|Salem High School in 1917. Today this building is part of|
Kent State University
In Salem, Ohio you will find, to this day, this impressive building, which used to the Salem High School. It opened its doors in January of 1917. The Principal was Mr. Frank Lease. He had been Principle of the school for 9 years and was very well respected and liked in the community;
In August of 1917, Mr. Lease and his wife were walking home from school to their home just a block up the hill. Walking arm in arm, it was no unusual for them to see her brother, Jonathan Hart, walking toward them to join them in their journey home. They were not expecting him to pull a small revovler out of his pocket and shoot Frank point blank in the chest. As Frank lay dying in the middle of the road, Jonathan took off for town, where he was later arrested.
Frank was taken to his home and later the hospital, where, later that day, he died.
Frank Lease was a huge loss for the community and every one in town attended his funeral. He is now buried in Grandview Cemetery.
But the story does not stop there. Jonathan Hart had serious mental issues but Frank tolerated them beccause he was his wife's brother. That didn't stop a trial against Jonathan, however. And Jonathan? He demanded a better cell, a softer bed, and higher quality food. Why? Because he felt he was not your average every day criminal. He was, after all,, guilty of murder, which was far more important than some burglar or prostitute!
Thinking that he deserved to be excused for his actions because of how important they were, he wrote letters to influencial people asking them to help him. One such person was Henry Ford. No one answered his letters however.
He was found guilty of murder by reason of insanity and sentenced to the Lime Institution for the criminally insane. It is uncertain what happened to him after that.
If you would like to learn more about this story, you can attend one of the Salem Ghost Walks to be held in the summer and fall of 2016! You can also go to the Salem Historical Society and ask about him there. Consult the Dale Shaffer Books!