Gene Notes

Some random and some not-so-random thoughts on family history.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Thriller Thursday - Home Invasion circa 1902

This particular victim, Addison Ball Chinn, was my second great granduncle - the eighth child of twelve of my great-great-great grandparents, Dr. Joseph & Barbara (Graves) Chinn.

From the Lexington Leader, October 11, 1902, p1 c-14


Robbers Enter House at an Early Hour This Morning and Murder the Popular Merchant After Demanding Money

His Son Asa Fires on the Intruders, Who Turn Their Murderous Weapons on Him, and a Desperate Fight  Ensues.

Battle in the Hallway in Which the Young Man is Shot and Seriously Wounded -- A Heroic and Unequal Struggle

Mr. Addison Ball Chinn, senior member of the well known local dry goods firm of Chinn & Todd, was foully murdered in his own home at 248 East Maxwell Street, at 3:20 this morning by two masked burglars who had entered the house through a window for the purpose of robbery, and Asa Chinn, his son, was shot and dangerously wounded.

At the time of the tragedy, the house was occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Chinn, Asa Chinn, his son, Mr. George B. Runyon, brother of Mrs. Chinn, who occupied a room upstairs, and Mrs. Mary G. Runyon, the mother of Mrs. Chinn, who is now 93 years of age.

The family had all retired at the usual hour with the exception of Asa who had been to a German at the Merrick Lodge building, and did not get home until after 1 o'clock. He was asleep in bed when the robbers entered the house. LEADER reporters went to the Chinn hope this morning and from interviews with various persons obtained the details of the distressing tragedy.


Shortly after 3 o'clock this morning Mrs. Chinn was awakened from her slumbers by the sound of some one moving in the house. She aroused her husband and told him of her fears. He replied that as some of the windows were open the noise she had heard might have been caused by the wind. Just at that moment, the door of the room opened and two masked men forced their way into the room and approaching the side of the bed, covered both Mr. and Mrs. Chinn with revolvers and demanded money, on pain of death if they refused.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Chinn sat up in bed but did not get up and told the intruders that they had no money in the house but that they could look round the house, take what they wanted and leave. Again the robbers demanded money and Mrs. Chinn began to scream. Her screams awoke Asa, the son, who was sleeping in an adjoining room, and he, springing out of bed, grasped a pistol in one hand and a small rifle in the other and ran out into the hall prepared to give battle to the men.

The house was in complete darkness and nothing could be seen of a moving figure or figures and the only opportunity that any one now living had of seeing the men was when they struck a match in the bed room for the purpose of getting the locality of the bed and its occupants. Mrs. Chinn saw the men plainly at that time, but only for an instant before the light of the match flickered out. She describes them as being two in number, short, and heavily built. Bot wore green masks which completely concealed their features, but from the sound of their voices she knew they were white men. She also describes one of wearing a soft black or slouch hat, but did not notice the other before the light of the match went out.


When the son ran into the hail and had got near to the door of his parents room, the robbers, doubtless hearing his coming, fired the bullet which ended the life of Mr. Chinn. The ball, which was of 38 caliber penetrated the breast on the right side passing through the lungs producing internal hemorrhages which caused death. The bullet deflected slightly in its course through the body and passed out the back an inch or more below the line of entrance on the right side of the spinal column. When the pistol was fired it was held within an inch of the body, as the wound bears the plain marks of numerous powder burns all around it. As soon as he was shot, Mr. Chinn sprang out of bed, saying to his wife, "Mother, I am shot," and gave chase to the robbers, who fled through the window through which they had entered. On reaching the hallway Mr. Chinn fell. When lights could be procured the body of the aged merchant was found dead with a pool of blood about it that had flowed from the wound.


