Richards, the Kearney County Murderer, Gives for the First Time
Full Details of His Crimes
And a statement of the Motives Which Prompted
Him in His Bloody Deeds
And Selects the Omaha Herald as the Vehicle
Through Which the Confession Shall Appear
A Fiend Who Plans, Days in
Advance, the Murder of a Helpless Woman and Her Babes
Because It Would
Make Matters More Pleasant for Himself and the Companion of His Lot
Cooks a Hot Breakfast and Eats a Hearty Meal as Soon as the Bodies Are Out of
A Character Without a Parallel in History or
On Saturday last Sheriffs Martin, of Kearney
County, and Anderson, of Buffalo County, left Omaha with S. D. Richards, the
self-confessed murderer of six persons.
A Herald reporter, who had an excellent
assurance of obtaining the "inside facts." In regard to this deliberate
contriver of cold-blooded butcheries, accompanied the parties West. Richards was
still affable, but in answer to the inquiries of one reporter--there being
several on board--remarked that he had already given full particulars to other
papers and did not with to say anything further.
A brief running conversation
followed but nothing new or specially interesting was elicited. It was evident
to the by-standers that Richards, when he desired, could talk a good deal without
The Herald reporter was convinced that
nothing was to be gained by haste and therefore first found himself seated
beside Richards as the train was approaching Fremont. At this station, the aisle
and even the ground outside the car were thronged with spectators.
brought in a cup of coffee and substantial lunch for Richards and removed one
handcuff, at which the crowd in the aisle started back to a respectable
distance, while several gave the Herald man a look of pity at the imminent risk
in which he was placed. Richards at his meal with relish and as the train moved
on began conversing, evidently in a very good mood from what he had been in before.
occasion to mention that the Tribune reporter who interviewed him in Chicago was
a gentleman, while the Times reporter was a man of no sense. "To my answers,"
said Richards, "he would say, 'Are you sure that is so' 'wasn't it this way,' or
'wasn't it that way" and I finally told him he knew so much more about these
murders that the man who did them that he must have been there, and he might go
ahead and write it up as he wished. I would tell him nothing more. I told him
not to come too near the cell door or I would drag him through the bars and
break him in two."
Richards talked along and soon the reporter was taking down
from his own lips many details of his early life, and other answers to his
"I have thought if I got into Kearney jail," said Richards, "of
writing up a full account of my life. With exact
dates of everything as far as possible. If you come and see me at Kearney
tomorrow, when there is not such a crowd around, I can give you a great deal
more complete story. I am not such a fool as that letter in the Chicago Times
would make you think. It was written in a hurry and in a bad light, and they
tore it all to pieces, left out shame, and fixed it up to suit
Of Richard's Life
"I was born
in Wheeling, West Virginia, in March, 1836. My father removed from there when I
was about two years old. He afterwards removed to Monroe, Noble County, Ohio,
and we lived there two or three years, during the principal part of the war. He
afterwards removed to Jefferson County, where I remained until about three years
ago, when I came west.
My mother died Sept. 10,
1871. My father was a farmer. I did not attend school very regularly. When
between 10 and 11 I went to school at Warren, where my father lived.
afterward removed to the neighborhood of M. Pleasant, where I went to school at
Oak Grove. The teachers were Jesse Lloyd, John Cubby, Richard Roberts, and
Johnny Burrass. I was then stopping with Milton Peltis and fed stock for one or
two winters. My last term was after my mother died, at Kenworthy Hoges.
from 16 to 18 years old. I believe I had the same of being a quiet, preachable
man, and had no trouble with any one. I was
well raised, stood in good society and went in good company; never drank and
never played cards, and was never accused of any offenses of any kind. I stood
in good society, and thought I was able to make most anything of myself.
handy at most anything, could work at most anything. I worked with a carpenter,
George Walker, the last winter I was there, and helped him build a barn. For the
past two years I have had no regard for anything. I jumped at anything
that came in my way, no matter where it was or who it
was. I had well considered the source of life and what it amounted to.
immaterial to me how things ended, but I never expected to be taken alive, and
would not if I had been in the country, I was employed as an attendant in the
Insane Asylum at Mt. Pleasant, ..., for nearly a year, and was attendant for one
of the most violent wards in the house. That took away to some extent my feeling
and sympathy for mankind. I could stand by a man and see him die with no more
feeling than I would have for a hog.
