The Brutal Califon Murder

From The Democrat-Advisor, Flemington, NJ, Thursday, May 9, 1907.


Jury Selection, Opening Remarks, Testimony and The Verdict.

Day 1 ~ May 6th, 1907

Seldom in the history of this county has there such a great crowd in attendance at Court as appeared here on Monday when Prosecutor George K. Large moved the trial of the Indictment of John E. Schuyler, of Vernoy, charging him with the willful murder of Manning Riley, at Califon, on the night of January 19th last. Supreme Court Justice Alfred Reed and Judge John L. Connet occupied the bench. In drawing the jury the State challenged but two and the defense ten, those selected being as follows:

Henry B. Kline, East Amwell

Harry S. Warne, Alexandria

Horrace M. Reading, Stockton

Stewart Anthony, Frenchtown

Oscar Burd, Lambertville

George W. Hunt, Lambertville

George Olickenger, Union

Frank Whitlook, Delaware

John Lambert, Lambertville

Asher Carroll, Kingwood

Erastus Rockafellow, Delaware

George M. Britton, Frenchtown

Justice Reed has presided at many murder cases, and said that the selection of this jury, which was completed in less than thirty minutes, was a record breaker for time in such cases in his experience. The Prosecutor made his opening in a clear and logical of the facts as he had them and a breathless silence prevailed in the crowded courtroom during its graphic, recital, as follows:

"The Court please, and gentlemen of the jury: On the night of the 19th of January last, the dead body of on Manning Riley, late of Parker, was found in the road in the village of Califon, with a compound fracture of the skull and numerous other wounds of a less serious nature, but all indicating that he had been brutally attacked and murdered by someone. The Grand Jury of this county has indicted John E. Schuyler of Vernoy, and charged him with being responsible for the crime.

The facts as presented by the State are briefly as follows:

On Saturday, January the nineteenth, John E. Schuyler had been in Morristown where he had drawn $100 from the Morris County Trust Company, preparatory to leaving for the West, and on his return he met at Ledgewood two women know as Minnie Sutton and Nellie Beam, respectively. He paid the care fares of these women to High Bridge, where they had some drinks at Martin’s Hotel. On the way back, Minnie Sutton and Schuyler got off the train at Califon and went to Emery’s hotel for Supper, both showing that they had been drinking. After supper Schuyler went to the bar room to pay for their meals, leaving the woman in the parlor, and while he was paying the bill she left the hotel by the side door with a young man named Apgar.

As Schuyler walked into the bar room he saw his old enemy, Manning Riley, and they were observed to pass each other without speaking. Schuyler’s enmity for Riley was so well known that all present immediately anticipated trouble and watched the movements of each. Riley, as was his custom when he knew Schuyler was in town walked out of the hotel and gathered up a bag of dog meat, which he had outside, to start for home. Schuyler was seen to follow him out of the bar room and go to some crates containing empty beer bottles which stood at the end of the porch, rattle among the bottles, and later two bottles were found to be missing. As Schuyler left the bar room, Richard L, Beaty followed for the purpose of seeing what would happen, and remarked to two young men in a sleigh, in the presence of Schuyler, ‘Look out, now you will see some trouble. There are Schuyler and Manning Riley.’ All three observed the two turn the corner a short distance apart, and take the road leading toward Riley’s home. They were passed, walking about fifty feet apart, going in the same direction, by at least five people. This was about 8:15 o’clock p. m.

The State will show that about 8:30 as nearly as she can tell, Mary Philhower, the young daughter of Hezekiah Philhower, who lives in the house in front of which the body was found, saw a man running across the vacant lot leading to the O.R.R. track in the direction of Califon. The State will further show that about this same time Henry Stsvens saw John Schuyler at the other end of this path running down the R. R. track toward Califon and that when Schuyler observed Stevens he stopped running and walked and went to the hotel, having been away from there probably fifteen to thirty minutes.

