New Jersey Obituaries - 1899 - William Slack

William Slack Killed

His Skull Crushed In With A Beer Bottle

The Murder Committed by Fred Hendrickson in a Fit of Jealous Fury-Hendrickson and Three Others Now in the County Jail

William Slack of Red Bank was killed on Monday afternoon by Fred Hendrickson, a young colored man of Red Bank. Slack was drinking beer with Mrs. Fanny Withington of Red Bank at the time he was killed. Mrs. Withington's husband, Moses Withington, is in a Long Island jail on a charge of being implicated in the murder of John Dunn of that place. Hendrickson considered Mrs. Withington as his "girl," and he was very jealous of attentions to her by other people. Hendrickson came upon Slack and Mrs. Withington as they were drinking beer in the woods near the Riverside gun club grounds and he killed Slack by crushing his skull in with a beer bottle. Hendrickson and Mrs. Withington have been arrested and are in the county jail. Eugene Holmes, generally known as "Slick" Holmes and his wife, Edith Holmes, have also been arrested on suspicion of having been implicated in the murder and they are also in the county jail.

Slack was a carpenter and on Monday he was working on one of the houses on Beach street owned by Sidney Conover. He quit work at half-past two o'clock and went to Frank Sacco's bottling house which is near the gun club grounds. He bought half a dozen bottles of beer. He gave Sacco a dollar bill and Sacco gave him 75 cents in change. Sacco saw Hendrickson, Mrs. Withington, Holmes and Mrs. Holmes in the neighborhood. Slack went out after paying for the beer and that was the last that Sacco saw of him.

Later in the afternoon Hendrickson went to Sacco's place and bought some beer. Early the next morning he went to Sacco's again and bought a dozen bottles of beer. Sacco asked him why he had not returned the empty bottles which he had taken the day before and Hendrickson at once began to tremble. He went out without saying anything further. Sacco sent his man out to see if he could learn what had become of the empty bottles. The man went to the woods and undergrowth where Hendrickson had been seen going the day before, and he came upon the dead body of Slack.

The man did not touch the body but returned and told his employer that Slack had been murdered. Sacco went down town and notified the police of the crime. Charles Henry Ivins, who was formerly prosecutor, was also notified and he went with the police officers to the scene of the murder. George F. Foster a REGISTER reporter, also went with the party.

The body of Slack was found just south of the fence which encloses the Riverside gun club grounds. There is a downward slope there which is covered with a tangle of briars, weeds and bushes. Near the top of the bank is a little clearing, and at the foot of this clearing the body was found. From the position of the body it was plain that it had been dragged for some distance, with the evident intention of hiding it. The track of the body where it had been dragged along the ground was plainly seen.

The body lay on the slope with the head downward. The murder had been committed at the top of the bank and the body had been dragged about eighteen feet to the edge of the cleared spot. In getting the body to this place it had been pulled along by the left arm. This arm was extended above the head. It had apparently been the intention of the murderer to hide the body in the bushes, but his strength or his courage had failed him and the body was left in the edge of the little clearing. There was blood along the track where the body had been dragged.

The officers made an examination of the body and found that the skull had been crushed in with a blunt weapon. Slack was bald-headed and the top of his head was a mass of discolored bruises. His trousers pockets had been turned inside out. A bunch of keys had been left in one of them. In the inside vest pocket was found a purse containing a one-dollar bill, a two cent postage stamp, and a penny. Slack carried a watch and this was missing. The change which he had received from Sacco was also gone. It is not known whether or not he had any more money than what was found on his person and what he had received from Sacco in change. Nothing else was found on the body except a pair of spectacles.

Three full bottles of beer were found near the body. An empty bottle, with blood on it was found in the bushes near the body. Several other empty bottles lay around on the ground.

The place where the body was found is a retired spot about three hundred yards south of Beach street. The high fence of the gun club grounds cuts off all view of the road, and no house is in sight, the view in all other directions being cut off by trees.

The body was taken to the undertaking shop of Robert T. Smith. It remained there until Tuesday afternoon when a jury was empaneled which viewed the body. It was then taken to the house of his son, Ralph Slack, on Beach street. A post mortem examination of the body is to be made this afternoon by Dr. Edwin Field.

Sacco told the officers of Hendrickson and the others having been with Slack on Monday afternoon. He did not know their names but he knew where they lived and he went with the officers to the house. Hendrickson, Holmes and the two women were arrested and were taken to the town jail and locked up. Yesterday afternoon they were taken to the county jail at Freehold.

Before being taken to Freehold, Hendrickson confessed to having killed Slack by beating him on the head with the beer bottle. He said that Slack had attacked him first and that he killed him in self-defence (sic).

Mrs. Withington afterward told the officers the full story of the crime. She said that Slack had bought six bottles of beer at Sacco's place and that she and Slack had gone back of the gun club grounds to drink it. She said they were sitting down on the ground and had each drank a bottle of beer when Hendrickson came up. The remaining bottles of beer were lying between them. Hendrickson became insanely jealous on seeing them together, and he walked up to Slack and pounded him on the head with the bottle. Slack fell over with his skull crushed in. Mrs. Withington jumped up and tried to run away but Hendrickson grabbed her and held her for a time. She finally managed to break away from him and ran home, where she told Mrs. Holmes of the occurrence. Eugene Holmes, Mrs. Holmes's husband was also told of the murder. Hendrickson came to the house afterward and stayed there all night. He was captured in the house by the police the next morning, he having gone back to the house after he went to Sacco's place.

It is not known whether Hendrickson rifled the dead man's pockets, or whether this was done by some one else. It is supposed that Hendrickson went back to the body either later in the afternoon or at night, intending to hide it, and that he then stole whatever he could find on the body. The purse which was found on the body by the police was in an inside vest pocket and was probably overlooked by him.

Coroner Herbert of Asbury Park arrived at Red Bank about eight o'clock last night. He took charge of the case and the inquest will be held on Friday morning. The jury men are Edmund T. Woolley, James Norman, Elijah M. Conk, Solomon Prince, John Morford and Elias Hubbard.

Slack was 67 years old. He was born at Trenton and moved to Red Bank about thirty years ago. He lived in the small house on the Elisha White property on the east side of Broad street. The building has been used as a milk depot for the past two years. When Mr. Slack lived in it it was on the present site of Straus Co.'s store. Mr. Slack was a good carpenter and he built a number of houses in Red Bank, among them being the Hubbard house on the corner of Broad and Monmouth streets, but he was a very dissipated man. After living in Red Bank for a time he moved West and returned about three years ago. His wife died a few years after he first moved to Red Bank. He leaves three sons. Two of them, Ralph and Joseph, live in Red Bank. The other son, Charles, is living in the West.

The funeral will be held to-morrow at the house of Ralph Slack on Beach street. It will be strictly private. The burial will be at Fair View cemetery.

Fred Hendrickson, the colored man who killed Slack, is about nineteen years old. He is the son of Henry Hendrickson of Shrewsbury. His mother was a daughter of Mingo Jack, who was lynched at Eatontown some years ago for assaulting Angelina Herbert, a white girl. Hendrickson was educated in the Red Bank public school. He left school about five years ago. The Red Bank boys and girls who were his schoolmates say that he was a very nice mannered boy, and they liked him very much. He had more companions and associates among the white young people than any other colored lad has ever had in Red Bank. A short time ago he began to go with a tough crowd of colored people and his degeneration was rapid. He lived with his father at Shrewsbury until about two months ago, when his father told him he must give up his evil companions or quit his house. The boy chose to do the latter and has since lived at Red Bank.

Source: Red Bank Register, Wednesday, September 20, 1899