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Saturday, May 27, 2017

She Didn’t Do as He Wished.

Little Murders

Shortly after 4:00, the afternoon of November 4, 1893, Fred L. Buck rushed into the police station in Elgin, Illinois and announced, “I’ve just killed my wife; she’s been leading a fast life and I had to end it.”

Police went to the Bucks’ residence and found Fred Buck’s wife, Julia, in the bedroom, lying face down in a pool of blood. He had shot her in the temple at such short range that the bullet went straight through her head and was found embedded in her hair, which she wore knotted in the back. A second shot he fired in her back had been unnecessary as the first shot had killed her instantly.

Fred Buck was the Illinois State Game and Fish Warden and had been in charge of the government aquariums in the Fisheries Building at the World’s Fair in Chicago. He was also engaged in the manufacture of a patent lantern and had previously been a private detective. His wife Julia, 30-years-old, was the brother of Theodore F. Swan who owned a large department store in Elgin. Both Fred and Julia were previously married and divorced.

Julia’s mother could think of no motive for the murder. She conceded that her daughter had been somewhat eccentric but did not believe that she was guilty of any serious crime. Others saw the marriage differently; though both had come from well-known, prominent families, Fred and Julia were not considered to be particularly compatible. At the time of his arrest, Buck said that his wife was better off now, she had been living contrary to his wishes, and he had to stop it. Whatever it was that triggered Fred Buck to shoot Julia was never revealed.

Fred L. Buck was indicted by the Kane County grand jury in February 1894, for the murder of his wife. He was held in the County Jail until his trial the following January. His plea was guilty, and he was sentenced to twenty-five years in the penitentiary. Throughout his time in jail, Fred Buck maintained a morose silence; he was resigned to his fate and said he did not care to see the world again.

“Both Held for Murder,” Kokomo Daily Tribune, February 15, 1894.
“Deliberately Murdered His Wife,” The Scranton Republican, November 27, 1893.
“Didn't Do as He Wished,” The Times, November 27, 1893.
“He Shoots His Wife,” Chicago Daily Tribune, November 26, 1893.
“Murdered by Her Husband,” National Police Gazette, December 16, 1893.
“Shot and Killed his Wife,” Princeton Bureau County Tribune, December 1, 1893.
“Twenty-Five Years for Wife Murder,” Daily Inter Ocean, January 9, 1895.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Dedham Tragedy.

Finding the Bodies
In September 1865, the family of Dr. Carlos Marston rented rooms in a house that had previously been a hotel in South Dedham, Massachusetts. The family consisted of the doctor, a forty-year-old homeopathic physician; Susannah, his wife of fifteen years; and their 10-year-old adopted daughter Cora, whose natural mother had been Susannah’s sister. They slept on the second floor, while on the first floor Miss Susan Hill, an invalid being treated by Dr. Marston, had a room.

The Marston Residence
At around 2:00 am, the morning of Friday, September 1, Miss Hill was awaked by the sound of a scuffle from the room above, followed by a thud, as if someone had fallen to the floor, then a pistol report. She ran out to the stairs, but afraid to go up she called loudly asking if everything was alright. She received no response, but a few moments later Mrs. Marston appeared in the darkness at the head of the stairs and said in a calm but firm tone, “Be still—go to your room—or I’ll blow your brains out!”

Miss Hill went back to her room, got dressed and went to find help. All was quiet when she returned with some of the neighbors. They went upstairs and found Dr. Marston and his wife in the bedchamber, lying together, both dead. On the floor of the adjoining apartment, they found little Cora lying dead as well. The smell of chloroform hung in the air— it appeared that Mrs. Marston had applied the drug to her victims before shooting them. She shot Cora once through the back and once through the head. She shot her husband through the head then lay down beside him and shot herself twice though the body.

Susannah Marston had a long history of mental illness. At the time she and the Doctor first met, she had been subject to fits of depression and those who knew her in Dedham characterized Mrs. Marston as having a morbid and melancholy disposition. In recent years, her behavior had become so erratic that neighbors would avoid her. About five weeks before the murders she had suffered an attack of the measles, and although she recovered physically, it seemed to have aggravated her mental state.

Cora Marston
The week of the murder she had acted strangely. She was prone to get up at night and wander outside in the dark. On Tuesday night, she stayed out for half an hour and returned saying that she “had been over to East Walpole to get some cool water.” The same night she attempted to apply chloroform to Cora, and when questioned, she claimed that she had been washing her head with bay rum. On Wednesday, she was prostrated and confused; she did not appear to know where she was and indulged in strange utterances. Thursday, she seemed to be better but still had a wild and haggard look.

Earlier in the week, Mrs. Marston had expressed a desire to handle her husband’s revolver. He emptied the pistol and locked it in his trunk, but apparently, she knew where he kept the key.

The night of the murder Mrs. Marston had been extremely restless and told her husband that she was going to sleep with their daughter. Dr. Marston grew nervous and to downstairs to advise Miss Hill to lock her door as he was fearful that his wife might do some damage. Miss Hill had fears of her own and told the doctor to lock his own door; his wife would kill him before morning if he did not watch out. But the doctor did not heed her prophetic warning.

“The Dedham Tragedy,” Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, September 25, 1865.
“The Dedham Tragedy,” New York Herald, September 3, 1865.
“The Late Tragedy at South Dedham.,” Saturday Evening Gazette, September 2, 1865.
“Terrible Tragedy at South Dedham,” Boston Traveler, September 1, 1865.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Sin and Sorrow.

