Serial murder can be linked back hundreds of years to
Elizabeth Bathory who killed young virgins, as she believed bathing in
their blood would keep her youthful looks.
However, criminologists agree the Samuel Green is
America's first serial killer, who reigned terror across New England
from 1817 to 1822.
Born in the hamlet of Meredith New Hampshire, Green's
poor hardworking parents thought the child was possess at an early age
when he played truant from school. They resorted to thrashing the child
with switches. As a teenage apprentice to a blacksmith, Green was caught
stealing, where he was whipped again. On his return home he was whipped
again, in revenge he threw the family dog down the well. The dead animal
contaminated the water, and the well had to be cleaned. For this Green
was whipped again.
In rage, Green stabbed the family pig, for which he
was again whipped.
The family gave up and sent Green to Newhampton to
live with a man called Dunne. For a short period of time Green settled
down into school. But soon began to truant again for which he was beaten.
Samuel stole a jew's harp from a local store and was flogged when
apprehended. He fled home to his parents who flogged him into
unconsciousness when they had heard the news and sent him back to Dunne.
Dunne flayed Samuel's back until a layer of flesh had peeled away.
Green decided to kill Dunne for this last beating.
Green had arranged for an axe to accidentally fall on his master's head.
if that failed a pitch fork was placed above the barn door. Dunne was
lucky and escaped both incidents with only minor injury. For this Green
was tied to the barn door and whipped until his back was a welted bloody
mass of flesh.
Again Green retaliated and destroyed a hogshead of
cider, he was, of course, whipped for this. Green then tried to burn
down Dunn's bar unsuccessfully, and was beaten senseless with whips and
Dunne gave up the fight after some time and Green left
to embark on a career or passing counterfeit notes with another youth
named Ash in Newhampton.
As they passed a school house, Green decided to seek
vengeance on those who represented to pain of his childhood and threw a
large piece of timber under a speeding sleigh loaded with children,
almost killing them.
The school master caught the two youths and beat them
For revenge the two battered youths lay in wait for
the schoolmaster in a remote spot. They knocked him unconscious with
rocks, stripped him naked tied him up and left him to freeze to death.
(He was found hours later and narrowly survived).
Green and Ash moved through Guildford, and Burlington,
Vermont where Green enlisted in the army. He quickly went AWOL and was
flogged at the guardhouse when he was caught. He fled again and went
home to New Hampshire, he was quite wealthy with thousands of dollars
worth of counterfeit notes. He purchased a cow for his mother (the only
sign of love he has ever shown) and spent the rest on himself with fancy
clothes, a horse, expensive jewellery and meals.
When the money ran out, Green went to Boston and hired
himself out as a servant to wealthy men. During the day he was a loyal
servant, at night he robbed his masters and fled.
Outside Bath, New Hampshire, Green again teamed with
Ash. They encountered a jewellery sales man who allowed the two to
inspect his wares. Later the two men waited to ambush the peddler, when
he strode past them, they knocked him from his mule and took his money.
Ash said they should kill the man. Green hesitated a movement then
brought his club down upon the unconscious man, bashing in his head and
killing him on the spot.
Green's wild adventure's became less secretive as he
ranged though New England, robbing and murdering at will. He was jailed
several times on suspicion, but evidence was lacking in most cases. Ash
also helped Green to escape on several occasions. Once in Montreal,
Green fought his way through an entire posse of men when he was looting
a jewellery store. Shooting several of the men in the process.
He was finally caught and thrown into jail. Soon he
was tried, convicted and sentenced to hang. As was expected, Ash broke
Green out of jail and they returned to New Hampshire. After a quiet
period of hiding out, Green went on another crime spree burglarising
stores in Albany, New York and in New York City. He then went to Vermont,
where he robbed and shot to death a wealthy French traveller. Nothing
was beyond the ambitions of Samuel Green. He left a trail of rape, horse
stealing, burglary, counterfeiting and murder, from Montpelier, Vermont
to Schenectady, New York; from Saco, Maine to Barre, Vermont. He became
America's first Enemy Number One. Half the country was looking for him.
