BOUND OVER FOR TRIAL
Preliminary Examination of One of the Caney Bank Robbers
Independence, Kas., June 29 - The preliminary examination of Elijah Higgins, charged with being one of the men who robbed the Caney Valley Bank on March 27 of last year was held Wednesday at Caney, the scene of the robbery. All of the employees of the bank and several other persons who witnessed the robbery or who had/seen the robbers, were put upon the stand and all thought Higgins was one of the robbers. Accordingly he was bound over to the district court for trial and his bail fixed at $800 which was promptly given. (Topeka Weekly Capital, July 5, 1894)
THE BENDER BAND
More Facts Concerning the Horrible Tragedy in Kansas
A reporter of the Kansas City Times, who returned from the scene of the murders on Monday night, makes the following statement, which contains many facts of interest in addition to those already published:
The devil's kitchen, otherwise the Bender house, is a small, rude frame shanty, without lath or plaster or intervening substance between its floor and the rafters of the pointed roof. In size it is 16 by 24 feet. Small uprights 2 by 4 inches are set to mark the house into two compartments, but no wall had ever been made other than a white cotton cloth hung in the rear apartment and against these uprights. The front apartment had in it a counter over which the butchers once pretended to sell groceries. In the rear room was a rude bed, a table, a stove, and three chairs.
The table to which the guests of the fiends were seated, was placed directly over the trap door so that the guest's back was to and against the white curtain. In this position it was an easy thing for the male villains in the front apartment to strike the form clearly lined and resting against the white cloth and when the blows of the sledge and the hammer had knocked the victim, with a crushed and broken skull, senseless and helpless to the floor, for the female fiends in the back room to cut their throat. The execution was as simple as it was dreadful, but, though it would seem resistance to such well planned murder of the trusting and unsuspecting was impossible, the walls gave silent evidence that some of the murdered ones had not been sent to their doom without an effort to defend themselves. No less than a dozen bullet holes in the sides and roof of the house attest that armed men, when struck down so relentlessly, had attempted to shoot their murderers, but, unfortunately, the aims had been wild and the murderers are reserved for the hempen halter.
This building is located just on the rising edge of a beautiful narrow valley, circled on the south, east and west by a range of mounds of the valley. The hills are distant from the house from a half mile to a mile, the closest being on the south to the rear. The house fronted to the road just in the bend, sitting back about its own length from the roadway. From this point of the road can be had a full view of everything for half a mile in every direction, but not another house is within sight. It is about seven miles from Cherryvale, ten miles from Thayer, eight miles from Ladore, and two miles from Morehead, and just in the northwest corner of Labette county.
PISTOLS AND KNIVES FOR A SUPPER
One of the most marvelous stories ever heard, but which is vouched for by reliable men is the following: One evening about three months ago, a poor woman, footsore and weary, traveling to Independence, without money, stopped at the Bender den and asked for some supper, and for the privilege of resting awhile. She was invited in and being nearly exhausted she took her shoes and scanty wrappings off and lay down on the bed in the back room. She soon fell into a troubled doze, from which she was awakened by the "touch of the old hag of the den, who pointing to an array of pistols and double edged knives of various sizes, lying on the table, said in the spirit of bellish malignity: "there, your supper is ready." The woman was motionless and breathless with terror, and as she sank back on the bed, the devil dame picked up the knives one by one and drew her finger along the sharpened blades at the same time glancing fiendishly at her intended victim. How this terror lasted the woman could not tell but at last she in the very desperation of fear, arose, as though not alarmed and made a private excuse for going out. She was permitted to do so and moving around to the shelter of the stable, barefooted and scarce half clad, she darted off on the wings of fear and ran two miles to the house of one who protected her and gave her shelter. As she was running away, she turned frequently to see if she was pursued but no one followed her, though she saw the light from the opened doorway several times, as though the devils inside were awaiting her return.
Even this story seems not have aroused more than the before existing suspicion that the Benders were not exactly the right kind of people.