Little Murders
When neighbors heard two muffled gunshots, the afternoon of September 20, 1880, coming from the home of George Ware and family on Maple Street in Dayton, Ohio, it caused little concern; they assumed someone inside was trying to kill rats. But a few moments later Lee Brumbaugh hurried from the house, bleeding from a wound in his side. He was staggering when he reached the grocery store on the corner. Entering the store, he said to the proprietor, “I’m shot; George Ware did it.” The proprietor caught him and laid him on the floor. Less than five minutes later Brumbaugh was dead. George Ware then entered the store carrying Brumbaugh’s coat, vest, and hat and said, “I shot Lee Brumbaugh, but I am sorry now for it.”

Lee Brumbaugh was a prominent attorney, well known in Dayton, and news of his murder spread quickly through the town. It was first rumored that the motive had been political, Brumbaugh was a member of the Democratic Central Committee, and Ware was president of the Republican Central Committee. But a second rumor, that Ware had caught his wife and Lee Brumbaugh in flagrante delicto, proved true.

Lee Brumbaugh had been George Ware’s attorney and had recently defended Ware (who apparently had fidelity issues of his own) on a bastardy charge. The Ware and Brumbaugh families were very close and often visited each other. But neighbors had observed for some time that Lee Brumbaugh frequently visited the Ware home when George Ware was out of town.

Ware was a mail route agent working on a railroad line that traveled between Cincinnati and Cleveland, and his schedule was “two on, one off”—he traveled with the train for two weeks, then spent a week at home. His week off had just ended, and he left for the depot night of September 19, but instead of boarding the train, he went back home and hid in the basement. He had intercepted a letter from Lee Brumbaugh to his wife, arranging a meeting the following afternoon. He planned to wait for his arrival and catch them in the act.

At first, there was talk in Dayton of lynching Ware for the murder, but as the facts became known, tempers softened, and by the time of Ware’s trial in November, public sympathy was on his side. His attorneys stressed that Ware had been a prisoner at Andersonville during the Civil War and he had undergone such great suffering from starvation and fever that it weakened his mind, rendering him unable to bear a sudden mental shock. The jury deliberated for just eighteen minutes before returning a verdict on not guilty. The verdict was generally regarded as “satisfactory and just.”

“A Wronged Husband's Vengeance,” Daily Inter Ocean, September 21, 1880.
"The Fatal Ball,” The National Police Gazette, October 9, 1880.
“Not Guilty,” Daily Inter Ocean, November 19, 1880.
“Sin And Sorrow,” Plain Dealer, September 21, 1880.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Foulest Murder Yet.

Little Murders
(From Oregonian, August 17,1878)

The Foulest Murder Yet.
The Tullis Murder in Sacramento County – A Confession by the Public Administrator that he Instigated It.

San Francisco, Aug. 15.—Troy Dye, public administrator of Sacramento county, has made a full confession concerning the recent murder of A. M. Tullis on Grand Island. He confesses to have instigated the murder for the purpose of getting control of the estate of the deceased. He implicates as perpetrator of the deed Edward Anderson, a Swede formerly in his employ and another party, name not yet ascertained. Anderson has also made confession corroborating that of Dye. Anderson was to receive $6,000 for the job. They had previously tried to kill Tullis by poison. They had also discussed the murder of other citizens. The details are replete with cold-blooded cruelty. Dye has heretofore borne a good reputation in the community, and his connection with the affair has created the utmost surprise and excitement. The details of the confessions of Dye and Anderson are to the following effect:

Dye had found the office of public administrator unprofitable, and had remarked occasionally in jest the he would have to kill some one to make it pay. The idea obtained a deep hold on his mind and he took Anderson, whom he had for a long time employed in his butcher shop, and another party yet unknown into his councils. Dye and Anderson charge each other with being the tempter. They finally fixed on Tullis as a victim. Dye had been his friend and neighbor for 12 years and knew the value of his property, and as Tullis had never been communicative concerning his family affairs it was supposed he had no relative to claim the estate. Over two months ago Anderson and the unknown party went to Tullis’ place to put the plan into execution, but their courage failed them. Dye urged the crime persistently and Anderson conceived the idea of a murder by poison. A bottle of poisoned cocktails was prepared in a saloon kept bye Dye & Clark in Sacramento and Anderson went to Tullis’ ranch ostensibly in search of work, and gave him the bottle after taking a number of drinks together from a bottle of good liquor, and left. For some reason this plot miscarried. It was then decided that bold work was required. A boat was built at Dye’s house, Sacramento. Anderson pulled it down the river and was joined by his confederate below the city, and they proceeded to Tullis’ ranch, found him in the orchard and knocked him down with a sand bag and shot him in several places. This was the evening of Thursday, the 1st inst., at 7 o’clock. Dye, that evening, staid at his house in Sacramento till 8’oclock entertaining a visitor. He excused himself and took a buggy, drove down the river about 16 miles, met the assassins at the place appointed and drove them back to Sacramento. During the ride they related all the circumstances of the murder to Dye. The trio returned much under the influence of liquor. Dye says Anderson had revealed to him the crimes of his past life, including the murder of two sheep herders in vicinity of Sacramento. Dye’s plan for realizing on the estate of Tullis was to compound with the creditors. His legitimate commissions would have been about $3,200. Dye has always borne a good reputation, but parties now coming forward affirm he was a bushwhacker during the late war and pillaged and murdered indiscriminately. The confession cover about eight closely printed columns, developing every stage of progress to the commission of the crime. Neither party will be allowed to turn state’s evidence and the district attorney is confident of convicting both.