"I'd like to be in hell in time for dinner"
Edward Ruloff was a serial killer
that was executed in the Broome County Corrections
yard on May 18, 1871, this was the only execution
that was ever carried out in Broome County. He lived in or near Ithaca, NY
Ruloff killed his wife and child in 1845 but was only convicted of the abduction of his wife for which he served 10 years. Upon his release he was tried for the murder of his daughter and convicted. "But for the interposition of a legal technicality," he would have hanged; his conviction was overturned. The legal technicality in question was the absence of the corpse of his daughter. Ruloff became a figure of public interest because he contradicted the common image of a criminal, he was refered to as the "learned ruffian" because we was educated and a member of the middle class who commited a crime that had, until that point been attributed to the lower classes.
In August of 1870 Ruloff perpetrated a burglary in which a dry goods clerk, Fredrick Merrick was shot and killed. Ruloff's case set the legal precedent for photographs being admissible as evidence in a court of law; two of his victims, Dexter and Jarvis, who were also accomplices in that burglary, were found dead floating in Chenango river and needed identification. The police were unable to preserve the bodies for long enough to have them properly identified so they had them photographed and identified from the photos. George Becker, attorney for Ruloff claimed that "the likeness was the substitution of one fact for another, and not allowable," and that "because the witness would not be speaking from facts which had fallen directly under his own observation," his testimony amounted to a "mere matter of opinion.". The court decided that "upon the principle... that a sworn copy can be proved when an original is lost or cannot be produced, this evidence was admissible."
Ruloff came from a poor family and had limited education; however, he was intelligent and audacious, which enabled him to become a botanical physician, lawyer, schoolmaster, itinerant lecturer, phrenologist, photographer, mechanical inventor and, a philologist The burglaries were carried out to fund these studies. All of these professions were traditionally used as a means to ascend through the classes. As a result of his philological studies, Ruloff was well versed in Greek and Latin and six modern languages.
After his hanging Ruloff's head was removed and cast into plaster for further examination, his brain was weighed, mapped, and stored at Cornell University in the hopes that if subjected to extensive study clues would be discovered about the origins of Ruloff's dementia.