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The Black Widow of Boise

This is the final story that had to be cut from our book Murder and Mayhem in Boise, Check it out on September 5th!

Justice Dunbar’s courtroom was packed with women on the 14th of October, 1904. These were not the usual prostitutes that had been hauled in for a fine and sent back to the streets; these were the society ladies of Boise. They listened and whispered to each other as Dr. Collister described his examination of Mr. Charles Daly. His testimony was frequently interrupted by the murmur of the crowd, followed by Justice Dunbar’s gavel as he called for silence. When Dr. Collister mentioned that Daly was a “short, thick-set man with a bald head”, Mrs. Daly laughed out loud, disturbing the serious demeanor of the proceedings. Mrs. Daly sat listening to the evidence presented, dressed in a black cloak with a black hat draped with a black veil; mourning attire. When Collister was able to continue, he told the court that he observed several wounds received by Mr. Daly, including four caused by bullets, and four caused by a hatchet. Seven hours after the hearing began, Justice Dunbar made his ruling, Mrs. Daly sat quietly with her fingers interlaced as he read it. Jennie Daly, at just 20 years old and recently widowed, was bound over to the district court to face the charge of murder for the death of her husband.

By the time she sat in front of Justice Dunbar for her preliminary hearing, Jennie Daly’s accomplice had already been bound over for the same crime. Fred Bond was born William Henry Hicks Bond in Cornwall, England, but was already using the name Fred by the time he arrived in the United States at 21 years old in 1900. Bond ended up in Idaho and worked in the Owyhee Mines before falling ill and coming to Boise for treatment. While recovering, he moved into the home of Charles and Jennie Daly at 414 North 3rd Street. The Daly’s had only recently moved to Boise themselves, having met and married in St. Louis, Missouri about three years prior when Jennie was 15 years old, and Charles was 56. In 1902, Jennie gave birth to the couple’s only child, a little girl named Charlotte.

All indications were that Charle’s and Jennie’s union was an unhappy one from the start, which is probably why it was easy for her to become romantically involved with their new boarder. Word started to spread around town that Jennie and Fred were spending more time together than a married woman and single man should. They had been seen sitting on a swing together at Riverside Park, Bond’s arm around Jennie’s body. They were also spotted at the Columbia Theatre, the Natatorium, and walking the city streets together. On October 4, 1904, Jennie and Fred stopped on one of their walks at the Loree Hardware Store. While Fred waited outside, pushing Charlotte around in a pram, Jennie went in and asked for a revolver. She told the clerk she wanted to rent the gun for two days for a trip into the mountains. Jennie paid 50 cents and took possession of the weapon. Apparently, Fred had tried to rent a gun at the same establishment but was refused because he could not provide identification.

On the morning of October 7, Fred walked out of the Daly home and onto the sidewalk. He soon came across Boise Police Officer Brough and calmly told the lawman that he had better head over to 414 North 3rd Street because a lady had just killed her husband. Officer Brough asked Fred how he knew this; Fred explained that he had witnessed the crime, but did not let on that he had any hand in the killing of Charles Daly. After making his statement, Fred tried to take his leave and continue down the sidewalk. He seemed quite offended when he was detained by the lawman. Officer Brough summoned Officer Marion and the two policemen escorted Bond back to the Daly home. There, they found Jennie Daly getting dressed and preparing for her day. The officers also found the body of her husband Charles in the parlor, covered in a blanket. The initial examination of his body indicated that he had been shot multiple times and bludgeoned on the head. Two other bullet holes were found buried in the walls of the home.

The officers informed Jennie that she was under arrest and summoned a carriage to take her to the city jail. While they were waiting, they allowed Jennie to pack whatever clothing she needed. While packing, Jennie “...might have been selecting clothing for a pleasant journey for all the emotion she displayed.” Fred however was a nervous wreck. As the officers were loading Jennie into the carriage, Fred put his head down and his hands in his pockets and tried walking away. Officer Marion noticed and grabbed Fred and asked where he was going. Fred answered that he was going “downtown”, but his hopes of escape from the situation were dashed when he was informed that he was under arrest. Fred became indignant but got into the carriage and the murderous duo were hauled off to see what the long arm of the law had in store for them.

During their initial interviews, Jennie and Fred’s statements matched up too well, probably because the couple had rehearsed with each other. The story went that Charles arrived home from work around midnight and began to chastise Jennie for not being in bed. Instead, she was in the parlor talking to Fred. Charles and Jennie began to argue, and after Fred left the room, Charles threatened to kill Jennie, which according to her, was not the first time he had done so. Charles took a few steps toward Jennie, so she retrieved the revolver and fired it at him, hitting him two or three times. Staggering from the bullet wounds, Charles fell between the sofa and stove.

