Brigham Young’s grandson kills a midtown woman

On September 19, 1902, the body of a young woman turned up in a canal in Jersey City. Police identified the corpse as that of Anna Pulitzer, a married prostitute who lived on Broadway and West 46th Street.

Police fanned out to solve the crime. A crucial break came within days: A coachman recalled driving Pulitzer and an unknown young man to an apartment on West 58th Street.

That apartment turned out to be the home of John Willard Young, the businessman son of Mormon leader Brigham Young (below).

Willard Young was out of the country, but his son, William Hooper Young, 32, had been staying there. Hooper Young, once a Mormon missionary, was now a drifter and morphine addict.

Cops traced Hooper Young to a Connecticut park. Drunk and disheveled, he admitted that Pulitzer died after he picked her up in a coach and took her to his father’s apartment.

But he blamed her actual murder, via chloral poisoning (aka, knockout drops), on a man he’d just met in Central Park.

He had a hard time convincing anyone he was innocent. Police never located the other man. Pulitzer’s bloody clothes, jewelry, and letters addressed to Hooper Young were found in a trunk he had shipped to Chicago.

In 1903, Brigham Young’s grandson pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and got life without parole at Sing Sing, escaping the electric chair because the judge thought he was medically insane.

No motive was ever definitively uncovered, but it may have been robbery, or perhaps it stemmed from a romantic relationship the two had, which some suggested may have started when Hooper Young did his missionary work years earlier on the East Coast.

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6 Responses to “Brigham Young’s grandson kills a midtown woman”

  1. Dustin Tyler Joyce Says:

    Interesting story. Thanks for sharing it.

    But as a Mormon, I just wanted to point out that Brigham Young was not the “founder” of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That, of course, was Joseph Smith. Young became president of the church when Smith was killed by a mob in 1844.

  2. Lidian Says:

    Actually, she wasn’t exactly a prostitute – she was a married woman who had, well, a complicated social life (so to speak)….this is a really interesting case that I enjoyed researching awhile back –

  3. Lidian Says:

    Me again! Just looked over my post, you’re right – sounds like she was a known prostitute. My apologies – I wrote the post back in 2008!

  4. wildnewyork Says:

    Thanks for sending your link Lidian–fascinating story.

  5. Charles A. Young Says:

    Joseph Pulitzer admits that he lied when he said he was married to Anna Nelson (Neilson.) Check “The Evening World” Sept. 20, 1902.

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