September 26, 1909
JOHNSON NOT GUILTY
VERDICT OF JURY.
REPORT AFTER NEARLY FIVE
Defendant in Buckner, Mo., Assault
Case Says He Was More Affec-
tionate Toward Wife Than
After being out from 7:35 until midnight a jury in the criminal court last night returned a verdict finding William A. Johnson, charged with an assault on his wife in Buckner, Mo., August 20 of last year not guilty.
In all likelihood the case would have gone over until Monday, had not the jury made a request of Judge Ralph S. Latshaw to allow them to finish last night. the jurors have been kept locked up the greater part of a week and they were anxious to be at their homes Sunday.
The testimony yesterday, as presented by the defense, was largely that of Johnson himself. Johnson was on the stand the greater part of the afternoon. He said he was 57 years of age, had been born in Ohio and come to the Buckner neighborhood about the time he reached manhood. He said he was married 31 years ago and that he was unable to read and write, except that he could sign his name. This lack of education he attributed to the fact that he had to shift for himself from the time he was 15 and also because school conditions were rather unsettled at the time he was a child, it having been the time of the civil war.
Johnson first rented the farm he later came to own. He built the house in which he and his wife lived 20 years. His farm comprised about 800 acres and was encumbered for about $47,000. He testified that he lost money in two ranch deals, in one of them, $10,000. He said that whenever he had money in the bank, he allowed his wife to draw checks herself.
AFFECTION FOR WIFE.
"What was your feeling toward your wife?" he was asked.
"It was good, as much as that of any man and better than that of any number of men I see around," replied the witness.
This was true both at the time Mrs. Johnson was hurt and now, said he. Recounting the events leading up to and immediately upon the injury of Mrs. Johnson, the witness said:
"When we came home from church that evening (about eight hours before the assault), my wife read the paper to me and then we went to bed. I went to bed first and fell asleep almost immediately after taking some medicine I need for asthma. My recollection is that the light was burning when I went to bed. The next thing I heard was my wife calling, 'O, Dode!' a nickname she used for me.
"I jumped up and saw her on the floor, sitting down. I asked her what she was doing there and at first she didn't answer. Then she said she was sick. I wanted her to get on the bed, but she said she was too sick and asked me to lay her down. I got some pillows from the bed and laid her head on them. I don't remember whether I lit the light or not. I asked her what hurt her and she did not answer. Then I ran downstairs to call the Hilts. When they came upstairs with me, we put my wife on the bed and I called a doctor. I saw no blood until I laid her back on the pillows.
"Did you, that night, get up and go downstairs and up again or anywhere else in the house until you called the Hilts?"
"I did not."
"Did you know until the doctors made an examination how badly your wife was hurt?"
"Have you knowledge of who hurt your wife?"
"I couldn't look it in the face if I killed an animal, much less my wife. I didn't do it and have no knowledge of who did."
Johnson's testimony was not materially changed by cross-examination.
Mrs. C. F. Harra, who lives near Buckner, testified that she had asked Johnson the day after the assault if he was going to make an investigation. The witness said he replied:
"There is no need to investigate. There are no clues."
Other witnesses put on by the defense were Whig Keshlear, a detective, and his assistant. Thomas F. Callahan, an attorney, who acknowledged a deed made by the Johnsons. Depositions were read from Catherine Elliott, a washwoman, and Martha Shipley, a nurse. Both said the Johnsons seemed fond of each other. Henry Johnson, a nephew, also was called. He slept in a room adjoining the Johnsons the night of the assault.
Late in the afternoon Mrs. Johnson was recalled to the stand by the state. She said that, while she was recovering, she often talked to Johnson, but never about the injury. There was long argument over whether this answer should be admitted, but it was finally allowed to go in.
"I called for Mr. Johnson frequently to talk to him to give him a chance to ask me how it all happened."
The jury was withdrawn for a time while this testimony was being debated by counsel. James A. Reed, for the fifth time during the trial, moved the discharge of the jury while Mrs. Johnson was on the stand, but Judge Latshaw overruled.
Labels: attorney, Buckner, courtroom, criminal court, domestic violence, James A. Reed, Johnson assault case, Judge Latshaw
September 25, 1909
BY SOME ONE IN THE
HOUSE, SAYS LATSHAW.
DECLARES MRS. JOHNSON WAS
NOT ATTACKED BY BURGLAR.
Court Overrules Demurrer to Evi-
dence Introduced by State -- Im-
portant Testimony Allowed in
Record -- Defense Begins Today.
"This crime was not committed by a burglar, but by a member of the household. The evidence here is that whoever came down stairs soon after the crime went up the stairs again. Burglars do not return to a place where they have committed a crime. They leave the vicinity.
"As to motive, there is an unexplained forgery of Mrs. Johnson's name to a deed. There are quarrels between the couple to help in establishing motive. For these reasons, the demurrer is overruled."
The ruling here quoted was made by Judge Ralph S. Latshaw of the criminal court yesterday after attorneys for William A. Johnson of Buckner had argued half an hour that the state had not presented sufficient evidence to allow the cause to go to the jury. The court held that there was evidence. The introduction of testimony for the defense will be begun this morning.
Mrs. Mina Johnson told her story on the witness stand yesterday. Tired to the point of exhaustion by the many questions put to her, she answered all of them quickly Facing her, at a distance of twenty feet, sat her former husband, charged with assaulting her. She looked in his direction as she testified, but he did not lift his eyes from the table at which he sat.
TESTIFIES TO ASSAULT.
After she had exhibited to the jury the place on her head where she was struck, Mrs. Johnson related the happenings on the night of the assault. She and Johnson had come home from church, and retired. He went to bed first and she blew out the lamp. In the course of the night she awoke. The light was burning and brown paper had been put about the glass. She fell asleep again, seeming to be helpless.
