Saturday, October 7, 2017

A Cowardly Lover.

James “Jap” Rainey was engaged to 21-year-old, Lettie Jackson of Osawatomie, Kansas until she broke it off in October 1893. It is not clear why she ended the relationship; newspapers described Rainey as “a gambler and an all-round sport” which may have had something to do with it. Rainey did not handle rejection well and in a fit of jealous rage, he swore he would kill Lettie Jackson.

On October 27, Rainey made good on his promise. Lettie called at the home of Bosworth Morgan around 7 o’clock that night; Rainey followed her and started shooting through the window of the house. One of the bullets struck Lettie’s through heart killing her instantly. Rainey fled into the dark woods.

Lettie Jackson’s friends and relatives lived in Greasy Bend, a settlement about four miles outside of Osawatomie. When they heard the news, a posse of about 75 Greasy Benders took off after Jap Rainey, bent on lynching him. Realizing the trouble he was in, Rainey went to Paola, Kansas and turned himself in. By the time the posse caught up with him, Rainey was safely behind bars in Paola.

At his trial, the following February, Rainey pled temporary insanity, but the jury found him guilty of first-degree murder. When Rainey appealed the conviction that March, the judge overruled his motion for a new trial. Rainey begged for mercy but the judge said only one sentence was possible under the verdict. He sentenced Rainey to one year in the penitentiary, then, “whenever the governor should so will it, to be hanged.”

The governor never willed it and the hanging never took place. It is likely that Jap Rainey died in prison.

“A Cowardly Lover,” National Police Gazette, November 18, 1893.
“Gave Himself Up,” Tyrone Daily Herald, October 31, 1893.
“Jealous Rage,” Indianapolis Sun, October 28, 1893.
“March of Avengers,” The Pittsburg Daily Headlight, October 31, 1893.
“A Murder At Osawatomie,” The Topeka Daily Capital, October 28, 1893.
“Murdered his Sweetheart,” The St. Joseph Weekly Gazette, March 13, 1894.


Unknown says:
October 9, 2017 at 6:30 PM

Google check shows some leads on the coward murderous scum, James “Jap” Rainey. Seems in 1897, the Kansas senate tried to pass a bill to execute all Death Sentence inmates who were incarcerated under that penalty that had been left lingering... Rainey's age at that time is listed as "30". Further research seems to indicate he was paroled in 1913, age approximately 46... There is one "James W. Rainey" listed on Find A Grave, buried in Doniphan county,KS...( Approx. 100 miles north of Miami county, KS). Date of birth unknown and date of death, 1930) No way to tell if this is the same man (and if association meant in any manner...merely providing data...). Here is hoping the murderer James "Jap" Rainey met justice in this world in some fashion, as he surely has met it in the next.

Gaslight says:
October 11, 2017 at 8:43 AM

Sounds right. He was definitely not executed and in 1907 Kansas abolished the death penalty for the next 28 years. I didn't take it any further than that.

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