A BUNGLING BUSINESS
Although for the past three years this section has been infested with horse thieves and murders, and this known to every one about the country, it is probable the same state of affairs might have continued for an indefinite period had not the murder of Dr. York, a man of family, friends and reputation, led to the exposure. Men have been missed and bodies found of murdered men for three years past, and vigilance committees have hunted and driven some men from the country but it would now seem as though the leaders of these "regulators" were themselves the villains and honest men had been falsely and foully suspected and driven from their homes. Known villains have for that time been sent to the Penitentiary only to be pardoned out by Governors.
And even the band of seventy-five armed and honest men who scoured the country in search of Dr. York when it was learned that he was missing seem to have had very little judgment or discretion.
On the 28th of March last, Col. York and Mr. Johnson visited the Bender House, to which place they had tracked Dr. York, and endeavored to coax some information from them, but they would tell nothing. On the 3d of April, this armed band visited the house with the sole object of finding the murderers of Dr. York, yet they did not notice the bullet holes in the house, and allowed themselves to be fooled by an assumed stupidity which was the disguise of most hellish cunning. The old hag sat mum and gloomy, pretending she could not understand or speak English, old Bender said nothing; Kate, she of the evil eye, denied all knowledge of the lost, and the younger male villain fooled them with a well made up story. He said that at about the time they said Dr. York was missed, he, Bender,
HAD BEEN SHOT AT
In a lonesome place near Drum Creek, one evening, and it must have been by those who killed the doctor. He described the place minutely and then took them to it, and it was found as he said, and they half believed his story, and returned with him. Col. York repeated the story given above, of supper and pistols and knives offered to the lone woman, when the old hag soon found her sense of the English language improved. She understood all that had been said, and flew into a violent passion. She denied the story of the supper, but said that that was a bad and wicked woman whom she would kill if she ever came near them again; that the woman was a witch and had bewitched Kate's coffee, and then she ordered the whole band away. While going and coming from the creek John told Col. York that his sister Kate could do anything, that she could control the devil, and that the devil did her bidding. When they returned to the house Col. York tried to induce this wonderful mistress of the devil to reveal where the body of his brother was. She positively and persistently refused her Satanic aid at this time, giving as her reason therefor that she could not do so in the daytime and while there were so many men and so much noise about.
This pretended sorceress and real fiend then told Col. York privately that if he would come the next night, Friday - when best she worked her spells - and bring only one man with him, she would take him to the grave of his murdered brother. Had the Colonel been so foolish as to believe this mysterious power of the creature there is no doubt she would have proved her promise good. The whole band then left the house. They visited the houses of Roach, and Smith and Harness at Ladore, and made many threats, but accomplished nothing. Their intent was good, but they lacked an experienced detective for a leader. So strong was their conviction, however, of the guilt of the Roach's and the Benders that they would have hung them then if it had not been for the persuation of Col. York and a few others, who were determined that none but the known guilty should suffer. Of course this visit alarmed the Benders, and they fled. How, has been published in the Times.
It seems strange that no watch was put upon the suspected Benders and still more strange that they should have been gone three weeks before anyone knew of it. When they went to Thayer they left their team and wagon and dog on the public street of the town. On the street the team and wagon remained for two days without a claimant when they were taken charge of by a livery firm there - Bears & Wheeler. No notice, other than a notice in the Head Light, the local journal, was given of the finding of the team and no description of the horses published, though they were peculiarly and similarly marked. Had such description been given, it must have led to the speedy pursuit of the fleeing criminals. It is not suspected that there was any guilt in this neglect, but only carelessness.
THERE MUST BE A GANG
No doubt is entertained that the Benders have not been alone in their damnable villainy. They must have had confederates to dispose of the stock and clothes of the murdered men, and suspicion has readily pointed to a number of men, living throughout that section, in different directions, and to none with more evidence of justice than to one.
