December 9, 1909
TWO KILLED AND
ONE WOUNDED IN
Charles Lukens, Wyandotte County
Deputy Sheriff, Shot Through
Heart by Charles Galloway, Drink
Crazed Rosedale Electrician, He
Tried to Serve With Injunction.
SLAYER HAD THREATENED
WIFE WHO SOUGHT DIVORCE.
After Killing Lukens, Galloway
Carried on a Retreating Fight
With Other Officers Until
Brought to Bay at 3129
SHOT BY DETECTIVES, DIES
IN EMERGENCY HOSPITAL.
Double Tragedy Direct Result of
Domestic Difficulties of the Gal-
loways -- Wife, Who Sued for Di-
vorce, Feared for Her Life, Which
Husband Had Threatened -- Re-
straining Order Was to Keep Him
From Further Terrorizing Her.
CHARLES T. GALLOWAY.
Two men are dead and another wounded as the result of an attempt by Charles Quincy Lukens, a deputy sheriff of Wyandotte county, Kas., to serve a restraining order upon Charles T. Galloway, a drink crazed electrician of 428 College avenue, Rosedale, Kas., late yesterday evening.
Lukens was shot above the heart and instantly killed during a running fight with Galloway.
Galloway was later brought to bay in a house at 3129 Bell street, and after a desperate resistance was mortally wounded, dying at 11:30 o'clock last night as he was being placed upon the operating table at Emergency hospital.
JUST BACK FROM OKLAHOMA.
Deputy Sheriff Lukens left the Wyandotte county court house yesterday afternoon about 4 o'clock with an order from the district court restraining Galloway from annoying or in any way interfering with his wife, Mrs. Anna Galloway. The Galloways had been having trouble for several months, and November 23 Mrs. Galloway, through her attorney, Rush L. Fizette, 1255 Kansas City avenue, Rosedale, filed a suit for divorce, alleging cruelty, drunkenness and ill-treatment.
Since the filing of the divorce petition Galloway had beaten his wife and threatened her life. She then applied for an order restraining him from bothering her. The order was granted several weeks ago, but Galloway had been in Oklahoma during that time. Yesterday word was received at the sheriff's office that he was in town, and Lukens was sent to serve papers on him.
QUARTER-MILE RUNNING FIGHT.
Mrs. Galloway has been staying for the past few days at the home of her sister, Mrs. J. L. Connor, at 1700 Dodd street, Rosedale. The deputy sheriff and Marshal Drew thought perhaps they might find Galloway hanging around there, as he had visited the Connor home earlier in the day and made demands to see his wife and children.
The officers reached Kansas City avenue and Washington street about 5:30 o'clock, and met Galloway shortly after they stepped off the car. Marshal Drew spoke to Galloway and shook hand with him. Lukens then shook hands with Galloway, and told him that he had some papers to serve.
Almost instantly Galloway drew a revolver and opened fire on the officers, who, unprepared for such an emergency, had to unbutton their overcoats before they could get at their weapons. They at last got hold of their revolvers and opened fire on Galloway. A running fight was kept up for more than a quarter of a mile.
The fleeing man turned into alleys, turning back every few steps to fire upon the pursuing officers. He finally reached Rosedale avenue, and turning south ran toward the tracks of the Frisco railroad. When the officers reached the tracks he turned and fired at Lukens, hitting him directly over the heart.
LUKENS FALLS DEAD.
Lukens staggered, and after grasping a telegraph pole with both hands fell to the ground dead. Galloway then ran south, and after a vain attempt to make his escape on a horse, abandoned the horse, and fled to the woods on the hills around Gray's park.
Officer Drew ran to Lukens's assistance, but finding him dead, started to pursue Galloway. He fired the last shell from his gun, and then finding himself without ammunition sent a boy after some. A large crowd of persons had been attracted by the firing, and a number of them assisted in taking the body of Lukens to a barber shop at Kansas City and Rosedale avenues. The coroner was notified, and he ordered the body taken to the Gates undertaking rooms in Rosedale, where he performed a post mortem. It was found that the bullet had pierced the heart and lungs, and had gone entirely through the body, coming out near the middle of the back.