Her next recollection, she said, was after the blow had been struck. She remembered kneeling by the side of the bed, blood streaming over her clothing. She looked about the room for her husband, but not seeing him, called. Then, she said, he came up and took hold of her arm, asking what was the matter with her. She told him she did not know, and asked him to let her lie on the floor.
Then he took pillows from the bed and put her head on them. Mrs. Johnson said Johnson did not ask her how she was hurt, either then or at any time since, in fact, that he had never asked any questions about the affair.
While Mrs. Johnson did not call it a quarrel, she testified to an argument she had with Johnson a few days prior to the assault. He was then planning a trip to New Mexico, and she insisted that she was going with him.
"I told him only death would keep me from making the trip," said the witness.
WAS ABSENT THREE MONTHS.
Mrs. Johnson testified as to her marriage thirty-two years ago. She was Mina Alderman, a school teacher. She taught Johnson to read and write after they were married. They rented a farm near Buckner and prospered, so that they came to own the place in a few years. Everything seemed to go nicely until seven years ago.
About that time, she testified, he became less cordial. Three years ago Johnson intended to buy a ranch in New Mexico, and on this deal was absent form home for three months. He seemed even less cordial on his return from that trip, said the witness. In one of his pockets she found a receipted bill from the Savoy hotel, Denver. It was for $46.50 on account of "W. A. Johnson and Mrs. M. B. Howard."
"It's a mistake," the witness said Johnson remarked when she questioned him.
Not long afterwards Johnson told her, she said, of buying a house and lot in Kansas City. He did not explain the deal to her satisfactorily, the witness testified.
SAYS HE BOUGHT EXPENSIVE HATS.
After the finding of the hotel bill Mrs. Johnson made search and learned the address of Mrs. Howard. She wrote Mrs. Howard, requesting an interview, but was refused. Mrs. Howard said in the letter, according to the witness, that she had met Johnson in a business way. She accused Johnson of dictating the letter, said the witness. Mrs. Johnson also told of coming to Kansas City once with Johnson, who would not or did not ride on street cars, so that she was soon very tired and unwilling to make another trip.
Lillian Short, a milliner in the employ of B. Adler & Co., said that she had seen Johnson come to the store three times with a woman who on each occasion purchased a high-priced hat. The woman was not Mrs. Johnson, the witness said. Mr. Adler testified to the same effect.
IMPORTANT TESTIMONY IN.
John F. Cox, Prescott, Kas., testified that Johnson told him on one occasion that he was very well acquainted with two women in Kansas City.
Edward H. Hilt, who testified Thursday, was recalled by the defense and further questioned. He was asked whether Keshlear and another detective who investigated the alleged assault did not talk to him. The witness said he could not remember.
Hilt was allowed to testify only after the objection, raised Thursday as to part of his testimony and again yesterday morning, had been overruled by Judge Latshaw. Hilt had testified that he was awakened by a groan and that, soon afterwards, he heard the footsteps coming down the stairs and almost immediately retrace their course. Fifteen minutes later he again heard footsteps and this ti me Johnson came to his door. The defense objected to any statement of the witness that the sound of the footsteps was similar.
It was one of the most important points that could be raised in a case in which, as in the one on trial, the evidence is wholly circumstantial. The testimony of Hilt was allowed to remain in the record.
ESTATE WORTH $15,000.
This concluded the state's case.
The defence then submitted its demurrer, which was overruled.
The assault on Mrs. Johnson was committed in the morning of August 20 at Buckner. The Johnson were at one time wealthy, but in the settlement of their affairs which followed the divorce given Mrs. Johnson last spring, only about $15,000 could be saved from the wreckage. Mrs. Johnson was given half of this. There was property sufficient to carry mortgages aggregating about $50,000.
Labels: Buckner, courtroom, criminal court, domestic violence, farmers, Johnson assault case, Judge Latshaw
September 24, 1909
OF WIFE, WOMAN SAYS.
MRS. HILT TESTIFIES IN BUCK-
NER ASSAULT CASE.
Three Times Court Denies Motion of
Defense to Dismiss Jury -- Wit-
nesses Tell Events Night
of the Attack.
While Mrs. Mina Johnson did not go on the witness stand yesterday to testify against her husband, William A. Johnson of Buckner, Mo., now on trial in the criminal court on the charge of having assaulted her the day was replete with incidents even without the wife's story.
Three times counsel for Johnson moved that the jury be discharged, stating that matters prejudicial to a fair trail had occurred, and s harp exchanges between attorneys on both sides were not infrequent.
Mrs. Johnson will testify today. Virgil Conkling, prosecuting attorney, informed the court during the afternoon session that he would not call Mrs. Johnson to the stand until today, as he had excused her because she complained of feeling sick.
Of the witnesses examined yesterday, only Mrs. Cornelia Hilt and Edward H. Hilt, her husband, were at the Johnson home in Buckner the morning of August 20, 1908, when Mrs. Johnson was hurt. For six years prior to her marriage Mrs. Hilt lived at the Johnson home. Mrs. Hilt was married ten years ago. At the time of the assault she and her husband had been two weeks at the Johnson home, Mrs. Hilt working about the house and Hilt doing farm work. They live in Buckner.
HUSBAND GAVE ALARM.
"The night Mrs. Johnson was hurt we had been at a Baptist meeting," she testified. "Early in the morning Mr. Johnson came to the room where my husband and I sleep and roused us. He said: "Jump up, quick, Nella, quick.' He said it several times. I got up and followed him up the stairs part of the way. As we were going upstairs he said: 'Mina's hurt.' Then I passed him on the stairs because I began to run. He said: 'Mina's hurt. I'm afraid she's hurt bad.'
"I found Mrs. Johnson on her back on the floor. I can't describe how bloody she was, for there was blood all over her. I could not see the wound, she was so bloody My thought was that her throat had been cut, there was so much blood."
"Did you notice the bed?"
