Monday, June 8, 2009

Paola, Kansas - Follow up

So it isn’t a mystery; Rollin and Anna Hudson were found in the afternoon of June 5th dead in their bed. The weapon used had been a coal pick, the comforter was thrown over the bodies and several blows had been struck through the comforter. A coal oil lamp sans glass chimney was placed near the foot of the bed andthe window curtains were pulled closed. The killer apparently had entered by removing a screen and prying up the window of the back room on the east side of the house. Doors were not locked and there wasn’t any evidence of the killer washing up at the scene although there was a laundry tub filled with water in another back room. The weapon wasn’t found on scene and a search of an empty lot found nothing, however there was a coal pick with a broken handle discovered which was eventually identified as the likely murder weapon.

The victimology of the Hudsons, especially Anna, makes this a good candidate for an acquaintance crime. There were events surrounding the murder that are also indicative of this. A few days before the Hudson’s deaths, a stranger was in town asking about their location. He acted as if he were a friend passing through on business and was interested in looking them up. Witnesses also stated that Anna was seen arguing with an unidentified, taller man, on a bridge outside of town and that the man made a threatening gesture towards Anna. That was on the morning of Decoration Day (now called Memorial Day) which was Thursday, May 31st. It is hard to say how accurate these testimonials are. Paola was a hub for two large railroads and a common stopping point on the way to Kansas City so there were many strangers in and out of the little town and it could be the witnesses who reported the scene on the bridge saw a different woman.

About nine o’clock on the night the Hudsons were killed, Mr. and Mrs. William Pryor, the next door neighbors, saw a man in a dark blue suit and a straw boater’s hat walk up to the porch of the Hudson house. This man generally fit the description of the one seen around town in the days before. According to the Pryors he was allowed to enter the house immediately, as if “he were an old friend.” Neither neighbor remembered seeing the man leave but Mrs. Pryor was certain the house was dark around ten o’clock. Around midnight another neighbor, Mrs. Joseph Longmeyer and her daughter, Sadie, were awoken by the sound of shattering glass in the dining room. Mrs. Longmeyer was up in time to see a man fleeing through the back of the house. The source of the glass was a smashed chimney lamp. The intruder had left behind a “kimono” that was believed to have belonged to Anna Hudson. A screen from a back window had been removed in order to gain access to the house. If Mrs. Longmeyer and Mrs. Pryor were accurate then the Hudson’s were killed between ten and midnight on June 5, 1912.

Some conclusions can be drawn about the killer from this crime: The killer had burglary skills; the killer took “souvenirs”; the killer either wasn’t confident enough to face a conscious victim or wasn’t aware there was only a woman and young girl in the Longmeyer home; the killer wasn’t likely the man who visited the Hudsons that night.

Three of those four seem self explanitory; the fourth will require another post.


Ms. T said...

Inspector Winship - I am most interested in your blog and research. Currently, I am just beginning research into any murder which occurred in the Midwestern states from 1912 to possibly 1962 (50 years) or even beyond to 2012 (100 years). I find historical information difficult to find in terms of crime statistics. Would love to discuss or share information if you are interested. I am tentatively planning a trip to Villisca very soon to the house of the 1912 Iowa Axe murders.

Inspector Winship said...

Ms. T: Thanks for reading. I'd be happy to help if I can. Feel free to email me and I'll see if I can help you out. Enjoy your visit to Villisca.