July 5, 1909
Miss Clara Amberson, who was shot in the right temple by Alfred Howard, a rejected suitor, in the dining room of her home, 735 Kensington avenue, just before midnight Saturday, died at 4:20 a. m. yesterday. She did not regain consciousness.
In an unlighted room, and deserted by the young men who escorted them home, and who fled when Howard appeared with his revolver, Miss Amberson, assisted by her sister, Mrs. Mamie Barringer, battled in vain with Howard for possession of the weapon. Finally throwing Miss Amberson to the floor, Howard jumped on her, and then, as Mrs. Barringer seized him about the neck, he pulled the trigger.
The bullet struck Miss Amberson just back of the right temple and she collapsed. Believing that he had killed her, Howard turned the weapon on himself and sent the second shot through his own brain, and fell lifeless beside her. Surrounded by her mother, sister and friends, sthe wounded girl passed away four hours later.
In the light of subsequent events, it is believed that Howard contemplated the murder and suicide Saturday afternoon. It is known that he saw the young women at Forest park in the evening in company with young men, when he had been denied the privilege of escorting them or even calling at their home, and it is believed that the sight of the girl who was all the world to him, encircled in the arms of another man on the dancing floor, maddened him.
Four years ago Alfred Howard, then 22 years old, came to Kansas City from Iola, Kas. He secured a position in a railroad freight office, and roomed and boarded with Mrs. Anna Amberson, mother of the girl he killed. Miss Amberson was then a child of 13.
They were together a great deal. Howard assisted her with her studies, and when she was graduated from high school last year he declared his love for her, and asked her to be his wife. This was objected to by her sister and her mother because of her youth.
Six months ago Howard left their house, and shortly afterward went to Hot Springs, Ark. In the meantime Miss Amberson entered a wholesale millinery establishment and was rapidly perfecting herself in that line when he returned three weeks ago.
Howard had been in poor health since his return, but this did not deter him from declaring his ardent love for the girl whom, he told his friends, no other could replace. Miss Amberson found many excuses for not making engagements. Thursday he called her on the telephone and to his several requests for an evening she replied that she had previous engagements.
Saturday evening he called at the Amberson home and asked Miss Amberson to accompany him to a park or that she spend the evening with him as she chose. Miss Amerson smilingly told him that she had an engagement for the evening and that she was sorry. During the conversation he showed the sisters the revolver which he later used. No thought of violence crossed the minds of either girl.
Miss Amberson and Mrs. Barringer were unaccompanied when they walked to Forest park, a short distance from their home. There they met several friends, among them Orville Remmick of 5212 Independence avenue, and Ed Doerefull of 4621 East Seventh street.
It is believed that Howard shadowed the sisters to the park. H e arrived at the Ambrose home shortly before 10 o'clock in the evening. The noise he made when he withdrew a screen from a window in the kitchen of the Amberson home and clambered in was heard by Mr. and Mrs. Joe Wharton, roomers on the second floor, but they ascribed it to a parrot. For almost two hours Howard lay in wait. He chose as his hiding place the bedroom of the sisters, which opens from the dining room to the north.
On their way home, Deorfull, who escorted Miss Amberson, and Remmick, who escorted Mrs. Barringer, suggested that they eat some ice cream. They stopped at the Forest Park pharmacy and chatted for a few moments with O. Chaney, the druggist.
It was warm and the young men carried their coats over their arms. When they arrived at the Amberson home, they conversed for a few moments on the porch just outside the dining room, when the suggestion that they get a drink of water was made. the quartet entered the dining room. Miss Amberson and Doerfull going to one window seat while Mr. Remmick took a chair. Mrs. Barringer went into the kitchen for the water, when suddenly Howard sprang out of the bedroom.
Holding a revolver which he pointed at Miss Amberson, he cried:
"Throw up your hands and don't scream!"
"It's Alf! Help!" cried Miss Amberson.
Doerfull was first to see the revolver and the first to get out of the room. He was closely followed by Remmick. Both left their coats and hats. The cry for help brought Mrs. Barringer back to the room. By this time Miss Amberson had grappled with Howard and had clutched the revolver. Then began the battle for possession of the weapon and the shooting.
Screaming for help, Mrs. Barringer, after the shooting, fled to the sidewalk. Neighbors hastened to the scene. Doctors declared Miss Amberson fatally wounded, and said that Howard's self-inflicted wound had caused instant death.
The police who searched his clothing found the note which he had evidently written some time during the evening in which he declared that "Mamie" (Mrs. Barringer) was the cause of the anticipated double tragedy, and asked that Miss Clara and he be buried side by side.
Ed Doerfull, the escort of Miss Amberson, told a reporter for The Journal last evening that he had never been frightened as badly in his life as he was when he looked at that shiny steel barrel and heard the command to throw up his hands.
"I didn't wait to learn any more about who the fellow with the revolver was," said Mr. Doerfull. "Mr. Remmick and I had escorted the girls home and stepped inside the house to get a drink of water. I was close to the door and when I heard the command to throw up my hands and I saw that shiny steel barrel of the revolver, I concluded that I had better play checkers and move.
"I did not stop to grab my coat or hat, but ran. I don't know how I got home, for I was badly frightened. I lay awake all night and got up around 6 o'clock and went over to Remmick's house to see if he got home all right.
"I did not know until then that anyone had been shot, as I was too far away from the house when the shots were fired to hear the noise of the reports.
"I don't know why I ran away and did not notify the police about the man with the gun, but I guess most anybody would act the same as I did if they looked into the business end of a revolver and were ordered to throw up their hands.
"I got my coat and hat this morning at the same time Mr. Remmick got his. We saw Miss Amberson's body then and we will probably go to the funeral together.
"I did not know the young lady very well, having only met her a few times at the park. I did not go back to the house today, as I had an engagement to go to a picnic at Swope park, and it was too late when I got back this evening."
Orville Remmick, who was with Doerfull when Howard entered the room with the revolver in hand, told his parents that he was taken by surprise, and that when he heard the command to throw up his hands and he saw the revolver, his first thought was for his personal safety. He said that he ran for the door and ran home.
Half a block away he heard the muffled reports, and when he got home he telephoned to the Amberson home and learned of the double tragedy. He feared for a while, he said, that his companion, Doerfull, had been shot. Remmick left his coat and hat at the Amberson home and called for them yesterday morning. He spent yesterday afternoon at Forest park and yesterday evening at Electrick park.
Miss Amberson was 17 years old. She was the youngest of three children. Besides her sister, Mrs. Barringer, and her mother, she leaves a brother, Will, who is in the navy. An effort was being made yesterday to notify him by wire and hold the funeral until his arrival, if possible. The Ambersons came to Kansas City from Salida, Col., six years ago.
Howard had been rooming for the last two weeks at the home of Mrs. Ellen Harper, at No. 801 Cypress avenue, just a block from the Amberson home. That he planned the murder and suicide is believed by Mrs. Harper, as his trunk was locked and contained all of the small articles which he kept about his room.