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Norraine Edith Fischer
Female 1901 - 1924


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  • Birth  20 Jul 1901  Elmira, Waterloo Region, Ontario Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2, 3
    Gender  Female 
    Religion  1911  Elmira, Waterloo Region, Ontario Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Roman Catholic 
    Misfortune  1924  Elmira, Waterloo Region, Ontario Find all individuals with events at this location 
    murdered by her husband Lorne Bowman 
    Name  Norelle Fischer 
    Name  Norraine Edith Bowman 
    Eby ID Number  Waterloo-25663 
    Died  1924 
    Buried  St. Teresa Roman Catholic Cemetery, Woolwich Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID  I25663  Generations
    Last Modified  24 Oct 2017 

    Father  Charles Fischer,   b. 15 Aug 1868, Elmira, Waterloo Region, Ontario Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1917 
    Mother  Clara Reidel,   b. 1 Jul 1868, Wellesley Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 10 Nov 1973, Guelph City, Wellington Co., Ontario Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married  13 Oct 1891  St. Clements, Wellesley Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID  F6681  Group Sheet

    Family  Lorne Wilfrid Bowman,   b. 25 Sep 1898, Elmira, Waterloo Region, Ontario Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Children 
     1. Bowman
    Family ID  F24678  Group Sheet

  • Notes 
    • Shortly after she returned home from church, where she sang in the church choir, Mrs. Lorne Bowman, 23, of Elmira, Ont., was found dead with her throat cut. A hatchet had apparently been used by the murderer. Police arrested her 26 year old husband.1a

      1aThe Evening News (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) - 1 July 1924 - Page 9

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      WHOLE COMMUNITY IS SHOCKED BY GREAT TRAGEDY THIS WEEK

      Sad Death of Mrs. Lorne Bowman Which is Charged Against Her Husband - Latter Has Been in Ill-health and His Mental Condition is Declared to Have Been Deranged - Most Distressing Event in History of Elmira Took Place at Home of Dead Girl's Mother - Coroner's Jury Formed.

      CASE WILL BE HEARD NEXT WEEK

      Never in the history of Elmira was the whole community so profoundly stirred as last Monday morning when the word passed from mouth to mouth of the sudden and tragic death of Mrs. Lorne Bowman, formerly Miss Norraine Fischer, who was visiting at the home of her mother, Mrs. Charles Fischer on King Street. It was at first reported that death had been due to heart failure, and later it was rumoured that it had been self-inflicted. Only gradually did the details of her slaying, now charged to have been done by her husband with a hatchet, while in a state of mental derangement, reach the general public. It was a touching tribute to the high regard in which both husband and wife and their families were held, that on every hand and the grief and consternation were unrestrained, when the tragic occurrence was understood. It was a blow that touched the whole town to the heart.

      Taken In Custody


      As soon as the facts were learned, Lorne Bowman was taken into custody by Chief Stiles, being apprehended at the home of his mother whither he went immediately after leaving the scene of the tragedy. He made no endeavour to avoid the consequences of his act, and is alleged to have confessed immediately on his arrival at his mother's home that he had killed his wife. His brother, Mr. Bert Bowman, who was present endeavoured to quiet him and learn the facts until the arrival of the authorities. He did not seem, at any time, to realize the gravity of his act, it is stated.

      The jury, which has hurriedly empanelled by the Corner, Dr. Wagner, after viewing the body at noon, adjourned until Tuesday of next week at the request of the Crown Attorney, D. S. Bowlby of Kitchener. Lorne Bowman then appeared before Magistrate Weir and was formally charge\\d with the death of his wife. He was then removed to Kitchener to await hearing.

      Details Unknown

      The exact details of the sad death of Mrs. Bowman are not known. Mrs. Fischer, who knows the circumstances better than anyone else, is too distraught by the shock to tell much. Monday morning, Mrs. Bowman had attended a mass, singing with the choir, the service being held for deceased members of the Sodality of St. Theresa Church. She was in good spirits at the time, and on her return to her mother's home she went upstairs it is reported to make up the beds, her baby girl being with her. Whether her husband was in the house at this time, or whether he entered after her is not clear as yet. The first intimation of the tragedy was when Mrs. Bowman's mother, Mrs. Fischer, who was working downstairs, heard a slight scream, and, going in the front hall, saw the child stumbling down the stairs. Noticing blood on his clothes, she picked him up, thinking he was injured, but on finding nothing serious, went upstairs to reassure the child's mother, when she found Mrs. Bowman dead. As she rushed out to give the alarm, Bowman calmly departed.

      The death of Mrs. Bowman was due to the severing of the jugular vein in her neck following repeated blows with a small hatchet, which, it has been alleged, was borrowed by the accused man. Her wrist was also gashed. The post-mortem was performed by Dr. Watson.


