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October 27, 1909
TO LANSING FOR SAFE KEEPING.
M'MAHON BROTHERS, PATRICK LAMB
ESCORTED IN AUTOMOBILES.
Bum Tire Delays Journey; Mc-
Mahon "Guesses" He Is
Even before James McMahon's confession that he alone killed his two sisters and brother-in-law, Sheriff Al Becker had concluded that it would be best not to keep the prisoners, McMahon and his brother, Patrick, and Patrick Lamb, an employe at the McMahon farm, in Kansas City , Kas., over night and arrangements were made to take them to the penitentiary in Lansing. Telephone messages were coming into the sheriff's office informing him that there was much bitterness expressed in the vicinity of the McMahon and Van Royen homes and that a lynching was being planned.
Acting upon this advice the sheriff deemed it well to remove the prisoners at once, so that when Patrick McMahon had completed his confession to Taggart, the brothers and Patrick Lamb, together with officers and reporters, started for Lansing.
In an automobile with Patrick and James McMahon were Sheriff Becker, Under Sheriff Brady and Deputy Sheriff Brady. Patrick Lamb rode in another car with Deptuy Sheriffs Charles Lukens, U. S. G. Snyder, Harley Gunning, William McMullen and Clyde Sartin. In two other motor cars were newspaper reporters.
Never in all his life, probably, had James McMahon contemplated such a tour as he was then making. Every officer was well armed, and there was anxiety on the part of the sheriff, who did not know to what extent the movement to lynch the prisoners had progressed. The party drove out State street as far as Ninth street, then wheeled into Minnesota avenue and connected with the Reidy road.
The journey was continued on this road to a point where a cross-road offers an outlet to the Parallel road. If the junction of the Reidy road and the cross-road could be passed safely the officers felt confident that they would not meet violence.
PATRICK QUIET AND SULLEN.
Farmers in wagons and buggies lined the thoroughfare, and while the prisoners were peered at curiously, there was no demonstration. That everybody along the route knew of the apprehension of the McMahons was evident.
Riding with the sheriff and under sheriff, James McMahon appeared nervous during the first stages of the ride, but Patrick McMahon sat at his side, quiet and sullen, and seemingly totally oblivious to his surroundings.
At the junction there was not a person in sight when the motor car party arrived and, turning into the road, the machines were speeded rapidly to the main thoroughfare that led directly to Lansing. Near Bethel, Kas., the machine in which the McMahons were riding punctured a tire and the entire party got out and watched the chauffeur make the repairs.
During this interim, James McMahon, who was now feeling safe from a mob attack, appeared more cheerful and talked willingly to those about him. Again and again he said that he could give no reason for his crime and again and again he described it. He seemed unconcerned regarding his strange situation.
"GUESSES" HE IS SORRY.
"Guess you know this country pretty well, don't you, Jim?"
"I've walked over every foot of it," said the prisoner. "And I guess I won't walk over it any more."
"How do you feel by this time?"
"All right, all right, I'm glad I confessed."
"Sure that no one else was implicated in this affair?"
"No one else; Pat ain't guilty of anything," said Jim. "I did the whole thing."
"Are you sorry?
"I guess I am.
"Did you think they were going to catch you any time last week?"
"No, I didn't get afraid until this morning, then I knew the jig was up."
"How have you been at night? Did you sleep?"
"Yes, I slept all right; sometimes I got nervous."
"Didn't you get kind o' creepy when you walked about the Van Royen house?"
"No, not much."
"How about this man you said you saw talking to Van Royen on that Tuesday morning?"
"O, that was a lie."
"And about seeing Rosie when you were going to the pasture to milk the cows?"
"That was a lie, too," said James.
As he answered these questions the prisoner chewed tobacco at a furious pace. His lips were covered with the stains of the weed.
The repairs on the tire completed, the journey was resumed. At a point about fourteen miles from Leavenworth the same tire broke again, and there was another delay.
NEVER IN AN ASYLUM.
"We're outside Wyandotte county now, ain't we," said Jim, as he stepped to the ground the second time.
"Well, I feel safer now. There won't be any feeling over in this county."
"Were you ever in an insane asylum, Jim?" someone asked.
"No, but I guess I ought to have been."
"Ever have any insane fits or anything like that?"
"Not that I know of."
For a second time the obstreperous tire on Henry Zimmer's automobile was repaired and another start made, but in a few minutes the rim of the wheel rolled off. Then Zimmer tore off all the wheel fixings and the machine carrying the McMahons, rolled into Lansing limping on one side.
At the penitentiary Sheriff Becker and his prisoners were received by Warden J. K. Codding, who said that while the prison officials were willing to keep the men they would have to be willing.
"DON'T KNOW WHY I DID IT."
"We're willing," said Jim. "I'd rather be here than in Wyandotte."
"What do you think about it?" Patrick McMahon was asked.
"I guess this is the better place for tonight, anyhow," said Patrick.
Henry Zimmer offered to take Pat Lamb back with him, but the latter, at first willing, later decided that he would remain at the prison.
"I don't know what they're thinking down there," said Lamb, "so I'll just stay here for a few days."
The party remained in the warden's office fully a half hour, and during all that time Patrick McMahon spoke scarcely a word. When spoken to he answered, but his answers were brief. Jim McMahon, apparently not badly frightened, apparently not greatly concerned, sat in one of the warden's easy chairs and answered all questions put to him. The substance of all his answers were:
"I killed them, and I don't know why I did it."
