Thursday, June 4, 2009

Horrible Murder in Appanoose County

April 6th, 1862.

EDITORS MERCURY:– I have this morning seen the victims of one of the most outrageous, brutal and inhuman murders that it is possible for the mid to conceive. Certainly one of the most heartless and cold blooded which has ever occurred in this State. While I am writing the Coroner is holding an inquest over the unfortunate victims, and I am unable to give you their verdict. However I have made a personal examination of the bodies and have obtained the following facts. On Friday last, there was a man and a woman in town making some inquiries or preparations for some depositions in regard to a divorce case, pending in the Decatur county court, the woman giving her name as King, the man not giving his name; but it is supposed however to be Frazier from a pass-book found in his pocket. They left town on Friday evening for the west, in a one horse spring wagon drawn by a large bay horse and encamped at “Walnut creek” bridge, about eight miles from here, and perhaps 100 yards from the road. The wagon was seen by a man on Saturday morning, but no one about, and on passing by in the evening and still no one seen, went down to the wagon and found the man and woman before mentioned, murdered in the wagon, having evidently been murdered the night previous.

From their appearance they were murdered during the night time, and while they were asleep, they being brought here just as they were found in bed in the wagon. They were in the following position: The man on the right side of the wagon, with the left arm under the body or neck of the woman, and his right arm folded across his breast, and his face (in my opinion) chopped to pieces with a hatchet, his head, neck and breast literally cut to pieces with a knife, and he undoubtedly did not struggle, as his hand was entirely free, and was not even bloody. He had on blue jeans pants and a calico shirt. Dark hair, sandy whiskers, and fair skin, and would weigh from 175 to 186 pounds, and from appearance about thirty-five years old. The woman is of medium height, tolerably heavy set, dark fair hair, fair skin, about thirty, and had on a [delain] dress. Has a deep cut in the right ear, and one about the jugular vein below the right ear some three inches deep, and marking the neck about one-third around, and having both hands slightly wounded and several other sever cuts on the head, all, in my opinion, done with a knife, her hands only splattered with blood, her right arm lying across her breast, and her hands slightly closed. Both were in their stocking feet. The wagon sheet was drawn over them, the wagon having some of the bows out of the hind end, and the sheet was drawn down close to their faces. The sheet has about twelve holes cut through it, and it was only a few inches from their faces. Some are of the opinion that some of the wounds were made with a pistol, but I am convinced it is a mistake.

S. A. King, husband of the murdered woman was also in town on Friday, and left in the evening and stopped at the house of John [Corden] Esq., four miles from here, and between here and where the murder was committed, and got his supper at 9 o’clock at night, and said he must go to Corydon that night, and it is supposed he is the murderer, and pursuit is now being made for him. I understand they – King and wife – have been separated for some time, and making preparations for a divorce in the District Court of Decatur County, Iowa. – Hoping in future to give you more agreeable news, I remain yours, &c., More anon.


Ottumwa Mercury.

– Published in the Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, April 19, 1862

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