Monday, September 29, 2008

Very inquesting...

To the defense of all involved in the investigation at Colorado Springs, the victims were not discovered until nearly three days after they were murdered. If the killer was mobile (and it seems he was) then he was long gone from the city by then and certain missteps could be forgiven since the Colorado Springs authorities really had no hope of catching a mobile serial killer in 1911. But on the other hand if this had been an acquaintance murder then the investigation would have been an even bigger failure. At the inquest held ten days after the crime's discovery and ten days after the swearing in of the jury over the victims' bodies as they lay in the morgue, four witnesses were called, neither of them able to shed any better light on the crime than what the newspapers had already reported.  

Two people mentioned in newspaper reports were never called to testify; the milkman who on the morning of September 18 (around 2:00 a.m.) saw a peculiar man leaving the neighborhood on a bicycle and the miner, C. Marshall, who saw a man loitering in the area around midnight on the 17th. Marshall got close enough to the man to see a mustache but we don't know the context of the sighting (where in the area was he seen, what clothes he was wearing, what was the suspicious behavior noticed, ect...). The description given by Marshall was vague at best; medium height, mustache and wearing a soft hat. Who knows what details further questioning could have brought out. Also noticably absent from the witness list were Tony Donatell, Arthur Burnham, John Merritt (Anna Merritt's brother) and at least one person (a woman) who had paid for the use of the Burnham's front porch hammock a week before the murders. At least three people walked past or visited the Burnham's house on Monday September 18th; Grant Collins' son actually knocked on the front door in an attempt to deliver the Burnham's grocery bill. He tried again on Tuesday and ended up leaving the bill tacked to the front door. Anna Merritt's niece walked by the house on Monday and Tuesday and not only told her aunt the Burnham children had not been to school those days but told her the house was closed up. Anna herself walked by Monday morning on her way to and from the Meskimen-Collins grocery store and testified not only did she notice the house looking empty but had made a conscious decision not to visit since she was very busy that day. The Burnham's nearest neighbor, Mrs. C. L. Brown, was also not called to testify even though she may have been the last person, other than May Burnham's sister, to see any of the family alive. Would any of the above individual's testimony have helped the investigation? In short, probably not but the more information an investigator has, the better the chance of finding a lead.

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