Labels: automobiles, farmers, Kansas City Kas, Minnesota avenue, newspapers, penitentiary, Reidy road, Sheriff Becker, telephone, Van Royen Murders
October 27, 1909
OF TRIPLE MURDER.
Declares that He Alone Killed His
Two Sisters and Brother-in-Law,
Alonzo Van Royen, at Their
Home on the Reidy Road.
MURDER OF RELATIVES
PLANNED FOR MONTHS.
Despite James's Exoneration of Pat-
rick McMahon, Both Brothers Are
Arrested and Hurried to Lansing
to Prevent Possible Lynching.
"CRAZY JIM" McMAHON, WHO
CLEARS TRIPLE MURDER MYSTERY.
James McMahon, 35 years old, commonly known to his associates as "Crazy Jim," admitted to County Attorney Joseph Taggart yesterday that on Tuesday, October 19, at the Van Royen farm, five miles west of the Kansas City, Kas., limits in Wyandotte county, he slew his brother-in-law, Alonzo R. Van Royen, and his sisters, Mrs. Margaret Van Royen and Miss Rose McMahon.
Expressing inability to give any reason for his act, McMahon calmly told in minute details the facts in regard to this triple tragedy.
Going to an isolated section of the farm, where Van Royen was chopping wood, McMahon said that he first gave Van Royen a drink of whisky out of a bottle, then, when the latter's back was turned, shot him four times. Assured that the man was dead, he picked up his body, carried it across a small stream and deposited it in a narrow, lonely ravine, which was shadowed by a great oak tree.
Half a mile away was the home of Van Royen, and there, as McMahon knew, were the two women. The murderer proceeded immediately to the Van Royen home, opened the door without knocking and confronted Margaret and Rosie. A quarrel ensued, the nature of which he says he cannot remember.
Within a few minutes he drew the revolver from his pocket, and standing within two feet of Margaret, shot her dead. Turning the weapon on the terror-stricken Rosie, who was a few feet away, he shot her through the heart.
Without stopping, McMahon returned his attention to the prostrate form of Margaret and fired two more bullets into her body. Rosie lay motionless, but to make sure of his work the slayer directed the revolver at her again and shot until it was empty of shells.
Then he reloaded and fired three more bullets into the form of his unmarried sister.
After completing the triple butchery McMahon went to his own home, hitched his horse and drove to Kansas City, Kas. He visited the grocery store of Reitz & Reitz, 1005 Minnesota avenue, paid a bill and returned to the farm. The shooting of Van Royen occurred about 2 o'clock. The murder of the women was accomplished about three-quarters of an hour later.
TOOK RINGS FROM BODY.
Upon his return to the farm McMahon ate supper, and after it was dark he returned to the Van Royen house, carrying a lighted lantern, and by its dim rays inspected the house, taking such valuables as were in sight so as to give the impression that the motive of the murder was robbery.
From the fingers of Margaret McMahon he removed a diamond ring and a wedding ring. Around her neck was a little bag in which she had some little trinkets of value. He removed this, too, and taking his booty, carried it over to his own home and hid it along with the revolver and unused cartridges, in a corn shock about 100 feet from the McMahon house.
For seven days, while the authorities were bending every effort in an endeavor to establish the identity of the murderer, Jim McMahon kept his secret. For seven days he held his head up, talked frequently and freely to officials and reporters and offered no word that would tend to solve the mystery.
TRAPPED INTO CONFESSION.
The stolen property, hidden in the corn shock, was McMahon's undoing.
If McMahon committed the murder the jewelry is hidden about the farm, was the theory upon which Sheriff Becker and his deputies directed their work. That they must find the stolen property and work upon that to force a confession was the decision of the officers.
J. W. Elkins of Beloit, Kas., a friend of McMahon's who is also a friend of the sheriff's was invited into the game of unraveling a mystery. And the plan decided upon and which was successfully executed was for the friend to go to McMahon and inform him that the officers intended to search every part of the premises.
"If these things are hidden here give them to me; let me take them over to my house," was the suggestion offered and McMahon stepped into the trap.
He showed the man the hidden articles and gave them to him. This was a 7 o'clock yesterday forenoon.
Two hours later, after McMahon had ample time to reflect, he went to his man to beg for the return of the evidence, but Elkins was not at home.
After his unsuccessful mission, McMahon drove to the home of his aunt, Mrs. Ellis, and there nervously awaited the fate which he knew was bound to come.
NERVED TO THE CRIME BY WHISKY.
In his confession, James McMahon exonerates his brother, Patrick, who has been under surveillance ever since the tragedy.
"He didn't help me; he knew nothing about it," the murderer insisted, when questioned by the officers. "Nobody knew anything about it; I did it myself; no one advised me, and I don't know why I did it."
"Did you meditate on this crime?" he was asked.
"I've thought of doing it for the last three months. It was in me to do this thing. I knew I would do it."
"Did you ever start to do it before?"
"Yes, several times, but I lost my nerve."
"How did you get your nerve up, finally?"
"Whisky got my nerve up. I had a bottle the day I killed them. I took several drinks out of it. I gave a drink to Lon before I killed him. That nerved me up to it."
"Where did you get the revolver?"
"I bought it about a week before the killing. I told the folks I wanted to practice with it."
NO GRUDGE AGAINST VICTIMS.
"Had you ever quarreled with these people you killed?" McMahon was asked.
"Not to any extent."
"Have any grudge against Lon or your two sisters?"
"No, Lon and I always were friends."
"Can you advance any reason at all for this act?"
"I can not; I was out of my head, I guess."
