(Transcribed and contributed by
Laporte, Ind., Jan. 15-A negro woman, Mrs. Elizabeth Adams, today was
taken into custody by the sheriff as a witness to the murder of Mrs.
Belle Gunness and her children by Ray Lamphere, as revealed in today’s
publication of Lamphere’s confession to Rev. E.A. Schell, now president
of Iowa Wesleyan university.
The Fort Wayne Sentinel, Fort Wayne Indiana
TAKE NEGRESS AS LAMPHERE’S PAL
Elizabeth Adams Arrested at Laporte for Death of Gunness Family.
TRUE CONFESSION OF LAMPHERE OUT
Rev. Dr. Schell Makes Public the Story Given Him by Murderer.
Judge Richter ordered the arrest of the woman after conferring with
Prosecutor Smith. The prosecutor announced that he was satisfied
Lamphere’s narrative to Mr. Schell was a faithful account of the
happenings on the Gunness “murder farm.”
Elizabeth Smith this afternoon denied to Prosecutor Smith that she
accompanied Lamphere to the Gunness farm the morning of the fire or
participated in the chloroforming of Mrs. Gunness and the children.
TRUE CONFESSION PUBLIC
Rev. Dr. Schell Gives Out the
Mount Pleasant, Iowa, Jan. 15- Rev. Dr. E.A. Schell, president of Iowa
Wesleyan university, broke his long silence yesterday and gave the
confession of Ray Lamphere, made to him in the county jail at Laporte,
Ind., in April, 1908.
confession which hitherto has been held as a privileged communication
by minister, was given with all the detail of the three conversations
in which Lamphere laid bare the secrets of the Gunness charnel house.
describes the killing of Mrs. Belle Gunness and the three children who
perished in the burning of the Gunness house. Lamphere admitted killing
the four persons, but denied setting fire to the house.
Lamphere’s confession implicates a negress as an accomplice. A
description is given of the killing of Andrew Helgelien, which Lamphere
says he witnessed. He assisted in the burying of the bodies of two men.
MINISTERS AUTORIZES PUBLICATION
Schell authorized the publication of the confession and described how
it was given to him. When seen by a representative of the Tribune in
his office at the Iowa Wesleyan university he dictated the following
statement of his reasons for making public the confession:
view of the conflicting reports which continue to keep alive interest
in the Gunness case and the interrogations which must continually arise
in the minds of sorrowing friends and recognizing that the principal
facts already are made public, I have concluded to relieve myself of
further responsibility by communicating to the public through the
Chicago Tribune the details of my three conversations with the late Ray
Lamphere in the jail at Laporte, the statements he made to me, and the
circumstances under which they were made.”
SCHELL’S STORY OF CONFESSSION
following is Dr. Schell’s statement of the confession, written several
months after his conversations with Lamphere:
April, 1908, it was reported to me on the next to the last Monday
morning that the Gunness house had been burned and with it three
children who had been attending my Sunday school, a bright, winsome lad
5 years old and two girls, perhaps 7 and 9. I had seen the children
driving around in a pony cart the previous fall and several times
noticed the boy in the infant class.
the suggestion of J.P. Rupel, the Sunday school superintendent, we
arranged a brief memorial service for the Sunday school the following
Sunday morning. About the middle of the week Ray Lamphere was arrested,
being accused of arson, and confined in the Laporte jail. On Friday, at
the suggestion of Prosecuting Attorney Smith and understanding
that it was Lamphere’s wish, I called at the jail to counsel with him
and perhaps to receive his confession.
LAMPHERE EXTREMELY AGITATED
found him agitated in the extreme, beads of perspiration were on his
brow, his hands twitched, and his nervousness was plainly noticeable. I
stated that I had come to see him, feeling that a conversation
with some one might relieve his feelings and help him to calmness. He
said that he supposed they would hang him, but that he was innocent of
denied that he had set the house on fire and related to me how he had
slept at the house of a negress until 3 a.m. that morning, then he
started for the home of a relative in the country, and in passing by
the Gunness home had seen that it was burning, but being angry at Mrs.
Gunness and no longer working for her, he hurried past. He then said he
reached his relatives place in the country, some four miles further, at
about 4 o’clock.
“Early after dinner of the same day I called again and told him I had
learned he had not reached his relative until after 6 o’clock
that morning. He said that on thinking it over he remembered that he
went back to bed after waking up, and that the negress got his
breakfast about 4 o’clock a.m. and that he did not start as early as he
thought, as he remembered that the Lake Erie train went by just as he
crossed the track north of the lake.
also said that instead of going directly by the house, as he had said
in the morning, he had taken the road father east, and on the other
side of the lake, and only saw the house at a distance. I kindly
accused him of falsehood and advised him if he wanted my sympathy,
prayers, and help to remain silent or tell the exact truth.
HELPED TO BURY VICTIM
promised not to tell the prosecuting attorney, and after some two hours
of general conversation about Mrs. Gunness, he told me the story of the
night as follows:
had been intimate with Mrs. Gunness from June, 1907, while as carpenter
and man of all work I was around the house. Three times at her request
I purchased chloroform, and once a dug a hole in the hog lot for her
and helped her put in the body of someone who she said had died
suddenly about the house, and she thought the easiest way was to cover
him up and say nothing about it.
