Sunday, December 20, 2015

Brutally Murdered In Own Home

Mrs. Amanda Shirley, of Bolton Neighborhood, Brutally Murdered Sunday During Absence of Husband Sunday night about nine o'clock the telephone rang and in response to the call, Coroner A.L. Bonser, was informed that a woman in Fox Creek Township was dead, and that the circumstances surrounding the case were rather suspicious. Coroner Bonser at once made arrangements to proceed to the scene where perhaps a crime had been committed, but just at that time it began to rain, and the trip was postponed until the next morning. Monday morning, the coroner, accompanied by W.F. Towns and the write, were driven to the scene in an auto, and we here briefly give our readers an outline of the case as we found it.
The dead woman was Mrs. Amanda Shirley, wife of J.E. Shirley, and at the time she met her untimely death, was at her own home, alone, with the exception of her youngest child, a little girl about three years of age. The Shirley home is situated in the southeast corner of Fox Creek Township, about five miles north of Melbourne, and perhaps three miles southeast of old Bolton.
The affair is a peculiarly sad one, as the victim was a woman well respected in the neighborhood where she lived, was 27 years old, and the mother of the four children, ranging in age from three years up to nine or ten. So far as the writer knows, no motive is given for the crime. When we arrived at the home mad sad and desolate by the act of some low brutal miscreant, a sight met our eyes which we will never forget, and we sincerely hope may never again be our lot to witness. The wife and mother lying cold in death, the good neighbors gathered around with tear stained cheeks, the four motherless little children nestling close to the distracted husband and father, whose frame quivered with the pent up emotion of his awful sorrow. When the casket was placed in the spring wagon to convey the remains to the little cemetery only about a half a mile away, it seemed that the poor distracted and bewildered companion's heart would surely burst asunder, his grief was so great. Although Ed Shirley was an entire stranger to us, we never within our memory saw anyone who we so deeply sympathized with , and when we shook his trembling hand and in our weak way offered him our profound condolence, it became necessary for us to turn away in order to conceal our emotion. As we go to press further developments are under progrress, and the web is being woven. Below will be found the coroner's inquest in full:
AT THE RESIDENCE OF ED. SHIRLEY State of Missouri, County of Harrison: ss. At an inquest held at the undersigned, A.C. Bonser, coroner within and for Harrison County, Missouri, in the twp. of Fox Creek, in said county, over the dead body of Amanda Lucille Shirley, who was supposed to come to her death by violence. The following testimony of witnesses was taken before said coroner and the jury, and was then and there recorded in writing, and subscribed to by the witnesses. Jasper E. Shirley, of lawful age being first duly sworn, testified as follows:
Q. Mr. Shirley, you are the husband of the woman over whose dead body this inquest is being held, are you not?
A. Yes.
Q. Mr. Shirley, tell in your own way the circumstances surrounding the death of your wife?
A. Well, I left home between ten and eleven o'clock on Sunday, Sept. 17th, 1911; I did not return until between four or five o'clock Sunday evening, and drove up near the house to two trees, at the west end of my home, and I let the two boys out and then tied my team. The boys ran on to the door to open it, then they tried the two doors on the south, and found them fastened . Then one of the boys went to the other side of the house at the other door, when he came back he said, "let us in".
Then they went to the window, where the screen is torn off, and I says, "boys, one of you go in and open the door and let me in." I was still near the team when they opened the door. I picked up a bucket of peaches and took them in the house. The boys had gone upstairs, and when I had set the peaches down, I went upstairs. When I got part of the way up, the boys said, "mama is asleep." I went on up the stairs, I saw her lying on the floor, and my first thought was, she has fainted. I took her by the hand, I saw she was cold in death. I went down stairs and phoned to my father's, mother answered and I told Manda was dead. I went to the door and I saw on the hill south, Tom Maxwell and family, and called to them to come as quick as possible. Tom came soon and asked, "what is the matter?" I told him, "Manda is dead."