      In Ill Health

      Much pity is felt locally not only for the victim of this tragedy and her family but, also for the poor lad who is accused of the deed, as it is the general feeling that he was not responsible for his actions, owing to his deplorable mental condition brought on by a long period of nervousness and ill-health. He has been in ill health for a considerable time, and was forced some months ago to give up his position in London, and was for a time in the hospital there before coming back to Elmira, where he has been living with his mother, while Mrs. Bowman and young child have been visiting her mother, Mrs. Charles Fischer. Of a nervous disposition, Bowman is said to have suffered shell shock as a result of his experiences a the front, and lately has been very depressed owing to ill-health and lack oof a position.

      No Motive

      Of late his condition has appeared to be worse, and it is stated that being unable to sleep, he has frequently walked and run miles into the country being seen at late hours in many different parts of the countryside long distances from town, and it has even been necessary to send out search parties for him. It is understood that his wife and mother, Mrs. Davis, were making plans to have him sent back to the Sanatorium at London, although it is said that he himself did not desire to go. There is no doubt that his condition will be the important point of the investigation of the tragedy at the trial, and it is understood that the authorities may be inclined to admit that the young man was not mentally responsible. There is no real motive for his alleged act, as there was no domestic friction, and he was always very fond of Mrs. Bowman.

      Both Mr. and Mrs. Bowman were popular and well-known residents of Elmira, where they went to school and were prominent in the younger circle, being members of highly respected families of this town. They were married less than two years ago, and took up their residence in London, making frequent visits to their two mothers in this town, however. Besides her widowed mother, the late Mrs. Bowman leaves one sister, Mrs. Heimbecher of Toronto. The funeral is being held this morning to St. Theresa Church.2a

      2aThe Elmira Signet, Thursday July 3rd, 1924

      ____________________________



      HOUR OF SORROW AT REQUIEM MASS

      Whole Community Joins in Impressive Threnody at Funeral

      STRICKEN WOMEN BURIED

      Priest of Parish Pays Tribute in Touching Story of Mrs. Bowman

      The most poignant hour in the history of this community was the funeral requiem, held in St. Theresa's Church last Thursday morning, when the whole town paid its last tribute of honour and sorrow to the late Mrs. Lorne Bowman, whose tragic death on the preceding Monday had so deeply touched all. The church was filled as never before with citizens of all creeds and callings, and the wealth of beautiful wreaths and sprays banked in the chancel combined with the saddened countenances of every face in that congregation to attest the depth of emotion, which this sad day had plumbed.

      A Solemn Moment

      As the beautiful casket moved up the aisle with the bearers, and was followed by the chief mourners, members of the families of both the stricken woman and her unfortunate husband, there was scarcely a dry eye. Mrs. Fischer, mother of Mrs. Bowman immediately followed, escorted by Mr. Bert Bowman, brother of Lorne Bowman and by Mrs. Louis Fischer. Following were Mr. and Mrs. C. W. Heimbecher, Mr. and Mrs. Plante, and other relatives on both sides of the family. The pall-bearers were Messrs. J. McMillan, William Martin, Henry Brunck, Leo O'Neill, N. H. Korell and H. Weichel.

      Hierarchy Present

      The solemn high-mass for the repose of the soul of the departed was chanted by the Rev. Father Beechy, (smudge) of the church, assisted by Rev. Father Becker of St. Clements as deacon and Rev. Father Vincent Morgan of Macton as sub-deacon, St. Mary's church, Kitchener, acting as master of ceremonies. Seated in the sanctuary were numerous priests from surrounding parishes.

      Funeral Oration

      A brief but intense funeral oration was given by the Rev. Father Beechy in which he referred touchingly to the sadness of the whole community, and the uncertainty of death, of which neither the day nor the hour is known, though the time and the place and the manner remain enfolded in mystery. In a few words, he told of the life of Mrs. Bowman. She had passed her childhood here, attending the town school, and had then graduated from Kitchener Business College, afterwards being employed in the Royal Bank here. Her high talent as a singer was also referred to. Then, said Father Beechy, at eighteen or nineteen years of age, she placed her heart in love at the foot of the gallant youth in uniform, and for two years she had been married to a man of ability living in London, until their recent return to Elmira.

      Last Events

      Father Beechy then recalled that on the evening before her death, he had been with Mr. and Mrs. Bowman at the home of their mother, Mrs. Fischer, and that they had been playing with their child, and everything seemed most harmonious. On the following morning, Mrs. Bowman sang the solo at the requiem mass, "Lord, Have Mercy," almost as the prophetic crying of a soul knowing its need though unconscious why.

      "Let us forget the event that followed," said the speaker then, "And let us draw a veil over them."

