Who were executed on Friday the 1st of June, 1821, in the rear
of the town of Portsmouth, in Virginia, for a most
horrid murder and butchery, committed on


in the Borough of Norfolk on the 20th of March Preceding.
Together with an
Containing their confessions, &c.

Published by C. Hall,
and sold by most of the Booksellers in the United States,
June, 1821.

[Page numbers appear in brackets in bold print.]

(Continuation from page 32)

And now, having brought the proceedings down thus far, and kept in view each object that was immediately connected with the horrid affair, a little digression, by way of illustrating the subject and to show the ingenuity and depravity of the two men, Castillano and Garcia, as well as to show the interference of Providence, in discovering to those persons who had sustained losses by them, where their property could be found, it will not be amiss, perhaps, to state some of their transactions in Baltimore and Philadelphia.

In consequence of a letter of Castillano, [see Appendix B.] and the letter of the Mayor of Norfolk to the Mayor of Baltimore, which accompanied a copy of Castillano's letter, search was made in the houses there designated, and property to a considerable amount, and keys of various descriptions, were found. They were all deposited in the Mayor's office in Baltimore, and notice thereof publicly given, that those persons who had sustained losses by [33] robberies might call and examine the articles, and if possible prove their property. *C. A. Trincavelli & Co. of Baltimore, found goods in value to upwards of a thousand dollars, which had been robbed from their store by means of false keys, on the night of the 10th December last—and James Watson, of Philadelphia, also found watches, jewelry, &c. to the amount of a like sum, of which he had been robbed in like manner on the night of the 31st of January, 1820.—Mr. Watson's case was rather a delicate one; for the robbery had been committed at a time when he had just commenced business, and as it was in amount between two and three thousand dollars, some of his creditors were disposed to say, or insinuate, or some other persons were for them, that he had robbed himself, that he might thus be deprived of the means of complying with his engagements.—Mr. Watson was determined, however, to satisfy the public in time. (for he felt such a presentiment,) how ill-founded were those ungenerous suspicions; and especially as he had a young and growing family, that were likely to suffer by the imputation, his feelings were most seriously preyed upon. As soon as he heard of the murder in Norfolk and the various keys &c. that had been found, he hurried away from Philadelphia, for the express purpose of ascertaining if some of his property might not be among the watches and jewelry that had been discovered. On his way through Baltimore he was informed, that a trunk or two containing such articles as he had lost, was in the Mayor's office, at which he immediately applied, with his printed advertisement dated in February, 1820, minutely describing the articles, and to his great joy found several hundred dollars worth—He also found ear and finger rings actually in wearing by some of the members of Castillano's family; of all which he possessed himself. On his coming to Norfolk, he made further discoveries of his lost property, to the amount in the whole exceeding fifteen hundred dollars.—On being permitted to visit the prisoners, and inquiring of them relative to the manner in which they became in possession of the goods, Garcia said he knew nothing of the matter, but Castillano said they purchased them from Lagoardette. [See Appendix C.]

*Called by Castillano in his letter Trincabello.

Mr. Trincavelli also came to Norfolk, and found considerable property of his, which the murderers had not yet disposed of.—Mr. Trincavelli, it appears, was intimate with Garcia, and could speak the Spanish language. The next day after his store had been entered and robbed, Garcia called in to inquire into the particulars of his loss, to sympathize with him, &c. and actually offered him the loan [34] of twenty-six doubloons, in case he needed them, to meet his engagements.

In the garden of the house on President street, Baltimore, which was occupied by Garcia, a number of keys were found, one of which opened the door of Mr. Gillespie's lottery office, which had been entered and robbed of money, lottery tickets, &c. to the amount of several thousand dollars, on the night of the eighth September last.

By a reference to Appendix (B.) it will be perceived, that one of the murderers at least, and the murdered, had been engaged in robbing a French woman of a considerable sum of money, about the fifteenth February last, at a boarding house in the Marsh Market, in Baltimore, called Opperman's. This woman's name was Amelia Mazurel. The money taken from her was all in gold and silver coin, and amounted in value to about eleven hundred and fifty dollars—the pieces were, forty-four doubloons, twenty-two ducats of Holland, twenty-two louis d'ors of Hesse Cassel, two small Spanish pieces, two pieces of twenty francs, and one of twenty-four francs, all of gold, and two hundred and fifty dollars in silver.—It was, doubtless, with a view to discover whether Lagoardette had not been engaged in this robbery, that the constables visited Garcia's house on the eighteenth or twentieth February, [see Appendix A.] and opened and searched his trunk; and not succeeding as they probably expected, they apprehended another man, a German, who boarded at the same house, named William Berger, who was indicted by the jurors of the state of Maryland for the body of the city of Baltimore, for the above robbery, and the indictment endorsed, “true bill, Henry Brice, foreman.” Berger's innocence, however, was afterwards established, by the confessions of Garcia and Castillano, and no one appearing against him to prosecute, he was discharged from prison, after a confinement of about three months.

Attempts were frequently made by gentlemen, who occasionally visited the prisoners, to engage them in conversation on the subject of their robberies; but they always ingeniously evaded a direct answer to any question that was put to them, or shielded themselves by throwing the guilt upon Lagoardette. Garcia, who could hold no converse with Castillano, frequently accused him of being the perpetrator of robberies, and Castillano transferred the act of which Garcia accused him, to the deceased—and “the dead could tell no tales." They both stated, that the keys found at various times, and in different places, belonged to Lagoardette, and had been concealed by him; and, that the most important robberies had by him also been committed. Several stores had been opened by him in New- [35] York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore; and in the latter city a lottery office, but what amount had been taken from it, or the description of the plunder, they knew not, or pretended not to know; but the key which had opened it was concealed among a parcel of others, and was the largest probably in the parcel—at all events, when found, would unlock the door with ease. These declarations, however were all made verbally, and it was in vain that an attempt was made to get a certificate from them to establish these declarations, further than those contained in the Appendix.

On the subject of Lagoardette's murder, Garcia never appeared willing to converse—if he could evade an answer by a shake of the head, or a shrug of the shoulders, it was well; but when pushed for a reply, it was always Castillano who had killed him. Castillano as studiously persisted in his innocence of Lagoardette's death—perhaps, meaning, that the death-blow had not been given by him; and that in subsequently assisting in butchering him, he might conceive, that he could, with propriety, say he had not killed him; or, that he was innocent of his death.

The confinement of these men, however, although the period at which they were to leave the world was fast approaching, appeared to make no visible impression upon them, they continued to converse with those persons, who occasionally called in, by permission of the officers, under whose charge they were, to see them with as much coolness as if they had been enjoying every blessing of liberty, and had never committed an offence in their lives—their minds were completely callous to every sense of feeling—crimination and recrimination were their favorite subjects; and to judge of their characters from the evidence that each gave, there could be no doubt but they had a thorough knowledge of each other, and that their lives had been as wicked and offensive as it were possible for the human mind to conceive.

On the 7th of May, Garcia made his will, in which he appointed his brother, who lives in Havana, his executor—his property, which he made to consist of several thousand dollars, he bequeathed to his two children, a son and daughter, (who are illegitimate) and who also reside in Havana. Castillano made a will also; but not, perhaps, in as legal a form as Garcia's; the latter being a scholar, and educated for the practice of the law, was very cautious, in all his writings to preserve every form and technical term that was necessary to introduce. In a letter, which Castillano was permitted to send to Garcia, he made out a schedule of debts which he owed in Baltimore, (for the security of which he had pledged property) [36] by which it would appear that he was a poor man.—However, this might all have been a stratagem, to induce the belief that he was also an honest one, that he might thereby avoid suspicion.—[This letter will be found in the Appendix at the close.]

According to their own accounts, these two men were born in Havana. Castillano was upwards of forty-nine years of age; had lived about ten years in the U. States, having settled in the first place at St. Mary's, in Georgia, where he kept a shop—he afterwards moved to Savannah, where he has occasionally resided, until within a couple of years, and where he married.—While in Savannah, he was engaged in the manufacture of tobacco and segars, and had in his employ six persons, whose names he has furnished, and who were (if Garcia's account of them, although he had never seen them, be correct,) accomplices of Castillano in villainy. The names of those persons given by Castillano, it is not considered prudent to introduce here—the proper authority will be put in possession of them. Castillano farther states, that while he lived in Savannah, upwards of two years since, he was taken up and committed to jail on a charge of robbery, of which, however, he was innocent, as it was proved in the sequel—for a Spaniard, named Antonio Alva, was afterwards apprehended and convicted for the offence, and sentenced to ten years confinement in the penitentiary, or state prison, and Castillano was acquitted. Castillano afterwards moved to Baltimore, where he has since continued to reside.—Garcia was thirty-seven years of age on the 26th of May, (1821;) was born of wealthy and respectable parents—has two brothers now residing at Havana, one of whom is a lawyer, and is well known by a gentleman now living in Norfolk; the other incidents of Garcia's life are known no more than what he himself has thought proper to disclose, which will be found in the Appendix.

