Monday, December 1, 2014

Delving Deeper into Ardenwald

Phillip, Ruth and Dorthy
 Six years ago I wrote this article explaining the differences between the Ardenwald crime and the Colorado Springs crime. Go read the article; I'll wait...

I hope you enjoyed the article. You will note that I made this bold statement:
So were these crimes done by the same UNSUB? IMHO, no.
I based that statement on what I knew at the time, which, again is detailed in the linked article. But now, after digging deeper into the Ardewald crime, I am compelled to think otherwise. I will also admit that I was reaching that conclusion because I believed there was a pretty good suspect for the murders already...

Thomas F. Cowing, Jr.
I am always interested in family history. Family stories are some of the best stories to tell. But stories passed down through time don't always match the facts.  The Cowing family has always known who the killer was:
A family story is told of a wealthy Milwaukie, OR, businessman who was arrested for the crime, but not convicted because he had money and connections with the prosecutor. 
The above is taken from a comment left on this post. And the following is taken from an email I received:
The murderers (sic) name is no secret.
Now I freely admit that I am coming at this from a different perspective but keep in mind, I had largely dismissed this crime and therefore all the information and conclusions I'm will write about are based on new research and perspectives. To the Cowing family this is open and shut. I found similar attitudes among the descendants of the Showman/Kratky families with regard to Charles Marzyck. The Cowing family was so convinced of the accused man's guilt that Ruth's brother, Tommy, confronted him with a gun and demanded he go to the Hill's cabin to show him "where the bodies laid." There was a brief struggle for the gun and two shots were discharged, both bullets striking the wall. The suspect in question was Nathan B. Harvey; neighbor of the Hills and wealthy nursery owner. I will go into Harvey's background more in a later post. A zealous private investigator was the lightening rod for an investigation that would divide a county and put different branches of the law against one another. The family of the victims believed what the sheriff and the detective were telling them; the county prosecutor did not. The money and reputations of two respected area businessmen where put at odds with one another ensuring the side that lost would not acquiesce quietly. And there were essentially two trials of the suspect, one public and one private, neither resulting in anything but bad blood. The crime would linger in the community for nearly a decade before fading from the public mind and into the obscurity of a city on the rise. More to come ...


Rebecca said...

This hasn't changed. Families of the victims always have their opinions of who's guilty, rightly or wrongly. Back in those days, would they have been more or less likely to believe in a stranger-stranger murder?

Inspector Winship said...

Murders without a "true" motive were generally blamed on madness. Killing for the thrill/arousal of the killer didn't make sense and so it was easiest to just say "they were crazy." Serial killers were known at that time even though the term wasn't generally used. You had Jack the Ripper in London, and in the U.S. there was the Servant Girl Annihilator and H.H. Holmes. But, even today, you are much more likely to be killed by someone you know. Murder investigations usually start with the victims' acquaintances. It was no different back then because more often then not, the killer was known to the victim. So to make a short answer long, it's not that investigators didn't believe stranger-stranger murder, it's that it was more productive to start with acquaintances. The problem for criminal investigation 100 years ago was when investigators wouldn't let go of a particular suspect, regardless of the evidence or lack thereof, as it was with Rainier and Villisca. Thanks for reading.