We went upstairs together. Tom remarked, "she has only fainted, I feel her heart beating." I took her by one hand and he by the other as he said, "let's rub her and bring her to." I said, "no,Tom, she is dead." Well, Tom placed his head on her breast to see if he could hear the heart beat-he said he could hear her heart beat. He asked me to try, I laid my head on her breast, and I could not hear her heart, and I said, "no, Tom, she is gone." We then went down stairs, Tom's wife drove up with the team, and she asked what was the matter, and I said, "Manda is dead." She says, "have you done anything yet?" and I said, "call the doctor as soon as you can." Mrs. Maxwell phoned for Dr. Saylor.
Q. Where did you go in the morning?
A. I went to my father's, first going to Mr. Utterback's.
Q. For what purpose?
A. I went to take my wife's uncle's wife to Mr. Utterback's.
Q. In what position was your wife's body when you first observed it?
A. Well, she was lying on her back, with her hands outward and backward. Her lower limbs were straightened, and her dress was above her knees. Our little girl about three years old was at home with her. The boys said when going upstairs, "Blanche told us ma'ma is asleep."
(signed) Jasper E.Shirley
Testimony of Dr Saylor:
Q. Dr. you may tell when you were called, and what the conditions were when you arrived, and all you know about the case.
A. Am not certain just what time I was called to Shirley's, but think it was about five or six o'clock p.m. Sept. 17, 1911. Was just lighting lamp when I came. I asked someone what had caused the death, and was informed, cause of death unknown. I then went upstairs to the body, found the body lying on the back, with shoulders slightly turned to the right, head turned to the left, so that the left cheek was on the floor, with arms extended at about right angles from the body, elbows slightly flexed, hands on floor back down,and partly closed. Lower limbs extended, and floor sprinkled with blood. Found her underwear loosened and around just below the hips, and underskirts up above the hips, and partly twisted around the body. I replaced clothing as found. I found skin around each wrist discolored. I then waited for Dr. Magraw, who arrived about an hour and a half afterwards. We went to the room together. After we had made partial examination of the body and surroundings, we stopped and called the coroner. At near 10:00 o'clock Sept 18, 1911, owing to the urgency for care of body, Dr. Magraw and myself made further examination of the body, and we found no hemorrhage from the body no wounds but found the neck broken. The only blood found on the body was on the left leg, below the knee. Am certain the blood on the leg was not from the body.
Q. From your examination of the body, what in your judgement caused death?
A. A broken neck
Q. Was there any evidence of strangulation?
A. No. In my judgement the lady had been dead three or four hours. E. Saylor, M.D.
Testimony of Dr. Magraw: My name is Jodia A. Magraw. I arrived at Ed. Shirley's about 8:00 o'clock p.m. Sept. 17, 1911. I was told Mrs. Shirley was dead. In company with Dr. Saylor, we passed upstairs to where the body was. I found her lying on the floor on her back, the shoulders turned some to the right, the head to the left, the face lying flat on the floor, her arms at right angles, the elbows flexed extending above the head, the hands lying on the back and slightly flexed, the legs separated, with the right foot slightly bent inward: the floor was sprinkled with blood. About 9:00 o'clock p.m., we called the coroner, viz., Sept. 17. About 10 o'clock a.m. Sept. 18, Dr Saylor and I made further examination of the body. We found no broken bones, no open wounds, but a broken neck. On the left leg below the knee were spots of blood. There was no part of the body that the hemorrhage came from. The dress and a skirt were above the knees, and the under part beneath the hips, with one large spot of blood on them near bottom. Decomposition had set in when I first saw her, on the under side of body and around the wrists, but on no other upper part of body. In my judgement the cause of death was a broken neck. There was no evidence of strangulation. The back of the neck had post mortem appearance. In my judgement there was no evidence of self-destruction. Judia A. Magraw, M.D.
