Blanch V. Wayne
Today I’ll give some background about the Wayne family and a description of the crime scene in their cottage. My next post will be about the Burnham family and then I will go into as much as I can about the two only suspects in the crime. But on to the Waynes!
As I mentioned before, the Waynes were originally from Medaryville, Indiana. The Colorado Springs Gazette lists the names of the family as Henry F. Wayne, Blanche Wayne and the one year old daughter, also Blanche. However the Pulaski County Democrat identifies them respectively as Francis H., Blanche and Lulumay Wayne. For the sake of compromise, I’ll use the names Henry, Blanche and Lulumay. On the whole, not much is really known about the Waynes. They had only lived in Colorado Springs for a few weeks before their murders and very few in the quiet little neighborhood knew them. Henry was said to have been a photographer in Indiana and suffered from tuberculosis, as many people did at that time. He was a member of the Modern Woodmen of America, which had just opened a sanatorium for “Lungers” in Colorado Springs. Henry made the trip and his health began to improve. He met Arthur J. Burnham while staying at the sanatorium and Burnham told him of some empty houses for rent in his neighborhood. Henry sent for his wife and little daughter and they sold all their belongings for fifty-five dollars and moved to Colorado. Henry was the son of George and Tissia Wayne (nee Schultz) and was born Dec. 21, 1886 in Indiana and had an older brother, Logue or Logan.
Blanche Vera McGinnis was the daughter of Joseph and Lucretia McGinnis and was born Aug. 21, 1888 in Pulaski County, Indiana. The Springs Gazette reported that Blanche had been married previously and that investigators were looking for her ex-husband but intensive research has turned up nothing on this. The McGinnis’ had two other children, Jessie and Jennie. When the children were still young, Lucretia McGinnis died from an illness. A few years later, Joseph drowned while swimming in the Kankakee River. The children went into the custody of their grandfather, James McGinnis. Blanche married Henry in 1908 and on March 17, 1909, Lulumay was born.
The week before the murders, Henry was seen in an argument with a man in his front yard. It was brief and no punches were thrown, according to witnesses. That same week, Blanche went to a neighbor’s house and asked to borrow their axe in order to cut some wood. The axe was seen leaning against the back porch wall during the week. The Sunday morning before the murders, the Waynes went to church and were later seen walking in a nearby park. A few hours later, the family stopped in at Grant Collins’s grocery store which was just across the street from the Burnham cottage. According to Collins, business was fairly slow all day and he and Henry started talking. He invited them to his back room and they visited until about five in the afternoon and that was the last time Collins would see them. Around Midnight that night, a man was heading to work at the local gold mill and passed by the Burnham and Wayne cottages. He saw a man loitering nearby.
On Monday, September 18, 1911, Mrs. Evans, the neighbor who owned the axe borrowed by Blanche, knocked on the Wayne’s front door and received no response. She went around back and knocked on the back door with the same result. She was over to retrieve her axe and saw it leaning against the wall of the house. It was covered from blade to handle with what appeared to be blood. Mrs. Evans thought perhaps they had been using it to slaughter chickens and since it was her axe anyway, she picked it up and carried it home.
When the crimes were discovered, the Burnham’s were found first. As a crowd began to gather around the Burnham house it was noted that the Waynes were not around. Inspectors broke into the front room and were immediately confronted by the crime scene. Describing the crime scene is where things get tricky since (so far as I know) there aren’t any original records in existence. In fact, it was rare that people even took notes about crime scenes in those days. CW tells us that the Wayne family was covered by clothing and bed clothes but the Springs Gazette reported the bodies were lying out in the open “nearly nude” and "everything in plain sight." Some other details are unclear. For those of you who are familiar with the Villisca crime, you know about the presence of an oil lamp with it’s chimney removed sitting on the floor of two of the bedrooms. No such detail is reported in the Wayne cottage but it was later reported that a Bertillion expert was looking for prints on the “chimneys of two lamps” so it seems the investigators had reason to believe the UNSUB had handled these. Various pieces of jewelry and a gold watch belonging to Henry were left behind by the intruder. All the doors of the house were locked as was the door separating the two rooms and the windows all had been covered with the curtains and blinds.
The most enticing questions for me about this crime scene are first, the lamps. Was an oil lamp sans glass chimney found on the floor of the Wayne bedroom as would later be found at other crime scenes? If so, it is indicative of the UNSUB’s signature. Why? Because it’s highly unlikely the killer would be swinging away with an axe while holding an open flame in his hand. I also do not think, no matter how quiet the intruder, he would take the time to light the lamp, creep into the bedroom and set it on the floor before killing his victims. The UNSUB was obviously psychotic but he would have to have nerves of absolute titanium in order to pull that off without causing some kind of noise being made. I’ll explore the oil lamp thing in a separate post farther down the road. To me it’s more likely the killer got control of the scene first (one powerful blow with an axe would certainly be enough to render the victims at least unconscious) then used the lamp to admire his work, which is what I believe the lamp was used for. That makes it a signature element since it was not necessary for the completion of the crime.
The second element I am curious about is the state of the bodies. Not just covered or uncovered, but was anything done to them after they had been killed? I find it curious the Springs Gazette made specific mention of the half nakedness of the Waynes but mentioned nothing about Mrs. Burnham (which I also have questions about but that is for another time). It is entirely possible that Blanch and Henry were just dressed in their night gowns and that was that. But based on what we know about later crimes, I’m thinking there was something more sinister here and I’ll tell you why. You Villisca folks know that one of the victims of that crime was posed after death in what is commonly believed to be a sexually suggestive manner. In Monmouth, IL, the newspapers reported the daughter had been moved after the attack and in Ellsworth, Kansas the wife had been sexually posed (not hearsay, this is a FACT) so if Colorado Springs was the work of the same UNSUB it can be reasonably inferred there was some kind of staging here. Add to this the opinion of the Pinkerton detective who stated this crime was the “act of a moral pervert,” and you’ve got yourself a very intriguing question. There is more about this crime I want to write but I’ll have to wait till next time.