      He Then told of what he considered the Providential guidance that he had received in so much as he had not returned to Kitchener the previous day as was his custom, but was in Elmira and was able to reach the crying woman before the spark of like had fled and administer the last rites of the church. This, he declared, was due to the little child who had given the alarm. After the conclusion of the church service the stately cavalcade moved in a long line to the Roman Catholic Cemetery, where the last interment service was conducted.

      Attended Funeral

      Among those from out of town who attended the funeral of the late Mrs. Lorne Bowman, which was held on Thursday morning of last week from St. Theresa's church, were the following: Mr. M. Reidel, Mrs. W. Schweitzer, Mr. and Mrs. Ed Reidel, Mr. Wm Reidel, Mr. and Mrs. George Witham, Mrs. Fischer, Mr. and Mrs. William Reiber, Mrs. Chas. Ball, Mr. J. Fischer, Mr. and Mrs. Albert Fischer, Mr. and Mrs. Shoemaker of Kitchener, Mr. and Mrs. Haid, Mr. and Mrs. L. Schaller, Mr. and Mrs. Alf Schaller, Mr. and Mrs. F. Schaller, Mr. and Mrs. P. Reidel, of Preston, Mr. and Mrs. J. Reidel, Mr. and Mrs. E. Reidel, Mr. Peter Meyer, Mr. and Mrs. C. Leinhart, Mr. and Mrs. Leo Voisin, Mrs. Isbauch, of St. Clements, Mr. and Mrs. Leinhart of Linwood, Mr. and Mrs. F. Fischer, Misses Luella and Ellen Fischer of Elora. Mr. and Mrs. Fred Heimbecher, Miss N. Heimbecher, Hanover, Mrs. N. Heimbecher of Winnipeg, Miss M. Heimbecher of Waterloo, Mr. R. O'Neill of Toronto.3a


      3aThe Elmira Signet, Thursday, July 10th, 1924

      _________________


      TENSE ATMOSPHERE WHEN FIRST HEARING GIVEN TRAGIC CASE

      Lorne Bowman Appears Before Magistrate Weir Here Charged With Death of His Wife - Chief of Police Produces Statement Signed By Husband of Stricken Woman Which is Stated To Be Confession - May Reveal Motive Which Has Been Mystery

      WITNESSES GIVE EVIDENCE REGARDING TRAGEDY

      The courtroom at the local fire hall was crowded to the doors yesterday afternoon when the preliminary hearing into the sad death of Norraine Bowman was held. Lorne Bowman the husband of the unfortunate young woman being charged with the slaying. The most sensational feature of the session was the production by Chief Stiles of a statement, which he said had been signed just before the hearing by Lorne Bowman, purporting to be a confession of the whole affair.

      Contents Unknown

      Mr. Hattin of Kitchener, acting for Lorne Bowman, objected to the public reading of this statement, and the nature of the contents is being kept a close secret, except for the statement of Crown-attorney Bowlby that it consisted of an admission of the slaying. It is understood that the statement is however, quite a lengthy one, and it is believed that it may explain the motive which has hitherto remained a mystery.

      Is Unimpressed

      Throughout the hearing, Lorne Bowman sat, a slight and impassive spectator, apparently less moved than any other person in that crowded courtroom. His face was calm and showed no trace of strain or anxiety, and he looked about at the familiar faces of his fellow citizens with a glance that conveyed the impression that he had only done what was right and natural. Even when the blood-soaked clothing worn by his slain wife, and the fatal hatchet were produced, his glance at them showed only a casual interest. Only once during the hearing did he attempt to speak and then he was quickly silenced by his counsel.

      Lorne Bowman himself maintains that he is quite in his proper mind, and stated the the Chief of Police just prior to the hearing that they would have a hard time proving that he was insane. He remains in good physical condition, and ate a hearty dinner after the trial.

      First Witness

      The first witness to appear before Magistrate Weir this afternoon was Abraham M. Bowman, local draughtsman, who produced a plan showing the location of the north-west bedroom at the Fischer home, where the tragedy occurred.

      Chief of Police Stiles was the next witness. He told of being called at 9:50 on the morning of the tragedy and finding the stricken woman lying in a pool of blood with arms and legs slightly extended. The hatchet was lying on its head, with the shaft against her waist.

      At this point the bloodstained clothing of the girl was exhibited in the courtroom, as well as that of the baby who was in the room during the tragedy, and the suit worn by Lorne Bowman at the time of the slaying. The telltale hatchet was also produced and the bedding from the room.

      Mother's Testimony

      Mrs. Charles Fischer, mother of the slain girl was the next to take the stand. She told of conditions in the home and said that her daughter Norraine had asked her husband, Lorne Bowman to come to the house next morning to look after the baby, while she went to church. She then reviewed the events of the tragic morning that led to her finding her daughter stricken on the floor of her room.

