Anton Woode
Anton Woode

Anton Woode

Boy Murderer


240 Pages, 5 x 8

Formats: ebook: EPUB

ebook: EPUB, $12.99 (US $12.99)

Publication Date: May 2006

ISBN 9781555918125


eBook Editions Available

Will it work on my eReader?
Not yet published. Ships 5/1/2006.
Google Preview


As he sat behind his lawyer at the defendant's table in the courtroom, no one who looked at the sweet-faced boy could believe that he was guilty of what he was on trial for-shooting a man in the back. He was, after all, only eleven years old, if his mother were to be believed.So begins this true tale of juvenile crime, focusing on one incident in 1892: Murder by a young child. The murder itself proves to be secondary; the main focus is how this act by an 11-year-old shaped the lives of the people involved. Here again, just as he did in Murder at the Brown Palace, Kreck is able to use his journalistic senses to uncover the story within the story. What seems to be a simple case of one kid gone bad, turns into an investigation of how juvenile crime was handled around the turn of the century, and how the system has come full circle today with punishment taking precedence over rehabilitation.


Review   Pubishers Weekly - March 13, 2006Anton 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 read voraciously. Kreck offers an inviting but small historical window on the still burning issue of how to treat juvenile criminals (June)

Review By: Sandra Dallas,   The Denver Post - June 4, 2006Juvenile justice in 1893 11-year-old's imprisonment for murder offers lessons for modern times By Sandra Dallas Special to The Denver Post Anton Woode was at that awkward age—"too old to set free, too young to hang." Who can put down a book that begins with that sentence, especially when the rest of Anton Woode: The Boy Murderer is equally gripping? Historians know about young Anton Woode, and Gene Fowler wrote a highly embroidered account of the youthful killer in "Timber Line," but until now, nobody has tackled an objective, full-scale treatment. Kreck is just the guy to do it. His highly acclaimed "Murder at the Brown Palace" established the Denver Post columnist as a legitimate historian with an understanding of human foibles. In fact, a local historian told Kreck, "If you like murder so much, you should look at this young man named Anton Woode, who shot and killed his hunting partner for his pocket watch." Kreck delved into the subject and produced a book that is both history and social commentary, as compelling as a novel. Anton was just 10 in 1892 when he ran into three duck-hunters near Brighton, near where he lived. The impoverished boy had only two pleasures—hunting and swilling his father's beer. Living in a hovel with his German-Russian parents, the boy rarely attended school. It was a time when immigrants were considered morally and intellectually inferior. As proof, just look at their faces. A reporter wrote that the mother's "features are twisted into a dark, commonplace homeliness," while the father was "malevolent looking." Little wonder that in a day when most people believed a tendency toward criminal behavior was genetic, they could accept a 10-year-old as a killer. With his life of deprivation, Anton lusted after the gold watch carried by one of the hunters. The boy asked for the watch, but the man refused to give it up. So Anton shot him in the back and pocketed the treasure. "I've never had anything nice. I wanted it," he explained to a deputy sheriff. (In a strange coincidence, the two deputy sheriffs who discovered the hunter's body were accompanied by Arapahoe County Coroner John M. Chivington, the man responsible for the 1864 butchery at Sand Creek.) Since there was no such thing in those days as a juvenile court, the boy was tried as an adult on a charge that could have brought the death penalty. Kreck paints a poignant picture of the child, not quite 5 feet tall, as he fidgeted during the trial, playing with the back of a chair or laying his head on the table. One observer thought the little boy should be given a severe spanking. Jurors had to consider a far more solemn punishment, that is if they decided the boy knew good from evil, which was the crux of the trial. A first jury couldn't make up its mind. The second found Anton guilty and, spared the gallows, the boy was sent to prison at Cañon City at age 11. The information available a century later on the boy murderer is sparse. Anton grew up in prison, was taught art and music by other inmates and learned to speak several languages. He also learned to write obsequious letters to state officials begging for release. His appeals were put aside for a time after Anton took part in a prison break, although the young man apparently was forced to go along by hardened inmates who threatened to kill him if he didn't. Anton eventually was paroled and moved to New York, where he changed his name and married. For historians, that was the point at which the trail grew cold. But with dogged research, Kreck was able to trace the last days of the boy murderer. Anton Woode is a chilling tale, and not just because it is about a cold-blooded murder. That a pre-pubescent boy could be thrown into prison with vicious adult inmates is appalling. More than a century later, we don't know whether the boy was abused. There is evidence that some of his fellow prisoners looked out for the boy, tutorin

Review   USA Book News/Best Books - October 16, 2006Anton Woode is an Award-Winner in the True Crime category of the Best Books 2006 National Book Awards. "A true crime book that delivers. Excellent writing and well-researched, Anton Woode, The Boy Murderer is highly recommended!"

Review By: Sally Barringer,   School Library Journal - October 1, 2006Adult/High School—In 1893, all of Denver was enthralled by the story of a local 11-year-old charged with coldheartedly shooting a visiting hunter for his pocket watch. As Kreck points out, the accused was at an "awkward age—too old to set free, too young to hang." Woode was eventually convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years in the Colorado state prison—the youngest person ever sent there. The book follows his progress through the state's legal system—including his attempted escapes—and his life after being released. He became a cause celebre for juvenile justice reformers in Colorado, many of whom were influential in changing the system. The author focuses as much on how late-19th-century society treated juvenile criminals as it does on Woode's specific case, revealing some fascinating details about social and class prejudices at the time. He offers lurid and well-written details of Woode, his crime, and the seedy world in which he lived. However, the small black-and-white head shots don't do justice to the narrative's potential appeal.