April 19, 1909
With a revolver in the right hand and a bullet hole in the head, the badly decomposed body of Eugene Virne Willard, 417 Lawton place, was found yesterday afternoon in a ditch about a mile east of the main entrance to Swope park, by two small boys, who notified park authorities.
Two patrolmen were sent from No 9 district, and Dr. Harry Czarlinsky, deputy coroner, notified. In the man's coat pocket they found a small memorandum book containing a sh ort note, asking anyone who found the body to notify his wife. It was signed, "Eugene Willard, 417 Lawton place."
The park employes did not remember having seen the man, and it could not be determined just when the suicide was committed, but he evidently had been dead several days.
Mrs. Susie Willard, wife of the suicide, when seen in their apartments at 417 Lawton place, last night, said that her husband had been afflicted for some time with tuberculosis and heart disease, and that he complained of his head.
"My husband was about 33 years old. We had been married five years," she said. "He was very nervous, and the fact that of late he was unable to attend to his duties at the stock yards about made him insane.
"Three weeks ago Virne came home and told us all he would kill himself. Later he told my mother, Mrs. Sarah Powell, that he went one time to the Kaw river to jump in, but that he found the water too shallow and too muddy for the plunge and changed his mind. By a statagem we succeeded in getting a hold of his revolver and hiding it under some papers on the cupboard. Last Wednesday we found the weapon missing.
"Thursday morning I asked Virne to go to the store and purchase some ribbon from a sample I gave him. By night he had not returned, so I notified the police. Since then my brother has tramped the outskirts of the city trying to find the body, confident that my husband had killed himself.
When ill health drove the husband to despondency, Mrs. Willard penned the note and placed it in his pocket, giving her address and asking that in case of accident she be notified.