Friday, May 30, 2008

So what happened at Monmouth…

As I’ve mentioned before finding information about the Monmouth murders is quite difficult. Resources are scarce, even newspaper reports. But through tenacious digging and pissing off more than a few state and county employees I have been able to put together a reasonable amount of data about the crime scene.

The Dawsons had lived in their home for about eight years (possibly six) and this was another small cottage. The house was located several blocks south of the railroad tracks and was in an area inhabited mostly by black families which meant, at that time, a very poor neighborhood. The descriptions of the layout of the house vary and some do not match up with the only known photograph of the crime scene (an exterior shot of the house with arrows pointing to the rooms in which the Dawson’s bodies were found). I know the house faced east and contained five rooms. There was a kitchen with a back door which lead into the living room in the middle of the house. On the north side of the house were two (or three) bedrooms. Directly across from the kitchen was the bedroom in which Georgia was found. Her parents were found in the bedroom next to hers. Across from the parent’s bedroom was the bedroom two other daughters shared although it is possible one of them shared the room in which Georgia was found. The bodies were covered by bed clothes and the windows were covered by curtains. The parents appeared to have been killed without waking up but Georgia was found differently. According to one source:

[Georgia] was found in her bed shoved down off the pillow and with one hand raised above her head as though she had attempted to pull the covers over her head when she saw harm coming.

A rumor ran through the crowd standing outside the crime scene that Georgia had been raped but I haven’t seen anything to corroborate this. Is it possible that Georgia was posed in much the same position as Lena Stillinger would be eight months later?

The weapon was not immediately located and was at first believed to have been a hammer. More than one report indicated the victims had been dispatched with a single blow. Bloodhounds followed the trail west out of town to a pond near the southbound railroad tracks. On the bank of the pond was found a two foot length of one-inch gas pipe covered in blood and hair. This was sent to Chicago for analysis and it was confirmed the blood and hair was human. There were bloody fingerprints on the weapon and these were supposedly photographed. No mention of evidence the killer washed up at the scene and there weren’t any “open” flame light sources found. Several months later the wire fence at the back of the property was being removed and a pocket flashlight was found. The flashlight is a key piece of evidence and deserves its own post. The fence was in the path of the alleged escape rout so it is very possible the flashlight was used to commit the crime then was dropped as the killer crawled through or over the fence. I have yet to find anything on how the killer gained entrance or from which point entrance occurred. I’ll put up my observations about the flashlight in my next post.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Walking through Colorado Springs

I recently created a virtual walkthrough of the Colorado Springs crime scenes.  The camera is a bit quick with the movement so if you watch it too many times you might hurl.  No blood or guts just a simple, 3D crime scene.  If you want to see a souped up version go to YouTube.  I put a soundtrack to it and goofed around with it on Windows Movie Maker.  I'm working on a much bigger video for YouTube so look for that in the future.  Now my drawing skills are rather...crappy so no critisizing the artwork.  I will be making virtual walks of all the crime scenes and will post them as I finish them.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Second Murder

Monmouth, Ill – On September 30, 1911, Assistant District Attorney for Colorado Springs, M. W. Purcell, abruptly and surprisingly adjourned the Coroner’s Inquest in the matter of the Burnham – Wayne murders. He had called just four witnesses. Three politicians, Sherriff Birdsall, Coroner Jackson and ADA Purcell, all tried to push blame away from themselves. The Sherriff decided to turn the case over to the Pinkertons, the Pinkertons didn’t want it because they saw little hope of getting paid and the superintendent of detectives for the Denver office declared the “fears of repetition of the slaughter were groundless.” If only that were so…

As the Not-Me game was being played in Colorado Springs, William and Charity Dawson and their not quite thirteen years-old daughter Georgia were sleeping soundly at their home in the little college town of Monmouth, Illinois. William was the janitor for the 1st Presbyterian Church and had to get up Sunday, October 1st in order to open the church up for the day’s services. William and Charity were from Indiana and married June 6, 1875. In all they had eleven children (four were not living at the time) three of which were living at home in their small, five-room cottage in the “colored district” of town. On this night, two of the daughters were staying with friends and family in other towns. William had moved his family to Monmouth eight years before after serving a stint in prison for horse stealing. By all accounts he was a reformed man and well liked by the town and the church he worked for. He had proven himself to be an honest, hard working man and that’s why the minister, Rev. C. J. Greene, was so puzzled on Sunday morning when the church was still locked. When Dawson still hadn’t shown by the start of eleven o’clock services, Rev. Greene became worried that Dawson might be seriously ill. Two parishioners went to his house after a phone call went unanswered. The front door was locked and repeated knocks received no response. On man went to the back of the house and knocked on the kitchen door with the same result. He tried the knob and the door swung open.

