Genealogy Trails History Group

 

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Parmer County, Texas

George J. Hassell's Murderous Ways

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Rest In Peace

Susie Ferguson Hassell, Thomas Virgil Hassell, Alton Hassell,  Virgil Hassell, Maudie Hassell, Russell Hassell, David Hassell, Johnnie Hassell, Nannie Hassell, Samuel Hassell, Marie Vogal & Mrs. Vogal's 3 children.

All of the aboved named persons had their life ended at the hands of George J. Hassell.


SLAYS BROTHER TO GET WIDOW, THEN KILLS HER AND HER EIGHT KIDS.

Amarillo, Tex, Dec. 25. (AP.)--George J. Hassell, farmer, of the Farwell community, today admitted he killed his wife and her eight children three weeks ago, and buried their bodies in an improvised grave in the backyard, according to a report from the sheriff's office at Farwell.

Hassell, in the hospital at Farwell, Texes, where he was brought from Clovis, N.M., for self inflicted knife wounds, would make no statement to the officers other than " I did it; I did it," declaring he would give a detailed account of how he killed his entire family, together with his motive, in a signed statement tomorrow.

Hassell, was barely able to speak above a whisper, though physicians say his condition is improving and that he will recover.

At Hour Of Funeral

His admission of the killings came this afternoon during the hour his wife and her eight children, ranging from two to 21 years, were being buried side by side in the little cemetery in Farwell, 90 miles southwest of Amarillo, with the entire citizenship of the community attending the rites.

Every able-bodied man of Farwell and the immediate vicinity volunteered in the labors of digging the nine graves, in which the bodies were placed after being removed from a shallow dugout on the Hassel farm, where they were uncovered Friday by officers who were investigating the mysterious circumstances under which the family had disappeared.

In the meantime, Farwell authorities were recalling the death of Hassell's brother two years ago, at Blair, Oklahoma, when he was reported kicked to death by a mule while the brothers were working in a field. Farwell authorities were told Hassell's brother's death had at that time been somewhat of a mystery. However, his story of an accident was accepted by his family.

Shortly after his brother's death, Hassell married the widow, moving the family to his farm near Farwell.

Hassle is suffering from knife wounds around the heart, inflicted Friday at his farm when deputy sheriffs were uncovering the bodies of his family.

[Source: The Independent Record (Helena, Montana), Sunday, December 26, 1926, Page 1Transcribed By Tam Inman ]

 


CONFESSED SLAYER OF 13 IS SPIRITED AWAY BY OFFICERS

Lubbock, Texas, Dec. 29. (AP) --George J. Hassell, removed by peace officers from jail at Farwell, Texas, Tuesday night after confessing to having killed his wife and eight step children, is in the Hale county jail at Plainview, a dispatch to the Lubbock Journal said today. Hassell is confirmed in the jail run-around with other prisoners and is reported as refusing to answer doctors questions about his self-inflicted knife wounds or talk to anyone.

Farwell, Texas, Dec. 29 (AP).--George J. Hassell, confessed slayer of 13 persons, was spirited away from here Tuesday night by officers. He is believed to have been taken to a West Texas jail, but the authorities have refused to divulge his whereabouts.

Suffering from a knife wound near the heart which he inflicted when police discovered the bodies of his wife and her eight children in a dugout on his farm, Hassell was taken from jail Tuesday night and placed on a litter in the back end of an automobile. The jail had been darkened.

The automobile carrying Hassell was followed by another full of heavily armed guards.

Crowds gathered all day Tuesday discussing the crime story related by Hassell, in which he confessed to the killing of his wife and his eight step children following a quarrel over the oldest girl, Maude, aged 14 years. He also confessed to killing a woman and three children in California about 1915.

[Source: EL Paso Herald (El Paso, Texas), Wednesday, December 29, 1926, Page 1 Transcribed By Tam Inman]


SELECTION OF JURY TO TRY MURDERER OF NINE STARTS FRIDAY

By Associated Press.

