After luring John M. Wilson from Connelly’s Saloon to the freight yard of the Pennsylvania Railroad at Water St. and Liberty Avenue, on October 8, 1917, Albert Patterson and Havern Lee Cutlip robbed and beat him.
After returning to the bar, they decided to kill Wilson and hide his body under a train car in the hope that it would be crushed by the traffic. Returning again to Connelly’s, they then went to a bar on Market Square. They were arrested there soon after Wilson’s body was discovered.
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.
The three men had previously worked together at Adah, a Frick coal mining town in Fayette County.
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.
After their motions for new trials were rejected, they were sentenced to death on June 8, 1918.
With attention focused on end of the Great War in Europe, Albert Patterson and Havern Lee Cutlip were electrocuted in succession on the morning of 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.