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PRINGLE, Jennie Tangert

    Johnstown Tribune, 12 Sep 1910, Page 1, Contributed by Diann Olsen

Murderer Will Live, but Desires to Die

William Williams, Author of Sensational Crime, Declares Slain Woman Was Responsible for Separation from Wife

Slashes his own Throat with a Razor

His Wife Escapes by Diving through Glass Door

Slayer of Mrs. Pringle, in Notes Written at Hospital, Declares Deed was an Act of Justifiable Vengeance for Wrongs and Hopes Self-Inflicted Injuries will Prove Fatal – Washington Apartments Scene of Sensational Crime – Murderer a Consumptive.

A murderer and expressing the hope that his attempt at suicide will yet prove successful, William Williams, jr., author of Saturday night’s shocking crime in the Washington Apartments, remains a patient at the Memorial Hospital, and although not resting quite as well as yesterday, is said to have a good chance of recovery, barring unforeseen complications. Williams murdered Mrs. Jennie Tangert Pringle, attempted to kill his wife, Laura Stonebraker Williams, and then cut his own throat. The wife saved her life by leaping through a glass door and fleeing to the apartment of neighbors.

The murder of the Pringle woman was premeditated, Williams blaming her for breaking up his home. He and his wife lived together until recently at No. 809 Broad street, but he is said to have driven the woman away and she has since been living with Mrs. Pringle in the Washington Apartments.

On Saturday evening the room was overheated and they opened the hall door. At 7:35 o’clock Williams walked in, closed and locked the door, and sat on the bed.

“How are you getting along?” he asked of Mrs. Pringle.

“All right, so far,” replied the woman.

She had hardly uttered the words when Williams drew a razor from his pocket and sprang upon her. Bearing her to the floor, he drew the sharp blade across the right side of her throat, severing the jugular vein. In his frenzy he slashed the woman again and again. The victim of his frenzied attack screamed once or twice, then lay still upon the floor.

When Williams began to hack at Mrs. Pringle’s throat, his wife ran to his side and attempted to pinion his arms, but he slashed at her and cut her slightly on the wrist. The demoniacal appearance of the man struck terror into the heart of the woman and she ran to the door. The glass of the door was covered with a heavy portiere and the woman used this to protect her hands while she smashed the glass. She then dived through the door and ran to the apartment of a neighbor in the same building.

At 7:40 o’clock police headquarters received a telephone call concerning the murder and Chief Mulhollen and Detectives Al Jones and Swabb hurried to the Washington Apartments in the automobile patrol. Mounting the stairway to the third floor, on which the murder was committed, they thrust aside the portiere over the door. Williams stood in the middle of the floor with a dangerous-looking butcher knife in his hand. At the first sight of the officers, the man turned and walked to the bed, where he thrust the knife under the covers.

The police kicked in the door and entered, Detectives Jones and Swabb snapping the handcuffs on the murderer. The Pringle woman was lying face downward on the floor, near the bed. Chief Mulhollen turned her prostrate form. She gave a last gasp, and was dead. Lying near by was the razor with which the murder had been done, the handle broken as though Williams had stepped upon it.

Williams sat on the bed, his head sunk on his chest. Even then it was not noticed that he had cut his own throat. He was told to accompany the officers and was led to the stairway. As they were descending Williams attempted to speak, but he had severed his windpipe and the only sound that issued from his lips was guttural and unintelligible. The police thought the man was a mute. He was hustled into the patrol wagon and only then lifted his head. Instantly the blood spurted over his hands and the attempt at suicide was discovered. Detailing Detective Jones to guard the entrance to the apartment building from the curious throng that was gathering, and ordering Detective Swabb to the apartment in which the crime was committed, Chief Mulhollen hastily notified City Physician Hay and Deputy Coroner Mainhart. Williams was rushed with all speed to the Memorial Hospital, where the extent of his injuries was ascertained.

Upon reaching the Eighth Ward institution, Williams, by sign, indicated that he desired to write a statement and note paper and pencil were given him. He wrote five separate notes, three of which he signed. They follow:

“Laura Stonebraker was my supposed wife.

“I will be dead in one hour. I cut the woman’s throat that caused all my trouble.”

“Tuberculosis. I can’t live.”

“I, William Williams, done this because Mrs. Pringle thought that she could do just what she wanted with Laura Stonebraker, and it is not the first home she broke up.


“That Mrs. Pringle, she broke up more homes than any other woman in the U.S.A.


Since his windpipe was joined together where it had been severed and the gash in his throat sewed up, Williams has talked quite freely, reiterating the assertions made by him in the notes. He declares that all of his unhappiness was caused by Mrs. Pringle. He has not expressed regret for his deed, but says he wants to die.

At the hospital to-day it was stated that Williams was in fairly good condition and would probably recover from his wounds. He is a victim of tuberculosis, however, and this may prevent a trial and the consummation of justice.

The police are of the opinion that Williams dropped the razor on the floor after drawing it across his own throat, and that he stepped on it and broke the handle in staggering to his feet. The butcher knife lay on a table close at hand and he grabbed up this terrifying weapon with the idea, it is presumed, of following his wife and killing her with it. The knife, which is now in the possession of the police, as is also the razor, is about fourteen inches in length and a most formidable weapon.

News of the murder spread like wildfire Saturday evening and ten minutes after the crime was committed Washington street was black with a curious and more or less morbid crowd. Some of the more daring attempted to enter the building, but were prevented from doing so by Detective Jones.

Only a few hours before the murder Saturday evening, Mrs. Pringle was arrested by the local police on suspicion of having stolen $10 and some jewelry from a home in which she had worked on Friday. She was closely questioned at police headquarters, but she denied all knowledge of the theft and the evidence at hand was insufficient to warrant holding her. She was discharged and a few hours later was slain.

The murdered woman was a native of Hobbs Ferry, Md., but came to Johnstown a number of years ago. She married Arthur Pringle, but they had not lived together for some time. Her four children, it is said, are now at the home of her mother in Maryland. Undertaker Pendry is awaiting word from her relatives and no funeral arrangements have been made.

Coroner’s Physician Emlyn Jones viewed the body of the murdered woman at the morgue and conducted a post-mortem examination. An inquest will be held on a date yet to be fixed by Deputy Coroner Mainhart.

Williams has been living with Laura Stonebraker, the woman he says is his “supposed” wife, at No. 809 Broad street, his father, William Williams, sr., boarding with them. About a years since he was admitted to the State Hospital at Mt. Alto for treatment for tuberculosis, and returned three months ago much improved in health. He and his wife quarreled frequently, however, and he recently drove her from the house. He had brooded considerably over his troubles and the crime of Saturday night is thought to have been carefully planned, inasmuch as he had made threats and frequently visited his wife’s apartments, which he had on each occasion except the last found locked.

Only recently his wife caused his arrest on a charge of assault and battery and surety of the peace, and gave bail before Alderman John C. Weir, of the Fifth Ward, in the sum of $500 to keep the peace. Both Williams and Mrs. Pringle were about thirty-eight years of age.

Williams is a veteran of the Spanish-American War, and saw service in Cuba aas a member of a Nebraska Volunteer regiment. Only recently he had been endeavoring to secure a pension. The accompanying picture was taken while the man was at Mt. Alto.

Laura Stonebraker Williams declares she and William Williams were married in Cumberland seven years ago and she is at a loss to account for his note in which he states she was his “supposed” wife. They lived for some time in Jerome, Somerset County, where Williams was employed in a mine.

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