In a little over an hour the McMahons and Patrick Lamb, an employe at the McMahon farm, were in the county jail, once the officers decided to make the arrest. The officers are confident that Lamb had no connection with the crime, and are holding him only as a witness.
As to Patrick McMahon's status in the case that is a matter that will have to be decided later. Patrick McMahon maintained yesterday that he had no part in the tragedy and knew nothing about it. At the jail James McMahon was the only prisoner subjected to a severe sweating, and the county accepts his statements as true.
AUNT SAYS, "TELL THE TRUTH."
While the inquiry was in progress the outer door of the jail was kept locked and hundreds of persons, apprised of the arrest, stood anxiously about the jail yard and wondered what the termination of the case would be.
During the inquiry Under Sheriff Joseph Brady and Henry T. Zimmer, a deputy sheriff, who had arrested James McMahon, emerged from the jail building and rode north of Seventh street in an automobile. Presently they returned in company with Mrs. Ellis and she was taken into the sheriff's home. The prisoner had asked for her repeatedly and said that his statement would depend upon what she said.
Mrs. Ellis, a nervous wreck as the result of the ordeal to which she had been subjected to for a week, asked McMahon what he wanted her to do. He said he wanted her advice as to what he should say.
"Tell the truth," said Mrs. Ellis.
It was after this that McMahon yielded to the entreaty of the county attorney, and told the story of his crime.
THEIR UNCLE ASTOUNDED.
James Downs, uncle of the McMahon boys, was astounded yesterday when he heard that James McMahon had confessed to the murder.
"I was absolutely confident of their innocence," said Mr. Downs, "and I can give no explanation of it. The boy must be insane."
In regard to a statement that had criticised Sheriff Becker and his deputies for the manner in conducting the inquiry, Mr. Downs said:
"I did not harshly criticise the sheriff and had no intention of doing so. I wanted the boys to talk to him at all times and urged them to tell him everything they knew, to tell the whole truth. I did object to the sheriff and his men harassing the mother, as she is in poor health, and I feared that the examinations, if made before her, might cause serious results."
Labels: alcohol, County Attorney Taggart, guns, jewelry, Kansas City Kas, mental health, murder, Reidy road, Sheriff Becker, Van Royen Murders
October 25, 1909
QUESTIONS ON MURDER
INVITED BY BROTHERS.
M'MAHONS' RELATIVE BE-
LIEVE THEM INNOCENT.
Five Thousand Spend Entire Day at
Scene of Tuesday's Triple Trag-
edy-- Officers Unable to
Smarting under the knowledge that the Wyandotte county officials virtually regard them as suspects in the investigation of the murder of Alonzo R. Van Royen, Mrs. Margaret Van Royen and Rose McMahon, James and Patrick McMahon, brothers of the slain women, yesterday emphatically declared their innocence, and gave Sheriff Al Becker and his assistants to understand that they were ready to answer any question that might be asked of them.
James Downs, an uncle of the boys, who lives in Kansas City, Mo., went to the McMahon farm on the Reidy road yesterday afternoon, and assured them that ever member of the McMahon family is convinced absolutely of their innocence and stands ready to lend them any support.
"The way this family has been harassed for the last few days is an outrage," Downs said. "I came over here today after I became convinced that there is a strong feeling that the boys had something to do with this tragedy. I have known these boys all their lives, and I believe them."
WOULDN'T HARM CHICKEN.
"That boy Jim, who has been sweated at all hours of the day and night and in every conceivable place, wouldn't harm a chicken. Not alone that, he has never been familiar with fire arms. He couldn't shoot anything."
Under Sheriff Joseph Brady took a statement from Mrs. Ellen McMahon, mother of the boys, yesterday afternoon, and this further incensed Downs.
"Mrs. McMahon is not in good health," he said, "and this affair has put her on the verge of a nervous breakdown. If this thing is continued there is no telling what may happen to her."
Richard O'Brien, a brother-in-law of St. Joseph, Mo., also visited the McMahon home yesterday, and expressed sentiments similar to those of Downs. O'Brien married a daughter of Mrs. McMahon and the wedding took place just seven weeks prior to the tragedy.
NO THEORY TO OFFER.
"I have the fullest confidence in the boys," O'Brien said, "and I think it is folly for the officials to act in this manner. I have no theory to offer as to the motive for the murder. No member of the family can offer the slightest reason for the killing, but we are all certain that the boys had no hand in it whatsoever, and, in my opinion, the officers ought to get on the right track.
Patrick McMahon has never been subjected to a thorough examination by the officials, but he told them yesterday that he is ready to meet them at any time and at any place. That he will talk to them and answer their questions at his own home, in the sheriff's office or in the Van Royen house, as they choose, was Patrick McMahon's calm challenge to the sheriff's party.
Before the arrival of the sheriff and his deputies yesterday afternoon, Patrick McMahon and his uncle were making ready to go to Kansas City, Kas., to urge the sheriff to take a complete statement in regard to the boy's knowledge of the tragedy.
DAUGHTER DIED RECENTLY.
The tragic situation in the home of the McMahons is almost without parallel. Five weeks prior to the killing of the Van Royens and Rose McMahon a daughter, who had become a nun, died. The family still was mourning the loss of this favorite child when they were confronted by the tragedy of last Tuesday. Mrs. McMahon, who has twice in her life suffered mental derangement, is now suffering from the intense ordeal to which she has been subjected, and at the home, also, is Timothy McMahon, who has been a hopeless invalid for two years, and who cannot live long.