A few days before their execution, the Rev. Bishop KELLY called at the prison to see and converse with the prisoners; but so perverse were they in all their declarations, and so little disposed to enter upon serious and religious subjects, that the Bishop left them with little hopes of there ever being a change effected for the better.—Garcia frequently declared, during his confinement, that when life would terminate with him, so he believed would terminate every species of his existence; that he had no idea of a future state, and once had hardly that of the existence of a Supreme Being!!—He certainly had a different belief, however, some days previous to, and on that of his death.—Castillano always [37] held out the idea that he should return after death; and was determined, in the event of that being the case, to convince the Court, Jury, and every believer in his guilt, that he was innocent. He had, however, an idea of religion, but it was a very perverted one—for a man to have so many evidences of the crime of murder as was found upon him when apprehended, independent of the testimony of the many witnesses who were introduced, proves of how little value he estimated truth, even in his latest moments, when he persisted in the denial of the murder of Lagoardette—but it must have been the effects of an improper education, or erroneous principles, inculcated by the most vicious of mankind, in some stage of life when the mind was susceptible of receiving those principles without mature reflection. For, is it to be wondered at, that a man should persevere in a falsehood, even to the last minute of his life, who would be serious in the belief that he should return to the world again immediately after death, and by testimony, which he should bring from beyond the grave, convince every body that he had been unrighteously judged?—certainly not.

On the day previous to their execution, both the prisoners remained closely engaged in reading devout books—indeed they had never been without the reach of some pious book during the whole of their confinement, and were occasionally employed in poring over them —Garcia complained, however, that he could not sleep any the night previous; and although he had been indulged with a considerably larger portion of ardent spirits than usual, yet the opiate property was lost to him. Castillano was quite tranquil and firm, laughing at times as jocosely as if he had been at a banquet. But they both expressed a willingness to die, and only regretted that the time was not then; particularly, Garcia said, as it would then prevent him from suffering another night. The Bishop called in the course of the day, and had considerable conversation with them; and promised to call again the next morning at eight o'clock, to administer to them the sacrament, if he could discover any contrition, or any change in them less contradictory than he had lately been accustomed to notice.—He then commended them to God, and left them.

Early on the morning of the execution, the Bishop went to the jail, and on entering the apartment of Garcia, found him extended on his back upon the floor, with his eyes starting from their sockets, and every symptom of insanity apparently manifest; his handkerchief lay upon the floor near him, with a knot at one corner of it, and under his chin was a red mark, which would have jus- [38] tified almost any person in believing that the poor miserable creature had been attempting to strangle himself. After some short conversation with him, however, the Bishop felt satisfied of the propriety of administering to him the sacrament. Having performed his duty towards Garcia, he next visited the apartment in which Castillano was confined. Castillano was quite tranquil and unconcerned at the awful fate which awaited him; and as the Bishop administered to him the sacrament also, he too, undoubtedly, confessed to him, in a manner which met the Bishop's approbation. About ten o'clock, the people began to collect in street in front of the jail; a guard, composed of captain Jarvis's company of riflemen, was placed before the house to prevent the crowd from collecting too close, and to be in readiness to guard the prisoners when they were brought out.

At half past ten, Castillano's irons were knocked off, and he brought into the jail yard—no alteration in his appearance had yet been visible—he refused his coat, preferring to be executed in his shirt-sleeves, his outer upper garment being a waistcoat, Garcia, a little before the ceremony of knocking off his irons commenced, appeared much distressed—his countenance assumed a most horrid and terrific cast—his features distorted, and not a nerve but what appeared convulsed: at length he asked for a glass of spirits, which was given, and he soon after became composed. As soon, as his irons were off, he was conducted down stairs and into the jail yard with Castillano—on their meeting, they shook hands, and Castillano observed in broken English, although it is believed that Garcia did not understand him, "I forgive you, Garcia; I hope you will pardon me.” Garcia nodded assent—and they entered into an apparently uninteresting conversation in Spanish, which was so low that they were not understood, Garcia had put on his surtout, and had the frontispiece of a Spanish prayer book secured to the bosom of his shirt, on which was a crucifix, around which, and upon the back of the leaf, he had scribbled a few words, something like an ejaculatory prayer. At eleven o'clock, the cart, containing their coffins, was brought to the front door, and the prisoners being notified, that it was time that they should start for the place of execution, it was left optional with them either to ride in the cart, or to walk in the rear of it—they chose the latter, On their way to the gallows, which stood in an old field about half a mile in the rear of Portsmouth, they were accompanied by the Rev. Bishop Kelly and the Rev. Mr. Walsh, with whom they were engaged in constant and earnest conversation, until they reached the fatal spot. The sight [39] of the gallows appeared not in the least to intimidate them: Castillano surveyed it with an eye of scrutiny, and then looked round among the numerous spectators, (probably three or four thousand) which the occasion had caused to assemble. Garcia appeared rather more wrapped up in thought, and seemed not to notice any event that was passing. The Bishop and Mr. Walsh having performed their other duties, concluded by a fervent supplication in their behalf to the Throne of Grace.—The cords being prepared, A. Emmerson, esq. the coroner, acting as sheriff, and Mr. Bernard, the Jailer, both of whose sympathy for the condition of the poor miserable creatures, appeared to be more keenly excited than that of the prisoners for each other, informed them that they must mount the scaffold—which they both performed with alacrity. Mr. Bernard then informed them, that if they had any communications to make, there was time allowed them; but if they were ready, he would proceed to the next performance of his duty. They both declared their readiness now to leave the world, as they had very little further to say or perform. Garcia accordingly handed to Mr. Henry a letter, mentioned in the Appendix, page 24, dated May 30th. Castillano had prepared two or three documents which he had got translated, and which, he said, he intended to read, but he never made use of them—they were all in substance the same; one of them will be found at the end of the Appendix. He contented himself by speaking only a few words, which were as follows:

"I wish to make a declaration for the public satisfaction—I know that I am now to die! I know that I cannot be pardoned here! I know that although I am now alive, I am dead! I die innocent of this man's death! —I put my trust in God, who can pardon me. I forgive everybody—I die in peace!—Good bye, all!!!"

Dr. Griffith, of the Methodist church in Portsmouth, who had also closely attended in the rear of the unfortunate men, on their way to the ground, asked permission to address the assembled multitude, on so important an occasion; the request was readily granted, and the two prisoners, with their arms now pinioned, sat down upon the scaffold, with their feet resting upon their coffins. Dr. Griffith's, exhortation was very appropriate, and truly pathetic—he called the attention of the numerous spectators to the melancholy scene non before them—two men in the prime of life and health, just upon the brink of eternity! but a few moments, and they would be no more! How awful was their situation. and how deplorable was it that vice should have made such progress in the world, as to allure from the commission of one crime to that of another, until the subject should [40] ignominiously terminate his life in the manner that it was now presented to us! Dr. Griffith ascribed the prime cause, or rather the first vice, to that of bad company; and strenuously exhorted parents to bring up their children, if not in a religious, at least in a moral observance of their duty, as the only means to guard them against the inroads which sin was calculated to make. To the young his discourse was also equally well adapted—he called upon them, as children, to obey their parents; and to the older, to abstain from vicious habits and bad company, least, however respectable might be their family, as he was informed was that of one of the unfortunate men now before them, they might also be brought to a like shameful end. Dr. Griffith concluded with a prayer, in which he most ardently besought a divine blessing upon the two men who were just about to appear in the presence of their God.

The indifference and insensibility, however, which were manifested by Garcia and Castillano, even in this seemingly trying moment, were in accordance with their demeanor generally while they remained in prison—for, as they treated with levity the proffers of spiritual aid while in confinement, so did they as little regard, apparently, what had been said to them now. Whatever might have been the inward workings of their souls and consciences at this trying period, it is certain that they met their fate with a coolness and fortitude worthy of a better occasion: as an instance of this, while the officer was adjusting Garcia's knot, his feelings causing him to perform the ungrateful task rather awkwardly, Castillano directed him in what manner to fix it so as to take effect, and then pointing to his own neck; gave the same direction for himself!

At twenty-five minutes past twelve o'clock, the scaffold was removed, and the two men dropped! They died with scarcely a struggle—there appeared to be little or no difference in the length of time in which they were expiring.—A physician, who continued by them until pulsation with both had ceased, has said, that it was just twenty minutes from the time they dropped until that period.—At two o'clock they were cut down (having hung an hour and thirty-five minutes) and buried under the gallows.




[The following Confession was made by Manuel Philip Garcia in the Mayor's office, on the 28th March, in the presence of John E. Holt, esq. Mayor of the Borough of Norfolk, and James Nimmo, esq. Attorney for the Commonwealth. The Confession was not sworn to, neither was Garcia required to make one; but he had declared it to be his wish to hand in a communication; and on consulting the Attorney for the Common-wealth, the Mayor gave instructions that Garcia's manacles should be knocked off, and he be brought from the jail to his office, which was accordingly done.]



