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The San Francisco Daily Morning Call, August 18, 1864


Yesterday afternoon about half past two o'clock, a pawnbroker named Meyer, whose establishment is in Commercial street, below Kearny, went out and left his son Henry, a youth of eighteen or twenty, perhaps, to attend to the business during his absence. Upon returning, half an hour later, he found pools of blood here and there, a knife and double-barrelled shot gun on the floor - the latter weapon parted from its stock - several trays of watches, diamonds and various kinds of jewelry gone, the doors of the safe open, its drawers pulled out and despoiled of their contents - disorder visible everywhere, but his son nowhere to be seen! Hearing a faint groan, he ran into the back room, and there in the gloom he discerned his boy, lying on the floor and weltering in blood. Now, after reading the above, the public will know exactly as much about this ghastly mystery as the Police know - as anybody knows, except the murderer himself. So far as heard from, no body was seen to enter the store during Mr. Meyer's absence, and nobody was seen to leave. The assassin did his work between half-past two and three o'clock in the afternoon, in the busiest portion of one of the busiest thoroughfares of the city, and departed unseen, and left no sign by which his identity may hereafter be established. Up to the present writing the boy has only groaned in pain and is speechless. We reached the spot a few minutes after the tragedy was discovered, and found the street in front blockaded by a crowd of men staring at the premises in blank fascination, and entering, found another crowd composed of policemen, doctors, detectives, and reporters, engaged as such people are usually engaged upon such occasions. The boy's body and his bunk were deluged in blood, and efforts were being made to relieve his sufferings. There was apparently but one wound upon him, and that had been inflicted on the back of his head, behind his right ear. The skull was indented as if by a slung-shot. Probably neither the knife nor the gun found upon the floor were used in the assault. Near one of the windows in the front office closely curtained against observation from the street - was a pool of gouted blood, as large as a chair-seat; and the blow was given there, no doubt, for from that spot a roadway was marked in the dust of the floor to the extreme end of the back room where the body was found, showing that after he was knocked senseless, the robbers must have dragged him to that spot, to guard against his attracting attention by making an outcry. Mr. Meyer says the valuables carried off by the daring perpetrators of the outrage, are worth about eight thousand dollars. A man came in while we were present, and told Capt. Lees that about the time he saw the crowd running toward Commercial street, he met a man in Kearny street, running as if destruction were at his heels; that he broke frantically through a blockade of wagons, carriages, and a funeral procession, sped on his way and was out of sight in a moment; that he was thick set, about five feet seven or eight inches in stature, wore dark clothing, a black slouch hat, and had a sort of narrow goatee; that he had improvised a sack out of an old calico dress, the neck of which sack he grasped in his hand, and had the surplus calico wrapped round his arm; the appearance of the said sack was as if it might have a hat-full of eggs in it - two dozen, or thereabouts, you might say. Five minutes after the conclusion of the narrative, we observed the man who saw all this, speeding up town in a buggy with a detective. At the Chief's office, fifteen minutes after the discovery of the bloody catastrophe, Mr. Burke's campaign commenced, and he was dictating orders to a small army of Policemen, with a decision and rapidity commensurate with the urgency of the occasion: You, and you, and you, go to the Stockton and Sacramento boats and arrest every Chinaman and every suspicious white man that tries to go on board; you, and you, go to the San Jose Railroad - same order; you go to the stable and order two fleet horses to be saddled and sent here instantly; you, and you, and you, go to the heads of the Chinese Companies and tell them to detain every suspicious Chinaman they see, and send me word; I'll be responsible." And so on, and so forth, until squads of Policemen were scattering abroad through every portion of the city, and closing every prominent avenue of escape from it. An affair like this makes hurrying times in the Police Department. After all, the wonder is that an enterprise like this robbery and attempted assassination has not previously been essayed in Mr. Meyer's and other pawnbroking establishments. They are not frequented by customers in the day-time, and the glass doors and windows are rendered untransparent by thick coats of paint, and also by curtains that are always closed, so that nothing that transpires within can be seen from the street. One or two active men could enter such a place at night, gag the occupants, turn the gas nearly out, and take their own time about robbing the concern, for customers would not be apt to molest an establishment through whose shaded windows no light appeared.

Up to eleven o'clock last night, young Meyer was still irrational, although he had spoken incoherently several times of matters foreign to the misfortune that had befallen him. We have this from Dr. Murphy, his physician, who saw him at that hour. The Doctor says the wound was evidently inflicted with a slung shot. Its form is an egg-shaped indentation at the base of the brain. There are also the distinct marks of four fingers and a thumb on the throat, made by the left hand of the man who assaulted him. (Whose left hand among ye will fit those marks?) The patient can only swallow with great difficulty, on account of the fearful choking he received, and the consequent swelling and soreness of the glands of the throat. He suffers chiefly, however, from the pressing of the indented skull upon the brain. His condition improves a little all the time, and, although the chances are nearly all against his recovery, still that result is regarded as comfortably within the margin of possibility. Unless he comes to his senses, it will be next to impossible ever to establish the guilt of any man suspected of this crime. An ordinary deed of blood excites only a passing interest in San Francisco, but to show how much a little mystery enhances the importance of such an occurrence, we will mention that at no time, from three o'clock in the afternoon, yesterday, until midnight, was there a moment when there was not a crowd in front of Meyer's store, gazing at its darkened windows and closed and guarded doors. During the afternoon and night, several white men were arrested about town on suspicion, and seventy-two Chinamen were detained from leaving on the boats until after the hour for sailing. The right man is doubtless at large yet, however.

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