As Schuyler walked in the bar room he invited Richard L. Beaty and Henry Beam to have a drink. As he placed his hands on the bar these two men and Mr. Emery, the proprietor, who was tending bar, noticed that they were bloody; one hand covered and the other splattered. Mr. Beaty, who had ordered a glass of beer, was so shocked by what he saw that he put the glass back on the bar without touching the beer and walked away.

The State will show that Schuyler then called Beam out to the porch and then said to him, ‘Hank, I have killed Manning Riley. He lays up there in the road. For God’s sake, don’t tell anybody.’

The State will show that Beam went out and took Ezra Schuyler with him, leaving John Schuyler in the bar room, and walked up the road to see if they could locate Riley’s body. They walked as far as Flomerfelt’s music store, and not seeing anything, stood there at the corner in front of the store and listened to a phonograph which was playing. While they stood there, Schuyler came up from the hotel, passed them without speaking, turned the corner and walked in the direction of Parker. They followed a short distance behind him and observed him stop when he reached a point in the road opposite Hazekiah Philhower’s house, where later the body was found. They cut across a vacant lot and stood back of a large willow tree and watched him. He remained there for a few minutes but as the tree was about one hundred and thirty-five feet distant and the night was foggy they were unable to see what he did. Two distinct pools of blood indicated that the body had been moved a distance of twelve feet from the side to the center of the road.

When he left the body and started down town again, Beam and Ezra walked over to where the body lay, got down on their knees, examined it and saw that it was Manning Riley and that he was dead. They were naturally frightened and were at a loss to know just what to do.

They then walked down to the corner and stood there and talked it over and as they stood there Schuyler again came up and went by them and they observed that he carried a club or fence pailing under his coat. Charles Hoffman and John Sutton, who were standing on the other side of the street in front of the Philhower store, also saw him pass and also noticed the stick under his coat. In the course of a few minutes, Beam and Ezra walked down town and Hoffman and Sutton separated and John Sutton who lives just beyond where the body was found, started home. When he was within about forty feet of the body, he saw Schuyler coming from that direction toward him and as they met, Schuyler said, ‘Daddy there is someone lying in the road.’ Sutton replied, ‘Probably it is Bill Burd drunk’ and they walked to where the body was and examined it and one of them remarked, “it is Manning Riley and he is dead!’

The old man started off in a hurry for his home, (Schuyler following,) and procured a lantern and aroused Pearl Sutton, his daughter and George A. Schuyler, brother of the defendant, who was upstairs together. The old man left Schuyler in the kitchen and started down to the hotel to give the alarm. A crowd soon gathered and went up the street in the direction indicated by Sutton to see the body and to investigate. On the way up a number of them met John Schuyler coming back down to the hotel and heard him say, “He is dead as hell!” As soon as Pearl Sutton and John A. Schuyler were properly clothed they went out and viewed the body.

The State will endeavor to prove that later, about 11.30, Schuyler went home to his friend ‘Chris’ Hover and that he said in the presence of Meta Hoover and others, ‘I have done Manning Riley. He is as dead as the devil; as a man’s track, and these do it,’ raises his fists.

The State will show that his right hand was not injured Saturday until after supper, but that on Sunday it was considerably swollen and when it was examined by a physician he was found to have a broken bone at the base of the index finger.

On the Sunday morning following I was notified by Coroner Eugene Hoffman by telephone of the facts that Manning Riley had been killed and Deputy Sheriff Dilts and I drove to Califon, arriving about 11.30 that morning and found that Schuyler was at the hotel under arrest and handcuffed to an officer. In the course of my investigations I asked Schuyler for a statement, having first warned him that anything he said might be used against him.

The State will show that on that Sunday morning he had on the same brown felt hat that he wore Saturday and it being noticed that there were spots on it resembling blood stains, the officer was directed to take it and to replace it with a new one. Coroner Hoffman then took possession of it. The same morning two pickets were found near the place where the crime was committed which had been torn by some one from the Compton fence along which Schuyer passed that night.