GALLOWAY BROUGHT TO BAY.
The sheriff's office was notified in Kansas City, Kas., and Under Sheriff Joseph Brady, deputies William McMullen, Clyde Sartin and George Westfall jumped into an automobile, driven by George E. Porter, an undertaker at 1007 North Seventh street and rode at break neck speed to Rosedale. The Kansas City, Kas., police were also notified and Chief W. W. Cook led a large force of uniformed men and detectives to the scene of the murder. The citizens of Rosedale also turned out in large numbers and the hills around Rosedale glittered with the lights as these posses scoured the woods in an effort to find the murderer.
At 9 o'clock last night Galloway was cornered in the home of M. E. Patterson, 3129 Bell street, Kansas City, Mo., which he took possession of forcibly.
Barricading himself in a closet upstairs he held his pursuers at bay for over two hours. A posse consisting of nearly 100 men guarded the house on all sides. the air was tense with tragedy, and the bitter cold of the winter night added to the unpleasantness of the whole affair. Every man knew that a desperate fight was inevitable and that Galloway would have to be taken either dead or helplessly wounded.
MISSOURIAN LEADS CHARGE.
A delay was occasioned by the fact that the Kansas officers were outside of their jurisdiction, and did not feel that they had a right to enter the house, which is built on Missouri soil. Missouri officers were summoned and arrived at about 10 o'clock. The plans were laid and great precaution was taken in every step taken, for the officers realized that they were at a great disadvantage in forcing their way into the house, which they knew held a man who had already killed one officer and who would not hesitate to kill others should they press him too hard.
Finally the attack was planned and at 11:30 o'clock a squad of detectives consisting of Joe Downs, Billy McMullin, Harry Anderson and J. W. Wilkens, the latter a Missouri officer, leading, forced their way into the house, and after cautiously searching all the downstairs rooms without finding Galloway, rushed up the narrow stairs to the second floor.
When the officers reached the second floor a volley of shots rang out. Another volley followed. Breaking glass and a great commotion could be heard in the street below.
LAST WORD FOR HIS WIFE.
Then a husky voice was heard to shout:
"We got him."
In entering a dining room the officers were reminded of the presence of Galloway by three shots fired in rapid succession. The officers responded with a dozen shots and bullets went whizzing in every direction, embedding themselves in the walls. One bullet passed through the sleeve of Detective Wilkens's overcoat and lodged in the thumb on the left hand of Harry Anderson, a Kansas City, Kas., detective.
Within a twinkling a bullet entered the abdomen of Galloway and he fell to the floor, rolling into a dark kitchen adjoining the dining room. Writhing in his great pain, the man rolled frantically about the floor.
"Oh my dear wife, my own wife, my darling wife," he moaned time and again. Then he pleaded for ice water, clutching his parched throat madly.
An ambulance was called and Galloway was taken to emergency hospital, where he died just as they were lifting him to the operating table.
ANOTHER WOMAN'S LETTER.
Drs. Harry T. Morton and C. A. Pond, who were in attendance, pronounced death due to a wound from several buckshot that had entered the left side of the abdomen and after penetrating the intestines came out of the right side.
His pockets were searched while on the operating table. The contents consisted of a pocket-book containing $55 in cash, a gold watch and chain, a pack of business cards, several boxes of revolver cartridges, a bank book on the Fort Worth, Tex., State bank, and a letter.
The letter, which was written in lead pencil, was so blood soaked that it was barely legible. As far as it could be deciphered it ran as follows:
"Dear Friend -- I hear that you are getting a divorce from Mrs. G. ----- she is selling all your things and ---- I don't see where Mrs. G. or the boys is at. They act disgraceful, never coming home. --- Good luck, your loving Nan."
