Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Thriller Thursday - Wrapping Up the Villers Trial, Part 9

Mrs. Tromer and her children from The Jamestown
Weekly Alert, 20JAN1898, pg1
I wonder if I'll get up to "part 100" by the time this is all over? This is going to be a slightly longer post in an attempt to wrap up the first page of the newspaper.

I can't say that I feel better after transcribing the speculation presented here either. Even as this section of the newspaper wraps up we are told that feeling was so strong against Villers that they didn't think it was safe for him to be acquitted. Could he have even gotten a fair trial?

What was even curiouser was the belief that Mrs. Tromer changing her story multiple times somehow showed that she was telling the truth and that it is more suspicious that Villers did not change his story over the years, therefore it was rehearsed. You can't win, can you? Those, of course, were assertions of the defense so they're lines of argument that would be expected.

Living in a time of women's liberation I was particularly annoyed at Mrs. Tromer's constant melodrama and fainting. I was even more irked at the defense saying that if a woman had presented her story in a bold manner like a man that it would have been more questionable. Lucky for that attorney that I didn't live back then. Even as a child I wasn't meek.

The Jamestown
Weekly Alert, 20JAN1898, pg1
"Speaking of the motive of the crime he said it was not cupidity. It was a delicate subject and he did not like to speak of it but the jury understood. He pictured the prisoner stealing up to a window early in the evening just after the sun had gone to rest in the country where she thought her husband was; stealing there after the light had gone out of the heavens and while the wife was seated by the light of chips upon the stove listening to the children lifting their prayers and saying 'forgive us our trespasses and deliver us from evil' while he, with murder in his soul, looked on and then say he would not kill a man for $48 or any other sum.' Here the audience applauded and the judge had to rap sharply for order and state that no such demonstration would be allowed again. She had confessed and the weight had been lifted from her mind she went out of the court room singing psalms and for hours after was singing hymns. She believed herself to be in heaven beside her old husband to whom she held up her hand and swore never to divulge her secret. For the first time in three long years she was free from this oath. You say she didn't tell the truth? The truth was that before Villers ever entered into this scheme he made a criminal of this poor family.

The Jamestown
Weekly Alert, 20JAN1898, pg1
I know that Mrs. Tromer's story is not the best of most connected. It is strange that she was ever here to tell the story at all. But it required those inconsistencies to prove the truth of her utterances. She has testified differently at other times and said things which were contradictory. But because she did that we know she told the truth. I had rather believe one who would tell such a story than a woman who would bare her face to the audience and tell in a brazen and manly way a story so straight that you could not find a flaw in it anywhere. These are the kind of stories that bear on their face the impression of having been doctored. 'And that is the matter with your story, Joe,' said the attorney turning to the prisoner suddenly. 'Three long years in the pen, time enough to study over this matter and think it all out.' The turning to the jury: 'Who ever expected he would testify other than he did?

But Mrs. Tomer's story was different. Portions of it she had forgotten, but God Almighty saved her to tell what she did tell, as God Almighty put the badgers down to say where Tromer was buried. An all-wise providence and God saved to use Mrs. Tromer, and her little children, to tell the story.

The reason why the story she told is true is because she never left the direct point of issue.  No power on earth can ever remove from her the idea that she received three letters through the hands of this defendant.

Why would Villers be concerned about the disappearance of Tromer? He was concerned and worried about him. He talked to the neighbors and to other people. Told them he knew August Tromer was alive, he had received letters from him. He didn't because Tromer was dead. His object and motive was to conceal the fact that he had killed him. Then he would kill Mrs. Tromer to conceal the evidence that she would hold in her breast against him that would tend convict him of this crime.

The Jamestown
Weekly Alert, 20JAN1898, pg1
Why did Villers get Mrs. Tromer to write that placard that she had left the country? He had all their property and he could not accomplish anything with her alive. He wanted her out of the way also.

There is nothing perplexing about his case. There is no question in the world as to who killed this man. I know it is an awful thing for you to say by any act of yourselves that Joseph Villers should hang. A poor helpless individual whose wife I have not seen by his side during this trial. And I would not by act or word detract one thing from his daughter, who has been here, however. She could not have done otherwise and I do not see why she didn't make her story stronger; could as well as not.

How Mrs. Tromer Received the News

Shortly after the verdict had been announced the news was carried to the Farmers' Home where Mrs. Tromer is staying. She either misunderstood the verdict or the news was too much for her enfeebled condition for upon its announcement she made some exclamation, I, or he, is not known, is free, and fell a swoon. Her heart stopped beating and her condition for a time was extremely serious.

