There are many western countries, including England, that have withdrawn the death penalty from their legal system. But if we look back at the 19th century, executions were commonplace. Most people did not survive obviously, but John Lee managed to survive three attempts.
John Babbacombe Lee was convicted for the brutal murder of Miss Emma Anne Whitehead Keyse. This brutal murder took place on 15th November 1884 in the small village of Babbacombe. John Lee did not accept his crime and maintained his innocence of the crime from the moment he was accused. However, there were some circumstantial pieces of evidence, such as an unexplained cut on his arm, which were enough to blame him. In 1885, John Lee was supposed to be killed by hanging.
The real story of John Babbacombe Lee
This post talks about the weird story of John Lee. More than a hundred years have passed since the incident, and John’s storytelling about what he went through has shadowed the truth of what happened. John Lee was sentenced to hang at Exeter Prison. Although the executioner checked and tested the working of the trap door through which John was supposed to drop, they tried to hang John three times, and each time the trap door stuck.
After that, they stopped trying to hang John. The British Home Secretary Sir Wiliam Harcourt, who commuted John’s life imprisonment sentence, said, “It would shock the feelings of people if a man had twice to pay the pain of imminent death.” But this was all about a beginning for John Lee, who went to serve almost 22 years in the prison. As he was released in 1907, a variety of stories began to spread about where he went and what he did. Some thought that he moved abroad, and some even thought that he moved to London to survive the Blitz. The nature of his story was that he was the only person on record to survive three hangings.
Two Lee enthusiasts, in 2009, said new research placed John Lee’s grave in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. According to that research, John Lee had died in 1945 and even had a second family in America after leaving his wife, and two daughters post his release from prison. Records indicated that John Lee may or may not have been a murderer, but he was not a caring man to his first family.
Many people believed that there was a divine sign behind Lee surviving three attempts of hanging and that he was the man that prison authorities should not hang. But you must be wondering what it would feel like to survive three hangings. John Lee described his time at a prison in England as “moving from one tomb to another.”