Farwell, Texas, Jan. 6.---Selection of the jury to try George J Hassell, Farwell farmer, on charges of murder growing out of this plane of his wife and eight stepchildren at his home near here recently, will start at 10 ATM Friday. About one-third of the special venire of 108 men were sworn in this morning by Judge Reese Tatum at the opening of the special term of the Sixty-Ninth District Court.

William H. Russell, Hereford attorney., was appointed by Judge Tatum to represent Hassell on the nine murder charges. B.N. Richards of Dalhart, district attorney, will conduct the prosecution.

The first case against Hassell will be for the murder of his eldest step-son, Aldon, 21, who, according to the man's confession was slain while asleep.

Hassell will be brought to Farwell tonight or tomorrow morning. It is rumored here that he is being held at Muleshoe until the trial begins.

Hassell at Muleshoe.

By Associated Press.

Lubbock, Texas, Jan. 6.--Sheriff H.A. Douglas, of Muleshoe, Bailey county, advised the Lubbock Journal today that George Hassell, confessed " wholesale slayer." has been in the county jail there since Tuesday night and that he will be taken to Farwell tomorrow morning, under heavy guard, to face the first of the nine murder counts pending against him.

[Source: Corsicana Daily Sun (Corsicana, Texas), Thursday, January 6, 1927, Page 6]


HASSELL SLAYING TRIAL OPENS; BIG CROWD ATTENDSFarwell, Texas, Jan. 6. (AP) --Court convened here this morning with Judge Reese Tatum on the bench for the trial of George J. Hassell, alleged murderer of his wife and eight children whose mutilated bodies were found in a cellar on the Hassell farm on December 24, after having lain buried for nearly three weeks. A grand jury Tuesday brought in nine indictments charging murder against Hassell.

At the initial meeting of the court the defendant claimed the two days grace allowed by law between the time of indictment and trial of the case, and the petit jury was dismissed by the court until Friday morning. Counsel for the defendant, who is still held in the Plainview jail where he was taken shortly after arrest, has not yet been announced. Reports from the Plainview jail say that it is still Hassell's intention to plead guilty when arraigned.

Farwell and its sister city, Texico, N.M., were filled today with people from surrounding counties eager to follow the trial of the case.

[Source: EL Paso Herald (El Paso, Texas), Thursday, January 6, 1927, Page 1 Transcribed By Tam Inman]


Five Jurors For Hassell Murder

(By Associated Press)

Amarillo, Jan 8.---Five jurors to try George J Hassell were obtained at Farwell from a special venire of 108 men before it was exhausted last night. New venire of 80 men was called for resumption of trial Monday.

[Source: The Eagle (Bryan, Texas), Saturday, January 8, 1927, Page 1]


FIND BONES OF FOUR MORE OF HASSELL'S VICTIMS; MURDER LIST IS NOW 13

WHITTIER, Cal., Feb 2.---(AP) George J. Hassell, convicted Texas slayer, today was branded as thirteen times a murderer as the bones of four of his victims reposed in a vault here after having been unearthed as the result of a confession he recently made.

The skeletons of four---a woman and three children were presumed to be those of Mrs. Marie Vogel of Pittsburgh, Pa. and her children, with whom Hassell lived here more than ten years ago. When Hassell recently confessed to nine murders in Texas he also said he had killed four others here. Following a chart he made, authorities yesterday disinterred the bones in the basement of a cottage here.

In further substantiation of Hassell's story, neighbors identified newspaper pictures of him as the "Mr. Baker" who once occupied the cottage with a woman known to them as "Mrs. Baker" and her three adopted children. Hassell admits having used the name of Baker while living here. He is waiting execution in Texas as the result of the slaying in that state of his wife and eight step-children.

Authorities today were confronted with the problem of further identifying the skeletons.

