Thursday, June 8, 2017

On This Date in Minnesota History: June 8

June 8, 1904 – While swimming the river in an attempt to escape from the Minneapolis workhouse, Edward Harkins, serving an 80-day sentence for petty larceny, was drowned near Camden Place this afternoon. Whether he was hit by any of his pursers’ bullets will not be known until the body is found.

Harkins was at work in the cell block this afternoon when Hallmaster C. L. Deterly opened the outside door to allow some supplies to be taken to the kitchen. Harkins quietly removed his shoes and crept close to Deterly. Suddenly he dealt him a staggering blow and made a dash for the door. Deterly followed and saw Harkins running across the fields toward the river. He fired four shots at the fleeing man and started in pursuit. Superintendent McDonald and Guards Hoben and Reick joined him.

Harkins continued directly toward the river and Guard Hoben was scarcely a block behind when he reached the shore. Without hesitation the fleeing man plunged into the stream and swam to the second boom. There he paused for an instant and when he saw Guard Hoben take a boat and start toward him he plunged into the water and swam toward the other shore.

Reick fired three shots toward the man, but witnesses say that none of them hit the swimmer. An instant later, however, he threw up his hands and sank from sight. The river was watched closely, but the man did not appear again, and the rivermen at work on the shore say that he was undoubtedly drowned.

Minneapolis Workhouse1
50th and Lyndale Ave. N.

Harkins was in police court two days ago charged with the theft of a bicycle. Judge Holt sentenced him to 80 days and immediately upon his arrival at the workhouse he gave the guards notice that he would escape at the first opportunity. It was for this reason that Superintendent McDonald had assigned him to work in the cell block, one of the most secure rooms.

Harkins was 18-years-old and claimed that his home was in Scranton, Pa.

The Minneapolis Journal; “Pursuers See Prisoner Drown. Harkins Carried Out His threat to Escape. Eighteen-Year-Old Thief Fells Workhouse Guard and, Fleeing for Liberty, Plunges Into River—May Have Been Shot—Body Not Recovered.”; June 9, 1904; p. 5.


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