From The Desk of:
Erik B. Anderson – Founder: The Free James Titus Movement
Contact: Erik - email@example.com
NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR NOT READY FOR POSTHUMOUS PARDONS
April 2, 2010 – Last November, a letter written by Erik B. Anderson of Independence Township, New Jersey, was sent to Governor Corzine, asking for a posthumous pardon on behalf of a Hackettstown Janitor named James Titus, 29, husband and father, convicted of an 1886 rape and murder. Titus was the night watchman on April 8, 1886. A kitchen worker named Tillie Smith had asked him to let her in after 10 o’clock that night, a deliberate violation of the strict rules of the Victorian Methodist Seminary. Titus refused. Tillie’s body was found “outraged” and strangled the next morning.
Smith was seen in the company of a man named Munnich that night. They and their friends had been followed and harassed by Frank Weeder and five other members of the town gang on their way back to the college. Inexplicably, detectives abandoned the case within a week. Outraged journalists from Joseph Pulitzer’s The World and The New York Times led an aggressive campaign to prosecute someone for outraging the pure, innocent Tillie.
According to an anecdote by “Old Newspaperman” published in a 1940’s-era Dear Lou column found in the files of the Hackettstown Historical Society (source unknown), the famous yellow journalist James Creelman, (“just out of the cub stage”) laid in wait in the belfry for a Janitor known as Mr. T to ring the bell. At the appointed time, Creelman jumped out at the Janitor, shouting “You killed Tillie Smith! You killed Tillie Smith!” The janitor subsequently went stark raving mad and was soon brought in on suspicion.
A LOCAL LEGEND
Tillie’s Ghost has been said to haunt Centenary College for more than a century. Hackettstown is a popular place for paranormal researchers of all ages, readers of Weird NJ Magazine and Ghost Hunters on Cable Television. It is no coincidence that the whole thing was started by a journalist. The story of Tillie Smith is a publishing phenomenon.
The most authoritative book on the subject is In Defence of Her Honor: The Tillie Smith Murder Case (2000) by Denis Sullivan, a friend of Erik B. Anderson’s family. Many other books mix fact and fiction, but Sullivan’s book thoroughly examines the transcript, the original newspaper stories, the death certificate, etc..
A careful reading of the trial transcript supports the argument that Titus' guilt was never established beyond reasonable doubt. The state never proved that rape had been committed at the time and place alleged, let alone that Titus had committed it. (Chapter 8, p124)
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Erik B. Anderson sent an application for Executive Clemency to the State Parole Board in December 2009. Susan Meyer, the Governor’s Counsel’s Aide in charge of Executive Clemency, suggested he do it even though the Governor’s office does not have a policy for posthumous pardons. As it stands, the NJ Parole Board requires applications for pardons to be filled out personally. James Titus died in 1952. A posthumous pardon now would be the first posthumous pardon in state history!
Mr. Anderson is seeking publicity for his campaign to Free James Titus!
Erik has already done interviews for The Warren Reporter (Newspaper) and WRNJ-AM Oldies 1510 Radio News.
Please call for more information, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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