It was feared that she would not survive but after extreme exertions she revived and asked what the finding of the jury was. She was completely prostrated and unnerved and unable to leave for La Moure today as she expected.

The Jamestown
Weekly Alert, 20JAN1898, pg1

Mrs. Tromer is still very weak. Her nerves are completely shattered and it is by an effort that she is up and about. Her children are her greatest anxiety. The little boy, Hedo, has been adopted by Mr. and Mrs. J. J. Peterson of Barnes county, near Clark City, and Mr. and Mrs. Bonnet of Sunburn have taken little Rosa with a view of adoption. The necessary papers will be made out shortly. Little Hilda, who says she is 'going to be eleven years old', will probably remain in the city several families being desirous of caring for and educating her.

Mrs. Tromer reluctantly gives them up, she knows she is unable to provide an education and care for them as she would and it is a great effort for her to see them go. They were the pride of her husband.

The son Edward, returned today to Dickey and Mr. Orderer's where he is staying this winter. The two oldest boys are now young men.

While little has been said about it in the press, it has been known that so strong was the feeling against Villers with many, that an acquittal might have been risky for his personal safety. The conviction of his guilt is too strong in this and LaMoure counties, where the details of the case are known, to make a second trial of the case in either county a probable event - if a new trial should be granted by the court.

The Jamestown
Weekly Alert, 20JAN1898, pg1
The trial of the case was a rapid one and without any unnecessary expense. The only delays were from sickness of the chief witness.

In terest in the proceeedings (sic), both in and outside of Jamestown, was great. The Alert sold out its extra issues here each night, and booked new subscribers from every town in this county and from several towns in LaMoure, Barnes and Foster counties, knowing they could get the full reports in the Alert.

The photograph of Mrs. Tromer and her three little children, from which the picture published in this issue is engraved, was taken after her arrival here as a witness in the trial."

Well that was certainly more excitement and dramatic than in previous editions of this series. We've finally gotten past most of the boring stuff and seem to be getting into the information presented...or at least the information the newspaper and courts shared with the public. Next week we hit page two and I can promise you that it doesn't get boring again. At least not at first glance. This next page appears to have testimony given on behalf of the defense by the accused's children. For me that will be of great genealogical importance. I look forward to jumping into it and I hope you are enjoying the posts as they get more exciting!

The Jamestown
Weekly Alert, 20JAN1898, pg8







Monday, April 25, 2016

Memorial Monday - IAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial 1923-1924

IAFF FFFM Panel 1923-1924
This week the next panel for the IAFF's Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial covers the rest of 1923 and most of 1924.

"Bert E. Burris   L58   TX
John Sandberg   L2   IL
William young   L366   MI
Fred Hippler   L73   MO
Harrington W. Brand   L282   NY
E. O. Jones   L58   TX
Raymond Farrell   L94   NY
James J. Sullivan   L94   NY
Harry Stuhlreyer   L48   OH
William E. Kelley   L282   NY
Bernard Feehan   L1066   NJ
Charles Brehm   L583   WI
Louis C. Lauth   L416   IN
Anthony T. Glover   L144   MA
Thomas L. Bleich   L37   IL
Fred Stehle   L67   OH
Hugh McShane   L255   AB
Herman Schultz   L344   MI


1924

H. Stanley Ellis   L372   CA
Thomas P. Considine   L42   MO
Frank A. Foscoe   L50   IL
Fred Dalton   L67   OH
Hartvig C. Christensen   L82   MN
Patrick Abbott   L1   PA
Rudolph Bliske   L1   PA
Samuel Bollinger   L1   PA
Henry Frazier   L1   PA
Edward Jones   L1   PA
John Markham   L1   PA
Robert Smith   L1   PA
Albert E. Donovan   L94   NY
Fred E. Barlow   L416   IN
Conrad Schwalm   L2   IL
Terrence McCaffery   L2   IL
Frederick Mosher   L841   MA
Wayne Hunter   L416   IN
James Shaw   L94   NY
Roy Walsweer   L366   MI
Ercil G. Morse   L112   CA
Thomas J. Connolly   L94   NY
A. S. Hughes   L58   TX
John Brennan   L2   IL
Jeremiah Callaghan   L2   IL
Michael Devine   L2   IL
Frank Frosh   L2   IL
Thomas Kelly   L2   IL
Edward Kersting   L2   IL
Francis Leavy   L2   IL
Samuel Warren   L2   IL
James Carroll   L2   IL
William Leichsenring   L94   NY
George Hawkins   L344   MI
Claus Clausen   L2   IL
Richard Beard   L344   MI
Edward Cunningham   L853   MA
Harry Shrimpton   L2   IL
William Hutcheson   L29   WA
George Crane   L31   WA
T. Roscoe King   L34   AR
Raymond B. Lancey   L1841   MA
Joe M. Hope   L34   AR
Timothy Murphy   L2   IL
William Shuberg   L27   WA
Thomas Shanahan   L2   IL
James J. McCormack   L94   NY
James J. Murphy   L94   NY
Chris Christiansen   L2   IL
James R. Starkey   L94   NY
W. Earl Harvey   L42   MO
John P. Heydon   L42   MO
Percy Ackels   L366   MI"