Lukens, whom Galloway shot down, was one of his best friends and so was Marshal Billy Drew, whom he fired at time and again in an effort to kill.
ASKS FOR FOOD.
The house where the shooting occurred is a two-story frame structure containing four apartments. The front apartment is occupied by Cecil Patterson and his family, and the rear apartment of four rooms by J. E. Creason, his wife and their little daughter.
"It was about 8 o'clock when Galloway came to the house," said Mr. Creason. "He was greatly excited and told me he had been in a shooting scrape and had shot a man. He said that they, meaning the officers, were after him and he did not know what to do. I told him that the best thing for him to do was surrender. He said: 'No, I'm not ready yet.'
MR. AND MRS. J. E. CREASON,
In Whose Home Galloway Took Forcible Possession and Held Out Against a Posse Until Forced to Run for His Life When a Bullet Ended His Career
" 'Give me something to eat first and I will think about it,' he said. I have known Galloway for several years and worked for him at my trade as an electrician. He had always been a good friend and I saw no wrong in giving him something to eat and told my wife to fix him something. She fried some chops and potatoes and made some coffee for him. He tried to eat, but he was nervous and he could hardly swallow.
THE POSSE COMES.
"All this time my wife and I tried to find out just who he had shot and what the shooting was about, but he would put us off with the one answer, 'I will tell you when I am ready.' After supper he sat in a corner and seemed to be in a deep study. He paid no attention to our little girl, who seemed to annoy him by her childish prattle.
"I did not know what to do, so thought I would take a walk in the fresh air. I had hardly gotten 100 feet from the house when I met some people from Rosedale. They told me that Galloway had killed the undersheriff and that they were after him. I told them that he was in my house, but warned them not to go after him, as I feared he might use one of the weapons he had there. I told the crowd that I would endeavor to get him to surrender. I went back to the house. Galloway was still sitting in the corner, but jumped up w hen I came into the room.
" 'They know where you are,' I told him. 'Why don't you surrender?' 'I am not ready yet,' he said. I could get nothing more from him. Half an hour later some of the officers came into the ho use. I went downstairs and told them that Galloway was upstairs, but that he was armed and that it would be dangerous for them to go up there at that time. My family was up there, too, and I did not want my wife or daughter to be shot in case Galloway or the officers started shooting.
REFUSES TO SURRENDER.
This turned the posse back for a while and I made another effort to get Galloway to surrender. He still refused and I called to my wife and daughter and we went to the front of the house in Mr. and Mrs. Cecil Patterson's rooms. We left the gas burning in the dining room and the hall. The bedroom, in the closet in which Galloway took refuge, opened from the dining room by big folding doors as you see. The gas mantle on this lamp was broken and it was not lighted. We all remained in the front room until the posse called to us to come out of the house. As we went out I again told Galloway to surrender; that the house was surrounded and he could not get away, or if he did that he would have to jump to the house next door and climb down the side of the house.
" 'I am not ready yet,' were the last words he said to me. I felt as if the officers would not take Galloway alive and I feared that several might be killed. I was so nervous I did know what I was doing or saying. All I thought of was to prevent any more bloodshed.
"After we left the house we went into Griffin's home next door. We had hardly gotten inside when the shooting began. I put my fingers to my ears so that I would not hear the shots.
SURE HE WAS CRAZY.
"Galloway must have been out of his mind. He could have escaped from the house several times after he knew that the officers had him spotted and he could have held that staircase with his guns against 100 policemen. Why he refused to surrender and then retreated into the clothes closet where he was caught like a rat in a trap can only be explained by my opinion that he was crazy.
"Galloway brought the rifle and the shot gun over to the ho use this afternoon. He also brought a suitcase full of ammunition. This was before he did the shooting. He told us that he was going hunting and he wanted to leave his guns at our house. We had no objections to this as we had always been the best of friends. After we left the house he must have taken his rifle and gone into the closet. He left his shotgun in a corner in the kitchen."
THREATENED TO KILL WIFE FOR YEARS.
