Oyster Schooner Captain Shoots and Kills Prostitute Wife in Brothel

How can you not look at this title and want to know what’s up with this story?

1880s prostitute
1880s prostitute

Below is a fascinating story that we dug up in The Baltimore Sun from September 28th, 1885.

Short after 6 o’clock this evening Capt. Thomas C. Hance, commander of an oyster schooner, shot and killed his wife, Annie E. Hance, in a brothel on Spring street, near Baltimore. The ball penetrated her skull just behind the right ear and passed into the brain, causing almost instant death. As soon as the shooting was done Hance left the house and went to his vessel on the south side of the basin, where he was soon after arrested. He states that he met his wife in the house where she was killed more than two years ago and induced her to leave it after which he married her. They went to housekeeping and lived happily together until last April, when he left home to prosecute his business.

When he returned he found his home deserted, and after a search discovered that his wife had returned to the place where he first met her. He tried to induce her to go with him to their home, but did not succeed. When he again went away he wrote to her, addressing her as “my dear wife,” and begged her to return to his care and affections, but she remained obdurate. This evening, when there were only three persons in the house, he gained access through the rear and went immediately to her room on the upper floor. He again begged her to go with him, but she persistently refused, when he shot her and then placed the revolved in a drawer of a stand in the room. She was known in the house as Kate Le Roy, and in that name he addressed letters to her when he was absent from the city. Mrs. Hance was but twenty-two years old.

The trial of Thomas Hance concluded in November 1885 and he was found not guilty by reason of insanity. Also notable was the fact that his defense lawyer was Senator Daniel Voorhees.

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