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BLAST FROM THE PAST - Condemned killer's final murder plot foiled

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 28, 2015 at 3:52 PM

APRIL 10, 1927

The top stories in the Norwalk Reflector-Herald on this date 80 years ago:

Jim Lyon planned knife fight in death chamber

James Lyon, Norwalk killer, attempted to involve his brother, Leonard, in a daring new murder plot just a few hours before his execution in Ohio Penitentiary last night, United Press learned.

Lyon, who continued his defiance of law and religion to the end, was electrocuted in the prison last night at 8:35 p.m. Even in the death chamber, he cursed and condemned the representatives of society.

Continuing the contrast to the last which has marked their stay in "Death Row" at the prison, George Thoma, Mansfield slayer, was resigned and prayerful as he paid the penalty for a double murder a few minutes later.

Jim Lyon might have made good his reputed boast that he would never die in the electric chair, but his brother refused to come to his aid, Warden P.E. Thomas told the United Press.

The brother, Leonard, had been through one murder with James, the killing of Detective Frank McGrath at Norwalk, and it had cost him his freedom for life as it last night caused the elder brother's death.

The daring plan of escape was unfolded a few hours before the execution when Leonard was called from his work in the power plant for a last visit with James.

Warden Thomas had secreted a tiny Dictaphone in the darkness of the condemned man's cell. Thomas listened in as the two brothers talked for the last time the demanding fraternal loyalty in his predicament and the other adamant to the pleas and threats.

The condemned man pleaded with his brother to slip him a knife or other weapon, Thomas said. "There will be some others go if I go," Jim said.

Leonard refused and told James it was foolish.

Improvements planned for Whitney Field

Plans are being completed for the big program of improvements at Whitney Athletic Field. These grounds are used jointly as a high school athletic department and a city playground.

The football field, now located in the southeast part of the grounds, will be given over to tennis courts and other sports. A new football field is to be laid out in about the center of the grounds. Around this will be a new quarter mile cindered running track. There will be a baseball field inside the gridiron and perhaps other departments.

Brandal has relatives here

It is stated that John F. Brandal of Norwalk is a brother of Charles Brandall, 38, who at Fremont late Thursday night, shot and killed his stepdaughter Audrey Smith, 19, perhaps fatally wounding another stepdaughter, Dorothy Smith, seriously injured his wife and then killed himself. Mrs. Brandal will recover but the other girl is not expected to live. The slayer formerly lived in Bellevue.

Compiled by Andy Prutsok

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