Saturday, January 17, 2015

Ardenwald: Details That Cannot Be Ignored

Dorothy Rintoul
It had been a week's worth of festivities and celebration with visitors flooding in from all over the Pacific Northwest. The 5th Annual Portland Rose Festival was in full swing and the major event of June 9, 1911 was the Decorated Horse and Buggy parade to be followed by the Military parade that evening. On that peaceful morning, as the parade route was prepared along Grand Avenue, it was Sarah Matthews, the neighbor of the Hills', who noticed the stillness of the Hill cabin. She often visited Ruth Hill in the mornings and William Hill was usually up and around by 5:30 a.m. With rambunctious kids in a small cabin a quiet morning was notably rare. Entrance into the cabin was through the back door, which dropped her into the north room of the house. The house itself was a two room affair. The north room being the kitchen and dining/living area and the south room being where Ruth and William slept. In this room were built small partitions to give some privacy to the family. The largest section of the room was where William and Ruth slept. Also inside of this section was a smaller partitioned area where Phillip was sleeping. In the living area, on the sofa, is where Dorothy slept. Near her was a table and on this table was a new clock, purchased a few weeks prior to the murders. The house was dark; the windows were covered by clothing and pieces of cloth. Even in the dark, Mrs. Mathews could see a form under the blankets on the sofa. Dorothy's feet were the only part of the girl's body not covered. Sarah Mathews went in to check if Dorothy was okay then she saw the axe resting against the sofa. She then looked into the parent's room and saw only a form on the bed. Sarah went back to her house, where she and her husband lived, next door to her son and his wife. She informed her family that that Dorothy was dead.
Phillip Rintoul
Initially it was thought there were only three bodies in the house; William Hill seemed to be missing. Sarah Matthews phoned the Portland Gas Company hoping to find William; then called the sheriff. William Hill was discovered, upon closer inspection, lying in the same bed as Ruth but the killer had covered him completely with bedclothes and Ruth's body was lying slightly on top of his. The condition of Ruth Hill is where crime scenes separated by hundreds, even thousands of miles, blend together. Ruth's body had been pulled down from the head of the bed so that she was situated about a third of the way down off of her pillow. Her pillow was soaked with blood showing the spot her head laid when she was killed. This movement was done after her death and was not the result of her waking and making a defensive move away from the killer. Long time readers of this blog know this was similar to how some victims were found in Monmouth, Rainier and Villisca. As would be repeated at other crime scenes across the country, only the victims' heads and faces were attacked. There were no wounds below their heads.  All victims' heads had been covered by either sheets or clothing and the killer had washed up at the scene. All the windows in the cabin had been covered by clothing or cloth. Both female victims had been sexually assaulted after their murders. Dorothy had bloody fingerprints on her body which indicates to me she was likely assaulted first, before the killer had cleaned up. Bloody prints were also found on Phillip's right arm. After the killer had cleaned up he went back into the adult's bedroom, pulled Ruth's body down towards the foot of the bed and assaulted her. This behavior would be repeated in Rainier a month later. The horrifying nature of the crime sent a shock-wave through the Portland area. Nearby Scott Woods was immediately invaded by vigilantes, detectives and posses. Many of the hobos and itinerant residents of both Scott Woods and Johnson Creek Canyon to the north fled the area for fear of arrest or lynching. Clackamas County sheriff Ernest Mass quickly asked for assistance from Portland detective Leroy Levings. Then things spun out of control...

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Have you seen a book by Troy Taylor about the ax murders? He appears to have lifted some of his content directly from your blog. There are some Amazon reviews on his other books calling out other instances of plagiarism.

Anonymous said...

Stumbled on to your blog after talking to a former Villisca resident - amazing work you've done here! Looking forward to reading more of your insights!

Joyce Busenbark said...

With so many of the murder's, with the same MO, and several suspects...taken in for questioning... Has a criminal profile ever been created...

Inspector Winship said...

Joyce - I don't think any professional profiles have been created out of the entirety of the crimes. It's a hard process to go through since there so little reliable evidence to go by. The one professional profile that has been made public was from former FBI profiler Robert K. Ressler. This profile is based solely on the Villisca crime scene and a portion of it can be seen in the documentary Villisca: Living with a Mystery. I have a post about my, amature and outdated, profile that talks about Mr. Ressler's a bit. Thanks for reading and thanks for the question.

Chris W. said...

I came across a reasonably fresh reddit discussion on the Midwest Axe Murders this evening, though I'd share the link here:

https://www.reddit.com/r/UnresolvedMysteries/comments/4ry772/xpost_from_rserialkillers_prolific_midwest_axe/

Regards,
Chris

Inspector Winship said...

Thanks for this, Chris. I've been there a couple times and have resisted the urge to post :)

krypto said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fugiTaeVC_4

came across this "documentary" and thought you might be interested, some of it is obviously sensationalist (ghost stuff and what-not) and it posits that the mid-west axe murderer and the New Orleans axe murderer were one and the same, however, it did raise a couple of points I thought were salient.
IF the November 1917 murders of the Alar family in Virginia Minnesota are part of the series, a note left at the scene in German could hold the key to the nationality of the offender AND the infamous Hinterkaifeck murders do bear at least prima facie similarity to many of the murders carried out in the mid west attributed to this unknown murderer.
While it's obviously not correct to simply assign every unsolved homicide involving an axe to this unknown offender, in the absence of a known identity responsible, it's tough to rule out

Inspector Winship said...

Regarding the "documentary:" He certainly does try to connect every axe murder ever :) Secondly, it is very tempting to try and link all the axe murders together. I would point out, and I think I have, that there's really on one way to kill someone quickly with an axe. Things that the video fails to mention, and I believe this is on purpose, is the sexual motive of the Midwest crimes and the lack of overtly sexual motive for the others, with the exception of the Austin, Texas murders, which were solved and the killer couldn't have been involved because he was dead. I only know of the Alar-Trepich murders in passing but I think the note showed it was a German Nationalist that was the likely culprit, right?