Murder of Pauline Duebbert 1929 Part V

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

Dateline: St. Charles, Missouri
Thursday, January 19, 1933
St. Charles Banner News


David A. Miller was granted a twenty-day reprieve by Governor Park last night after Osmund Haenssler, his attorney, had presented a petition containing 779 names.
Miller received the news of the reprieve quietly and said, “Thank you, Sheriff, it’s sure a relief to me.”
A few minutes later, Miller asked that his light be turned out and he fell asleep. The deputies on watch were withdrawn by Sheriff Phelps.
Sheriff Phelps said that Miller slept late today.
So confident was Miller that a reprieve would be granted, that he had promised several friends to paint pictures in water colors for them “next week.”
It is evident that Miller was living under a strain, even though he maintained a stolid attitude and continued to paint with unerring skill the whole of yesterday.
Unless Governor Park interferes further in the case, Miller must be hanged on Friday, February 10.
The governor’s communication follows, in part:

“By virtue of the authority in me invested by Section 8, Article 5, of the Constitution of Missouri, I, Governor Guy B. Park, do hereby suspend until February 10, 1933, the sentence and execution of David A. Miller….”

The next step in Miller’s case will be an attempt to secure a commutation of sentence to life imprisonment. Governor park, when he granted the reprieve, indicated that he wished to study the case.
Miller, the early part of the month, wrote a letter to his aged father saying that he believed he had only a short time to live. He seldom speaks of his own family. When told that the supreme court had affirmed his sentence last December 14, Miller said, among other things, “I want my daughter to have my $20.”
Osmund Haenssler said today that governor Park and he were in conference for some time. After hearing a review of the case, Governor Park promised Mr. Haenssler to study the evidence in the hands of the supreme court.

From Wednesday’s Daily:
Sheriff Phelps today announced that he had suspended certain jail rules in the David A. Miller case. Miller has been granted special permission to receive visitors, day or night, as long as the death watch is maintain3d in the county jail. He is no longer served regular fare at meal times but is allowed to order such food as he desires.
Today, Osmund Haenssler, attorney for Miller, motored to Jefferson City to present to Governor Park the people’s petition asking that commutation to a life sentence be granted. The petition contained 779 names of local and St. Charles county resident.
The death watch began this morning at six a.m. Two deputy sheriffs will be on duty at all times until after the execution or at such time should the governor intervene.
In the event the scheduled hanging takes place Friday morning between 8:00 and 9:00 o’clock, twelve witnesses will be on hand. Two of these witnesses must be physicians.
David Miller spent the entire day today painting a picture in water colors which he intends to present to Niva Phelps, daughter of Sheriff Phelps. The painting itself shows the skill of the self-made painter.
Interested friends furnish Miller with calendars and pictures from papers from which he develops his own ideas. He has painted several scenery pictures and a number of biblical pictures. Recently, he clipped a picture of a bulldog from a newspaper and has drawn pictures of the animal.
Miller, who said he had been a Christian for more than two years, pointed out that his hand is steady and that it was confidence in his innocence and his belief in God that made it possible for him to carry on his hobby.
Using a small camel-hair brush, he creates beautiful scenes and has sold numerous paintings. He also takes orders for water color paintings.
So confident is he that the scheduled hanging will not take place Friday morning, he has told Deputy Sheriff Joe Borgmeyer that he will finish other paintings next week.

Dateline: St. Charles, Missouri
Thursday, February 9, 1933
St. Charles Banner-News


