Bingaman Murders

I haven't determined exactly where this took place within Chester County, but the family was prominent in the Coventryville area for many years. If any house deserved to be haunted by its past, Mr. Bingaman's home certainly fits the requirements. I won't even go into the fact that this charmng character was related to my family - ah, well...


Source: Times Signal, Zanesville, Ohio. 1925-02-01

Beats Tots to Death; Aged Father Dies

Horrible Crime Enacted By Farmer During Religious Frenzy; Spirits Told Me To Kill Baby Only Explanation; Had Attacked Wife; the Father Dies of Fright 

Pottstown, Pa., Jan. 31 - Walter Bingaman, a farmer of Warwick township, near here, while in a religious frenzy, beat to death two of his three children. 

When policemen broke into the farmhouse that found the farmer's father, George C. Bingaman, 73 years old, also dead. His death, Coroner Russell James of Chester county, said was probably due to excitement and heart disease. 

Tonight Bingaman was in the Chester County jail violently insane, police said. 

Bingaman's wife was at a neighbor's hose when the tragedy occurred. The dead children were Priscilla Bingaman, 3 years old, and William D. Bingaman, 18 months.

Thursday night, according to Mrs. Bingaman, her husband tried to convert her to his way of thinking in religion. 

An argument followed and he tried to strangle her. She was rendered unconscious for some time. Friday night her husband again attacked her and she fled to the house of a neighbor and remained there over night, fearing to return to her home. 

Today she became alarmed when nobody was seen about the farm house and the authorities at West Chester were notified. Breaking into the house, they found Bingaman and a five year old son, Walter, Jr., stretched across a bed, with the dead grandfather and the two lifeless children in the same room. 

The county officers seized Bingaman and manacled him hand and foot. He said he was prompted by 'spirits' to kill the baby He evidently had beaten the infant to death with the handle of a carpet sweeper. 

When his aged father died Bingaman said he had to 'sanctify' the home by sacrificing the three year old girl. Her skull had been crushed. 

The coroner held an inquest and decided Bingaman had killed the two children and that the father had died from the excitement and heart trouble. 

Bingaman spared the life of Walter, Jr., his five year old son, he told his captors because God had not commanded him to take it.The coroner believes that the fit of temporary insanity left the man after he had killed the two children, to return later. 

Bingaman was placed in a straight jacket late tonight and taken into the Chester county insane hospital after examination by two physicians.


And finally, from the pages of the Reading Eagle, we get to find out what happened to Walter:


Reading Eagle. Jan 29, 1926


Victim of Religious Mania Insane at Time, State’s Witnesses Agree

West Chester, Jan 30. Walter R. Bingaman, 38, of Warwick township, left the court room here in company with his two brothers,a free man, having been acquitted within 10 minutes by a jury of the murder of his two children while insane. He and his wife plan to leave for Florida within a few days.

A dozen physicians, called by the State, testified to the fact that Bingaman was insane at the time of the trial, and District Attorney Sproat announced at the opening that he would not press for a first degree verdict.

Physicians who had examined Bingaman within a short time testified that he is sane at this time. There were three woman jurors.

Bingaman was charged with murder of his two children, Priscilla, three years, and William, 18 months old. The family lived in a small farmhouse in Warwick township and were apparently happy until Bingaman became a convert at a small church and developed religious mania. He spoke at many meetings and seemed to lose sight of all things except his religious work. It became so strong that he neglected his labors and family and had frequent quarrels with his wife.. This continued until the afternoon of Jan. 30 last year, when he beat his wife and drove her from home. She went to the home of her parents near Malvern, after reporting the circumstances to neighbors, but they made no investigation.

Later, the case was called to the attention of the county authorities and the next morning County Detective Mullin and District Attorney Sproat made an investigation and found the bodies of the children on the floor of a second story bedroom and beside them the body of George Christman Bingaman, 73 years old, father of Walter. He had apparently died from heart trouble caused by fright when he discovered the crime. In a bed in the same room Bingaman was found apparently in a stupor. He was arrested and the next day sent to Chester county insane hospital where he remained until a few days ago.

Bingaman himself has no recollection of the tragedy according to his story.