Eagle Archive: Murder and mayhem led to Carroll's last public hanging in 1916

Two sensational murders were the talk of Carroll County in February years ago.

The first involved a thrilling murder trial in 1920.


The other, also a murder, resulted in the hanging of Solomon Sutler, Friday, April 14, 1916, on gallows purchased from Adams County for $25. It was the third, and last, hanging in the county's history. (Well, so far, at least.)

The first hanging was in June 1859, when the only woman ever to have been executed here, Rebecca McCormack, was hung for stabbing a 13-year-old boy with a pitchfork. Then, in 1874, Joseph Davis was hanged.


In 1920, the now defunct Union Bridge Pilot wrote about the thrilling trial for the Jan. 29, 1920, murder of Dominick Fabrizzi. "The trial of Mrs. Dominick Fabrizzi aged 29 who admitted killing her husband near here, then placing the body on the R.R. tracks, was begun in Westminster on Monday morning."

Fabrizzi signed a confession before her trial started. Then, "a dramatic scene was injected into the trial when Mrs. Fabrizzi, with an interpreter in the place of her dead husband, re-enacted the shooting and the placing of the body on the railroad tracks, using the same shotgun which she admitted was used in killing her husband. Her plea was self-defense."

The other murder, the Jan. 1, 1916 killing of William F. Brown, 29, of Silver Run, was the subject of many lengthy accounts in the local newspapers of the day, including the out-of-print American Sentinel and Democratic Advocate newspapers.

On Jan. 7, 1916, the Sentinel reported that the murder of Brown, "of almost inconceivable brutality, has been the topic of principal and universal interest in this county.

The Democratic Advocate described the death as, "One of the most fiendish and brutal crimes ever committed in the history of Carroll County..."

Various motives for the crime were printed, The Democratic Advocate said Sutler, who was on parole from Cheltenham reform school to work on the Brown farm, confessed to the crime, saying, "On Friday Mr. Brown cursed me because I did not get up early."

But then on Feb. 18, 1916, the Democratic Advocate said Sutler confessed that he killed Brown "because he made me wash the baby's diapers."

For that, Sutler, 16, killed Brown, either by ax, a stone or by shooting him, depending on the various newspaper reports.


The Democratic Advocate reported that Sutler killed Brown, "with a stone as he stooped over pouring milk … and put rope around the body and, with the horse, dragged it out the gate across the fields…"

On April 14, 1916, the gallows at the Carroll County Jail on Court Street had been surrounded "by a high board fence, but had been partly torn away" by the crowd of 400 who had assembled as early as the night before to witness the hanging.

When he's not stooped over pouring milk, Kevin Dayhoff may be reached at