Patrick Edward Fitzgerald

Patrick Edward Fitzgerald, a 45-year old, Canadian-born detective with the Pittsburgh Police Department, was shot and killed on April 12, 1901, while investigating the robbery and murder of Thomas Kahney by Edward and John Biddle and Walter Dorman.

The Biddle brothers were convicted and sentenced to death. Despite having testified against the Biddles, Dorman was also convicted and sentenced to death.

In a now infamous incident, Ed Biddle seduced the jailer’s wife, Kate Soffel, and enlisted her in their escape. After disabling her husband, Soffel and the Biddles fled into a snowstorm on January 30, 1902. Unable to travel far or fast, they were apprehended by police in Butler County and shot to death.

Soffel subsequently served a short prison sentence for her role in the escape.

Dorman’s death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.

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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