On the 30th March, 1820, I sailed from Porto Rico in the American schooner Zeno, the captain's name I do not remember, bound to Philadelphia in company with two Spaniards, Don Pedro Taboida, and Don Antonio Blanco, the former captain, and the latter pilot, of a Spanish schooner, and arrived there on the 17th April following, and boarded with Madam Fillesbe, South Second street. I left Philadelphia on the 20th for Baltimore, and arrived there the day following with my companions above named—their intentions being to purchase a schooner. We all went to board with a Frenchman named Guillemont, near the new bank. In about six or eight days, Don Pedro and myself went to take a walk, and passing up High street met with Jose Demas Garcia Castillano. I was acquainted with him in Havana, and after exchanging civilities gave each other the places of our residence.

Some days after, Castillano met me in the street, and pressed me to go with him to his house, where I was introduced to his wife, mother-in-law, and children. I continued to live with Gilmont for three months, during which time I was often with Castillano. Don Pedro and Don Antonio in the mean time purchased a schooner, and loaded her with flour, with a view of going to Europe, but they afterwards changed their minds, and determined to go to Porto Rico. I did not feel disposed to go with them, and took a house with the intention of waiting an opportunity of getting a passage to Spain. I kept this house about two weeks, and afterwards hired rooms over the residence of Castillano; but as the price was too high I [2] remained there only about a month, and then took other lodgings.–Two or three days after, a Spaniard from Biscay, named Ramont Larondo, came to live with me, and continued to live with me for two months, and Castillano continued to visit us frequently. Castillano told me he was acquainted with a Frenchman named Peter Lagoardette.

Three months after this, Lagoardette arrived in Baltimore from ____, and I was introduced to him by Castillano.—Lagoardette was taken sick about four months since, and asked me to suffer him to live with me; which I did—and a strong intimacy was formed and continued between us, and I administered to all his wants. About this time Lagoardette formed an acquaintance with a young woman named Binney, at the house of Castillano, where she had been in the habit of visiting, and where she occasionally slept. On one of those nights Castillano attempted to go into Binney's chamber, but her screams induced him to retreat. Lagoardette was informed of this circumstance by the mother-in-law of Castillano, and from that time an enmity commenced between them, (Castillano and Lagoardette.)—A few days after a lad named Jesca, the brother-in-law of Castillano, called at my residence and informed Lagoardette, that Castillano had said, that if he disturbed him in his attempts upon Miss Binney, he meant to kill him. The lad also informed me, that Castillano's intention was to kill me likewise, if I took Lagoardette's part. There was present, during these conversations, a Spanish captain named Manuel Cortes, who commanded a schooner called the Theresa.— I afterwards made an effort to reconcile Lagoardette and Castillano, but only partially succeeded in accomplishing my object.

In the commencement of February, Lagoardette having recovered from his sickness, commenced walking out, and went to pay a visit to Binney, at her residence, with whom he was engaged to be married. Castillano had been in the habit of visiting Binney's residence, and that circumstance occasioned new quarrels between them—and Binney had told Lagoardette that Castillano had said, that wherever he met with him, his intention was to kill him–and the lad again told the same thing. Some short time after Lagoardette met with Castillano in the street, and he asked Castillano if he had threatened to take his life? Castillano denied it, and said he had never thought of such a thing. Shortly after this, Lagoardette met in the street with Mr. A____ ____, a teacher of the French language, with whom he had been intimate, and informed him of the difference that had occurred between himself and Castillano. Mr. A. then called upon me at my residence to know the exact particulars of the dispute that had taken place between Lagoardette and Castillano: I answered, that the dispute between them related to a girl, &c. Two or three days after this I endeavored again to reconcile them, and told them that it was necessary they should leave my house or make friends as I did not like any quarrelling in my house. A reconciliation took place, but it was apparent that it was only partial.

[3] About the 18th or 20th February, while I was cooking, between the hours of twelve and one, two constables called and inquired if Lagoardette lived there, and if he had any effects in the house? I replied that he did live there, and that he had a trunk, which I pointed out. The constables then asked me to open them, but I refused, saying that I had no right to do so. The constables then broke open the trunk and examined its contents, but they took nothing from it. They then gave me a certificate that they had opened Lagoardette's trunk, and when it became necessary they would justify themselves for so doing–So they left the house. When Lagoardette returned to the house, I told him he must find other lodgings, for that I could no longer accommodate him–he immediately left the house, taking his trunk with him.

After this, Lagoardette continued to visit my house, and told me his intention was to go to Norfolk to sell his goods. I asked him, when he arrived in Norfolk, to make inquiry if I could obtain a passage on board the French corvette then bound to Bordeaux. He told me, that if I wished a passage I had better go with him to Norfolk, and make my own arrangements, and if I succeeded I could then return to Baltimore and get my baggage. The 1st of March Lagoardette left Baltimore for Norfolk, but I did not accompany him. After the departure of Lagoardette I told Castillano of my wish to get a passage on board the corvette, and of my intention to go to Norfolk. Castillano said he would be glad to go with me, as he wished to ascertain if any vessel was going to Havana from Norfolk. On the 8th or 9th of this month, as well as I recollect, Castillano and myself took passage on board the steam-boat, and arrived together at Norfolk on Friday afternoon. When we arrived here and landed, the first man I met with Lagoardette. He asked me where I intended to live? I answered, that my intention was to go and board with a mulatto woman in Little Water street. Upon which Lagoardette replied, he had a house; and it would be better for me to go to his house and lodge, and I could eat with the mulatto woman. This invitation was also given to my companion Castillano, and we accordingly both went to the house of Lagoardette. On the Monday following Lagoardette and Castillano went to Baltimore together; the object of Lagoardette being to marry Miss Binney. The Friday following they [Lagoardette and Castillano] returned together to Norfolk in the steam-boat.

When Lagoardette went to Baltimore, I gave him in the keys of my house in Baltimore, and asked him to bring me some clothes–he brought, on his return, a portmanteau and one or two shirts, a mattress and bed clothing. On Monday following, in the evening, about seven o'clock. Lagoardette called at the house, and left it again in half an hour—we soon followed to take supper, and returned soon after. Between ten and eleven at night Lagoardette came home, and laid down on his own bed. I was at that time on my own bed; and on the same bed also slept Castillano: the lights were soon afterwards extinguished. In the morning, about seven o'clock, I waked up and found Castillano had already risen and was sitting near the chimney smoking a segar; I again laid down, but did not go to sleep. About [4] an hour after this, I heard something strike violently, and on immediately taking the covering from my head, discovered that Castillano had given Lagoardette a blow on his head; but I could not tell at the time whether it was with a stick or an axe. I got up as speedily as I could, to assist Lagoardette; Castillano at the time having one hand grasped on Lagoardette's throat, and in the other he held a knife.—While attempting to take Castillano off from Lagoardette, Castillano turned his head and seized my thumb with us teeth and bit me most violently—I crying out all the time, "don't kill him, don't kill him." Immediately afterwards Castillano cut Lagoardette's throat with the knife he had in his hand from ear to ear.—I attempted to make my escape by running from the house, but was pursued, and before I got down stairs, was overtaken by Castillano, who, with a knife in his hand threatened to take my life if I made any noise or attempted to leave the house: I was then compelled to return up stairs. During the whole of this time I had no other clothes on but my shirt and drawers. I was then told by Castillano to dress myself, while he at the same time was severing the head entirely from the body, which having effected, he threw it into the fire. After this, finding himself so very bloody, he took off the clothes he had on, which consisted of a pair of gray pantaloons and a shirt, and put on the clothes which belonged to the deceased. I was then made to put a blanket up at one of the windows to prevent any person from seeing what was going on; at first I refused, but was made to comply with the order.

Castillano and myself left the house together about nine o'clock, and proceeded to the house where we boarded to get breakfast, but found it was not ready. I was devising some means of escape, but Castillano kept with me and would not leave me for a moment. I made a pretext to go and get shaved, but he followed and remained with me all the time. After this we proceeded to our lodging [boarding house] and eat our breakfasts. We then both proceeded to the house where Lagoardette was murdered, but before we went in, Castillano went into an adjoining kitchen and told the old woman who kept it, if any body called to inquire for us, to say we had gone to breakfast.—Castillano went to the fire place and turned the head over, as it had only been partially burnt. Castillano then commenced cutting up the deceased, and sternly asked why I did not come and help him? I said I could not, the deed was too horrible. After cutting up the deceased in the manner which had been discovered, we left the house about two o'clock, and went to our dinners, but neither of us eat any.

