Negro Patient, Beaten, Dies At State Asylum

June 19, 1923

From the Baltimore Sun

Crownsville Guard Held At Annapolis Jail On Murder Charge


Attack On Man Said To Have Followed Argument In Corridor

Beaten into insensibility by one of the guards at the institution, William H. Murray, 30 years old, colored, a patient at the State Hospital for Colored Insane, at Crownsville, Md., was found dying last night in the cellar of the institution. He died a few minutes later in the hospital at the asylum.

Walter Swisky, 28 years old, a Pole, and an attendant at the Crownsville Hospital, is locked up in the Anne Arundel County Jail at Annapolis charged with the murder of Murray.

A coroner’s jury summoned by Fletcher Joyce, a police justice at Millersville, Md., four miles from the hospital, investigated the killing and charged Swisky with the murder of Murray.

Sheriff Harry T. Levely, of Anne Arundel county, brought Swisky to the Annapolis jail.

Fight Followed Argument.

At the jail Sheriff Levely said the killing of Murray grew out of an argument between the negro and Swisky, which started about 6 o’clock last night.

Swisky and the negro are said to have had words in one of the corridors of the institution. Swisky, it is claimed, picked up a piece of sticky fly paper and put it across Murray’s mouth. Murray, retaliating, grabbed another piece and stuck it across the attendant’s mouth. The men were separated after a tussle and Swisky, it is alleged, remarked that he would “get” Murray later.

About an hour later Swisky and Murray happened to meet in the cellar of the institution. Just what took place at first could not be learned, but those at the hospital, in response to the negro’s cries, are said to have found him in an unconscious condition, with his head lacerated. He died within a few minutes. Swisky is said to have been still holding the club with which he struck the negro.

Governor Notified. 

Authorities at the hospital carried Murray to the infirmary connected with the institution and took Swisky into custody. Justice Joyce was notified, and on arrival at Crownsville summoned a jury. An investigation of the killing is also being made by authorities at the hospital.

Dr. Robert P. Winterode, superintendent of the Crownsville Hospital, notified Governor Ritchie last night of the case, but gave no details.

Orders Investigation.

Governor Ritchie has ordered Dr. Arthur P. Herring, State Commissioner of Mental Hygiene, to go to the institution to make an investigation. According to the report given Governor Ritchie the man is said to have been found dying, but it was not stated that he was murdered by an attendant.

The Crownsville hospital is located on the main line of the Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis Railway, about seven or eight miles from Annapolis. Justice Fletcher Joyce, of Millersville, which is about four miles from the State Hospital, is reported as not having a telephone.

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