JACKSON, Mo. (AP) – The “hanging tree” once used for executions in southeast Missouri’s Cape Girardeau County has been taken down.
The Southeast Missourian reports that county officials ordered the tree in Jackson to be removed after determining it no longer was healthy enough to continue standing.
The mulberry tree was taken down Sunday.
“It was just structurally … it was really bad,” said Gary Hill, owner of Quality Tree Services in Jackson, who removed the tree.
“It had gotten to the point where it was a liability,” he said.
The tree stood next to the Cape Girardeau County Courthouse. Missouri officially stopped using hanging as an execution method in 1937, but Cape Girardeau County’s last hanging was June 15, 1899, when convicted killer 19-year-old John Headrick was “hanged by the neck between heaven and earth until he is dead,” as ordered by Judge Henry C. Riley.
Headrick shot to death James M. Lail, 44, in July 1898 in front of Lail’s wife and teenage daughter at Lail’s farm south of Jackson. Headrick also shot Lail’s wife in the back when she threw herself over the body of her husband, according to an article from the Southeast Missourian at the time of the crime. She survived.
The tree was there before the courthouse, which was built in 1909. Hill said it was unlikely the wood will be used for anything because it was severely rotted.
(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)