We then left the town for the woods, with a view of making our escape, but being ignorant of the road we had taken, as soon as night approached we went into a thicket, and there slept that night. The next morning we resumed our journey, but without knowing where to go. I was told by Castillano that I might make myself easy, as we had no evidence against us, and it rested solely with me. The following morning we were taken by the civil authority.

Norfolk, March 28th, 1821.


[5] (B.)

The following letter was addressed by the Mayor of Norfolk to the Mayor of Baltimore.

NORFOLK, (Va.) April 2d, 1821.

John Montgomery, esq.
SIR—The following is an imperfect translation of a communication from a Spaniard called Joseph Garcia Castillano, lately remanded for further trial by the Court of this Borough on a charge of having with Manuel Philip Garcia, murdered in this place on the 20th ultimo, a Frenchman, named Peter Lagoardette, late of Baltimore.
In a house occupied by them and the deceased, a trunk was found, containing a quantity of watches and other valuable articles, a part of which have been described to me in a letter from C. A. Trincavelli & Co. as having been stolen from them on the 10th December last. I am induced to send you the enclosed, from the expectation that it will enable you to discover the accomplices (if any) of the above mentioned persons, and with whom they have deposited their stolen property, and if Manuel P. Garcia participated in the robberies enumerated by Castillano. As their final trial takes place on the 9th instant, it is desirable the persons said to have been robbed in your city should attend our Superior Court to identify their persons, jewelry, and money recovered, and also to depose to the robberies committed on them.

I am, Sir, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

JOHN E. HOLT, Mayor.



PORTSMOUTH, April 2d, 1821.
SIR—It is now a week that I have been confined in jail and no person has received my declaration. I have not been questioned as to my opinion of the murder of Lagoardette—These are my motives for writing to you, to disclose what I know respecting that transaction.

You must know sir, that Manuel Philip Garcia and Lagoardette lived together in Baltimore, and no person is acquainted with the manner by which they supported themselves. Lagoardette went about to dispose of the property which both had plundered. The articles now in the trunk belong to Trincabello, who is now living in Baltimore, Main street, and keeps a shop, and is intimately acquainted with Manuel Philip who was in the habit of going to the house of Trincabello every day, and he can identify the articles in the trunk if shown to him. Those articles were stolen by Manuel and Lagoardette from him.

[6] The Sunday previous to the murder, Manuel and Lagoardette had a great dispute and collared each other, and I separated them because Lagoardette bit Manuel's thumb. The cause of the dispute was, Manuel told Lagoardette that the robbery of the French woman in the boarding house, Baltimore, made the preceding month of seventy-six French dollars, he would not divide them equally; and also, it is true he received the half of another bag containing one hundred and forty Spanish dollars, but he did not give the half of the sixty doubloon contained in a white handkerchief, and he had the trouble to stay one week in the above boarding house for the purpose of committing the robbery.

When Lagoardette started for Baltimore, and Manuel remained behind in his house at Norfolk, Manuel gave him the keys of his house in Baltimore, and told him to bring with him on his return the plunder taken from Trincabello, and that they could dispose of it in Norfolk. For that purpose when Manuel came to Norfolk he called himself Gomez, and wrote that name on the books of the steam-boat. On Lagoardette's return from Baltimore, Manuel asked him where he had left the trunk containing their plunder, and he answered, at the French mulatto woman's house who washed Manuel's clothes. She sells cakes in the market and has a daughter named Charlotte. There is in her house another trunk of plunder. By sending to Trincabello he can identify many of the articles, and by going to the boarding house and asking whether Manuel and Lagoardette did not live there, and whether it was not during that very week that the robbery was committed, and for which robbery a Frenchman was taken up on suspicion.—Also, by going to the house of the above mulatto woman and taking away the trunk alluded to there will be found in that trunk a waistcoat with gold buttons, that Manuel wore on Sunday, and the waistcoat now worn by Manuel belongs to Lagoardette.


[The forgoing communication of Castillano, (Jose Garcia as he there signs,) was not addressed to any person, but was put into the hands of an individual, who afterwards handed it to Mr. Holt, who had it translated.]


[7] (C)

The following communication was handed by Castillano to Mr. James Watson, of Philadelphia, who came here in pursuit of property which he had lost and which he supposed might be among the articles found in the house where Garcia and Castillano had resided. It is without date, but handed to Mr. Watson probably about the 13th April.


SIR—You will find the truth in every thing that is in this paper because I am a Christian, and God permits that you should find everything that has been stolen from you. You must go to Baltimore and inquire for an Italian named Carseina; ask him if he knows a Frenchman named Legran, who is the owner of the boarding house where Lagoardette and this Italian lived.—This same Legran went to Richmond with Lagoardette, for the purpose of buying all his plunder, and paid his passage. He offered Lagoardette $1500 for the whole of his plunder. Lagoardette remained in Richmond about a month, and on his return brought with him a white horse, for which he said he had exchanged six silver watches. He sold the horse in Baltimore; and sold some plunder to me, saying, that he wanted money to go to Charleston to sell the remainder of his plunder.

Lagoardette accordingly went to Charleston, and when he returned brought with him a patent lever watch, which he said he had bartered for in Charleston by giving six silver watches for it: he also said that he had sold a great many other things to the owner of the same shop.

I bought from Legran, the owner of the boarding house where Carseina and Lagoardette lived, all the furniture of the house, and he in company with the old Italian and Lagoardette, went to Richmond again with the trunk full of plunder—that is what I know.

Lagoardette went to Charleston in October and returned the beginning of December and told me that the owner of the shop in which he exchanged the above mentioned watches for thc patent lever, offered him $1500 for the whole of the jewelry which he had remaining, but that he would not take it—nevertheless, he sold some of his articles in Charleston and if they go there, they may find every things [literal translation.] Lagoardette said he boarded in Charleston in a house near the market, the owner is the widow of a Frenchman named Turin. [The remainder of this communication is quite unimportant, relating wholly to transactions between Castillano and Lagoardette in the exchange of articles with one another, and $25 which Castillano gave him for some Augusta Bank notes which he said he had taken in Charleston, which he could not pass.]

[8] (D.)





I owe to the community, as a christian an explanation relative to the murder of Lagarde* in which I have been accused as an accomplice to prove myself entirely innocent of the charge.

I have seen the sentence which has been pronounced against me, condemning me to die on the 1st day of June, and with the full conviction that at the appointed time I shall be executed. I declare, that I am of the apostolic and Roman Religion, baptized in the city of Havana, in the parish usually called or known by the name of Santo Christo, and that I am now about forty-nine or fifty years old. As I do not wish that any one should be led into error in this matter, I declare that I hold in regard my soul as any other christian; being fully convinced, that I shall soon die and enter an eternity, where I shall be judged with the most scrupulous exactitude, according to my good and evil actions; if I shall not be able to establish my innocence in regard to the murder of Largarde I do not wish that Manuel or any other person should suffer for me; nor do I see the necessity of denying it, thereby exposing my soul to an eternal condemnation, even for the preservation of a life, which while in a state of perfect health, may at any moment be cut off.

I cannot swear that I saw Manuel commit the murder, for if he effected it alone, or in company with any other, it was not done in my presence; and I swear on the holy Bible, that Manuel and Lagarde remained together in the house on Tuesday morning until a little after nine o'clock, that when they took us prisoners, he told me in the door of the Court-house, if they should ask me if Lagarde had come to the house Tuesday morning, I should say no. I desired to know why, he again requested me to say, no; I answered if they should ask me, I would say yes, because I had seen him in the house, having passed there, before I was told by Manuel, in the house where we eat, “that Lagarde had gone out, that the key of the house was left in the window, that when he (Lagarde) should return, he might know where to find it and enter.”


[9] The wise and feeling consideration of fathers of families will readily discover, what must be the grief which, in this miserable situation, bears with relentless force on my afflicted heart, with the aggravating reflection too, that I am to die charged with a crime of which, before the all-penetrating Majesty of heaven I declare myself innocent, leaving my poor family and unfortunate child, of the tender age of two years, the sad inheritors of my woes and misfortunes. Fathers of families, who may have felt anguish for your children, let each of you put your hand on your heart, and you will believe me in truth, that the tears of affliction which roll from my eyes, furnish day and night the only support of this tottering body. The sentence of the law is about to be fulfilled on me, and nothing is left me but to appeal to the tribunal of Divine Mercy, throwing myself in the arms of my Saviour Jesus Christ, as judge of truth, bearing to his most holy presence my unjust sentence, and all those things which have been published against my innocence, and which have charged me with being an accomplice in the commission of a crime where I am not criminal; making them responsible before that just tribunal for all my sufferings, and the afflictions of my family. I am a christian, fearing the Supreme God, and trust, that although my body may perish, my soul may live to everlasting life.

