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Crime News

These are presented in loose alpha order by the surname of the criminal when mentioned, or of the victim.

CAUGHT. - The thief who stole Mr. Baker's horse, and came so near getting Mr. Bland's, is now confined in county jail. [WAR DEMOCRAT, February 16, 1865]

Charged with Defrauding Farmers.
Vincennes. Ind„ Jan. 30,—Special Telegram.—
E. Bennett, Sr., was arrested here today, charged with defrauding several farmers of Wayne County, Illinois, out of large sums of money. Sheriff Dickey of Fairfield took the prisoner back to Illinois. Bennett is probably 60 years old and has a family living at Kansas City, Mo. [The Daily Inter Ocean, (Chicago, IL) Friday, January 31, 1896; pg. 8; Transcribed by Janice Rice]

On Tuesday evening last, George Bland left his team standing while he went into some store to transact some business and while in there, some scoundred or scoundrels unknown attempted to steal one of his horses but before he had made his escape they missed the horse and made a search and found the horse but the rascals made their escape. They or someone else, went to David Bakers living some__ miles from town and stole a very fine horse and made off. [WAR DEMOCRAT, February 9, 1865]

Accused of Drugging Man -- Illinoisan Under Arrest on Charge of Florida Police
Princeton, Ind, Dec. 20 --
A.D. Crews, a railroad switchman, was arrested by Sheriff Moore at Mt. Carmel, Ill., today on the charge of chloroforming and robbing an old man at Kissimmee, Fla., several months ago. An associate of Crews, it was alleged, was captured at the time and sentenced to forty-nine years in a convict camp, and it was said he tipped the officers as to Crews probable whereabouts. Both men were formerly of Wayne County, Illinois. Florida officers are coming after Crews. He has been working in Mt. Carmel several weeks. [21 Dec 1909 - The Indianapolis Star (Indianapolis, IN) pg. 4 - Tr. by K.T., correcting errors of previous transcription]


Monday morning of this week
Mrs. Lee Forth left the home of her father, Wm. Ellis, for Johnsonville. Mr. Ellis lives three miles southeast of the above named place. Mrs. Forth was accompanied by her sister who is 13 years of age. When within about two miles of Johnsonville, in what is known as the Pennington Lane, Forth stealthily approached his wife from behind and knocked her down with a club, after which he struck her a number of blows, mashing her scull, and then finished the horrible deed by cutting her throat from ear to ear with a razor. The cries of Mrs. Forth's sister soon brought to the scene a number of persons. The murderer then escaped to the barn on the place of the late widow Millner, about half a mile distant. Warrants were issued and search was soon instituted for Forth and loud threats of lynching were made. But upon entering the barn above mentioned Forth was found to have ended his despicable existence by cutting his throat with the same razor used in committing the horrible deed only a few moments before. Both jugular veins were severed, but the windpipe was not cut, the victim of his own murderous hands having bled to death from two gashes on either side of his neck. The crime is the most blood thirsty and atrocious ever committed within the borders of our county. Forth and his wife have been married about two years, but having lived together only a part of the time, and previous to the tragedy had been parted for some time. Mrs. Forth refusal to live with him is supposed to have been the cause of his murderous assault, but we have not learned that he had ever made such threats to the woman who was so unfortunate as to become his wife. Their marriage resulted in one child, which is now about one year old. Forth has been making his home with his mother, Mrs. Frank Brown, who lives 6 miles southwest of Johnsonville, and has often threatened his mother's life. His age was about 22 years. He was a terror to the whole neighborhood, always carrying a revolver and a dirk. He often threatened to burn the barn of his grandfather, the late R. T. Forth. Almost four years ago he stole a horse and buggy in Montgomery county and was in the jail of that county for some time. His relatives interested themselves and secured his release after considerable expense. About three years he robbed his uncle, John Warren of $330, and since then stole a horse belonging to his sister and a mule belonging to his mother. His character has been notoriously bad. All who knew him feared him, as his blood-thirsty disposition was generally understood. Ashort time since he went to Springfield to work for a street car company. His wife went to him, but in short time he turned her away penniless, and she was compelled to get home as best she could, walking carrying her child from Flora to her father's home. The double tragedy proves Forth to be the desperado that his neighbors had supposed hime to be. General sympathy is expressed for the bereaved relatives and friends of Mrs. Forth. Her funeral was preached on Tuesday, by Rev. Richardson, and she was buried in the Johnsonville cemetery. Forth's body was taken to his mother's with but little concern on the part of the people as to his burial.
[Wayne County Press, February 16, 1888 p.3 c.2. - Donated by Albert Morgan]

