Conclusion of 'The Mysterious killing of William Jones'
Harry Henderson and Walter Jones were bound over to district court to appear and answer for the murder of Will Jones.
Walter Jones attended a show at Ellet’s Opera House in El Dorado on Christmas, and while attending the show, he was invited to the court house for some questioning. He was later arrested in connection with the murder of his brother.
A Walnut Valley Times reporter stated, “Really there is little more evidence than has been heretofore given in the Times. In one instance, however, is testimony showing the whereabouts of Henderson between the time he drove away with Jones, and his latter appearance, out of breath, at the Baptist Church.”
On March 4, 1904, following an examination of 65 prospective jurors during a two and a half day period, a jury was secured in the case of State of Kansas vs Harry Henderson, charged with the murder of William Jones.
The selected jury included:
James McLean of Bruno; James McKinney of Towanda; J.W. Doran of Richland; E.A. Mossman of Murdock; John Sutton of Douglass; Smith Bailey of El Dorado; L.L. Hinnen of Plum Grove; George Schneider of Augusta; Fred Cupples of El Dorado; W.M. Wilson of Augusta; W.F. Miller of Fairmount; and W.M. Need of Clay.
The jury stood up and was sworn to try the case, after which County Attorney W.M. Rees made a statement of what he expected to show by the evidence and said he expected a verdict of guilty.
E.B. Brumback followed with a statement for the defendant saying he expected to prove that Harry Henderson was innocent of the crime with which he was charged.
Beside the defendant sat his mother, Mrs. Henderson; his brother Cal; sister, Mrs. Whiting and her husband, while another sister, Mrs. Gahm, and the defendant’s sweetheart, Maggie Griffith, occupied seats nearby. None of the murdered man’s relatives were present.
The jury was attended by bailiffs J.D. Hull and W.L. Riley, and were quartered at the Windsor when they weren’t in court.
The first witness for the state was Charles O. Wright, whose testimony was objected to by the defense, objection overruled. He testified that as far as he knew, he was the first person to discover the body of William Jones in the highway near his house, and that he noticed a team of horses and buggy farther along the road, and that the body was rigid and the clothing soaked with blood.
City Marshal Schram testified that when he arrived at the scene he unbuttoned Jones’ overcoat and turned the body over, and that he found three wounds in the head of the corpse. A bullet found next to Jones’ collar was a 32 caliber.
Dr. J.B. Carlile of Leon, was examined as to the nature of the wounds and the doctor stated that in his judgment the wounds would cause death from one-fourth to one hours time should medical attention not be received.
Testimony from Mrs. Loach was revealing.
She stated that she was at Henderson’s house before the murder and that Henderson showed her a fully loaded revolver. She said that she told him not to carry it, but he said that he needed it and he also carried a full box of cartridges for the gun. The two rode together in a buggy to Augusta with Henderson carrying the gun in his pocket.
When asked if she and Henderson had stayed together all night at Augusta, defense objected and overruled, and she answered that they did, and that they were together until the next day and that when she left Augusta Henderson still had the pistol in his possession and had the same ammunition. She confirmed that Henderson promised to get money and take her to Waubansee County.
A number of people testified: Ora Neal, Gertrude Martin, Mrs. Oldsberry, Stella Kiser, Andy Palmer, Charles Schram, Ranson Cody, R.E. Oldsberry, Lou Linn, J.J. Dedrick, Belle Wandell, W.F. Benson, S.R. Clifford, Samuel B. Gahm, Leda Douglass, Sidney Blakeman, Sheriff George Young, J.D. Glaze,William Wakefield, Minnie Davis, Thomas Tatem, Isaac P. Davis, A.R. Ike, Charles Nixon, John Leonard, and Jennie Potterton.
Accused takes the stand
The defendant, Harry Henderson, took the witness stand. He did not appear to be nervous or uncertain, but his answers were low and often inaudible.
Henderson testified that while he and William Jones were at the Henderson house, he saw Walter Jones drive east with a buggy and team and that he did not see Walter again until he saw him in the jail; that on the night of Dec. 20, he never had thought of killing or attempting to kill or harm William Jones.
On cross-examination conducted by William Rees, the defendant admitted that Mrs. Loach was at his mother’s house on the Tuesday before the murder and that he was in a room with her; that he spent that night in a hotel in Augusta and that on the trip to Augusta with her, he had his gun and it was loaded but with only two cartridges; he denied that Mrs. Loach, when at his mother’s house on Tuesday, took the cylinder from the gun and examined it.
On re-direct examination, Henderson said his relationship with William Jones had always been friendly and were so on the night of Dec. 20.
Henderson left the stand after two hours and after a brief consultation with his attorney, E.B. Brumback announced, “The defense rests.”
The state did not offer any rebutal and County Attorney Rees announced, “The state rests,” after which Judge Aikman read his instructions to the jury.
First degree or acquittal
Judge Aikman advised that the jury must either bring in a verdict of first degree murder or acquittal.
The case went to the jury at 9:15 p.m. and at 10:30 p.m., they returned a verdict of “not guilty.” The defendant was in the court room accompanied by his mother, sisters, brother, and his sweetheart Maggie Griffith, when the clerk George Lane read the verdict. All appeared to be overcome by joy.
Only two ballots were taken by the jury, the first one standing eight for acquittal and four for conviction and the second stood all for acquittal.
By request of County Attorney Rees, Walter Jones, brother of the murdered man, also charged with his murder, was called into court and the case against him dismissed.
Although most murders were solved relatively quickly in the early 1900s, a mysterious few are forever out of the reach of authorities and those who seek justice. The person or persons responsible for the death of William Jones literally got away with murder.
Sources: Walnut Valley Times, Jan. 22, 1904; El Dorado Daily Republican, March 4, 1904, March 7, 1904, March 8, 1904; El Dorado Republican, Jan. 22, 1904, March 11, 1904..