

"Have you any statement to make to me?" the Coroner asked after he had made himself known.

"I don't care to make any statement now," Thaw replied. "I would appreciate it if you would tell Burr McIntosh or ex-Judge Hornblower or Joseph H. Choate of what has happened."

"Mr. McIntosh is upstairs," he was told. "Do you want to see him?"

"No," he replied. "just tell him to call up Mr. Hornblower or Mr. Choate. Tell him not to call up Mr. Choate until morning. I would not like to get him out of bed."

"Mr. Choate is at Stockbridge, Mass."

Mr. McIntosh took the message and left the station.

Coroner Dooley said that he found Thaw in good mental condition. He added that he believed the murder was done through jealousy.

When Thaw was searched in the station $125 in paper money, $2.36 in coin, two silk handkerchiefs, two gold pencils, a gold watch, and a little pocket combination mirror case were found. These were taken by the Sergeant.

Mrs. White at St. James, L. I.

Mrs. Lizzie Hanlon, housekeeper for Mr. White at his residence, 121 East Twenty-first Street, had not heard of the shooting when a reporter from THE TIMES called shortly before midnight. She expressed the utmost horror, and could suggest no explanation.

The house is one of the most magnificently decorated in the city. Standing amid elaborate Italian decorations with carved marble and graceful fountains on every hand, Mrs. Hanlon gave what information she could. She said: "Mr. White has been alone in the house for some time. Mrs. White has been away in the West for about three weeks or a month, but is now at her country residence at St. James, L. I."

"Lawrence White, Mr. White's son, came down from Harvard the other day. Both he and his father came in and dressed for dinner to-night, but they did not go out together, Mr. White leaving alone a few minutes before his son. I do not know where either of them went."

"Has Mr. Thaw been to the house to see Mr. White recently?" Mrs. Hanlon was asked.

"Mr. Thaw? I never heard of him. As far as I know Mr. White did not have any visitors here to-day."

Young White, with a friend, Leroy King, dined with his father last night at the Café Martin. Mr. White, his son says, was in the best of spirits and said nothing about any trouble.

After the dinner the party entered an electric automobile and went up to the New Amsterdam roof garden. There the two boys asked the elder White to stay and see the performance.

He said: "No, I thank you," adding that he was going elsewhere.

That was the last they saw of him.

Meant to Go to Philadelphia

Lawrence White says his father was thinking of going to Philadelphia last evening on a matter of business, and intended to up to the last possible moment, and only changed his plans in order to dine with the boys, who had just come down from Harvard.

"If he had only gone!" exclaimed the son in his grief.

Lawrence White said he had never seen Harry Thaw in his life and had never heard his father speak of him, and that he knew absolutely nothing that could lead to such a tragedy.

He was then informed that his father was dead and that the body was still at the Garden. He departed for that place at once.

At 1:50 o'clock this morning Mr. White's body was removed to the undertaking establishment of J. Aldred & Son, at 359 Fourth Avenue.

It was said there that the body would be taken to his home in Twenty-first Street to-day.

Only One Bullet In Head

After the body was taken to the undertaker's a hasty examination was made. Three wounds were found. The fatal bullet entered the left eye. The other two bullets grazed the shoulders, leaving a flesh wound on each. The top of the head showed a mark, this having been caused by striking the edge of the table as the body fell to the floor.

By a strange coincidence White and Thaw and his wife dined at the Café Martin last night. With White was his son, Lawrence, and Leroy King, a friend. This party had a table on the porch.

Inside the café Thaw dined with his wife and his father-in-law. At no time of the evening did the two parties meet. Both White and Thaw were well known by the employes, and when the news of the tragedy was being told over the tables by the after-theater patrons this coincidence was recalled.

Detectives Look for Mrs. Thaw.

Mr. and Mrs. Thaw have been stopping the Lorraine, Fifth Avenue and Forty-fifth Street. Detectives were sent there to get her as a witness, but she had not returned at 3 o'clock this morning.

At that hour Policemen Debes, who arrested Thaw gave this account of what happened: "I was on post at Twenty-sixth Street and Madison Avenue last night, and asked the manager of the Garden if there would be any shooting in the show. I did this because the use of firearms at Hammerstein's last week made me hurry and scurry for awhile, thinking the shooting was done on the street. He told me there was not.

"I heard three pistol shots and started for the Garden. I met the electrician of the place, who was on the run. He said that a man and a woman had been shot in the audience. I hurried upstairs and the first I saw was a woman who fainted. Then I found Thaw with the fireman. I asked him if he had shot the man whose body I could see by the table?

"'Yes,' Thaw replied."

'Then he added that the man had ruined his life -- or wife -- I could not distinctly make out."

"'Is he dead?' he asked."

"I told him he was."

"'Well, I made a good job of it and I'm glad.' He added. Then a woman, who Manager Lawrence told me was Mrs. Thaw, ran up and embraced him and kissed him."

"'I didn't think you would do it in this way,' she said. He whispered to her, patted her on the shoulder, and said that it would all come out all right."

"When we got to the street a number of women shook hands with the prisoner and sympathized with him. Some wanted to know why he had killed White but he did not answer."

A dispatch from Pittsburg last night said that Thaw and his wife were to have sailed for Europe to-morrow.

Mrs. William Thaw, mother of Mr. Thaw, sailed for London on the Atlantic Transport liner Minneapolis last Saturday. She is on her way to visit her daughter, the Countess of Yarmouth, who was Miss Alice Thaw.





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