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Herbert S. Dudley

Convicted of breaking and entering in Waltham, Massachusetts, in 1911, Herbert S. Dudley was exonerated fifteen months later after the actual culprit confessed to the crime on his deathbed.
On March 19, 1908, the house of Postmaster Charles J. Shepard, in Waltham, Massachusetts, was broken into by Albert J. Reynolds and a second unidentified man. Reynolds and Herbert Dudley had been partners in a previous series of break-ins, for which they were convicted in 1901 and sentenced to seven years in prison. In late 1908, Dudley was convicted again of receiving stolen property and was sentenced to two and a half to three years in jail. After Dudley was released from this term in 1911, he was tried and convicted of the 1908 burglary of Shepard’s house. Reynolds was tried separately for the Shepard break-in, and he was convicted as well. The two men were each sentenced to four to six years in the Massachusetts State Prison.
Once back in prison in 1911, Dudley professed his innocence to the prison chaplain, Reverend Albert Crabtree, who felt compelled to investigate further. Crabtree approached Reynolds and asked him to reveal his actual accomplice in the crime, which he eventually did. This man was located. Sick from tuberculosis, he was on his deathbed in a Boston hospital. Knowing he would soon die, he confessed his guilt to Crabtree. Crabtree forwarded the information to the district attorney.
Once the information was properly vetted, Dudley was pardoned and released on September 11, 1912. About the identity of the actual culprit, Crabtree remarked, “No one but the proper authorities know the name of the dead man and I don't care to tell it.”
- Researched by Michael Wolynski
Most Serious Crime:Burglary/Unlawful entry
Reported Crime Date:1908
Sentence:4 to 6 years
Age at the date of crime:
Contributing Factors: