Royal Albert “Roy” Fowler lived on Harshman Street and his back yard ran up to the back yard of Mary “Mamie” Hagerty. That’s where they met and where Roy became infatuated with Mamie. He bought her gifts and trinkets to show his admiration and they soon became a couple. And not long after, they began having lover’s quarrels.
Mamie had Roy arrested not once but three times. During one incident, he had threatened her life saying he was going to cut her throat so Mamie had him arrested on a charge of carrying a concealed weapon. He served time in the workhouse and it was said that Mamie carried his meals to him and tantalized him while doing it.
On Saturday afternoon, August 18, 1906, Roy went to Mamie’s house and said, “Let’s make up.”
“Go to hell,” was Mamie’s reply.
Roy became so aggravated by her response that he pulled a revolver from his pocket and fired two shots at his sweetheart. Mamie ran from the house screaming and after she got outside, he fired two more shots at her. Mortally wounded, Mamie ran down the street and dropped dead at the corner of Second and Harshman streets at 4:30 in the afternoon.
Roy immediately left the area after the shooting and hopped on a Dayton, Covington and Piqua traction car and rode to West Milton. There he pawned the murder weapon to a man for $2. He stayed overnight there and in the morning boarded another car to Piqua where later that evening he read in the Dayton Herald the story of Mamie Hagerty’s murder. Roy went to police headquarters in Piqua and turned himself in. Dayton police traveled to Piqua and picked Roy up and placed him in the Montgomery County Jail.
Roy was represented by the law offices of attorney John Egan. Witnesses for the prosecution made a strong case against him. Mrs. Hagerty said the January before her daughter’s murder, Roy had thrown her daughter to the floor and attempted to cut her throat with a butcher knife. Jacob Donneker said he heard Roy shout, “God damn you. I’ll fix you,” and then he saw him fire two shots. Another witness, Isador Rosensweet claimed that he yelled to Roy, “Don’t run away, you coward.” Roy was indicted by the Grand Jury. His trial began on December 6, 1906 and he was found guilty of murder in the first degree on December 27. He was sentenced to die in the electric chair on May 29, 1907 at the Ohio State Penitentiary. When asked by the judge if he had anything to say about his sentence Roy replied, “Only this: That when I went over there, I had no more intention of killing her than you had.”
His attorney’s filed a motion for a new trial on nine grounds including allegations that several of the jurors had expressed opinions of the defendant’s guilt before the trial. The request was overruled.
Soon after being moved to Columbus, Roy was looking peaked and worried. He was not eating or sleeping well. The guards believed he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. They also expected trouble from him. A month later an extra guard was placed to watch over him. He acted up with prison attendants and was suspected by the guards of wanting to end his life. Less than two months after the placement of the additional guard, Roy was threatened with the “paddle and water” treatment unless he became more manageable. He was constantly causing general trouble and had threatened the life of a fellow inmate.
On May 23, 1907, just 6 days before he was to be executed, the Circuit Court suspended his death sentence from May 29 to August 20. He received a reprieve by Governor Harris until October 17 and on that day, the Board of Pardons refused further clemency and November 1 was selected for his day of execution.
In an early October interview, Roy referred to his execution as “the coming event.” He said that he feared dying and wanted to live but he had no hope of favor from the pardon board. He stated he had no inclination towards religion and spent most of his days and time into the wee hours of the morning reading novels about love and adventure. When not in arguments with his fellow inmates, he liked to engage in games of checkers and cards.
Attorney John Egan had worked hard for his client but in the end, he met death at the executioners hand and died a few minutes after midnight on November 1, 1907.
Funeral services were held in Dayton on Monday, November 4. He was viewed by more than 3,000 people before the white plush casket he laid in was closed to the public. Only 27 people attended his grave side service. Roy’s last request, that a rose his mother gave him when she last saw him alive and the photo button bearing a likeness of his sweetheart, Mamie Hagerty, which he wore from the time of his arrest be buried with him. His request was granted. At the last minute, the rose his mother gave him was exchanged for another by his mother. She took the other rose home as a keepsake for her wayward son. Royal Albert Fowler is buried in an unmarked grave in Section 111 Lot 3009.
Mary Hagerty is buried in Calvary Cemetery.
You can visit the gravesite of Royal Albert Fowler and all of the other people on the History, Mystery, Mayhem and Murder Tour at Woodland Cemetery by going to our Tour page and downloading our Woodland Mobile App.
Woodland Cemetery, founded in 1841, is one of the nation’s oldest rural garden cemeteries and a unique cultural, botanical and educational resource in the heart of Dayton, Ohio. It is the final resting place of the Wright Brothers, Erma Bombeck, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Charles F. Kettering, John H. Patterson, Gov. James M. Cox, George P. Huffman, George H. Mead, and Levi and Matilda Stanley, King and Queen of the Gypsy’s and more than 111,000 others who made it great in Dayton.
Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum is located at 118 Woodland Avenue off of Brown Street near the University of Dayton Campus. The Cemetery and Arboretum are open daily from 8 am to 6 pm and until 7 pm during Daylight Saving Time. The Mausoleum is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. For more information, call 937-228-3221 or visit the Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum website.