An empty beer bottle was also found near the corner on the same street.

All of these articles, together with the sweater, which he wore that night, were produced at the Coroner’s inquest and were later taken by an officer to Princeton and delivered to Prof. Cornwall, head of the department of chemistry at Princeton University, who was asked to examine the articles for blood stains. The State will prove that his tests showed that there was considerable blood on the smaller end of one picket and a number of spots on the hat, the most noticeable being at the fore part of the rim, indicating that they were finger prints. He found only slight traces of blood on the sweater and none on the beer bottle no on the other picket. Some hair, however, on the shade of Riley’s, sort of red was found on this picket. Prof. Cornwall will give you detailed information concerning his test and the results.

As to the other wounds inflicted on Riley, they will be fully described by Dr. Simpson, who examined the body Sunday morning, and by Drs. Sproul and Topkins who performed an autopsy at the inquest on the Tuesday following. In addition to numerous cuts and abrasions on the face he received a terrific vlow or blows in the back of the head near the base of the brain which caused a compound fracture of the skull. The blow was so hard that the bone was smashed into a number of pieces and the brain protruded from the skull. There were nearly two parallel gashes in the scalp where the skull where the skull was fractured over two inches long and about one inch apart. Whether these were both inflicted by a blow with a picket held edgewise, both edges cutting or whether there were two distinct blows at the base of the brain is a pure matter of speculation; at all events the direction of one of these cuts is in line with one that nearly severed the ear and these two wounds may have been caused by the same blow.

Whether the wounds were inflicted by the use of a picket, an empty beer bottle or some other instrument, the State will not undertake to say further than that fractures of the skull were caused by a terrific blow given from behind with an instrument of some weight struck with great force.

The autopsy showed that Riley was a man of fine physique, in perfect health with all internal organs such as his heart, lungs and liver in excellent conditions. He was about thirty seven-years of age.

In this case the important question of the motive is not lacking and the State will show that an enmity has existed between these men since 1896 and continued up until the death of Riley. It dates from the time when Schuyler in a most unwarranted manner provoked and picked a fight with Riley at Beaty’s store in Califon by deliberately walking up to him and annoying him and asking him if he thought himself as a good man as he, Schuyler, and that if he did to come outside.

Riley, although a very peaceable and quiet citizen, was so taunted by Schuyler, that he finally he did go out with him and gave him such a decided licking that three men helped Schuyler to his feet and took him to Dr. Miller.

His pride stung by the humiliation of this thrashing, Schuyler determined to get even and about a week or ten days later, at Mulford Flemings sale, with the aid of his brother, Wesley Schuyler, enticed Riley into a barn and one of Schuyler’s friends closed and held the door leaving Riley inside with the two Schuylers. Someone heard his cry for ‘fair play’ and ran and pushed the fellow away from the door and opened it. As he did so, Riley ran out and Schuyler threw a large rock at him which barely missed him and struck the wagon of Levi Hoffman. A ring was then formed for a fair fight and in the presence of a large number of people, who were attending the sale, Riley proceeded to lick him again so completely the Schuyler was forced to quit. For this cowardly assault, Schuyler and his brother Wesley, were both indicted in Morris county and tried and John, this defendant, this defendant, was found guilty. He was fined fifty dollars and costs, which amounted to $55.25 additional, making a total of $105.25 additional, making a total of $105.25, which that fight cost him in the way of a sentence.

Since that time these men have not been of speaking terms. Whenever Riley came to Califon and learned that Schuler was in town he would try to avoid him, for he never sought trouble and tried to keep out of it. If he knew that Schuyler was in town he would try to avoid him If he knew that Schuyler was at the hotel, he would not go in and has frequently requested different persons to go over and buy a bottle of beer for him so that he would not come into contact with Schuyler.