When the skeletons were removed they were found to be those of an adult and three children. From descriptions furnished by hassele the police identified the forms as those of a woman, a boy, 8, a girl 5, and a one year old infant. The schools of all four had been crushed and pieces of rope found drawn about the necks, indicated that the victims had been strangled. The boy's skull was found wrapped in a heavy cloth.

In his confession Hassell declared he had clubbed and choked the woman to death while her children were asleep. He next put the children to death. He said he had been living with the woman and that he killed her in a quarrel over the question of his going into the army at the time the United States entered the world war.

Hassell was three days in digging a grave and burying his victims. Neighbors recall having seen him crawl under the house, throwing out dirt and rubbish. When questioned about the absence of "Mrs. Baker," Hassell told them that she had been called to San Francisco by the death of a sister. He also was seen carrying a heavy trunk into a garage on the day the woman and children disappeared. Neighbors also said they smelled rags burning in the kitchen for several days and nights after the strange disappearance of Hassell's family.

Several months later Hassell brought a woman, whom he introduced as his housekeeper, and a child to live with him. Hassell disappeared a short time later and the woman closed the house. He returned three months later for a bundle which the woman had left at a neighbor's house. That was the last seen of him here.

Mrs. Vogel was reported missing two years ago by sister, Mrs. Gertrude Hoffman of Pittsburgh, who wrote to the police asking that a search be made. Mrs. Hoffman said she had not heard from her sister in 11 years.

[Source: The Bee (Danville, Virginia), Wednesday, February 2, 1927, Page 3]


HASSELL CONFESSES KILLING OF FOUR TO SAVE INNOCENT MAN

Fear Others Would Suffer For His Misdeeds Led To Statement

HUNTSVILLE, Texas, Feb. 2 (AP)---Fear that some innocent man might be accused after he goes to his death in the electric chair here led George J Hassell, slayer of thirteen persons, to clear up the killing of four of his victims in Whittier, Cal., he revealed today. Hassell, who is to be executed February 25 for the recent murder of his wife and her eight children at Farwell, Texas, gave the directions which resulted in the finding yesterday of the bodies of a woman and three children whom he killed ten years ago in the California City.

" I'm glad they found the bodies," the condemned man today told Warden J.S. Speers of the Texas penitentiary. "They know now that I told the truth."

" I was afraid that when the bodies were found that somebody else might be accused of the murder. And that would be awful."

Hassell declared the Whittier murders " seems like a dream." He had been living with Mrs. Marie vocal Of Pittsburgh, Pa. and her three children two of whom Hassell said were orphans.

On the night the United States entered the world war Hassell quarreled with the woman. He choked her and the children to death. Then he buried the bodies beneath the house, told the neighbors he had sent his family away and disappeared.

[Source: The Jacksonville Daily Journal (Jacksonville, Illinois) Thursday, February 3, 1927, Page 1]


Killer To Die

George J. HassellHUNTSVILLE, Texas, ---(AP) ---Thirteen murders, six marriages, enlistments in army and navy and a prison term for desertion were crowded into a 20-year period by George J. Hassell. On the morning of February 10. the death penalty for which Hassell himself asked will end his strange career.

Hassele killed his sixth wife--the widow of his brother--and her nine children in 1926. After conviction Hassell told a life story that revealed three more killings.

Married at the age of 18, separated from his wife and infant son, Hassell joined the army, deserted to join the navy and then rejoined the army. After serving two years for desertion, he wandered for years and was married five times.

Hassell drew charts that revealed where he had buried the bodies of a woman and two children under a house in Whittier, Cal. It was after these killings that he married his brother's widow. The ten-fold tragedy occurred at Farwell, Texas. Hassell never gave any reason for the slayings.

