The Coroner's Jury Finds James Flannigan Guilty Of Murder and Accus Coroner O'Malley, assisted by Deputy Coroner Donohue, yesterday conducted the adjourned inquest touching the death of Martin Gilroy in the town hall at Pittston. In addition to the jurors there were present Patrick Gilroy, oldest son of the murdered man, and Attorney McAtee, who appeared on behalf of Mrs. Gilroy.
The testimony offered was lengthly and the examination of the witnesses tedious. The plain story of the case gathered from the uncontradicted statements of the various witnesses can be told in few words.
Martin Gilroy was an old man, over 60 years of age. He was employed around the mines of the Pennsylvania Coal Co. and resided in Browntown. He owned the small house in which he lived, two lots in Yatesville and had between $100 and $200 in the bank. He had been married twice. By his first wife he had five children, all of whom are now grown up. Thirteen years ago he married his second wife with whom he had no children. The children of his first wife did not get along well with the second Mrs. Gilroy and at various times left the homestead, until within a year or two of the marriage not one was left.
The lonely couple then adopted an infant named Anthony McHugh, who has since resided with them, and who is now 12 years of age. Mrs. Gilroy has a nephew named James Flannigan, a young man of 25 years. For the past five years Flannigan has lived with the Gilroys most of the time, paying, Mrs. Gilroy states, $18 per month for his board. The old man and his second wife do not appear to have had a very pleasant life. Both were somewhat addicted to drink, and in their cups would frequently quarrel. Words would run high and, though there never seems to have been any blows struck on either side, Gilroy has frequently ordered her to leave the house.
In such cases she repaired to the house of a neighbor and distant relative, Mrs. John Earley, and stayed with her over night. Then Gilroy did not seem to relish Flannigan's presence in the house. He had once or twice driven him away, and the fact that Mrs. Gilroy invariably sided with her nephew did not tend to make matters better between them.
The trouble which resulted in the death of the old man seems to have commenced on the Saturday before the assault. On that night Flannigan was drunk. The old man was also in liquor, and there seems to have been some trouble. Mrs. Gilroy spent the night with Mrs. Earley, and Anthony McHugh stated that Flannigan, who sleeps with him, told him that “he would brake the old man's neck yet”.
Sunday was not much better. Flannigna was drunk again, and on this day told McHugh that he would burn the house down some day. On Monday Flannigan went to work, but Gilroy didn't. He and his wife seem to have had another fuss, for she left her house in the evening, and spent the night with Mrs. Earley. On the fatal Tuesday, both Flannigan and Gilroy were at work. They both came home between 3 and 4 in the afternoon. Gilroy started down town at once, but Flannigan eat his supper and did not go out until about 7. Gilroy came back soon after 9 under the influence of liquor. Mrs. Earley was in the house. Some words seem to have been passed between the old man and his wife, for shortly before 10, he told her with an oath to “clean out”. She went out of the front door, leaving Mrs. Earley busy in the kitchen putting up Flannigan's dinner in his pail for the next day's work.
When she went out the old man went into the sitting room. A minute or so after, Flannigan came in the back door. Mrs. Earley spoke to him about his dinner. He made some reply and she finished putting up the dinner and started away to her house, leaving him in the kitchen and the old man in the sitting room. The boy, McHugh, was up stairs fast asleep and heard or saw nothing until wakened in the morning.
So far the story is clear and plain, but of what happened in that house after those two men were left alone little is known. Only one thing is certain that that old man was foully murdered, but how and at whose hands can only be conjectured.
Flannigan must have gone out again soon after, for at 11:30 he called up Frank Heston at his house two blocks away, called him to the door and gave him a drink of whiskey from a bottle. He was apparently sober, and said he wouldn't go to bed, but walk up and down the street all night. Between 12 and 1 he roused John Corcoran, a fellow worker, from his sleep, told him he was going away, and asked him if he would take his place the next day. Then he went away.
About 4 a. m. He called at Patrick Ford's hotel and got a drink. He seemed sober, and was not visibly agitated. His clothes were not marked, torn or spotted with blood. Mr. Ford was certain of this. At 4:30 he was seen by some workmen standing at the Cork Lane station.
If Flannigan took that old man's life he probably did it between 1 and 4 a. m. About 4:30 Mrs. Gilroy rose from the bed in which in company with Mrs. Earley she had spent all night, dressed herself and left the house to go to her home. In a minute or two she came running back screaming and crying out that “Martin has been burned to death”. Mrs. Earley and her husband and son hastened across and found the old man lying in the kitchen in a pool of blood.
His head and face were battered beyond recognition. Blood in pools and tracks were found in the sitting room and in the bed room beyond. The bed was stained with red, and by its side was a short poker bent and blood stained. The supposition is that the assault was committed as he lay on the bed and that he afterward dragged himself into the other rooms. He was in his working clothes and had not even taken off his boots.
He lingered till Saturday evening last. He was at times half conscious and tried to talk, but his tongue was paralyzed and he could only mumble indistinct sounds. Once his son asked him, “Who did it, who hurt you father?” and the word “Flannigan” was heard to issue from his lips.
In his delirious ravings he seemed to be fighting the struggle over again, for the words, “I won't holler” and “Hold on, hold on”, were heard over and over again.
After the testimony was in the jury occupied about an hour in deliberation, and then returned a verdict that Martin Gilroy came to his death from blows inflicted on or about May 26, with some blunt instrument at the hands of James Flannigan, and they further said that Julia Gilroy, wife of Martin Gilroy, did aid and abet James Flannigan to commit the crime.
Nothing has yet been learned of the whereabouts of Flannigan.
The Wilkes-Barre Record - June 5, 1885