Location: 1 South Main Street, Homer NY
June 1, 1895
William Jones, the barber who cut Patrick’s hair that fateful day, verified Patrick did indeed sit in his chair at 8pm. It was only for a quick 10-minute trim, and Patrick was clearly not inebriated at the time.
Next to take the stand was Darius Ripley, the accused longtime friend. He testified to having seen Louis and Jack at The Brunswick (now apartments above Bev & Co.) around 8:45pm. Darius said the pair remained for approximately 5-10 minutes. He could not say as to whether they had a drink or if they left together. He said the only other person in the bar was employee, Mr. Kenfield.
Louis’ father, Lucius L. Clark, was called to the stand. He had taken it upon himself to investigate the crime scene on his son’s behalf. He determined that it would take approximately 1 hour and 50 minutes to walk from Doyle’s Pub to the crime scene and back to town, making it inconceivable for his son to have committed the crime. He further assured the jury that he could indeed hear sounds coming from the Quinlan house while at the crime scene (implying his children should have heard the murder). Lucius also believed there was plenty of room for Patrick’s son to have turned the wagon around to rush his ailing father home upon discovering him.
Morris Sullivan, a longtime friend of the accused, followed with testimony stating that he had seen Louis and Jack at Murphy’s between 6 and 7pm and then again near Rieder’s Jewelry Store (15 South Main) at 9pm, heading back in the direction of Murphy’s.
Eventually, it was time for Louis Clark to finally take the stand. Immediately, he was asked to identify his friend and confirm that he was with Jack on the evening of December 21. He assured the court that they spent the entire evening together, never leaving downtown Homer. Louis swore neither of them ever knew Patrick Quinlan, where he lived, or had any knowledge of his money. When asked what time they turned in for the night, Louis replied, “Sorry, I can’t tell you. You see, I was a little tipsy that night. I knew what was going on and all, but I was sick.”
Louis then said Jack had asked him to stay at the boarding house with him. Jack knew Louis’ father would be angry at his drunken state. Louis stated this under oath, even though he had told his mother that he had slept in Cortland that evening instead.
When asked to retrace his steps that evening, he stated, “After Doyle’s, I was in The Brunswick Saloon, Donahue’s, and Murphy’s with (Jack) McDonald. I was in no other place in Homer that night except those three places after I left Doyle’s.”
After Louis’ testimony, Darius Ripley was recalled by the defense. Darius wished to state for the record that he had been mistaken about when he saw Louis and Jack. It was on a night Mr. Kenfield was present, and Kenfield has since informed him that he was not at the Brunswick that evening until after 11pm. Well past when Darius reported having left the establishment.
Nelson Crance, the part-time bartender, had worked at the Brunswick until 11pm on December 21. When questioned if he saw the defendants that evening, he stated, “I did not see them in the saloon that night while I was there. I know they did not get drinks from me while I was there. In fact, I do not remember but four persons being served while I was there.”
Fred S. Owen then testified that he saw Louis and Jack at Murphy’s for 7-10 minutes. Stating they departed a little after 8pm.
The last to testify was Sheriff Hillsinger. He stated that he heard Louis say that he had been in the company of Jack on December 21 from 6 or 7pm until the following morning. With that, the people rested their case.
The grand jury reached a verdict on October 18, 1895. The jury voted almost unanimously for an acquittal. They failed to find an indictment against John “Jack” McDonald for the murder of Patrick Quinlan. The committing magistrate then ordered the DA to drop the case of Louis Clark, the alleged accomplice.
Patrick Quinlan’s murderer was never brought to justice. Who do you think did it? Was it the jaded children who waited too long to receive their mother’s inheritance? Or was it Jack and Louis, hard on their luck labors, with a seedy cover story? Or was it someone else, altogether, who escaped the sheriff’s searching eye?
1. Sweeney, Martin. Death in the Winter Solstice: A Narrative of a True Murder Mystery in Homer. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2012.