[Source: Corsicana Daily Sun (Corsicana, Texas), Wednesday, February 8, 1928, Page 1 Transcribed By Tam Inman]


HASSELL AND NEGRO ELECTROCUTED EARLY FRIDAY AT HUNTSVILLE

HASSELL AND BLACK PAY DEATH PENALTY FOR THEIR CRIMES

WHITE MAN CONFESSED TO HAVING KILLED 13 PERSONS

HUNTSVILLE, February 10.--(AP.)--Calmly excepting failure of last minute chances for commutation of the death sentence on the ground of possible insanity, George J. Hassell, 39, confessed slayer of 13 persons, was electrocuted at the State penitentiary here today. He was followed to the electric chair by Robert L. Denton, negro, convicted of killing B.E. Morgan, a white man at Crosbyton.

The double electrocution required less than 20 minutes. Hassell received the first shock at 12:29 a.m. He was pronounced dead in eight minutes. Benton entered the cheer at 12:46 o'clock and was pronounced dead seven minutes later. Each received three shocks.

Asked if he wished to make a statement, Hassell said: " I would like to announce to the world that I'm prepared to meet my God. I have made my confession to God and man. Man does not understand it all, but God does."

Warden N.B. Speer acted as executioner. Twenty-five newspaper men and a few prison officials witnessed the executions.

HUNTSVILLE, Feb. 10.--(AP)--In a prison ledger, written in red ink by warden N. L. Speer today rested the brief record of the electrocution of George J. Hassell, 39, white, and Robert Lee Benton, 39, negro, in the State penitentiary here early this morning.

"Executed in accordance with the mandate of the law, Feb. 10, 1928." it read.

Hassell was credited with nine murders in Texas, besides four in California. Benton, who also was known and Stanley, killed B.E. Morgan, a farmer, near Crosbyton.

Warden Speer said he understood both men were to be buried in the prison cemetery.

A giant of a man, Hassell scorned lethal weapons in putting to death his victims. With one exception, he either struck them down with a hammer, or strangled them to death. The exception was his step-son for his murder Hassell died in the chair. The step-son was killed by a shot in the back.

Stoical To Last

Stoical to the last, hasselle went to his death at 12:29 AM with masked couutenance. He was ready to meet his God. He told Warden Speer, and expressed the belief that while he had sinned, god understands, while men do not." The negro died next and he showed no emotion.

Hassell's California crimes did not come to light until the bodies of his nine Texas victims had been found on a farm near Farwell, Texas.

In a confession he described the slaying at Whittier, Cal., of Mrs. Marie Vogel, proprietor of a rooming house at San Angelo, Texas, with whom Hassell had formed a partnership, her young son and two orphaned children he and the woman had adopted. California authorities, at first skeptical, excavated the clay foundation of the house in which Hassell and the woman had lived, and found the bodies of the four. In view of Hassell's Texas crimes, no attempt to extradite him to California was made.

Weds Brothers Widow

Returning to Oklahoma and thence to Texas after the California murders, at the request of his brother's widow, whom he later married, " after consulting the bible to see whether it was all right." Hassell's confessed predilection for whiskey and according to the Farwell court records, an affair with his niece soon brought him into trouble with his wife. According to an early "confession" introduced at his trial. Hassell's wife had reproached to him for his intimacy with her daughter. This enraged him, the confession continued, and he slew the mother with a hammer, afterward strangling the seven children. The oldest son of the dead woman, away on a visit returned home a few days after the crime. He met his death from a shotgun which Hassell fired, according to his confession, while the youth was sitting with his back turned to the slayer at a table drinking from the same jug from which Hassell said he had drawn courage to put to death the mother and smaller children.

Broken Romance Is Blamed By Killer

HUNTSVILLE, Feb. 10. (AP) --George Hassll, confessed slayer of 13 persons, hollered that a broken romance was responsible for the queer quirk in his makeup which led him to deeds of violence.

Convicted and sentenced to death in January for the murder of his wife and nine step-children, Hassell told the story of his life shortly afterward and drew charts which directed police to the bodies of a woman and two children whom he had killed and buried under a house in Whittier, Cal., several years ago. The bodies of them quite and nine step-children were found in the dugout on Hassell's farm near Farwell, Texas.

