William Hobbs portrait   Save
William Hobbs portrait
Description: In 1885, the Ohio Penitentiary became the site of all executions for prisoners on death row; formerly, executions had taken place in the county where the crime was committed. In 1896, the Ohio General Assembly mandated that electrocution replace hanging as the state’s only form of capital punishment. Altogether there were 315 people who were electrocuted at the Ohio Penitentiary, their deaths occurring between 1897 and 1963. This photograph shows 32-year-old William Hobbs, the 208th prisoner in Ohio to be executed in this manner. Hobbs’s portrait was displayed in the east annex of the Ohio Penitentiary along with hundreds of other photographs of prisoners who were executed by the state of Ohio. These were housed in the same area of the penitentiary as death row and the execution chamber itself. The caption at the bottom of his photograph reads: “No. 208, William Hobbs of Butler County, Electrocuted July 6th, 1938 for the Murder of Patrolman Arthur Sponsel at Hamilton, Ohio.” Officer Sponsel was killed during a restaurant burglary committed by Hobbs and two accomplices, Charles Vincent Boss and John Agnew. Only Hobbs, the gunman, received the death penalty. Boss and Agnew, also convicted for first degree murder of Sponsel, received life sentences. View on Ohio Memory.
Image ID: AL08262
Subjects: Ohio History--State and Local Government--Law; Ohio History--State and Local Government--Corrections; Capital punishment--Ohio--History; Electrocution; Death row; Ohio Penitentiary (Columbus, Ohio)
Places: Butler County (Ohio); Hamilton (Ohio); Franklin County (Ohio); Columbus (Ohio)