Monday, November 16, 2015

April 19, 1896: John Van Brunt

Today we learn about the lynching of a "peeping Tom" in Florida through the pages of the Xenia Daily Gazette (Xenia, Ohio) dated April 20, 1896:



Shot to Death By Husbands of Women He Had Watched After Confessing.

DELAND, FLA., April 19.—John Van Brunt's desire to watch women disrobe has cost him his life. For six months a "Peeping Tom" has been annoying the women of Deland and recently the peeper became so bold that no woman dared to retire at night without seeing that the window blinds were securely closed. Only last week while a lady was taking her bath she was shocked to see a man peering in at her through the window.

The fellow nearly always did his peeping when the man of the house was absent, and, consequently, he managed to escape detection. Last night, however, the "peeper" spied at Mrs. Ribbard while she was preparing to retire. Mr. Ribbard happened to be at home, and was quietly told by his wife that the "peeper" was at the window. Mr. Ribbard hastened out and discovered that the "peeping Tom" was John Van Brunt a young man about 25 years old. Van Brunt fled as Mr. Ribbard approached. The latter didn't pursue him, but went to the husbands whose wives had been peeped at, and informed them the identity of the "peeper." A posse was quickly formed and Van Brunt taken from his home about midnight and shot to death. Van Brunt had borne a good character. It is said he confessed to the lynchers, and that he stated he was powerless to resist the temptation to play "Peeping Tom."

Thank you for joining me and as always, I hope I leave you with something to ponder.

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