On the night he was killed, he happened to be in the hotel when Schuyler came in and the knowledge of their past differences which all present had, led them to apprehend trouble and to look for it. Schuyler and Riley met there face to face, but did not speak. Riley promptly left the hotel, as I have already stated and Schuyler went out after him.

In conclusion, I will say that the State will insist the death of Riley was caused by John E. Schuyler and that it was a deliberate, premeditated, brutal and cowardly taking of a human life.”

The State first called Grant Davis a civil engineer, of Whitehouse, who proved the correctness of a map he had made of the place where the dead body of Riley was found, and surrounding locality.

Dr. Marshall Simpson, Califon, testified that he made an examination of the wounds upon Riley’s head the next (Sunday) morning, and that in addition to numerous cuts and abrasions on the face of the deceased, he received a terrific blow on the back of the head near the base of the brain, which caused a compound fracture of the skull. The blow was so hard that bone was smashed into a number of pieces, and the brain protruded from the skull. There were also two nearly parallel gashes in the scalp, where the skull was fractured, over two inches long and about an inch apart, and one ear was nearly severed from this head.

Drs Sproul and Topkins performed the autopsy on Tuesday, and testified that Riley was a man of fine physique in perfect health, and with all his physical organs in excellent condition. He was about 37 years old.

Dr. Henry R. Cornwall, who is the Professor of Chemistry at Princeton University was called. He had made an analysis of the blood stains, and he swore that these stains were human blood.

Henry Beam testified that he was in Emery’s hotel in Califon on the night in question; that John Schuyler came into the bar room about 9 o’clock, and calling him out on the back porch, told him he had killed Manning Riley; witness then told Ezra Schuyler, who was in the bar room, and in a few minutes they both started out to find the body; that in going up the road they heard some one coming, and stepped behind a willow tree; that it proved to be John Schuyler, who passed them and went up the road a few yards when he stopped, examined a dark object in the road, and returned to the hotel; that they then went to the spot where John Schuyler had stopped and, seeing a man lying on his face, returned to the hotel. He also testified that he saw the accused with a stick, or something, under his arm go down the street.

Ezra Schuyler, who lives a few yards fro John Schuyler, and who is a distant relative, corroborated Beam in his testimony in every detail. John Sutton testified that he was going up the road to his home on the night in question he met John Schuyler coming toward him; that Schuyler said, “There lays a man up there in the road.” That both went a few yards further when they found Riley, and after Sutton looked at him both went to Sutton’s house, nearby; the latter procured a lantern and went back to the body while Schuyler sat down in the kitchen; that he (Sutton) went down to the hotel and told those he found there of his discovery and all went back to see the body. He and Schuyler did not say anything to him after they saw the body the first time.

Charles Hoffman swore that he saw Schuyler that night pass the store going toward Riley’s body.

Edward Emery sworn: Proprietor of hotel at Califon saw Schuyler on night of 19th. Came to his bar and called two men up to drink. Schuyler. Schuyler put his hands upon bar and Emery saw his right hand had considerable blood on it and the left hand was spattered with blood. Schuyler noticed Mr. Emery look at his hands and at once dropped them to his side.

Robert L. Beaty, the store keeper at Califon saw Riley leave the hotel with his bag of dog meat that night and hee also saw John Schuyler follow Riley from the back porch of the hotel, John being some fifty feet behind Riley.

John Clark was in the hotel and saw Schuyler call Beam, a former witness, out on the porch.

This closed Monday’s work, and the jury was placed in charge of Constables Worne, Ascroft, Mathews and Durling who took them to the Union Hotel over night.

Tuesday morning placed Eugene Hoffman, of Whitehouse, on the stand. He is the coroner called on the night of the murder to Califon. He was given a fence paling found near the scene of the crime, from which he took some hairs the color of Riley’s hair, and these he presented in court. He testified as to the general condition of the body.

Andrew Naugbright, the undertaker called to care for the corpse, also told the general condition of the body, as he saw it.