"Yes, I noticed there was blood on it when we lifted Mrs. Johnson from the floor. The blood looked dry compared to that on Mrs. Johnson's clothes and on a corset cover that was lying on a chair by the bed. Mr. Johnson said his wife had wiped blood from her face with the corset cover.
"There was a light in the room. I stepped over and turned it up, although Mr. Johnson told me not to do so. Mr. Hilt said we must have a doctor and I offered to call one, but Mr. Johnson said he would. Mr. Johnson asked no questions nor did he tell me where the wound was. I stayed in the room only a few minutes, then my husband and I went downstairs to heat some water to wash Mrs. Johnson. When we returned, the doctor was there."
Mrs. Hilt said she had heard no unkind words between the Johnsons during her residence at the house. She said that two days before the assault she had driven to Buckner to meet Mr. Johnson and bring him home from the train. On that occasion, said the witness, Johnson had said to her:
" 'Nella, what am I going to do with Mina?' I said: 'I would not do anything to hurt her feelings, Mr. Johnson.' He said" 'She quarrels with me all the time and I don't say anything back.' "
Edward H. Hilt, husband of the previous witness, was then called to the stand. He said:
"While I was at the Johnson home I was in the habit of getting up at 4 o'clock in the morning and going home to do the chores there, then returning to the Johnsons. The morning of the assault I was awakened at about 3:30 o'clock. I was sleeping in the east room downstairs.
"The first thing I heard was a groan from above and southwest from where I lay. Then I heard footsteps or 'footpads' coming down the stairs toward the north. Then I heard a doorknob turn. I cannot say which knob it was, except that it was not the knob to my door. Almost immediately the footsteps returned the same way.
SAID WIFE HAD FALLEN.
"Fifteen minutes later those footsteps came again, just as the first time. My door opened and Mr. Johnson came by and said: 'Jump up.' My wife went out at once, but I waited to dress. I found Mrs. Johnson on the floor, with pillows under her head. Johnson meet me at the foot of the stairs as I started up and said: 'Mina has fallen and hurt herself.'
"We picked Mrs. Johnson up and laid her on the bed and then my wife and I went downstairs to heat some water. There was a dim light in the room when I came in."
PHYSICIAN ON STAND.
Dr. M. G. Ravencroft of Buckner, who was called to attend Mrs. Johnson after the assault, was the first witness. He identified six pieces of bone taken from Mrs. Johnson's skull in the course of an operation . He was asked whether the wound on Mrs. Johnson's head did not look as if the blow which caused it had been struck from the rear and forwards, but the court would not allow him to answer.
The physician said he asked Johnson how Mrs. Johnson was hurt. The latter replied, "I don't know." Mrs. Johnson also was unable to give an account of the happening, said he.
Dr. J. W. Robertson of Buckner testified that it would take a heavy blow to cause the injury received by Mrs. Johnson.
There was a craning of necks when Samuel H. Chiles, four years a marshal of Jackson county and the most renowned fox hunter in the county, took the witness chair. Mr. Chiles has lived forty years in Buckner and has known the Johnsons for a quarter of a century. Mrs. Johnson lived with his family when she was a little girl.
Two days after the assault Mr. Chiles went to the Johnson home. Johnson met him at the gate and said he wanted to talk to him.
" 'I want you to help me out in this trouble and help me ferret out who did this.' I said I would help all I could and asked him to tell me who was at the house at the time so that I would have something to work on. He told me who was there and I suggested that perhaps these people could tell, but Johnson said:
" 'No, they can't tell anything. I heard my wife say, 'Oh, don't,' and saw her on the floor and saw a light. I know I blew out the light when we went to bed. I saw my wife on the floor groaning and wanted to put her on the bed, but she said no.'
"The Johnson took me into the yard and said: 'Have you heard anybody talk about this?' I said: 'Yes, everybody is talking about it.' 'What is the impression of the people to whom you have talked,' he asked and I said: 'The impression is that you did it.' "
About four days later, said the witness, Johnson came to his house, with Clint A. Winfrey, a banker at Buckner. Johnson took him aside and out of Winfrey's hearing, said the witness, and spoke about getting a lawyer and employing a private detective. Whig Keshlear, a relative of Chiles, was mentioned, and Chiles said Keshlear would do as well as anybody.
In his opening statement for the state I. B. Kimbrell said that quarrels with is wife over a period of years were the cause of the assault and that Johnson struck his wife. The defense said that the blow was struck either by an intruder or that Mrs. Johnson fell and hurt herself.
Labels: Buckner, courtroom, criminal court, doctors, farmers, Johnson assault case, Prosecutor Conkling, Prosecutor Kimbrell
September 21, 1909
JOHNSON TRIAL ON TODAY.
Buckner Man Charged With Strik-
ing Wife as She Lay Abed.
The trial of William A. Johnson of Buckner, Mo., charged with attacking Mina Johnson, his wife, the night of August 20, 1908, as she lay in bed, is set for this morning in the criminal court. Mrs. Johnson supposedly was struck with a club. Her husband was supposed to be in the room asleep at the time. Later he told officers that the groans of his wife awakened him.
Mrs. Johnson secured a divorce and a division of the property in the circuit court last spring.
Labels: Buckner, criminal court, domestic violence, Johnson assault case
September 24, 1908
GOOD NAME GONE;
NEIGHBORS SHUN HIM.
NONE OF THEM WOULD GO ON
Finally Lawyers Came to Rescue of
Man Who Is Accused of Forgery
and Attempted Wife
After much delay and no little impatience on the part of the many curious spectators who crowded the court room at Buckner, Mo., yesterday morning, W. A. Johnson, on trial on a charge of attempted wife murder, waived his preliminary hearing. He was bound over to the criminal court in $4,000 bond. Justice James Adams, before whom the case was called, at first placed the bond at $5,000.
"Your honor, don't you think that is a little stiff," asked T. A. J. Mastin, who represented the defendant. Our client can hardly raise $1,000."
