William Murray and Frederick Myers

On the evening of November 11, 1874, German-immigrant Frederick Myers and his companion, William Murray, robbed and shot German immigrant Gotthard Wahl in a remote area north of Pittsburgh. Like Frecke and Marschall before them, the companions who had reportedly come to Pittsburgh only days earlier, made their livings through crime. Like Foerster, Wahl, a father of seven, was chosen because he was traveling on an isolated road near Perrysville and appeared to be a man of some means.

Pittsburgh, 1876

Murray, the leader of the two, fired the fatal shot. Wahl died the next day. A man named Jacobs, who was traveling with Wahl, was injured but able to escape. Both victims were able to provide descriptions of their assailants.

After returning to their room at Mrs. Moore’s boardinghouse, 208 Third Avenue, Mary Kearns, an employee there who had heard of the killing, became suspicious of Murray and Myers and alerted authorities.

They were arrested on November 14.

Pittsburgh Post, November 21, 1874

Murray and Myers were convicted in separate trials in March 1875, and sentenced to death.  Though there was some surprise that Myers was convicted of first-degree murder despite his secondary role in the case, their convictions were sustained on appeal (Myers and Murray v. Commonwealth, 79 Pa. 308, 1875).

Pittsburgh Post, March 27, 1875

William Murray and Frederick Myers were executed on January 6, 1876, before a reported crowd of 500 people, said to have been the largest crowd ever to see a nominally private execution inside the jail. Murray is reported to have suffered a slow and lingering death twenty minutes after the trap was sprung.


Author: Bill Lofquist

I am a sociologist and death penalty scholar at the State University of New York at Geneseo. I am also a Pittsburgh native. My present research focuses on the history of the death penalty in Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), Pa. This website is dedicated to collecting, analyzing, and sharing information about all Allegheny County cases in which a death sentence was imposed. Please share any questions or comments, errors or omissions, or other matters of interest related to these cases or to the broader history of the death penalty in Allegheny County.

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