I beg the public, by all the griefs of the most blessed Virgin, and the precious sufferings of our Saviour Jesus Christ, that if I have in any thing offended, they would forgive me. As regards the murder of Lagoardette, God will give in a short time a sign to this people, in which they will discover the innocence of the Spaniard, establishing that he is clear of this crime as his Saviour Jesus Christ, who suffered for us, was also innocent; which prediction I pray them to remember, and to observe its annunciation this last day of April.


Judged and condemned to death.


I came from the Havanna to Amelia with my cousin, captain Don Ignacio Sales, commissioned as Lt. Colonel in the Royal corps of Artillery, who had there the command. I staid there nine months and then left there for St. Mary's, where I rented a house on the wharf, for five dollars a month, from a small gentleman, Mr. Clarke, and established in the house a grocery store. I had kept store there about a year, when the English came and devastated St. Mary's, then I went to Savannah, where I hired a house for six dollars a month, from a tall Portuguese, whose name is Mr. Antonio Silva. I lived [10] in this house three years, and during that time I carried on a segar manufactory with six men, who made segars of Spanish tobacco and also of American. The owner of the house, Mr. Antonio Silva, trusted me with an hundred dollars worth of tobacco in leaf from his store, and I was to repay him in segars, which he intended to sell. About this time I married. I went to the court house to obtain my license, for which I paid five dollars, and was married by a judge, whose name is Mr. Dobenes, to whom I also paid five. This is on record in the books of the court, at Savannah. After my marriage, I moved from Mr. Silva's house, and rented another from a widow lady, Mrs. Fraile, and established a grocery store. On the approach of summer it was very sickly, I was desirous of going to Baltimore; the only vessel which then offered, was a packet brig, called Othello, destined for New-York, in which vessel I sailed. I remained in New-York five days with my family, then went to Philadelphia in the steam-boat, thence, by the same conveyance, to Baltimore;—arrived in Baltimore, I met with a Frenchman, Monsieur Negrin, who kept a silversmith's shop and boarding house; he told me, as I was a silversmith, that if I would buy all the goods he had in the house, he would go to Richmond. I bought all his stock and we both went to the owner of the house, in order to secure it for me—the owner inquired of him what my occupation was, who replied, I was by profession a silversmith, that I had purchased all his stock of jewelry, and desired I might be permitted to occupy the house, Mr. Negrin then went away. In December I offered every thing at public sale, with the view of going the next summer with with my family to Havana.

Manuel arrived in Baltimore; I asked him if he was from Havana, his answer, was, no—that he came from Philadelphia latterly, having arrived there from Porto Rico, to which place he had been sent from Havana to serve eight years as a soldier, on account of the following affair, which took place at the Havana— "That he had given to a married woman some poison to kill her husband, by concealing it in his dinner, in which event, this woman was to live with Manuel. The husband discovered it, and Manuel was apprehended and brought to justice, being ordered by the court to serve eight years as a soldier, and in fulfillment of the sentence, was sent to Porto Rico; that he escaped, and came to Baltimore with the intention of going to France.”

This is what he told me when he came to Baltimore. When he saw me, at my prayers, he asked me if I believed there was a God; that for himself, he did not believe there was a God or Hell; it was all a pack of lies, that the ministers who desired to make the world believe they were ministers of Jesus Christ, were men imposing on their credulity, and if I were to read Voltaire, he would prove to me that it was all false. The captain of the schooner, in which he came from Porto Rico to Philadelphia, was Don Pedro Faguado, who bought a schooner in Baltimore, which he intended for La Guira. Don Pedro Faguado was a Spaniard, from Cadiz; he bought a new schooner, which was built at the Point, in which vessel he sailed for Laguira de Caraccas. Manuel came with this man from [11] Porto Rico to Philadelphia the last year—now he says he came from the Havana, and brought with him ten boxes of sugar. Let them ask him to whom he sold, or in what house he stored them? and it will be seen that all he says is a falsehood, speaking without the fear of God.

When Manuel arrived in Baltimore from Philadelphia, he boarded about one month with a Frenchman, Mr. Guillemont who kept a boarding-house in the square, near the new bank—Don Pedro Faguado staid there also who paid Manuel's board. When the Spaniard bought the schooner, Manuel told me that Don Pedro Faguado was going— that he (Manuel) was without money, he was going to write to Havana to inform his friends that he had deserted his regiment at Porto Rico, had arrived in Baltimore, where he was staying, and desired them to send him some money to take him to France, that he did not wish to return to the Havana as they would take him up and send him to Porto Rico—he told me if I would board him, he would pay me, when they sent him money, that he was going to rent a small room that he might live alone, and would come to eat at my house, that I knew his friends at the Havana, who were rich and would send him money by the first vessel, to which I consented.

Manuel then rented a small room in the same square with the boarding house of Guillemont, next door to a woman whose name was Betsey, who had but one eye and whose child was sick with a consumption— he eat at my house— at the end of four months finding they had not sent him any money, and that he had nothing wherewith to pay me, I told him I was poor, and a man of family, that I could no longer board him on these terms—he then told me he had not any thing to offer me except his watch, which I took at $25 on account of what he owed me for board.

One evening, some time after, while I had gone to my mother-in-law's house, Manuel came to mine about eight o'clock at night, knowing very well that my poor wife was alone, he entered my bed and endeavored to force her to sleep with him; about this time I returned from my mother-in-law's house and met Manuel, who was just coming out of my door—I asked him what he wanted, he replied, I have been to see you and your wife, who told me you were not at home, upon this he left me. I went to my house, and found the candle extinguished, and my wife in tears, who asked me if I had seen Manuel who has just been here, and put out the candle and seized me by the hand, with a view of forcing me to sleep with him; upon which I told him I would inform you as soon as you returned. After this I went out again to the house of my wife's mother, taking with me a yellow pocket handkerchief belonging to Manuel, which I found on the floor of my room. I told my mother-in-law what had passed and that I knew this handkerchief to be Manuel's. A few days afterwards my mother-in-law went to his house to reproach him for his ingratitude, telling him she was astonished that men should act thus, that he had received many favours from me and had been preserved almost from death by hunger. All this is known in Baltimore.

[12] About this time Lagarde came from Richmond, and Manuel went to live with him. Lagarde started alone to Philadelphia and returned sick. He lived with Manuel then and recovered. When he was recruited, both left their lodgings and went to one by the market house, at which Manuel remained a week and no longer. Lagarde during that week slept in his boarding house, and Manuel lodged in the one which they conjointly rented. All this is public in Baltimore, and this is all I know.


Letter from Jose Demas Garcia Castillano, to Manuel Philip Garcia.


May the Lord our God have mercy on your soul, and forgive you for the evils you have knowingly done, in desiring to have condemned an innocent man by so many untruths and falsities, without considering, that although you may deny and endeavor to conceal the truth, it will, notwithstanding evince itself, for there is nothing so concealed, that it will not be brought to light.

By your impostures, you wish to impress the belief, that I am the murderer of Lagarde, when you very well know, that on Tuesday morning you directed me to have some eggs fried and some coffee made at the house where we eat, that you remained with Lagarde and about ten o'clock of the same day, when you came to the house where we eat, I asked you for Lagarde, and you told me he had gone out; I asked you for the key of the house, you told me you had left it in the window, in order that when Lagarde returned, he might know where to find it and enter the house; I asked you for the waistcoat with the gold buttons, you told me you had left it in the house because it was too dirty, and that you had put that on, (which was Lagarde's.) As you wished me to go to the point with you, that I might inquire if you could procure a passage to France in the French frigate, and wished me to go to Baltimore for your clothes, with a pure intention, ignorant of what had taken place in the house, I went. Remember you told me in the court house, when they carried us prisoners there, that a dog had bitten you, (but it was in fact Lagarde, who had done it Sunday morning.) If I had killed Lagarde, why did you deny it from the beginning, in the court house, in the street, to the persons who took us up in the market house, and finally why did you go with me to the point. Remember, that when we arrived at the court house, in the door you told me, if they should ask me if I had seen Largrde in the house, Tuesday morning, I should say no: I turned and asked you why I should say so, you replied the second time, that I should say I had not seen him in the house. Remember also, that the second time they took you to the court house, you came that night to the prison, you called to me and told me that the free masons had kept you all day shut up in a [13] room in the court house, and told you, that if you were to say I had killed Lagarde, in spite of all testimony, they would clear you, and you did not wish to say so because you knew very well that I had not killed him, and that by such a confession you would condemn yourself.

Remember that on the Sunday previous to the murder, when you were fighting with Lagarde, and he bit you, I heard what you were disputing about. Remember, that you told Lagarde, when he returned from Philadelphia, and changed the bill of one hundred dollars which you two had stolen from Trincavelli, that he had not given you fifty dollars, which was your share, but thirty-nine dollars only, to which Lagarde answered, as you well know, that he had spent twenty-two dollars on the journey, twelve dollars for his passage there and back, and ten dollars for all the keys of doors which he had brought from Philadelphia, for you, and that the half of all the keys were yours; and he told you, if you were anxious to be satisfied of the fact, you might go to Philadelphia and ask an old blacksmith, who sold keys and old iron every Saturday in the principal market, that he had bought all those keys and told the old man that he was going to sell them in Augusta, where he lived, that you might go and ask if he had not given ten dollars for them.

