February 11, 1910
DR. HYDE CHARGED
WITH MURDER IN
THE FIRST DEGREE.
Colonel Swope's Nephew by
Marriage Formally Accused
OUT UNDER $50,000 BOND.
Special Grand Jury Convenes
Saturday to Investigate
BIG LIBEL SUIT DROPPED.
By Dismissing Proceedings,
Dr. Hyde Avoids Giving
DR. B. CLARK HYDE.
Dr. B. Clark Hyde, whose wife is a niece of the late Colonel Thomas H. Swope, was formally charged in a warrant issued yesterday afternoon by Justice of the Peace Loar at Independence, with having caused the death of Colonel Swope by poison.
Dr. Hyde was arrested in the office of Marshal Joel Mayes at 4 o'clock and an hour later gave bond in the sum of $50,000 before Justice Loar. The hearing is set for February 17.
The surties on the bond are M. D. Scruggs, vice president of the Kansas City Live Stock Commission Company; Fernando P. Neal, president of the Southwest National bank, and Herbert F. Hall, presiden tof the Hall-Baker Grain Company. Frank P. Walsh, John M. Cleary, John H. Lucas, attorneys for Dr. Hyde, and William McLaughlin joined in signing the bond, which was twice as large as was suggested by Prosecutor Conkling.
SPECIAL GRAND JURY CALLED.
Two hours prior to the issuance of the warrant, Judge Ralph S. Latshaw of the riminal court ordered that a special grand jury be convened to examine into the deaths of Colonel Thomas H. Swope, Chrisman Swope and other members of the Swope family who died of typhoid fever, including Moss Hunton, who died suddenly in the Swope home.
Marshal Joel Mayes was busy yesterday selecting a list of names of men who will be asked to serve on this grand jury. The jury will be convened Saturday morning when Judge Latshaw will instruct them in their duties.
The refusal of Dr. Hyde to appear at the Reed offices yesterday morning so that his deposition could be taken in his libel suits for $600,000 against the Pulitzer Publishing Company and the dismissal by the attorneys of the suit when they learned that an attachment had been issued for Dr. Hyde, precipitated the criminal proceedings.
The information was sworn to by John G. Paxton of Independence, the executor of the Swope estate. On the reverse of the warrant was a request by Prosecutor Conkling for an immediate arrest.
BIG LIBEL SUIT DROPPED.
The scenes of activity in the Swope case yesterday were kaleidoscopic. The legal sparring began in the morning when attemts to take depositions in the offices of Atwood, Reed, Yates, Mastin & Harvey on one hand and Frank P. Walsh on the other failed because the witnesses subpoenaed were not present.
Following the issuance of an attachment by the Reed forces came the dismissal of his suit for $600,000 damages.
The dismissal of the libel suit in which the Reed forces had obtained a prior right to taking depositions was not wholly a surprise, but it roused the attorneys for the Swope estate to activity. It was shortly after 10 o'clock a. m. when the attorneys and the women witnesses in the case gathered in the Reed offices. George H. Roberts, the notary, had failed to arrive and he was found in the court house. He had not expected the case to be called. Dr. Hyde had not arrived and it was determined to ask for an attachment. This was issued and a deputy sheriff began a search for Dr. Hyde.
JUDGE LATSHAW ACTS.
It did not take long for this news to reach the Walsh offices and John M. Cleary was dispatched to Independence. There the suit alleging libel against the Pulitzer Publishing Company, John G. Paxton, Dr. E. L. Stewart and Frank G. Hall was dismissed. The sheriff was notified and recalled the deputy who had been unable to find Dr. Hyde. the latter was ensconced in a private apartment of Mr. Walsh's offices. The news of the dismissal of the suit did not sit well with the attorneys for the Swope estate. There was a conference between Reed, Atwood, Maston and Paxton. It terminated at the office of Prosecutor Conknling.
It was at this juncture that Judge Ralph S. Latshaw entered the case. He went into conference with the attorneys and a quarter of an hour later declared that he would convene a special grand jury on Saturday monrning.
In the meantime Mr. Paxton had gone to Mr. Walsh's office. He said that he was sorry that he had caused the attorneys any embarrassment, but that he had a great deal of private business to attend to. He would greatly appreciate the favor of being excused until 2:30 p. m. Mr. Walsh conferred with Judge Johnson, and returning to the room, told Mr. Paxton that they would excuse him until 2:30 p. m.
Then Mr. Paxton got busy. Mr. Reed arranged for an interview with County Prosecutor Virgil Conkling. It did not take the attorneys long to arrive at a decision. This was that Mr. Paxton should swear to the information and that Prosecuting Attorney Conkling would recommend an issuance of a warrant charging Dr. Hyde with murder.
Before Prosecuting Attorney Conkling departed for Independence he called up Mr. Walsh on the telephone and asked him to have Dr. Hyde in the office of County Marshal Joel Mayes at 4 p. m. as he desired to serve a warrant on him at that time. Mr. Walsh promised to have his client there at the appointed time.
Dr. Hyde was not at the Walsh offices when this message came and caught his attorneys somewhat by surprise. They were getting ready to take the deposition of Mr. Paxton. Dr. Hyde was notifed over the telephone to come to the Walsh offices and then Mr. Cleary was given the job of finding bondsmen for Mr. Hyde. He was only a few minutes later than 4 p. m. in getting the signatures of the three businessmen to the bond which was made out in blank.
The warrant was issued at 3:30 o'clock on the application of J. G. Paxton in the office of Justice of the Peace Loar of Independence. Mr. Paxton was accompanied to the office of Justice Loar in the Jackson County Bank building by T. J. Mastin. Virgil Conkling indorsed the information. "I hereby approve of complaint and request that a warrant be issued," affixing his signature to the back of the document.
"I suggest that the bond be fixed at $25,000," said the prosecutor. "I believe that is sufficient in this case as there are certain contingencies which lead me to believe that a greater bond is not necessary." Justice Loar also was informed by the prosecutor that he could do as he pleased as to the amount of the bond, but that the state would be satisfied with that amount.
LEAVES WITH WARRANT.
Justice Loar upon the receipt of complaint at once was given another paper by Virgil Conkling which proved to be a warrant for the arrest of Dr. Hyde. In the body of the warrant the wording was identical with that in the complaint, and after being signed by the justice of the peace, who ordered it delivered to the marshal of Jackson county, the prosecutor and Attorneys Mastin and Paxton left in an automobile for Kansas City with the warrant.
Prosecutor Conkling stated that he had placed in the warrant that the preliminary examination would be held February 17.
Justice Loar stated that if the defendant waived preliminary examination he would commit him to jail, but if not he would accept the bond which it was expected Dr. Hyde would give.
Shortly before 4 p. m. Mr. Walsh and Mr. Lucas took their client to the criminal court building. Dr. Hyde was smiling. They hastened to Mr. Conkling's office where they remained until they were told that Mr. Conkling and Mr. Paxton had returned from Independence and were in the marshal's office.
Prosecutor Conkling handed the warrant to Marshal Mayes and told him Dr. Hyde would be in the office in a few minutes.
"Is your name B. Clark Hyde?" inquired Marshal Mayes of Dr. Hyde a few monents later when he was brought into the office by Attorneys Walsh and Lucas.
Dr. Hyde nodded his head in reply.
WAIVES READING WARRANT.
"I have a warrant which I am directed to serve on you. Shall I read it?" Marshal Mayes inquired.
"We waive the reading of the warrant," spoke up Attorney Walsh and the party including Dr. Hyde smiled.
Dr. Hyde and Marshal Mayes entered into a conversation on temporal subjects. The afternoon was delightful, remarked the marshal.
Prosecuting Attorney Conkling and Attorneys Walsh and Lucas drew to one side of the room.
"I have recommended that Justice Loar take a bond of $25,000 for the appearance of Dr. Hyde at the preliminary hearing which has been set for a week from today," said Mr. Conkling.
COULD MAKE IT A MILLION.
"That is satisfactory to us," replied Mr. Walsh. "Mr. Cleary is out now and will be here very shortly with a bond that will be good for a million dollars if necessary.
"That is not necessary," replied Mr. Conkling. "I have suggested a bond which I deem sufficient."
Attorneys Conkling, Walsh and Lucas then withdrew to the outer office, leaving Dr. Hyde with Marshal Mayes.