“Lamphere went on to say that he had no suspicions of Mrs. Gunness
having murdered any one until one night when he returned suddenly from
Michigan City and having bored some holes through a wall, saw her
administer some chloroform to a man and hit him in the back of the head
with a hatchet. Fearing her after that, he had quit working for her and
returned to the house only occasionally to get his wages still due.
then told him that he had been known to stay at the house after that
and that I did not believe his story and that it was contradictory in
too many particulars. He then said that he had taken money from Mrs.
Gunness several times, making her ‘dig up’ or he would tell on her.
Once she gave him $50. At another time $15, and again $5. He would then
go to the saloons and when he was sober once more he would find the
money all gone.
Schell prepared the statement of the confession with a view to
furnishing it to Prosecuting Attorney Smith at Laporte, who asked for
it after Lamphere’s death, Dec. 30. On Jan. 1 he was visited by a
reporter and asked to give it to the public. This he refused to do and
asserted that today is the first time he communicated the facts of the
Lamphere confession to any one.
had intended to send the confession to Attorney Smith to be held in
confidence, but was induced yesterday to give it out. Before making it
public he consulted with a number of ministers of his church and with
his bishop. They generally advised him to keep the secret as one heard
in the confessional, but the bishop told him to use his own judgment.
WOMAN HAD HIM ARRESTED
had him arrested once for trespass and once for being insane, fearing
he would tell on her. He bought the chloroform she used before she
killed Helgelein, ‘the Swede,’ as he called him and slept in the
Gunness house on the Friday night or the Saturday night previous to the
burning of the house. At that time she refused to give him more than
$1, and he told her that he would ‘get even’ with her.
Sunday night, after he and the negress mentioned had been drinking
about 11 o’clock, the two went together to the Gunness house, letting
themselves in by a key which he had and going quietly so as not to
disturb another hired man, who was in the house. With some of the
chloroform which he had purchased for Mrs. Gunness before Helgelein
disappeared, and part of which he put into another bottle, the two gave
Mrs. Gunness some chloroform, holding it under her nose until she
became quiet. The little boy was in bed with her. They then gave some
to the two children, who were in bed in another room. I asked him to
explain how all were together when found. He said he did not know, that
he was pretty drunk, but that was the way he remembered it.
“They then searched the house for the large sum of money which they
felt sure was hidden in the house, but found only a small amount. He
did not set the house on fire, though he said he was not certain that
the negress did not do it, for she was as drunk as he. He stoutly
protested that he had not arranged a candle so that it would burn down
and later set fire to the place, and that he had nothing in his mind
more than to get money enough to have a ‘big time’ with.
RAN AS HE SAW HOUSE BURNING
and the negress left the house together, and at a certain point in the
road she went home and he went running away, greatly afraid because he
saw the house burning. I advised him to tell the story to the
prosecuting attorney and save the county the cost of the trial and his
sisters the expense of defending him. I told him I would see Attorney
Smith and ask him to be easy on him, and allow him to consult with a
lawyer before a plea of guilty was made.
prayed with him and promised to call and bring with me a Bible, for
which he asked. The next day, Saturday, I called again, taking with me
two sheets of paper, on which I had written the statement which he had
made the previous afternoon. I told him how he had been seen alone in
the field and cautioned him that the negress ought not to be brought
into it if she had not been with him and told him that Attorney Smith
ahd scouted the idea that the negress had gone with him, and she had
accounted for herself the whole night through.
also said that no one would believe that he had not set the house on
fire, and with some slight variations he repeated the story as I had
written it down, agreeing to sign it and give it to Smith. I left the
Bible with him with marked passages in it. I met Smith almost
immediately after leaving the jail and hold him Lamphere was going to
advised him to arrest the negrees, but he attached no importance to it
and I urged him to let Lamphere have a lawyer. He asked me if Lamphere
had confessed, and I made an envasive answer. After the next Sunday
services I went to Baltimore to attend the general conference of the
Methodist church. It was while I was there that the discoveries that so
aroused the country were made. And of the details I know far less than
the reporters who visited the scene and collected the items of the
REASONS FOR HIS SILENCE
was several times suggested that I visit Lamphere after my return, but
I refused to go. I still fell that the communication was privileged,
that I owed it to his sisters to refuse to make it public until now,
and that failure on my part to keep the confession secret might deter
others needling the encouragement of a Christian preacher from opening
his heart to some man of God.”
NO MENTION OF JENNIE OLSON
does not know what became of the brief statement he wrote and gave the
Lamphere in jail, but thinks it was destroyed. He believes Lamphere
would have made the full confession to Attorney Smith but for the
general conference at Baltimore which took him from the scene.
Schell was presiding elder, of the northwest Indiana conference for six
year just preceding the murder of Mrs. Gunness. He became
president of ---- ---yan university about two years ago. No mention of
Jennie Olson was made to Dr. Schell in any of the conversations with
Lamphere and nothing said to indicate that she had not died long before
the fire which destroyed the Gunness house.