|Headline reporting the murder of David Reynolds. From Evening Star, May 24, 1901.|
The library's "Crime and Criminals" clipping file yields a look into the sordid side of life in the history of Schenectady County. The file contains newspaper clippings related to robberies, hangings, kidnappings, organized crime, and murders. One such case is the unsolved murder of David Reynolds, a Scotia farmer.
David Reynolds, or "Uncle Dave" as he was referred to by his neighbors, was a 66-year-old "eccentric" farmer who lived alone at what is now known as the Flint House. Reynolds was known to carry large amounts of money. Neighbors claimed that only a few days before the murder, Reynolds had had at least $200 in cash on his person. Days before the murder, the Evening Star reported, "a neighbor offered to bet $100 that Mr. Reynolds' horse could not draw 3,000 pounds, when the latter pulled a roll of bills out of his pocket and said, 'I'll bet this roll, and it holds more than $100.'"
|Rural Scotia, ca. 1880s. This photo was taken from around the area of the Flint House, looking toward the village. David Reynolds purchased the property in 1887. From Grems-Doolittle Library Photograph Collection.|
On the evening of May 23, 1901, George Dutcher, who lived on the farm, was concerned that Reynolds had not been seen since the night before. Looking toward the barn, Dutcher saw that the doors were wide open, which was uncharacteristic for Reynolds. It was getting dark, and Dutcher went to get a lantern and called on neighbors William Vandenburgh and William Cowell to accompany him.
Entering the barn, the trio saw that Reynolds' horse was partially harnessed. Blood was spattered on the cow stanchions, suggesting evidence of a struggle. Reynolds was soon found in the barn, buried under a stack of hay. Most of his clothing had been removed, including his boots, where he was known to have kept his money. He had been struck several times in the head with an axe, which was also found at the scene of the crime. Tracks led from the barn to the Mohawk River then disappeared -- the police assumed the murderer had washed himself off there.
|Photograph of Flint House, ca. 1979. Image from Scotia Album, 1904-1979.|
By the following day, police had a description for a suspect for the murder -- a man who had approached Adam Lamboy, a farmhand at a nearby farm, inquiring about how to get to Schenectady. He had a bloody spot on the side of his head, and was described as being 5'8", 160 lbs., age 50, wearing a small gray flat-top hat, steel gray coat, and a mustache. On June 6, a one-armed man named Worth Green, described as a "demented tramp," was arrested for Reynolds' murder. Except for the missing arm, he matched the description of the man seen on May 23; however, he was not considered a subject after being questioned.
Soon after, on June 25, police arrested August Weinhill of Amsterdam for Reynolds' murder. On June 19, Weinhill had stolen 42 chickens from a farm in the town of Florida; he wouldn't have been caught, except a letter addressed to him had fallen out of his pocket while on the property. A June 25 Evening Star article plainly claims that "the arrest of Weinhill on the chicken stealing charge, although he is suspected of having had something to do with that thievery, was a subterfuge on the part of Sheriff Wasson, who had good reason for desiring to get Weinhill into his custody. The sheriff had recently come into information which pointed strongly toward Weinhill as being connected with the murder of David Reynolds." The article does not reveal what the information is, but it was likely information that emerged from a later newspaper article; a prisoner in the Albany jail who was confined with Weinhill (who was himself in jail for stealing hogs) gave information to investigators that "Weinhill had seemed quite interested in the deed," referring to Reynolds' murder.
Adam Lamboy identified Weinhill as the man he saw on May 23. Other details emerged; a man named Wilson on the day before the murder saw two men talking near the Scotia dyke. One man, who Wilson identified as Weinhill, asked "where is the house?" and the other man directed Weinhill to a place that indicated Reynolds' house.
Weinhill was taken into custody and brought before a grand jury, but the grand jury failed to indict him. Afterward, Weinhill returned to Amsterdam, where he lived until he died of heart disease in May 1902.
A 1931 Schenectady Gazette article about unsolved murders since the turn of the century related the story of Reynolds' murder, adding "an even number of years later [in 1907] on the date of the murder, the barns and outbuilding were burned. The farmhouse was unoccupied at the time. No one ever knew who started the blaze -- but in the midst of the flames, telltale bloodprints disappeared forever."