Monday, December 28, 2009

Open Letter To Legal Unit Director, NJ State Parole Board

December 19, 2009

Erik B. Anderson

Hackettstown, NJ 07840

Lisa Puglisi, Director
Legal Unit
New Jersey State Parole Board
P.O. Box 862
Trenton, NJ 08625

RE: Posthumous Pardon

Dear Ms. Puglisi:

I spoke to Ms. Carinne Rivers at length about my wish to apply for a pardon not for myself, but for James Titus, who was convicted of the murder of Tillie Smith here in Hackettstown in 1887. Mr. Titus died in 1952, but the Tillie Smith story remains a "legend" in Hackettstown. I am a historian and a sociologist. I am working on my own book about this case, and I just feel that it is time to pardon this man. It is the only right thing to do.

James Titus was found guilty because of the public pressure on the people of Warren County because of the extreme nature of the crime. Tillie was also raped, and in Victorian times, the entire community was gripped by a kind of mass hysteria that young Janitor Titus, a man whose father committed suicide when he was fifteen and  might be considered "mentally ill" today, was powerless to defend himself against.

Anyway, there is much more to the story. I hope to write my own book about it someday. In the meantime, Ms. Rivers told me that no one has ever applied for a posthumous pardon in the State of New Jersey before. It appears that there is no formal way to do it, and she referred me to you.

Do you think that the New Jersey State Parole Board can create a method to apply for a posthumous pardon on its' own, or do you think a legislative solution from the Assembly and/or Senate would be needed? I am willing to do what it takes to ensure that it is at least possible to apply for a posthumous pardon. James Titus' last remaining family member, a grand-daughter, died in 1997, but I am sure that it is conceivable that someday someone else will want to apply for a posthumous pardon for their own family member or friend in New Jersey. Obviously, there is a need for a method to apply for a posthumous pardon in teh Executive Clemency Unit of the New Jersey State Parole Board.

I left one message on your telephone after Ms. Rivers told me she talked to you about it. That was about two weeks ago. I will call again. I do not wish to be a burden on your organization. I hope you can see how developing a method to apply for a posthumous pardon would be beneficial to the citizens of New Jersey now and on into the future.

Have a pleasant holiday season.

Warm Regards,

Erik B. Anderson

Friday, December 18, 2009

Assemblyman Titus Lasted Only One Term

I wonder what he said.
100 Years Ago - Indignation over statements made by Assemblyman titus

This clipping was found in the Titus File at the Hackettstown Historical Society. It was obviously published on May 12, 1986. The publication is not known. At least not yet.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"They mah hang me, but they can't hang my soul."

I found this in the archive at the Hackettstown Historical Society. It did not come with a source. I suspect this was printed in the Express-Times, but I really have no idea.
 100 Years Ago They mah hang me, but they can't hang my soul

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Warren Reporter Story - Free James Titus! - UPDATED

An image of James Titus,
who was convicted of the 1866(sic)
murder of Tillie Smith in Hackettstown.
Independence Township man leads charge to have Hackettstown man convicted of Tillie Smith murder pardoned -- nearly 150 years later
By Warren Reporter
December 06, 2009, 4:04PM

Story Written By Todd Petty

Regardless of whether you believe in ghosts, Hackettstown residents have been aware of the presence of Tillie Smith for well over a century. Murdered in 1866 (sic), Tillie’s name still elicits an impassioned reaction from local residents – it is a part of their dialogue, a part of their folklore, and a part of their history.

However, pieces of the story may still remain unwritten — there remains a specter of doubt regarding the involvement of James Titus, the man who was found guilty and sentenced to prison for seventeen years for Tillie’s murder.

One resident in particular from Independence Township, Erik Anderson, is determined to close the case once and for all. Anderson is working to have Titus pardoned for a crime that he does not believe that Titus ever committed.

“If you look at the case and if you read the trial documents, it’s really obvious that there is a ton of reasonable doubt,” Anderson said.



This article was on on December 6, 2009. I just discovered that it was printed on the front page of the Print Edition of the Warren Reporter (under the fold) on January 1, 2010! The title of the piece was shortened, the date of the crime was corrected and one or two other typoes were fixed.

I found this in the Hackettstown Historical Society already:

click on it for a better view

Not a bad way to start the new year!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Free James Titus Postcards

If you live in the Hackettstown Area, check the bulletin boards at the local convenience stores, banks, laundromats and other retail outlets. You might see one of these postcards.

Free James Titus Postcard

Free James Titus Apology Postcard

If you are in the Hackettstown area and you want some postcards, send me a note. We can work something out. I have about a hundred now. The supply is limited, but I can make more if there is a need.

Warm Regards

Erik B. Anderson
Independence Township, New Jersey
Established 1782

More postcards here and here.

Listen to the Free James Titus Radio Interview

WRNJ Radio

The interview can be heard on the Free James Titus Myspace Page.

Thank you, Joyce Estey for your enthusiastic comments ("most interesting mail [she has] received in a long time"), and everyone else who made this possible at WRNJ Radio, a Hackettstown Institution.

Free James Titus

Warm Regards,

Erik B. Anderson
Independence Township, New Jersey
Established 1782

Friday, December 4, 2009

We Received an Executive Clemency Application

At first I thought it was a mistake. I have never been convicted of a crime, so I can't apply for Executive Clemency. The second page advised me "IT IS MY RESPONSIBILITY" to notify them of any address changes. It was scary to read that.

It was only after I was waiting on hold to speak to Ms. Rivers did I realize that the reason this was sent to me was probably because I wrote to the Governor about James Titus.

NJ Application for Executive Clemency Cover Letter
Click on Picture to see Larger Image

Unfortunately, Mr. Titus is not able to fill this application out himself. But, it is really great to have been heard, and to know that there is a formal procedure to get James Titus Pardoned for the heinous murder he did not commit 123 years ago.

I will keep this blog updated with my progress. Please do not forget to call the Governor before he finishes his term on January 19, 2010. That's more than a month, and it sounds like a lot of time, but as most of you probably know, it goes fast. Now is the time to Free James Titus!

Warm Regards,

Erik B. Anderson
Independence Township, New Jersey
Established 1782