From Thursday’s Daily:
David A. Miller, scheduled to hang tomorrow morning for the murder of Miss Pauline Deubbert, spinster of the Femme Osage neighborhood on August 22, 1929, has discontinued his painting and spent most of today writing last letters to his father, brother and one or two friends.
Miller has given up hope of interference on the part of Governor park and says that it is the will of the Lord that he is to go.
The condemned man has just finished painting his last picture and will present it to Rev. Charles A. Weinig, assistant pastor of the St. Peters Catholic Church. He leaves several orders unfinished.
Sheriff Charles Phelps said this morning that Miller has requested of the Sheriff that any word, good or bad, that is received from Governor Park, be revealed to him immediately. The sheriff has promised to do so. The sheriff attempted to talk with the governor yesterday but the latter was too busy.
Some time ago, Miller said he did not want to be buried in a pauper’s field. At that time, he had saved several dollars secured from the sale of his paintings and planned to buy a burial lot in the St. Peters Catholic Cemetery.
Sheriff Phelps tonight will serve Miller with any eatables he chooses. Miller’s last supper will be served about eight o’clock. He will also be given the right to his breakfast tomorrow morning.
Since his arrest on September 22, 1929, Miller has been an ideal prisoner, ex-sheriff Grothe and Sheriff Phelps report. He has never asked for more clothes and a pair of shoes from Mr. Grothe and a sweater from Sheriff Phelps were the only gifts he received from the county.
The light in Miller’s cell was turned out about midnight last night. The rule that all lights in the jail proper must be turned out at a certain time has been suspended in Miller’s case, Sheriff Phelps said.
Miller has become very religious since entering the jail. Time and time again he has referred to the approaching hanging in the words, “If it’s the Lord’s will. I will die: if it isn’t I won’t die.” Pastors of the St. Peters Catholic church have made frequent visits to Miller’s cell. It is said Father Weinig will be with him during his last moments, if Miller goes to his death.
Miller recently wrote to his aged father, telling him that he (Miller) believed he had only a short time to live. He said in the letter that if his father wished to come to see him or felt he could make the trip, it would be all right. Miller’s father lives at Swedesburg, Mo., located in the Ozark mountains.
Miller was convicted of first degree murder nearly three years ago. Norman E. Tanner, who was charge jointly with the crime, was given a life sentence in the state penitentiary upon his plea of guilty, before Judge E. B. Woolfolk.
Sheriff Phelps sent telegram to the governor his afternoon at one o’clock stating, “I am preparing to execute David. A. Miller at six a.m. February 10, 1933.


From Wednesday’s Daily:
The death watch over David A. Miller, scheduled to hang Friday morning, February 10, for the murder of Pauline Duebbert, was placed on duty near the death cell this morning at six a.m. Four deputies will alternate in keeping watch.
As yet no word has been received from Governor Park relative to the Miller case. Local authorities believe that the hanging will take place during the scheduled hour.
Miller entertained only a few guests today. He has requested of the sheriff that no newspaper reporters be allowed to talk with him.
It seems that during the last death watch, a local newspaperman caused David A. Miller considerable embarrassment. Miller recently said that the newspaper man had invariably misquoted him his newspaper articles and in questioning miller had embarrassed him before others. The newspaper man evidently did not grasp the seriousness of the situation. The man, while waiting in his death cell for the fatal hour when life would be taken, was treated as though the reporter was interviewing Miller on any subject other than life or death.
Miller’s request has been granted by the sheriff, protecting the men from such tactics in securing news in the future.
Sheriff Phelps, while in Jefferson City today was expected to interview the governor in Miller’s behalf. Once before, Sheriff Phelps attempted to see the governor on this matter.
As during the other death watch, Miller will be granted certain privileges not attainable by other prisoners. His cell is located on the upper floor near the front of the ajil proper. The officers on duty during the day are Fred Koester and Abe Boschert and during the night. Rav Weinhoff and Tony Rufkahr.

Dateline: St. Charles, Missouri
Thursday, February 16, 1933
St. Charles Banner-News


Dies At 6:17 A.M., Fourteen Minutes After Trap is Sprung.
Has Nothing to Say but Prays Calmly.
Will Have Christian Burial Monday Morning

From Friday’s Daily:
David A. Miller was hanged by Sheriff Charles Phelps this morning at 6:03 o’clock in the St. Charles county jail for the murder of Miss Pauline Duebbert. Coroner Will L. Freeman and County Physician L. E. Belding pronounced him dead at 6:17 o’clock, fourteen minutes later.
Miller walked to his death calmly reciting the rosary. Deat ame in the middle of a prayer.

