Friday, January 23, 2009

Entering "Hatchet"...

The old Showman house is gone but the place where it once stood is known to residents as “Hatchet.” Sheriff R. W. Bradshaw and town marshal Merritt speculated the killer must have had some knowledge of the house. A later investigation by The Whitsett National Detective agency out of Kansas City believed this as well but why would this be the case? The house was typical for its time; a two room house that was originally a one room house with a lean-to addition tacked onto the back. The house extended to the back of the hill it sat on with a concrete foundation laid to support the addition. The house itself was about 15 feet wide by 16 feet long (18’ by 18’ at best) and the two rooms were separated by a wall with a door about the middle of the room. On the door was a bracket on which hung an oil lamp. The bracket could be swung in either direction in order to cast light into the front room, the kitchen or both. It was this lamp that was used by the killer and found at the foot of Will and Pauline’s bed.  

Author's representation of the house

In the front room, where the family slept, two beds were arranged side by side at one end of the room. In the picture above, the beds sat on either side of the double hung window facing the camera. In this layout, the sleeping area would have been incredibly cramped and allowed a maximum of two and a half feet of floor space between the two beds (based on a standard size of three and a half feet wide beds). Investigators felt the light thrown from a chimneyless lamp would have been too dim for the killer to have committed the crimes in such cramped space without prior knowledge of the house. The confined space could also account for Pauline waking up as the killer might have swung the axe across her body at a diagonal from the foot toward the head of the bed but that is only speculation.  I arrived at the measurements in two ways; first by using the intuition of Google Sketchup's Photomatch feature and second using the double hung window as a scale.  Sketchup measured the house to be 15' by 17' while the window measured it to be 18' by 18' (based on a standard width of 29").  The 3D model I created measures 16' by 17', 6".  Either way the front room measures just over nine feet wide in order to accomodate the beds being arranged the way they were.  

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