Charles lay on the ground moaning and bleeding for a long time, but instead of trying to render aid or go for help Jennie threw a blanket over the dying man and went to bed. Jennie reported that about three o’clock, Charles began to stand up, and told Jennie he was going to kill her. Jennie, apparently still afraid for her life, grabbed a hatchet and struck Charles over the head, causing him to fall back to the floor. Not wanting a repeat of her failure, Jennie grabbed the revolver once more, this time placing the muzzle of the weapon directly against Charles’ chest and fired another round right into his heart. After she was sure the man was dead, she dragged his body back between the couch and sofa, threw the blanket over him, and went back to bed.

Fred told police about Charles coming home from work, the argument between the couple, and taking his leave when the situation became uncomfortable. He said he was fast asleep when the first gunshots awakened him. He got up and dressed, then tried to enter the parlor but was met by Jennie with the revolver in her hand. Jennie told him not to enter the parlor and not to leave the house. Fred said he went back to his room and wrote a letter to his brother. At around 3 a.m. he heard the last shot, and this time was allowed into the parlor where he could see the body. He said he did not go near it, but police later found blood on his shoe. Jennie was sitting at a desk writing a letter, which Fred admitted to mailing for her before he told the police about the crime.

The same day the crime was discovered, a coroner’s jury was impaneled, hearing testimony from Jennie and Fred as well as others. Jennie appeared calm and collected through the questioning, not displaying a hint of nervousness. Shortly after 11 p.m, the inquest concluded. Fred and Jennie were arraigned by Justice Dunbar and held on murder charges. After the hearing, Jennie remained calm and almost cheerful. She asked after her daughter Charlotte, who was being cared for by Mrs. F.B. Kinyon, wife of the assistant prosecutor working the case. Kinyon told Jennie that Charlotte was enjoying her stay with the Kinyons, and Jennie was happy that her daughter was being well cared for.

Sometime between when she was first interviewed by police and when she took the stand for Fred’s preliminary hearing, Jennie changed her story completely, now implicating Fred in the murder. It was Fred, Jennie swore, that engineered and carried out the murder. She asserted that she had met Fred just three days after she and Charles arrived in Boise and had fallen in love with him. Sometime prior to the events leading up to the murder, Fred confessed his love for Jennie to Charles. He was ordered to leave the Daly home but was permitted to return on Jennie’s insistence. After coming back, Fred convinced Jennie that her husband had been speaking about her unkindly and that she would be better off if Charles were dead. To that end, Jennie rented the revolver knowing she would kill Charles.

Fred devised the plan to induce an argument between the married couple, a fight so bad that Jennie could use it as an excuse to use deadly force. When Charles arrived home from work that night, he was in good spirits, even when he found Fred and Jennie in the parlor together. Charles asked Jennie if she would like to attend the theater. Jennie used this opportunity to start the fight, telling Charles that she hated going to the theater with him and would rather go with Fred. Charles then asked Jennie if she loved Fred. Jennie stated she did love him. The same question was asked of Fred, and the same answer given. Charles then told the couple that he would take his leave of them and began putting on his shoes so he could leave the house. In the kitchen, Fred told Jennie this was her chance to kill her husband and gave her the revolver. Fred even offered Jennie a shot of whiskey to calm her nerves, but Jennie could not do it.

Having more conviction to see this love triangle end, Fred grabbed the revolver and went into the parlor where Charles was still getting ready to leave. He fired two shots into the left side of Charles’s head, causing him to fall between the stove and the sofa, groaning pitifully. Charles tried to get up, and that is when Fred grabbed the hatchet, struck his victim on the head several times, and then shot him twice more in the chest. Dr. Collister would testify that Charles had two bullet wounds in the head, one penetrating in his left ear, the other just above the ear. Another bullet struck just above Charles’s heart, and the fourth shot struck just below his diaphragm. Collister also said there were a total of four hatchet wounds in Charles’s head. These details were surely eaten up by the “morbid women” that attended Fred Bond every hearing of Jennie’s and Fred’s trial they could.

