WAS A RUSSIAN PRIEST MURDERED?
Inquest in the Case of the Arch-Priest of the Greek Church in this City A Specimen of City Prison Business.
An inquest was held yesterday, in the case of Paul J. Kedrolivansky, until lately Arch-Priest of the Greek Church in San Francisco, who died on the morning of the 19th, at the City Prison Hospital. Deceased was a native of Russia, aged 42 years.
The testimony showed that he was found by Local Officer Stivers, at two oclock, Tuesday morning, at the corner of Spring and California streets, at the entrance to a saloon. He was sitting, leaning against a pillar. The officer walked him to the corner of Kearny street, where, as he appeared to be getting sober, he left him on a door step, and went away a few minutes. Shortly after, another officer (Brickley) took the man in. His clothing did not appear to be soiled, and he wore a silk hat. He was helpless, and had to be taken to the prison in a hack. A watch, key and a dollar were taken off him. As to weapons taken off, the testimony was conflicting. No especial attempt was made to rouse the man, and he was taken into a cell. He was supposed to be stupidly drunk. At four oclock he was removed to another cell, and at noon was taken to the hospital.
An examination was then made by the surgeon, who found a fracture of the skull. The man died at 7:30 oclock. There were no external marks of violence. The cause of death was hemorrhage of the brain, caused by the fracture of the skull.
The Police Surgeon, Dr. Stivers, testified that he never sees cases unless he is notified, and that he considered that a person insensible from drink a fit subject for medical attention and treatment; he had given instructions to be called where drunks remain insensible for six hours; the doctor thought that the fracture might have resulted from a fall, but deceased would have had to fall upon his side in a peculiar manner; the fracture might have been caused by a blow; it could not have been caused by a slung-shot or sand-bag.
It was in evidence that the hospital stewards (trusties) had no medical knowledge; also, that the prisoners hat was missing the next morning.
B. Rosenthal, a tobacco dealer, No. 621 Washington street, testified that deceased was in his shop last Monday night, at ten oclock; thought he had been drinking; deceased said he was afraid to be out late; that an important paper which he intended to send to Russia in relation to some Church matter, and which the Russian Consul had certified to, he had in his pocket, and showed the paper to witness, who did not see the contents, deceased said he was afraid to be out late, as the priest of the church would spend $10,000 to get even with him; that the priest wanted to get above deceased in position.
Joseph Blumberg, proprietor of a saloon at Kearny and Bush streets, testified that deceased left his place at quarter to one oclock Tuesday morning, all right.
Vladimir Welitsky, Consul-General of Russia, testified that he returned a paper to the deceased, as a member of the Consistory, June 14th; this paper was in reference to Church matters, and was not of sufficient importance to cause any one to use violence in order to obtain it; I was present when the papers of deceased were examined and searched; the paper I sent to deceased, above referred to, was not among his effects; had the papers been destroyed, it would not serve much purpose to any one, as I had papers which are copies of almost all the documents. Deceased was recalled some eight months ago, and has been remaining here, merely awaiting his successors arrival. The papers referred to would not have a tendency to elevate or degrade the condition of the priests.
The jury returned a verdict that deceased came to his death by a fracture of the skull, inflicted by some person or persons unknown, and censuring the method of keeping the City Prison records, from which no idea can be formed of where an arrest was made; censuring the loose manner of keeping the property of prisoners; the rough manner of handling prisoners who are in a questionable condition; the neglect by prison keepers to examine prisoners and to comply with the instructions of the Police Surgeon; and condemning the present custom of employing "trusties" in responsible positions.
Mr. Welitsky, in conversation with an ALTA reporter, stated that deceased was a good man, but, unfortunately, addicted to excessive drinking. In regard to the papers, the Consul mentioned one, relating to a divorce case, in which two subordinate priests were alleged to be concerned; the paper was written in English and translated into Russian, be forwarded to St. Petersburg; the translation was placed in the hands of one of the priests, who failed to send it; a demand was made upon him, and he surrendered it to deceased. It was thought he might have had it in his pocket on the Tuesday night, but the Consul stated that he had the original (English), and that neither it nor the translation contained anything of a character which would induce any one to resort to violence to get possession of the document.
The Daily Alta California, Sunday, June 23, 1878, p. 1.