These things were little realized by 5,000 persons who journeyed to the Van Royen and McMahon farms yesterday to satisfy a morbid curiosity. Never in the history of Wyandotte county has such a great throng visited the rural sections. They came in wagons, buggies and automobiles. Hundreds of them walked all the way from the end of the Minnesota avenue car line, fully five miles.
SOUVENIRS WERE TAKEN.
Through the entire day until dusk the curious strolled about the Van Royen premises, peered through the windows of the one-room shack where the murders were committed, and eagerly sought souvenirs to take home with them. The house was locked, but occasionally someone would come along who had a key that would open the door and then the visitors would get an opportunity to see the interior.
In the great crowd were hundreds of women, hundreds of boys and girls, hundreds of men. It is thought that every amateur detective in Kansas City went to the Van Royen farm yesterday. From the house many of the curious wended their way down the ravine where Van Royen was killed. The half-cut logs upon which Van Royen was working when he met his end were there and the souvenir gatherers grabbed chips, sprigs and leaves as a memento of their visit. Around the little ravine where Van Royen's body lay when it was discovered the crowd was thick.
Labels: Kansas City Kas, murder, Reidy road, Sheriff Becker, St.Joseph, Van Royen Murders
October 24, 1909
NO REFERENCE TO TRAGEDY.
Murder Victims' Funeral Held in
Church Where Two of Them Met
and Married and One Confirmed.
The funeral of Alonzo R. Van Royan, Mrs. Van Royen and Rose McMahon, victims of the triple murder on the Reidy road, in Wyandotte county, was held yesterday morning. From the undertaking rooms of Daniels & Comfort, where more than 5,000 persons viewed the three bodies during the 24 hours that they lay in state, the cortege moved to the church of the Blessed Sacrament in Chelsea place. This little church was not one-third large to accommodate the crowd that gathered to attend the services. It was the first triple funeral ever held in Kansas City and nearly every woman in Chelsea place congregated at the church and strived to get in.
There were several odd circumstances in connection with the service. In this church Mr. and Mrs. Van Royen were married. Father Bernard S. Kelly, now chancellor of the Kansas City, Kas., diocese, married them, and they were the last couple he married while pastor there.
It was at a fair, given for the benefit of this church, that Van Royen met his wife, and Father Kelly, who married them, preached the funeral sermon.
In the Church of the Blessed Sacrement, also, Rose McMahon, the third victim of the tragedy, made her first holy communion and was confirmed.
Father L. L. Dekat, formerly of Winchester, Kas., read the mass. He is the new pastor of the church and this was his first official act in connection with his pastorate. Father Patrick McInerney, the retiring pastor, assisted.
A requiem high mass was celebrated. In his sermon Father Kelly made no reference to the tragedy, confining his expression to the moral of death.
After the three coffins had been carried in Mrs. McMahon, James and Patrick McMahon and other members of the family led the procession, sitting in pews near the altar rail. The service was brief.
The bodies were buried in Mount Calvary cemetery, Kansas City, Kas.
Labels: cemetery, churches, funerals, Kansas City Kas, ministers, Reidy road, undertakers, Van Royen Murders
October 23, 1909
TRIPLE MURDER NOT
WORK OF ONE MAN.
TWO PRINCIPALS, SAYS COUNTY
Inquest Develops That Slain Women
Were Alive at 5:30 P. M. Tues-
day -- Prosecutor to Let Guilty
"Sweat" Two Weeks.
RELATIVES OF REIDY ROAD MURDER VICTIMS AND WITNESSES AT INQUEST.
Click to Enlarge.
The coroner's inquest into the deaths of Alonzo R. Van Royen, his wife, Margaret Van Royen, and Mrs. Van Royen's sister, Rose McMahon, who were murdered at the Van Royen farm, west of Kansas City, Kas., last Tuesday, was continued for two weeks yesterday after County Attorney Joseph Taggart of Wyandotte county had examined James and Patrick McMahon, brothers of the dead girl; Dr. W. F. Fairbanks, who made the autopsy; Sheriff Al Becker and James Down, an uncle of the McMahon boys.
"I want this investigation to rest two weeks," said Mr. Taggart. "I want the persons who are guilty of this murder to have time to sweat. I believe there are circumstances in the affair that have not as yet been surmised. There has been a brutal and well planned crime committed, and I want the assistance of everyone in Wyandotte and Jackson counties in getting at the true facts in this case.
TO LET THEM "SWEAT."
"I believe there were two persons actively concerned in this murder. The testimony of Dr. Fairbanks as to the powder burns on the breasts of both women leads me strongly to the belief that two guns were held close to those women, and that they were shot to death at the same time.. It is improbable that one man was holding the two weapons; it looks highly probable that two persons were each standing over the women and putting their lives out.
"There is not going to be any haste in this trial. It's a big case; a deep one, and a case, I believe, that will develop endless circumstances. The persons guilty of this crime are going to sweat, and they won't sweat in my office; they'll have to sweat at home."
BOTH ALIVE AT 5:30.
That James McMahon saw his two sisters, Rose and Margaret, as late as 5:30 o'clock last Tuesday afternoon, that there was friction between Mrs. Van Royen and her mother to the extent that neither called at the other's home; that Patrick McMahon spoke to his brother-in-law, Van Royen, when he met him, but that he had never called at the little home of the Van Royen's until after the murder, that Patrick opposed his sister and her husband in their desire to move out of the farm -- a wish resented by Patrick McMahon -- were some of the incidents of the family life brought out in the testimony yesterday of James and Patrick McMahon.
