Joseph Baker, Joseph Berouse, and Peter LeCroix

Baker (Boulanger), Berouse, and LeCroix, fellow French Canadian sailors aboard Eliza, conspired to kill three other sailors and seize the ship’s cargo. The ship was en route from Philadelphia to St. Thomas in the Caribbean. The killings – of Charles Rey, Thomas Croft, and Jacob Sutter – occurred at sea in September 1799.

Like Maunier and his co-conspirators before them, the plan failed when the men proved unable to sail Eliza.

While attempting to sail into Spanish territory, Captain William Wheland was able to retake control of the ship. He sailed into harbor at St. Bartholomew, where the captured men were put aboard the U.S. Navy vessel Eagle and returned to Philadelphia.

Vergennes (Vermont) Gazette, November 28, 1799

Under examination, the three men confessed, claiming that they were agents of the French government acting under that authority. They were placed on trial for murder on the high seas on April 21, 1800. All three were convicted and sentenced to death on April 25.

Baker, Berouse, and LeCroix hanged together on a small island in the Delaware River before a large onshore crowd on May 9, 1800.

Vergennes (Vermont) Gazette, July 29, 1800

Author: Bill Lofquist

I am a sociologist and death penalty scholar at the State University of New York at Geneseo. I am also a Pittsburgh native. My present research focuses on the history of the death penalty in Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), Pa. This website is dedicated to collecting, analyzing, and sharing information about all Allegheny County cases in which a death sentence was imposed. Please share any questions or comments, errors or omissions, or other matters of interest related to these cases or to the broader history of the death penalty in Allegheny County.

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