Revisiting History: Noxon Mercy Killing?

Part I

by Marilyn Muir, LPMAFA

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In researching old records, I encountered the birth chart of a very young murder victim. Because it was an unusual circumstance, I pursued more information. What I found produced this article.

On March 26, 1943, at 2:05 PM (birth record), Pittsfield, MA, a Down’s Syndrome boy was born. On September 22, 1943 about 4:05 PM EST, same location, that six-month old baby was electrocuted by his own father. Death, while brutal, was instantaneous. The Father claimed it was an accident, but he was arrested, tried twice and convicted, sentenced to death, but later released from prison. My research found details of the father and his history, the charges, two trials, their conclusions and the after-story with dates, locations (one actually timed), and date and location of natural death. This is a gruesome story, but one that we can learn from astrologically, so take a deep breath as we begin.

Lawrence Swift Noxon was the child, and the father in question was John F. Noxon, Jr, a World War 1 vet who had been gassed, wounded, and also developed debilitating polio resulting in a life on crutches. He also was a wealthy corporate lawyer and a well-positioned socialite. His hobby provided him with the death weapon. Before we get too far into the technical aspects, a note is necessary. This was 1943. Know that there was no help for a Down’s Syndrome child, no services that we have access to today, no hope; it was a surreal death sentence. I am not accepting or excusing the action, only helping you to look at this story through 1943 eyes and not 2019 eyes.

Dad was an amateur radio buff, building his own equipment. While he claimed the baby got entangled in loose wires and was accidentally electrocuted, it was proven at trial that that was not possible and that it was deliberate murder. The prosecution showed insulation was stripped from one end of the wire of a plug-in portable lamp. The baby, in a very urine-wet diaper, was placed on a silver platter (metal). The stripped ends of the wire were placed on the baby’s arm and chest and the plug end was inserted into a live current. This combination of factors shocked and killed him instantaneously (sudden cardiac arrest), leaving burn marks on his chest and arm. Legal experts testified that the Down’s Syndrome baby did not have the strength, agility or ability to do that to himself, even accidentally. 

Trial #1 March, 1944: A life-size doll was used in a demonstration of the crime. The courtroom presentation was so graphic that a juror collapsed from the strain and could not function. There were no alternate jurors, so the first trial became a mistrial. This case lead to revision of state law regarding alternate jurors.

During the second trial (June, 1944), further evidence revealed that the father had discussed death by electrocution three weeks prior to the event. Enlarged photos were presented, very graphic. The dad admitted he had burned evidence after the death. The defense charged that the police had removed furniture or other evidence from the home without a warrant. Dad was found guilty of first-degree murder very quickly (4 hours) on July 6, 1944, and sentenced to death in the electric chair (irony).  On May 10, 1946, the Massachusetts Supreme Court upheld that verdict. There is more to the father’s story but I am going to pause here so we can examine the event astrology.

Source info revealed there had been a rectification for a slightly earlier birth time. I chose to start with the given time to see how well it worked, so I am using 2:05 PM. I have not done research on Down’s Syndrome, so I do not know if there is a known signature for that disease.

  • In the baby’s birth chart, the out-of-sign Sun/Mercury conjunction is opposite retrograde Neptune. The chart ruler Sun is separating (past), but Mercury is applying to both, a now-to-future pattern. Sun/Mercury is late in the eighth house, and Neptune is co-ruler of that eighth cusp. A fated or destiny orientation of the constitution and life force (Sun) and the communication energy (Mercury) is stressed by Neptune (fog, confusion, illusion, spiritual intention?). In short, chart ruler is stressed by eighth house cusp ruler.
  • The Moon is in the fourth house of family and one parent, opposed a separating Uranus/Saturn conjunction in the tenth (other parent); Moon separating (past) from an opposition to Uranus but applying (present to future) to an opposition to Saturn. That would suggest Uranus might have been triggered during the pregnancy and/or several months after birth (past), and Saturn was triggered at the time of execution.
  • Venus rules and is conjunct the Midheaven and square (both separating, past) Pluto in twelfth. The tenth represents the other parent, which in this instance is measured by both the Moon opposition and the Venus square patterns.
  • No help from one benefic (Venus) and the other, Jupiter, has no close major aspect (unaspected); again, no benefit. Eight of ten natal planets are in stress aspect… natal promise.
  • Venus will square Mars in 8 degrees, potentially nine of ten in stress aspect. Mars and Pluto co-rule the fourth parental house.