Green's end began when he was arrested in Danvers,
Mass. for stealing $30 worth of goods from a store when he was blind
drunk. He was convicted and sent to Boston State Prison for a four year
sentence. He attempted escape several times and was fitted with special
shackles with weighted clogs to slow his movements, several more years
were added to his sentence.
Green learned a Negro prisoner named Billy Williams
had informed on him about his last escape attempt. Once release from
solitary confinement, Green vowed revenge. He put poison into William's
food, but the wary convict did not eat it.
Finally, Green cornered Williams alone in a shop on
November 8, 1821. Wielding an iron bar, he pounced on the informer. He
brought the weapon down on William's head giving him a fractured skull.
While the man lay unconscious at his feet, Green kept hammering at him
with the bar, breaking all of William's ribs and his arms and legs.
William died a week later from his injuries.
It was the end for Samuel Green. On April 25, 1822
following a long trial, a rope was put around his neck
Serial Killers - Damon and Colin
Wilson - The Book Company
America's first "Public Enemy"
The Life & Crimes of Samuel Green
An early day crime historian once
wrote that Samuel Green was not a man that "a traveler would want to
meet in a lonely spot". Green became known as the Terror of New England
and was described as standing nearly six feet tall, was heavily muscular
and had a savage-looking face and burning dark eyes. He was, most would
agree, a very disturbed man but he was also one that was a product of
his upbringing. There remains little doubt that violent and abusive
parents and caretakers created this inhuman killer. In modern days, such
a statement would seem to be an excuse for one to behave however one
likes but in this case of Samuel Green, such a statement happens to be
Green was born in the small village of
Meredith, New Hampshire and when young, Green's parents came to believe
that the boy was possessed by demons when he skipped school a few times
and then lied about. As was the case among many poor, simple folk of
early America, it was believed that the devils could be beaten out of
the boy with the whip. As an apprentice to a blacksmith when a young man,
Green was caught stealing and was horsewhipped for it. He sought revenge
by destroying his employer's garden. He was whipped again for this but
refused to admit to the deed. Instead, he drowned the family's dog by
throwing it into the well. The dog caused the water to turn bad and the
well had to be cleaned, a great expense that was charged to the Green
family. For this transgression, Samuel was again beaten to within an
inch of his life. To spite his parents for this punishment, Green
retaliated again, this time by cutting the throat of the family's price
hog. Finally, they gave up on him and sent him off to Newhampton to live
with a man named Dunne.
In this new place, Green settled down
for awhile and began to attend school. This lasted for a short time and
then after growing bored, he decided not to show up for his classes. He
was beaten when his behavior was reported. He later stole from a store
and was beaten for that as well. Green fled back to his parents who,
after hearing of the theft, beat the boy into unconsciousness and sent
him back to Dunne. Dunne, in turn, whipped the boy until a layer of
flesh was peeled from his back.
By this time, Green had had enough ---
after this beating, he became determined to murder Dunne. He cleverly
arranged for a trap to spring that would cause a large ax to fall on the
man's head as he entered the door of his workshop. In case this failed,
Green also devised it so that a pitchfork would slide down at him from
the top of the barn door. Dunne turned out to be lucky. When he entered
the workshop, the ax narrowly missed him and only sliced a piece of the
sleeve of his coat. As he ran into the barn to search for Green, the
pitchfork shot downward but only gave him a minor injury to his foot.
For attempted murder, Green was tied to the barn door and whipped until
his back was nothing but a bloody pulp.
Green retaliated once again,
destroying a barrel of cider and stealing several bushels of Dunne's
corn. He was whipped again when he was caught. Green then tried to burn
down his master's barn but the blaze was put out. Green was then beaten
senseless with whips and fists.
The battle between the two of them
continued for months until Dunne finally gave up the fight. By then, the
boy was old enough and strong enough that no man could hold him -- and
too dangerous for anyone to care to. Green then embarked on a new career
of passing counterfeit bank notes with another bitter youth named Ash.
They operated locally for a time and then when it was thought that they
had too much money for their ages and stations in life, they moved on to
other towns. One day while traveling, they passed a schoolhouse where
children were playing and out of spite, he threw a large timber under a
speeding sleigh that was loaded with children, almost killing them. The
schoolmaster collared both Green and Ash and beat them badly. That
night, the two young men waited for the man, knocked him unconscious
with rocks and then stripped him naked to freeze to death in the cold.