"I am very much interested in knowing what they are going to do with me next," said Dr. Hyde to Marshal Mayes.
"Do we have to go to Independence, and will I have to stay there all night?" asked Dr. Hyde.
"If your attorneys are unable to get bond for you, you will remain with me tonight. If they do get bond, you will go to Independence with me and then go on home," said Marshal Mayes.
Dr. Hyde was inclined to be almost talkative while in the marshal's office. He talked on almost any subject not pertaining to the case, and his face, for the first time during the week, was wreathed in smiles.
About 4:30 p. m. Mr. Walsh suggested that the party depart for Independence, as he expected Mr. Cleary had already started there. Assistant Prosecutor Jost accompanied the party in the Walsh automobile, representing Mr. Conkling. A moment later they were on their way to Independence.
At 5:15 o'clock a large automobile glided up to the bank building at Independence. In it was the county marshal, having in custody Dr. Hyde. Accompanying the party were Frank P. Walsh, John Cleary and John H. Lucas. They immediately went to the office of Justice Loar.
Dr. Hyde followed his lawyers closely, and as soon as he entered stepped to one side, and motioning to a newsboy, bought an evening paper, scanning the headlines. Not once did he raise his eyes, but kept them riveted on the columns which contained the latest developments in his case. After reading the full account, he turned the paper over and reread it.
MAYES SIGNS RETURN.
County Marshal Joel Mayes drew up his chair to the desk and signed the return, turning it over to the justice.
Dr. Hyde, who was standing near, found room on a window sill where he kept reading his paper, only looking up sufficiently long to buy another, which he read with as much eagerness as the first.
Frank Walsh left the court room, stating that he would be back in a short time. Upon his return he placed the bond before the justice of the peace for $50,000 instead of the $25,000 expected.
"I expected bond for $25,0000, but this is better still," said Justice Loar.
Mr. Walsh signed the document, then handed a pen to Dr. Hyde. Dr. Hyde wrote in a plain, bold hand, without a tremor, and his signature was affixed with as much indifference as if writing a prescription for a patient. After Dr. Hyde, John M. Cleary and John H. Lucas signed the bond.
LAWYERS SIGN BOND.
After this preliminary Dr. Hyde, followed by his lawyers, went to their automobile and soon were out of sight.
"This is a good bond," said Justice Loar, after the crowd had left the office. "Mr. Neal is president of the Southwest National bank, and the others I am given to understand are stockyards men. I do not expet that there will be a preliminary examination here. I am confident that it will go to the criminal court at once.
Labels: attorney, automobiles, County Marshal Mayes, doctors, Frank Walsh, Independence, James A. Reed, Judge Latshaw, murder, Prosecutor Conkling, Swope Mystery, telephone
February 8, 1910
CORONER'S INQUEST BEGINS
DEATH AND POST-MORTEM OF
COL. THOMAS SWOPE
HYDE'S NAME MENTIONED.
Doctors and Nurses Testify
The coroner's inquest into the death of Colonel Thomas C. Swope got underway in Independence yesterday, and it was brought out that Colonel Swope, tried a number of tonics and remedies, and that he worried over his will in the weeks before his death, and wanted the poor of the city to benefit by the income from his residuary estate, valued at $1,000,000.
Harry S. Cook, superintendent of the Forest Hill cemetery, told the story of the removal of the body of Colonel Swope at dead of night from the catacombs where it was at rest. He said that secrecy was observed and that a blanket was hung on the grillwork of the tomb, so that no one could look in, had anyone had an inkling of what was going on.
The casket, he said, had not been touched and the body was frozen and in a good state of preservation.
The autopsy was conducted at Ott's undertaking rooms at Independence. Coroner Zwart, Drs. Hektoen, Twyman, Stewart, Hall, and a younger docter were among those who attended the post-mortem, it was testified. The body was still frozen, and coal oil lamps and stoves were lighted to thaw it. Bottles were filled with hot water and laid on the body, and then all was covered with blankets.
The post mortem began at 2 p. m. After the doctors finished the autopsy, in which they removed all of Colonel Swope's internal organs and his brain, the body was sewed up, dressed and put back in the casket and removed to the third floor of the undertaking establishment, where it was hidden. It was taken back to the vault the following day. This was done in the day time, as the story of the autopsy had leaked out and there was no further reason for secrecy.
Dr. E. L. Stewart, who graduated seven years ago, and specializes in microscopy, took notes for the doctors who conducted the post mortem. Dr. Steward did not remember all of the details of the autopsy. He declaired that he was too busy taking the dictation by Drs. Hall and Hektoen to observe their operations as closely as he would have liked to. He said that so far as he could see, there was nothing about the appearance of any of the organs removed by the doctors which would indicate that they were other than in a normal condition.
Dr. Stewart turned his findings over to Dr. Hektoen, he said. Dr. Hektoen also took charge of Colonel Swope's viscera. Dr. Stewart remarked about the frozen condition of the body, which he said was rather frail. The brain, he said, after removal, was cut into thin slices so that the doctors could ascertain if there had been a hemorrhage. No blood clot was found either in the brain or in the lining.
NO CLOTHING ON BODY.
The clothing had been removed from the body when he first saw it and he noticed an undertaker's mark on the arm. He also noticed a small dark mark on the left wrist and the undertake's mark on the abdomen. He told of pulling off the scalp, sawing the cranium and removing the skull cap and then taking out the brain. This he said was sliced, but he did not remember into how many sections nor their thickness. The brain was then placed in one of the big half gallon fruit jars and was sealed.
Dr. Stewart said that the brain was taken out whole, as he remembered it. There was no hemorrhage, at least none that was visible to the naked eye, he said. Dr. Stewart did not know whether Dr. Hektoen took the kidneys. He said that to the best of his recollection several of the blood vessels near the heart were hardened. He said that neither he, nor any of the doctors who performed the autopsy, could attribute Colonel Swope's death to any unusual condition found in his vital organs.
He said that one kidney seemed to be slightly enlarged, but this fact, he added, might have been natural. The liver, he said, was of the ordinary gray color and was in good condition. Dr. Stewart said that had there been a hemorrhage of the brain that the embalming fluid wich is used would not have reduced it.
Dr. G. T. Twyman, the Swope family physician, was present at the autopsy, which he said was conducted by Drs. Hektoen and Hall. The body was very well preserved, but was frozen hard. the fluids in the body had all turned to ice. Efforts to thaw it were without avail. There was but one abnormal condition of any consequence, he said, and that was a thickening of the walls of the stomach.
KNEW NOTHING OF DEATH.
Dr. Twyman said that Colonel Swope was not anxious to take medicines or tonics. He last saw him professionaly on April 28, 1909. He had seen him at various times since then and there was nothing in his condition to lead him to the belief that he would die suddenly, he said. Dr. Twyman said that he knew nothing about Colonel Swope's last illness or death. He did not know what caused Colonel Swope's death and he declared that there was nothing in the post mortem which could lead him to form an opinion as to the cause of death.
Sylvester W. Spangler, who since 1903 has had charge of Colonel Swope's real estate, told of Colonel Swope's penchant for taking medicines of various sorts which might be recommended to him by friends, including a tonic which contained strychnine, quinine and iron. He also told of the oft-repeated wich of Colonel Swope just prior to his death that he could arrange in some way to so place his residuary estate that the revenue could be used for the benefit of the poor.
"The last time I saw Colonel Swope alive was the Saturday preceding his death," said Mr. Spangler. "I came down on account of the death of the night previous of his cousin and also to attend to any business matters which he might indicate he wanted closed. I was with him for about an hour and he was in bed all of this time. About the close of our converstaion Colonel Swope addressed me: 'So far as pain is concerned,' he said, 'I have none and never felt better in my life, but I realize that I am a weak man and can't live long.' I cheered him up as best I could.
KEPT TONIC IN OFFICE.
"Colonel Swope kept a tonic in his office, which, according to the label, contained strychnine, quinine and iron and was put up in Independence. He took the contents of two of these bottles, to my knowledge. He would take the medicine for a couple of days and then would not take any for several days, or a week. He took a teaspoonful at a dose. The medicine was orange colored. He also took tablets, some of a white sort and some bromo-quinine tablets. He took Pape's Diapepsin for his stomach trouble. In fact, he took a great many medicnes which were recommended to him by friends as good for his particular case. Two years ago he took some acid phosphates.
