100 Years Ago Today: Murderer Ends His Life in Prison

Moffat County Courier, March 13, 1919

The tragedy of Celina Haberl reached its conclusion when her murderer, Richard H. Baugh, ended his own life by hanging himself in his jail cell in the Canon City State Penitentiary.

Miss Haberl was just 21-years-old when Baugh shot her to death on June 7, 1918. She and her sister had been visiting their grandmother when they got off their streetcar and Baugh snuck up on them from an alley, saying to Celina Haberl, “you don’t have to run, Ethel.” Police reports reveal that he’d been stalking the woman in the neighborhood the last two nights. Baugh killed Haberl with a gunshot to the head, and then Baugh attempted to kill himself by shooting himself in the head. He later recovered in the hospital.

Apparently, Richard Baugh mistook Celina Haberl for Ethel Lane, who he said wronged him, according to a conversation he had with Police Chief, Hamilton Armstrong, in the hospital. The Police Chief informed Baugh, “you got the wrong girl.” Side note: remember when a lunatic threatened to cut off Chief Armstrong’s head and send it to Governor Shoup?

One confusing complication to the story is that today’s article refers to Baugh as a “blind convict.” Does this explain why he mistook Celina Haberl for Ethel Lane? But how would he be able to identify her in the first place, let alone shoot her? Or, did the attempted suicide after her murder cause his blindness? Baugh’s blindness is not mentioned until reports of his trial, when he is referred to as “blinded in both eyes,” and his expression at his sentence is described as “immobile.”

In September of 1918, Baugh was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labor. He took his own life on January 20th, 1919, although the story didn’t make it to the Moffat County Courier until March 13, 1919.

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