When he was 18 years old, Hassell said, he fell in love with a young woman in Buffalo Gap, Taylor county, Texas. He married her in December, 1909 and moved to Abilene, Texas. Next he moved to Fort Worth, where he was a night watchman, and then to a farm near Hobart, Okla. He sent his wife and their baby son to Winters, Texas, while he went on to Oklahoma.

"We promised to write every day when we parted." Hassell said. " I wrote, but a week past before I heard from my wife. Then I received a letter. It stated she was through with me. That ruined my life."

" I joined the army and deserted to join the navy in California. But I longed to see my wife and baby while in the navy, so beat it back to Abilene. She still refused to have anything to do with me, so I went back to California and rejoined the army.

"Army authorities arrested me for desertion, and after I had served two years in the army prison, the old longing to see the wife and child came over me, and I planned to return to Taylor county. But my wife wouldn't answer my letters."

Time after time, Hassell said, he returned to Texas in the hope of seeing his wife and child, and once he married another woman because she had a boy that resembled his. Finally, he said he gave up, after his wife had driven him away from her home and the son had thrown rocks at him. He said he married five times after that, but loved only the first wife.

Wandering around the country, hassll received word at New Orleans that his brother had died from the kick of a mule at Lawton, Okla. A sister requested him to go there to finish his brother's crop.

He went to Lawton, married his sister-in-law, and assumed the care of his brother's nine children. After a short time, they moved too Farwell, where the tragedy occurred in December.

" I may be wrong up here," he said in answer to a question, tapping his forehead. " I don't know why I killed, I simply can't say."

[Source: Corsicana Daily Son (Corsicana, Texas,) Friday, February 10, 1928 Page 10]


SLAYER OF 13 GOES TO DEATH CALMLY

George Hassell Electrocuted At Texas Prison--" God Understands," He SaysHuntsville, Tex., Feb. 10. ---(AP) In a prison ledger, written in red ink by Warden N.L. Speer in today rested the brief record of the electrocution of George J. Hassell, 39, white, and Robert Lee Benton, 30, negro, in the state penitentiary here early today. "Executed in accordance with the mandate of the law, Feb. 10, 1928," it read.

Hassell was credited with nine murders in Texas besides four in California. Benton, who also was known in Texas as Stanley, slew a Texas farmer.

Warden Speer said he understood both men were to be buried in the prison cemetery. Relatives, he had been informed, had planned to take Hassell's body to Palestine.

A giant of a man, Hassell scorned lethal weapons in putting to death his victims. With one exception he either struck them down with a hammer, or strangled them to death. The exception was his stepson, for his murder Hassell died in the chair, killed by a shot in the back.

Stoical to the last, Hassell went to his death with masked countenance. He was ready to meet his God, he told Warden N. L. Speer and expressed the belief that while he had sinned, "God understands while men do not."

Hassell's California crimes did not come to light until the bodies of his nine Texas victims had been found on a farm near Farwell, Tex. In a confession to Farwell authorities he described the slaying at Whittier of Mrs. Marie Vogel, proprietor of a rooming house at San Angelo, Tex., with whom Hassell had formed a partnership; her young son and two orphaned children, the couple had adopted, California authorities, at first skeptical, excavated the clay foundation of the house in which Hassell and the woman had lived, and found the bodies of the four. In view of Hassell's Texas crimes, no attempt to extradite him was made by the California authorities.

[Source: Miami Daily News Record (Miami, Oklahoma), Friday, February 10, 1928, Page 8]


Notes:

Thomas & Susie Hassell had an older daughter that was grown and married at the time of the murders: Nora 1903-1973.

Susie Ferguson Hassell married George J. Hassell on October 7, 1924.

 


George J. Hassell

 


 

 

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