Debosnys Ciphers


In the Spring of 1882, a well-spoken gentleman by the name of Henry Debosnys arrived in Essex County, New York on a yacht from Philadelphia. After a whirlwind romance, he married local widow Elizabeth Wells: however, when they went out on a picnic on 1st August, Debosnys’ new wife was found dead, apparently by his hand. Debosnys was tried and convicted of her murder, and then executed.

While in jail, Debosnys wrote a number of poems and as-yet-undecrypted cryptograms (reproduced below). His identity and family history have not yet been verified: what he told the police was very much incomplete, so there is still much to learn about him. It seems possible that the cryptograms he left behind may contain additional personal information that could be useful in this regard.

Cheri L. Farnsworth’s (2010) “Adirondack Enigma: The Depraved Intellect & Mysterious Life of North Country Wife Killer Henry Debosnys” ably summarises what is known about Debosnys.