cover image Anton Woode: The Boy Murderer

Anton Woode: The Boy Murderer

Dick Kreck, . . Fulcrum, $15.95 (215pp) ISBN 978-1-55591-578-0

Anton Woode was convicted of shooting Joseph Smith in the back for a gold watch during an 1892 hunting trip near Brighton, Colo. What made this killing unusual was that the confessed murderer was only 11 years old. Denver Post columnist Kreck (Murder at the Brown Palace ) has done a competent job of researching this case, providing documentation of how youthful offenders were treated at the end of the 19th century. In particular, Kreck covers the campaign of Judge Benjamin B. Lindsey, founder of Denver's Juvenile Court, who worked tirelessly to explain how poverty and neglect drove young people like Woode to crime and sought ways to reform juveniles. Woode was sentenced to 25 years of hard labor at a state penitentiary; the author includes a heartrending 1899 letter from Woode to the governor pleading for his release. Thanks to the intervention of Madge Reynolds, wife of an oil executive, Woode was released after 12 years in prison and was pardoned in 1906. During his incarceration, the poorly educated Woode became interested in art, learned to speak French and German and readvoraciously. Kreck offers an inviting but small historical window on the still burning issue of how to treat juvenile criminals (June)