Mrs. Anna Galloway, wife of Charles Galloway, has been living with her brother-in-law and sister, Mr. and Mrs. J. L. Connor, at their home, 1700 Dodd street, Rosedale, ever since she instituted divorce proceedings against her husband. For over forty-eight hours she has been a prisoner in that home, fearing even to step out, lest Galloway be near, ready to fire at her, as he had repeatedly threatened to do.
When seen last night after the killing of Deputy Sheriff Lukens, she was nearly in a state of nervous prostration. She had witnessed the start of the tragic escapade from a window in her room . She saw the officer attempt to serve papers on her husband. She heard the ensuing shots and then fell in a swoon.
"Oh, I knew it would come to this terrible end -- I knew it, I knew it," she moaned, as she paced nervously up and down the floor. "Charlie has had murder in his heart for thirteen years and I have always realized that it would only be a matter of time until the impulse would control him. He wasn't sane; he couldn't have been.
"Five times since Priests of Pallas week he has threatened to kill me, and from one day to another I never knew if I would see daylight again. Today some stranger 'phoned from a saloon to be extremely careful, as he had heard Charlie say that this would be the last day I could live. Marshal Drew remained with me to protect me and he has been in our house here all day.
"The first time Mr. Galloway ever threatened me was thirteen years ago. I should have left him then, but I thought he would get over his insane notions and I wanted to make a success of our married life if at all possible. He did reform and was better to me for some time, but when our two children, Harvey and Walter, were old enough to run around a great deal he began abusing me terribly and many times told me he would kill me. He became a harder drinker every year and would get in such a condition that no one could manage him at all.
"Many times as he choked me, and more than once has the end seemed so near that I could not possibly escape, but God has been with me for my children's sake I guess."
VICTIM WELL KNOWN IN WYANDOTTE.
Charles Quincy Lukens was 33 years old. He lived with his widowed mother, Mrs. Sarah Lukens, 336 Harrison street, Argentine. He was unmarried. He was appointed deputy sheriff by Sheriff Al Becker about one year ago. Before his appointment Lukens was constable and later marshal of Argentine for several terms. He had also served on the Argentine fire department. "Charley" Lukens was known by everyone in Argentine, both old and young, and also had a wide acquaintance thorugout the county. He was regarded as a very efficient officer, and had a reputation for fearlessness.
Besidses his mother he is survived by four sisters and four brothers. The sisters are: Mrs. Lydia Jones of Girard, Kas., Mrs. Beulah Robinson of 1108 East Twenty-fourth street, Kansas City, Mo., Mrs. C. A. Hare of Faircastle, O., Mrs. Leonard Eshnaur of Terminal Isle, Cal. The brothers are J. R. Lukens of Oklahoma City, Ok., and L. B, J. E., and F. D. Lukens of Argentine.
Labels: alcohol, Argentine, Bell street, detectives, Divorce, doctors, domestic violence, emergency hospital, guns, murder, oklahoma, police, Rosedale, Sheriff Becker, Texas
November 23, 1909
RAID WEDDING CELEBRATION.
Five Men Arrested, Including Bride-
groom, and Beer Confiscated.
Sheriff Al Becker. of Wyandotte county, with a force of deputies, raided a Croatian wedding celebration at Loscke's hall, Third street and Barnett avenue, in Kansas City, Kas. Five men were arrested, and ten kegs were confiscated. The five men arrested can speak but little English.
Their names as the jailer spelled them are as follows:
Mike Stepson, 318 Ann avenue; Paul Medleck, 23 Water street; Mike Balaska, 25 Water street; Mat Milsco, 31 Dugarro avenue; and Paul Pihel, the bride groom, of 310 North James street.
The men were arrested after persons living in the neighborhood had made a complaint. The Austrians in Kansas City, Kas., have held wedding celebrations in Kansas City, Kas., for years. They are accustomed to having beer in the old country, and can't understand why it should be denied them in Kansas.
