25 June 2020

Murder-Suicide in 1902: Sarah Brooks

 Illustration of murder scene,
from SL Herald Republican June 26 1902.
Today in History, June 25 1902, Edward Brown Hemsley murdered his ex-wife, Sarah Brooks, and then killed himself at his parents home in Sugar House, Salt Lake City.

Edward B. was a son of prominent Sugar House businessman and Mormon leader, Edward Potter Hemsley, who co-owned the brickmaking facility at what we now know as Brickyard.

Edward B. Hemsley married Sarah Brooks in Nov 1900 when Edward was 24 years old and Sarah was 21 years old. They lived in in Edward’s parents house, the old Hemsley estate located at what is now 1923 S 1200 East. The couple lived in a second story room that was only partially finished and had bare rafters overhead.

By April 1902, Edward B. and Sarah had divorced and Sarah moved back with her father in the Avenues neighborhood of SLC. She attempted many times to call on Edward B. to retrieve her furniture and personal belongings from the Hemsley house but she was never allowed. 

Ultimately, she secured a court order for her property and requested the presence of Salt Lake County Sheriff, George H. Naylor, to keep the peace while she removed her belongings from the house.

She finished packing her belongings about noon on a Wednesday, June 25 1902, when Edward B. and two of his brothers returned to the house on a load of hay. Edward B. made a remark that he wished Sarah “to have everything that is hers” and then went upstairs in the house. Sarah was saying goodbye to Edward’s mother outside the house and next to the wagon full of her belongings. Sarah said that she “wished Edward well in whatever he does.”

Suddenly, Edward B. shot Sarah in the head from an upstairs window, killing her instantly. Sherriff Naylor was only 3 feet from Sarah and looked up at the window to see a smoking shotgun. He ran upstairs and was halfway there when he heard another shot. Sherriff Naylor found Edward B. dead on his back beside the window in a dark pool of his own blood.

Separate funerals were held for the deceased and they were buried in different sections of the Salt Lake City Cemetery, Sarah under her maiden name of Brooks. 

Edward B.’s father would not allow his son to be buried in the family plot so he was buried in one of the potters fields of the SLC Cemetery “where lie the indigent dead.”

The house where the murder-suicide took place was demolished about 1968. An apartment complex now occupies the area at 1923 S 1200 East.

Sources: SL Tribune June 26 1902; SL Herald Republican June 26 1902; SL Herald June 28 1902.
Image of the Edward B. Hemsley and Sarah Brooks about 1901
from SL Herald Republican June 26 1902.

Image of the house ca 1907 at 1923 S 1200 East where the murder-suicide happened 
with Edward B.’s parents and sister, from ancestry user keyray69.

No comments:

Post a Comment