When I left there two years ago I didn't
care for anything and had no respect for human nature. When I first struck the
western prairies the only companion I wanted was a good pair of six shooters.
I passed through Nebraska about the last of March,
1877; was five or six weeks in the State; stopped two days and a night in Omaha,
and went to Denver, through Colorado, and back through Kansas. I was alone with
the exception of occasional company for a day or
Reporter--Did your theory of life get you into any trouble
on this trip?
Richards--Yes. I have never made any complete
statement in this matter. I have mentioned one, the first of the six, which
occurred near the Sand Hills, in the neighborhood of Kearney, and between the U.
P. and B. & M. railroads. I then remained in Kansas until October, 1877, and
traveled through Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Northern Illinois and
Michigan, stopping a short time at different points. I had no trouble of
any importance during this time.
Reporter--Did you have an idea of
putting yourself on record as the most blood-thirsty murderer that ever
Richards--I didn't have any definite idea of that kind. I always
made up my mind that I was hard to beat at anything I put my mind to, in
whatever direction it was; had a rather mean, contemptible disposition as
regarded matters of that kind. Whatever I went into, good or bad, I would climb
as high as any one, and went to the end of it, no matter what it took, even at
the expense of taking blood, or risking my own
I remained in the State I named, until a year ago the coming January, when
I came back through Illinois into Iowa and Northern Missouri, making a few short
calls to friends in those states. I crossed the Missouri at Plattsmouth, stopped
at Plattsmouth, Omaha, Lincoln, Grand Island, Hastings, and all through this
I was twice arrested on false charges at Kearney, but the property in
the second case was found with me. I declined to make any explanation and was
sentenced to thirty days in the county jail and costs. I had a further
undertaking in this and effected it and made some money out of it, and never
regretted it. I was never guilty, however, of any mean offences, like stealing,
and was never sentenced, except at Kearney Junction. They seemed to think in
Kearney Junction that I was a pretty hard pill, but I was no small offender.
Reporter--Do you have
any fears of lynching?
Richards--I never expected anything else for some
time. I don't want to be lynched until my will is made and I have given my body
to that cheeky Columbus, Ohio, doctor, who asked me for it when I was at
Steubenville. He will be disappointed if he doesn't get it.
About trouble at
Kearney I had all along expected there would be some attempt at lynching there.
I never expected to get out of the State alive
when I started, and traveled openly and under my own name. I mad no false
There were no telegrams sent down the Baltimore and Ohio R.
R., and I
could have gone right through to Baltimore before any telegram would have headed
me off. I hardly thought Cap. Anderson would follow me, for he knew me, and knew
that if he could get the drop on me he would have to shoot me to get me, and
take his chances on my getting the drop on him. I would never have been taken
alive with my arms.
When I came to Wheeling I left my weapons, as I wanted to
make some calls and they would have thought I was a bad man. They all
know what kind of a boy I was when I left there and my ideas of life then,
and thought I was all right.
I knew, too, that my
weapons, in making calls around, would be very much in my way. All my crimes
were done when I was perfectly cool, and not through angry passion. It was not
because I could not control my temper. I was thinking a good many of the same
thoughts I am thinking today. I had an abject, and went at those things as
deliberately as if I had been in a herd of stock, of as if it had been imposed
upon me as a sworn duty.
the latter portion of this conversation a tall, fine looking man, with iron gray
hair and whiskers, had stood in the aisle at the reporter's side, listening with
keen interest to Richards' words.
"Will you allow me to ask him a word or two?"
"Certainly." "Did you have no remorse after killing that woman and those little
children?" "No, sir. They were nothing more to me than so many jack rabbits."
"You seem to put no more value on your own life than you have on that of others.