"He often told me about some new remedy he had purchased and which he said he would give a trial, as it was harmless, and if it did no good it would do no harm. He had a vest pocket memorandum book in which he kept a record of the medicines recommended to him and which he tried. He would invariably return to me and tell me that the medicines were fakes. The elixir, he said, was prescribed by an Independence, Mo., doctor and was to give him strength.
"Colonel Swope rewrote his will while I was in his employ. He did not discuss the bequests with me and I knew nothing of the amounts until after his death and the publication of the instrument.
"The reason he gave me for rewriting the will was that some of his property had greatly increased in value and that some had decreased. He wanted the proportions of his bequests to be as he first intended. After providing for all of his heirs he still had a good deal of property that he wanted to dispose of in a charitable way. This residuary estate was worth, he told me, about $1,000,000. He wanted the revenue from the estate to be applied to the benefit of the poor, regardless of their former conditions in life.
WORRIED OVER WILL.
"He was endeavoring to find a way to dispose of this property so that the revenue would be used for the purpose intended. He could transfer it, he said, so that it would not be necessary for him to make a new will and the old would could not be broken. He was worried over the disposition of the residuary estate. He told me that if he deeded it to the city that the revenue, and possible the principle, might be wasted, while if he deeded it to loyal citizen friends, that he feared they were too busy hustling after the almighty dollar to give the property and the revenue the proper attention.
"About six weeks before he died he went to the vault and got his will. After keeping it in his office for a week he told me one Saturday that he would take it home and spend Saturday and Sunday on it. Monday morning he brought it back and said that he had looked it over carefully and that it was as nearly perfect as he could make it. He said that he could not betteer it if he wrote it 100 times.
"Colonel Swope's effects, such as clothing which he kept in the office, were given to the Salvation army after his death. I never heard of an enemy of Colonel Swope and knew of no one that he ever entertained any malice against.
"Colonel Swope claimed Wooford county, Ky., as his home until he gave Kansas City Swope park in 1903. He lived in Independence except for a few months, about 1904 or 1905, when he roomed at the Orient hotel.
"Colonel Swope voted but once in his life, he told me, and that was when McKinley made the first race for the presidency. Colonel Swope made a special trip to Wooford county, Kentucky, to cast his vote for McKinley."
Miss Pearl Virginia Kellar, 36 years old, a trained nurse of five years' experinece, was the witness of the day. Miss Kellar attended Colonel Swope during his last illness and was employed by Dr. B. Clark Hyde, three weeks prior to that event. For several weeks Miss Kellar has been virtually one of the members of the Swope household in Independence. She said that she had only a passing acquaintance with Dr. Hyde, prior to the time that he employed her to go to the Swope home.
MENTIONS HYDE'S NAME.
"Dr. Hyde called me over the telephone Sunday night, September 12. He asked me to meet him Monday at 7:30 a. m. and go to Independence. On the way he told me that Colonel Swope was not really ill; that he had fallen and slightly injured his left shoulder, but to make him feel that I was doing something for him and to massage the injured shoulder. Mrs. Swope and the four daughters met us at the threshold and after donning my uniform I was escorted to Colonel Swope's room where we shook hands and he said he was glad to seee me. The injury I found to be very slight. I was with him three weeks, except one day when I went to the dentist.
" 'Here are some "Pinkle's Pink Pills and some tonic,' said Dr. Hyde to me. 'Let him have the pills and also the tonic as he has been in the habit of taking them.' I found the tonic to contain strychnine, iron and quinine and peptomangan. It was put up by Pendleton & Gentry of Independence. Colonel Swope told me that Obe Gentry had given Mr. Hunton the prescription and that it was very good.
" I kept a nurse's record of Colonel Swope for two weeks, or a week longer than he thought I kept it. He objected to the keeping of the record and when I told Dr. Hyde that I had kept it a week longer than Colonel Swope was aware, and that there was no good reason for keeping it longer, Dr. Hyde suggested that I discontinue it. Colonel Swope objected to me taking his temperature. I made up his bed and straghtened him around, then gave him a bath, an alcohol rub and massage and later another alcohol rub and massage."
NURSE'S NOTES READ.
Miss Kellar here produced her notes and read off her daily notations as to the treatment the patient received and his condition. She said that he ate very full dinners, including cabbage at one meal which she said Dr. Hyde told her he could have as he had been accustomed to it. She gave him occasional drinks containing wine or brandy. She said that Colonel Swope and Dr. Hyde were on perfectly friendly terms.
Her records showed that he took several doses of the pink pills, varying the number from time to time. Monday, September 20, she said that he sat up for an hour in an adjoining room where he looked over the grounds. Wednesday she said that he began taking the tonic, which heretofore he had not touched. She said that Mr. Hunton suggested taht now as he was better that he could take the tonic and get well sooner. Miss Keller also testified to the frequency that Colonel Swope vomited and said that these attacks were without the slightest warning and usually at meal times.
"On Wednesday, September 29 Colonel Swope and I went out riding. We drove out the Lexinton road past the Swope farm which he had not seen in nine years. We were out for two hours and he stood the trip splendidly. Thrusday we drove almost to Kansas City. Friday we started to Blue Springs, but failed to take the right road and had a rough ride.
"After putting Mr. Swope to bed, I came down stairs and Mr. Hunton called me. He was eating dinner and suggested that I eat with him. We had almost finished when Mrs. Swope and Miss Margaret came in. Mr. Hunton looked at me and said that he felt queer. Mildred and a girl friend entered the room at this time and Mr. Hunton tried to pick up a glass of water. He half raised it and then it fell from his hands. I ran to his side and discovered that his left leg was helpless. A negro boy helped me carry him to the library and we summoned doctors.
HUNTON BECAME SICK.
"By the time Dr. Twyman came Mr. Hunton had lapsed into unconsciousness. He had vomited profusely. The boys got an ironing board and we laid Mr. Hunton on this and carried him upstairs. Colonel Swope meanwhile had called, and one of the servants failing to pacify him, I told him that Mr. Hunton was seriously ill. After Dr. Hyde came they decided to bleed Mr. Hunton.
"I did not tell Colonel Swope about the death of Mr. Hunton until Saturday morning. When I told him that Mr. Hunton ws dead, he grasped the bed clothes, and hiding his head, cried, 'Poor Moss.' For a moment he sort of sobbed, and then he asked me to tell him all about it. He th en told me he wanted to be very quiet. He wanted to see no one but Mr. Spangler. He first said taht he did not want to see Dr. Hyde for fear that the doctor might think that he needed him professionally. Colonel Swope did not go across the hall to see Mr. Hunton, and I read to him. The news of Mr. Fleming's wife's death came at noon. Mr. Spangler ws the only visitor. He came about noon."
As Miss Kellar reached this part of her narrative, Deputy Coroner Trogdon conferred with Coroner Zwart and Attorney Reed and announcement was made of adjournment until 10 o'clock this morning.
MRS. SWOPE SHIELDED.
Miss Kellar, the trained nurse who was with Colonel Swope the last three weeks of his life, arrive at the court house shortly before 4 p. m. with Mrs. L. O. Swope and a woman companion. They were driven to the court house in an automobile and were escorted by Attorney John Mastin. They were taken in the witness room, which was kept locked. Miss Kellar, her companion and Mr. Atwood shielded Mrs. Swope from the gaze of the curious. Mrs. Swope was attired was attired in black and wore a heavy veil.
The array of legal talent in the case yesterday was probably the largest in the history of the court house. The Swope heirs and Mr. Paxton, the executor of the estate, were represented by Messrs. Reed, Atwood and Mastin. Virgil Conkling, the prosecuting attorney, represented the state, while Dr. Hyde was represented by Attorneys Walsh, Cleary and Johnson. Coroner Zwart wsa represented by Deputy Coroner Trugdon.
"Can we come in and listen to the case?" inquired Mesdames William Young and Cliff Morrow, neighbors of the Swopes, of J. A. Brown, superintendent of the court house building. "Certainly," he replied and secured them a seat immedately behind the attorneys. There were a score of women at the inquest in the afternoon.