The house was dark. All the windows had been closed and the curtains pulled. The men made their way through the kitchen and the living room to the front (south) bedroom where they found the bloody body of Georgia Dawson. The police were notified and a crowd soon gathered around the house. William and Charity were found dead in their bedroom on the north side of the house. A white family had been slaughtered in an area of town known as the “colored district” and care had to be taken to control rumors in order to prevent a riot or lynching but this didn’t stop the rumors from flying.

The details surrounding this crime are hard to come by. Official documents relating to it seem to have vanished, including the summery of the Coroner’s jury, which is normally the only thing you can find from an inquest. Of all the crimes in the series, Monmouth to me is the most intriguing. The racial aspects of the case are just one facet. The seeming ingenuity of the killer is another and there are some tantalizing and somewhat confusing aspects to sift through. One of the first hypothesizes explored, indeed it was discussed on day two, was the idea a group of blacks had slaughtered the family because William Dawson paid too much attention to their female relatives. The police had given up on the case by 1913 but two years later, three lawyers “cracked it” and – surprise – the culprit was a black man and the motive was affections shown towards his female relatives. I’m going to spend some time on this one in the coming weeks so hunker down…

Monday, May 12, 2008


My first post on the Daweson family and their murders in Monmouth, Illinois is forthcoming.  In the meantime there really isn't anything to report.  I am following a lead that appears to be taking me all the way to the F B I but that is about it.  I am also just about finished with my "summation" of the Colorado Springs coroner's inquest and probably will make that available for download.  Has anyone heard wether or not Dwight Haverkorn ever heard back from the National Archives?

Friday, May 9, 2008

It's in the Details

Okay...when analyzing crime scenes details are tedious to Joe Sweatsock but can be priceless to an investigator. I am a Joe Sweatsock but I have a passion for details because I'm a dork. The three of you who have read anything on this blog have likely read my weak little profile of the killer. Here's a quick hit from that:

Both crime scenes were contained inside one room of small, two-room cottages with limited space available for movement.

How small were these cottages? According to one source they were identical floor plans and about 16 by 24 feet. That's a total of 384 square feet which was then divided into two equally sized rooms (192 sq. ft.)! Your master bedroom is probably bigger than that (hell your walk in closet might be). Small space + long, heavy weapon = small killer with efficient axe-swinging skill. Another new detail I have learned (two actually) relates to the injuries sustained by Henry Wayne. According to the surgeon's testimony at the inquest, Henry's injuries were caused entirely by the flat side of the axe rather than the blade or blunt edge (Editor's note: So what?) (Author's response: I have an editor?). Henry's body was also covered with a jacket as well as the bed sheets. Also, and this I feel is important, when the surgeon examined the bodies at the morgue, he noted that Blanch Wayne was not fully clothed. In order to avoid Occam's razor I will leave it at that (but the temptation is there). Soon I'll be starting in on what I believe is the next crime in the series, the murder of the Dawson family in Monmouth, Illinois. However I have come to the conclusion that it would be easier for me to invent and build a time machine rather than do actual research on this case. Till next time.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Inspector Returns

The two or three of you who may be actually reading this blog might have wondered where I have been.  Well due to family stuff I had to put off some things and this was one of them.  Updates are coming with regard to another murder.  For now I'll let you know that I have confirmed the bodies of the Waynes were covered.  I can also tell you I have gathered another bit of info from the coroner's inquest held Sep. 30, 1911.  Piece by excruciating piece I am putting that thing together so bear with me.  Until my next updat (a few days from now)...