After some argument, the matter being satisfactory to the state, the bond was lowered to $4,000. Then time was asked that the defendant might secure bondsmen. The judge granted one hour.
FRIENDS GONE -- ATTORNEYS HELP.
For several days previous to the trial Johnson had circulated among those who had been his friends in Buckner and Independence, trying to secure someone who would sign his bond. But when Tuesday came and he had no success he went among those in Buckner with whom he had never had business transactions, but to no avail. Sentiment in his home town is strongly against the man, and no one would give him help.
It was soon decided that no bondsmen could be secured and his attorneys, Mr. Masten and W. S. Fournoy, expressed their willingness to sign the bond. Immediately Johnson was released on bond he was rearrested on the charge of forgery, his wife declaring that he forged her name on a deed in January, 1908. As the warrant for his arrest on that charge had been sworn out in Independence, he was taken there by the marshal and the justice of the peace sought.
ARRESTED ON FORGERY CHARGES.
The party arrived at the court room late in the afternoon and the judge was not present; consequently the state expressed its willingness to let Johnson have his freedom under guard until the bond could be fixed this morning. Johnson's attorneys have signified their intention of signing the bond.
Johnson has aged remarkably within the past month. His extreme nervous manner has increased, and while the complaint which charged him with having struck his sleeping wife with the desire to kill her was being read by the judge, the defendant nervously fingered his hat and his hands trembled violently.
Mrs. Johnson, the victim of the assault, has been improving rapidly and is no longer confined to her bed. Yesterday afternoon in the presence of Prosecuting Attorney I. B. Kimbrell; his assistant Will Carmody, and her attorney, J. G. Paxton, she reviewed the whole case. Once, in telling of her endeavors to win Johnson from the kind of life which he had been leading, the woman, now wrinkled and still suffering from her severe wound, broke down and sobbed.
MRS. JOHNSON IN TEARS.
"Oh, why did he do it? He knew that he was breaking my heart." It was some minutes before she regained control of herself. The story of the life which she had been forced to endure within the past two years moved her vastly, and she could scarcely talk at times.
"When I first learned that he was associating with a Mrs. Howard of Kansas City, I went to him and begged him to leave her and come back to me," she said. "But he would not do it, and he tried to deceive me. It was always business that called him to the city every morning, and it was business that kept him there almost all of every week.
"In February of last year he insisted that I go to our ranch in Mexico. I did not want to go, but he was so urgent that I finally gave in to him, as I always did. He gave me $8 to spend on that month's trip, and I did not hear from him but once. I did not know then that he had been in Colorado with this other woman, but the night that I got home I heard that he had returned the day before.
SEARCHED HIS POCKETS.
"Something made me go through his pockets that night, and I found a receipted bill from the Savoy hotel in Denver made out to W. A. Johnson and Mrs. Howard of Kansas City. The bill was a very large one. I have it now.
"The next day I asked him how long he had been in Denver and hinted that I knew all about it. He did not say anything at all. But from time to time he would go away on long business trips and take this woman with him. In Mexico, where he usually went, I had friends, and they recognized him and Mrs. Howard. They told me about it, but I could not say anything to Dode (her husband's nickname) about it. Finally things got so bad that I told him I was going to leave him after threshing this fall and that we would divide up the property equally and he would go his way and I would go mine. Nothing was said by him to that proposition.
"When the wheat crop was in he got about $1,800 for it. I asked him for $25 to buy a new dress, and though he always promised it, he gave me less than half of the $25. Most of that I spent for things for him.
"But before then he had signed my name to a deed which transferred $1,000 worth of property. I never saw one cent of that money. He promised that he would make it all right, but he never did. I never threatened him with exposure, but he knew that I knew of the forgery. It made him afraid.
"Less that a month before that night (she referred so to the night of the assault) Dode came to me and told me he was going back to Mexico to settle up the ranch business. I told him that he would have to take me. He did not want to do so, but I said that I would follow him on the next train if he went without me. He wouldn't be able to lose me like he did his little niece whom I sent to Mexico to take care of him last fall. But he did not go and nothing more was said about the trip up to that night."
BOUGHT HOUSE FOR WOMAN.
Such, in part, is the story which Mrs. Johnson told her attorneys. She told about other women in Kansas City with whom Johnson had lived, one in particular. She said thatJohnson bought an expensive house for this woman on Bales avenue and furnished it luxuriously, with chairs which cost $150 apiece. But Johnson did not pay the bills he contracted in Buckner, she said. She always opened his mail and knew, for he could not read.
The prosecutor and those associated with him have no doubt that they can convict Johnson on both charges. They say that the forgery is a clear cut case and there is no way out of that. Though the assault case is purely circumstantial, Mr. Kimbrell believes that Johnson's own statement will convict him.
The state is very anxious to get the assault case to trial within the next two weeks and will make every effort to do so. Meanwhile, in Buckner, W. A. Johnson, once the most respected man in the community, walks the streets and is shunned by those who once called him their friend. He said yesterday that he intended spending the greater part of his time on his farm near the town.
Labels: Buckner, courtroom, Denver, domestic violence, forgery, Johnson assault case, Judges, lawyer, marriage, Mexico, Prosecutor Kimbrell
September 12, 1908
MRS. WILLIAM JOHNSON FILES
PETITION FOR DIVORCE.
Buckner Woman Says Her Husband
Either Struck the Blow Himself,
or Knew Who Did It -- She
Just four days previous to his preliminary hearing on a charge of assaulting his wife with intent to kill, William Johnson of Buckner, Mo., was served with a copy of his wife's petition for divorce which was filed in the circuit court yesterday.