It has been the understanding of the officials all along that there had been no accounting for the three victims of the tragedy after 2 o'clock Tuesday afternoon. At about that time Van Royen was seen to drive over the Reidy road into the valley of the stream which runs through the farm. He was bound for the place while he had been cutting dry wood, and from where, according to all evidence given, he never returned alive. The county attorney argues that Van Royen must have been murdered before 3 p. m., for he could have secured his load of wood and returned to the house within an hour. If Van Royen was murdered early in the afternoon, says the county attorney, and Margaret Van Royen and Rose McMahon were seen as late as 5:30 o'clock that same day what was the murderer doing in the meantime, and how long after 5:30 were the women slain?
TRAMP THEORY EXPLODED.
The testimony of James McMahon that the women were alive at 5:30 explodes the theory that the much discussed wandering tramp committed the crime, for that person, according to a score of witnesses, was well beyond the Leavenworth city line at that hour.
The inquest will be resumed November 5.
The funeral of Van Royen, his wife and Rose McMahon will be held at 10 o'clock this morning, from the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Chelsea Place. Three priests will officiate. Burial will be in St. John's cemetery.
Labels: Armourdale, churches, County Attorney Taggart, Kansas City Kas, Leavenworth, murder, Reidy road, Sheriff Becker, undertakers, Van Royen Murders
October 22, 1909
TRIPLE MURDER NOT
COMMITTED BY TRAMP.
THEORY ON WHICH SHERIFF
BECKER IS WORKING.
Believed Crime Was Carefully Plan-
ned and Deliberately Carried
Out -- Robbery Not Motive,
the Officers Say.
An important development in the case of the murder of Alonzo R. Van Royen, his wife, Margaret, and her sister, Rose McMahon at the Van Royen farm on the Reidy road, five miles west of Kansas City, Kas., last Tuesday afternoon, is expected when the coroner's inquest is held in the Daniel Brothers' undertaking rooms, Armourdale, at 9 o'clock this morning.
Following his visit to the home of the McMahons and the Van Royens yesterday afternoon, Joseph Taggart, county attorney, made an earnest request of the county coroner, Dr. J. A. Davis, to hold an inquest. Sheriff Al Becker, who obtained important information in two visits to the farms yesterday, also requested the inquest. Dr. Davis had announced that there would be no inquest, but he finally acquiesced.
Taggart made this statement to The Journal:
"The murder of these three persons was a deliberate one. It was not committed by a begging tramp, a wayfarer or a skilled criminal, but it was planned deliberately and executed by a man thoroughly familiar with the Van Royen home and the territory surrounding it; a man who knew the people that he murdered and a resident of Wyandotte county.
PURPOSE WELL FORMED.
"That is my firm opinion of the case after reviewing the evidence at hand. True, the evidence is negative, but the man who committed this triple murder carefully formed his purpose and knew just what he was about."
Taggart, in company with Sheriff Becker and Henry T. Zimmer, former chief of police in Kansas City, Kas., made a visit to the scene of the tragedy yesterday afternoon. Sheriff Becker had made a visit in the morning and had reported his findings to the county attorney. In the opinion of Sheriff Becker there was not the slightest doubt that some deep motive lay back of the tragedy, and the uncommon circumstances, evident at every hand, convinced him that some person or persons, after long study, had formulated a plan that was so skillfully made to arouse the very suspicion that it had been aimed to divert.
THIRTEEN BULLETS FIRED.
Thirteen bullets were fired in the killing of the three persons, yet not an empty shell could be found, either at the place where Van Royen was killed or in the home where the two women met their death. There were at least nine shots fired in the home, that many bullets having been taken from the bodies of the two women. Unless the murderer carried two loaded revolvers he would have had to reload his gun and release the empty cartridges.
Another interesting and convincing point is that while nine empty purses were found in the Van Royen home and no money could be found anywhere, two trunks, filled with clothing and various articles, were not disturbed. A man with the sole intent of robbery, it is argued, would have ransacked the trunks and the cupboard.
The authorities believe that if a wayfarer had seized the opportunity to murder and rob, Van Royen, who was a full half mile from the home, would not have been killed, even though the robber would have been compelled to slay the women. The location of Van Royen's body, placed in the mouth of a small ravine, which was barely large enough to conceal it, indicated beyond reasonable doubt that the murderer awaited his chance when Van Royen should be a safe distance from the house, slew him and after placing him in the ravine and covering the body with dried leaves, proceeded to the home to slay the unprotected women. That this theory is beyond reasonable doubt is Sheriff Becker's opinion, after canvassing every part of the territory.
BROTHERS VISIT PLACE.
Many persons visited the home yesterday. James McMahon, a brother of the girls, was there in the morning, and Patrick McMahon, another brother, looked after the property in the afternoon. As on Wednesday, when the murder was uncovered, the brothers could give no tangible information as to what caused the killing.
James McMahon still thinks that the man in whose company he found his brother-in-law Tuesday may have been the slayer. His description of the stranger is not complete, as he says he paid little attention to him.
It is believed now that the mysterious stranger, who visited so many of the farmers in the neighborhood Monday afternoon, begging money from them, had no connection with the crime. The man was bound west, and inquiries from the farmers living several miles beyond the scene of the murder developed the fact that the stranger at sundown Monday night was near the Leavenworth county line.
The sheriff thinks the man would hardly return over the same route Monday with the hope of receiving more money.
