The Hand of a Convicted Murderer
I obtained the impression of Dr. Meyer's hand (Plate XIII) under the following conditions. On the occasion of my first visit to New York, some people wanted some to test my powers by having me read imprints of hands without my knowing the names or positions of any of the people; Without demurring, I accepted the test and we at once got to work.
I had described the character and careers of perhaps a dozen of these test cases, when the impressions of a strange-looking pair of hands were put before me. I was struck by the fact that the lines on the left were in every way normal while those on the right were as abnormal as possible. I particularly noticed that on the left hand the line of head lay clear and straight across the centre, whereas on the right it appeared to have twisted out of its place, closing in against the heart-line under the base. of the third finger.
I summed up the impressions before me by stating: "Judging from these hands, the owner of them undoubtedly commenced his career in a normal way. He is likely to have been a religious man in his early years." 1 thought that it was probable he might have commenced life as a Sunday- school teacher and later became interested in science or medicine.
I went on to describe how the man's entire nature slowly and steadily had changed under the continual urge to acquire wealth at any cost, until he was finally prepared even to commit murder for money.
My remarks noted down by the reporters were as follows: "Whether this man has committed one crime or twenty is not the question, as he enters his forty-fourth year he will be found, arrested, tried, and sentenced to death. .It will then be proved that for years he has used his mentality and whatever profession he has followed to obtain money by crime and has stopped at nothing to achieve his ends: This man in his forty-fourth year will pass through some sensational trial, he will be condemned to die, yet his hands show that he will escape this fate and live on for years-but in prison."
When the interview with me appeared the following Sunday in the New York World, the paper disclosed that the bands I had read were those of a Dr. Meyer from Chicago. He had that very week been arrested on suspicion of having poisoned wealthy patients whom he had insured for considerable amounts of-money.
The trial, as might be expected, was a sensational one, but in spite of the efforts of best lawyers, he was sentenced to die by the electric chair. The conviction was appealed. Three trials in all took place, but at the third he was again condemned to death without hope of a reprieve.
A week before his execution, he requested that I should go arid see him. I was taken to his cell in Sing Sing prison. As long as I live, I shall never forget the interview.
"Cheiro," gasped the now completely broken man, "at that interview you gave the reporters, what you said about my early life was true. But you also said that although I should be sentenced to the electric chair, I should live on for years but in prison.
"I have lost my third and last appeal, in a few days I am to be executed. For God's sake, tell me if you stand by your words-that I shall escape 'the chair'."
Even if I had not seen his line of life going on clear and distinct well past his forty-fourth year, I believe I would have tried to give him hope. To me it was torture to see that poor wretch before me, to feel his cold clammy hands touching mine, and see his hollow eyes hungry for a word of comfort.
Although I could hardly believe what I saw, I pointed out that his line of life showed no sign of any break, and so I left him, giving the hope that some miracle could still happen that would save him from the dreaded 'chair'.
Day after day went past, with no news to relieve the tension. Mentally I suffered almost as much as the poor man in the condemned cell. The evening papers, full of details of the preparations for the execution fixed for the next morning were eagerly brought up. I bought one and read every line.
Midnight came. Suddenly boys rushed through the streets screaming 'Special Edition.' I read across the front page, 'MEYER ESCAPES THE CHAIR, SUPREME COURT FINDS FLAW IN INDICTMENT.' The miracle had happened. The sentence was altered to imprisonment for life. Meyer lived for fifteen more years. When the end did come, he died peacefully in the prison hospital.
If students study this hand, they will see how closely its indications follow the descriptions I have given of the line of head showing the tendencies for premeditated murder in early pages of this book. Students must not confuse this rising of head against the heart-line with the one straight line of head and heart combined, which will be seen in further impressions given later.