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An Excerpt from Final Doom: The Frederick Hollman Story

Final Doom by Kevin Collier is the untold story of one of America’s first serial killers. It begins in Grand Haven, Michigan, but ends with a series of macabre murders in east-central Illinois. Below is an excerpt from the chapter on Hollman’s execution outside of the Ford County Courthouse.

As Hollman was about to utter a cry, Sheriff Mason swung the hatchet held in his hand at 7:17 a.m. to cut the rope attached to the trap doors beneath the doomed man’s feet. Hollman shot down and hung in place at seven feet. The fall broke his neck.

There was not a quiver to his muscles, nor did Hollman move or turn. Spectators stood awestruck, silent and perfectly still.

Fred Geddes was reported to “look on with a quiet, thoughtful face.” Albert Lenz and Matthias Bauman were said to display “expressions of satisfaction.”

In 13 minutes his pulse waned. By 18 minutes his heart stopped beating. After 19 minutes his body was cut down. Hollman had died without a struggle.

Doctors Samuel Mack Wylie of Paxton and John E. Ragsdale of Gibson City, who were situated below the gallows trap, pronounced Hollman dead. His body was placed in the glass lid coffin situated beside the gallows.

Ragsdale believed that Hollman “was practically dead from fright when the trap fell.”

Spectators in attendance were asked to leave. Hollman’s remains would lay in his coffin in that room the until late afternoon.

Doctors Wylie and Ragsdale discovered Hollman’s neck to have been broken just below the base of the brain, which explained his lack of motion during the execution.

The dead man’s features were calm and composed, with the exception of slight discoloration around his neck where the rope had been…

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