While sleeping in the same room with her husband at their home near Buckner on the night of August 20, Mrs. Mina Johnson was dangerously injured by being struck on the head with a heavy bludgeon. For days it was feared that Mrs. Johnson would die from her injuries, but she is now recovering. Several days after the assault her husband, William Johnson, who had acted peculiarly since the attack, was arrested and brought to Kansas City. He was locked up in the county jail for only a short time, being allowed to go to the Baltimore hotel to sleep.
He was under close police surveillance all the time and was granted permission to visit his wife. He was never released on bond, as it would not then have been possible to keep detectives with him. His preliminary hearing will come up Tuesday morning in Buckner before Judge James Adams.
NAMES ANOTHER WOMAN.
Mrs. Johnson, in her petition for a divorce, recites that she was married to William Johnson November 22, 1877, at Independence. She accuses him of traveling around the country in company of another woman, and states that he represented the woman to his niece. She also charges that he either struck her himself or that it was done with his knowledge and consent. She asks that he be restrained from going near her, as she fears he will attempt to do her an injury.
The petition sets forth the fact that Johnson is possessed of a large amount of land, and the court is prayed to restrain him from selling or otherwise disposing of his property. The wife asks for temporary alimony and, if granted a divorce, permanent alimony. She names a Miss M. B. Howard, 1603 East Eighth street, Kansas City, as the woman with whom her husband went to Denver, Col, and Roswell, N. M.
HER FIRST ACCUSATION.
While Mrs. Johnson has intimated on previous occasions that she believed her husband had knowledge of the party who so brutally assaulted her, she never directly admitted it until she filed her petition for divorce.
Nearly six months ago Mrs. Johnson decided to sue for a divorce and came to Kansas City to consult a lawyer. Without knowing it she went to a lawyer who was acting as Johnson's attorney. The attorney finally prevailed upon Mrs. Johnson to return home and again try to live with her husband. This she did without bringing a suit. At that time she wanted to file a suit because of her husband's action regarding the Howard woman.
In company with the detective who has guarded him since his arrest, Johnson passed through Independence last night on his way to Kansas City. He was asked about the divorce proceedings brought against him by his wife. He said: "I did not expect divorce proceedings to be brought. It came as a surprise to me. Further than that I do not care to discuss the matter at the present time." Johnson has lost his air of confidence and determination usually apparent, and looks worn and haggard.
TO HOLD COURT IN BEDROOM.
When Johnson's preliminary hearing comes off next Tuesday, the justice will hear the testimony of all the witnesses in his court room in Buckner. Then the judge and his clerk, accompanied by the attorneys, will travel by wagon to the home of Mrs. Johnson, where the court will be reconvened in her bedroom and her testimony taken. After that the justice court will then be transferred to Buckner.
Labels: Buckner, Divorce, domestic violence, Hotel Baltimore, hotels, Johnson assault case, women
September 1, 1908
MORE HOPE FOR MRS. JOHNSON.
Husband's Preliminary Hearing May
Be Held Tomorrow.
More hope was expressed yesterday for the complete recovery of Mrs. W. A. Johnson, who was slugged in her bed on the morning of August 20, than has been entertained before. The physician in attendance declared that Mrs. Johnson was "holding her own," and beyond that would say nothing concerning her condition.
It was stated that Johnson's preliminary hearing will take place tomorrow, provided his wife grows no worse. He is now under arrest charged with having attempted to kill his wife. The preliminary hearing, if it takes place tomorrow, will be held at Buckner, Mo. It is expected that the trial will be of a sensational nature, since the state must show due reason for holding Johnson on its charge.
Labels: Buckner, domestic violence, Johnson assault case
August 29, 1908
MRS. W. A. JOHNSON TELLS OF
ATTEMPT ON HER LIFE.
WOKE WITH PAPER OVER FACE.
THEN SHE WAS STRUCK AND
KNEW NO MORE.
Weapon Used by Her Assailant Is
Found -- The Woman Is Dying,
but May Make Fur-
Mrs. William A. Johnson, Buckner, Mo., who was struck in her bedchamber on the night of August 20 by an unknown person, became conscious yesterday morning. In the afternoon she made a statement which throws much light upon the attempted assasination. Several discoveries were also made during the day which will aid the authorities in their search.
"When I awoke," said Mrs. Johnson, "I had a drowsy sensation. At the same time I was conscious of a newspaper over my face. A strange smell was in the room. I tried to get up, and succeeded far enough to see that t here was a light in the room. Then all became blank.
"I do not know who struck me, but I have my suspicions."
The attending physician said last night that Mrs. Johnson's rally was only a temporary one and that she might die at any moment.
The weapon with which Mrs. Johnson is supposed to have been struck has been found. It is a piece of lead weighing about three and a half pounds, shaped like a cartridge, three and a half inches long and one and a half inches wide. Its size corresponds with the shape of the wound on Mrs. Johnson's head.
A bottle of chloroform, two-thirds empty, was found in the drawer of a dresser which those familiar with the house say was used only by Johnson himself.
"I did not know that there was a bottle of chloroform in the house," said Mrs. Johnson.
Additional proof that the married life of Mr. and Mrs. Johnson was unhappy was furnished yesterday when it was discovered that about six months ago Mrs. Johnson consulted an attorney in this city with a view of getting a divorce from her husband. After talking to the lawyer she decided not do to so.
Johnson spent most of the day in Kansas City yesterday, accompanied by Whig Keshlear, a speciall officer, who had been detailed to guard him. In case Mrs. Johnson should die papers charging Johnson with murder in the first degree have been prepared and will be served at once. In that case the preliminary hearing will be held the day fter the funeral before Justice James Adams in Buckner.
County Prosecutor I. B. Kimbrell is holding himself in readiness to go to Buckner and take the dying statement of Mrs. Johnson.
Labels: Buckner, Johnson assault case, Prosecutor Kimbrell, violence, women
August 28, 1908
JOHNSON WITH HIS WIFE.
Attending Physician Believes Woman
Can't Live Much Longer.