Labels: Armourdale, County Attorney Taggart, murder, Reidy road, Sheriff Becker, undertakers, Van Royen Murders
October 21, 1909
TRIPLE TRAGEDY IN
POSSE WITH BLOODHOUNDS SEARCH-
ING FOR THE UNKNOWN SLAYER OF
ALONZO VAN ROYEN, HIS WIFE
AND HER SISTER.
MANY BULLET WOUNDS
IN THE WOMEN'S BODIES.
MYSTERIOUS VISITOR SOUGHT
Coroner's Office Delays Sheriff
Several Hours by Failing
to Promptly Report
MRS. MARGARET VAN ROYEN AND MISS ROSE M'MAHON.
Two of the Victims of a Triple Tragedy That is Mystifying the Kansas City, Kas., Officials.
A triple murder in which Alonzo Van Royen, a farmer; his wife, Margaret Van Royen, and Mrs. Van Royen's sister, Rose McMahon, were the victims was enacted Tuesday night or Wednesday morning on the Reidy road in Wyandotte county, about five miles west of Kansas City, Kas.
A posse with bloodhounds is now searching for the assassin whose identity is not known.
The body of Van Royen was not discovered until ten hours after the bodies of the murdered women had been found, and during the interim the theory of the officials was that Van Royen had murdered his wife and sister-in-law and had fled.
The bodies of the women were discovered by their brother, James McMahon, who went to their ho me and found them lying on the floor of their one room about 2 o'clock yesterday afternoon. Shortly before midnight Sheriff Al Becker and a party discovered the body of Van Royen lying near a ravine about fifty feet from the house.
MANY BULLETS FOR WOMEN.
Six bullet wounds, made by a 38-caliber revolver, were in the body of Mrs. Van Royen, and three bullets were found in the body of her sister. Both women were pierced through the heart and every bullet was fired into their breasts.
When the news of the murder spread through the country, fifty farmers, carrying lanterns in their hands, organized a posse to search for Van Royen. At 11 o'clock his body, buried under leaves, was found by Geo. Stimpson, a 19-year-old farmer boy living a short distance west of the Van Royen farm on the Reidy road.
The body was found to have two bullet wounds in the back. One of them passed through the heart. His face had three bruises on it. At 1 o'clock this morning the body was taken to Daniel Bros. undertaking rooms in Armourdale.
The police who brought the bloodhounds to the scene were forced to give up the hunt. The trail of the murderer was found to be "cold." A good description has been secured. Telegrams were sent this morning to the police departments in this part of the country to be on the lookout for the man.
There was a visitor at the Van Royen home Tuesday morning and it is for this man that the officials are vigorously searching. James McMahon saw the stranger talking to Van Royen, but did not learn his name. He thought the man was buying potatoes. The diaimond ring which Mrs. Van Royen wore is gone from her finger, also other jewelry and money, possibly as much as $700, which was known to be in the house.
The Van Royens lived on a twelve-acre farm about a half mile distant from the farm of Mrs. Van Royen's mother, who is the widow of Timothy McMahon, one of the first settlers in Wyandotte county. On the mother's farm live three sons, James, Timothy and Patrick McMahon. Rose McMahon lived with her mother, but was a daily visitor at the home of her sister.
James McMahon made this statement to The Journal:
"Van Royen came over to our place Tuesday morning and said he was going to Kansas City, Mo., to sell some potatoes, and asked that Rose go over to his house and stay with Margaret. Rose left here Tuesday afternoon. I went to town Wednesday morning and when I returned my mother told me that Rose had not come home Tuesday night. This was an unusual thing. I also expected to see Van Royen at the market, but I learned that he had not been there.
"I went over to their home and then went to the back door and knocked. I got no response, so I tried the door. It was not locked. As I entered I saw the dead bodies of my sisters. Margaret was lying near the south door, a part of her body resting under the dining table. Rose, wearing her outer cloak, was lying near the west door. Thee bed clothes were rumpled and the dishes were not washed, but the room did not indicate that there had been a struggle. I looked for my brother-in-law, but found him nowhere in sight. I was stunned, of course, that there was no reasoning of the problem. I ran to a neighbor's and notified the coroner.
MAY HAVE SEEN SLAYER.
"I am confident that the man I saw my brother-in-law with the day before had something to do with the killing. I was not introduced to him, but Mr. Van Royen appeared to know him pretty well. We have been selling a good many potatoes and I supposed that it was some fellow after potatoes or possibly a load of wood.
"The man wore overalls and a gray coat. He was of dark complexion, having black hair and a black moustache, and of medium build."
James A. Downs, the uncle of Mrs. Van Royen, said last night that Van Royen, in company with a stranger, whose description answers that of the man seen by McMahon, came to his Union avenue saloon about a week ago. Downs was not there, but his bartender told him that Van Royen had called for him.
"About a week ago," said Mr. Downs, "Mrs. Van Royen visited me and said that she and her husband had decided to sell their farm and move to Colorado. They wanted to farm out there on a larger scale.
"I advised them not to leave. She said that her husband was anxious to move and was insistent upon it. I had not seen her since and don't know whether the sale was consummated. My theory is that Van Royen had talked about the prospective sale and that someone just laid for the money. Even if the sale was not consummated there probably was $600 or $700 in the house."
The great number of shots fired into the women by the assassin mystifies the authorities. According to the coroner, nearly every one of the bullet wounds would have caused the death. The coroner searched the premises and found in a trunk a 38-caliber revolver, unloaded. It did not smell of powder and he doesn't believe it was the weapon used in the tragedy. Three loaded cartridges were found in the trunk.
