John Andersen

On August 6, 1897, while serving as cook aboard the Olive Pecker, John Andersen shot and killed, Captain J.W. Whitman, and mate, William Wallace Saunders. The ship had left Boston on June 20, bound for Buenos Aires with a load of lumber and a crew of eight men.

Saunders and Whitman were killed 150 miles off the Brazilian coast.

The remaining six men then boarded smaller boats and sailed into Brazil. On land, the men split up. A group of the other men altered authorities to Andersen’s crimes and he was arrested in Bahia, Brazil, before being able to find passage out of the country.

Returned to the United States to stand trial, Anderson was tried in the United States Circuit Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. He was convicted of murder on the high seas on December 23, 1897, and sentenced to death.

After his appeals and clemency request were rejected, John Anderson was hanged in Norfolk, Virginia, on December 9, 1898.

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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