Guarded by detectives William A. Johnson was taken from the county jail yesterday morning to his home near Buckner, where his wife, who was assaulted several weeks ago, is in a precarious condition. Word was received yesterday that Mrs. Johnson was expected to live but a few hours and the authorities decided to allow Johnson, who had been arrested and charged with making the felonious assault, to be at his wife's bedside. He is being watched by Detectives Whig Keshlear, W. E. Brown and Candless. When he arrived at his home Johnson did not show any outward signs of nervousness and did not break down as was expected he would do.
Dr. N. D. Ravenscraft stated last night that while he believed Mrs. Johnson would live throughout the night he did not hope for her recovery.
Labels: Buckner, doctors, Johnson assault case, violence
August 27, 1908
ON GRAVE CHARGE.
BUCKNER MAN ACCUSED OF AS-
SAULT ON WIFE.
WOMAN IS EXPECTED
SHE FEARS HER HUSBAND, AND
ASKED FOR PROTECTION.
Prisoner Did Not Expect Arrest -- He
Says He Can Prove His Inno-
cence Easily, but Will
Not Talk of Case.
Charged with having assaulted his wife with intent to kill her last Thursday morning, W. A. Johnson, who lives near Buckner, Mo., was arrested yesterday afternoon and brought to Kansas City, where he was placed in the county jail. The arrest was the outcome of much investigation of the circumstances which surrounded the mysterious assault made upon Mrs. Johnson Thursday morning, and the result of Johnson's strange actions in his home since the morning of the assault.
From the beginning there have been few persons in Buckner who have not believed that Johnson knows more of the attempt to murder his wife than he gave out, and there has been much talk in Buckner of using mob violence.
When Johnson was arrested yesterday afternoon he was at the home of Clint Winfrey, two miles north of Buckner. He was taken there late Tuesday night at his wife's request, she saying she could not rest easily as long as her husband was in the house.
T. E. Beckum of Buckner was the arresting officer. When told that he was under arrest, according to witnesses, Johnson's face lost its expression. His hands and feet worked nervously and without evident purpose.
"You know your duty, Tom," he said slowly, without looking at the constable; "and you must do it. I am ready to go."
"Do you want to read the warrant?" asked Mr. Beckum, producing the paper.
HE DREADED JAIL.
"No, it is not necessary," answered the arrested man.
As the party, which consisted of Johnson, Beckum, Whig Keshlear and J. W. Hostetter, turned to go to the surrey, which was standing by the gate, Johnson hesitated and asked falteringly:
"Will I have to go to jail and spend the night there?"
Upon being told that such would be the case the suspected man almost broke down. He insisted that some arrangement be made whereby he need not be put behind the bars just yet. At Johnson's request Clint Winfrey and T. E. Beckum called up Prosecuting Attorney I. B. Kimbrell and asked him if it was necessary for Johnson to go to jail. Mr. Kimbrell promised that he would look into the matter after the prisoner had been brought to Kansas City.
On the way to Kansas City, Johnson spoke of his arrest but few times. On one occasion he requested that the warrant be read to him. After Mr. Beckum had complied Johnson muttered, "All right, all right."
Upon the second occasion, Mr. Hostetter had spoken of a neuralgia pain in his jaw and Johnson lifted his head from his hands and said:
"My heart aches far worse than your jaw, Hostetter, and it can't be cured."
The party drove into Independence from the Winfrey farm, passing wide of Buckner, since there had been much talk of mob violence. At Independence they stopped at a hotel for a short while and there Johnson was asked if his arrest was unexpected by him.
SAYS IT'S A SURPRISE.
"It was a great surprise, and wholly unexpected," he said. "But I think I had better not talk just yet. If I was at home on the farm I would be glad to answer any question that you want to ask, but until I have talked with my lawyers I had better be quiet. I am not running on my ignorance, nor do I boast of my wisdom, but I think that I will be able to clear up a few things soon.
"Right now I can scarcely collect my thoughts, my brain is in a whirl and I have been under a great nervous strain for the last four or five days. "
Beyond these few remarks Johnson would say nothing. During the half hour that they were in Independence, Johnson remained standing, always shifting about in an extremely nervous manner.
From Independence to Kansas City the party rode on the electric car and all of the prisoner's conversation was in regard to the scenery through which he was passing. Not once did he refer to his arrest.
On East Eighth street between Highland avenue and Vine street is where the woman in the case lives. As the car reached Woodland avenue Johnson, who had been sitting on the north side of the car, crossed to a seat by the window where he could see the house as he passed. As the car reached the place Johnson looked up into the windows of the house until it had passed out of sight. He said not a word.
MRS. JOHNSON IS DYING.
Mrs. Johnson is reported as failing rapidly. The physicians late last night stated that there was small chance for her to live through the night. Symptoms of meningitis have appeared and Mrs. Johnson has become delirious. The nurse and the women of the Johnson household are in constant attention. If she should die, the charge against her husband would be changed to first degree murder, and he would be held in the jail without bond. As it is, he hopes to furnish satisfactory bail this morning.
The arraignment and preliminary hearing will probably be this morning.
The people of Buckner soon learned of Johnson's arrest and most of them seemed to be greatly relieved, while a few thought that the action was a bit hasty on the part of the state. It was taken, however, at the indirect request of Mrs. Johnson, who, it is stated by a relative, greatly feared her husband.
It was given out yesterday for the first time officially that there had been much discord in the Johnson family for the past four or five years, but that none outside of the immediate family knew of the domestic troubles.
Johnson's endeavors to be released from the jail last night were without avail. As he walked into the jail he looked straight ahead of him and spoke to no one. After the cell door was locked he stood silently an gazed at the floor. Mr. Kimbrell stated last night that he could do nothing definite in the case until he learns of the condition of the man's wife. Johnson may be held without arraignment until tonight.
