Norman Garfield

Section 22, Lot 535
Prospect Cemetery

On January 20, 1921, Ben Johnson, a restaurant owner in Woodstock, Ontario was shot and killed. On January 21, 25-year-old Norman Garfield and his 20-year-old brother, Denton, were arrested in London and charged. Denton, who testified against his brother, was sentenced to 20 years in the Kingston Penitentiary. Norman was sentenced to death by hanging. However, on May 25 he made a sensational escape from the death cell in Woodstock, but was recaptured within 48 hours. He claimed he had escaped “only so I could stay alive long enough to see my child.” His 17-year-old wife, Kitty, was four months pregnant during the trial, in March. Much public sympathy was aroused for Garfield: his mother was cited as a fine Christian woman, and his spiritual advisor argued for a stay of execution until after the child’s birth. Norman Garfield’s mother had allegedly wired a telegram to the Lieutenant-Governor, pleading for custody of the corpse, which she insisted should be buried in his home town, Toronto. This request was finally acceded to, provided that her son was buried “with the utmost secrecy to avoid any public demonstration.”  He was hanged in Woodstock jail on June 2, 1921, and, at his own request, the Reverend Mr. Gaetz removed the black hood covering his head. The Toronto Star reported, on June 3: “After a short private service the body of Norman Garfield was buried in the north-east corner of the new section of Prospect Cemetery at 11 o’clock.”  The sole inscription on his grave-marker reads: “My boy.”

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