Luckily, he was found a couple of hours later and barely recovered.
Green and Ash then moved through the
town of Guilford and on to Burlington, Vermont. Here, Green enlisted in
the army after he learned that a bounty would be paid for his services.
He found that military life was not to his liking and almost immediately
deserted. He was caught and thrown into the guardhouse, where he was
flogged as punishment. He escaped and returned to his family in New
Hampshire. Green was rich by then, having passing hundreds of dollars in
counterfeit bills, and strangely, purchased a cow for his mother, the
only sign of love that he ever manifested in his life. He spent the
remainder of his loot on fine clothes, jewelry, a horse and sumptuous
meals -- all for himself, of course.
When the money finally ran out, he and
Ash went back to passing counterfeit bills. Green's employer in the
business, a man whose name was never known, also taught the young man
how to become an expert card cheat and how to pick locks and duplicate
keys. This came in handy for Green when he went to Boston and hired out
as a servant to wealthy men. Once inside the house, he played the role
of a dutiful servant, but late at night he would rob the house of its
valuables and flee.
Green then teamed up with Ash again as
highway robbers. One night, outside of Bath, New Hampshire, they
encountered a jewelry salesman in a tavern. He foolishly allowed the
young men to inspect his wares -- which he paid for later that night. As
the man unknowingly rode by, Green and Ash sprang the bushes, knocked
him from his mule and rummaged his pockets for money. Ash thought they
should kill the man, and eliminate the witness, and Green readily agreed.
He brought his cudgel down on the unconscious man's skull over and over
again until the head was nothing more than a bloody mass.
After that, Green's murderous exploits
ranged throughout New England and he robbed and killed at will. He was
jailed several times on suspicion but there was never enough evidence to
indict him. He escaped from jail several times, often with Ash's
assistance, and once when looting a jewelry store, he fought his way
through an entire contingent of lawmen, shooting several of them. He was
apprehended for this and placed in jail. After a short trial, he was
found guilty and sentenced to hang, Ash again broke him out of jail and
the two of them vanished into the mountains of New Hampshire. Soon after, Green went on another
crime spree, burglarizing stores in Albany and New York city. He then
traveled to Middlebury, Vermont, where he robbed and killed a traveler.
He left a trail of rape, horse theft, burglary, counterfeiting and
murder all over New England and became America's first "public enemy
number one". He aroused the fervor of people all over the region and
huge bounties were offered for his capture.
The fugitive's end came when he was
arrested in Danvers, Massachusetts for shoplifting in a store. He was
blind drunk at the time of the crime and his arrest. He was convicted
and sentenced to serve four years in jail for it. He attempted to escape
but was captured and afterwards was fitted with special shackles with
weighted clogs that would slow his movements. Green learned that a
prisoner named Billy Williams had informed on him moments before his
escape attempt and when he was released from solitary confinement, Green
vowed revenge. He put poison in Williams' food but the convict refused
to eat it. Then, on the morning of November 8, 1821, Green cornered
Williams alone and wielding an iron bar, he pounced on him. He managed
to fracture his skull and then beat him severely, breaking all of his
ribs, his hands and his feet. Williams died a week later from his
It would be for this murder, which
occurred because he had been sent to jail for shoplifting, that finally
brought an end to the career of one of early America's greatest
criminals. He was tried for Williams murder and sentenced to hang on
April 25, 1822. The rope was placed around his neck and just before the
trap was sprung, he told the priest who stood at his side that he had no
words for the crowd who had gathered to see him die. "They shall know my
fate," he cryptically told the man," for I have written my confession
out in full."
The priest then asked him if he was
penitent for the sins he had committed. "If you wish it," Green replied
with a smirk and then he plunged to his death. The rope snapped his neck
and he was dead in moments. Oddly, his promised 'confession" never
materialized and perhaps because of this, Samuel Green has been
relegated to the "almost forgotten" section in the annals of American
M RACE: W TYPE: N MOTIVE: CE/Sex.
Career criminal; killed rape and robbery victims
DISPOSITION: Hanged in Mass.,