This is the natal of an infant with Down’s Syndrome in 1943, just about as difficult as we can imagine.

The child’s progressions have barely moved in six months, but the chart is included for completeness.

The electrocution of the child occurred September 22nd as given.

  • The diurnal is an extremely tight bundle chart with diurnal Midheaven opposed natal Midheaven/Venus, square natal Pluto, angles triggered.
  • Diurnal Pluto is tightly square natal Midheaven as well.
  • The natal Sun/Mercury/Neptune opposition is tightly mirrored by the diurnal Sun/Neptune/Mercury conjunction in the diurnal and natal eighth (death) houses.
  • Diurnal Venus squares the natal Moon/Uranus/Saturn opposition.
  • Diurnal Moon is an exact (3 minutes) conjunction to natal Jupiter.
  • Diurnal Jupiter is tightly conjunct natal Ascendant.
  • In addition, diurnal eighth house is closely conjunct natal North Node with diurnal South Node closely conjunct natal Mars (true Nodes used).

I do the event two ways: as the diurnal (transit for the natal) given above, and as a stand-alone event chart as we have a timed event. Most positions are duplicated, so I check event Midheaven and Ascendant, and possibly the Moon; nothing else moves that much.

  • Event Scorpio Midheaven does square the natal Nodes and natal Ascendant/Descendant accentuating the stress of the electrocution death of the child.

I think we can see the tragic event and the impact it had on the child. But there’s more…

  • The diurnal Ascendant trines the natal Midheaven.
  • The event Ascendant trines the event Sun and sextiles natal Mercury. 
  • Diurnal Jupiter conjuncts natal Ascendant.
  • Diurnal Moon exactly conjunct natal Jupiter.
  • Diurnal and event Sun/Neptune/Mercury trine natal Uranus.

Why all the positive aspects? How can there be positivity in such a horrendous situation? You don’t suppose this might be the chart of what was thought to be a “mercy” killing in 1943? If the child were considered defective and unable to be helped in 1943, was it thought to be merciful to stop his suffering? This would not be seen in the same way in 2019. We know Down’s Syndrome babies can grow up to be reasonably functioning and successful adults. The reason I bring this question up is personal. I do not have anyone close to me with this syndrome. But…

My Mother died very young (age 35). She had brain cancer, and when the surgeons opened her skull in 1952 and saw the cancer, they closed it up and sent her home to die. They did not have the medical choice to remove the diseased tissue at that time. They did not know they could, and they did not know how. All they could do is let her die with the comfort of her family. That is Mercy. This is not true in 2019. They can and do operate on brain tumors, cancerous or otherwise; with varying results, yes, but they at least try. The difference between historical events and current reasoning is personal perspective.

This is enough for this article. This is a hard one to study but it is how we learn. I will be continuing this story in two or more parts. I have the father’s information to delineate with the dates and experiences of the trials, disposition and his death. His chart will be noon mark, but we can still see so much. As well as examining him and his perspective, we also have the ability to look at the relationship issues between father and son with composite, relationship and synastry charts. And… there is always the karmic perspective. Stay tuned for my continuing study and perspective on human frailties.

Published in AFA Today’s Astrologer, republished with slight editing.

RH: Noxon murder part 1 Mercy Dec 2019 vol 81 #12

RH: Noxon murder part 2 karmic Jan 2020 vol 82 #1

RH: Noxon murder part 3 Father Feb 2020 vol 82 #2

RH: Noxon murder part 4 Relationship Apr 2020 vol 82#4

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.