Murder is often brought about when looking at history. It is an act that is almost always violent and almost always unjustified.
Mohave County history has plenty of these dark spots.
The particular case of Jennie Bauters, a madame of Jerome, is a rather interesting affair. Bauters, 44 years old at the time of her murder, was considered the wealthiest women in all of the Arizona Territory.
The “legendary Belgian madam” arrived in Jerome in 1896. By 1898, she built and owned a two-story brothel on Main Street called “Jennie’s Place.” It was the third building at the site as Bauters had to rebuild the brothel after each of three Jerome fires.
After one of the fires, Bauters offered free passes to her girls, and it is said “the men rose to superhuman efforts that day” to rebuild the brothel.
Bauters was murdered around 9 a.m. Sept. 3, 1905, a Sunday, by one Clement C. Leigh, a former lover.
“Sunday morning about 9 o’clock the denizens of the ‘Bad Lands,’ were awakened from their early slumbers by the crack of a pistol followed by several others,” Our Mineral Wealth wrote on Sept. 8, 1905. “Several eye witnesses … saw Jennie Bauters run from her dwelling followed by C. C. Lee (sic) shooting at her.
“Not being content with giving her several death wounds, the brute … went to his victim as she lay on the ground, turned her over and fired a bullet through her head. The vampire having a shot left fired it into his own worthless body looking for a heart but the bullet could only find the meat of a murderer.”
The Mohave County Miner reported that after he shot himself in the chest, Leigh laid out next to Bauters waiting to die. He placed a hat over his face to shelter it from the sun.
Leigh wasn’t dead, and he wasn’t likely to die as the wound was a small one. He was taken into custody and brought to the Kingman jail to await trial.
“The people of Gold Road were wrought over the killing,” the Miner article read. “Jennie Bauters … was big-hearted and it is said she always helped the needy and especially the poor miner and prospector.”
In her will and testament, Bauters left everything to her son Phillipe Bauters, 23 of Chicago. Her property in 1905 was worth at least $14,000. Phillipe sold Jennie’s Place to John Sullivan who converted it into the Sullivan Hotel.
“Leigh committed one of the most cold blooded murders in the criminal annals of the country and should pay the penalty,” Mohave County Miner wrote in November 1905. “He lived for years off the earnings of this woman and when she refused to no longer contribute to his support, he murdered her. That is the cold fact of this case.”
Leigh was sentenced to hang Nov. 3, 1905. Leigh was the second person to ever be sentenced to the death penalty in Mohave County.
An appeal from his mother and aunt led to a year-long fight in the court system. His mother tried to have the governor, then Joseph Kibbey, reduce the punishment to life in prison. On appeal, LeRoy Anderson, Leigh’s attorney, was working to attempt to prove “that his client was insane.”
“Locking a man up and keeping him locked up so that he can no longer follow his propensity to kill looks better to us than hanging, but would he stay locked up?” Our Mineral Wealth wrote on Nov. 3, 1905. “Hardly, judging by the way governors have misused their power in the past. Gov. Kibbey will do well to let Mohave County convicted murderers alone.”
Leigh’s original sentence, to hang, was upheld and the date for the execution was scheduled for Dec. 14, 1906. The sheriff, Walter Brown, received a stay of execution from Kibbey to give Anderson time to bring evidence to prove his client’s insanity, and the new date for Leigh’s hanging was set for Jan. 18, 1907. It was the last time Kibbey interfered in the case.
“C.C. Leigh was executed in the jail yard between the hours of one and two today, Black Friday,” Mohave County Miner wrote. “His courage was good up to the time of beginning the walk to the scaffold, when his long strung up nerves gave way and he knew little more in the world as the drop of the trap only showed a quiver of the body.”
An Associated Press article made the execution seem more grisly, the headline in bold reading “Gruesome execution at Kingman, Arizona.”
“As he was being led to the scaffold, he suddenly weakened and fell against the sharp edge of one of the jail cells a great gash being cut in his head and rendering him partially unconscious,” the AP article reads. “The officers carried him to the scaffold and held him up while adjusting the noose and cap. His neck was broken by the drop.”
Grisly or not, Leigh met his end.
Articles on the hanging stated he got what he deserved.