HER UNTIMELY ARRIVAL.
In the coroner's opinion the victims had been dead at least eight or ten hours before their bodies were discovered. The killing of Rose McMahon, it is conjectured, resulted from her arriving at the house at an unexpected moment, just as the assassin had begun his plan of slaying the husband and the wife and that he killed her to put the only witness out of the way. The fact that the girl's cloak was about her body indicates that she had either just arrived or was just departing.
MET AT CHURCH FAIR.
Alonzo Van Royen was 32 years old and his wife was the same age. They met at a Catholic church fair in Chelsea place, Kansas City, Kas., three years ago and were married soon after, Father Stephen Kelly, the pastor of the Chelsea Place church performing the ceremony. Van Royen was then a driver for a baker, an occupation he had followed for several years. He continued with the bakery until about a year after his marriage when he started a small grocery store in Mount Washington. He ran the grocery store a few months and then he and his wife went to live with Mrs. Van Royen's mother.
Mrs. Van Royen owned twelve acres, which originally was a part of her father's farm. A short time ago her husband erected on this land a one-room frame house and they went there to live. The married life of the Van Royens was said to be ideal and both were extremely popular. Their plan to sell the property and move to Colorado was not approved of by any of their relatives, who did not want to see them leave Kansas City.
Their threatened departure was especially opposed by Rose McMahon, the slain sister, who was always her sister's companion. Rose was 24 years old and an attractive girl of the brunette type. Every day she went over to her sister's house.
Another sister, Nellie, is the wife of Edward E. Blue of 4909 Michigan avenue. A third sister is Cyrilla, wife of Richard O'Brien of St. Joseph, Mo., and a fourth, Catherine, is a nun in a Catholic convent at Butte, Mont. Mrs. John Ellis, an aunt, lives at Seventh street and Oakland avenue, Kansas City, Kas., and it was at her home last night that Mr. and Mrs. Blue, Mr. Downs and a few intimate friends of the family gathered. At this time the body of Van Royen had not been discovered and the theory that he had murdered his wife and sister-in-law was suggested. No member present would be convinced that such was the condition.
MURDERER HAS GOOD START.
The bodies of the murdered women were taken to the undertaking rooms of Daniel Bros., Packard and Kansas avenues, and the body of Van Royen will be taken there as soon as Coroner Davis examines it.
In the meantime, the sheriff and his deputies are searching the surrounding country in the hope of apprehending the murderer. The sheriff believes that the murderer has a start of at least twenty-four hours and he has probably gotten a safe distance away.
The ho use of the tragedy stands amid lonely surroundings. Practically the nearest neighbor is the McMahones, a half mile away. A small stream rns near the house and it was beside this that the body of Van Royen was found. There was a team of horses standing tweenty feet away and a short distance from the horses was a wagon. Van Royen had another team, but this was gone and the slayer probably used the horses in his escape.
An inquest will be held today but the funeral arrangements for the three victims have not been determined.
CORONER DELAYED SHERIFF.
Owing to the fact that Coroner Davis did not notify the sheriff until 7 o'clock last night, the Wyandotte county authorities had little opportunity to run down any tangible clue. Mr. McMahon notified Coroner Davis of the tragedy at 1:30 o'clock yesterday afternoon. Instead of informing the sheriff of the crime the coroner had brought the bodies of the women to an undertaker's establishment, and then he called up the sheriff's office. According to Sheriff Becker, the coroner gave such an indefinite description of the locality last night that he went eight miles out of the way before arriving at the Van Royen home at 10 o'clock. If the bloodhounds could have been brought to the scene yesterday afternoon, the sheriff thinks the animals might have found the trail.
According to the sheriff, other instances of negligence on the part of the coroner have been noticed during the year.
Labels: Armourdale, churches, farmers, Kansas City Kas, ministers, Mt. Washington, murder, Reidy road, saloon, Sheriff Becker, Van Royen Murders
April 19, 1909
PETER YOHANOWIC IS
KING OF 5,000 GYPSYS.
SCATTERED OVER EVERY STATE
OF THE UNION.
The "Throne" Is Located on the
Reidy Road Two Miles West of
Kansas City -- Subjects
PETER YOHANOWIC, KING OF 5,000 GYPSIES.
Peter Yohanowic of the Egyptian gypsy camp on the Reidy road, two miles west of the limits of Kansas City, Kas., proclaims himself a king. Peter II, as he is locally known, is a hereditary monarch, ruling over all the gypsy tribes of Semitic extraction in the United States. The official diadem, worn only in judgment of the refractories and delinquents of his tribe, is real enough, but consists merely of a silver and copper band hung with shells.
"My rule is unquestioned where ruling is necessary," said King Peter a few days ago. "My father before me was king, and his father before him. This is the Yohanowic dynasty. However, there is not much to do or say in the ruling line where everybody is accommodating and law-abiding. I am afraid that "king" will some time become a title with no force in it."
While saying this King Peter was directing the laying out of a camp for several new arrivals. His remarks to the reporter were interspersed with curt commands not delivered in a kingly way, but more after the manner of a modern civil engineer arranging a grading outfit.
"Two wagons and two tents over here. The same over there. Keep the horses and mules outside the tent line and the dogs beyond the mules, towards the city," were a few of his orders. He was watching camp sanitation and the safety of the chattels from petty thievery at the same time.
THE KING IS TALL.