      Mrs. Haack, the next-door neighbour told of being called by Mrs. Fischer and rushing to the scene. Dr. Watson, who was called at once, told of the position of the body. He performed the post mortem, and stated that haemorrhage and shock had caused death.

      Counsel's Question

      At this point, Mr. Hattin, counsel for the defence, interrupted and asked why no call could have been heard by Mrs. Fischer.

      "The washing machine was going," said Dr. Watson, "So that she could not hear, and moreover the first cut was probably deep and would cut off the vocal cords."

      Mr. Bert Bowman, brother of the accused man, was then called but upon objection from Mr. Hattin, he was allowed to step down again without testifying.

      After some further argument between counsel as to the statement said to have signed by Lorne Bowman, which his counsel declared to be without significance, the court was adjourned. The next hearing to be at the Fall assizes.


      FIND HUSBAND WAS SLAYER OF WOMAN

      Pathetic Evidence Given At Inquest Into Tragedy Here

      CROWN HEARS FULL STORY

      Death of Mrs. Bowman Described By Witnesses - Jury's Finding

      "We find that Norraine Bowman came to her death on June 30th from wounds inflicted by a hatchet in the hands of her husband, Lorne Bowman", declared the coroner's jury Tuesday night after hearing the evidence regarding a tragedy, which has shocked this whole neighbourhood. The jury were out twenty minutes.

      Following the inquest, which was held before Coroner Dr. Leroy Wagner, Mr. D. S. Bowlby, crown attorney of Waterloo County, announced that Bowman's preliminary hearing would be held in Elmira Wednesday afternoon. He stated that it was probable the young man be sent up for trial on a charge of murder, with provision made for his examination by alienists.

      Mental Trouble

      Prominent among the evidence given tonight was the story told by the young man's brother, Herbert Bowman, who said that Lorne Bowman had twice been diagnosed as suffering from dementia praecox. The first examination was in Guelph sanatorium where he had been sent after an attempt to commit suicide and the second early this spring when he had been sent to the London hospital.

      "You knew your brother intended getting married and you did not warn the girl of his condition?" asked the crown attorney. "No, he told me he told her." said the brother.

      He said that this spring he had discussed his brother's case with the woman who is now dead, but she would not hear of him going to an asylum. He said he had feared his brother might commit suicide but he had never thought of murder.

      "Murder is what always results from any dementia praecox cases I have come across" commented the crown attorney.

      Mrs. Fischer's Evidence

      The evidence of Mrs. Fischer, mother of the slain girl, was very touching as she told of the courtship and marriage of her daughter. She stated that so far as she knew Lorne Bowman was in good health at the time of the marriage and that their family life had gone smoothly. Asked by the crown attorney if he seemed quite normal, she said she never saw anything wrong with him, though she had heard something about this being in Guelph, and later in a London Hospital, but she did not know why he had gone.

      Mrs. Fischer stated that she did not notice anything peculiar about him the night before when he had been at her home. She did not know if he had kissed her good night, but added that they were an affectionate couple.

      Tragic Morning

      Mrs. Fischer then told of the tragic morning and how Lorne Bowman had kept the baby while his wife was at church. While doing this he had carried water for Mrs. Fischer who was washing and seemed quite Norman. She then told that after her daughter came home she changed her dress and offered to make up the beds about eight-thirty. Her husband went upstairs with her. Shortly after he brought down some pillow cases saying "These are the pillow cases Norraine sent down."

      "What happened next?" asked the Crown.

      "Then I heard the baby crying most terribly." said Mrs. Fischer. "It must have been shortly after nine. I went as far as the steps and called "Norraine, what are you doing with the baby? I got no answer. Then came the baby walking toward me all full of blood, so I picked baby up and said "Norraine what did you do with baby? I got no answer, so I called him "Lorne, what happened baby? I got no answer at all. So I walked upstairs through the hall and all I saw was blood and Norraine stretched there," she concluded. She then called her neighbour Mrs. Haack.

      Brother's Testimony

      Mr. Bert Bowman, brother of Lorne Bowman was the next witness. After telling of his brother's health generally, he said that Monday morning; shortly after nine his brother came up to his room and told him he had killed Norraine. He said nothing further until the Chief of Police arrived, but was in a very excited condition. Mrs. Ainsworth told of seeing him running from the Fischer home to his mother's looking worried and sick.

