29 August 2019

Body of Murderer Adorned in Tattoos Becomes Public Spectacle

A photograph of Mrs. Alma Crandall and
her daughter Grace that was found in the
personal trunk of Mr. Harrison. From Salt
Lake Herald Republican Aug 24 1909.
Today in history: “Crazed by repeated repulses from the woman he loved, Mr. Ashley Harrison, alias Larry Kavanaugh, slashed Mrs. Alma Crandall in the neck with a razor in her home at 143 Social Hall Ave, followed the screaming woman into the backyard where he again slashed and cut her with the razor until she fell to the ground from the loss of blood, and then cut his own throat from ear to ear, almost severing the head from the body.” Such was the heinous crime as reported a day later in the Salt Lake Tribune August 22, 1909.

Beyond the brutality of the attempted murder and the suicide was the spectacle that Mr. Harrison provided to the residents of SLC after his death. The body of Mr. Harrison was taken to the undertaking parlor of Joseph William Taylor to see if any relatives or friends would claim his body. Word soon spread through town that the man’s body was covered in colorful tattoos.

“Upon his chest was a spider’s web filled with flies, tattooed in colors. Around his neck was a wreath of roses with a humming bird’s bill in each flower. Upon each shoulder was a large colored butterfly. Upon one forearm was a large beautifully colored dragon, and upon the other a Chinese joss house. Above the dragon was the clasped hands, the emblem of the I.O.O.F. Above the emblem was a caterpillar and below it was another butterfly. Upon his back, the head in the center of his body and the two wings extending the full width of his back was another butterfly done in colors. All of the tattoo work was excellently done.” Salt Lake Herald Republican August 23 1909. Mr. Harrison was found to be a sailor on the steamship the Empress of India running out of Vancouver to Hong Kong and Tokyo, where it is likely that he got his tattoos.

The body of Mr. Harrison remained unclaimed and he was buried in Paupers Field of the Salt Lake City Cemetery. The body was placed in a plain pine box and lowered into the grave without ceremony.

Mrs. Crandall eventually recovered and resided in SLC for the rest of her life; she passed away on January 9, 1954, at the age of 74 and is also interred in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

A photograph of Mr. Ashley Harrison.
Salt Lake Herald Republican Aug 24 1909.

Example of the style of tattoos found on the body of
Mr. Harrison, these were done by Japanese tattooist Kakegawa in 1908.
From The Brooklyn Daily Eagle June 28 1908.

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