Remember also that one Sunday morning in Baltimore, very cold, and snowing, I went to your house to tell you that an old Frenchman, a friend to Mr. Guillemont, had desired me to tell yon that you should go to his house that he had a letter for you, and that Guillemont also requested it: that when I entered the house I found you and Lagarde seated in the chimney corner and you were relating to Lagarde, that in the Havana you had thrown from your house, in which you had lived alone, into the water a young man that you had cut him up in pieces; that you took your clothes out of your trunk and put therein the pieces of his body, that about 10 o'clock in the day you had it put into a cart to be carried to some other place until the night, that although they suspected you (having seen the young man every day at your house) they could not prove any thing, as no one saw you. I drew back in astonishment, and begged you to stop with such lies—you then told me, that when I went to Havana, and inquired if a young man had not been missing from my house, I would find what you stated to be true.

Well does God know that many of these things did I keep to myself, not wishing to present them to the judges, that on my account you should suffer punishment on earth, and before the tribunal of truth. Although you say there is no God, nor hell, I believe in them, and I do not wish that for me you should suffer more harm than that which your lies deserve. I only wish that God would permit Lagarde to rise, and I would ask you, before the judges, if you had ever seen that I offended him in any thing, I know what would be your answer. I cannot say that you killed him, because if you have done it, it was not before me.—And you know very well, that I was with him in Baltimore, and if I had wished to have injured him there, I could have done so with my pistols, or by night in the street, without resorting to the aid of an axe or a [14] knife, nor would I have waited till he came in the house—and Mr. ____ told me that your waistcoat with the gold buttons, and your shirt, was full of blood.

I never thought, Manuel, you had a heart so cruel as I find it now to my astonishment—nor that you would be capable of causing an innocent man to suffer for this murder, and die, leaving defenseless my poor family, and my unfortunate child, to struggle alone in this wicked world—before the eyes of my God do I weep for their sad condition! But there is a God, before whose all penetrating eye you cannot pass off your impositions, as you have done before the earthly tribunal; before his most holy throne you will not be able to screen your falsities, as you have done here—where will be removed the obscurity which surrounds justice—and where you, and the judges who condemned me, will bear testimony to my veracity in his, the presence of Almighty God.

I call God to witness, for he well knows my spirit is troubled.

I beg of God, that these letters may cause you to repent with a sincere contrition of your crimes, in which you have lived without fear or justice, that you may receive the pardon of your sins, and obtain his divine mercy.

Peace be to you, and to all: until we shall meet before the holy tribunal of truth. I make, in the mean time, this solemn protestation of my unjust condemnation.

May Jesus Christ have mercy on thy soul, who, better than any one else, knows that I suffer and die innocent.

May 1, 1821.




[The following is translated from a manuscript written in Spanish by Manuel Philip Garcia. In some parts of the original, from the contractions used by the writer, and other causes, it was found impracticable to ascertain the words, which had caused some unimportant breaks in the translation.]

IN the name of Almighty God, and of the ineffable mystery of the most Holy Trinity; in that of the incarnation of the Divine word, who became man for our salvation, suffered and died on the cross for us, firmly believing, as I do, in all the above articles and mysteries which our holy mother, the Church, teaches and practices, directed by the Holy Ghost, I commit the following declaration to paper.

Illustrious People of Norfolk—
I had determined not to take up my pen to refute the black aspersions and accusations which Castillano has wished to throw on my character; satisfied with the situation in which my case stands ___
___ , but as my silence might impress many with a belief, that those calumnies were true—not only that they may be convinced of the truth, but also, that the innocent who are in prison should not suffer, it appears to me proper to explain what I conceive may throw light on this affair.

To begin. When a man of worth—of good parentage—tenderly educated —well esteemed in his country, on account of his standing and property, finds himself persecuted by an adverse fortune—thrown in prison —charged with crimes the most atrocious—ignorant of the language of the country in which he is, without any relations, among the inhabitants, where he is oppressed ____
____, (which is not even denied to brutes,) as it has happened to me ____: the circumstance of the Court not having received the proofs to which I refer in my declaration—he ought to prefer death to a miserable life, which offers nothing but hardships and afflictions; it becomes, however, before death, a duty which the divinity imposes on us, to mention every thing which may throw any light on this subject.—Under such circumstances, desi-
[16] rous that every one might be satisfied of the truth, relative to the murder of Peter Lagoardette; and moreover they should be informed truly about the imputations on my character, made by Demas Castillano, I declare and swear, by all that is sacred in heaven or on earth, that what happened, as related in the declaration I made and swore to before the Mayor of Norfolk—for in that murder I took no part; that I was witness to it without the power to prevent it, for Demas, with a poignard in his hand, threatened me with the same fate—twice did I exclaim, do not murder him.

Lagoardette slept in the house where the murder was perpetrated on the night of the 21st March. On the morning of the twenty-second, Demas seized the opportunity, while I was asleep, to put in execution his most detestable project, by striking with a most violent blow the unfortunate victim of his fury. When I awoke he had him on the floor and was in the act of cutting his throat with a knife—notwithstanding my supplications to him to desist, he continued, and in a moment of great rage, he ordered me to draw back, threatening me with his knife and other menaces. After separating his head from his body, he threw it in the fire, he mutilated every member of his body, which he did with an inexpressible hardness of heart, notwithstanding my earnest entreaties to the contrary—he went so far as to take up the blood, which was yet warm, in the palms of his hands, and throw it in the fire, as well as the linen shirt and drawers of the deceased, that were covered with blood, which with the murdering knife he had first cut up—having done these things, he wiped his hands and the knife on the first cloth he met with but as his pantaloons were full of blood, he took them off and put on a gray pair, which Lagoardette had bought in Norfolk, as the tailor who made and sold them, recognized.—Castillano washed them and hung them on the door to dry, he did the same thing with the shirt, putting on one of the deceased's, which having ruffles on the wrist, he tore them off, lest it might be produced in evidence against him. Among the shirts which were found, two or three were marked with these initials, J. E. D. S. G. A. C. O. which stood for Jose Demas Garcia Castillano, which had been put on his shirt when he left Savannah, for reasons which I will directly explain, but his true name is Demas Castillano.

I repeat it. I am not anxious to defend myself, nor does the cause require it. I speak with sincerity and in good faith. My shirt and waistcoat which were sprinkled with blood, became so from my finger, which Demas had bitten and which had bled abundantly, and the other pieces of clothes belonging to Lagoardette were also bloody, for Demas had wiped his hands on them, as I said before,—but it is false that I put on the waistcoat of the deceased, mine being striped, Demas in the court said it was white, and Lagoardette never wore any other than a black silk one. Demas having concluded all these dreadful operations, he told me I ought to dress my finger, and he tied himself a piece of linen around it; we then went to the cook, but he would not leave my side; when he arrived there it was about ten or eleven o'clock, and as he spoke English, he directed her to [17] have some eggs fried, such was the statement of the cook and her elder son, before Mr. ____, in the court.

I wished to leave Demas to search for a Spanish interpreter, to whom I might communicate what had happened, and for this purpose told him I was going to be shaved: suspicious of my intentions he followed me, and staid all the time at the barber's door, who being a negro, I could not make any communications to him. He then went to the house of the cook, where Demas eat his breakfast, as if nothing had happened. The pain which my finger gave me, with the feelings of disgust which the murder produced, and fears for my safety in the presence of Demas, permitted me only to take a little coffee. Monday, Sunday, and the day previous, the cook and her three or four sons observed that my finger was uninjured, but on Tuesday they discovered it was wounded and bloody. It is false then, as stated by Demas, that my finger was bitten by Lagoardette, as I had no quarrel with him on Sunday or any other day; for Lagoardette, although hasty, had a good disposition, and was always ready to serve his friends.

We then left the cook-shop, and returned to the house where the deceased was: Dennis blew the fire, stirring it also with his feet, that the head might the sooner burn.—I could not bear such a sight, and begged him to go away—to which he agreed. He took from under the bed a white handled and sharp pointed knife, and went into the street— and, having shut the door, he took the key. He made me go into a negro woman's house, to whom he gave some tobacco, and told her, if any one should call, to say that we had gone to dinner. He then took me through streets in which I had never before been; and although I excused myself, by telling him here was no necessity for me to fly, he insisted I should. We arrived at a hill, where, under the canopy of heaven, we passed the night; he next morning, Wednesday, he desired a white man to carry him across a river in his canoe, which he did. Castillano then led me, after a long walk, to a plantation, the houses of which were unoccupied.— As it was then raining very hard, we remained under shelter there until night, when we took a boat, which was close by, and into which he forced me to get; Castillano rowed it over, a we proceeded on to the place where we were apprehended.