      Dr. Watson told of being summoned by Lorne Bowman's mother in 1921, saying that her son had tried to take Paris green. The doctor brought him around. He was then placed in Guelph sanatorium, but was only there a week when he was taken out, as his mother thought he would get better in the country. The doctor had treated him for nervousness, but stated that otherwise he had seemed Norman. At the end of the evidence, Corner Dr. Wagner said to the jury, "In the fact of the evidence, I would say this is murder."3a

      3aThe Elmira Signet, Thursday, September 25th, 1924

      ______________________




      DID HE REALIZE - No Says One Expert: Yes Says (rest missing)

      LEGAL BATTLE IS WAGED ON SANITY ISSUE


      All Day Yesterday Court Was Tense While Witnesses Were Called For Defence And Prosecution To Decide If Lorne Bowman Understood The Nature and Quality Of His Act When His Wife Was Slain - His Relatives Tell Of His Nervous Condition Years Before

      EXPERTS AGREE ON MENTAL DISEASE BUT NOT ON RESPONSIBILITY

      Before a tensely crowded court a legal battle was staged all day yesterday on the sanity of Lorne Bowman of Elmira, charged with the slaying of his wife, on June thirtieth last, when she was struck down with a hatchet in the bed room at the home of her mother, Mrs. Charles Fischer. One witness followed another casting different and new lights on the tragedy which saddened this town last summer, but at six thirty in the evening the issue was not yet defined and the court was adjourned til today and how long it will require before the case is summed up and the jury bring in their verdict no one could forecast last evening. The jurors were locked up under the guardianship of the sheriff, and constables watched them to see that no one communicated with them regarding the case. They were warned by the judge not to discuss it even among themselves.

      Morning Session

      The witnesses in the morning brought out little that was new. Mrs. Ainsworth of Elmira was the first, and was followed by Chief Stiles who told of the conditions surrounding the securing of the confession dictated by the prisoner last July, and incidentally had some lively tilts with Mr. Hattin counsel for the defence.

      Mrs. Fischer then told of the events of the tragic morning, much as has had been related previously. Dr. Watson also gave medical testimony.

      Brother's Evidence

      In the afternoon, the evidence became more pointed as the question of the responsibility of the prisoner was pressed more instantly. Mr. Bert Bowman, brother of the accused, first entered the box. He stated that the accused had told him the confession he had dictated was not true, but that he made it as he feared an asylum, and wanted death, as he said he had been told by chief Stiles that he would be put in a padded room and never allowed out. The witness said his brother's nervousness was a long standing as he had been forced to stay home from school as a boy because he could not control his emotions. He had always possessed "an inability to place himself in normal relation with other people." The witness continuing traced the life of his brother through the years, mentioning repeated spells of breaking down throughout. After giving up his work in the spring, the prisoner had declared he could not compete with other men owing to mental deficiency, and that it was absolutely impossible to get better and the sooner he was dead the better.

      "I don't thing I have ever talked to my brother since the tragedy that he did not say his one idea was to die" concluded the witness. Crown-prosecutor Sims in cross-examination of the witness emphasized the fact that the prisoner passed his examinations well at school, was well enough to enlist, and take up bookkeepers work on his return, as well as get married.

      Other Witnesses

      Mr. Edward Plante, the next witness for the defence, told of the way the prisoner would break down and cry often, and how he once asked for a gun so he could end himself. In cross-examination, Prosecutor Sims brought out the fact that the prisoner was quite a reader, and followed books intelligently. Mrs Plante was then called upon and told of incidents in the life of her brother, the accused.

      Mental Expert

      Doctor Fisher of London, a mental expert then appeared for the defence. He told of examining and treating the accused for a form of insanity, dementia praecox, this spring and having him in St. Joseph's Hospital, London for two weeks. He believed the prisoner had been abnormal since childhood, and he was physically underdeveloped and undernourished. His examination had revealed muscular tension, and poor circulation with ?amnty feet and hands, which were signs of dementia praecox. The doctor told of peculiar actions he had observed also indicating this form of insanity. Prisoner would say that he was a weakling and always would be. The witness said delusions were characteristic of this mental disease, and that these delusions would carry one any length with fantastic and criminal impulses. Observation had convinced him that the prisoner should have been committed to an institution for the insane.

      Did Prisoner Understand?

      The judge Mr. Justice Wright, then asked if he thought the prisoner appreciated the nature and quality of his act in slaying his wife.

      "I believe he appreciated the nature of his act," replied Dr. Fisher, "He knew that he was killing. But I do not think he appreciated the quality of his act."

      Pressed by the judge to explain the distinction, the witness said he did not think the prisoner had realized the significance of the act.

      "Judging from the nature of the crime," he said, "I do not think he appreciated what he was doing, nor the result of the act." He added that the very hacking done was a sign of an insane impulse. When Mr. Hattin, counsel for the defence pointed out that the prisoner had been acting as usual on the morning of the tragedy just before the deed happened, the witness said an insane man may take any impulse suddenly without giving any warning whatever.