As I went through transcribing these names I couldn't help, but think of how many were lost in what would appear to be a single event in union L1 in Pennsylvania. Then union L2 in Illinois popped up. Not only did they appear to lose a large number of people in an event, but throughout the year. Now that school's out for me for the next few months I may have to see if I can find out more.

Let these brave souls never be forgotten.


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Sunday's Obituary - James Brown...No Not That One

The Standard Speaker,
28NOV1994, pg2
Last Sunday I shared the obituary of Mary Barth nee Brown as I tried to make sense of this line and its zombie progenitor, Neil Brown Jr. For the backstory on my undead 2nd great uncle please refer to my April 9th post.

So far as I've made my way through the children of Neil and Bridget Brown nee Brown I haven't turned up anything unusual. It's been a typical scenario of transcribing on the blog, updating records in my tree and FindAGrave and there doesn't appear to be anything that would break up what I currently have in my tree. Everything just solidifies the connections. This week the next in line of the children would have been Neil Brown III, but I've transcribed his obituary previously. I'll move on to the next child of the group which is James Brown.

"James Brown

James P. Brown, 140 S. Laurel St., Hazleton, died Saturday at the Mountain City Convalescent Center, Hazleton, after a lengthy illness.

Born in Hazleton, he was the son of the late Neil and Bridget Brown.

He was a 1932 graduate of St. Gabriel's High School, where he was a standout basketball player. Brown later excelled in the Catholic basketball league.

Brown was employed as a business agent for the Boilermakers' Union Local 13, before retiring in 1966.

He was an Army veteran of World War II and served in Italy.

He was preceded in death, in addition to his parents, by his wife, Martha (Thompson) Brown, in 1979; sisters, Rita Dermott, Nancy Harkins, and Eleanor Prosser; brothers, Neil, John and Eugene (Cy) Brown; and a grandson, Patrick O'Donoghue, in 1985.

Surviving are children, William C. Brown, St. Augustine, Fla.; Nancy L. O'Donoghue, Hocessin, Del.; and James P. Brown Jr., Hazleton; sisters, Joan Cann and Mary Barth, both of Hazleton; brothers, Paul, Erie; Charles, Hazleton; six grandchildren and a great-grandchild. Several nieces and nephews also survive.

The funeral will be held Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. from the Boyle Funeral Home, 100 S. Wyoming St., Hazleton, with a Mass of Christian Burial at 10 a.m. in St. Gabriel's Roman Catholic Church. Interment will be in the parish cemetery.

Friends may call today at the funeral home from 6 to 9 p.m."

My cousin, Nancy O'Donoghue nee Brown, had initially given me a lot of the information on this line and as you can see from the obituary, she would know...James was her father. Zombie-Neil was her grandfather. I wish I could talk to her now and ask her more questions, but I wish that frequently.

This obituary is pretty good since it shows where the family was spreading out to which will help with later research. Still nothing that contradicts what I already knew about Neil and Bridget and their family.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Thriller Thursday - Wrapping Up the Villers Trial, Part 8

The Jamestown Weekly Alert,
20JAN1898, pg1
Last week we read about the defense's arguments. They weren't exactly the strongest arguments and I think you'll see that the prosecution's arguments in this post aren't much better. I would even say that the prosecution made some fairly wild claims/connections, but something must have stuck to win a guilty verdict.

"The State.

Attorney Guthrie made the final address to the jury and said, in part: Mr. Villers, prior to this transaction, bore a good reputation; he was respected and known throughout this county and trusted in many different ways. You, perhaps, have heard of Margaret, who was called the mother of criminals. There were some 800 direct and indirect descendants of that family. More than 700 of them were at some time in their life in the penitentiary for larceny.

