Saturday, May 28, 2022

The Neosho Murder.

Lewis Wright was an Indian trader who smuggled whiskey across the border between Missouri and Indian Territory. On December 19, 1871, he left Neosho, Missouri with a loaded wagon, that was owned and driven by Sam Smith of Granby, Missouri. The following day, Smith returned to Neosho alone with the empty wagon. 

Smith spent the next two days drinking in Neosho. He was trying to sell a gold watch and chain but a young lady recognized both the watch and the boots Smith was wearing as the property of her fiancĂ©, Lewis Wright. Smith told a rambling story about what had happened on their trip; she didn’t buy it and accused Smith of murdering Wright.

When Wright’s black velveteen hat, covered with blood, was found in a field in McDonald County, her suspicions of foul play were confirmed. Smith had left town and police in Neosho organized a posse to look for him. They went to the home of Rocky Smith, Sam’s father, and began a search of the property. They found a bloody blanket and wagon cloth soaking in a tub. The wagon had blood across the wheel and the front portion of the box had recently been sawed off. 

Rocky Smith professed ignorance of the crime, saying his son told him he had a nosebleed in the wagon, and he sawed off the end of the box because it was broken. The posse then employed a “strangling process” to get the old man to talk. He was hung by the neck, to the brink of death, five times before confessing to knowledge of the crime.

They went to the mouth of an old mine shaft where they believed the Smiths had thrown the body. By now a crowd of over a hundred men had gathered to watch as a man with his foot in a loop of rope fished the mine shaft with grappling hooks. The search was successful and Lewis Wright’s body was pulled out of the shaft. He had a great purple wound through the forehead into his matted hair.

The posse took Rocky Smith to jail and began the search for his son. The following day they found Sam Smith in Marshfield, Missouri. When he refused to surrender, one of the men shot and killed him. "Thus has been brought to a tragic end, a misspent life."

“Letter from Mr. Bliss,” Mineral Point Weekly Tribune, January 4, 1872.
“Murder of an Indian Trader,” Commercial Advertiser, December 27, 1871.
“The Neosho Murder,” Chicago Daily Tribune, December 25, 1871.
“Thrilling Search for the Body of a Murdered Man in McDonald Co, Mo.,” Illustrated Police News, January 4, 1872.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Mashing Murderer Maxwell.

National Police Gazette, June 5, 1886.

A young woman attempted to flirt with Hugh Brooks (alias Walter Maxwell) at his 1886 murder trial in St. Louis, Missouri. She was barking up the wrong tree—Brooks was accused of murdering his male lover and stuffing his corpse in a trunk.

Read the full story here: The St. Louis Trunk Tragedy.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Shot by His Sister-in-Law.

In 1871, Patrick Sullivan lived with his brother James and sister-in-law Jane, in Bay Point, California. As they sat down to dinner on Saturday, October 28, James noticed a coldness between his brother and Jane. As the dinner progressed, some unpleasant words passed between Jane and Patrick. James paid it no mind and after dinner, he went outside. As Patrick rose from the table, Jane grabbed a shotgun placed the muzzle within inches of his head, and fired. 

Jane Sullivan was arrested for murder and held on $5,000 bail. At the inquest, she told her side of the story. On three different occasions, Patrick “attempted to take undue liberties of the most insulting character.” The night before the murder Patrick entered the bedroom and attempted outrage, but Jane fought him off. The next morning, he tried again, and she defended herself with a butcher knife. He said if she told James he would kill her. 

The Daily Inter Ocean said, “She bore her burning mortification and indignation in silence until it could no longer be endured and then sought relief in the fatal avenging act.” 

The Illustrated Police News had a different point of view: “The women of the interior of California possess an Amazonian spirit, which is partly owing to the wilderness of their surrounding and partly to the lack of proper training. We sincerely hope Mrs. Sullivan may suffer the full penalty of her crime without regard to her sex.”

 “Antioch Items,” Daily Evening Herald, November 4, 1871.
“A California Tragedy,” Daily Inter Ocean, November 20, 1871.
“A Man Shot by his Sister-in-Law at Bay Point California,” Illustrated Police News, November 16, 1871.
“Murder,” Evening Termini, November 2, 1871.
“Pacific Coast Items,” Sacramento Daily Union, October 30, 1871.
“Pacific Coast,” Commercial Advertiser, October 31, 1871.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

The Codman Murder.


James Nowlen murdered George Codman by cutting his throat from behind. Then he chopped the body into pieces which he threw into the snow as traveled down the road in his sleigh.

Read the full story here: Massachusetts Butchery.