      "Would he know his act was wrong?" asked Mr. Hattin.

      "Judging from the nature of the crime, the use of the hatchet, and the history of the man, I do not think he knew the crime was wrong."

      Question of Hatchet

      In cross-examination, Mr. Sims secured an admission that there was no hereditary insanity in the family and no physical signs to necessarily denote insanity.

      "You think he was seized by a sudden irresistible impulse?" asked the lawyer. The witness agreed.

      "Then," asked Mr. Sims, "How do you account for the hatched?" Crown prosecutor then added that the hatchet had been brought from London, and kept carefully, and brought over to the Fischer home to be used. Does this, he asked, look like sudden irresistible impulse?"

      Considerable sparring then followed between the lawyer and the witnesses regarding whether the prisoner understood the nature and quality of his act. The judge asked how the witness accounted for the prisoner running home after the killing, and the witness answered that this was an automatic act.

      "Does it show knowledge of wrong?" asked the judge.

      "Not necessarily," was the reply. Mr. Hattin for the defence pointed out that the prisoner had run home and not any place to escape. He also called Mr. Davis, the prisoner's step-father to show that the prisoner had not brought the hatchet from London himself, but that the craters of the goods had used it and then put it in the last box packed.

      Another Expert Testifies

      Dr. English, Superintendent of the Hamilton Asylum, was then called by the crown and examined by Mr. Sims. The witness told of examining the prisoner, for two hours last July, and said he came to the conclusion that the prisoner was suffering from dementia praecox. He declared however that he thought the prisoner was able to appreciate both the quality and nature of his act at the time of the tragedy. He based his reasons on the normal conduct of the accused the night before the tragedy, and the morning before it, in his looking after the child and in his acceding to the requests of his mother-in-law to carry water. From his general attitude and demeanour he believed the accused was quite able to judge right and wrong. He knew, he believed what his act meant in taking a life, and his attitude after the act witness declared showed he realized what he had done. Instead of staying to help one he professed to love, he ran away to escape those who might take him in charge. To the suggestion of Mr. Hattin for the defence that he might have realized the significance of his act afterwards but not at the time, the witness made the admission that this was possible. He also admitted that he might for a moment have had an irresistible impulse and not known what he was doing. Crown Prosecutor Sims then mentioned the hatchet and to this the witness said it looked like a premeditated crime.


      Impressive Scene Is Court At Kitchener


      A solemn dignity, impressive and deeply suggestive of all the power of civilizations machinery for the protection of society, pervaded the atmosphere of the sombre court-room in Kitchener yesterday as Lorne Bowman, a slight and almost frail figure, sat in the prisoner's box facing the judge and jury and the gowned lawyers in whose hands rested his life and his fate. It seemed almost incredible that all this imposing array of legal talent, court clerks, long-faced jurors, and curious spectators were assembled because of this young lad, who slouched in his seat with a bored unconcern which took only a fleeting note of the proceedings.

      The accused man was dressed with evident care in a blue serge suit and wore a soft pique collar and a white tie. He was scrupulously groomed, and his very nails were polished and showed care. He displayed his characteristic mannerisms, however, constantly placing his left hand on his chin, running it through his hair, or leaning it against the back of his neck.

      As a rule he showed little interest in the proceedings. He yawned often, stretched himself, and exhibited every evidence of boredom. Occasionally, however, he seemed to follow the proceedings with at least a brief interest. When his brother-in-law, Mr. Plante, described him as reserved and shy he smiled broadly and also evidenced amusement when counsel asked his sister what kind of reading he was interested in. He looked at his sister with an attention he did not show to the other witnesses. When Dr. fisher, the mental expert, tried to describe dementia praecox, the disease he is alleged to be suffering from, he was amused, and laughed heartily for a moment when Dr. Fisher said his habits of running his hand over his face and head, and the fact that he once pretended to the doctor to be much interested in a book when it was upside down, were signs of dementia praecox. Again when certain references were made of himself and his wife, he colored and laughed nervously.

      On the whole however, the prisoner in the witness box was an enigma, a puzzle, a strange and pitiful bit of humanity gone astray somehow before the winds that blow on the ocean of life. One thought of his constant phrase, "I am afraid," repeated to his brother so often before the tragedy, and his words since that awful day in June - "I really want to die, that is the only thing I desire." And one wonders what strange thoughts frit through his mind, as the court goes logically on probing the facts on which hang his destiny.


      NOW STANDING TRIAL

      LORNE BOWMAN who is now under indictment for slaying of his wife on June 30th last. This photo was snapped as he stepped from the Elmira lock-up last July.