Perhaps the change in Jennie’s story occurred because she felt that Fred no longer wanted anything to do with her. Charles was buried on October 8th, and Jennie and Fred were both allowed to attend the funeral. Jennie stood next to the casket for a moment, shed a few tears, and then went back to her usual, cheerful self. Afterward, she complained that Fred would no longer look at her when they were in the same room. Whatever feelings Fred had for Jennie had cooled while he sat in jail awaiting his fate. What did not cool off was the public’s fascination with the pair, the reporting in The Idaho Statesman further fueling their desire for details. The newspaper even went so far as to report the particulars of the criminal couples’ appetites; Jennie did not seem to care for jail food. Fred was ravenous, to the point he became irate with one of his jailers because he refused to take him to a restaurant in the middle of the night.

During the course of the legal proceedings, it was decided that Jennie and Fred would be tried separately. Fred was up first, with jury selection starting February 8, 1905, about four months after the murder. Two hundred women were said to have packed the courtroom to watch the proceedings when the trial began in earnest. In its opening statement, the prosecution informed the jury that Jennie and Fred planned the murder together, but at the crucial moment, it was Fred, and Fred alone, who committed the murder. A number of witnesses took to the stand including the officers who arrested Fred, the deputy coroner, Doctor Collister, and an architect who provided a diagram of the home. The star witness, of course, was Mrs. Jennie Daly. She sat at the witness stand, dressed in black, with her feet dangling a few inches from the floor, the Statesman describing her as looking like a schoolgirl. Jennie answered questions in a low voice, prompting Judge Stewart to ask her to speak up several times.

Jennie was hesitant to answer some questions posed to her by the prosecution. When asked if she was able to sleep in her bed while her husband lay dying in the other room, she initially refused to answer. The court implored her, and she said that no, she was not able to sleep. The incessant questioning confused Jennie at points, leading her to give conflicting testimony, but the story she told generally fit her second confession, the one where Fred did the killing. She also said it was Fred who concocted the plan and came up with the story she should tell the police about Charles threatening to kill her. During the cross-examination, Fred’s defense attorney badgered Jennie, trying to get her to admit she had lied in her testimony, but she stood firm stating Fred was the murderer. When asked why she initially lied, she told the court she was afraid of the embarrassment a full confession would have on her daughter.

After she spent almost three days on the stand, Jennie was dismissed and a damning piece of evidence was brought to the court’s attention. Despite the defense’s objection, a letter that Fred had written to his half-sister in Michigan was introduced as evidence. In the letter, Fred wrote that he was married to “The Bell of St. Louis” and the couple had a little girl together. When read aloud in court, Fred blushed, knowing that the letter made him look bad before the jury. When closing arguments were made, the prosecution rested their case after giving a skillful speech on why

Jennie could not have been the one to kill Jennie Daly

Charles; it had to have been Fred. The

the defense also focused on the young woman,

still trying to impeach her testimony, and

accused her of lying on the stand.

After hearing all of the testimony in the case, and seeing the physical evidence, the jury was given instructions and went out to deliberate on the matter. Shortly after that, the foreman sent word to the judge that the jury had a question and the jurors were led back into the courtroom, along with Fred and his attorney. The jury wanted to know what the penalties were for each degree of murder. The judge told them they had no use for the information, as it was the court that would sentence the man in event of a guilty verdict. The jury deliberated, returning a mere three and half hours after they were first dismissed. The foreman handed the judge the verdict. On one count of first-degree murder, William Henry Hicks Bond was found guilty. Two days later, he was sentenced to hang for his crime. Fred showed no emotion as both the verdict and sentence were read. He was then moved to the Idaho State Penitentiary in East Boise and placed on death watch.

Just a few days after Fred learned he would dangle from the end of a rope, Jennie’s trial began. Of course, much of the evidence and testimony was the same relied on by the prosecution in Fred’s trial and the people of Boise began to lose interest. Jennie’s trial was not well attended by on-lookers and did not contain the sensationalism that Fred’s did. The biggest difference was that Fred was not called on the stand to testify against Jennie, as the county attorney did not think the jury would believe Fred’s testimony since he was now awaiting execution. The jury found Jennie guilty of manslaughter, a verdict she received with a smile. The judge handed down a ten-year sentence, Jennie was given a few minutes to say goodbye to her daughter, and then she was taken to the newly constructed Women’s Ward at the Idaho State Penitentiary, hopeful that with good behavior she might do six years time.

Almost immediately, Fred’s lawyer issued an appeal against his death sentence. His lawyers argued Fred did not receive a fair trial because Jennie refused to answer some questions on the stand. The case went to the Idaho Supreme Court which ruled that since she was also facing charges in the case, Jennie was not required to answer all questions. The case was returned to district court meaning an execution date could be set.