Nothing to Say

“Have you anything to say, Dave?” Sheriff Phelps asked as deputies fastened straps about Miller’s legs. “I have nothing to say, “ Miller replied in a firm voice and immediately continued reciting the rosary. Father Charles Weinig who was with Miller until the last, recited the rosary with him. Not a tremor was noted in Miller’s voice.
Witnesses Called
Witnesses began arriving as early as five o’clock this morning At 5:15 o’clock, the witnesses were called into the corridor below the trap and there police officers, reporters and about twenty others were sent upstairs to witness the tightening of the rope. It was estimated that about thirty five St. Charles and county residents attended the hanging. Sheriff Phil Dueser of St. Louis county and his chief deputy Litzinger, were also present.

The Death March

Witnesses assembled, Deputy Sheriff Joe Borgmeyer entered the death cell and placed straps about Miller’s waist and hands. Then, leading the procession Borgmeyer walked toward the trap on the second floor in the jail, just ten feet from the cell. He was followed by Miller and Father Charles Weinig of the St. Peters parish. Both Miller and the priest were reciting the rosary as the condemned man walked unhesitatingly toward the rope.

Trap Sprung by Sheriff

Standing on the trap and looking straight toward the priest prayers were again resumed. Deputy Borgmeyer placed the straps about Miller’s feet as Phil Rupp placed the black hood and the rope. Sheriff Phelps stood by the lever within two feet of the trap. It was only a moment later that the Sheriff pulled the lever, allowing the platform to fall.
Death was due to a fractured neck and jugular vein, the physicians said.

Eats Fish Breakfast

Sheriff Phelps served Miller a four pound catfish for breakfast at 5:15 o’clock. Miller did not eat supper late last night because he was too busy packing articles and writing letters. Father Weinig said that Miller had requested him to mail six letters to his father, brother, a friend in California, Father Wm. Pezold of Cottleville and the remainder went to St. Charles friends.

Saw No Reporters

Out of respect for Miller’s request, no reporters were allowed to interview him during the death watch. It s3ems he became angered when one reporter was tactless in his questioning during the first death watch. Only the priest, near friends and deputies saw Miller during the last two days, Sheriff Phelps said. His attorney, Osmund Haenssler, called on him about ten o’clock last night.

70 Unfinished Pictures

According to Father Weinig, Miller had orders for nearly seventy more paintings which he was unable to finish. In the last two years, Miller has painted about 200 pictures in water colors and has sold them to friends for whatever they would pay him. At one time, Miller was said to have saved nearly $170 in this way. He discontinued his paintings last Wednesday when he began writing letters and packing his valuables.

Christian Burial

Father Weinig said last night that Miller will be given a Christian funeral service Monday morning from the St. Peters church. Interment will be made in the cemetery of that congregation.
Miller was clutching a crucifix when the hanging took place. He took communion at five o’clock. The remains at present are at Dallmeyer funeral parlor. Miller stated some time ago that he had a horror of being buried in a pauper’s field. It was for this reason, he said that he was saving his money.
Prepared to Die
Miller, time and time again, had said that he was ready to die if it was the Lord’s will, “If it’s the Lord’s will, I will die and if it isn’t, I won’t die,” he would say. He became converted to the Catholic faith about two years ago when Father Wm. Pezold, then assistant pastor of the St. Peters church, called on him. Miller told a deputy recently that he knew he would go to a better place.

Family Unknown

Very little is known about Miller’s family. He has an 86 year old father and a brother living at Swedesburg, Mo., and a wife and family unknown to authorities here. None of his family have called on him during his stay in the county jail here since Septembe4 22, 1929.

Perfect Work

Those who had witnessed hangings before said this morning that Sheriff Phelps did his duty in an efficient and humane manner. The actual hanging was over before the witnesses realized what was taking place.
The equipment was put in perfect order by skilled workmen several days ago. Sheriff Phelps tested the rope twice by dropping a 180 pound sack of sand from the trap. This work was not witnessed by Miller as steel doors had been drawn, shutting off the view.

