On November 3, 1793, Captain Joseph Saunders sailed the brig Betsy from Bilbao, Spain en route to Boston. Strong storms forced a change in course, leading the ship into the West Indies.
There on December 19, 1793, three crew members – John Baptiste Collins, Emanuel Fastidi, and Augustus Poleski – attacked Saunders, his mate, and a passenger, Enoch Wood, while they slept. Saunders and his mate survived; Wood was killed. The pirates then proceeded to attack the remaining crew and take control of the ship.
Several days later, with the ship under the control of the pirates and Saunders being held captive, another ship approached. Saunders was able to signal the need for help. After sailors from the other ship boarded, Saunders was able to make them aware of the situation and the pirates were captured.
The captured men were returned to Boston in March 1794 and placed on trial. In the U.S. Circuit Court in Boston, the three men were found guilty of murder and piracy on June 16 and sentenced to death.
John Baptiste Collins, Emanuel Fastidi, and Augustus Poleski were hanged in Boston on July 30, 1794. A large crowd witnessed the spectacle.