August 23, 1908
On Saturday, June 20, George Pickle, 16 years old, went from his home, 1429 Summit street, in company with a friend, Earl Hamilton, 30 years old. They said that they were going to view the high water.
The day passed and the boy did not return. The next day Alexander Pickle, father of the lad, asked Hamilton what had become of his son. The latter replied that he had left him at 10 o'clock the morning before and that the boy had probably gone to the harvest fields, as he heard him asking for a ticket for Poe, Kas., at the Union depot ticket window. As George had promised his sister, Mrs. Alma E. Crowder, when she was in the city a few days before, that he would go out to her husband's farm at that place in a few days, this story seemed very probable. However, a few days later a body was discovered in the Missouri river near the mouth of the Blue and taken to the undertaking rooms of Blackburn & Carson in Sheffield for identification. The mother of the lost boy asked Earl Hamilton to go to Sheffield to view the body. He came back and reported that the body was that of a negro in an advanced stage of decomposition. The family did not pursue that clew any farther until last Friday.
Alonzo Ghent and Lum Wilson, city detectives, were assigned to the case. They discovered that Hamilton, a few days after the disappearance of the boy, deposited $120 in $20 bills in a bank, although the same week he had told his landlady that he had not enough money to pay her. George Pickle had a like sum when he disappeared. Hamilton had continued his friendly relations with the pickle family and frequently stopped to talk with the mother and to inquire if the boy had been found. On one of these visits he mentioned to Mrs. Pickle that he had served six months in the army once. She repeated this remark to the detectives, who investigated and found that Hamilton was a deserter from the army, having served a full term of three years and six months of another. They arrested him and sent word to Fort Leavenworth, and in the meanwhile they tried to connect him with the disappearance of the boy.
No charge, save investigation, was ever placed against Hamilton. He was turned over to the county marshal and held as his "guest" in the county jail a few days, then surrendered to the government authorities. A month later he escaped from the federal prison.
But it was not the trained minds of the detectives that determined the fate of the lad. Rather it was the mother's love which prompted her to go over the case again and again and to work up every clew. Her husband, who is a night watchman for the Jones Dry Goods Company, told her that no doubt the boy was safe, but she refused to believe it. Inquiries showed that he had not gone to Poe, Kas., nor was any word ever heard from him.
Last Friday, Mrs. Pickle, in thinking over the mystery, remembered that it was Hamilton that had reported the body at the undertaker's was a negro's. She determined to see if they had not been deceived, so she sent a friend, a Mr. Kinsey, to see the body. He found that the body was very probably that of the boy, and identified several articles as belonging to him. Yesterday the body was exhumed form the pauper's grave, where it had been buried, and positively identified by the father. A gash on the head told how he had come to his death. The police are looking for Hamilton now.
The body of George Pickle will be buried in Mount Washington cemetery today. Earl Hamilton is a cousin of Joseph Hamilton, 1511 Pennsylvania avenue, brother-in-law of the dead boy.