Verdict of the Jury: We, the undersigned jurors, impaneled and sworn on the 18th day of September, 1911, at the township of Fox Creek, county of Harrison, State of Missouri, by A.C. Bonser, coroner in and for said county, to diligently inquire and true presentment make how and by whom Amanda Lucille Shirley came to her death, having viewed the body and heard the evidence, do find that the deceased came to her death in Fox Creek Township, Harrison County, Missouri, by a broken neck, received at the hands of some party or parties unknown to the jurors. Given under our hands this 18th day of September, 1911.
Woman near Melbourne Meets Death in a Horrible Manner in Own Home
One of the most revolting and barbarous tragedies known to annals of crime was perpetrated in this county on last Sunday afternoon, when some unknown party entered the home of Jasper E. Shirley, residing five miles north of Melbourne, and eighteen miles southeast of Bethany, and by brute force assaulted and outraged the wife of Mr. Shirley, Mrs. Amanda Lucile Shirley; she paying as the price of her resistance and womanly modesty the ghastly and terrible sacrafice of her life.
Mrs. Shirley and a little three year old girl were the only persons on the place at the time, Mr. Shirley and the other children having gone to John Utterbacks, accompanied by an aunt of Mrs. Shirley. Later they went to the home of W.H. Shirley, father of the husband, for some peaches-not returning until after the tragedy.
When Mr. Shirley and children returned late onSunday afternoon, one of the little boys was the first to enter the house. He went up stairs and discovered the body of his Mamma lying on the floor, partly denuded, and came down and reported that "Mamma was asleep." This aroused the suspicions of Mr. Shirley, who at once made investigations, finding that his wife had been assaulted, was dead, and that she had her neck broken, that her body was partly denuded and bore evidences of outrage and assault. Things in the room were disturbed adn her clothing torn. Every indication was that the brute had met with a terrible resistance and had only accomplished his purpose after a hard struggle and by main strength.] The indications in the diningroom are that Mrs. Shirley was preparing dinner at the time of the arrival, and the conjecture is that she fled upstairs for protection. All the screens were fastened from the inside, both doors and windows, except one which was broken open, and through it the assaulter had evidently made his escape.
The word was quickly spread about and reached the coroner at this place about 9 o'clock Sunday evening. The sheriff and prosecuting attorney were at Cainsville at the time. On Monday morning the coroner, Frank Towns, and W.H. Crouch, went over to the scene of the tragedy being met at that place by the sheriff and prosecuting attorney. An inquest was held and the verdict brought in that the woman had met death from a broken neck at the hands of a second party.
The body of Mrs. Shirley was buried at the Mt. Pleasant Baptist church on Monday afternoon. The particulars of the funeral are not known.
Vigilent work was at once begun by the sheriff and county officials to apprehend the perpetrator of the crime. An effort was made to secure blood hounds at Beatrice, Nebraska, but the attempt was unsuccessful, as the blood hounds were out of town at the time and could not be secured. On Wednesday morning, Chas. Davidson, residing near the Shirley place, in the edge of Grundy County, was arrested, we understand, charged with the crime. He stoutly attests his innocence and says he will be able to prove that he had nothing to do with the affair.
The wife of Shirley and the wife of Davidson had had a quarrel a few days before adn Mrs. Shirley, it is alleged, got the better of the controversy and handled Mrs. Davidson rather roughly. Some think this was an incentive to the tragedy.
Mrs. Shirley was a rugged, robust woman of 27 years, of splendid character and was held in high esteem. Davidson is a man of medium size and middle age. We have not learned as to his standing in that community.
The preliminary trial of Davidson will take place on Wednesday evening in Fox Creek township, before justic Frank Spinger.
As we go to press no further particulars of the crime are available.
from Bethany Republican Sept. 21, 1911
this was my greatgreatgrandparents Maxwell's neighbor.
aunt minerva collection. this has a handwritten note across the top: "Earl Shirley always said mother was pg. at time of death."
mother as in Amanda Shirley? or mother as in Aunt Minerva's mother Gilly Mae Maxwell? hmmmmm.

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