Friday, June 29, 2012


Knapp, Albert 1932 Arson Uncovered Through Arrest

Arson Uncovered Through Arrest

Albert Knapp Confesses Setting Fires
When Held for Chicken Thefts

Cooperstown, May 4---Through the arrest of two men on charges of burglary, third degree and petit larceny, the mysterious fire which attacked the house and barns of Clyde Weldon at New Lisbon has been explained.
Albert Knapp, 30, of McDonough and Harold Thayer, 25, of New Lisbon, were the two arrested by Sergeant John L. Cunningham and Troopers C. D. Fordham and D. R. Keown of the state police. While questioning Knapp, Sergeant Cunningham asked him if he knew about the fire, and Knapp replied by making a full confession.
The pair were arraigned before Justice Harold D. Carpenter here late last night on the burglary and petit larceny charges. Both waived examination and were committed to the county jail to await the action of the grand jury.
Knapp faces a charge of third degree arson when the first case is disposed of. Thayer and he were brought here yesterday to be fingerprinted and photographed.
The burglary and larceny counts arose from the theft of chickens on the Edward Gillem farm at New Lisbon during the time the Thayer and Knapp families were living on the Weldon farm. Both signed confessions giving their part in the thefts.
Knapp was employed on the Weldon farm in March, and occupied a tenant house on the place. After working a month, he was discharged and told to vacated the premises. He moved to McDonough, April 25.
Saturday, according to his signed confession, Knapp decided to burn the buildings on the farm. After retiring for the night, about midnight he dressed and walked to McDonough. The confession states that he appropriated a car and drove to Naylor's Corners in the town of New Lisbon. The vehicle was parked in the woods near the farm.
Gasoline, taken from the car, was sprinkled on the house and barns and set afire, says the confession. Knapp knew, he says in his confession, that the barn was locked and that there were two horses and 12 head of cows in the structure. After starting the fires, Knapp's statement says, he returned the car to the place from which he had taken it and walked home.
Confessions were also obtained from Knapp and Thayer regarding the chicken thefts on the Edward Gillem farm near New Lisbon during the time that the Knapp and Thayer families resided together on the Weldon farm.
Following their arraignments, both defendants were taken to Oneonta today, where they were fingerprinted and photographed.

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