Do you feel that way?" "It's a thing that has to come sooner or later. I don't
care when. If a nickel would set me free and I didn't have it, I wouldn't ask
any friend for it." This answer seemed to stagger the questioning and he walked
back to a Pullman car, the bystanders putting him down in their minds as a
clergyman. It was no clergyman, however, but Col. Moseby, Leader of the
Confederate guerillas during the war.
Silver Creek, Richards was accorded a full seat, fixed himself a pillow of his
overcoat and slept "like a log" until he was awakened two miles east of Kearney
to leave the train and take passage in a wagon for the rest of the route. It
took a hearty shaking to awake the sleeper, and when awake and informed that a
big mob had gathered at Kearney and that it would not be safe to take him there
he advised the Sheriff to go on. As already narrated in The Herald he was safely
lodged in Captain Anderson's stone palace.
Meeting one of the Sheriffs
the next day The Herald reporter was informed that Richards had made a request
that the reporter whenever he came be allowed to enter and talk with
At 11:30 p.m. The Herald
reporter, in company with Mr. John H. Roe, U. P. Land Agent at Kearney, visited
the jail. Richards was in good spirits, saluted his visitors heartily, and a
moment later was seated with them behind the iron bars. Until nearly 5 o'clock
the party remained in conversation. Richards never allowing it to flag and
frequently anticipating the inquiries. During this conversation the visitors had
an excellent opportunity to learn the peculiarities of Richards' character,
which resulted in a firm conviction that there is not an insane trait about the
man; that he was and is a cool, deliberating, scheming murderer, always working
with a well-settled object in view, and at present absolutely without hope or
He is a man of no ordinary intelligence, possessing a common school
education, and accustomed not alone to interesting himself in men and events, but
to studying the processes of his own mind, changes in thought and character, and
the manner in which the latter was affected by various circumstances of his
He is a good reasoner, a fluent talker, uses on the whole very fair
English, has a soft, melodious and well-modulated voice, a rare amount of
personal magnetism over all with whom he is brought in contact, and is as lithe,
graceful and stalwart a specimen of physical manhood as ever strode a prison
His eyebrows are prominent and somewhat bushy. He has a clear, dark eye,
good features, beautiful teeth, and is evidently somewhat vain of his influence
over others. A constant smile plays over his face during conversation and it
undergoes instant changes of expression. Considering that he is without a
parallel in the numbers and cold-blooded audacity of his crimes, it is evidently
appropriate that the smile should often disappear and give way to the glaring,
desperate, hunted look of an assassin or an outlaw. It is appropriate and sounds
well that a murdered should carry this mark of Cain on his brow, but with due
respect to the opinions of others who think differently, The Herald reporter
must state that this idea seems to be the production of a fervid imagination.
When quiet and thoughtful his face is not an unpleasant one. He has large hands
and feet and large bones, his wrists requiring a larger handcuff, the sheriff
states, than any man he ever had in custody before. The most startling thing
about the man, in the eyes of all spectators, is the marvelous nerve which has
enabled him to preserve a manner of coolness, absence of regret for any of his
bloody crimes, and absolute indifference, through every circumstance which has
occurred since his arrest.
When the party were in their seats the
following Interview took place:
"Well, Richards, now that you are safe in
Kearney jail, are there any other crimes you want to confess or any further
revelations you desire to make public?"
"I will try to give you exact dates of the killing of the
different parties. I don't want to give anything more away at present on any
parties. I think I can help others by using my information in another way.
information must come from me, for I burned up all my letters and valuable
papers back at Mt. Pleasant before the eyes of the men who arrested me there.
they had been good officers or had any sand, I had letters which would have
taken them straight to several parties the officers are very anxious to find.
There was a large amount of correspondence with different parties, some of whom
left here last spring. I had among the bundle, too, papers on a bank in
Cheyenne, which I received from other parties, and which were no good for me to
present as any one. I had a big acquaintance and no extensive correspondence,
both in the Southwest and Northwest with parties who got my name somehow and
I know where Underwood and Harelson are, who escaped from jail here
last spring, and if the Ohio officers had been smarter they could have had those
men here as soon as I was here. I don't want to make outside parties any
trouble, and I don't want to make Cap. (Sheriff Anderson) any. I could have
reached some of my friends out here, and have had an attempt made to cut me
loose, but I knew the result would be only a bloody battle with doubtful
results. I could have got help to fight almost anywhere. Parties came into
Steubenville, O., while I was under arrest, talked with me and offered to send
telegrams for me. I could, if I wanted to, give away a good many men. I came
here a year ago for a particular purpose. After the parties got out of jail I
expected to be arrested for doing it.