This fellow lives about three miles south of Parsons, and when Col. York was making search for his brother he tried to influence the Colonel to employ him as a detective. Luckily the Colonel would have nothing to do with him. This man, it is said by two men who are generally credited, at different places and times, and separately, told him he was a member of a band of "Regulators" in the county, and that when they found a criminal they never troubled him with the law, or put the county to any expense about him; that the band always knew their own work when they saw it, for every man they put out of the way laid with his throat cut, his left arm across his breast, and his right by his side. In all such condition and position were found nearly all the Bender victims. As a further evidence against this fellow, it is known that soon after McCrotty's disappearance was known, and when there was about to be some action taken to look for him, he pretended to have a letter from McCrotty, telling of his safe arrival in Illinois, at his intended destination.
The other suspected parties who have been arrested are men of bad repute in general and believed for some time to be horse thieves, if nothing worse. On Sunday Sheriff Stone brought into Independence, under arrest, Addison Roach, of Ladore, and William Buxton, a son-in-law of the elder Roach, both fond near Cedarvale. This makes the number under arrest now on suspicion, so far as known, twelve. The names of the others have been published in the Times.
LAST SUNDAY AT THE GRAVES
On last Sunday there were about one thousand men, women and children at the Bender grounds, gazing with mingled emotions of horror and curiosity. The graves even yet sent forth a sickening stench, and women held their noses as they peered down into the now tenantless holes. Two special trains were run, one from Independence and one from Coffeyville, to a point on the railway line about two miles from the house and teams were busy running to and from the grounds, while the greater portion of the crowd were compelled to walk. The trains brought three hundred persons there from all parts of the surrounding country, in wagons, carriages and on horseback.
The curiosity of many seemed to master their repulsion and hundred brought away some memento of the dreadful place. The bloodstained bedstead was smashed to pieces and divided in the crowd, all the shrubbery and the young trees were broken or torn up and carried away and pieces of the house borne off by the curious. Such another raid would not leave much of the shanty. It was supposed that the grounds would be plowed and scraped again this day to search for other bodies but the intent was abandoned and it is not probably that any further search will be made until it is done regularly by the county authorities.
Rewards to the amount of $5,000 have been offered for the capture of the murderers, and there is not the slightest doubt that they will be recovered. On last Saturday the detectives were on the trail of the Benders, with the expressed certainty of effecting their speedy capture and it is more than probable they are already taken. With the number under arrest and the others watched, no doubt someone will reveal the whole truth, when Kansas will be rid of the worst scoundrels that ever infested and cursed this country.
THE BAND FORMERLY FROM INDIANA
From the New Albany Ledger-Standard
The sickening details of the terrible Bender murders in Kansas, come to us with fearful emphasis in view of our discovery, of the fact that the inhuman murderers were probably for some time residents of the neighborhood of this city, and that circumstances in connection with the recent developments in Kansas, strongly point them out as the authors of a mysterious murder, which happened in our midst some year and a half ago.
Our readers will remember the circumstances attending the murder of a German and his wife by the name of Bandle, and the burning of the house over their bodies. The mystery has never been removed from that terrible tragedy and up to this time no person has ever been accused, or even suspected, of the commission of that crime. We believe that the bloody trail leads us to the Kansas fiends. At the time of the Bandle tragedy, there was resident, near this city a family by the name of Bender.
The family consisted of two men and two women. The men were employed on the McCulloch farm on Silver Creek at the time of the Bandle murder, and it will be remembered that this identical farm was the scene of that homicide. Soon after the occurrence of that shocking affair, the Benders left and went to Kansas. It seems that on reaching Kansas they entered upon a career of crime which is without parallel in the history of our times.
Taking up their residence near Cherryvale, Kansas in an unfinished house, standing on the roadside and out of view of any other human habitation, they constructed, with devilish ingenuity a regular trap for any traveler whom they could inveigle into their den. They placed the table from which their meals were taken near a curtain of cotton cloth, so that the victim would sit with his back against the curtain. A candle placed on the table, would of course, shadow the form of the person sitting against it on the cloth and a blow with an ax or hammer given by a man on the opposite side of the curtain would fell the sitter to the floor, and then the cutting of his throat could be easily accomplished. The number of their victims is as yet unknown. Eight bodies have already been disinterred and recognized by their clothing or by marks upon their persons. These monsters had buried their victims in the garden attached to their premises. In one instance they had buried a man and in the same grave was found the dead body of his infant child, with every evidence of its having been buried alive. The circumstantial evidence which connects them with the murder of Bandle and his wife may be summed up thus:
1. The identity of the names.
2. The description of the Kansas murderers answers exactly to the Benders who lived here.
3. Their manner of living in Kansas - the two men and the two women living as one family, is exactly as they lived here.
4. The Benders left this city for Kansas, the place we find them now.
5. The time of their departure from this point corresponds with the time of their arrival in Kansas.
6. The residence of the Benders on the farm on which Bandle and his wife were murdered, and their immediate departure from the scene.
The Benders fled from Kansas when they discovered the suspicions of the people there; but we are informed by telegraph that the entire brood of devils were arrested this morning near Dallas, Texas. We predict that before they all swing from the scaffold, some one of them will confess their complicity with the Bandle tragedy near this city. (Cincinnati Daily Gazette, May 17, 1873, page 2)
FOURTH SON OF LOCAL FAMILY SOON TO ENTER U.S. ARMED FORCES
With the entrance of Glenn Alloway, 18, into military service, Mr. and Mrs. Hugh V. Alloway, 106 Glenwood, will have four sons and a son-in-law engaged in the fight against the Axis. Glenn, a student at Field Kindley high school the first part of this school year, enlisted in the navy and is to report June 3 for final examination.
Two other sons, Harold (Jay), 22, and LeRoy, 17, are in the navy. Harold, a graduate of Coffeyville high school and junior college, is an aviation metalsmith 2-c, stationed at Corpus Christi, Tex., and the latter, who enlisted in the navy while attending Field Kindley high school, left for service May 8, and is stationed at Farragut, Ida.
Another son, Ralph H., 20, who chose the army air corps, is the fourth son who is doing his part for his country. He arrived home the first of the week from the Army Air Forces Advanced Flying School, Williams Field, Chandler, Ariz., where he won his wings as pilot and received his commission as second lieutenant. He is a Field Kindley high school graduate and attended junior college one year. He joined the National Guard in 1940 and went with them to Camp Robinson, Ark. From there to Ft. Ord, Calif., where he transferred from the field asrtillery to the air corps. He was among the graduates of Class 43-E in March at the Marana Basic Flying school, Tucson, Ariz., prior to going to Williams Field. "I have only seen three rains in the last five months in Arizona," Lt. Alloway remarked when discussing the abundance of rainfall and the recent floods in this part of the country.
The navy claiming two members of the Alloway family, a third hoping to join his brothers soon and one son being in the air corps, the army is not left out of the picture as that is the branch of service chosen by their son-in-law, Pvt. William Dillon, who is in the armored division stationed at Camp Polk, La. His wife, the former Miss Lorene Alloway, will spend a two weeks' vacation from her duties at the telephone office here. She is making her home with her parents wile Pvt. Dillon is in service."
Submitted by Juanita Alloway
FIND BOY'S BODY IN CISTERN
Mexican and Wife, Arrested at Cherryvale, Suspected of Killing
CHERRYVALE, KAS., July 19---The body of Manuel Garcia, a 9-year-old Spanish boy, was found in a cistern at the home of a Mexican here early today. The Mexican and his wife are held on suspicion of murder. The coroner's inquest returned a verdict of death by drowning, cause unknown.
(Kansas City Star ~ July 20, 1914)
KANSAS FARMER MURDERED
INDEPENDENCE, KAN., June 5---Last night James Pennington, a farmer living about three miles west of here, went fishing and did not return. A search was made this morning and his body was found inthe stream. His head had been crushed. A neighbor, who had made threats against the murdered man, is suspected and will be arrested.
(Emporia Gazette ~ June 5, 1897)
KANSAS LYNCHERS FRUSTRATED
Sheriff Saves the Neck of a Man Who Murdered His Own Daughter
Cherryvale, Kan., Nov. 17---A German named Breckman has been hurried to the Oswego jail from the Bender settlement, north of here, to prevent his being lynched for having ruined and murdered his 18-year-old daughter.
