July 4, 1908
JOHN EARL STROUD, A. B.
Kansas University graduate whose mind
is deranged and is being detained
by the police.
Mayor Thomas T. Crittenden, Jr., put aside everything for a time yesterday and repaired to the police matron's room, where, with mystic signs, a few words, a wrinkled brow and a queer look in his eye, he attempted to remove a hypnotic spell which John E. Stroud of Howard, Kas., says has been upon him for now just three months and six days.
Stroud called on the mayor Thursday afternoon and insisted on having an audience with him at once. He said that he was laboring under the spell of a "snake-eyed hypnotist," which might cause him to jump in front of a street car at any moment, and that he had made a special pilgrimage here to see the mayor, believing that only he could undo the spell. The mayor called Captain Walter Whitsett to his office and Stroud was placed in limbo.
There was a brief session of the police board yesterday, and at its close Stroud's case came up for discussion. "Why don't you go in and remove the spell then?" the mayor was asked. "If the man believes you can, it might help him."
"I have never been a success at removing spells," said his honor, "but I'm game to try my hand at it."
The police board adjournd to the matron's room and Mayor Crittenden was formally introduced to Stroud, who sat with bowed head in a cell. He seemed pleased when told that the mayor had come to cast off the spell and shook hands cordially.
"All but myself and the doctors will please leave the room," said the mayor in a commanding voice. When the room was cleared the cell door was unlocked and the mayor entered with Dr. J. P. Neal. Taking Stroud by the right hand, placing the left upon the man's brow and looking as much like a real spell-removing wizard as possible, the mayor said in a slow, firm voice:
"By the authority vested in me by the great state of Missouri and this beautiful city, I here and now peremptorily command the hypnotic spell which has been upon you be permanently removed."
The mayor finished his solemn duty with a motion of the hands as if flinging something from the ends of his fingers. Stroud grinned and looked as if he felt better.
"You'll be all right now," said the mayor on leaving. "I have called the spell all off."
The unusual duty was performed at just 4:13 o'clock. Two hours later Stroud was asked if he didn't feel better and if the spell had been cast off.
"I guess I was wrong in my surmises," he said dolefully. "It will undoubtedly take a hypnotist to undo the work of one of his kind. Send on a good one and I think he can do it."
"How do you know the spell has not been removed by the mayor?" he was asked. "He has removed hypnotic spells before and should not have failed in your case."
"Because I can hear the hypnotist talking to me," was the reply. Then he cocked his head to one side to listen. "I didn't quite catch what he said then," he said. Once more he took a listening attitude and laughed. "He says, 'You can do as you please.' Now that isn't true, for my whole life is guided by his suggestions. I see it now in everything I do. I may be looking at a person passing along the street there and want to change and look at someone else, but I can't. Again, when I feel like looking at an object a long time, the hypnotist compells me to change and look at something else."
Dr. Neal said yesterday that Stroud's condition is much worse than when he was first detained. Then he was only receiving suggestions at intervals, but now he regards every move he makes a coming from the mysterious person whom the thinks has him in his power.
"That class of insanity is the most dangerous kind," said Dr. Neal. "Suppose the suggestion to kill should come to him and he believed that he had to act on it? What would be the result?"
Thursday night Captian Whitsett wired the unfortunate man's father, R. L. Stroud, the proprietor of the Stroud hotel, Howard, Kas., and the reply said, "Have written by this mail." The letter had not ben received last night Colonel Greenman notified the father again yesterday. Stroud said he had been here since June 15 and had been stopping at 314 West Fourteenth street. He will not be released except to relatives who can care for him, as he is now regarded as a dangerous man to be at large.