The Jamestown Weekly Alert,
20JAN1898, pg1
He who steals has a motive. Criminals are classified. He who commits larceny would not burn a house and he who steals watches perhaps would not steal revolvers. They are like the descendants of Margaret. One was guilty of larceny; all were thieves. There is a system connected with it.

There is something peculiar about the life and character of Martin Villers. How very strange he should have a fire in Wisconsin and lose his home in Kewaunee county. How very strange that a fire follows along in the trail of his whole life. how strange that Peter Sterling should be killed and burned his body was that kind of a murderer. How very strange that the machinery barn of M. J. Villers should burn up; how very strange that Mrs. Tromer's barn should burn and she underneath it in an attempt to burn her body.

The Jamestown Weekly Alert,
20JAN1898, pg1
This plan of killing and burning bodies is of a certain kind of a criminal. August Tromer, killed, placed in the ground and a straw stack burned over his grave. There's one of the strongest facts against this defendant. If I had heard of Tromer being killed and a fire kindled over his corpse the first thing I would have said, where is the man who kills people that way?

Attorney Guthrie call the attention of the jury to the settlement had with Tromer that fall. The proposition was settled upon by the defense that Tromer owed Villers $396. This was the starting point. Liens in evidence showed that in '92 Tromer had 1,860 bushels of wheat which at seven cents a bushel would make the threshing bill $130, and Villers says Tromer paid him some money. In '93 he had 1032 bushels of wheat and the threshing bill came to $75 Tromer had paid money both years and didn't owe a dollar for anything else. In '94 he owed $50 for threshing wheat, leaving out the oats, barley and flax making a total of $255. In those years Mr. Tromer threshed about $1,500 worth of wheat - at 40 cents a bushel, about the prevailing price - and this without reference to any other crops.

This crime that Mrs. Tromer talked about and that she finally divulged began way back in '92. This cattle mortgage was a bluff for the purpose of assisting Mr. Tromer to cheat and defraud his creditors. They would believe Mr. Tromer an honest man because he did that, but when he left home he was a criminal.

Why was he chosen? Because Mr. Villers, a smart and wily politician, chosen by the political parties of this county because of his smoothness and ability to get around men and to weave them into believing things he wanted. Because of the fact that this Wily, smooth and smart defendant here taking hold of this poor Dutchman, ignorant and out upon the prairie alone with nothing to think of, he did these things because Villers talked him into it. This mortgage was a bluff. $1,500 worth of wheat and Villers got every bit and Tromer still owed him $72.

The Jamestown Weekly Alert,
20JAN1898, pg1
He says he had $148 when he left home that evening. The man who would kill a woman would kill a man for $148. There was a motive sufficient for him to kill and burn."

OK. My husband will be the first to tell you that when financial stuff is brought up I get all glassy-eyed and start to drool all over myself. This last bit of his rather unusual argument to my now addled mind is essentially saying that Tromer kept paying and paying and paying Villers yet Villers kept insisting there was more money owed. I'd like to know more about this "cattle mortgage" that was mentioned above too. It really hasn't been covered and it isn't very clear to me what went on. It's easy to take something that Tromer may have been doing illegally and pinning it on the guy you're accusing of his murder. Anything is possible, but this argument is missing something.

Also, the prosecution wants to paint MJ Villers as this highly intelligent, slick man. Well, I suppose it's better than being called an idiot, but if he was that smart he wouldn't have killed a man that he was getting money from for years for $148. Sure it was worth a LOT more back in the late 19th century, but considering the swindle they're claiming he got from him, why would he kill him for so little after all that? Again, it's possible, but not intelligent. Burying a man that you allegedly killed in a shallow grave on your property isn't very bright either and if he was such a pyromaniac why didn't he just burn the body? It seems like the property was a bit secluded. It was farmed. There are easier and more thorough ways of disposing a body than burying it and setting a haystack on fire. That's just dumb.

I suppose your argument doesn't have to be completely lucid. As long as the jury believes it. And I'm not saying he was innocent. There's a lot of circumstantial evidence, but for everything I've transcribed and read in all of these clippings (old and newly discovered) there is also something not right with the Tromer couple. Perhaps when this series is over I will have a new subject to research!