The neighbors yesterday found the girl in the Breckman barn, unconscious and nearly dead. Her father, it is alleged, had ruined her and then beaten her into insensibility.
Later i the day she died, and, the facts becoming known, an angry mob sought to lynch Breckman. The sheriff took him from the town lock-up, where he had been temporarily placed, and hurried to Oswego with the prisoner.
Breckman has a hard name, and during the Benders horrors, in 1873, he was charged with being implicated in several murders committed by that gang. On one occasion he was strung up several times, but would not confess, and was finally liberated.
(Inter Ocean ~ November 18, 1896)
ANOTHER KANSAS TORNADO KILLS THREE AND WOUNDS SIX PERSONS
INDEPENDENCE, KAN., May 31---The two-story house of James Sullivan, near here, was demolished by a tornado last night, two people being killed and six others slightly injured.
(Salt Lake Tribune ~ June 2, 1892)
NINE OTHERS INJURED AT KANSAS OIL PLANT
Coffeyville, Kans., April 23---Nine persons lost their lives in an oil refinery explosion that wrecked a still and barrel house of the Co-operative Refinery today.
Nine more were injured, six of them so severely as to require hospitalization.
Refinery officials were unable to say immediately whether more men might be trapped in the wreckage and a thorough search was impossible immediately because of fire and steam which still filled the affected area. The fire was believed under control,. however, and all danger of involvement of other portions of the huge plant, recently greatly enlarged, appeared past.
Cause of the explosion was not immediately available.
The only identified dead was Lawrence Pollett, who succumbed in a hospital several hours after the blast.
Russell Hamlin, an undertaker, said the bodies of the victims were burned beyond recognition and that names of the dead probably would not be determined until after the refinery could check its pay rolls against the list of the known survivors. Even then, he said, the only possibility of final identification would be through possible dental records.
The injured, all of Coffeyville, include B. F. McKay, John Nallinger, B. W. La Favor, H. C. Ousler, John Coop and Homer Sparks. Three other persons, slightly burned, were givn emergency treatment and returned to their homes.
The first explosion came at 1:45 o'clock. Two hours later city firemen and plant workers reported they had the fire under control and they believed there was no danger of further spread of the fire.
Smoke and steam delayed examination of the plant and officials were unable to say how seriously operations would be interrupted.
The barrel house is a storage unit for containers, both empty and filled. Considerable gasoline was believed to have been in the building.
Coffeyville's three hospitals already were filled to capacity and had difficulty finding accommodations for the injured. Ambulances and medical personnel from the nearby army air base assisted civilian authorities.
(Times-Picayune ~ April 24, 1944)
A KANSAN DROWNS HIMSELF
Independence, Kas., Aug. 5---Ira Parey, recently in the railroad business at Monett, Mo., where he was injured in an accident, committed suicide here Wednesday night by jumping into the river after mailing a note to his father making known his purpose. His father has lived here many years. He leaves a wife and family of small children. He carried a $2,000 life insurance policy.
(Kansas City Star ~ August 5, 1898)
BABY DROWNS IN A JAR
Looking at Crawfish, Kansas Child Fell Into Water
CHERRYVALE, KAS., May 8---Attracted by a number of crawfish which her older brother had confined in a 5-gallon jar, Thelma, the 16-month-old baby of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Mott, fell into the four inches of water which the jar contained and was drowned early today.