      GRAND JURY DECIDES BOWMAN SANE ENOUGH TO STAND HIS TRIAL

      Jury Announces Decision Early Tuesday Afternoon Following Hearing of Witnesses Regarding Conduct of Accused - Verdict Does Not Mean Prisoner Sane But Merely That He Understands Sufficient To Go On Trial

      JUDGE WARNS AGAINST BEING SWAYED BY SYMPATHY FOR ACCUSED

      The proceedings before the Grand Jury in the case of Lorne Bowman of Elmira charged at the Kitchener assizes with the murder of his wife, Norraine, culminated Tuesday afternoon when the jury declared its belief that the prisoner was sufficiently sane to precede with his trial on the charge of murder. The point, which the jury decided, as Mr. Justice Wright pointed out was not the mental responsibility of the accused for the crime but whether he was sufficiently sane to understand what was going on in the court, and follow the proceedings. The verdict of the Grand Jury was not that the accused was sane, but that he was fit to stand trial.

      The judge, Mr. Justice Wright, in his charge to the jury made it clear that in his own opinion the accused was sufficiently capable of comprehension to understand the trial, and should be committed.

      Judge's Charge to Jury

      Justice Wright among other things said: "Gentlemen of the jury the issue in one respect is simple; for it comes down to a single point. In this case it is not at all complex. The issue is whether the prisoner on account of insanity is able to take his trial. There have to be established two things in order to prove that he is not able to take his trial. First that he is insane, and secondly that the insanity is of such type as to render him unfit to take his trial. He may be insane but it must be established that the insanity is so severe that he could not stand trial. At the outset I wish to again emphasize the fact that your are not trying the prisoner on the charge with which he is indicted. You are not trying his guilt of the alleged murder. Your responsibility is along another direction altogether.

      Degrees of Insanity

      "There are a great many degrees of insanity. Even if the prisoner were now being tried for murder and if the alienists all said he ware insane, that would not be sufficient to convict him of the charge of murder; for it would have to be shown that the insanity was of such a nature that he did not know the nature of the act or that he had done wrong. The insanity there must be of a certain type. If the prisoner is intelligent enough to tell his counsel what took place and the circumstances, he's fit to be put on trial. There is of course a great variety in the intelligence of people. Some are alert and see every possibility of a defence and can instruct their counsel. Some on the contrary suggest a defence that has no foundation in fact, while others are incapable of either and are slow mentally.

      No Easy Way Out

      "Upon the evidence here today you must decide whether or not this man is fit to be put on trial. Gentlemen of the jury, do not look for an easy way out. In the administration of justice it is necessary that every crime should be sifted to the bottom and that the prisoner should be given every opportunity to put his defence in open court. It is right that there is no short way in our courts where by criminal cases are put through hurriedly. Have no thoughts of bringing in a decision merely to avoid a trial. Do your duty, like men. Your are acting in the interests of the country. Your duties as members of the jury are the highest of any, for they have to do with the administration of justice. Do not be swayed by sympathy for this unfortunate man. Decide the issue solely on the evidence that has been submitted to you."



      Jury's Verdict

      Court had just reconvened for the afternoon session when the jury fled in.

      "Is he fit or unfit?" asked the clerk of the court amid a tense silence.

      "We find him fit." Said Foreman J. C. McKay of Linwood.


      Mental Specialist

      A feature of the hearing Tuesday morning was the declaration of Dr. English, alienist of the Ontario Hospital for the insane, Hamilton, that the prisoner was insane but that he was able to understand what was going on and that he was on trial. The Crown also produced a statement signed by Bowman July 9, which he made voluntarily to Chief Stiles of Elmira. In this statement, which was given after the chief had issued a warning that any statements he would make could be used against him Bowman said that the deed was a "case of wilful, premeditated murder - that I remember everything. I had an argument with my wife some time before, because I objected to her wearing a ring, which she got from another man before she married me. She said she got it from a better man than I am. I struck her down - she was facing the bed."

      Condition in Jail

      Part missing

      he is much better. He told me one day he would not stand for the plea of insanity. He mentioned there was so much red tape about the law and he did not see why everything would not be finished at once. I asked him one day where he got the hatchet from, but I forget now what he answer was.

      Previous Conduct

      Mr. Ed. Plante of Elmira a brother-in-law of the accused stated that Bowman had always been a little odd from school days on, and more particularly since his father's death in 1917. At Bramshott Camp in England Bowman stated that he had a good notion to end it all. After that he was examined in the hospital and later allowed out. Witness did not see him again until they were both back in Canada, and then he appeared to be a little worse than in the Old Country, often having crying spells and throwing his arms around the witness.