Frank Pill and Thomas E. Philhower testified that at 6.30 Sunday morning they found the fence paling referred to, and identified the one shown them by the Prosecutor.

David K. Apgar, who lived near the place where the body was found, also identified another fence paling found on his premises after the crime, and which is supposed to have been used in killing Riley.

Mary Philhower, who lives up the road from the same place, saw a man running down a short cut through the field from her home toward Califon about nine o’clock that night but could not swear who it was.

Harvey Stevens said he saw John Schuyler running down the Central railroad tracks toward him about 8.30 the night and he clearly identified him, as he knew him well.

L.D. Sutton was called to identify one of the palings in question.

Holloway Emmous said Schuyler called at his home about 12 o’clock that Saturday night and asked him if he did not remember that he (Schuyler) fell down his cellar steps the previous Thursday and hurt his hand; witness said he could remember no such incident.

Louise Conger, the housekeeper at Mr. Emery’s hotel , said she saw nothing wrong with John’s hand when he took supper that night.

Samuel Crook, conductor on the High Bridge Branch, said Schuyler paid him his fare on the train that day and he saw nothing wrong with his hand.

Sadie Apgar, of Califon, corroborated these witnesses as to John’s hand.

Henry Hann saw a fight between Rile and Schuyler in Califon some ten years ago, in which Riley gave John a beating in a fist fight in the street, both being sober.

Charles Miller, W.W. Trimmer and Abraham Philhower all told the same story about the fight.

Ranson Burd and Levi Hoffman were at Fleming’s sale in Morris County some two weeks after the Califon fight and Hoffman saw Riley run out of a barn and saw Schuyler throw a stone at Riley from inside the barn, but it did not hit him; this is the time when it is said Riley was trapped in the barn by two of the Schuylers who meant to lick him; but Riley escaped through the door, which was opened by a friend on the outside who heard him call for help.

County Physician I.S. Cramer testified that he was called to the jail to treat Schuyler’s hand after the arrest; that he found a bone broken in the back of the right hand and a small one broken in the wrist.

A.J. Apgar swore he met John running from the direction of Riley’s body that night and that John said, “He’s as dead as hell,” meaning Riley.

Charles Apgar said John met him while looking for Riley’s body that night.

Charles Cole sat in a sleigh in front of the hotel and saw John follow Riley off the hotel porch as Mr. Beaty testified.

Here the State rested its case.

Mr. Stout opened the defense and said he would prove his client was innocent of the crime charge; that the hat produced by the State was not the one worn by John on Saturday; that the defendant had on old rubber boots and therefore could make no such marks in the snow by the fence where the palings were pulled off’ that John several ago had typhoid fever, which left him a victim of “nose bleed,” and that on Saturday, the 19th, his nose bled while he was in High Bridge with Minnie Sutton and Nellie Beam and some blood spattered on his hat and sweater’ that John would account on the stand for his every move on that day and although there might be some circumstances which looked damaging, these were merely circumstances and nothing more.

Mrs. Minnie Sutton and Nellie Beam were the first witnesses; both worked at the Ledgewood Hotel and met John on the train going to Califon, where they live; all three, however, went to High Bridge to the hotel parlor’s and had three drinks’ that there John’s nose bled and both loaned him their handkerchiefs; that they took the evening train for Califon that night, Minnie and John agreeing to go to William Hoover’s just above Califon. Nellie went on to Vernoy and saw no more of John that night. Minnie and John went to Emery’s Hotel; had supper and after remaining in the parlor a few minutes

John went to the bar room and Minnie soon went out with another friend and went to her home leaving John in the hotel. She said John’s hand was hurt and confirmed the opening of Mr. Stout as to the clothes and hat John wore.

Nettie Howell said John came to her mother’s home (Mrs. Wm. Hoover) and asked for Mr. Hoover and then for Mrs. Minnie Sutton, but neither were there and he left. She could not fix the hour but thought it about 9 o’clock.