They do not sell the beverage at the celebrations, but a bartender stands behind an improvised bar, and hands out large schooners to the dancers.
Labels: alcohol, Croatians, immigrants, Kansas City Kas, Sheriff Becker, wedding
November 2, 1909
PAT M'MAHON TO SANITARIUM.
Tim, Another Brother, of Triple Mur-
derer, Dies at Hospital.
Another chapter to the tragic history of the McMahon family was added yesterday when Patrick McMahon was removed to the Grandview sanitarium in Kansas City, Kas. The strange actions of the younger brother since the confession by James McMahon to the murder of his two sisters and his brother-in-law have convinced the authorities as well as his relatives that Patrick needs rest and medical treatment. A few days ago Pat went to the penitentiary at Lansing and demanded the release of his brother, Jim. He was taken to Kansas City, Kas., by Sheriff Al Becker, where he was detained until it was thought safe to release him. After consultation with his relatives it was decided that he should be placed in the sanitarium, where he will have an opportunity to rest and recover. He will be detained in Kansas City, Kas., until developments show whether he should be removed to a state institution.
Timothy McMahon, the invalid brother, who was removed several days ago to St. Margaret's hospital in Kansas City, Kas., died there yesterday. The funeral services will be held today at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in St. John's cemetery. The father of the McMahon boys died just thirteen years ago yesterday.
Labels: cemetery, churches, death, Kansas City Kas, mental health, Sheriff Becker, Van Royen Murders
November 1, 1909
PAT M'MAHON GOES
TO PRISON TO GET JIM.
TELLS WARDEN HE WANTS TO
FATTEN HIS BROTHER.
Sockless and Collarless, Makes His
Way to Lansing -- Sheriff Becker
of Wyandotte County Brings
LEAVENWORTH, KAS., Oct. 31. -- Patrick McMahon, accompanied by Dr. J. W. Palmer of Wolcott, Kas., walked into the state prison at Lansing today and astonished the warden by announcing that he had come to get his brother, James, for the purpose of taking him home to fatten him up.
The warden saw that the man was evidently crazy and treated him accordingly, humoring him as much as possible, yet firmly declining to let him see James.
He telephoned Sheriff Al Becker, of Wyandotte county, to come up for Patrick, and this afternoon Becker arrived and after some argument persuaded McMahon to accompany him to Kansas City.
McMahon had on no stockings and no collar when he came to the prison today. Dr. Palmer said that McMahon came to his house before noon and walking in demanded water. Dr. Palmer did not know him, and handed him a big dipper of water. McMahon in his eagerness spilled the water all over himself. He drank nearly a gallon as fast as it could be handed to him.
He insisted on having Dr. Palmer accompany him to Lansing, stating that he became uneasy about Jim and rode over to Brenner Heights this morning and took a car to Wolcott.
When Dr. Palmer found out who the man was he became interested, and asked him point blank if he wanted to see Jim, for the purpose of warning him against saying anything. McMahon confusedly denied this intention, saying he feared for his brother's health, and knew the warden would let him take Jim home.
McMahon ate a tremendous dinner at the prison. He has all the appearance of a man laboring under a terrible mental strain. Jim McMahon is quite settled, and talks to the warden every time the latter sees him. He doesn't like being put in an ordinary cell, and wants to be put back in the insane ward, where he was treated as a guest when first brought to the prison.
Sheriff Al Becker was first notified yesterday that McMahon was at Brenner Heights, west of Kansas City, Kas., and that he was alarming persons in that vicinity. A few minutes later a telephone call was received from Wolcott stating that the man was there and that a mob was forming. Before the sheriff could get men started after Pat another call was received to the effect that the Leavenworth county sheriff had taken charge of him, and that he was on his way to the state penitentiary at Lansing.
Sheriff Becker went to the penitentiary, where Pat was turned over to him. At the Wyandotte county jail upon his return to Kansas City, Kas., McMahon said that he had gotten a crazy idea into his head that he could go to the state prison and persuade the warden to release Jim.