Sunday, April 17, 2016

Memorial Monday - IAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial 1922-1923

IAFF FFFM Panel 1922-1923
Continuing with my Memorial Monday series is the IAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial panel covering the remainder of 1922 and the first part of 1923.

"Thomas D. Hassett   L94   NY
Frank Kopidlansky   L368   WI
Stanley R. Thomas   L60   PA
Elmer Cassidy   L282   NY
Peter Schraffenberger   L48   OH
John Walsh   L2   IL
Henry P. Reinhardt   L94   NY
Oscar Thaxton   L317   WV
Frederick G. Brandt   L94   NY
Thomas MCGown   L2   IL
Eugene Carten   L73   MO
John Hass   L73   MO
Michael Kane   L73   MO
Frank Cafferata   L2   IL
William G. Jones   L282   NY
Anton Krafcheck   L215   WI
Mathias Wambach   L215 WI
Paul Winsauer   L215   WI
James W. Josnton   L113   ON
Timothy Bagley   L172   NA
James V. O'Donnell   L94   NY
John Murdoch   L113   ON
Emmet F. Donnelly   L94   NY
Adrian B. Curnen   L94   NY
James S. Baldwin   L43   OR
Ceaser R. Helbing   L5   CO
James McDade   L788   NJ
Albert Thresher   L345   KY
James H. Malone   L94   NY
John J. Schoppmeyer   L94   NY
Charles F. Garret, Sr. L67   OH
Stewart Lynn   L2   IL
George A. Lenz   L734   MD
Louis J. Farrell   L94   NY
William C. Swan   L718   MA
Oscar B. Gabriel   L43   OR
William A. Richards   L94   NY
Albert Fischer   L22   PA
Thomas J. Gilloway   L22   PA
Patrick A. Murray   L22   PA
Edward T. Paxson   L22   PA
Patrick J. Doherty   L94   NY
Harry C. Powell   L112   CA
Ernest Robertson   L613   MY
E. O. M. Wilson   L209   AB
Leo Hertel   L27   WA
Thoas Maloney   L345   KY
Gust T. Peterson   L82   MN

1923

Walter Reed   L93   OH
Alex Thompson   L357   IN
Charles Watson   L357   IN
Julius Phillips   L798   CA
Fred H. Rittenour   L43   OR
John F. J. Dunne   L94   NY
Michael H. Hanley   L94   NY
James Griffin   L94   NY
Charles J. Murphy   L416   IN
Harlan A. Ruth   L67   OH
Charles E. McKenna L76   MA
Thomas Carrigan   L280   NY
John J. O'Reilly   L1339   CT
David S. Gerow   L193   ON
William J. Aeillo   L94   NY
Julius Spanier   L94   NY
Joseph E. Nirschel   L282   NY
Herman J. Cowdrey, Jr   L144 MA
Charles A. Daley   L144   MA
Adolph W. Wefel   L43   OR
William Merten   L48   OH
Horace Roberts   L27   WA"

May the never be forgotten.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Sunday's Obituary - Deciphering the Zombies in my Family

Last week I shared a Census Record Sunday post about my 2nd great uncle, Neil Brown Jr, who apparently died in 1937, but was feeling plucky enough to be included in the 1940 US Federal Census with his family. So because of my relative's desire to be way ahead of his time for auditioning for the AMC's The Walking Dead I've decided to take some time to go through the obituaries for his offspring. The newspaper for the time of his wife's death isn't available yet, but hopefully someday. I do have her death certificate thought so unless reanimation was a common thing I'm fairly certain of when she died.

I've shared Neil Brown Jr's death certificate (excerpts) and a link to his obituary last Sunday. The next logical course would be to start with his oldest child and work my way down the list. That would be Nancy. I don't have an obituary for her though and her marriage to John Patrick Harkins needs to be researched more. The information was given to me by a cousin who passed so I can only use it as a guide, but I'm currently in the process of piecing it together.

The second oldest child of Neil and Bridget Brown nee Brown was Eleanor Prosser nee Brown, but I've already posted an obituary on here that you can read here. There were no surprises in this obituary. Every was pretty much who I expected them to be (dead and alive) and it helps to confirm Nancy's husband's name is Harkins.

The Standard Speaker -
30MAR1997, pg C6
The next in line to share is Mary Barth nee Brown and it would appear that I never transcribed her obituary, so let's see what we find.

"Mary L. Barth

Mary L. Brown Barth, 84, of 70 S. Pine St., Hazleton, died Friday at the Mountain City Convalescent Center, after a lengthy illness.