Upon hearing the alarm Mr. Asa Chinn, with the pistol and small rifle in his hands, ran to the room and opened fire though the partly open door of the bed room. He emptied his pistol, firing six shots altogether. The robbers then turned and opened fire on him, the first bullet striking him in the arm, causing him to drop the rifle, but he still kept firing with the pistol. In the darkness he could see no object, but he was familiar with the hall and hearing the sound of voices convinced him that the invaders were in his parents' room, and he shot in that direction. Three bullets were picked up by the police which are now in their possession. One of the bullets from Asa's pistol struck the upper panel of the door, another struck the lower rim of the woodwork, and a third passed through about the center of the door. It is not known if either of the robbers was wounded. The young man gave it as his opinion that at least one of them was hit, but which he could not tell.

The burglars fired four shots at Asa Chinn and one at the father, thereby suggesting by inference that the weapon used was a five chambered pistol. One of the bullets struck Asa on the tip of the nose and plowed its way though the flesh portion of the cheek. Another, evidently shot from behind, entered the neck on the left side and struck the jaw bone, producing a fracture and turning inside pass through the cheek. The third ball penetrated the arm below the elbow and plowing through the fleshy parts came out above the elbow, thus, producing two wounds with the same bullet. The fourth bullet, fired downwards buried itself in the floor of the hall and was found by the police and extracted.

After wounding Asa Chinn the robbers made their escape by crossing the hall and passing through the room occupied by Mrs. Runyon, jumped out the window which they had left open. Mrs. Runyon, whose vision is defective by reason of extreme age, said that after hearing the sound of the shots she called to Mr. Chinn to come to her assistance, not knowing that he had been mortally wounded, and she then saw the form of a man disappearing through the window of her room. The robbers made good their escape and left no clue behind them.

Asa, bleeding profusely from his wounds, paced the hall while Mr. George Runyon, who had been attracted by the sound of the shots rushed down stairs and seeing the young man's dangerous plight went for medical assistance.

The report that one of the men escaped through the door in front of the house is erroneous, as Mr. Runyon states that the door was locked and that it remained locked until he turned the key to open it to go after a doctor. Asa Chinn never lost his feet in the struggle he engaged in with the murderers of his father. He was full conscious of all that was taking place and maintained his coolness until put to sleep through the administration of opiates.


While the burglars and midnight assassins left no trace of their identity behind them they left visible signs of their approach and departure to and from the house. The window through which an entrance was made is situated on the east side of the house and overlooks a driveway. The window, as previously state, belongs to the room occupied by Mrs. Runyon and is never fastened at night. On account of infirmities it is necessary that she have a plentiful supply of fresh air and following the usual custom the top sash of the window was pulled down nearly sixteen inches from the top, thereby leaving the window sashes unfastened. The burglars had obtained a large dry goods box which stood in the driveway and moving it beneath the window they stood on this to enable them to raise the lower sash with as little noise as possible. From the marks left on the sill, it is evident that a small instrument was used to pry the sash up to enable them to get their fingers under to lift it further. The instrument used was either a large nail or a knife as the scratches are discernable on the sill. Having opened the window they got into the room occupied by Mrs. Runyon, passed through the door leading into the hall, cross the hall to the room directly opposite and which was occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Chinn. The door of this room was closed at the time and they opened it and entered, when the terrible tragedy as above related followed. They departed in precisely the same way as that in which they had entered after killing Mr. Chinn and seriously wounding his son. The burglars got no booty.


Dr. David Barrow responded to the call for medical assistance from Mr. Runyon and upon his arrival at the scene of the crime he dressed the wounds of the young man. Dr. Barrow pronounced the wounds as not necessarily fatal, although extremely serious. At 11 o'clock this morning, on Dr. Barrow's advice, the young man was removed to the Good Samaritan Hospital and the ambulance was used to convey him.

Mrs. Chinn, who was compelled to sit by and see her husband murdered in cold blood in his own bed, by the hand of marauding assassins, was prostrated with grief and the shock to her nervous system was so severed that her attending physician, Dr. H. Bewlay, was in constant attendance upon her. Acting upon his advice she was also taken to the Good Samaritan Hospital and followed her son to that institution. Both are resting well as the LEADER went to press.

Copyright 2010, ACK for Gene Notes

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