Originally from Toronto, Norman Garfield was convicted of murdering Ben Johnson during an attempted robbery with his brother at Johnson’s candy store, located on Dundas Street, Woodstock. Although his brother, Denton, received a sentence of 20 years for manslaughter, Norman was sentenced to hang on June 2, 1921 as Norman was the one who shot the gun.
A week before his execution, Norman escaped from jail in civilian clothes and headed towards Dundas St. in a stolen car. He hoped to catch a train to North Bay and then to Winnipeg, and then finally south to the American border. However, fate interfered when he ran out of gas and money. He was eventually caught in Georgetown, where he was recognized by two women at the train station.
An inquest was held to discuss how Garfield escaped. Ultimately, the sentence was upheld and his hanging remained scheduled for the 2nd of June. A few hours prior to his walk to the gallows, Garfield once again tried to avoid execution, this time by swallowing glass. The doctors were called in to save his life and the execution continued as planned. His body was buried in his hometown of Toronto.