John W. Tyrie

In another case of fatal domestic violence, John Tyrie, 47, killed his common-law wife, Mary Emery, 35, on July 12, 1910. She was beaten to death with a baseball bat in their home at 276 Kirkpatrick St., Hill District. Tyrie is reported to have beaten Emery frequently.

Kirkpatrick St., 1913

The evening of the murder, Tyrie, who worked as a stonemason, came home from work and demanded dinner. He then went out drinking, returning home around midnight. Upset that Tyrie was out drinking and carousing, Emery’s questioning of him when he returned home led to a  quarrel that quickly escalated into the fatal incident.

Emery’s sister, Louise Hairston, was living with them at the time. She heard the entire incident, as did Emery’s children. Tyrie was arrested as he tried to flee the scene.

Tyrie and Emery lived previously in Ohio, where they both were born.

With Hairston’s eyewitness testimony and Tyrie’s own admission to having struck Emery with a bat, Tyrie’s trial was brief and his first-degree murder conviction, on November 11, 1910, straightforward.

Pittsburgh Press, November 10, 1910

His motion for a new trial was rejected on December 13, 1910. Lacking the resources to pursue an appeal and his clemency request rejected on May 17, 1911, John Tyrie was executed on May 23, 1911.

John Tyrie was the last Allegheny County inmate to be hanged and the last to be executed in the Allegheny County Jail. In 1913, Pennsylvania enacted legislation (Act of June 19, 1913; P.L. 528) that shifted authority for executions from individual counties to the state, established electrocution as the method of execution, and established the new Western Penitentiary in Centre County (now SCI-Rockview) as the location of the state’s execution chamber.

Murder Docket entry for John Tyrie, courtesy of Edward Urban

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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