Labels: cemetery, Coroner Zwart, courtroom, doctors, Independence, James A. Reed, probate, Prosecutor Conkling, Swope Mystery, Swope park, Thomas Swope
February 7, 1910
CIRCUIT JUDGE SAYS ELMER C.
WAS PROSPEROUS BUSINESS
MAN OF MARTINSBURG.
DOUBTS STORY'S TRUTH
Must Prove His Allegations,
Which Legal Records
The claim of Elmer C. Swope of Martinsburg, W. Va., that he is the son of the late Colonel Thomas Swope was the general topic of conversation yesterday among old friends of Colonel Swope, by whom it was ridiculed. They declared that Colonel Swope came here before the war, and that therefore the Eastern claimant was in error. They also insist that Colonel Swope was a bachelor, and that had he been married someone here surely would have known of it.
"I think that Elmer C. Swope is laboring under an hallucination," said Judge E. E. Porterfield, who was born and raised in Martinsburg. "I knew Elmer C. Swope when he came to our town a quarter of a century ago and went to live with his uncle, Hugh A. Frazier. Mr. Frazier was in the implement business and young Swope was then just out of age and took an active hand in the business. He was well liked and the business prospered.
"I left there over a score of years ago but have returned frequently for short visits. On these trips I have seen Elmer Swope, and have talked with him. In recent years he suffered business reverses, and lost much of his money. My brother, Joseph L. Porterfield, is in the real estate business in Martinsburg and I make sure that I would have heard something about Elmer C. Swope's claim before this were there anything to it."
SHIFTS TO INDEPENDENCE.
The center of interest in the Swope case shifts this morning to a little room in the court house at Independence, where Coroner B. H. Zwart, assisted by Deputy Coroner Trugdon, will begin the inquest into the cause of death of the late Colonel Thomas H. Swope.
Here the witnesses on the several sides will be asked to tell the coroner's jury all they know about the last illness and death of Colonel Swope. The attorneys for the interested parties will be present. The coroner, his deputy and the members of the jury will ask questions of the witnesses. Whether Prosecuting Attorney Conkling will question the witnesses will be determined this morning. It is presumed by the attorneys for the Swope heirs that the prosecutor's office will ask some of the questions, either directly or through the deputy coroner.
Yesterday was a day of rest of those engaged in the case. The attorneys attended to private affairs and several of them took long motor rides in the afternoon.
Independence had many visitors yesterday. They began coming into the town early in the morning and most of them walked about the old court house and visited with those shopkeepers whose places were open. The people in Independence are surprised that the outside outside world should take so much interest in the Swope case. In fact, there are many of the residents who are not aware of the fact that an inquest is to be held this week. The persons who will attend the inquiry promise to come largely from Kansas City.
The testimony which will be heard today will be from the undertaker and his assistants who removed the body from the cemetery to the undertaking rooms at Independence, the sexton at the cemetery and possibly the doctors who performed the autopsy and removed the viscera. Other witnesses will be placed on the stand to prove the identity of the body.
On Tuesday it is probable that the members of the Swope family, the nurses and possibly the doctors will be heard. The experts from Chicago, it is thought likely, will not be heard until Wednesday. They are expected to arrive here Tuesday, however, and will confer with Mr. Paxton, the executor of the estate.
In the meantime the attorneys in the Dr. Hyde libel suit will rest. It is not expected that they will endeavor to take any depositions until after the inquest. One of the principal reasons for a delay is that they expect to attend the inquest and therefore will not have the time to give to examining witnesses.
It is understood that Detectives Harry Arthur and Joe Morris have been detailed by the police department to attend the Swope inquest. They will be there to assist the prosecutor.
Labels: Coroner Zwart, detectives, doctors, Independence, Judge Porterfield, Prosecutor Conkling, Swope Mystery
February 6, 1910
CLAIMS HE IS THE
SON OF COL. SWOPE
West Virginian Writes Pros-
ecuting Attorney for Par-
ticulars of Death.
JUST ASKS FOR FACTS.
Friends of the Late Capitalist
Declare the Relationship
Martinsburg, W. Va., Feb. 2, 1910.
Mr. Virgil Conkling, Kansas City, Mo.
Dear Sir -- I wish you would give me the particulars surrounding my father, "Thomas H. Swope's," death. by doing so you will greatly oblige. Very truly yours, ELMER SWOPE. Care Box 630, Martinsburg, W. Va.
Should the writer of this letter, received by Prosecuting Attorney Virgil Conkling yesterday morning, be able to prove that he is the son of the late Thomas H. Swope, further complications will be added to this already involved case.
The letter was written on a peculiar sort of ruled paper, in an excellent hand, and indicated that the writer had received a fairly good education. It was addressed to Mr. Conkling as the prosecuting attorney, and will be answered in the ordinary course of office business on Monday.
NOT THE USUAL KIND.
"I was greatly surprised by the receipt of the letter," said Mr. Conkling. "The writer is not illiterate, and the manner in which the request is made indicates that he believes that possibly he is the son of the late Colonel Swope.
"The letter differs from the ordinary run of those from lost heirs, in that the writer makes a single simple statement and asks for information . The usual letters breathe strongly of the relationship which they declare existed at one time or another, and of troubles in families, discarded wives, and all the rest of the gamut of human emotion.
SWOPE FRIENDS DENY IT.
"The writer of this letter apparently means business. I know nothing whatever as to his claims that he is a son of Colonel Swope, as we all believe that Colonel Swope never married. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that the man is a son, but of course it is extremely improbable that he is. I will reply to this letter Monday and give the writer such information as I have on hand."
The receipt of the letter created a flurry among the friends of the late Colonel Swope when the fact became known. They denied the claim of the writer, and declared that he perhaps was of that name but that he could not possibly be a son of the late Colonel Swope.
Labels: Prosecutor Conkling, Swope Mystery, Thomas Swope
February 1, 1910
POISON WAS FOUND,
COLONEL SWOPE'S DEATH AS-
CRIBED TO STRYCHNINE, PROB-
ABLY GIVEN IN DRUGS.
DR. B. CLARK HYDE SUES.
Asks Damages Aggregating
$700,000 for Statements
DR. B. CLARK HYDE,
Physician Who Sues for $700,000 for Statements Growing out of the Swope Poison Cases.
CHICAGO, Jan. 31. -- Colonel Thomas H. Swope of Kansas City died from the effects of poison, according to the findings of Dr. Ludwig Hektoen and Dr. Walter S. Haines, announced in Chicago this afternoon.
It was formally declared by the doctors that Colonel Swope died from the effects of strychnine poisoning.
The report of the experts does not include the result of the analysis of the contents of the stomach of Chrisman Swope, nephew of Colonel Swope, who died soon after the demise of his uncle, under similar circumstances.
ATTORNEYS HEAR REPORT.
The investigation of the mysterious deaths of the late Colonel Swope and his nephew was shifted to Chicago today. For several weeks the internal organs of the bodies have been here in the laboratories of Dr. Hektoen and Dr. Haines, toxicologists. Today Attorney John G. Paxton, administrator of the Swope estate, Attorney James A. Reed, his associate, Virgil Conkling, prosecuting attorney at Kansas City; Dr. B. H. Zwart, coroner there, and Thomas H. Swope, nephew of the dead millionaire, came to receive the report of the experts as to whether or not poison had been found in sufficient quantities to cause death.
PAXTON'S TERSE ANSWER.
The visitors arrived on a Santa Fe train at 7:28 a. m., and went at once to the Hotel La Salle, where a room was engaged. Later a conference was held at the University Club, at which the findings were revealed.
Attention of Attorney Paxton was called to the fact that suits for $100,000 had been instituted against him for slander in connection with his share of the investigation.
"I have nothing to say about this suit except that I feel somewhat flattered," said Mr. Paxton. "I have received the news by wire that Dr. Hyde has sued myself and Drs. Hall and Stewart in suits aggregating $700,000 because of slander in connection with the Swope case. I have nothing further to say.
Mr. Paxton would make no further comment beyond saying that the investigation was not fully concluded yest, and would say nothing of the investigation of Chrisman Swope's death. It was said that strychnine had been found in the stomachs and livers of both men.
