When people are sentenced to life in prison, they are quickly forgotten by everyone but the people who loved them most. (Celebrity prisoners like Chris Watts and Scott Peterson are an exception, but that is a recent phenomena.) This post features five prisoners from Missouri, all of whom were given a life sentence in the 1920s. No doubt by the time the men featured in this post met their end, they had been, by and large, forgotten by the world.
Our first prisoner is Walter Hardin Coffey, who was sentenced to natural life in Jackson County, Missouri on Dec 12, 1921.
Coffey managed to survive in prison for 16-and-a-half years before he had to be transferred to Fulton Hospital for the Insane on March 21, 1938. He died there on October 12, 1940.
In Jackson County, Missouri, Harry Lynch was tried and convicted of first-degree murder in 1923.
Lynch was sentenced to life on November 21 of that year. He spent 17 years in Missouri State Penitentiary before succumbing in the prison hospital on September 22, 1940. In an unusual side note, the prison records, which tended to be a bit haphazard, very precisely noted that Lynch died at 1:07 AM.
Next up, we have William Collins, who pleaded guilty to assault with intent to kill in Henry County. He was sentenced to 99 years on Sept 17, 1924– an effective life term.
Collins was incarcerated for 18 years before being transferred to Fulton Asylum on January 17, 1942. Nine months later, the asylum returned Collins to prison, presumably he was well enough to go back. But after six months, the prison again sent him back to Fulton and he remained there until his death on October 25, 1946. You may have noticed Collins is wearing overalls in his mugshot. It seems unusual today but there were a surprising number of prisoners sporting overalls in vintage mugshots. A large percentage of the jobs for ordinary people in the early twentieth century were related to agriculture, especially from the middle of the country.
Charles Ross Bringman stood trial for first-degree murder in Henry County in January 1925.
Bringman was convicted and was sentenced to a life term on January 12, 1925. Nineteen years and eleven months passed in the Missouri State Penitentiary, before Bringman was killed by another inmate in the “B” hall.
Lastly, we have Roy M. Turner. Turner may look like the unluckiest prisoner of all, but he fared better than the others. Like the other prisoners he was tried and convicted of first-degree murder.
Turner was sentenced to life in Jackson County on February 13, 1926, but he was paroled on July 19, 1955 by the board of probation and parole. For four years, two months, and three days, Turner was free again. He died of a heart attack in September of 1959.