In the former cattle town of Ellsworth, Kansas, Will Showman and his family were visiting the home of W. O. Snook on Sunday, October 15, 1911. Mr. Snook worked nights and usually slept during the day so Laurie Snook was glad for the company in the evenings. Around nine o’clock, Will and his family said good night and walked the two blocks back to their house. The Showman's had lived in their little house for about four years. Will had purchased the property from the county after the previous owners had failed to pay the taxes on the house. It sat perched on a small hill overlooking the railroad tracks which were just a few feet from the front door. The house was originally a one room shack but at some point had been expanded with a lean-to addition on the back where the kitchen was located. The family slept in the front room with beds on both sides of the house. Just to the north of the Showman home lived Bill Miller and his family. In his front yard, embedded in a tree stump, was his axe. A few days before, Miller and some friends had a competition to see which of them could drive the axe head the deepest into the stump. Fred Boyer took the honors after driving it in so deeply the men had to use another axe to remove it, chipping the blade in the process. A few houses away lived the Ellsworth town marshal; his name was Merritt but I have never located a first name. Merritt was sitting in his front room reading when he heard a peculiar noise coming from the back room. It sounded as if an animal were scratching at the back door. The noise stopped and Merritt went back to his reading. The noise began again and this time the marshal decided to investigate so he grabbed his lamp and went to the back room. The noise had stopped again and when it didn’t return, Merritt assumed whatever it was had been frightened off and he left it at that. The next morning it was discovered that the screen had been removed from the back window and an attempt had been made to pry the window open. I’m not going to go into all the detail of the discovery of the Showman’s bodies because the Millers Paranormal folks have the newspaper reports available for you to read so go there.
I have more details about this crime to share and will talk about suspects and hypotheses later. I want to talk about the Showman’s a bit more as well since victimology is an important aspect and this site is more or less about remembering the victims and not just the crimes. Till next time…lock up your axes.