Coroner Zwart returned to Kansas City tonight, but Mr. Paxton, Mr. Reed and Attorney Conkling remained. They will leave Chicago tomorrow night, Mr. Paxton said. An inquest over the bodies of Colonel Swope and his nephew will probably be started next Monday. Any criminal warrants that will be issued will probably follow the inquest.
DR. HYDE SUES FOR DAMAGES.
Through Frank P. Walsh and John M. Cleary, attorneys, Dr. B. Clark Hyde filed suit yesterday in the circuit court at Independence demanding damages aggregating $700,000 from J. G. Paxton, executor of the Swope estate and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The petition declares that published interviews pointed to Dr. Hyde, son-in-law of the Swopes and their family physician, as the instigator of a plot to murder Swope heirs.
The damages are asked on three counts and newspaper men are named as witnesses to statements alleged to have been made by Mr. Paxton which the plaintiff declares destroyed his professional standing and were meant to oppress, impoverish and wholly ruin him. The first suit against Mr. Paxton charges slander and the amounts asked are $30,000 actual damages and a like amount for punitive damages. The complaint in the suit against the publishing company states that headlines in the Post-Dispatch over a purported Paxton interview said that the man who "planned to kill family with typhoid germs," which, the petition alleges meant Dr. Hyde, "who has been continually watched by five detectives and will not be allowed to escape punishment."
The petition is long, and is a narrative leading up to the final mention of the family doctor's name and alleged insinuations that he plotted to kill. Interviews with the county coroner, Dr. B. H. Zwart and Dr. Frank J. Hall, specialist in analytical work, are made a part of the contentions of the plaintiff. The damages asked in the first count total $200,000, and after this comes a similar charge on another published interview and another $200,000 is asked. The third is based on the publication of Dr. Hyde's picture, which the petition alleges clearly identified him as the "man," meant in all the interviews charging murder plots.
Dr. Hall and Dr. Edward L. Stewart are made defendants along with the newspaper. The plaintiff estimates the total wealth of all the defendants at $5,000,000.
Mrs. B. C. Hyde, formerly Frances Lee Swope, yesterday gave out a signed statement insisting that she was constantly at her husband's side, and knew his every movement.
Labels: attorney, Chicago, Coroner Zwart, Frank Walsh, James A. Reed, Lawsuit, Prosecutor Conkling, Swope Mystery
January 29, 1910
POISON IN THE
ARRESTS ARE NOT EXPECTED
UNTIL LAWYER RETURNS
Attorneys Hurriedly Called
Together on Receipt
That poison in a large enough quantity to produce death has been found in the stomachs of Colonel Thomas H. Swope, Kansas City's millionaire benefactor, and Chrisman Swope, his nephew, is known almost to be a certainty. The Chicago chemists telegraphed the result of their analysis yesterday afternoon to John G. Paxton, a Swope attorney.
Mr. Paxton will leave today for Chicago. He will return immediately with the official report of the two chemists and the internal organs of the Swopes, to be sustained in evidence at the coroner's inquest early next week.
An arrest is expected to be made Friday or Saturday of next week.
Mr. Paxton received the telegram from the Chicago specialists at 2 o'clock yesterday afternoon. when in that city he arranged with Drs. W. S. Haines and Ludwig Hektoen that they should wire him the results of the post mortem examination as soon as completed. From Chicago it is learned that a message of one word was to convey the information that poison in quantities large enough to produce death had been found, and that he, Mr. Paxton, was to go to Chicago immediately.
CHEMISTS' WORK FINISHED.
Though the attorneys here refuse to divulge the information contained in this message, it is known that the work of the chemists has been completed, and that the men here who are pushing the prosecution are satisfied with the results. Prosecuting Attorney Virgil Conkling said last night that he expected the official report of the chemists, and all other evidence in the case, in his hands within forty-eight hours -- or Monday at the latest. The coroner's inquest will probably be held Tuesday. Two or three days after this, if the evidence is found satisfactory, warrants will be issued.
"I am satisfied with the results," said John H. Atwood, after reading the telegram.
"Ifs the examination of the stomach completed?" was asked.
"Drs. Haines and Hektoen are through with their work," was the reply.
Further than this Mr. Atwood refused to make any statement. Mr. Paxton was non-committal. He would neither affirm nor deny the report that poison had been found.
"Are you going to Chicago?" was asked him.
WILL SLEEP AT HOME.
"I will sleep at my home in Independence tonight," was his answer.
Neither the coroner nor the prosecuting attorney has received one word from the Chicago chemists. A duplicate copy of the report is to be sent to the coroner. The prosecuting attorney was apprised of the receipt of the telegram by Mr. Paxton yesterday afternoon, but concerning the contents of the message, the prosecutor refused to say what it contained.
Labels: attorney, Chicago, Independence, poison, Prosecutor Conkling, Swope Mystery, telegram
January 28, 1910
HARD TOIL, MONEY
AND BANKER GONE.
"LITTLE ITALY" AROUSED OVER
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF
Many Italians Deposited
Savings With Missing
Little Italy was never before stirred as it was yesterday, when the announcement was made that Peter Isnardi, consular agent of the United States government, had left for parts unknown. Several hundred Italians are worried about sums aggregating about $12,000, the savings of years, which they had deposited with him. Most of those who entrusted their money to Isnardi were railroad section hands and laborers, recent arrivals from Sunny Italy, and unable to speak the English language. Some had been saving to pay the passage of wives or sweethearts to the land of promise; others that they might some day return to their old homes in Italy and to pass the sunset of their lives among friends and amid familiar scenes and surroundings.
A subscription paper will be started today by J. P. Deo, publisher of an Italian newspaper at 210 East Fifth street, to raise money with which to hire lawyers and detectives to seek Isnardi. A committee of Italians will call upon the United States district attorney today to learn what can be done in the matter.
"We intend to secure an order tomorrow from the prosecuting attorney," said Deo last night, "to open Isnardi's safe. He kept all his books locked in it. Not until we can see the books will we know the facts in the case."
A telegram was sent to the minister of foreign affairs at Rome to find whether or not the money that Isnardi was to forward to the bank at Rome was ever received there.
The Italian consul-general at Chicago announced yesterday that the Kansas City office would be abolished. Roma Ladife, vice consul at Chicago, arrived here yesterday to close the office. He took possession of the Italian flag, which hung in front of the agency at 512 East Fifth street, also the seal of the Italian government and the coat-of-arms. Consul Guido Sabetta, in Chicago, that the Italian government funds were not involved.
OPERATED PRIVATE BANK.
In addition to occupying the office of consular agent, Isnardi operated a private bank. This was wholly outside of his official duties, and for any losses that might occur the Italian government is in no way responsible. The consular agent is supposed to have received nearly $8,000 in savings of Italians in the three and one-half years he has held the office. The remaining $4,000 is money he collected for steamship tickets and to be sent to Italy, to be deposited in the bank of Rome.
Local Italians were opposed to Isnardi from the day he was appointed. charges have been filed against him several times with the Chicago office. Though there were rumors among Italians in Kansas City regarding the consular agent, deposits continued to come from those who lived in the country or in railroad camps.
Ten per cent interest was offered by Isnardi on deposits. This was more than the Italian Central bank at Rome pays, which they had all known in Italy. The Italian bank pays 3 1/2 per cent on time deposits. Those who did not want to send their money to Rome could deposit it with their consular agent, Peter Isnardi, in his private bank.
The office of consular agent pays no salary. It is an honorary position. Isnardi had no other business here, and no apparent private income. The Italians say his sole income was from money he collected from his private bank.
APPOINTMENT WAS PROTESTED.
Isnardi succeeded G. G. Lanvereri as consular agent in Kansas City. Isnardi was appointed by Count A. L. Rozwadowski, who died shortly after the appointment. His office was in Chicago. Signor Sabetta succeeded him. A committee of Italians went to Chicago when the count died and asked for the removal of Isnardi. Charges of dishonesty were made against him, but Sabetta refused to act without first having an investigation.
Before his appointment as consular agent here, Isnardi was a traveling book agent. H represented an Italian publishing house and sold his books for $10 each. His home was then in Pueblo, Col. Isnardi was in Kansas City when the question of a vice consul arose.