"Was it your
"I was more
interested in the matter than anybody else. I looked at the jail and found out
what the chances were. I won't tell you how it was done. I have expected my
arrest almost any day for the last two years. Every time I struck the railroad I
expected to be arrested. I saw detectives that are known all over the country at
times when I felt pretty sure they were looking for me. I saw men that I had
seen in Kansas, and in the Indian Territory. I met one detective I knew here
last spring. He was not certain of me, but entered into conversation with me,
and finally asked me where I had traveled. I told him he seemed inquisitive, and
must be in a d___d hurry to get acquainted.
I have been spotted many and many a
time, but I didn't hide myself or try to keep out of the way. I changed my
beard, moustache, and side whiskers more or less, occasionally and changed my
dress. I never layed down to sleep at night without thinking that I might be
awakened by an officer with a warrant. I never expected to live to stand before
the law, or I should never have made a statement. I knew this western country,
and I thought I knew the people well enough so that I could be sure I would
never live to get beyond Chicago. I supposed a gang would at least meet me as
far east as that, and string me up. Well, it's only a matter of time, and one
arrangement will suit me as well as another."
"Will you have any
"What good would counsel do me? I shall tell the same story in
court that I tell outside. Judge Goslin was down to see me this morning about the
preliminary examination. Of course I can demand on if I wish, which must take
place in Kearney County, but for some reason the officers don't seem to think
it's very safe to take me there. I told Judge Goslin if I had $100,000 I would
not turn a nickel to clear myself. I told him, too, I didn't think it was worth
while to plead anything but guilty, and he seemed to agree with me. I told him
he could do as he pleased about a preliminary examination; I didn't care for any and wouldn't ask any. He
told me then there would be none, and this is the arrangement.
I have had
the name all my life of being perfectly truthful and have never made any but a
truthful statement of facts. You will find that what I have told regarding these
matters is true. I have not since I came West allowed any man seriously to call
me a liar. There are some epitaphs too, I won't allow a man to call me. I never
had any grudges, and never killed a man because I had a grudge against him. If I
had a quarrel with a man and happened to get whipped by him I was just as
friendly to him the next day. I calculated that when anything serious came up I
was fully able to protect myself. When I was traveling in Kansas a year and a
half ago a couple of men met me one night and after parleying a little
one; drew a revolver on me, and ordered me to hand over my money. I
said, "I suppose that means a man may as well shove down his hand and get it"
and in a second I had the drop on him and the other man rode away. The first
man, as near as I can remember, stayed about where he was for some time.
boys always thought in those days that I was a good man to "tie to," but I
didn't court the company of rough men. I sometimes used to stand by and see fair
play, sometimes took a little part myself, and they all knew I was a good shot
and able to care for myself. I had some "el?'n tips," close calls, but which
didn't amount to anything.
Two years ago next spring I got that big
scar on my head, that you can feel running along the right side for a couple
of inches. I was traveling with some Texas boys from the southwest when I
received that blow. We were 75 miles northwest of Cheyenne. None of us knew
where it came from .
When Captain Anderson searches my trunk he will find an old
hat with four bullet holes in it. There were six of us traveling in
south-easter Colorado together when that happened. We got into trouble, and I
"bucked" against the rest of the crowd. I tell you there was a cloud of smoke
around me for a minute. I have known several of the U. P. train robbers, and
know the whereabouts of some now."