When Castillano saw a man on horse back coming, he said to me, "there is a constable,” and he ran up the side of the hill, and threw away, secretly, the knife; which caused me to think, that he had not taken it with him to defend himself against those who should offer to apprehend him, but to use it against me, in case I should offer to quit him, as he feared I might disclose the matter.

I have above stated the manner in which Demas executed the murder of Lagoardette—and now it is proper I should relate the circumstances which led to it, and the reasons why he has charged me with it and many other crimes. Peter Lagoardette, while in Baltimore, courted a young girl whose name is Binney, to whom he was engaged to be married as soon as he recovered—during his sickness, in order to be near him, she frequently came [18] to the house of Castillano; one night she slept there, his mother-in-law was there the same night—he seized this opportunity while she was asleep, to approach her bed; she awoke, and, by her cries, soon roused the family, and Demas fled precipitately—and missing his own bed in his alarm, threw himself on a trunk, this was about midnight, and the girl was anxious to leave the house; but had to content herself to stay, having a light furnished during the remainder of the night.

On the following day Binney, with the mother-in-law and brother-in-law of Demas, in my presence, and in the presence of Don Manuel Cortes, captain of the schooner Theresa, told Lagoardette all that had happened, who with great propriety resented it, and spoke harshly of Demas—who being informed by his mother-in-law, that Lagoardette had said that he, Demas, had better, act properly, instead of going with the public women, and deceiving honest and virtuous girls, and those which were kind in his family—they became declared enemies.

From that time Demas Castillano bore me a grudge, and alleged that his wife had a secret intrigue with me. It is also proper to state, that he told me he was not married to her, that he neither fed nor clothed her—that he had, publicly, two or three illegitimate children, to whom he gave all he had to spare.—That, his wife spoke to me in a friendly manner, was to be expected, not only because we had always been on good terms, but also, as she observed, all the family lived at my expense. Castillano well knows this, for he often came personally in the morning, to receive from my hands a dollar and a half, and on some days two dollars, if this be not called consenting, (an acknowledgment of marriage,) it looks very much like it; and consequently it is evident he considered himself the protector of her honor, without bearing part in the family expenses.

It is certain then, that Demas first threatened Lagoardette, and then me. His mother-in-law would no longer eat anything which came from his hands—he suspected I had told her about some opium which he had intended to conceal in some fruit to give her. The fact is, she was informed of it by Lagoardette on his return front seeing Binney; and it was observed that the poor mother-in-law was always in a state of stupor: it was, however, all made up, and Castillano came to my house as usual.

Lagoardette, on the restoration of his health, continued his visits to Binney, where he was told to be on his guard, as Demas intended to, assassinate him. Lagoardette being very angry, went into the street to find him, and on meeting him, told him, “you are an insignificant tattler, and, if you are really a man, give me a pistol and come and fight me. Castillano refused, not having the courage to encounter him.—The fact is, it made considerable noise, and many persons, among whom were Mr. A____ , Don Juan Cortes and myself, effected a reconciliation, but Demas retained his intention of revenging himself, as the late event has proved. I had never before known Lagoardette, until I met him at the house of Demas, in Baltimore, where, for about seven or eight months, I frequently [19] met him; and declare in truth, that I never observed any thing in his conduct improper—and Demas now makes these charges against his character, because he is dead, and cannot defend himself—and wished to make us believe, that he had done these things before I became acquainted with him.

I have never been in any city north of Baltimore, except Philadelphia, where I arrived on the 17th or 18th of April, 1820, and staid in the boarding-house of Lappillet. I left there for Baltimore; and, on the 21st of the same month, went to board at Mr. Guillemont's, where I remained about three months. Castillano persuaded me to come to his house, as my expenses would be much less, and I would have better accom-modations.—At Guillemont's I paid 30 dollars a month, and at Castillano's, in less than two months, I had expended more than one hundred dollars. I laid out two ounces of gold for the purchase of some furniture from a Mr. Negrin, as Castillano had not even a table in his house—the only piece of furniture was a small stool for his wife, who was almost destitute of clothes, as well as the rest of the family.—I gave him shirts, cravats, and many other articles of dress. He scarcely ever conversed with his wife, and I have been left with her many a night, while he went to sleep elsewhere. I regret to have to state these things, not on his, but on his wife's account.

Lagoardette was not in Baltimore at that time, and during his absence, I was surprised to find, one morning, that Demas had become so rich, since the night before, as to be able to purchase shirts by the dozen; linen and cloth pantaloons; coats which cost thirty dollars—every thing necessary for furnishing a house; watches, and many other fine articles, all which could not have been purchased for less than 2000 dollars.____
____ from that period he became very serious—I asked him repeatedly if he had received an inheritance, ____
____ he replied, that he had drawn a prize in a lottery. A little after that time Lagoardette arrived, and was much surprised when he went in Demas' house. Lagoardette, shortly after his arrival, told me the mother-in-law of Castillano had said, that he had more than 5 or 6000 dollars in notes and in gold—that he was changing his notes. He gave me, for some ounces of gold, notes of the bank of Augusta, which he took to Norfolk, to the amount of more than 300 dollars—he bought, at different stores, two gold watches for 130 dollars; a chain for 40 dollars; some spoons which cost, I think, about 30; a watch seal for 17, and other jewelry, which amounted to about 55 dollars. I saw a letter written by Demas to a certain Mendassa, at Charleston, enclosing a hundred dollar bill of the Augusta bank, and I saw many others in the pocket-book which I had never seen him have before.

He (Lagoardette,) told me, that Demas had not only robbed an Exchange Office in Market street, in Baltimore, but he had committed many other robberies in Savannah—that when it was advertised in the papers, he (Demas) gave the money to his mother-in-law for [20] safe keeping—that the mother-in-law of Castillano told him, (Lagoardette,) that she really believed the money which Castillano had, and from which he had changed my gold, was the money advertised. Castillano was well convinced, that I knew of the robbery—on which account he was very retired, and he knew very well that Lagoardette and myself had accused him of obtaining this money in an improper manner. ____
____ I did not see him rob the lottery office, for he did not sleep in the house; and before and since, his wife has told me he did not work, and they could not tell where he got money to spend. Before Demas committed this robbery in the exchange office, he derived the money, which he spent improperly, from selling watches, small looking-glasses, silver coffee spoons, and a great many other trinkets, which he offered to Trincavelli, who sometimes bought some of his goods.

I bought of him six small spoons, a hair watch chain for four dollars, a gold one, with topaz seals, for fifteen dollars, and he gave me a breast-pin, set with stones, which he said were diamonds; but after the robbery he did not sell any thing—on the contrary, was employed in buying furniture for his house, and changing bank notes for gold. Trincavelli noticed this, and asked whence Demas drew his money. I replied he had told me he had drawn a prize in the lottery.—Trincavelli said it was not so, or it would have been published.

Lagoardette sold sausages in Savannah, as he told me and Demas. About the time of those two quarrels, Lagoardette told me, that Castillano, while there, had always a parcel of Spanish deserters from Florida, who frequently got drunk—they also played cards. He permitted the free negroes as well as slaves to come there; and, on account of their scandalous conduct, and some robberies in which he had been engaged he was pursued by the constables on two occasions. In Savannah he robbed a silversmith's shop with false keys, belonging to an American, named Nicholas, whose trinkets, (jewels) were identified; though he denied it, there was satisfactory proof that he had committed the robbery, the things being found in a room in his house; he was sent to prison for three months. After this, upon the proofs which the above mentioned Nicholas gave, he was sent back to prison for a month, and was liberated at the end of that time, on condition of leaving Savannah.

Lagoardette says, Demas left Savannah and went to New-York, and when he went there, he took with him a gig and two horses, that Nicholas told him publicly he was a robber—that at New-York he robbed also an English merchant of two thousand dollars by unlocking, with false keys, a tin box which contained the money. The reason he went to New-York was because Nicholas was always following him—Nicholas heard of his intention, and wrote to the officers; so that, when Castillano arrived and had put his goods in a house, which he had rented before, when he was there, it was filled with constables searching his trunks, which caused him to go to Philadelphia, where he stole from a jeweler's store a quantity of [21] valuable jewelry and pearls; as also rings, breast-pins, small looking glasses, silver spoons, watches, chains, topaz seals, pencil cases, thimbles and a great many other articles of value; many persons in Baltimore have seen those things—to whom Demas had shewn them with the view of making them believe he was rich. Among the persons to whom he shewed these things, were the family of Binney, Dr. Antonio Curvo, an Italian, and others, to whom he gave some of those rings.