Governor Refuses

Governor Park in an Associated Press statement, said yesterday afternoon that he would not further interfere with Miller’s execution. Sheriff Phelps made two trips to Jefferson City recently and on both occasions attempted to interview the governor. Yesterday afternoon at one o’clock the sheriff sent a telegram to Governor Park stating, “I am preparing to execute Dave A. Miller at six a.m. February 10 1933.” He received no reply.
A “special delivery” letter was delivered to the jail for David A. Miller early this morning a few minutes after he was pronounced dead. Sheriff Phelps sid he did not open and read the letter but returned it to the post office here. He said the “special” did not bear a postmark nor return address. So it can only be assumed that the letter came from a friend or relative who resides at a distance.

Other Telegrams Sent

Last evening Sheriff Phelps received a telephone communication from a woman inquiring if word had been received from the governor. When told that none had been received, she said, “There will be telegrams sent to the governor at one hour intervals starting at six p.m. this evening and continued until midnight.”
The Sheriff did not learn the name of the woman who had called, Deputy Sheriff Borgmeyer said.

According to Sheriff Phelps, he had received numerous applications from people who wished to spring the trap. Among the applicants was a sixteen year old youth who rang the door bell at the county jail one evening and asked $150 to do the work. It is thought that lack of work had prompted most of the men in their actions who thought ony of the $125 allowed the Sheriff to carry out the orders of the court.

Murder in 1929

Miss Pauline Duebbert was murdered and her cousin, August Meyer, seriously shot on the evening of August 22, 1929. The couple were found sometime later by neighbors and a report was immediately forwarded to Sheriff I. Grothe. Due to the lack of clues at hand at that time, the sheriff and his chief deputy, Les Plackmeyer, assumed that robbery was the motive.

Warrants Name Two/p>
After placing bloodhounds on the trail, Sheriff Grothe found two revolvers, handkerchiefs and coveralls which were traced thru East St. Louis pawnshops and hardware stores. About the same time, Miller’s employer read in the newspapers that a murder had been committed and knowing that two of his woodcutters had disappeared, he notified authorities here.
David A. Miller was placed in the St. Charles county jail, and with that incident came the news that his partner, Norman Tanner, had also been captured and was in the jail at Sprinfield, Mo., awaiting delivery to Sheriff Grothe.
Tanner was captured at Pitcher, Oklahoma, where he and Miller had been staying for two weeks.
Locate Men
The sheriff and prosecuting attorney located their men and placed Pinkerton detectives on their track. The detectives followed Miller, but remained a few days behind him all the time.
The downfall of Miller seems to have been a woman with whom he was infatuated at Boonville. Knowing this, the officers watched the mails and were enabled to find out in what part of the United States Miller was staying. By one device or another, they also obtained a letter that Miller had written to his homefolks in another state, advising that his wife need never hope to see him again, and recommending that she get a divorce.

Owned Four Autos

It was learned that in the last few weeks of his freedom Miller had been the owner of four automobiles, abandoning them in succession. The last one a Ford which he bought at Pitcher, on which he paid $180 down and gave his note for the balance. At Boonville he abandoned a $1900 Victory Six, having paid $800 down on it. The Plymouth car, in which he and Tanner made the trip to Indianapolis and return, was also abandoned and there is a record of his having purchased another car.

Cheated Employer

Miller obtained $1200 cash by a fraudulent transaction in which he cheated his empl9oyer, Mr. Hurt, of Crocker, Missouri, out of that money. For this fraud a reward was placed on his head by the Missouri Bankers’ Association. Sheriff Grothe said that all the money the man had left seemed to be $3, the amount found in his pockets.
Miller indicated to associates that he intended to go to South America. He got as far as Indianapolis, but the theory is that there was a magnet in Boonville that drew him back to Missouri.

Miller was Returning

When the St. Charles officers reached Buffalo, Mo., Miller told them that he left Pitcher, Oklahoma with the idea of coming to St. Charles and giving himself up and he was on his way when arrested by Sheriff Hyde. He explained that he had just heard he was wanted and as he was innocent, he desired to be thoroughly questioned and released. The officers, however, accepted his story with a broad margin of incredulity.
At Buffalo, there is no jail. Sheriff Hyde had the prisoner at the Sheriff’s office under guard.

