Fearing Insanity, Lawyer Commits Suicide In Hotel

Joseph H. Sutton Goes to Manhattan and Shoots Himself Dead.

SENT LETTERS TO FRIENDS, WHO ARRIVED TOO LATE

Clergyman’s Son Wrote That He Had Been “Going Crazy for Some Time.”

Joseph H. Sutton, unmarried, thirty-two years old, employed as managing clerk for the law firm of Hollis, Wagner & Burghardt, at No. 120 Broadway, committed suicide in a room at the Manhattan hotel during last night by shooting himself in the head. He was found dead by Mr. Edwin R. Patch, the manager of the hotel, and a porter to-day.

Several persons called to see Mr. Sutton to-day, and it was on account of their anxiety about the man that Mr. Patch and the porter broke into the room he had been assigned to and found the body. Mr. Sutton went to the hotel yesterday afternoon and registered. He had patronized the hotel before and was known slightly to the clerks in the office.

He went to his room and spent the early evening in writing letters. Then he went out and mailed at about half-past nine o’clock and returning went to his room. The letters he mailed were addressed to friends and apprised them of his intention of committing suicide, and when they were received this morning the friends hurried to the hotel, hoping to reach there before he committed the act.

Arrival Too Late

Mr. Patch was told of the letters received from Sutton, and he took a porter and went to the room occupied by his patron. There was no response to repeated knocking at the door and then the porter forced the lock.

Sutton was found stretched across the bed almost completely dressed. He had thrown off his coat and vest. The revolver with which he had shot himself was lying on the bed beside him. Only one cartridge had been exploded.

Fastened to the pin cushion on the bureau was a short note asking Jordan J. Rollins, his counsel, be notified of his death. He had also written a letter to Mr. Frederick W. Hollis, his employer, in which he said, “You will find everything in good shape: I have been going crazy for some time.”

Mr. Hollis said that Mr. Sutton’s affairs at the office were all right and that he could offer no explanation for the young man’s act. He said that Sutton had been employed as managing clerk for two years and before that had been employed by Knevais & Perry, of No. 32 Nassau street.

Son of a Clergyman

Mr. Sutton wrote in all twenty-one letters. One of them was to C.A. Perkins, of District Attorney Jerome’s staff. Mr. Perkins was one of the first to reach the hotel. He said there was absolutely no reason for the suicide and that Mr. Sutton must have been suffering from temporary insanity.

Dr. R. Safford Newton, an alienist, has been attending Mr. Sutton for the last three years. He was at the hotel at noon with Mr. Rollins and met Coroner Goldenkranz there. The coroner gave a permit for the removal of the body and Mr. Rollins notified the friends of the dead man by telegraph. His father, the Rev. J. Ford Sutton, is nearly eighty years old and in poor health. He is a superannuated minister of the Presbyterian church and was one of the most ardent supporters of the Rev. John Hall in the controversy over the Warzawiak case in the presbytery.

Dr. Newton said that Mr. Sutton’s fears he was going crazy were unfounded. He was suffering from gout. He was at a bachelor dinner on Saturday night, and Dr. Newton said he had no doubt but that an acute attack of indigestion had sent the gout to the brain, and that Mr. Sutton’s suicide was the result of the consequent mental aberration.

Mr. Sutton was a graduate of Princeton University and the Columbia Law School. He was a member of several clubs. An uncle, for whom he was named, is Joseph Holden, of Coudert Brothers.

Source: New York Evening Telegram, April 21, 1902.

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