June 9, 2020
This story comes from Ghosts and Legends of Frederick County by Cannon and Whitmore.
Hope you enjoy!
“The neighbors were quickly summoned, but when they arrived, the house was fully engulfed in flames. An attempt at rescue was impossible. By the time the fire was extinguished, it was too late for the occupants still in the house. The grim search for the victims began – victims not of fire, but of brutal murder. For as the searchers were soon to discover, the Newey’s had all been viciously mutilated. The children, Ann and Ruth, Mrs. Newey’s father, Mr. Tresslar, the indentured servant, John Coombs; and John and Lydia Newey and their unborn child – all dead.”
In 1825, John Newey had his nephew, John Markley, arrested for thievery. John Markley had stolen stuff in the past but the family had always overlooked the theft. Not this time! He had stolen a wedding suit, a large amount of cash, and a watch.
That October, John Markley was convicted of theft and was sentenced to a five year prison term. The nephew swore he would get even with his uncle as he was being taken from the courtroom.
Many of John Newey’s friends became concerned as the nephew’s prison term drew to a close. They knew Markley well enough to realize that he was sitting in his cell, plotting his revenge.
On December 29, 1839 the family was busy butchering, as well as many neighbors. Late in the afternoon, the youngest daughter was sent to the barn to gather eggs. When she returned, she reported that she had seen a stranger lurking about the barn. But everyone was too busy to pay any attention to her. Her words were soon forgotten.
When the work was completed for the day, one of the neighbors, Mrs. Flautt, was invited to stay the night. She refused. She remembered the child’s report of the stranger lurking about and wanted to get away. Late that night, being unable to sleep, she looked out the window – towards the Newey farm – to see the house engulfed in flames.
The bodies were prepared for burial, but the ground was so frozen that the graves were quite shallow. Several days later, the bodies were exhumed for medical examination, and reburied in the same shallow graves.
A few days later, John Markley was arrested in Hagerstown. Some items in his possession were identified as being property of the Newey’s. Of course, Markley insisted he was innocent. According to the book, he was the first person in the state of Maryland to be convicted of murder on circumstantial evidence. There was no proof of an accomplice, even though it was believed he had one.
Markley was hanged on June 21, 1831 on Barrick’s Hill. It took three companies of militia to control the crowd that had traveled to witness the hanging.
There is no house on the Newey property anymore. All that remains is the cellar, some scattered debris and the unmarked graves. As you pass by the property on a cold winters’ night, it is said that a man can be seen lurking around. Any description of the shadowy man, fits John Markley to a tee. The quiet night came be shattered by the sounds of fire and terrified screams of the Newey family as they struggle for their lives.
John, Jr. & Lydia Newey
Ann, Ruth, & an unborn
John Coombs – apprentice
Date of deaths
December 31, 1830
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