He was detained until he had apparently recovered from the excitement under which he was laboring and was then permitted to go home.
Labels: Kansas City Kas, Leavenworth, mental health, penitentiary, Sheriff Becker, Van Royen Murders
October 30, 1909
JAMES M'MAHON TO
PRISON FOR LIFE.
WAIVES A JURY TRIAL AND
ENTERS PLEA OF GUILTY.
Murderer of Sisters and Brother-in-
Law Hoped to Get in an
Asylum -- Dressed in
James McMahon, the confessed murderer of Alonzo Van Royen, his brother-in-law, and Mrs. Margaret Van Royen and Miss Rosa McMahon, his sisters, yesterday afternoon pleaded guilty to the triple murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment in the state penitentiary at Lansing, Kas., by Judge Hugh J. Smith of Wyandotte county court of common pleas.
Immediately following the impressive scene in the court room McMahon was hurried to a Kansas City Western electric car and taken to the state prison by Sheriff Al Becker and Under Sheriff J. H. Brady. The usual prison routine of "dressing in," which includes clipping the head, shaving, a bath, and the application of the Bertillon system of measurements, was gone through with, and at 8:15 o'clock last night t he identity of James McMahon was merged into that of convict No. 2555.
The arrest of McMahon on Tuesday, his subsequent confession of guilt, his arraignment, his plea of guilty, the passing of sentence and his "dressing in" at the state prison on Friday night, for a record of swift retribution stands without a parallel in the history of criminal procedure in Kansas.
On the way from the jail to the courtroom McMahon maintained the same stolid indifference that has characterized his actions at all times since his arrest. Dressed in the same blue bib overalls, striped black and white shirt and black slouch hat which he wore on the day of his arrest, with handcuffs on his wrists, the stooping figure glanced neither to right nor left and answered in monosyllables the questions directed to him.
At the state penitentiary the party was received by Warden J. K. Codding; his secretary, Elmo D. Murphy, and Assistant Deputy Warden J. T. Crouch. The prisoner was at once given his supper, which he appeared to enjoy immensely. He even went so far as to smile at the warden and remark that the prison fare ought to agree with a man.
With none of the fear which marks the action of many men upon entering the walls of the prison with the knowledge that they are to be confined there for the remainder of their natural lives, James McMahon went through the ordeal of having his picture taking and the remainder of the routine in apparently a more cheerful frame of mind than he has shown during any time since the murders were committed.
Warden Codding announced last night that he would find suitable employment for McMahon and that his health would improve under prison discipline. "We will attempt to 'temper the wind to the shorn lamb,' " said the warden, as McMahon was led away.
Labels: Judges, murder, penitentiary, Sheriff Becker, Van Royen Murders
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 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
May 21, 1909
TO ARREST DEPUTY SHERIFF.
County Constable Had Warrant for
Tobacco Law Violation.
William Milor, a constable from Justice of the Peace John White's court at Merriam, Johnson county, Kas., walked into the sheriff's office in Kansas City, Kas., yesterday morning and served a warrant on Deputy Sheriff C. Q. Lukins, charging him with having given a cigar to a minor in Merriam last Tuesday. Under the anti-cigarette and tobacco law passed at the last Kansas legislature, to give or sell a minor tobacco constitutes a misdemeanor.
Under Sheriff Joseph Brady, Deputy Sheriff Lukins and other members of Sheriff Al Becker's force enjoyed a good laugh at the expense of the country constable. The warrant was of the John Doe variety and was worthless inasmuch as a justice of the peace of one county cannot issue a warrant and have his constable serve it upon a resident of another county. Deputy Sheriff Lukins says he has not been in Johnson county for several years.
The rural constable, however, felt sure that Mr. Lukins was none other than the John Doe wanted by Justice White, and he said he would return for his man after he secures a legal warrant.
Labels: Johnson county, Kansas City Kas, Sheriff Becker, tobacco
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