August 21, 1908
Awakened from his sleep by agonized groans at 4 o'clock yesterday morning W. A. Johnson, who lives near Buckner, ten miles east of Independence, arose to find his wife sitting on the floor by their bed, her nightgown covered with blood and herself almost unconscious. When Mr. Johnson bent over his wife, she whispered faintly: "I'm hurting and sick. Let me lie down."
With that Mrs. Johnson became unconscious and has spoken no word since.
Hastily taking pillows from the bed the husband placed them under his wife's head and ran down stairs for help. When others arrived it was seen that nothing could be done for the woman until a physician had come, and Dr. N. P. Ravenscraft of Buckner was summoned. The physician found that Mrs. Johnson had suffered a severe fracture of the skull, particles of which were pressing upon the brain. the skull was splintered across the top of the head. The physician said that the blow must have been inflicted by a heavy, blunt instrument, and by a muscular person.
Wednesday night Mr. Johnson and his wife, who live on a large farm about one mile southwest of Buckner, had driven into the town with Edward Hilt and his wife to attend church. Mr. and Mrs. Hilt are neighbors of the Johnsons and had been spending the day with them. The Hilts returned to the Johnson home that night and were given a bedroom directly under the one in which Mr. Johnson and his wife slept. Henry Johnson, a nephew, 16 years of age, slept in a room which directly adjoins the room in which Mr. Johnson and his wife were sleeping. These were the only occupants of the house.
The first intimation of what seems to be attempted murder was the groans which awakened Mr. Johnson. None in the house had heard sounds of blows or the falling of Mrs. Johnson's body.
Her husband, who was sleeping in the same bed with her, was not awakened by his wife's getting out of bed, or by any talking or sounds of a struggle. To all questions of what had happened to her, Mr. Johnson says that she could not reply.
It is said in Buckner that when asked if she knew who had struck her, Mrs. Johnson replied: "Yes, but I can't tell; not yet." Mr. Johnson says that he did not hear his wife make such a statement. It is feared by the physicians who attended the stricken woman that she will never regain consciousness, and so the mystery of who her assailant was may remain unsolved.
Theories as to the reason for the assault are many and various. For a while it was believed that robbery was the sole purpose of the assailant inasmuch as the Johnsons are a wealthy family and it was known that money was kept in the house, as well as other valuables. According to this theory it would seem that Mrs. Johnson was awakened by an intruder and in order to save himself after discovery by the woman, he struck her over the head.
The husband says that there was nothing in their room of great value, not as much as there was in other rooms of the house. Upon thorough investigation it was found that nothing about the premises had been stolen.
Murder, though entirely inexplicable as to reasons, is the theory which has the most followers. Near the house there are railroad tracks and many freight trains pass the place during the day and night. As no loungers were seen in the neighborhood of the Johnson home, or on the streets of Buckner Wednesday, it is believed that the person who committed the assault must have come and left by means of the nearby trains.