Charles S. Davis

Charles Davis killed his wife, Birdie, in her sister’s Lawrenceville home on Saturday evening, December 21, 1901. She was shot several times in the chest.

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The Davises had fought frequently throughout their relationship, allowing Davis to become “known to police as a brutal character” (Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette, June 27, 1902). Those fights escalated to include death threats, leading Birdie Davis to separate from Charles eighteen months prior to her murder and move in with her sister.

After another death threat, she filed charges and a warrant was issued for Davis’s arrest. He disappeared, only to reappear the day of her killing. When Davis encountered Birdie on the street that day, he beat her badly, leaving her seriously injured. Later that evening, he went to Birdie’s sister’s home, forced himself past the family members trying to protect her, terrorized her further, before shooting her at close range and killing her. Davis fled; he was arrested the next day.

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Pittsburgh Press, December 22, 1901

At trial, Davis, an unemployed iron worker, claimed he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol, and that his frequent drinking had earned him the nickname “Kid Booze Holster.”

He was found guilty on February 4, 1902, and sentenced to death on February 27. Henry Taylor, who had killed a man scarcely three blocks from the site of Taylor’s killing, was sentenced to death at the same time. The two men were baptized in the jail on June 13.

image001Pittsburgh Press, June 13, 1902

Without the resources or support to pursue an appeal or clemency, Charles Davis was hanged on June 26, 1902, barely six months after killing his wife and two days after Henry Taylor was hanged.

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Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette, June 27, 1902

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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