Gallows in the Old Pen Rose Garden

August 10, 1906, would be the date on which Fred’s sentence was carried out. The night before, a conversation was overheard between Fred and inmate Rudolph Wetter, also slated to die on the same gallows, who had killed two people in the Boise Basin. In the conversation, Fred told Wetter he should eat a big dinner since it would be their last. Wetter replied that he still had hope. Fred told Wetter he knew he would die and “...I am going to eat a hearty supper. You know what the bible says ‘Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die”. After dinner, Fred read his bible until late that evening, then slept soundly. He ate a large breakfast of eggs and sliced tomatoes and seemed cheerful. He was given the chance to speak with a spiritual advisor, and rumors soon spread he gave that advisor a full confession. Word that a reprieve had been signed by the governor soon arrived at the penitentiary, but the pardon was for Rudolph Wetter. Fred’s execution would proceed as scheduled.

At 6 a.m., Warden Whitney, along with two of his guards as well as Doctor Collister, arrived at Fred’s cell door. He was asked to stand and listen as Warden Whitney read his death warrant aloud. Fred seemed unshaken as he listened. After he was done reading, Warden Whitney shook Fred’s hand and told him goodbye. Fred returned his farewell and thanked him for how he had been treated in the prison. The Warden asked if he was ready, Fred responded that he was. Another inmate in a nearby cell chimed in with a “goodbye, old man”, and Fred returned a quiet “goodbye”. As he was escorted from the cell house toward the rose garden, which contained the scaffold, Fred displayed no emotion, only quiet dignity. Waiting around the scaffold were 23 men, mostly law enforcement officials and prosecutors from around the area. Fred searched the crowd, looking for a familiar face. He then set his eyes on the structure where he would die and silently walked up the steps. Once he stood atop the trapdoor, he was directed by Warden Whitney where exactly to stand.

As he faced the crowd gathered before him, Fred stood resolute as the noose dangled above him. The two guards took their places behind Fred, and Warden Whitney stood facing the condemned man. The Warden asked Fred if he had anything to say, Fred indicated that he did. He turned to the crowd and made this brief statement. “You may not think I am brave. I am. I will show you that I can go through the trap bravely. I am guilty of a whole lot, but not of all. I trust in God.” He turned back towards Warden Whitney who nodded to the two guards. They then bound Fred’s hands and ankles and the noose was lowered and placed around Fred’s neck, leaving only the placing of the black hood and the drop to complete the execution. Fred then said, “Well God bless you all. May the Lord have mercy on my soul” and the hood was placed over his head. A brief prayer was uttered by Fred’s spiritual advisor and Whitney placed his foot on the mechanism to spring the trap. Fred’s resolve finally broke, and he could be heard saying, “God! God have mercy on my soul! Oh, God hear my prayer! God hear my dying words!” At 6:11 a.m., Fred dropped through the trapdoor and was almost immediately seized by Doctor Collister who began monitoring his pulse. Six minutes later, Collister was satisfied and informed Warden Whitney that Fred had died. He was cut down, placed in a coffin with the hood still on his head, and taken to the prison cemetery where he remains to this day.

Many people wondered what exactly Fred told his spiritual advisor before taking his final walk. When asked, the priest related that Fred made his last confession standing on the gallows. Every inmate in the prison was fascinated with the execution, save one. Jennie Daly was not informed of Fred’s execution that day, but when she was told after the fact, she showed no interest. She did not ask about Fred’s mental state, nor his confession. Jennie went on with her life in the Women’s Ward, caring little that her former lover and co-defendant lay dead. The guards, as well as her fellow inmates, regarded Jennie as a woman with a heart of stone. As she expected, six and a half years after entering the prison, she was released. On May 26, 1911, Jennie took her time packing her things and saying goodbyes. She was given $10 and taken to an apartment owned by a friend. She was then reunited with her daughter Charlotte who had been living with a family in Silver City. Jennie longed for the chance to be a mother to her daughter and to make up for lost time. As Jennie left behind the dark and foreboding walls of the prison for the light provided by the free world, the only question that remained was whether she had been responsible for more than she had been found guilty of. Perhaps, Jennie should have shared the same fate as Fred.

Where to See It: The home in which Charles Daly was brutally murdered no longer exists. It was torn down to make room for an expansion of St. Margaret’s School for Girls; that building also no longer exists. You can see where Fred Bond, along with other inmates was hung by visiting the Old Idaho State Penitentiary and going to the Rose Garden. While you are there, check out the Women’s Ward, where women like Jennie spent their time at the prison.

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