Born in Hazleton, she was the daughter of the late Neil and Bridget (Brown) Brown.

She was a member of St. Gabriel's Roman Catholic Church, Hazleton, and was previously active in St. Joseph's Hospital Auxiliary.

Preceding her in death, in addition to her parents, were her husband, Clyde O., who died in 1968; sisters, Nancy Harkins, Eleanor Prosser, Rita Dermot and Joan Cann; and brothers, Neil, Eugene 'Cy,' John and James.

Surviving are brothers, Charles, hazleton, and Paul, Erie; nieces and nephews.

The funeral will be held Monday at 10 a.m. from the Boyle Funeral Home, 100 S. Wyoming St., Hazleton.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. in St. Gabriel's Roman Catholic Church, Hazleton.

Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery, Drums.

Friends may call Monday from 9 a.m. until the time of the Mass."

After transcribing this obituary I was able to create a memorial on FindAGrave for Mary. Her husband already had one. No stone for either of them, but I've linked them and requested a photo. If one isn't taken I'll be able to grab one when I go to Pennsylvania this summer. It would also appear from this obituary that Mary and Clyde didn't have any children.

Then I decided to go onto Newspapers.com and pull Clyde's obituary since the FindAGrave memorial for him listed his death date. I was not prepared for what I found. Let's just say that April of 1968 was not a good year for Mary. The first newspaper hit I got wasn't for Clyde's obituary, but for Mary's brother, Neil Brown III. I knew when this Neil had died. I just hadn't realized that he died the day before Mary's husband! Bad year. Bad month. Bad WEEK!

Well there is nothing here that pulls Mary out of my family tree. Her obituary fits perfectly in where she should be. The only surprise aside from the deaths of her husband and brother was that she was buried in Calvary Cemetery and not St. Gabriel's. She was raised Catholic. There are Catholics in Calvary, but her funeral was in St. Gabe's too. The answer to that was found in her husband's obituary which I will share at some point in the future. He was Lutheran. They weren't the same religion. Now it wouldn't be such a big deal to have someone of another faith buried in a Catholic cemetery. That wasn't always the case though and it was most likely the situation then.

So nothing unusual. Until next Sunday!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Thriller Thursday - Wrapping Up the Villers Trial, Part 7

The Jamestown Weekly Alert,
20JAN1898, pg1
This week we actually get into some of the details of the case. Well, when I say details I mean that there is a summation of the defense. The clipping praises the defense attorney for doing a good job despite being on the unpopular side. The defense, as far as what is presented, isn't extraordinarily strong.

"Plea For Defense.

Attorney Ellsworth made a strong plea for his client. He attacked the circumstantial evidence in detail, going through it step by step and estimating its worth. He handled the case throughout without assistance showing good generalship and most honorable methods. His was not the popular side and in this he was hampered from the outset.

He dwelt upon the mightiness of the state to prosecute, secure witness and evidence no matter what the cost; and to secure the best legal talent to conduct the trial to a conclusion. The fact that the soil over the body in the grave was loose indicated to him the body had been interred but a short time; no one had testified a straw stack had ever stood there even though cinder of some fire were plowed up upon the site of the grave. Portions of a human body were found and what more natural that the skull and body had been torn and broken by the badgers as testified they were very powerful animals and had burrowed into the grave. Other men had disappeared from that locality and who could say this was the body of Aug. Tromer or Jacob Walker? The age, sickness and good character and reputation of the witness were all in favor of the prisoner, who must be presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. The presumption was such until beyond a reasonable doubt he was proven guilty. Cupidity was not a motive as Tromer was in debt to him for $72. It could not have been in anger for they were on friendly terms."

An understandable defense to claim that the body may not have been Tromer's, but with Villers' luck it still would have been blamed on him. Using the loose soil as a sign that the body had been recently buried could have been helpful to his defense since Villers was in jail and if it had been buried recently, he couldn't have done it. Unfortunately he was in jail for the attempted murder of Tromer's wife so it would be more believable to the jury that any loose soil was caused by the badgers mentioned. The statement that somehow Villers couldn't have killed Tromer because the latter owed him $72 is ludicrous. Tell that to the numerous people that have been killed by organized crime lords for not paying their debts. As for anger, well there was a previous article that I had come across a few years ago that speculated that it could have been self-defense on Villers' part because Tromer was known to be the sort of person to fly off in a rage. I did a quick search on my blog and didn't find that article. I'll add it to the list of things I need to post.