Charles Chapin's Story: Written in Sing Sing Prison

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9781507809082: Charles Chapin's Story: Written in Sing Sing Prison
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From the Publisher Note.

"The defendant was indicted on September 18, 1918, for murder in the first degree, in that he had killed his wife Nellie, with a pistol, by shooting her in the head. At the time of the killing defendant was, and for several years prior thereto had been, the city editor of the New York Evening World. He is sixty years of age. He and his wife whom he killed had been married for thirty-nine years, and the uncontradicted testimony is to the effect that their relations had been singularly devoted."

The tragic and unusual case of Charles E. Chapin, now serving a term of life imprisonment in Sing Sing, will be well remembered by newspaper readers. The paragraph quoted above is from the report of a Commission which passed upon the sanity of the defendant.

At the time of the tragedy Mr. Chapin wrote a letter to a newspaper associate in part as follows:

"For some time I have been conscious that I am on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I have fought against it continually, but the pains in my head grow more acute, and I realize now that the time is fast approaching when I will collapse entirely. I dread to think of passing the remainder of my life in a sanitarium so I am doing the only thing I can think of to escape such a calamity. I know how wrong it is, but I cannot go on suffering as I have for months. It takes greater courage than I possess. I have tried to think out what is best to do, and cannot bear the thought of leaving my wife to face the world alone, so I have resolved to take her with me."

The defendant then went to Prospect Park, a revolver in his pocket, intending to end his life. In a newspaper he saw the headline, "Charles Chapin Wanted For Murder." Going to the nearest police station, he gave himself up.

That, in brief, is the story of the tragedy which terminated the career of the author of this book.

* * * *

“One takes up this book with the feeling that it would better have remained unwritten, becomes fascinated with its stirring' account of a successful newspaper man's career, and then reverts to the first impression that the recital of the morbid psychological conditions that led to the author's crime does not make wholesome reading. Nevertheless the book is one of the most remarkable that ever came from within prison walls.”

The Outlook, Volume 126 [1920]

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