Tanner Arrested

Norman Tanner, accused jointly with David A. Miller of the murder of Pauline Duebbert, was secured by Sheriff Grothe and Prosecuting Attorney W. F. Bloebaum, at the jail at Springfield, Mo., and brought to St. Charles. John Steele drove the car.
Tanner was 21 years old at the time. Evidently he and Miller were pretending to tell the same story, but the officers after a lengthy conversion, felt in a very optimistic mood. They believed they had secured the men who had committed the murder.
Both Mountain Men
Both men are Missourians, having come from the same section of the country in the Ozarks, in and around Swedesburg and Crocker. Miller, the older man, had the dominant personality. He also had a criminal record while the other suspect did not.
In accordance with investigations of the prosecuting attorney, Miller served a term in the penitentiary, in which he was accused of taking money from some one by force. He said he was innocent of the charge but was talked into accepting a three year term rather than let the case go to a jury.
State witnesses at the hanging were Drs. W. Freeman and L. E. Belding, Wayse S. O’Neal, Charles Cappel, Frank May, Per Compton, Dr. f. L. Harrington, Dr. Howard Muhm, Dr. O.A. Muhm, Dr. B. P. Wentker, Dr. Ben .L. Neubeiser and John Washburn. The entire police force attended the hanging.

Dateline: St. Charles, Missouri
Thursday, February 16, 1933
St. Charles Banner-News

Hundreds Viewed the Remains Sunday.
Rev. Father Weinig Delivered the Sermon

From Monday’s daily:
Dave Miller was laid to rest this morning in the graveyard of the St. Peters parish. Thus ends the episode that begun with the murder 9of Pauline Duebbert and included the conversion of the perpetrator of that crime. Before he died he was a true Christian, whose penitence was sincere and devout. His whole nature was changed. He was no longer criminally inclined, but would have made a good citizen, had he been released. This is the opinion of hundreds.
After the hanging last Friday, Miller’s body was taken to Dallmeyer’s Undertaking Parlor where it was given careful preparation. The head had almost jerked from the torso. The jugular vein was severed and the muscles frightfully contorted. Regardless of that fact the undertakers revamped the mutilations so that when the body was peaceably laid out, it appeared perfectly normal in all respects. With the neck unhidden in the casket, it seems as natural as in life.
Yesterday hundreds of people visited the undertaking parlors and viewed the remains. They were prompted by curiosity no doubt tbut there have been few laid in their final resting place that have attracted larger crowds. One man who looked on Miller’s dead face said that he did so because of a request which the doomed convict made several days ago. For some unknown reason Miller had asked him to do so.
The pallbearers were the same personnel as those whom the sheriff designated to keep the death watch several days ago. They were Fred Koester, Anthony Rufkahr, Anthony Boschert, Charles Cappel, Hilary Pieper and Roy Humhoff.
The remains were taken to the St. Peters Church., Third and Clay streets where Rev. Fr. Weinig, Miller’s spiritual advisor was celebrant of the requiem mass.
The Rev. Weinig in his remarks made it clear that Miller should no longer be regarded as a sinner, but instead, as a redeemed man who had made his peace and was a child of Christ and inheritor of the Kingdom of Heave. The priest explained that the occasion of the funeral was the first time the body of Miller has ever entered a Catholic church. “His body is here” he said, “but his soul has gone to eternity.”
Miller joined the church in baptism April 10, 1931, and since that time had been a changed individual. Miller was a worthy christian example, Father Weinig said, and his influence among the other prisoners was uplifting.
The good priest compared Miller to the saved man on the cross at Calvary whose redemption was promised by none other than the Savior. The crowd, which understood none of this spiritual values connected with the crucifixion of either Jesus or the thief who died with him was blasphemous and unmerciful. Miller’s experience was along the same line but his inner life obtained his salvation.
A crowd of about 350 was in the church. A smaller crowd accompanied the casket to the grave.

Return to Part IV

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Murder of Pauline Duebbert 1929 Part IV

Part I, Part II, Part III, Part V

Dateline: St. Charles, Missouri
Thursday, December 15, 1932
St. Charles Banner-News


Court Also Affirms Two Other Death Sentences.
Miller was Convicted for the Murder of Pauline Duebbert
Turns Pale when He Hears the News

The Missouri Supreme Court yesterday affirmed the death sentences of three men, one of them is David Miller, and set January 20 as the date for the hangings.

