Interpreting the Evidence
In the weeks leading up to his public execution, Wooster residents were divided about Callahan’s sentencing. The debate centered around some individuals viewing Callahan being unfairly singled out from his accomplices, while others support the execution sentence because the brutality of the murder was distressing, and Callahan committed the fatal wounds.
The minority of Callahan’s Wooster supporters attempted to repeal his sentencing: Callahan’s friends and family pushed a “100 day reprieval” for reconsideration of other means for punishment than execution. Their circulating petition attempted to persuade Governor Charles Foster to commute Callahan’s sentence of execution to life in prison. Slowly with this petition Callahan began to gain more support and eventually, the petition gathered two thousand signatures. While Governor Foster took the petition into consideration, he chose to not change Callahan’s sentence. His decision was released via telegram to Wooster Sheriff Coulter stating, “let the law take its course.”1
The Governor’s decision solidified the divide in Wooster because it signified Wayne County’s first execution and concrete repercussive actions of both John Tormie’s assailants and citizen’s rioting immediately after the murder.
1. Emerson, Rhonda. "Early Wayne History Including Hanging For Murder." Daily Record. (Wooster, OH), Dec. 2nd, 1967. Pp 1.