The Crime

Cleveland's Webster Ave. Neighborhood

Immigration and Urbanization

Confession and Conclusions

Sources

by Sherry Maruna

 

 

 

The Crime

On Friday, October 1, a half moon rose slightly before 7:00 pm as a light north wind blew in colder temperatures typical of fall in Cleveland, Ohio. The low that night was to reach a chilly 36 degrees — too cold to be out after the warmth of the sun had faded. Sadie Santee, a forty-three year old, "light-skinned" African American, was resting in her parlor at approximately midnight when one of her boarders, Roy Lyons, entered the room. Roy Lyons was not only one of Santee's boarders but one of her lovers. The couple quarreled "as to who should shut the barn door" and lock it. Four shots rang out; three hit Santee, two in the abdomen and one in her right hand. The fourth bullet "came through my room - it was just inches from me," claimed Lizzie Parrot, a boarder whose room was adjacent to the dining room.

A Coroner's Inquest was called by M.A. Boesger, M.D. and subpoenas were issued for Thomas Maron, a patrolman on duty the night of the murder, and George Flood and Lizzie Parrot, two boarders at Santee's 1248 Webster Ave. home. The witnesses were to report to the courthouse to give their testimonies on Monday, October 4, 1909 at 10:00 am. Maron's testimony claimed that, upon his arrival at the Webster Avenue home, Santee was already at the hospital. He talked with Lizzie Parrot and confirmed that there was an argument between Santee and Lyons, then four shots were fired, fatally wounding Santee. Both Flood and Parrot testified that Roy Lyons fired four shots at Sadie Santee and then ran off. George Jefferies, Lizzie Parrot's boyfriend, was not issued a subpoena but gave a statement. One other person was mentioned within the testimonies: Ed Phillips, a friend of George Jefferies and an occasional visitor to Santee. Both men play integral roles in this case.

Roy Lyons and William Buoms, a friend of Lyons, were issued subpoenas and ordered to report to the courthouse on October 13, 1909 at 10:00 a.m. The cause of the delay between the subpoenas and recorded testimony was found in two local daily newspapers. The Cleveland News and the Cleveland Plain Dealer ran short articles (second page and front page, respectively) on the murder in their Saturday, October 2, 1909 issues. Both newspapers reported that Santee was murdered and that Lyons had "fled" and "disappeared." No follow-up articles on Santee's murder appeared in the two newspapers mentioned.

Lyons was apprehended in Buffalo, New York on October 12, 1909. Improved interstate communication between law enforcement agencies within an association format facilitated Lyons' arrest. As part of a push towards "professionalism," law enforcement agencies not only traded information across state lines, but collected statements from the criminal that were later utilized in court. Just such a statement of Lyons' version of the murder was recorded in Buffalo, New York. Lyons also recorded a statement on October 13, 1909 as part of the coroner's inquest. However, Buoms' testimony and his connection with the case were not found.

Two witnesses placed Lyons in the house at the time of the murder. This appeared to be a simple case; however, Lyons claimed it was self defense both in the Buffalo statement and during his trial, though only a partial record of the trial still exists. One can, however, unfold the intricacies and details of the case that bring to the surface several facets of life in this area for those involved.

Cleveland's Webster Ave. Neighborhood