On Sunday before the murder, Forth come to his father-in-law's Wm. Ellis seemingly in good humour as ever, laughing and talking as though he did not contemplate the terrible crime which he was so soon to commit. His brother-in-law, Charlie Ellis, shaved him with the same razor he used the next day. Forth stayed all night Sunday night and tried to get his wife to go back and live with him, but she told him no; she had tried it several times and she could not stand his brutality and neglect. He went away angry, but as far as we can learn made no threats to her, although we understand he had told his mother if his wife refused to live with him he would kill her and her father, and then kill himself. About half pasted eight or nine o'clock Mrs. Forth and her sister, Miss Josie Ellis, started for Johnsonville with some butter and eggs with which Mrs. Forth intended to get her child some clothes. They had proceded half way to town and were met by Forth, who carried a piece of fence stake which he used as a walking cane. The club was about 2 1/2 inches through, and was heavy enough to make a deadly weapon. He did not slip up and strike her down, as has been reported, but stood talking to her some ten or fifteen minutes, asking her again if she would not live with him. On her starting off he told her to wait and he would give her some money. She approached him, when he stuck her with a club. The wounds on her head alone were enough to have killed her, but he drew the razor and cut her throat from ear to ear. The cries of Miss Josie brought Andy McRunnals to the scene. He immediatly started for town and issued warrants, which were put in the hands of Constable Holmes, who selected as deputies Jasper Russell and two Chapman boys, (Forth's cousins) who started west on the road Forth had taken. A crowd gathered while the inquest was being held over the body of Mrs. Forth by Esguire Alvis; the body of Forth had been found by Ves Powlees and John O'Mare in Mr. Milner's barn, about a quarter of a mile distant. An inquest was held over his body which found he had come to his death by his own hands. After cutting his throat Forth walked to the other end of the barn, about 40 feet, and laid the razor on a log, then walking back he fell with his head over the scuttle hole. On his person were found $417 in money, a lock of his wife's hair, and a well worn pack of cards. The club used in the murderous assault was brought to town and is now on exhibition at Wm. Tenney's.
[Wayne County Press, February 23, 1888, page 2, C. 3 - Donated by Albert Morgan]

Francis Marion Garrison shot Thos. L. Easley on July 29, 1874.  Both of Hickory Hill Township.  [Wayne County Press, August 6, 1874]

On the night of Thursday, June 1st, 1871, Wm. Gray living two miles east of Fairfield, Illinois, was murdered at his home by Joel G. Head and Wm. Head, Jr., of this county. [Wayne County Press, June 8, 1871]

Trial of Hopkins.  
In our last issue we mentioned the unfortunate occourance (sic) that took place in this county on the 29 ult., of the killing of Dr. Weir, by Jno. Hopkins, Jun. [Prairie Pioneer, January 12, 1860]

Suspect Sent to Mid-West
Fresno, March 8 - Traveling half way across the continent to get a prisoner arrested here, Sheriff J. W. Bozarth of Wayne County, Illinois, reached here yesterday and left last night with his man. His prisoner was
Dale Paul, arrested last Friday by Deputy Sheriffs R. H. Hollingsworth and Harry Collins on a charge of deserting a minor child. Paul formerly lived in Fairfield, Ill., where he is said to have deserted a child less than a year old, Sheriff Bozarth said. The officer was accompanied by James O’Neal, an attorney of Illinois. [Oakland Tribune, (Oakland, CA), 8 Mar 1928, pg 14 -- Tr. by K.T.]

A most lamentable occourence (sic) took place in our midst on Friday evening the 9th inst.  James Howard came to his death by a stab in the left breast above the Heart, extinguishing life in a few minutes.  The arrest of Henry Shaffer and his trial before judge W. W. George on the 10th inst. for the murder of Howard, resulted in being held to bail in the penal sum of one thousand dollars for his appearance at court. [Prairie Pioneer,  November 13, 1862]

On Saturday the 10th, ult., a horrible murder was commited in our county.  Jehu Duke, an old resident living near Enterprise, ten miles north of this place, was shot through the head and his throat by some unknown person. A man by the name of White was arrested on suspision.(sic) [Prairie Pioneer,  August 1, 1861]

Departed this life, in the county jail Waller O. White, aged about 30 years, formerly of ___son, County, Ky.  The deceased as our readers are aware was arrested and lodged in jail as the murderer of Jehu Duke of this county.  Whether true or false, we have the most indubitable testimony of his previous good character from his youth, up to his departure from Ky. He died of continued fever, having few comforts and attention such as the sick so much need or that a Christian community ought to have given. [Prairie Pioneer, October 31, 1861]




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