Skip to comments.Colonial America's Oldest Unsolved Murder
Posted on 06/25/2013 8:38:04 AM PDT by nickcarraway
When archaeologists in Virginia uncovered the skeletal remains in 1996 of one of Jamestown's first settlers a young European male designated as JR102C in the catalog they said he was the victim in what was perhaps Colonial America's oldest unsolved murder.
At the time, archaeologist William Kelso, now director of archaeological research and interpretation at Jamestown Rediscovery, reported that "the lead bullet and shot fragments lodged in his lower right leg contained enough force to fracture his tibia and fibula bones, rupturing a major artery below the knee. JR would have bled to death within minutes."
Now, 17 years later, the forensic archaeologists at Jamestown may have identified the victim and, therefore, the perpetrator of the crime. Recent evidence, Kelso says, points to a duel in 1624 "where a man named George Harrison took a bullet in the leg and later died from it."
The bullet, found by researchers, "hit the right side of the knee suggesting the man was standing sideways, which would happen in a duel," says Kelso. "It is possible that JR102C is that man."
And the man who murdered Harrison in a duel, according to Kelso: Richard Stephens, a Jamestown merchant. Stephens went on to become a court commissioner and an outspoken detractor of Virginia Gov. John Harvey. In 1635, Stephens and Harvey engaged in fisticuffs, and Stephens lost teeth in the bargain. Stephens died circa 1636.
Murder, hunting accident, who can tell?
Dueling was an accepted practice of settling disputes. Therefore, it cannot be murder. Where there is no law, there is no sin.
Calling a dueling death a murder is a misnomer, especially since dueling was not illegal at the time.
In 1624 was a fatality from a duel legally considered a murder?
I though George Harrison died of Brain cancer.
I’m going to have to type faster if I want to get the question in before the answers!
If it was a duel, it wasn't murder. And if we know who was dueling with him it is not unsolved.
Of course not, but this is NPR and the narrative is "unsolved murder". Dramatic license, I guess.
He’s not dead, he’s a Buddhist, and you they keep coming back until they get it right. There is no way he got it right this last time!
Don’t know about the no sin part, but agree with no murder.
Wow. He looks like George Harrison.
I don’t believe at that time it was considered murder. Frankly a little fist fighting in politics wouldn’t be all bad. Might straighten out some of the idiots that have more money than brains.
Looks like it’s neither “unsolved” nor a “murder”. Who’s writing headlines at NPR?
Dueling was not considered to be murder.It was said to be a way for Gentleman to settle disagreements.
Under English law at the time, death during a duel was murder. However, it was rarely prosecuted.
In 1624, I believe the colonies followed English common law and hence a murder was committed. That the murder was not prosecuted does not reclassify it; rather it represents an acknowledgement that a jury conviction was almost impossible to obtain under those circumstances.
The guy who shot him was a really bad shot—but lucky.
What makes them think it was unsolved?
It’s presumptuous to call it ‘unsolved’ just because we in the here and now don’t know who did what to whom in the there and then since that does not mean that those at the time did not know, and if they knew it wasn’t ‘unsolved’.
Well, at least Ringo is in the clear.
I think Yoko was behind it...
It was Courtney. She got Kurt, too.
That’s the same way Albert Sydney Johnston died at Shiloh a couple hundred years later.
Thanks for the info.
That’s why I live here at FR.
Well, if he was shot during a duel and everyone then knew enough about it to write about it - then there was no unknown murdered.
Eh, NPR, what morons.
Murdered - murderer.
I think so too.
***And the man who murdered Harrison in a duel,***
MURDER? Mighty strong words. It was a duel. Duels were legal then.
I don’t really think dueling counts as murder.
Believe it or not, that was a big debate back then.
Believe it or not, that was a big debate back then.
After Vice President Aaron Burr (D-NY) killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel, he was wanted for murder (but never brought to justice).
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Whether he was the challenger or challengee, he died as a man of honor.
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I didn't think dueling was considered murder?
Oh absolutely. The NPR headline writer blew it. This was within societal bounds and not illegal. Arguments could be made to bring back dueling.
Doubt that Mike Bloomberg could survive a dose strong enough to make a difference.
With a name like “Linton Weeks,” do you really expect the author to know anything about history of duels? We should take comfort in the fact that he didn’t spell it “dual.”
Thanks for putting up info that is likely most correct here. Lots of corrections are still needed.
200 years later, in a country different from Britain. US had only recently made dueling illegal IIRC.
They were using matchlock pistols most likely. Not very reliably accurate.
The duel was in Jamestown, Virginia, not in Britain.
Died from a shot in the leg, he died of lead poisoning.
Ahh, but one human person killed another human person. That is always murder. You know, like how all military persons are murderers.
He looks more like a Bon Jovi than a Harrison.
Of course not, but this is NPR and the narrative is “unsolved murder”. Dramatic license, I guess.
Good point. Any death due to a firearm must be labeled a murder, no matter what the circumstances.
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