May Free Patrick

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

May Free Patrick: Original of Sherlock Holmes Becomes Interested in Case is an article published in The Washington Post on 24 may 1909.

May Free Patrick

The Washington Post
(24 may 1909)

Original of "Sherlock Holmes" Becomes Interested in Case

From the New York American

Albert T. Patrick, the alleged murderer of William M. Rice, will be aided in his next fight for freedom by Dr. Joseph Bell, the original of Sherlock Holmes, and physician in ordinary to King Edward. A decision is expected next Friday from the supreme court on the motion of Patrick's lawyers for a new trial, and in the event of it being granted, sensational developments are promised in the celebrated case.

Dr. Bell, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and a number of the greatest surgeons and physicians of Great Britain have been aroused by the strange details of the Rice murder and by the efforts of Dr. William Smith, professor of anatomy and medical jurisprudence at the American College or Osteopathy, Kirkwood, Mo. Dr. Smith has secured a, monumental petition, which contains the names of over 3.000 doctors and embalmers, and which will be presented to Gov. Hughes within a few days, calling for a revision of the testimony on which Patrick was convicted.

Dr. Smith was a student with Conan Doyle under Dr. Bell in the Edinburgh University. From the day eight years ago when Patrick was arrested for the murder of the aged millionaire, Dr. Smith took the deepest interest in the case, and after Patrick's conviction he commenced to work to save him. He traveled all over America securing opinions from various medical experts, and finally went to Europe, where he placed the facts before his famous master. Dr. Bell gave Dr. Smith a letter, in which he says:

"Am I to understand that the post-mortem examination of the body, on which evidence was founded, was really made after election? As I have no doubt that the vessels of the lungs can be injected from the brachial, which, indeed, you prove, surely any results as to the vapor of chloroform being detected are quite impossible to understand."

As the principal point of the trial was as to whether the lungs of the dead man could have been congested by the embalming fluid, this opinion is regarded by the defense as sufficient in itself to acquit Patrick. It is further indorsed by Sir Henry Littlejohn, M. D.; Sir William Turner, M. D., and John Chiene, M. D., F. B. C. S., three of the foremost medical authorities of Great Britain.

Patrick is at present in Sing Sing. He is engaged in making vests and coats, but eight years of prison and impending execution have not broken his spirit. He has exhausted all his resources in his fight for liberty, but he still is confident of final acquittal. All his hopes are now pinned on the decision of the supreme court. His wife and a few friends have remained faithful to him, as has his lawyer, William L. McDonald, of 49 Wall street, who was his schoolmate and life-long friend. Mr. McDonald is very optimistic that his long struggle is nearly ended.