Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Unsolved Murder Mystery

As soon as I climb out of the car, at Cummings Cemetery in Tiff City, MO., I noticed the tall obelisk that is postioned near the back of the cemetery.  Immediately I know that is where I am heading. It is hard to miss, being it is the tallest marker in the cemetery.

Leaning forward to read the inscription, I am pleasantly surprised to see I have a murder mystery on my hands. The inscription says:

C. L. Moore
Oct. 5, 1834
July 18,1894

I continue around the stone making sure to photograph all the names.  To my shock this is not only a stone with one murder victim but two. The opposite side reads:

Mary A. Moore
Dec. 28, 1837
July 18, 1894

Back at home in front of the computer.
I am on a mission to find out what happened to the unfortunate Moores.  Page after page, so many Moores but not the right ones.

JACKPOT! buried in the pages of a 113 year old book I find the answers to my mystery. Thank you Google!

The following is what I uncovered in "The History of McDonald County, Missouri" by Judge J. A. Sturges written in 1897. (Ironically, I have a picture of his stone.)

extracted from

"On Wednesday night, July 19, 1894, C. L. Moore and his wife, Mary A. Moore, were murdered in cold blood at their residence near Tiff City. The following account taken from the McDonald County Republican of July 27, 1894, is substantially correct:
“The greatest crime that was ever perpetrated in time of peace in McDonald county was committed last Wednesday night by the murder of C. L. Moore and his wife.
“The Moore residence is situated in a narrow valley that makes up from Buffalo creek about a mile and one half about Tiff City. The valley runs nearly north and south, and the house, a good-sized two story frame, is situated on the west side, fronting about east. The road leading from Buffalo creek to the State Line road on the uplands runs in front of the house about a hundred yards distant. The house sets back a few steps from the front fence. A double porch extends the entire length of the house in front, at the north end of which is a stairway. There are two doors and two windows opening out on the porch. It is about a quarter of a mile from the main road along Buffalo creek bottom. Here these two old people were living alone, their children all being grown and married. Their youngest daughter and husband, George Williams, live about two hundred yards above the Moore residence.
Last Wednesday evening about dark time pistol shots were heard in that vicinity, but as shooting is frequent, no particular attention was paid to it. The next morning a boy who had borrowed the Esquire’s buggy the day before returned it about ten o’clock and put it up in the barn. Not seeing anyone, he hollowed. Hearing no response he went in at the gate when he saw Mrs. Moore lying on the porch. He at first supposed she was asleep but on going nearer he discovered a pool of blood. Almost wild with fright he ran and gave the alarm. The news spread like wild-fire and the people for miles around gathered in under the most intense excitement. Prosecuting Attorney, Hugh Dabbs, and his assistant A. V. Manning had gone to Tiff City that morning and arrived just as the word came. With Dr. A. J. McKinney they went to the scene of the murder, where an examination of the two bodies and of the premises were made. Mr. Moore was found lying in the northwest corner of the north room, his right arm under his head, the left raised as if trying to ward off the blow. There
were four bullet holes in his body, as follows: One in right arm near the shoulder, one on the front side of the right shoulder, one of the left side of the head through the temporal bone, the other in the cheek on the right side of the nose. The last two wounds were both fatal. The blood had run in a stream and was clotted all along the floor all the way to the fire place. Mrs. Moore was lying on the porch, across the front door her feet near the foot of the stairs. She was on her face, her head resting on both arms. She had been shot in the upper part of the arm, on the left side of the neck, and in the back part of the head. Dr. McKinney says she was evidently running when the fatal shots were fired.
“Toward the south end of the porch were the chairs where they had been sitting and their pipes from which they had taken their last peaceful smoke, were lying in the window. They had removed their shoes, one pair being found on the porch and the other pair in the house, like they had been removed and put away for the night. Both were in their stocking feet, she with a light summer dress, he having removed his coat and vest, and the top button of his pants unfastened as though preparing to retire. The lamp was still burning. The examination showed that they had been dead about fifteen hours, both bodies being cold and stiff. Two other chairs were sitting on the porch near the two just mentioned indicating there had been two visitors. Five shells of empty cartridges, number 38, were found near the door, and four of the same kind have been found on the premises since. In addition to the seven wounds found in the bodies two bullets had lodged in the floor. It is evident the shots were all fired from the same pistol, as the shells found were all punctured a little to one side of the center and all exactly in the same manner.

“The only conceivable motive to the crime was robbery. Mr. Moore was a man of considerable means, and it was known that he was saving up money to pay off a mortgage on some property he owned in Kansas. The amount, if any, secured is not known, but is probably from two to five hundred dollars was obtained. It was evidently the act of some one who knew the family well and their financial condition. It is also evident Mr. and Mrs. Moore both knew their assailants, for strangers would not take such extreme precaution of shooting so many times to insure instant death.
“Suspicion rests on parties not far away and some clues, which we are not at liberty disclose tend to confirm the suspicion.
“A liberal reward has been offered, and it is more than likely the guilty parties will soon be in the meshes of the law.
“Esq. Moore has long been one of the prominent men of our county and was highly respected by all who knew him. His wife who was part Indian, was an estimable lady. They were about sixty years old and after giving a home to each of their children, were living out their old age in a comfortable home with plenty and to spare.”
In the following September Lafe Hamilton and his brother Tom were arrested with the crime. The preliminary examination was held before Esq. S. W. King at Pineville, lasted three days and resulted in the defendants being held to await the action of the grand jury. They gave bond in a few days and were released.
At the February term of court following these two defendants, with their brother William Hamilton and Andrew Taylor were indicted for the crime. Being unable to furnish bail, they were committed to the Newton county jail where they remained until the August term of court 1896, at which time the case against Taylor was nollied and the Hamiltons were tried. This is one of the most interesting cases ever tried in McDonald county. Hundreds of people came to hear it, and from Tuesday evening until Saturday evening the court house was literally packed full of people eager to catch every word of the evidence. The State was represented by J. D. Edge, prosecuting attorney, Hugh Dabbs and J. W. Brunk of Neosho, and H. C. Pepper and Tom Steel, of Cassville. The defendants were represented by George R. Clay and J. A. Sturges, of Pineville, A. J. Harbison of Neosho, and Cloud & Davies of Pierce City. The introduction of evidence was begun Wednesday evening and the arguments closed late Saturday afternoon. Sunday forenoon the jury returned a verdict of not guilty.
Up to the present writing, July 13, 1897, no other parties have been apprehended and it appears that this great crime will ever remain a mystery, and its perpetrators go unpunished. "

As far as I can tell this murder was never solved.  So it remains an unsolved mystery.

1 comment:

  1. How sad that people that knew them would be the ones that killed them, How sad that someone felt the need to kill them, I sure hope the Moore's are resting in peace