Albert Patterson and Havern Lee Cutlip

After luring John M. Wilson from Connelly’s Saloon to the freight yard of the Pennsylvania Railroad at Water and Short Streets, on October 8, 1917, Albert Patterson and Havern Lee Cutlip robbed and killed him.

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Aerial image of downtown Pittsburgh (circa 1925), with dense railyard at the Point.

After the killing, Patterson and Cutlip hid Wilson’s body on the railroad tracks and went to a bar on Market Square. They were arrested there soon after.

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Pittsburgh Gazette Times, October 10, 1917

The three men had previously worked together at Adah, a Frick coal mining town in Fayette County.

After hours of “third degree” interrogation, the two men confessed to the killing. The story that emerged was that, after Wilson showed a large wad of cash while in the saloon, Patterson and Cutlip decided to rob him. Concerned that Wilson would be able to identify his assailants, they then decided to slit his throat.

Patterson and Cutlip, both of whom worked in the steel industry after migrating from West Virginia, were tried separately.

Patterson was convicted of first-degree murder on March 1, 1918. Cutlip was similarly convicted on April 12, 1918, after lengthy and contentious jury deliberations. Cutlip’s role as the secondary and younger party to the crime might have been expected to bring a lesser conviction.

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Pittsburgh Press, April 13, 1918

After their motions for new trials were rejected, they were sentenced to death on June 8, 1918.

Albert Patterson and Havern Lee Cutlip were electrocuted in succession on the morning of October 28, 1918.

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Pittsburgh Press, October 28, 1918

Wilson had been the engineer on a train that exploded on May 12, 1902, killing 29 people and injuring more than 100 people. He was determined not to have been at fault in that incident.

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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