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True Crime in Pennsylvania

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249.     [LAROS, ALLEN C.]. The Laros Murder. A Whole Family Poisoned by an Ungrateful Son. Full Particulars. The Arrest and Confession of the Prisoner, Funeral Services, and both Sermons in Full, with Incidents, Interviews, &c. Easton, Pa.: West & Hilburn, Publishers, 1876. [2], 3-36 pp., wood-engraved text illustrations (some full page) of the family’s last supper, various scenes of the crime, funeral, and trial. 8vo (21.5 x 13.7 cm), original grey pictorial wrappers with text: Eine Familie von einem Sohn Vergiftet. Laros Tragedy…A Whole Family Poisoned by a Son; upper cover with large wood-engraved portrait: Allen C. Laros, the Poisoner; illustration on rear wrap: A correct view of the Forks Township Church—Where the Victims are Buried. Fragile wraps moderately soiled and chipped (most noticeable at corners), back repeatedly stamped Clara S. Snyder. Very scarce: Library of Congress, University of Michigan (Clements), and Lafayette College (Easton, Pennsylvania).

     First edition of an account of true crime in Pennsylvania. Another undated work (The Murderer, Allen C. Laros….A Whole Family Poisoned, Full Particulars of the Greatest Crime Ever Committed) consists of 26 pages published by the Daily Express of Easton, Pennsylvania (McDade 585). McDade (583) lists an entirely different work, dated 1877 and with 284 pp. and extracts from the legal proceedings. McDade, The Annals of Murder 584: “In Northampton county, Pennsylvania, Laros, a twenty-two-year-old teacher, put four and one-half ounces (equal to over two thousand grains) of arsenic in the family coffeepot, killing his parents and a hired man; his two brothers and two sisters were made ill but lived. He had stolen $330 from money kept in house. A defense of insanity did not convince.” Portions of the text are in German, such as the funeral sermon, for which there is a translation into English.

     This crime was notorious, with legal and psychological interest evoked early on. For instance, in 1880 there was published in London the following study by Edward C. Mann, Psychological Aspect of the Laros Case: On the Trial of Allen C. Laros, at Easton, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., for the Murder of his Father, Martin Laros, by Poison, the Defence being Based upon the Allegation of Epileptic Insanity. The case has also been cited in publications on medical forensics. See W.C. Posey and W.G. Spiller, The Eye and Nervous System, Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1906, p. 736, in which the authors cite Laros feigned attempt at epilepsy.


Sold. Hammer: $150.00; Price Realized: $180.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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