Pearl Sutton, daughter of John Sutton, said Schuyler came in her house with her father that night; that her father told her Riley was found dead and she dressed and came down stairs and found Schuyler in the kitchen, but her father had gone to look at the body down the road.

Chris Hoover said he was at John’s house the previous Thursday and that John in going down the cellar after some cider, slipped on the step and fell, hurting his hand.

John Schuyler was then sworn. He accounted for every minute of his whereabouts from Saturday morning until Sunday morning. He went to Morristown that morning for some banking business, thence to Dover and thence to the Ledgewood Hotel were he met the women named above. They all went to High Bridge as they stated and his nose bled there several times, thus accounting for the blood spots on his clothing.

He went to Emery’s for supper with Minnie and after that he went to the bar room and there talking to Beatty whom he treated after paying for the two suppers; he says he saw Riley come in and that Riley spoke to him but he did not reply; he then went to look for Minnie whom he could not find and soon after came back to the bar room for a few minuets; that then he went up the Parker road to Hoover’s where he expected to find Minnie as they agreed, and in going up he discovered a man lying in the road; he heard someone coming behind him and walked back meeting John Sutton who was going home; he told him of his discovery and both went up to the body and striking a match saw it was Manning Riley; they then went on to Sutton’s house and he remained there a few minutes when he returned to Califon hotel and soon after went up the road gain to Hoover’s to find Minnie as they were to go there and he supposed she had gone up alone’ she was not there and he returned to Califon by a short cut through the field, and finding the hotel and store closed, took the road for Vernoy a short distance from Califon, and went home. He denied telling Beam he had killed Riley’ said he did not run down the railroad track, and that if he had some blood on this hand, as Mr. Emery and others said, it was from his nose. He denied seeing Riley after the time in the bar room, and said he did not kill him and knew nothing of it until, with Sutton, they found Riley’s body.

Schuyler’s cross examination was a severe one on Wednesday morning and he made some changes now and then. He was very uncertain as to time, and admitted his conviction in Morris county for assaulting Rile and for which he paid a fine and costs of $105; admitted conviction for cruelty to animals in this county, and also for an assault upon Mr. Philhower, for which he was fined $10.

Mrs. Mary Ort, called to contradict Ezra Schuyler, said he told her he was going to the Riley inquest and testify to just what Beam did and back him in all he said before the coroner. Bertha Ort, her daughter, was present and heard Ezra tell her mother the same thing.

Mrs. Lydia Hoover and Ezra Schuyler told her he stood behind a tree near the body of Riley and saw John Schuyler go up to it, stoop over and heard Riley groan. This was to refute Ezra’s direct examination.


The State in rebuttal put George Fuller, a PInkerton detective, on the stand. He said Nellie Beam read the statement which she made to him in January last, and signed it. She said she did not sigh it as the Prosecutor read in court to her.

Elmer E. Hann was with Mr. Fuller, and corroborated his statement in this respect.

James Cusiak swore John Schuyler did not pay him for the two suppers that Saturday night at Emery’s, as he was behind the bar, and received no money at all that night for suppers.

Counsel agreed to take an hour and a half aside to sum up the case. Prosecutor George K. Large made his opening and commented on some of the strong features of this case.

H.B. Herr followed with an elaborate general discussion of the evidence for the defendant, and talked for an hour and ten minutes. His colleague Mr. Stant, finished in a forty minute talk.

George E. Large closed for the State in an hour and twenty minutes.

The Judge’s charge was elaborate and reviewed important features of the evidence and stated the law.

The Jury was sent out at five o’clock Wednesday night.

The Jury on Thursday morning at six o’clock, in the presence of the Court, the defendant and counsel, rendered it verdict of “guilty of murder in the first degree.”

Schuyler, for the first time during his trying ordeal, was visibly affected but was taken back to his cell in mute silence.

Justice Reed will probably return here next Tuesday to sentence the prisoner.

All the jurors will return next Monday when the rest of the indictments will be tried.