"What names have you passed under out
"I took the name of F. A. Hoge first because I had a lady friend
married, who was living near Kearney, and whom I didn't want to see. I was
commonly known by the name of "Dick" and also "Dee," from my second initial. I
registered at different times under the names, George Gallagher, D. J. Roberts,
and Wm. Hudson, not all in Nebraska.
a great deal of correspondence under the name D. J. Roberts, and afterward under the
names of J. Littleton and W. A. Littleton. I have a good many letters in my
trunk received under these assumed names, of which the envelopes are
"Will you give the dates, as you promised, of the murders of
Peter Anderson, Mrs. Harelson and her children, and the young man in the Sand
"I can after looking at a calendar." (Calender procured and
consulted.) "I Killed Peter Anderson, Dec. 9, Mrs. Harelson and her
family Sunday morning, Nov. 3. The young man at the Sand Hills I am not so sure
about--it was the middle of March--about the time of the Kearney races--of a
Tuesday morning. I have it. My birthday comes on March 18, and that day we
compared ages. I was a few weeks the eldest. It was the next morning I killed
"Tell me the circumstances about this first murder in the
"We had been traveling together two or three weeks. He
was from Hastings, Iowa, son of a farmer who lives near there, and his uncle who
has the same name as the nephew was a small lawyer and land agent of the B.
& M. R. R. I can't think of that name. He was at this time going
under an assumed name.
He said when he left Lincoln that he was
not going by his own name any longer."
"Did his people know where he
"I think not. He told them in the first place he was going to the
Black Hills. He wrote to his uncle for some assistance but got no answer. He was
a fellow without good education and a poor writer. I wrote several letters for
him. This was the furthest west he had been. He was a first-rate young man and
some struck on religious subjects. He got on that line sometimes, though he used
some rough language in ordinary conversations--in explaining matters. He went
from Hastings to Grand Island and was going to take the train there for Kearney,
but I hear something that scared my suspicions and we crossed the river and
started west on the south trail. We expected to strike the B. & M. Railcar
near Lowell and take the train to Kearney, but we got too far west, found we
hadn't time to get to Lowell before the train passed, and started on for Kearney.
We got tired and camped that night, south of the river, and not a
great way from the B. & M. Railroad. We built our fire, made supper, and
arranged a place for sleeping. We had a buffalo robe, a couple of blankets, a
satchel each, and he had beside a bundle of clothing. We slept there that night
and in the morning woke up in good reason.
We had raised up in our blankets and
had not put on our boots when I made some careless remark about a trifling
matter. He says "That's a d___d lie." "It's a good thing you don't mean all you
say," "I told him. "But I do mean it," he said "You
don't want to mean it," I said; and he picked up his revolver and saying, "Here is something
that backs all that I say," cocked it. I looked at him, and thought, "The fool
acts as if he means to shoot," and skipping out my little 33 I plugged him one
in the head. That was the first trouble we had ever had. Of course I don't know
that he meant to shoot, but it looked like it. The fellow was about 20 years
old. I pulled the buffalo out from under his head, and, taking the satchel,
buffalo and blankets, started for Kearney, getting there just as
the U. P. train got in and going in with the crowd that went from the train.
went to the Commercial House and registered "F. A. Hoge, Denver." I was dressed
as a herder throughout, with a big slouch hat. I told the man at the hotel I had
been through Colorado and recently came from the Pacific coast. In those days I
made it a point never to register the place I had come from.
I was then
always thoroughly armed. At that time I had my 33 and a pair of six shooters. For
most of the time the last two years I've had a 32-5 shot and a pair of
six-shooters. I never carried less than a pair of six-shooters.
give me the details of the Harleson Murder?"
"I met Mrs Harelson
at Kearney last summer under peculiar circumstances. Her man had got out of jail
and she seemed to give me a good deal of credit for it. She asked a lot of us
down to see her. I began a correspondence with her, under one of my assumed
names. I don't want to give you the name, for it would bring other parties into
this matter. She talked of letting me have the farm at different times. It was
not of much value. I met her afterward at Grand Island, where she was canvassing
for books, chromos, etc.
I got the money there, and I was to
call in September and complete the arrangement. I sent another fellow to talk
with her, and I finally came over to the place in October. I had calculated to
take the place October 1, and things were so arranged. I was unable to get over
until the middle of the month.
Mrs. Harelson was supposed to make her
living by canvassing, but she didn't begin to do it. It was the money that I had
paid her from time to time that kept her along. I thought best than to postpone
the transfer until November 1. I was over the next week, and we fixed things up
and it was arranged that she was to leave the following Monday.