Another to be hanged on that day is James W. Kellar, also known as Charles Campbell, who pleaded guilty before Circuit Judge McElhiney at Clayton last March 21 to the murder of Mrs. Sauer of Maplewood, wife of his benefactor. Kellar beat Mrs. Sauer to death with an iron pipe at her home. His sentence has been postponed until last April and this, his attorneys argued put him in jeopardy twice for the same crime. “We are satisfied the trial court felt it was a solemn responsibility and a distressing way to assess the death penalty” the opinion sated.

Harry Worden, convicted of originally attacking a 16 year old girl near Carthage, Mo., will also hang on that day. He based his appeal on the contention that he should have been granted a change of venue on account of public prejudice in Carthage. His father, Lew Worden, was hanged on for the same crime March 3.

David A. Miller was convicted by a jury in Circuit Judge e. B. Woolfolk’s court. He was convicted for the murder of Miss Pauline Daubert on her farm on the night of August 22, 1929. Robbery was the motive of this crime evidence pointed out when the hearing was held here.

Sheriff Grothe broke the news in the presence of Plackmeyer and reporters. Just after he was taken to his death cell on the top floor of the jail, he was told of the decision of the Supreme Court.

“Of course a man has to die,” Miller said, “But I hate to in this way.” He paled slightly and continued “its bad when you have to die by another, but I have confidence.”

Miller still maintained his innocence when he said, “I know I didn’t kill the woman, that’s why I have confidence. Haenssler can take my case to the governor.” In the present time, Miller is one of three occupying cells on the top floor. He was given two mattresses and two new baskets.

“Why can’t you put me up here two or three days before the time?” he asked. “I will sure be lonely up here.” And then the Sheriff informed him that it was not his (the sheriff’s) wish that he be put here, it was the law.

“I certainly want to thank you and Les, “ he told the sheriff, “You have been good to me.”

It is understood that Haenssler can take the case before the next Governor of Missouri.
Pauline Duebbert, 48, was murdered on her farm at Femme Osage and her cousin, August Meier was shot three times. August Becker and Otto Webbink, neighbors were the first to reach the scene of the shooting.

After blood hounds were employed, several bits of evidence, including gloves, overalls, guns, hats, etc., were found when the hounds found the murderer’s trail. It was by this evidence and the knowledge of strangers in the neighborhood that Sheriff I. Grothe and his deputy, Les Plackmeyer traced the movements of the murderers and had them both under arrest exactly one month following the murder.

August Meier ralliled and lived to testify against David A. Miller and Norman E. Tanner. Tanner at the last minute, decided to turn state’s witness and testify against Miller and himself. Seeing how the crimes were committed. Tanner was given life in the state penitentiary by Judge Woolfolk.

Miller has been kept in the county jail since his arrest in September 1929. Sheriff Grothe says that the man has been a model prisoner and has caused no trouble whatever. Miller has been frequently visited by a priest and it is said that he has been comforted to such extent that he has expressed himself as ready to die.

Tanner, months ago, was delivered to the pen. He is a young man of about 24 years. Miller will be 49 years old Christmas Day. His father, who lived at Swedesburg, Mo., is 86 years old.

If Miller is hanged on January 20, the job falls upon the shoulders of the newly elected sheriff, Charles Phelps.

At fist, the city and county people were greatly prejudiced and desired that “justice” be done.. Now, however, a great deal of sympathy is shown Miller by the people.

Miller’s attorney, Osmund Haenssler, appointed by the court to represent the defendant, has been working diligently on the case and recently went to Jefferson City to present this case before the Supreme Court. Claude Tuttle was also associated as an attorney for the defendant.

Commissioner H. J. Westhaues in affirming the sentence, holds that Miler is guilty beyond any doubt and that his crime was “cruel and atrocious.”

Les Plackmeyer and Wm. Bloebaum, former prosecuting attorney, are the only ones who have heard a confession from Miller. In telling his story to these men, however, he stopped when he came to the shooting and said he could not remember.