(Kansas City Star ~ May 8, 1916)
NOTE: Thelma is buried in Fairview Cemetery, Cherryvale
ANOTHER KANSAS MURDER CONVICTION
Independence, Kan.—William LIpsey was found guilty of murder In the first degree Friday afternoon on a charge of aiding and abetting Henry Behner, who was Thursday found guilty of murdering Tobe Sawyer, Pearl Behner, the murderer's 16-year-old daughter, was living with Sawyer. Lipsey, a former convict, was Infatuated with her. It was asserted that Sawyer had ruined the girl. Lipsey was charged with planning the murder and of arousing Behner, whom he drove In his carriage to Sawyer's farm, where Behner shot Sawyer to death. Both men will be taken to Lansing. (Alma, Wabaunsee County, Kansas, October 23, 1908, page 1, submitted by Barbara Ziegenmeyer)
BEHNER CASE TO JURY
Independence, Kan.—The case of Henry Behner, charged with the murder of Tobias Sawyer, whom he suspected of the ruin of his daughter, went to the jury Wednesday night at five o'clock. (Alma, Wabaunsee County, Kansas October 23, 1908 Page 2, submitted by Barbara Ziegenmeyer)
KANSAS SLAYER CONVICTED
Henry Behner's Unwritten Law Plea Falls
Independence, Kansas.—The Jury took the case of Henry Behner, tried for murder of Tobias Sawyer last spring, at 4:30 o'clock Wednesday evening and wrestled with It until 11:30 o'clock Thursday morning when a verdict of murder In the first degree was returned. Behner's wife and the daughter. Pearl, whom Sawyer was accused of assaulting, did not move a muscle as the verdict was read. Not a change of expression could be detected on any of their faces during the trying ordeal, but that this was a mask for deep emotions was shown a few minutes after the adjournment of court when Behner fainted, and physicians had to do some hard work to restore him. A now trial will be applied for. On the stand Behner's wife was compelled to admit that a letter sent to Sawyer's hired hand, in which a demand was made that money he sent for the care of Pearl Behner, was apparently her daughter's work. This indicated to the Jury that Sawyer might have been the victim of a plot. Behner's defense, ostensibly one of Insanity, was really based on the "unwritten law." (Alma, Wabaunsee County, Kansas October 23, 1908 Page 2, submitted by Barbara Ziegenmeyer)
A KANSAS PIPE LINE BLEW UP
One of the large pipe lines of the Kansas Natural Gas company blew up near Graham station, five miles south of Independence. Service on the Union Traction company was stopped until the track was repaired. The line ran under the car line. The explosion occurred within a few hundred feet of the big pumping station now nearing completion. The gas became Ignited and the flames could be seen a long distance. A car had passed over the spot a few moments before the explosion. (Alma, Wabaunsee County, Kansas, October 23, 1908, page 3, submitted by Barbara Ziegenmeyer)
ACCIDENT IN KANSAS
Independence, Kan., Jan. 11---The northbound Missouri Pacific passenger train stuck a freight train just getting onto the switch at Lehunt, four miles north of here, this afternoon, and the chair car was ripped from the track and badly smashed. W. T. Mosby, a traveling man, was severely injured and a man named Walter of this city and unidentified persons from Fredonia and Coffeyville were hurt to some extent. A train was made up here and taken on into Kansas City.
(Dallas Morning News ~ January 15, 1909)
A KANSAS GIRL DROWNED
Postponement of Wedding Causes Coffeyville Girl's Rash Act
Independence, July 12---Miss Ida Ostrander, the daughter of Mrs. J. H. Buckmaster, met death by drowning in the Verdigris river. The circumstances surrounding the unfortunate affair are such as to leave some doubt as to whether Miss Ostrander accientally fell in the river and was drowned before help could reach her or whether she had premeditate suicide. The members of her family take the latter view as of late she had given expression to the thought that she was tired of life and might put an end to it.
Two other persons, Miss Ada Ostrander, the dead girl's sister, and Gus Hintz, a young man who had been keeping company with Ida Ostrander for nearly a year, were with the girl a few moments before she fell in the water, but neither saw her fall and neither was able to say whether it was accidental or intentional.
Heintz was calling on Ida Ostrander. Her sister, Ada, and her mother were up town shopping and when they returned, Ida asked her sister to go walking with her and Heintz. The three sat down on a fallen log and talked for some time. It seems that the two girls had quarrelled and Ida kissed her sister and said they would not quarrel any more. She then walked away about a half block to a place near the bank where there were some high weeds. The next that was known Heintz heard a splash in the water.