No visitors whatever are allowed in the Johnson house and every effort is being made by physicians to save the woman's life. Dr. N. D. Ravenscraft, who has been attending Mrs. Johnson since the night of the assault, said last night that Mrs. Johnson is worse than she has ever been since the attack. He expresses no hope for her recovery.
Labels: Buckner, doctors, Eighth street, Highland avenue, Independence, jail, Johnson assault case, nurses, Prosecutor Kimbrell, streetcar, Vine street, women
August 25, 1908
DOMESTIC LIFE MADE
AN UNHAPPY WOMAN.
MRS. JOHNSON TOLD NEIGHBORS
OF HER FEARS.
Physician to Operate Today, Fears
Slugger's Victim Will Die.
No Clew to Identity
The attending physician reported in Buckner, Mo., last night that Mrs. W. A. Johnson, who was slugged in her bed Thursday morning by an unknown hand, was brighter than she had been since she received the wound which may cause her death. The physician held out no intimation that Mrs. Johnson would recover -- simply saying she appeared to be better.
Detectives employed by a public subscription committee at Buckner did not report any findings of importance yesterday, and relatives and friends of the injured woman had no information to make public regarding the investigation which is being prosecuted to discover her assailant. The county prosecutor did not visit the farm house yesterday, and stated last night that he would not return until called.
Many additional stories of unhappy domestic relations were in circulation in Buckner yesterday. One story, which caused comment, was of an illness some years ago when Mrs. Johnson believed an attempt had been made to put her out of the way. A physician prescribed a remedy when Mrs. Johnson decided she needed a tonic. One morning after her regular dose of the tonic she became seriously ill. She took no more of the medicine. She feared, so she told a neighbor, that somebody had tampered with the bottle.
Then there was another story going yesterday about a pistol duel some years ago in the streets of Buckner between men employed as laborers on the Johnson farm, and many persons tried to connect this shooting affair with the supposed unhappy life of Mrs. Johnson. One of the men who participated in the shooting in the streets of Buckner is said to have left the county and the other is reported living here now.
The county prosecutor, I. B. Kimbrell, expects to find the weapon with which Mrs. Johnson was injured as she lay in bed beside her husband in the early morning. If a man was employed to murder Mrs. Johnson he surely did not carry away his weapon, the prosecutor thinks. The well on the Johnson farm is to be searched.
Today the physicians will remove the packing from Mrs. Johnson's skull and fear she will not survive the operation.
Labels: Buckner, crime, detectives, doctors, Johnson assault case, marriage, Prosecutor Kimbrell, violence, women
August 23, 1908
MYSTERIOUS WOMAN IN
SOME BELIEVE SHE HIRED MAN
TO COMMIT MURDER.
Was the Farmer's Wife in Her Way?
That Is the Solution Some Buck-
ner People Have -- Strange
No nearer solution than it has ever been is the mystery which surrounds the attempt which was made to murder Mrs. W. A. Johnson at her home near Buckner, Mo., Thursday morning. Many clue have been suggested and all of them have been followed closely by a private detective who has been put upon the case, but those clues have resulted in almost nothing. Mrs. Johnson stoutly maintains that she knows absolutely nothing of the assault which was made upon her, and if she suspects anyone of the crime she will not make her suspicions known. Her physician stated yesterday that she is growing rapidly worse and probably would not live through today.
The latest theory as to the circumstances which surround the crime is that a certain person who was seen loitering around Lake City, a small village seven miles west of the Johnson farm, Wednesday, was hired by a woman to kill Mrs. Johnson.
It is said that though this woman did not know Mrs. Johnson, she was well acquainted with the husband, who visited her when he was in Kansas City. The idea is that this Kansas City woman found Mrs. Johnson to be a stumbling block and contrived to put her out of the way. To accomplish her purpose it is thought that she hired this man who was seen in Lake City to do the deed.
What strengthens the suspicion is the fact that a Kansas City woman, with whom Mr. Johnson is said to be well acquainted, telephoned to Buckner on Thursday morning and asked concerning Mrs. Johnson. This was before the assault had become generally known in Kansas City.
The man upon whom the suspicion of some rests was seen in Lake City about noon on Wednesday. Two hours later he stopped at a farm house belonging to B. Neal, two miles east of Lake City. There he asked for work, and none being give him, he walked one mile further east to a farm owned by a Mr. Sloan. There he asked for work and was kept until nightfall. From there he followed the railroad track east. The tracks run within 150 yards of the Johnson home, and it is thought by a few that this man was the one who attempted to murder Mrs. Johnson.
THEY HAVE ANOTHER THEORY.
The majority of persons in and about Buckner, however, think that they know who the assailant is and give circumstantial evidence to back their judgment. Prosecuting Attorney I. B. Kimbrell, who has spent two days investigating the case, also holds that the blow was not struck by one who was unacquainted with the Johnson family. Mr. Kimbrell believes that money was the motive of the crime.
Though two days have been spent in investigation by the prosecutor and other county officials, there is no likelihood of arrest just yet. Mr. Kimbrell said last night that all the evidence which his office had against the person who he believes committed the crime was purely circumstantial.
Among the many questions which the prosecutor has asked persons who are connected with the Johnson family, those regarding the domestic relations of the Johnson family, remained unanswered. When Mrs. Edgar Hilt, who was reared in the Johnson home, was asked concerning domestic relations of the family, she answered: "I would rather not say anything about that. It can do no good" Many others advance the same reasons for their silence.
Labels: Buckner, farmers, Johnson assault case, marriage, Prosecutor Kimbrell, railroad, violence, women
August 25, 1908
IN JOHNSON CASE.
SOME BELIEVE SHE HIRED MAN
TO COMMIT MURDER.
