Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Delusions & Grandeur

A Lasting Friendship

For some time, Murray knew that Minor was in some way associated with the Broadmoor asylum, because his letters were addressed, W. C. Minor, Broadmoor. Crowthorne, Berkshire. However, according to Winchesters article, The First Meeting between James Murray and William Chester Minor: Some New Evidence,   it was assumed that Minor was a medical officer or possibly the director of the institute. Thus, one could imagine Murrays surprise when in 1889 he learned from visiting Harvard College librarian, Dr. Justin Winsor, that Dr. Minor was actually a patient. Murray also learned the reason why he was detained in the mental institution and was greatly affected by the story. Murray held Minor and his work in great esteem, despite Minors past transgressions, so in 1891 he decided to pay him a visit at the asylum.

That January, Murray boarded a train to Crowthorne where he met the director of the asylum. The men traveled to Broadmoor where Murray met Minor. They became acquainted over a pleasant lunch. Murray spent the better part of the day with Minor, mostly in his cell and found him to be a delightful person.

Murray later described Minor in a letter to a friend as rational, cultured, intellectual, artistic and of high moral character. He was particularly impressed with the degree of remorse he felt for his crime and that he developed a friendship with the widow of his victim, whom he financially supported. Murray thoroughly enjoyed his visit and vowed to return.

Over the years, Murray often visited Minor at Broadmoor. The two men found they had a great deal in common and were intellectual equals. Interestingly, they even looked similar -- both men wore a long white beard and moustache, had a gentle disposition and shimmering kind eyes. The two developed a friendship that would last many years.

Eventually, however, Murray began to notice Minors mental decline. It became increasingly apparent that his friend was losing grip of reality. Minors delusional state intensified over time, as did his paranoia and anxiety. Minor recounted with horror his nightly delusions, where men would come from beneath the floor and from the rafters, taking him sometimes in an airplane to far off destinations and using him sexually before returning him back to his cell.

Murray pitied his friend and tried on occasion to arrange his transfer to America, where he could be cared for by his brother. He believed that being locked away without any family contact was unfair and unjust treatment. In 1902, 68-year-old Minor was Broadmoors longest staying resident, having been confined there for 30 years. Murray doubted he would pose any harm to anyone or himself. Or would he?

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