Ada says she heard her sister cry, "My God, Gus, save me!" Heintz says he heard nothing but the splash and the gurgle of the water where the girl went down. Both ran to the bank and Heintz plunged in and tried to locate the place where the girl had went down.
The bank were Miss Ostrander was standing before she slipped into the water is precipitous and about ten feet high and the water at this point is about thirty feet deep. At the point where she went over are grooves in the bank where she clutched and tried to save herself, but the earth was so soft that she could get no hold. The weeds grew over the edge of the bank about a foot so that it could easily have been an accident.
Mrs. Buckmaster, mother of Miss Ostrander, thinks her daughter premeditated death. It was all over him," she said pointing to Heintz. "Ida just worshiped him and she thought he did not care for her as much as she did for him and this worried her. She cried Saturday morning and said she was discouraged. She frequently spoke of drowning herself and I think she planned to jump into the river."
Miss Ostrander and Heintz were engaged to be married, and she wished the marriage to take place this summer while he wanted to postpone it until later. Her sister, Ada, thinks she merely wanted to pretend that she would jump into the river to scare them and slipped and fell in.
The dead girl was 22 years of age.22 years of age.
(Emporia Gazette ~ July 12, 1906)
DEAD IN THEIR HOME
A Mysterious Tragedy at Independence, Kansas
CAUSE OF DEATH UNKNOWN
The Members of the Household Found Dead or Dying---Poisoning Suspected
KANSAS CITY, Jan. 1---A special to the Times from Independence, Kansas, says: One of the most horrifying discoveries was made this morning when Al Brown, son-in-law of Geo. W. Read, manager of the Long Bell Lumber company, broke into the house of the latter and found Read, clad only in his night clothes, sitting dead in a chair before a hot stove fed by natural gas. The body was in an advanced state of decomposition. Edith Scott, a domestic of the family, was lying dead on the floor of her room, and Mrs. Read and her 5 year old son were in bed, the boy dying and the mother unconscious.
The terrible tragedy is shrouded in mystery. Many theories are current as to the cause, one being asphyxiation, another accidental poisoning, another foul play. The fact that two gas stoves in the house were burning at full force practically expodes the theory of asphyxiation, and the fact that no bruises were found on either of their persons renders the murder theory almost incredible, leaving accidental poisoning as the most probable cause. None of the family had been seen later than Saturday evening, leaving no doubt Read and the domestic had been dead 36 hours before being discovered. Every room in the house was intensely hot and, there being no ventilation, the fumes from the badly decomposed bodies of the dead were stifling.
An autopsy was held today but nothing definite can be ascertained until an analysis of the stomachs can be completed. The coroner will hold an inquest tomorrow morning.
LATER---The doctors, after an examination, decided the family had been poisoned by strychnine which had probably gotten into their food. Mrs. Read is still unconscious but the doctors have hope of her recovery. The boy will probably die.
(Idaho Statesman ~ January 2, 1894)
WIFE MURDERER PARDONED
After Fouteen Years Evidence Is Deemed Insufficient to Convict
Topeka, Kan., Nov. 2---Governor Morrill today granted a pardon to Alfred Harding, a colored man of Independence, Montgomery county, who is serving a life sentence in the penitentiary for the murder of his wife. The Governor acted upon the recommendation of the board of pardons, which reported that there was no evidence against the prisoner. The report shows that Harding was convicted by public sentiment. His wife died suddenly March 15, 1881. He was arrested March 16, found guilty and sentenced March 22, and taken to the penitentiary March 23. It was supposed that Mrs. Harding was poisoned, but the board of pardons was unable to find that any evidence of poison was introduced at the trial of the case.
A pardon was also granted to Morgan Strickney of Nemaha county, who is serving a term in the penitentiary for burglary. The board of pardons found that the prisoner was the victim of a plot by personal enemies, who were anxious to get him out of the way. Daniel Berchfield, the prosecuting witness, was a personal enemy of the Stickney family, and it has been shown, to the satisfaction of the board, that he conspired to get young Stickney into his store at night to make a case of burglary.
(Kansas City Times ~ November 3, 1895)