Although some of his subjects were considerably undersized, the king is nearly six feet tall and built in proportion. He wears a coal black mustache, trained parallel with his upper lip, and wears the sombrero and bandanna of his race. His is good looking and has the most pleasing smile imaginable, showing a double line of strong white teeth. He is about 29 or 30 years old.
"How large a following have you?" the king was asked.
"I do not really know," was the reply. "Perhaps 5,000 would be the figure that would best cover it. You see, they are scattered over every state in the Union. Some of them I never hear from. Others are with me all the time. Whenever I meet them they are subject to me and pay me tribute according to what they can afford. Sometimes months pass and the condition of the tribe I am with is such that it is impossible for me to get any money outside of what I can make personally. My expenses are a little higher now, as I am maintaining a home in Leavenworth for the benefit of my wife and little son, now a year old."
"Is the little boy the crown prince?"
"Certainly he is. He's a member of the dynasty and in direct line of succession, isn't he? The tribe expressed its allegiance and anointed him prince a few days after his birth."
"How old is the Egyptian branch of the gypsy family, and in what manner does it differ from the European gypsies?" was next asked.
ORIGIN OF THE GYPSY.
"Nobody knows just what the origin of the Gypsy was. It is a matter clouded with superstition and faint history. I have often been asked if I did not believe that the Gypsies are the lost tribe of Israel. It has been pointed out to me that we are crafty salesmen and good husbandmen like the Jews. Also that our facial characteristics are somewhat similar to the Jewish cast of countenance. I think it is all rot. There was only one Jew who had the Gypsy instinct and that one was mythical -- the wandering Jew."
TYPICAL CAMP SCENE IN KING YOHANOWIC'S DOMAIN.
From all accounts the reign of Peter Yohanowic has been no more placid than that of his contemporary, Peter of Servia. Three years ago a usurper came to the camp on the Reidy road and threatened a permanent overthrow of the regime. He came from Chicago and wore a blazing red suit with many medals of various sorts. Also he had a commission which he said made him king over all the Egyptian Gypsies in the world.
There was some trouble in the camp following his arrival, trouble which began to brew immediately after the newcomer had demanded $2,000 tribute to set up his kingdom. Peter was bitter from the loss of his "throne" and one day he and the usurper are said to have met on the sandy bed of Reidy road. There was then an unkingly joust at arms, literally speaking, and when the dust finally settled over the combatants the usurper was overthrown and Peter was once more king.
ARREST OF A PRETENDER.
Formal charges of obtaining money under false pretenses were preferred against the pretender by Peter and a warrant for his arrest was issued by the Kansas City, Kas., North city court. He was arrested and in default of a large fine, imprisoned.
About a year ago a son and heir apparent was born to Peter in Leavenworth. He will bear the title of Peter III, upon growing to manhood upon the death or resignation of his father. The Reidy road camp now consists of forty wagons. Sometimes it is even larger. This is in the midsummer season when outfits from the Southwestern states, like New Mexico and Arizona come in. During the heart of winter there are seldom more than ten or twelve wagons at the capital of King Peter Yohanowic and the little village is as dead as is Washington between congressional sessions.
Labels: immigrants, Kansas City Kas, race, Reidy road
July 8, 1908
PRINCE TO BE NAMED PETER.
Heir to Gypsy Throne Receives Many
Gifts From Pilgrims.
The crown prince born to King Peter Yohanowic of the Kansas City, Kas., Gypsy camp on the Reidy road, Monday morning, at 6 o'clock, was in a healthy condition last night and by his lusty yells promised an early assumption of power over the tribe. He will be named Peter, the father announced last night.
All the members of the Reidy road camp made a pilgrimage to Leavenworth to see the mother and child yesterday morning. They brought beads, calico and other things that Gypsies like and deposited these gifts on the doorway.
Labels: children, Kansas City Kas, Leavenworth, Reidy road
April 2, 1908
SUDDEN DEATH OF TWO MEN.
One Is an Unknown Laborer, the
Other a Negro.
An unknown man, apparently about 65 years old, died yesterday afternoon shortly after 4 o'clock while cleaning a yard at Ninth street and Ann avenue, Kansas City, Kas. He had been employed to clean up the lawn and was busily engaged at his work when he suddnely staggered and fell. The police authorities were immediately notified, but before a physician could reach him he was dead. His death is attributed to heart disease. His identity is not known by the local authorities. It was ascertained alst night that he had been stopping at the Helping Hand institute in Kansas City, Mo., for some time past and had been doing odd jobs of yard cleaning for residents of this city.
Henry Smith, a negro, living at Indian Springs, just west of Kansas City, Kas., dropped dead yesterday while walking along the Reidy road. He had been suffering from tuberculosis for several years and his sudden death is attributed to hemmorrage of the lungs. When he left hsi home a few hours prior to his death he was feeling as well as usual, but was stricken suddenly and died before any of the people residing in the neighborhood could reach him.
Labels: death, Helping Hand, Kansas City Kas, laborer, Reidy road
April 2, 1908
LAND FOR A NEW CEMETERY.
Greenwood Association Buys Twenty-
One Acres on Reidy Road.
The Greenwood Cemetery Association of Kansas City, Kas., perfected its organization yesterday and purchased a twenty-one acre tract of land situated on Reidy road, west of Kansas City, Kas., between the city limits and the present site of St. John's and Mount Hope cemeteries. The consideration mentioned in the conveyance of the land filed in the register of deeds' office is $50,917. The association proposes to spend a considerable sum of money in beautifying the grounds, and expects to have the cemetery in readiness for the sale of lots within the next month or so.
Labels: cemetery, Kansas City Kas, Reidy road
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