Isnardi went immediately to Chicago. Count Rozwadowski and he had known each other in Italy. Against the protests of a committee of Kansas City Italians, who wanted a man from here appointed, Isnardi returned two weeks after the dismissal of Lancereri with the commission of consular agent. His appointment, though recommended by the consul at Chicago, was made directly by the foreign minister at Rome.
The consular agent is an American citizen. A consul general, however, must be a subject of the king. This being the case, as an American citizen, the Italians here think that Isnardi can be prosecuted under the laws of this state, in case the funds are not intact. The consul general, under the extra-territorial provision of international law, is immune from arrest and prosecution in the country where he represents his government.
PROSECUTOR WILL ACT.
"I will thoroughly investigate these charges," said Virgil Conkling, prosecuting attorney, last night. "If I find that consular agents are amenable to the laws of this state, Isnardi will probably be arrested and prosecuted."
A dozen complaints have been made the past two months at the prosecuting attorney's office against the consular agent. Isnardi was charged with taking money from Italians to send to the bank at Rome, and appropriating it to his own use. Two weeks ago today the consular agent was called to the prosecutor's office. There he was told that if he did not refund $800 to an Italian who gave him the money for deposit, that criminal action for embezzlement would be begun. He was given until March 1 to refund the money.
Isnardi left Kansas City January 16. His wife said yesterday he had gone to Chicago, but reports from that city say he has not been seen by the consul general. Mrs. Isnardi has been conducting the business since her husband left.
When the news that the office had been closed spread among the Italians in the North End a crowd of 200 m en and women, most of them depositors in the consular agent's private bank, gathered in front of Isnardi's office. At dark the crowd dispersed. when the door to the office would rattle a dog's bark could be heard. The dog had been turned loose in the office to prevent the angry foreigners from making a forcible entrance.
"What will you do if he does come back?" was asked one in the crowd.
"String him up," was the prompt answer of an Americanized Italian.
Labels: banking, Chicago, embezzlement, federal court, Fifth street, immigrants, newspapers, Prosecutor Conkling
January 16, 1910
TRACE OF POISON
FOUND, IT IS SAID.
MYSTERIOUS WHITE POWDER
DISCOVERED IN CHRISMAN
Representatives to Confer
With Chemists Before
According to attorneys representing the Swope estate poison has been found in the stomach of the late Chrisman Swope. It is said this fact was known before the body of Colonel Thomas H. Swope was taken from the vault at Forest Hill cemetery last Tuesday to Independence, where the stomach was removed for the purpose of a chemical evaluation by Chicago specialists. The white powder found has been declared to be either strychnine or some other poison.
"Chrisman Swope's stomach was sent to Dr. Haynes in Chicago nearly two weeks ago," said John H. Atwood, attorney for the Swopes, last night. "An analysis was immediately made. The result was the finding of white powder in a large quantity. This powder was either strychnine or some other deadly poison. The name of the second poison I am unable to tell you. there is no doubt in the minds of the attorneys or of the Chicago specialists that the white powder is poison."
COUNSEL GOING TO CHICAGO.
John G. Paxton and Mr. Atwood, counsel for the Swope heirs, will leave this evening for Chicago. Mr. Paxton will return Tuesday night. Mr. Atwood may remain longer. When Mr. Paxton returns he will probably bring with him the official report of the doctors' investigation.
At a conference yesterday at the Swope home in Independence, participated in by Prosecuting Attorney Virgil Conkling and counsel for the Swopes, the nurses who attended Thomas Swope told their stories.
A dispatch to The Journal from Chicago last night stated that Dr. Walter S. Haynes, the toxicologist, worked all day on the analysis and examination of the stomach of Thomas Swope with a view of tracing the typhoid bacilli which are said to still exist in the stomach and other organs. The work was carried on behind closed doors in the laboratory of the Rush Medical college.
Professor Ludvig Hektoen of the University of Chicago medical faculty has left Chicago for a few days, but when he returns he will work in conjunction with Dr. Haynes.
NO PUBLIC REPORT YET.
"I have not progressed sufficiently to make any statement as to my findings," said Dr. Haynes. "The examination will occupy several days at least. Professor Hektoen will carry on the work of making the exact microscopic tests."
The case is one of the most extraordinary presented for criminal investigation for some years.
Dr. J. V. Bacon in discussing the investigation in Chicago yesterday said that the placing of life in jeopardy by administering the bacilli of typhoid, tuberculosis or another diseases was simple, the only thing necessary being to administer the germs in milk, soup or other foods, wherein it would be impossible to detect by taste.
"The result in administering typhoid germs would simply be to create a case of typhoid," said Dr. Bacon. "The patient might recover or might die, just as in the case contracted in the ordinary way, and the percentage of recoveries is high enough to render such a method of attempted murder very uncertain. Of course in the case of an old man, enfeebled already by years, the risk of death in typhoid is heavy."
INTENDED CHANGING WILL.
It was not until a week ago, when an unofficial report was received from the Chicago specialists that poison had been found in the stomach of Chrisman Swope, that the family realized the extent of this alleged plot. Colonel Swope's body was removed from the vault in Forest Hill cemetery. The autopsy was held Tuesday and the following day the stomach and other vital organs sent to Chicago to be examined.
The investigation branched from this to the presence of typhoid fever among the Swope heirs. Eight members of the family had been taken down with typhoid fever, between December 1 and 18. Physicians were called in. then it was believed that the members of the family had not contracted the disease by natural means.
It is known that the millionaire benefactor was planning several days before his death to give $1,000,000 or more to Kansas City.
"This fund, held as a residue and bequeathed to no one," said John Paxton, attorney for the Swope estate, "contained about $1,000,000. He realized that he had provided for all his relatives handsomely, and this reside he had, I think, made up his mind to give to the public of Kansas City or for some charity. He died before he could change his will, and this residue of over $1,000,000 consequently was divided among the heirs."
Labels: attorney, Chicago, Independence, poison, probate, Prosecutor Conkling, Swope Mystery, typhoid
December 11, 1909
TO WORK UP SPANGLER CASE.
Detectives Will Hunt Evidence
Against Three Boys.
At the request of the prosecuting attorney, two detectives were detailed yesterday from the police department to work up the evidence against the three boys held at the county jail for the supposed murder of M. A. Spangler, the saloonkeeper.
"They will be held on the highway robbery charge until the evidence in the murder case can be worked up," said Virgil Conkling. "If an attempt is made to get them released on bond, the murder charge will be filed against them."
Mr. Conkling denied that the prisoners had been "sweated" Thursday afternoon. "We merely talked to them to get their story. Six men were present in the room," he said.
The boys who are being held are Louis M. Dye, Harry Shay and Ralph A. Clyne.
Labels: detectives, Prosecutor Conkling, Spangler murder
December 5, 1909
FONDA MAY LOSE OFFICE.
Sugar Creek Justice Cited Before
Circuit Judge Powell.
Judge Powell yesterday cited A. P. Fonda, justice of the peace of Sugar Creek by appointment of the county court, to appear December 18 and show cause why he should not be removed from office. Charges were filed by Virgil Conkling of the prosecutor's office, alleging the defendant was holding office illegally.
Labels: Judges, Prosecutor Conkling, Sugar Creek
November 5, 1909
LAST OF WALLACE CRUSADE.
Nearly 4,000 Indictments Dismissed
by Prosecutor Conkling.
Nearly 4,000 indictments, returned by the grand jury last year during the Sunday closing crusade of William H. Wallace, then judge of the criminal court, were dismissed yesterday by Prosecuting Attorney Virgil Conkling. These are the last of 7,000 indictments by the Wallace grand jury.
When Judge Ralph S. Latshaw succeeded Judge Wallace on the criminal bench he instructed the prosecuting attorney, I. B. Kimbrell, to examine all the indictments and to file complaints where he thought he could secure a conviction. One dozen cases were tried, but all were acquitted, and about 2,000 dismissed.
When Prosecuting Attorney Virgil Conkling went into office the first of the year 1,500 more cases were dismissed.
The 7,000 true bills returned were against about 1,000 persons. Against some, principally theater managers, there were from 200 to 300 in each instance.
The Blue Law crusade started by Judge Wallace was directed largely against Sunday shows. At odd times his deputies would arrest cigar dealers, druggists and others who kept open on Sunday.
