The Man They Could Not Hang

Posted on 09/20/2010
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When someone was sentenced for execution in the not too distant past, being left to hang from a rope until dead was always the most popular method. It provided an easy to observe spectacle without being blatantly gruesome or cruel since the victim would generally be required to wear a type of cloth bag over their heads to keep the spectators from watching the terrified faces made in the man or woman's last moments. However, even though this aspect of the event was denied to onlookers, they could still get an entertaining kick from watching a supposed bad guy either have his neck broken from the initial drop or be strangled to death. It comes as a shock then that one man made this very common execution method almost impossible.

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John “Babbacombe” Lee

One of the most infamous execution stories of all times that still causes shock, awe, and several question marks even 100 years later is that of John “Babbacombe” Lee. The story of why he was convicted surrounds a suspicious and very brutal murder. Miss Emma Anne Whitehead Keyse lived alone in “The Glen” which was near the small hamlet of Babbacombe in Devon with two home servants (Jane and Eliza Neck), a cook (Elizabeth Harris), and the cook's half brother—John Henry George Lee. On November 15, 1884, Emma Keyse was found savagely murdered. Her throat had been slit, she had three additional wounds to her head, and it seemed that the murderer had also tried to burn the body.

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