Leo Hall is hanged on September 11, 1936, for the murder of six people at Erland's Point.

  • By Daryl C. McClary
  • Posted 9/29/2003
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 5559

On September 11, 1936 at 11:00 p.m., Leo Roderick Bernard Hall, age 34, is hanged at the State Penitentiary in Walla Walla for the massacre of six people at Erland's Point, six miles northwest of Bremerton, in Kitsap County. The sensational crime, which took place on March 28, 1934, and its aftermath had captured the attention of the national press for two and a half years. Hall's execution marks the end of Kitsap County's most notorious murder case.

The murders appeared to be the result of a bungled robbery. Leo Hall, an ex-prizefighter and dockyard worker, and Peggy Peterson Paulos, 27, a local barmaid, went to Erland's Point to rob Frank and Anna Flieder, a well-to-do retired couple. However, when they arrived at Flieder's beachfront home, a party was in progress.

Hall covered the group with his gun, while Paulos quickly bound and gagged them. After ransacking the house for money and jewelry, Hall decided to eliminate all the witnesses. When he killed the first victim, Anna Flieder, Paulos got scared and ran for her life. Hall continued his murderous rampage, shooting, beating, and stabbing the other victims. Later, he told Peggy Paulos that he killed everyone because she had been recognized.

The murder victims were identified as Frank Flieder, 45, a well-to-do retired Bremerton grocer; Anna Taylor Flieder, 51, his wife and the wealthy widow of Clifford Taylor, a Bremerton druggist; Eugene A. Chenevert, 51, an ex-prizefighter and vaudeville entertainer; Margaret Chenevert, 48, his wife and a vaudeville actor and entertainer; Magnus Jorden, 62, a retired Navy machinist mate and caretaker of beach homes on Erland's Point; and Ezra M. "Fred" Bolcom, 56, a Bremerton bartender.

Police investigators failed to make any headway in solving the crime and the killer's trail grew cold. Finally, in October 1935, Peggy Paulos, fearing for her safety, confided to her attorney that she had been a reluctant participant in a robbery at Erland's Point, and fingered Leo Hall as the mass murderer. The attorney convinced Paulos to tell the story to the police, who then located and arrested Hall.

In December 1935, both Peggy Paulos and Leo Hall stood trial in Kitsap County for the Erland's Point massacre. The jury found Hall guilty of first degree murder, and sentenced him to death. Peggy Paulos, who had first confessed the crime and testified against Hall, was acquitted and set free. Hall protested his innocence, claiming that Peggy Paulos had lied. Hall filed appeals for a new trial, but all were denied.

Finally, on the evening of September 11, 1936, with more than 100 witnesses packed into the antechamber, the trap dropped beneath Hall's feet at precisely 11:00 PM. At 11:16 p.m., prison officials pronounced Hall dead. It was the largest crowd ever to witness an execution at the state penitentiary in Walla Walla. After two and a half years, the Erland's Point murder investigation was finally closed.


Sources:

"Luke May Describes 'Sextet Murder'; Thinks Slaughter Stared When One Man Broke Bond," Seattle Star, April 2, 1934, p. 1; "Peggy Paulos Re-enacts Scene of Bremerton Sextet Slaying," Ibid., October 26, 1935, p. 1; "Kitsap Murder Victims and Their Histories," The Seattle Times, April 4, 1935, p. 14; "Leo Hall Must Hang; Peggy Paulos Cleared...," Ibid., December 19, 1935, p. 1; "Hall Dies on Gallows; Last Words 'Clear' Pal," Ibid., September 12, 1936, p. 1; Sharon Boswell and Lorraine McConaghy, "Crime and Punishment," Ibid., May 19, 1996, p. B-2; "20th Century's Top Murder Stories; Erlands Point Murders," The Sun (Bremerton), December 31, 1999.


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