No nearer solution than it has ever been is the mystery which surrounds the attempt which was made to murder Mrs. W. A. Johnson at her home near Buckner, Mo., Thursday morning. Many clues have been suggested and all of them have been followed closely by a private detective who has been put upon the case, but those clues have resulted in almost nothing. Mrs. Johnson stoutly maintains that she knows absolutely nothing of the assault which was made upon her, and if she suspects anyone of the crime she will not make her suspicions known. Her physician stated yesterday that she is growing rapidly worse and probably would not live through today.
The latest theory as to the circumstances which surround the crime is that a certain person who was seen loitering about Lake City, a small village seven miles west of the Johnson farm, Wednesday, was hired by a woman to kill Mrs. Johnson.
It is said that though this woman did not know Mrs. Johnson, she was well acquainted with the husband, who visited her when he was in Kansas City. The idea is that this Kansas City woman found Mrs. Johnson to be a stumbling block and contrived to put her out of the way. To accomplish her purpose it is thought that she hired this man who was seen in Lake City to do the deed.
What strengthens the suspicion is the fact that the Kansas City woman, with whom Mr. Johnson is well acquainted, telephoned to Buckner on Thursday morning and asked concerning Mrs. Johnson. This was before the assault had become generally known in Kansas City.
The man upon whom the suspicion of some rests was seen in Lake City about noon on Wednesday. Two hours later he stopped at a farm house belonging to B. Neal, two miles east of Lake City. There he asked for work and was kept until nightfall. From there he followed the railroad track east. The tracks run within 150 yards of the Johnson home, and it is thought by a few that this man was the one who attempted to murder Mrs. Johnson.
THEY HAVE ANOTHER THEORY.
The majority of persons in and about Buckner, however, think that they know who the assailant is and give circumstantial evidence to back their judgment. Prosecuting Attorney I. B. Kimbrell, who has spent two days investigating the case, also holds that the blow was not struck by one who was unacquainted with the Johnson home, and his theory is the same as the one which has always been advanced by those who were acquainted with the Johnson family. Mr. Kimbrell believes that money was the motive of the crime.
Though two days have been spent in investigation by the prosecutor and other county officials, there is no likelihood of arrest just yet. Mr. Kimbrell said last night that all the evidence which his office had against against the person who he believes committed the crime was purely circumstantial.
Among the many questions which the prosecutor has asked persons who are connected with the Johnson family, those regarding the domestic relations of the Johnson family remained unanswered. When Mrs. Edgar Hilt, who was reared in the Johnson home, was asked concerning the domestic relations of the family she answered: "I would rather not say anything about that. It can do no good." Many others advance the same reasons for their silence.
Labels: Buckner, farmers, Johnson assault case, marriage, violence, women
August 22, 1908
SHE DOESN'T KNOW
WHO SLUGGED HER
MRS. W. A. JOHNSON, BUCKNER,
TALKS OF HER CASE.
She Is Conscious, but Doctors Have
No Hope for Her Recovery -- Vil-
lage People Suspect
Mystery has been added to mystery in the circumstances which surround the attack made upon Mrs. W. A. Johnson at her home near Buckner, Mo., Thursday morning. Mrs. Johnson is conscious at intervals, and during these lucid spells she talks rationally of her injuries, but is unable to throw any light upon the mystery. It had been thought that Mrs. Johnson could explain it all and the name of her assailant as soon as she was able to talk.
"I do not know who struck me," said she yesterday afternoon. "I do not know that I was slugged. If it were not for the pain in my head and the fact that everyone tells me that such is the case, I would not believe it. I did not get out of bed Thursday morning, to my knowledge, and can not understand how it happened that I was found lying on the floor. I saw no one Thursday morning, nor did I hear any noise which awakened me."
Beyond that Mrs. Johnson can say nothing of the affair. It is her belief that she has been drugged, but how or why she cannot explain. Though Mrs. Johnson's condition seemed to be improving yesterday, the physician in charge said that there was very little hope of her recovery, and Mrs. Johnson herself realizes that she may never get well.
The assault was committed on the night when Sam Eliot and his wife, who usually sleep in a house located about twenty-five feet from the room in which Mrs. Johnson slept, were away from home. It was the first time that they had been away from the Johnson farm for at least three months. This fact has led many persons in Buckner to believe that the assault was perpetrated by some one who had knowledge of the household, and knew that the Eliots were away. Absolutely no trace of the intruder or assailant has been found.
When Mr. Johnson was asked if he intended to investigate the circumstances which led to his wife's assault, he replied: "I think that there is nothing to investigate; besides, nothing has been missed from the house. If a detective were employed to look into the affair it would mean that he must talk with my wife, and that would not be tolerated right now."
It was said in Buckner yesterday that a subscription of $1,000 was being raised by the citizens in order to push investigation on their own accord. Mr. Johnson sticks steadfastly to the theory of robbery as an explanation of the slugging.
The people of Buckner, with a few exceptions, are firm in their belief that the assault upon Mrs. Johnson was an attempt to murder and that no robbery was contemplated. Most of them think that they know the person who committed the crime, but are reluctant to give names. The whole town is greatly excited. Mrs. Johnson is a woman of the highest standing, and if she ever had an enemy no one knew it.
Prosecutor I. B. Kimbrell and representatives of the county marshal's office visited the Johnson farm yesterday to investigate the assault. They learned no more than the reporter from The Journal who preceded them.
Labels: Buckner, crime, farmers, Johnson assault case, Prosecutor Kimbrell, The Journal, violence, women
August 21, 1908
HEAD CRUSHED BY
BUCKNER WOMAN FATALLY
BEATEN IN HUSBAND'S BED.
HE WAS ASLEEP BESIDE HER.
SHE KNOWS WHO DID IT, BUT
Lost Consciousness After Whispering,
"I Know, but Can't Tell Yet."
Mrs. W. A. Johnson the Victim.
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.
NO NOISE WAS HEARD.
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.
NOTHING OF VALUE THERE.
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.
Labels: Buckner, doctors, farmers, Johnson assault case, railroad, violence
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Early Kansas City, Missouri