Labels: cigars, criminal court, druggists, Judge Latshaw, Judge Wallace, Prosecutor Conkling, Prosecutor Kimbrell, theater
October 31, 1909
"ADAM GOD'S" WIFE IS
GIVEN HER LIBERTY.
AFTER ELEVEN MONTHS MRS.
SHARP GOES FREE.
Doubt as to Her Sanity Leads
Prosecutor to Dismiss Indict-
ment for Riot of De-
cember 8, 1908.
After spending almost eleven months in the county jail, Mrs. Melissa Sharp, the wife of "Adam God," who was sentenced to twenty-five years in the penitentiary for the shooting of Patrolman A. O. Dalbow on December 8, 1908, will be given her liberty today on the recommendation of Virgil Conkling, county prosecutor.
"I won't prosecute any one when I have a reasonable doubt as to their sanity," he said. "I'm going to dismiss the case against her."
It lacked a few minutes of midnight last night that Mr. Conkling made known his decision. The case was promptly dismissed and Marshal Joel B. Mayes was notified to liberate Mrs. Sharp this morning.
For many weeks Mr. Conkling has had this step under advisement. Many persons expressed doubt as to the woman's sanity. She would have faced the jury on November 15. She will not even be taken before a lunacy commission.
"She will be absolutely free," Mr. Conkling said last night.
When it was hinted in her presence that she might be turned loose on the grounds of insanity, she resented the insinuation, but when she was told last night by Deputy Marshals Joe McGuire and E. S. Dudley that she was free, she began crying for joy.
"Free, did you say? I can't believe it, I'm so glad," she said.
She sat down on the edge of the bed and began to weep hysterically, while the deputies filed out quietly. The other women prisoners were awakened and before midnight it was generally known that Mrs. Sharp was free.
During her stay in the county jail Mrs. Sharp has made friends of everyone who made her acquaintance. Her patient demeanor and her solicitation for the women prisoners has made her universally liked. During the last few weeks she has admitted that her husband, whom she trusted so blindly, was wrong.
"It all seems like a dream," she has said many times. "I was following my husband on that day thinking that he could do no wrong. Now I know better."
Labels: Adam God sect, County Marshal Mayes, jail, mental health, Prosecutor Conkling, women
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
August 6, 1909
NOT A COLLECTION OFFICE.
Prosecuting Attorney Lays Down a
New Rule for Warrants.
In order to stop all but bona fide prosecutions, Virgil Conkling, prosecuting attorney, has instructed his office to issue no warrants until the prosecuting witnesses have been subpoenaed for trial. If continuances are granted, deputies are instructed to request the justice of the peace before whom the case may be pending to put the prosecuting witness under bond.
The order is intended to stop the practice of using criminal prosecutions as a method to regain stolen money or property or to collect debts.
Labels: attorney, Prosecutor Conkling
June 28, 1909
MISS OWEN MUST COME HERE.
Prosecuting Attorney's Office Will
Not Take Initiative in Affair.
It was stated last night by Virgil Conkling, prosecuting attorney, that the Annie Lee Owen slugging affair was at an end, so far as the initiative in his office is concerned.
"Until Miss Owens swears to a complaint or statement in this state and before an authorized officer of the state, as is customary in such cases, showing good faith on the part of the complainant, it is my theory that it is not a matter of public policy which would require my office to go outside of this state to take the complaint," said Mr. Conkling.
"If Miss Owen desires to complain against any person or act there is no reason why she should not do so, and she needs but to come one foot into the state of Missouri to make the complaint. This office will not bother the lady, nor persecute her by trying to force her to make a statement which she shows no desire to make at the present time.
"When the grand jury of this county convenes in September it may take up the matter of the slugging, if it deems the affair of sufficient importance."
Labels: Prosecutor Conkling, violence
May 29, 1909
SHARP'S FATE IN THE
HANDS OF JURY.
RELIGIOUS FANATIC WEEPS
DURING THE AURGMENTS.
Prosecutor Conkling Pleads Strongly
for the Death Penalty -- "Adam
God" Sat Unmoved
Through It All.
After deliberating from 2:50 o'clock yesterday afternoon until 10 o'clock last night, the jury in the James Sharp murder case declared its inability to reach a verdict, and was locked up for the night. It will be called into criminal court at 9 o'clock this morning.
Yesterday was taken up entirely by arguments in the Sharp case.
In the morning A. E. Martin concluded for the defense. He spoke until the noon recess. During his speech the widow of A. O. Dalbow, one of the policemen killed in the riot, fainted and had to be carried from the courtroom. She fainted also the first day of the trial.
After the noon recess, Virgil Conkling, prosecuting attorney, summed up for the state. Mr. Conkling pleaded strongly for the death penalty. He said the testimony given by Harry Hoffman, deputy marshal, about the dream Sharp had, in which penitentiary life appeared easy, should prove that imprisonment would be no punishment, but rather would be welcomed by the defendant.
In his argument, Mr. Conkling said:
ARRAIGNED AS A COWARD.
"I will not rely on the testimony of any witness other than the defendant himself. If his own words do not condemn him then you are at liberty to set him free. No verdict you can render will restore to life Michael Mullane, Albert O. Dalbow or Andrew J. Selsor, nor will it restore Patrick Clark, who grappled unarmed with this fanatic, the eye he lost on that day.
"Counsel for the defense try to inject into this case the claim that the man is being tried for his religion. It is unnecessary to state that this is not true. This is the Twentieth century and every man is accorded the liberty of his conscience. But that liberty does not arm the assassin, it does not give strength to the ruffian. It does not allow a man to break the laws of God and man."
Strongly Mr. Conkling arraigned Sharp as a coward, contrasting his flight with the fight to the death made by Pratt. He pictured Sharp's hasty departure from the scene of combat, leaving behind wife, followers, faith and playing the part of coward.
Mr. Conkling's whole line of reasoning was as to the amount of punishment t hat should be given him. The vital point of the whole case, said Mr. Conking, was whether Sharp knew it was wrong to kill a man. Nothing else, he said, was involved.
IN THE HANDS OF GOD.
During Mr. Conkling's speech Sharp sat without the shadow of an expression on his face. During Martin's address he had wept. After the jury went out the fanatic who called himself Adam God asserted that his fate was in the hands of God. He was taken into a witness room and there for an hour talked his strange preachings to a score of the curious. He did not seem worried over the outcome of the trial.
Sharp was a leader of the band of religious fanatics who participated in a riot at the city hall December 8 of last year. He was tried on the charge of killing Michael P. Mullane, a patrolman. Besides Mullane, there were killed Patrolman A. O. Dalbow, A. J. Selsor, a spectator, and Luis Pratt, member of the fanatic band. Captain Patrick Clark of the police was severely wounded by Sharp.
Labels: Adam God sect, criminal court, murder, police, Prosecutor Conkling
May 28, 1909
JAMES SHARP TELLS
A RAMBLING STORY.
PREACHES ON WITNESS STAND
BUT PASSES UP KILLING.
Arguments in Riot Case With
Instructions to Jury Including
Manslaughter and Par-
Cost of the Sharp trial to Jackson county $1,500.
Duration of trial (if ended today) twelve days.
By noon today or shortly after 12 o'clock the fate of James Sharp will be in the hands of the jury. All the testimony was finished yesterday afternoon and the instructions were read to the jury.
If Sharp meant to convince the jury he is not in his right mind, his counsel let him do the best possible thing by allowing him to ramble on the witness stand as he did yesterday morning. One of his impromptu sermons lasted for nearly twenty minutes and might have been two hours had the court not stopped it. All through Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, the Northwest and Canada he rambled.
DEFENSE SCORES POINT.
But when, in the course of his ramblings, he got to Kansas City, his flow of language dried. He was not allowed by his counsel to tell even who fired the first shot in the riot, and, not having been examined as to the details by his own counsel, could not be cross-examined on such points.
In many words Adam God told of the revelations he had:
"It was revealed to me, after I had been preaching for two years, that I was a chosen vessel. I received it as the messenger of the fifth angel in the ninth chapter of Revelations -- the angel who opened the bottomless pi pt and out of the pit came locusts and they had tails.
"I am Jesus Christ. This knowledge that is in me is God. I claim to be the father of the Lord, yet he is my mother. I am the father of Jesus Christ raised up again out of David. This revelation came to me in Fort Smith, Ark. Since then I have found more proof in the Scripture all the time. Two years ago it was revealed to me that I was David."