She could not get her things ready to go then, and we put it off
until the next Friday or Saturday."
"Where was she going?"
was going to Illinois, to visit friends there through the winter, and then was
coming back to this place. You understand she was the kind of woman that it was
not necessary for her husband to have a marriage certificate. I don't know that
she was ever married to Harelson, and she gave me to understand that she was
not. I was living with her as Harelson had been."
"When did you first
think of killing them?"
"Eight or nine days
before I did it. I had selected my companion for life, and I expected to bring
her to this farm, for a while, at least. I saw that the arrangement was not
going to be satisfactory, and considering the source of life, and its end, it
struck me that it would be just as well for everybody if the whole family were
of the world. I thought the matter over, thought of the best way of
disposing of the bodies, the chance of discovery, and made up my mind the
scheme was a good one.
If I was discovered to
this, so I was liable to be discovered in the old matters, if I didn't do it.
The neighbors all thought she was going to leave the country, and wouldn't know
but she had gone as she expected.
We were up all night Thursday, October 31st,
making preparations to go, Mrs. Harelson making clothes for the children and
getting them ready. I was to take them to Hastings, where they were going to
take the train. We were up nearly all night Friday night, and Saturday night
until 3 or 4 o'clock Sunday morning. I had decided to dig a
place for their remains as close to the straw
stack as I could get, and watched for a chance to prepare it.
I expected them to
use the straw from that side and scatter it over the spot. I had a watch, but it
was not running, so we had no time piece, but it was between 3 and 4 o'clock
when I went out to feed the mules. Then I took the shovel, a common railroad
shovel, and commenced digging the hole. I am pretty handy with a shovel, and in
half an hour I had a hole about 2 by 6 and three or four feet deep. It was in a
place that had been ploughed for three crops. I had agreed, when Mrs. Harelson
went to bed, to call her at half past 5 or 6.
I had everything ready to get a
warm breakfast in five minutes, the grain was loaded and I was all ready to start
for Hastings. I went into the house; found them all sleeping soundly; got the
went at the job.
The statement that I dashed
the baby's brains out on the floor, breaking one leg is not true. I killed them
all as they were sleeping. Mrs. Harelson and the two oldest girls were in the
bed together and the baby in the crib. I killed Mrs. Harelson first, then the
second child, then the oldest one, and the baby last. There wasn't one woke and
there was not a sound made. I only got blood on one blanket and on the pillow
shams. This bedding I took out with the bodies and threw into the hole. I
carried Mrs. Harelson's body out first, then the two girls at one trip and
took the baby last.
If the baby's leg was broken
by me it when I threw it into the hole. I picked it up, carried it out and threw
it in as I would a log. I hauled in the dirt without being particular to put the
yellow under dirt at the bottom, where it had come from. I presume that led to
the discovery of the bodies when the neighbors were searching. I examined the
house carefully, found I had left no spots of blood anywhere and that the ax was
If any hair was found on a flat iron it was not human hair. I then
straightened things up and cooked and ate my breakfast, and started for Hastings with my grain. Nothing would
ever have come to light if I hadn't had that trouble with that Swede, Anderson."
"What kind of a house was this of Harelson's?"
"It was a sod
house about 22 or 24 by some 10 feet, with one room. There was a place left for
a partition which I intended to put in. Mrs. Harelson was to pay expenses for
fixing it up. I would have been well barricaded if any trouble had come. I had
two breech loading guns and three six shooters, 33 loads in all."
was you worth at this time?"
"I had about $1,200 when I went down to live
with her. I destroyed a good deal of this when I burned the papers at Mt.
Pleasant, but I still have the papers to the place.
I thought I was dead beat when I got down to $50. I have
had as much as $2,500. I played cards a good deal and didn't back down for
any of them. I made a good deal in the way out of the cowboys and greenhorns. I
generally had a good roll of bills, carried them to my pocket, took them all out
when I wanted to pay for anything, and felt able to care for them."
did you kill Anderson?"
"I never thought of killing old Anderson until it
was done. I never poisoned or tried to poison him. That is not
my style of takin life.