Demas pledged to Dn. Ramon Larronde four watches, two ivory handled dirks with gilt scabbards, rings, and diamond breast-pins, and other articles, for four ounces of gold; which was before he robbed the exchange office; and, when Larronde was about going away, Castillano begged me to receive them on the same terms, to which I agreed: when he returned the four ounces, I gave him back the things, and he made me a present of a silver watch, which marked the days of the month. Castillano has, even at this day, many of those goods which he had stolen, and, perhaps, some bank notes—they may not be in his trunk, but are, probably, secreted in some of the houses which he rented; for he had three, for which he paid rent, one for his wife, and two were unoccupied. When I moved into the one in Baltimore, which Demas had occupied before me, I found under the staircase five or six padlocks without keys, a broken file and some saws which I threw in the street—he had many false keys. When I lived with him in Baltimore, I heard him frequently filing, and he was not a silversmith.—I took him by surprise one day while he was filing a key, when he lived in the house which Negrin had left. I asked him for what purpose he intended it, he answered it was for the street door, as he had lost the key which belonged to it. As I was going out I observed the key was in the door; his wife afterwards told me he was always filing keys—a few days after this, the robbery of the exchange and lottery office took place.

During my youth, Castillano's father lived in a house at Havana which belonged to mine; after he had occupied the house some months, I went to collect the rent, and then I knew him, for the first time, by sight—he was then about twenty years old, or upwards. His father found in his possession many keys, for which he intended to correct him; Demas opposed him, threatening him with his sword. His father then determined to confine him in a dungeon, in order to make him a soldier. Two months after, at midnight, he set fire to the dungeon, and a council of war was called to try his case; and had it not been for the mediation of his father, he would have been sentenced to death. Being set at liberty, he established in the environs of the town a blacksmith shop, and after night, with false keys, he went round the town stealing—having a mule, he generally carried the stolen goods and money to his house in the suburbs, where he concealed them—he was denounced and taken unexpectedly at night.—Michael Cosanos, who apprehended him, was murdered a few days afterwards by Castillano's companions; and, in a search which the magistrate made in his house, the body was found, concealed in a trunk, which gave rise to some suspicions in the mind of the magistrate, that cause him to leave the house, fearful for his own safety—[22] in going out he discovered a corpse, which, from the short hair, was supposed to be some priest—in fact, father Manuel de Cobus, a monk of the convent St. Francisco, had been missed for some days. Castillano declared the house was in that condition when he found it; but it was well known, that Demas had had a dispute with an ecclesiastic; the result of this was, that he was sent for six years to St. Augustine, in Florida, in fetters, and his uniform was taken from him on account of the infamy of his conduct. After remaining there for more than ten years, he escaped and returned to the Havana, where he was taken up, while quarrelling with some one, and remanded to St. Augustine, which place he again left, and went to the north, where he lived for more than ten years, as he confesses. When he came from Savannah, he assumed the name of Jose Demas Garcia, because the robbery which he committed there, in the store of Nicholas, made him well known as Demas Castillano.

It happened, that when Demas went from Norfolk to Baltimore, he took the keys of my house and trunk to bring me some clothes; after Castillano's conduct with Lagoardette was known in Baltimore, and it being suspected I was dead, as it was published in the newspapers, some persons came to my house to take an inventory of my goods—my papers, which were also there, established my profession, and proved that my object was to go to France. In order to procure a passage in the French corvette, I came to Norfolk; Trincavelli, who was with those gentlemen, told me no money was found in my trunk, when it is a fact I left sixty-two ounces of gold, the balance of three hundred, which I brought with me from my country, and which I left for some time in the possession of Guillemont, with whom I boarded. The disappearance of these sixty-two ounces, proves how honest must have been the intentions of Demas towards me.

I cannot swear that Demas robbed Trincavelli, but my suspicions that it was he, and not Lagoardette, are founded on the following reasons:—

1st.—Castillano was very frequently in the house of Trincavelli, and knew his hours for retiring.

2nd.—Because at that time, Lagoardette was confined to his bed, and so sick he could not sit up.

3rd.—Demas was very expert in making keys, and no doubt made a key for Trincavelli's lock, as he had done for the exchange office.

Demas gave the goods to Lagoardette to put in his trunk, or to sell them for him, as he had done with those he (Demas) had stolen in Philadelphia. I will not stop to detail the names of the accomplices of Demas, which Lagoardette told me he had in different parts of the north; for besides not knowing them, I do not think any one will be prejudiced, since their conduct has no relation to the murder of Peter Lagoardette; nor his (Demas's) robberies and other depredations; and my conscience does not charge me with having had any thing to do with them, nor will my reputation suffer.

I detest hypocrisy; and the manner which Demas has adopted to excite the sympathy of the people, by recommending himself as a [23] member of the Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman religion, (if it were so) is detestable; but this religion does not allow that a man, * * * * * that he should neglect having his child baptised, which is eighteen months old, and was on the point of death—that he should give opium to his mother-in-law because she scolded him for his scandalous conduct—that he should raise his sword against his father—that he should have killed in Havana an ecclesiastic—that he should have set fire to the dungeon of his prison—that he should have opened doors by the means of false keys to steal, as he did in Havana—that his companions should have killed Michael Cosano. The Catholic religion, or any other sect, does not allow such things; and the following (his acts) are equally forbidden:—In Savannah, he robbed Nicholas; in New-York, the English merchant of two thousand dollars; in Philadelphia, he stole many goods; in Baltimore, he robbed the lottery office. * * * * *

[Some circumstances here related by Manuel are considered improper for publication.]

In fine, to murder Lagoardette—dismembering his limbs, and throw his head in the fire, are not actions which the Catholic religion permits. If Demas approves of all these things as a Catholic, and also thinks it conformable to its unity, to send out men in different parts of the union to rob, burn, and commit other depredations on the community, I think he knows very little about religion;—but it would be in accordance with its spirit, to reflect seriously on the death of Lagoardette—to restore to liberty a poor man who has been charged with robbing the lottery office in Baltimore—to restore to their owners the notes and other goods, which he has stolen, as well as the silver watch with a gold chain and topaz seal, which belongs to Trincavelli, and which he wanted to sell to Manuel Cortes for thirty-three dollars, and he will have less to account for. As to myself, my faults are of another character. ____
____ If he does not do this, he will injure the innocent, and the owners of the stolen goods, who stand in need of them; for his family will not be benefited by the possession of such ill-gotten goods.

I will conclude by stating, that when I and Castillano were prisoners, he desired me to say nothing of what had happened. In prison we were opposite to each other—Demas observed in Norfolk, on four occasions, when they took me to the court-house, that they had taken off my chains, had given me a good bed, and all other accommodations, which I stood in need of—they had brought a chair, table, and every other necessary for writing; the door being open, which gave him reason to suspect I had declared the fact ____
____ for they had too the indiscretion to publish my declaration, all which induced him to calumniate me when he was examined.

I beg you, gentlemen, to spare me the necessity of saying any thing further, not wishing to be troubled any more. I omit many [24] other circumstances, which would have better explained the irregular conduct of Demas.


Portsmouth, 10th May, 1821.

N.B.—I declare also, and swear, that this is the only document which I have given, except the one which was produced before the court; any other declaration is spurious, and this I have given to Mr. James Henry, for the public.


[The above declaration of Garcia was replied to by Castillano, in a letter dated the 14th May, in which he denies the truth of the statement made by Garcia, reiterates the charges contained in his narrative, and concludes with the following appeal:

"I hope to God, that the afflictions which oppress me, and your knowledge of my innocence, may cause you to declare the truth, which will save me from an unjust execution."

About the 23d of May, another letter, without date, was written by Castillano, in which he denies, as before, the murder, and also the robberies, giving a long list of debts, which he says he owes; and urging, that a man so poor as to be so much in debt, could not have been guilty of the extensive robberies with which he is charged.—This letter was shown to Garcia, to whom it was addressed, but was not answered or noticed by him. Garcia, however, wrote another Declaration, dated May 30th, which is a brief recapitulation of the principal facts stated in his former one of the 10th May. In their several manuscripts, each persists in declaring himself innocent of the murder of Lagoardette.]



Declaration (exclamacion) made at the foot of the Gallows.

My God: thou well knowest that I am a christian: that I fear thy justice, and that I am going to lose my life for having said the truth; for I am well assured that, had I availed myself of falsehoods, it would not have been taken from me.

Behold the place of execution, where I am to die for a murder of which I am innocent (as thou art my witness) I only implore thee, O Lord! in this last hour, when I raise my voice to thee, to assist me with thy justice in defense of my truth; for as on earth they have darkened it, so in thy divine tribunal may it shine!—to which may be called every one of those who condemned me as a criminal, not only of the murder but of the robberies, of which I have no knowledge. O my Jesus! hear a dying christian for the sake of thy blood; they take away his life in public: innocent, and sacrificed on a gallows! Behold in thy hands he leaves his cause that thou mayest defend it and bring truth to light; as a just judge and support of the afflicted.

Jose Dimas Garcia Castellano.


Back to Virginia History Table of Contents.