"Will you ever die?"
"I preached that I would never die and that my body would never see corruption. Anyhow, I will be reincarnated."
JEALOUS OF ADKINS.
But in all of Sharp's statement, from the time the meteor fell on his farm in Oklahoma until the time of the riot, through the tears that masked but could not stop the flow of words, though whatever emotion he may have felt, there was in it all , t the culminating moment, the note of jealousy. For John Adkins, the Adkins who led the naked parade, was a greater preacher than Adam God.
"From the time Adkins joined us until we were arrested in Oklahoma City he was the leader," Sharp testified. "The time he was converted he preached as no man has ever preached before nor since. We stood dumbfounded. Tears streaming down his cheeks, Adkins told us of things we had never heard of; things that were not in the Bible. He made men weep and women cry. Often I myself have wept as I preached, but I couldn't make others cry. But Adkins could. He was a great preacher."
It was Adkins who told Sharp, according to the defendant's story, that he was Adam, Mrs. Sharp, Eve, and the boy, Cain or Abel. There is confusion in the testimony as to the child's name. It was Adkins, too, according to the defendant, who said three times to the police, when they started to interfere with the naked parade: "Get the behind me, Satan." And Sharp said the police got.
NO SENSE OF SHAME.
Of this orgy Sharp told with no sense of shame. He appeared amused when he related his wife's endeavor to shield herself from the public gaze after her arrest and omitted no detail. In marked contrast to this was his testimony about selling his home because he feared he would get attached to it instead of god.
"An evil spirit leapt out of Holt and on me," said Sharp, telling of the controversy at the mission in the North end. I became unbalanced and pushed him out. I called him a foul name, but did not swear. I struck Holt with a pistol against my will. From that time on I was like a blind man and all through the fight I can't remember. I never was in such a fix since I was born. I know I said: 'Come on, we'll hold a meeting if we don't get killed. This is a free country and we'll preach anyhow.'
"I meant to show my humility with guns and thought perhaps they'd let me alone. I was watching for the police. the first officer told me to go over to the station and I started to talk to him when a man in citizen's clothes came up beside the officer and put a pistol in my face and told me to drop my knife. Then I heard a shot fired.
"Did you fire that shot?"
At this point the direct examination stopped. Sharp's counsel would not let him tell who fired the first shot, but turned him over to the state for cross-examination. Then the religious ramblings ceased and Sharp was brought back to his earlier life with a jerk.
WAS SHORT-CARD GAMBLER.
""Yes," said he in answer to questions from Mr. Conkling. "I was a gambler from the age of 14 for almost thirty years. I played cards for money. I was a short card gambler and played poker, seven-up, casino and other games. About all I looked for was to swindle. I got so I could run up high hands, but played square when I had to."
Under a fire of questions Sharp admitted that he had no title to the farm on which he lived, as it was a claim and he had lived there only two and a half years. He said he sold his relinquishment for $250 and paid off debts of $22. He didn't give the poor over $125, he said.
But after he quit gambling, Sharp took moral bankruptcy. He never made restitution to the people whom he had swindled.
"Gambling was the devil working through me. The money I had swindled people out of I just charged up to the devil, and let it go at that."
"Did you preach the Ten Commandments?"
"The Commandments were law in their day, but Christ came along and changed the law."
Pursuing questions about the evil spirit he said Holt brought the defendant, Mr. Conkling asked:
"Did you get the evil spirit first, or the gun?"
WAITED FOR TROUBLE.
"I carried the gun all the time. I never was in such a fix. Just think of a man going out and doing what I did -- "
"Did you tell the others to bring their revolvers?"
"They had them with them all the time. I was not hunting trouble. I was waiting to see it come. I was expecting it after what had happened."
"When the officer said, 'Drop that knife,' where was the weapon?"
"In my hand, open. We were holding a meeting and I was watching to keep them off if they interfered. I was armed with faith. Besides that, I had a gun and a knife which the children not of God could understand. Of course they could not recognize the spirit."
The sharp fire of cross-examination, calling for quick thought and feats of memory by the defendant, did much to dispel any belief of insanity which he may have instilled on his direct examination.
MRS. SHARP HYSTERICAL.
There were certain inconsistencies which hardly could have been lost on the jury. For instance, Sharp testified that he learned to read largely through his perusal of the Bible. He gave the impression that this was about his only means of education. Yet Sharp, it was pointed out, writes a fair hand.
Mrs. Melissa Sharp, sobbing and talking in the voice of hysteria, preceded her husband on the stand. She seems devoted to her husband, aside from religion and told of the falling star and of her conversion in Oklahoma in a voice that expressed the profoundest conviction.
Her recital of how the Sharps wept and prayed for weeks after Adam saw the star was dramatic. When she had finished amid tears of her own and of Mr. Martin of her counsel, she was taken back to her cell without cross-examination.
ARGUMENTS ARE BEGUN.
The argument was begun at 7 o'clock in the evening by William S. Gabriel, assistant prosecuting attorney, who presented the case for the state. He was followed by A. A. Bailey of the defense and Harry Friedberg for the state. After these addresses court adjourned until 9 o'clock this morning. The morning A. E. Martin will argue for the defense and Virgil Conkling, prosecutor, will sum up for the state. How soon after that there will be a verdict is for the jury to say.
About twenty-five instructions offered by the state and defense were given to the jury by Judge Ralph S. Latshaw. Under them, Sharp may be convicted of murder in the first or second degree. The maximum penalty for the last mentioned offense is two years' imprisonment. The jury may acquit on the ground of self-defense or on the plea of insanity.
The instructions cover partial insanity, the presumption of guilt raised by flight after the crime. There is an instruction covering the supposition that Sharp was insane at the time of the crime and has since recovered, and another that supposes he was insane then and is so now. The court instructed the jury that it was not necessary that Sharp should have fired the shot that killed Michael P. Mullane in order to convict him, but that it was sufficient if proved anyone acting in concert with him did the deed.
For the first time during the trial of the case, A. A. Bailey of Sharp's counsel took the active part yesterday. His adroit questioning strengthened the defendant's case materially, so far as it was possible to do so in light of the damaging evidence Sharp gave against himself. A. E. Martin, the other attorney, was late at both morning and afternoon sessions, and was lectured each time by the court.
COVER PARTIAL INSANITY.
After the Sharps had told their story in the morning, or at least as much of it as Mr. Bailey shrewd questioning allowed to be revealed, the afternoon was devoted to expert insanity testimony and to rebuttal evidence by the state.
Dr. S. Grover Burnett heard a 4,000-word hypothetical question and was asked: "Assuming that all this is true, is it your belief that Sharp is insane?"
"It is indicative that he is insane. He is suffering form a form of mania of insanity classified as paranoia religiosa."
The hypothetical question, easy for Dr. Burnett, was too much for a spectator, who fainted and was carried from the room.
Dr. Burnett modestly admitted that he had pronounced 15,000 persons insane and had never, so far as he knew or was able to find out, made a mistake. He was the only expert put on by the defense.
In rebuttal, the state introduced Harry Hoffman, a deputy county marshal, who would not say whether he believed Sharp sane or insane. It also called to the witness stand Theodore Remley, justice of the peace, before whom Sharp had two preliminary hearings. Justice Remley testified that, at neither of these hearings did Sharp make any interruption, nor did he n or his wife carry a Bible. The same facts were testified to by Clarance Wofford, stenographer of the criminal court, who reported the preliminary hearings.
John S. Steed, sheriff of Johnson county, Kas.; Hugh I. Moore, a reporter for The Journal, who talked to Sharp soon after his arrest; John M. Leonard, editor of the Olathe Register; Edwin G. Pinkham, a reporter for the Star, all testified they believed Sharp sane.
The statement made by Sharp after he had been returned to Kansas City was read. In it the fanatic said it had been revealed to him that Kansas City was the town he was going to take. His band, he said, was singing "Babylon is Falling" just before the riot started. Also in his statement, Sharp said he fired the first shot.
Labels: Adam God sect, attorney, courtroom, Johnson county, Judge Latshaw, Judge Remley, mental health, ministers, newspapers, police, Prosecutor Conkling, The Journal
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Early Kansas City, Missouri