I heard he was telling
the neighbors so and did not feel pleasant about it. When I met Anderson on the
9th of December he was ugly, and commenced calling me offensive names and
accused me of trying to kill him. I slapped his face, and he started to get a
big knife which laid on the table back of him. I didn't propose to give him a
chance to use it, and seized a hammer which stood on the window sill and brained
It is impossible to go further into the details of the story as
told by the murderer with the utmost sang frold, of his long drive with the
liveryman, and the various incidents of his
One thing was definitely settled. Conductor Joe Beatty, who
thought he detected Richards among his passengers, but was talked out of the
belief by other passengers, visited the Kearney jail, hoping to find that he was
wrong and the passengers right, but not so. Richards recognized him instantly,
and Mr. Beatty was forced to admit that Richards came into Omaha with
The Herald reporter left Kearney yesterday morning, greatly indebted
to Sheriffs Anderson and Martin for his long talk with Richards. Even in the
extended space here given to the man's story many details
have been omitted.
All the impressions he received during his long
interviews with Richards confirm him in the belief that the character of this
phenomenal murderer is without a parallel, calling the atrocities of a fiend
with graces of manner and conversation which are exceedingly rare even among
cultured people. There is no probability of any violence at Kearney. The law
will undoubtedly take its course.
The Omaha Herald, December 31, 1878
and Contributed by:
The Life Taker
He Is Landed Safe in the
A Little Bit of Strategy on the Part of the Sheriffs to
Avoid the Crowds
All Quiet in Kearney and no Disposition Shown to Get Up
Richards Still Smiling and Talking as if Killing People was no
Worse than Killing Mice
Special dispatch to The Herald.
Neb., December 28.--Stephen D. Richards, the murderer of nice persons, was
safely jailed here at 9:45 p.m.
Sheriff Anderson and Martin received a dispatch
east of Columbus, stating all quiet in Kearney. A later dispatch sent from a
trusted Ireland, received east of Grand Island, stated a crowd was gathering.
Sheriff Anderson instructed his friend here to be in readiness for later
advices, and afterward ordered a boy to meet him with a wagon two miles east of
The Deputy Sheriff, Lew Johnson, met the party at Buds station
four miles east of here, and reported a crowd of upwards of two hundred
assembled, with what object not known.
Conductor Kelley stopped the train at a
point two miles east and Richards was taken off, still securely shackled and
handcuffed and placed in a wagon waiting there. Sheriff Martin and Deputy
Sheriff Anderson proceeded to Kearney and responded to
rash and eager questions of the assembled crowd by stating that Martin stopped
off with Richards at Grand Island, and would be along tomorrow. Much
disappointment was shown by the crowd.
While Anderson was parlaying with the
crowd and holding them, Martin landed Richards safely in jail. Various parties
discussing the matter about town express chagrin at missing sight of Richards,
but commending the action of the sheriffs. Richards manifested supreme
indifference to his lot, was perfectly willing to be brought direct to Kearney
Junction, and said he had as soon died one way as another.
Col. Mosby, of
Confederate guerilla fame, was on the train and interviewed Richards at some
length on his indifference.
Richards said for two years he had held his life of
no account, and placed others at about the same importance as hogs. He talked
almost continuously from Omaha to Central City, answering questions, was affable
and courteous to all, and had a smile on his features constantly.
He talks of
murders as openly and with as little concealment as of the most trifling matter.
He insists that none of the last five were committed in passion, but with a
motive which he will not reveal, and were planned deliberately. He promises
revelations in a day or two on matters here which he has kept silent about,
which he says will astonish the whole western country as nothing has for years.
The sheriffs believe him perfectly sane, and in possession of facts of vast
importance. He slept soundly from Silver Creek until awakened to leave the
train. All quiet here, and the crowd has dispersed.
Herald, December 31, 1878
Contributed by: C. Anthony
– District Judge Adams of Minden will hold court at Alma, Harlan County, next
week. The most important case is the
Lucas murder case from Phillips County, which has been transferred to Harlan
County for trial. J. L. McPeely of this
city is one of the attorneys for Lucas.