      Took Paris Green

      "One night he seemed worse than usual," said Plante, "and his mother asked us to stay with him, and he told me that he had taken Paris green and I said,

      "No," but he said, "Look under the bed." I did and I saw the glass. We telephoned for the doctor and later he was taken to the Guelph Sanatorium. Later he was treated at St. Joseph's Hospital in London."

      Witness said that Bowman had often broken down, occasionally ran away, and often said that he wished he were dead.

      "Did he ever show any tendency to do away with any one else besides himself?" asked H. J. Sims, K. C., for the Crown.

      "None except himself."

      Herbert Bowman, brother of the accused man, stated that his brother had said to him, "I want to die; I want to die, and I don't want you to do anything. I won't assist you in any way."

      "As to doing anything in his defence, what did he do?" asked Mr. Hattin. "He did everything possible to hold up the defence, and stated that if possible he would try to present the appearance of sanity. The reason was that he feared an asylum."

      Witness stated that in reply to requests for information that would help Bowman he said, "I want to die;
      Parts missing

      ___________________

      LORNE BOWMAN NOW AWAITS CONFINEMENT IN AN INSTITUTION

      Jury Found Him Not Guilty Of Murder On Grounds Of Insanity - Remanded At Kitchener Jail Until Government Decides Upon Asylum Where He Will Be Kept - Arguments of Counsel

      HARROWING CASE CONCLUDED

      The last chapter in the tragedy, which horrified all the town and district on June the thirtieth, last, was written last Thursday afternoon when the jury brought in the verdict, which will confine Lorne Bowman to a provincial asylum for life. "Not guilty on the grounds of insanity," was the finding of the jury. Thereupon the presiding judge, Mr. Justice Wright turned to the prisoner who was standing in the dock. "The law requires," he said, "That you be kept in strict custody until the pleasure of the Lieutenant-Governor is known."

      Bowman who has continually stated that he wished to die, changed color slightly, and a strange look of regret flitted across his face. Then, in a moment, he was again apathetic and listless figure whose interest in the whole matter had swiftly slipped away.

      Counsels Speak

      The verdict was brought in following addresses to the jury by counsel for both sides, and the charge by the judge. The defence Counsel, V. H. Hattin stressed the fact that there was no reasonable motive for the act of the prisoner, who loved his wife and child. He asked that the written confession be set aside as the fact of an insane man, who wished death and feared an asylum. He emphasized the fact that both Dr. Watson of Elmira and Dr. Fisher of London pronounced the accused insane, and that even Dr. English, the witness for the crown admitted some insanity, and believed the accused should have been in an asylum. Even Dr. English had admitted that there was possibility the prisoner did not know what he was doing. He also referred to the gruesome character of the deed as evidence of insanity, and he said that Bowman's father-in-law had brought the fatal hatchet from London, and not the prisoner.

      "In conclusion," he said, "I think that the ends of justice will be served if this man is found not guilty owing to insanity and committed to the asylum. Are you satisfied that the ends of justice would be served if he were to hand by the hangman's rope? If this man had been committed to the asylum as the doctors had recommended and if he had committed the offence there, there would not have been a murder trial."

      Crown's Argument

      Mr. J. H. Sims, Crown Prosecutor, in reply admitted that the prisoner was not normal but doubted if the prisoner was so insane that he did not realize the nature and quality of the act, and that he was doing wrong. He thought the trouble was just melancholy depression. There was no insanity in the family. He stressed the fact that the prisoner was normal in his actions the night before the tragedy and even on the very morning he committed the deed. He declared that "an irresistible impulse" down not relieve any man from responsibility under the law. The Crown Prosecutor also thought it strange that the prisoner should have brought the hatchet over in readiness and have run away after the deed, if he were insane, and did not know what he was doing. He referred to the voluntary confession, and referred to jealousy and revenge being possible motives. He maintained that a man was sane until the contrary was proven.

      Following the addresses of the counsel, the judge then summed up the case for the jury, who retired and after deliberating for two hours and a half gave their verdict of insanity.

  • Sources 
    1. [S161] Census - ON, Waterloo, Elmira - 1901, Elmira (Village) B Page 1.

    2. [S161] Census - ON, Waterloo, Elmira - 1901, Elmira (Village) B. Page 1.

    3. [S176] Census - ON, Waterloo, Elmira - 1911, Div. 48 Pg. 2.

  • Event Map
    Event
    Link to Google MapsBirth - 20 Jul 1901 - Elmira, Waterloo Region, Ontario Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsReligion - Roman Catholic - 1911 - Elmira, Waterloo Region, Ontario Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMisfortune - murdered by her husband Lorne Bowman - 1924 - Elmira, Waterloo Region, Ontario Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBuried - - St. Teresa Roman Catholic Cemetery, Woolwich Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario Link to Google Earth
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