Home conditions were next looked up by a court investigator and we came to know the mother and sister. Much to our surprise we found them to be quite self-respecting, entirely credible people of good reputation in the neighborhood. The mother is an honest hard-working woman and is exceedingly depressed about the career of this boy. The sister is a modest and unquestionably good, self-supporting, young woman. Not a word was heard against them in any way. In their distress they gave us the full story.
The parents were immigrants when young. The father died through an accident some ten years previously. The mother has kept track of the members of both families fairly well. She had a sister insane, said to have become so as the result of the menopause. The father himself had occasional attacks of epilepsy, but they were never frequent enough to hinder him working as an artisan. He was a very moderate user of alcohol. The mother has always been fairly healthy. Thinks she now has a cancer. There are no other significant points in heredity that she knows. There are three living children; a number of miscarriages came after John was born.
The pregnancy and birth were, normal. John walked and talked very early. Never any convulsions. At about two years of age he was very low with a complication of diseases. He was sick at that time for three months. Later he was operated on for rupture. The trouble with his eyes is of recent origin. When he was a young boy in school a teacher once told her she did not consider him right mentally.
There has been an exceeding amount of trouble with this boy. He was a great truant and reached only the 4th grade. When he was living with the uncle he caused much trouble, and the uncle warned her. He has run away from home twelve times, stays away perhaps two weeks at a time, and comes home ragged and filthy. He has had many jobs, but stays only a day or two at work. He steals in petty ways, takes money from home when he runs away. He is very lazy, but a great reader, especially of cheap novels.
Among the troubles with this boy is his extremely filthy talk. He has even lost one position on account of this. An aunt caught the boy in bad sex practices several years ago and told the mother. Neighbors, and earlier the school people, warned the mother that this was what was the matter with the boy. About a year ago John was found in a room with a man and other boys engaged in bad practices. The man was sentenced to a long term in the penitentiary on account of it.
Worst of all, the mother says the boy is the most malicious liar she has ever heard of. They have had a frightful time with him on account of this. For over two years John has been telling bad stories about the step-father. Recently he could not stand it any longer and left the mother. He was a good and rather strict man who took much interest in the children. He tried rewards with John, but this was of no avail. The boy has destroyed the home life, but she thought it her duty to try further with her own flesh and blood. The sister is in utter despair about what John has said concerning her. The younger brother also feels great humiliation. The boy has told his worst stories about them even in their own neighborhood.
After our investigation the boy was sent to an institution for delinquents where he could have the best of treatment for his ailments. The report from there after a few months was that he proved to be an exceedingly weak and vacillating type. He was notorious for being a boy that would do anything that was suggested to him. An outlook was kept for signs of insanity, but none was noted.
Over three years later we hear that John's character has not shown any radical change as demonstrated by his mode of living. He has served at least one term in a penal institution for adults. We do not know anything further about lying or false accusations in the case.