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1895 - Deadly Knockout Drops. The Gentle Art of Drugging as Practiced in New York's "Tenderloin."

“The term knockout drops is used to designate a solution of chloral that persons of evil intent place in the liquor or good natured, half drunken men in order to render the latter sleepy and helpless, so as to rifle their pockets the easier,” said Police Captain Pickett of the Tenderloin precinct to a New York Press reporter.

“Most druggists sell the solution at a strength of 100 per cent. One drop of that strength contains about one grain of chloral, a teaspoonful contains enough to kill two men. Thugs who use 'knockout drops' generally carry a small vial that holds three or four teaspoonfuls. It has a pungent though not an unpleasant taste and smells like an overripe melon.

“Those who follow the 'lay' get acquainted first with some fellow who has displayed considerable money. They drink together, and when the attention of the victim has been distracted the vial is whipped out, uncorked and a few drops poured into the glass from which the victim is about to drink. If the couple are drinking in a saloon where it would not be safe to rob the victim, he is given only enough to make him sleepy, so that he may be led to a safe place, generally the nearest dark corner.

“Sometimes too strong a dose is given, the victim does not recover right away and a policeman finds him in the gutter. As the smell of liquor is pretty strong the officer naturally takes him in for a common drunk. Only when he recovers next morning does the truth come out, and then, as is often the case, the victim is too befuddled to remember where he was on the night before or who was with him.

“The only effectual remedy for this evil is a law that will make the carrying of such poisons a misdemeanor, as is carrying concealed weapons now. A man with a bottle of chloral is vastly more dangerous than one with a sandbag or a 'jimmy'.”

Warren Ledger
Warren, Pennsylvania
April 30, 1895

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