It was the testimony of a girl in the East St. Louis pawn shop and the testimony of Tanner that convicted Miller. Plackmeyer’s testimony at the trial made up more than sixty typewritten pages. The pawn shop girl pointed to Miller and Tanner at the trial and said they were the two who purchased revolvers from her.

The employer of Tanner and Miller helped the sheriff and Plackmeyer considerably in their efforts to locate the two suspects. After their identify became known, Grothe and Plackmeyer, with their evidence at hand, began tracing the movements of the suspects step by step, from the time they arrived at the Femme Osage farm the first time until they were captured.

The opinion handed down by the Supreme Court yesterday closes the next to last chapter of one of the most well read cases ever brought before the circuit court here.

Continue Reading Part V
Go back to Part III

Murder of Pauline Duebbert 1929 Part III

Part I, Part II, Part IV, Part V

Dateline: St. Charles, Missouri
Thursday, October 3, 1929
St. Charles Weekly-Banner News


Tells Details Leading Up to the Crisis and After
But is Hazy on Who Shot Whom and Why the Revolvers Were Brought Into Play

From Monday’s Daily:
Just who shot whom and in fact, how the shooting started that resulted in the murder of Pauline Duebbert and the wounding of August Meyer on the memorable night of August 22, is still a mooted question. This morning David Andrew Miller told his story in detail in te presence of the prosecuting attorney, the sheriff and the reporters of the St. Charles newspapers, Miss Delight Sherlia took a stenographic report of the questions which the prosecuting attorney put and the answers of Miller.
He told a fairly clear story, but left the issues in doubt. Why the shooting started or how it started or any positive assertion as to who shot Miss Duebbert or who shot Mr. Meyer was not uttered. He said that it all seems like a dream, and in answer to the question of why the shooting started, he said simply “We must have been crazy.” He said that the evening of the 22nd, he and Tanner were hiding in the woods near the Duebbert house and that he could see Miss Duebbert at work with the chores going back and forth to and from the hog pen. Miss Duebbert was at that time at the hog pen. Tanner agreed to attend to her, while Miller went to the house to find Meyer. About the time Miller reached the door, Meyer cam running out, asking what the matter was. Miller said he put the flashlight on Meyer and covered him with a revolver. He then compelled Meyer to walk I the direction of the barn and after going thru the gate, he met her and Tanner coming towards the house. He said that Miss Duebbert was bloody all over when she came up. When the prosecuting attorney asked him what had happened, he said “My God I don’t know what happened.” Miller says that he recalls Miss Duebbert saying something to Meyer but an give no coherent account of whether it was then or later that the firing of the revolver began. When asked whether he shot Miss Duebbert, he simply said, “I don’t know what happened except that the gun flew out of my hand and I don’t know what did it. I had a hard time finding the gun again. It’s all a dream to me that I can’t make out clearly.
By his questions the prosecuting attorney gradually developed the whole story. Miller is forty-five years old. His home is at Swedeburg, were employed by Chester A. Hurt Pulaski county. He and Tanner of Crocker, and he had the privilege of writing out checks on Hurt’s bank account.
Miller testified that he was a married man, but that he had a lady friend by the name of Bile McDonald at Boonville. On the morning of August 21st, he and Tanner and another fellow employee by the name of Gilmore left Boonville in Miller’s Dodge sedan, going to Columbia. At the latter place Gilmore left in a bus for Crocker. The other two came to St. Charles and parked the car in a garage on Clay Street. They then bought a lunch on Clay Street, and after that went to St. Louis on a street car, thence crossing to East St. Louis, where they went to a pawnshop to buy guns. Miller bought an Iver-Johnson, paying $7.50 for it, and Tanner bought an American revolver, paying $6.00 for it. They also bought cartridges and then returned to St. Louis. There they visited some places on Market Street and purchased overalls and handkerchiefs. Some of them knotted together were found near the scene of the murder. He could give no explanation of who knotted the handkerchiefs or why they were knotted. Coming back to St. Charles they started west on No. 40, buying sandwiches and then continuing to Wentzville. The town was reached about 10:30 .m. Before continuing to Femme Osage they bought (?) and filled it with water. Miller described his trip to the neighborhood of the Duebbert farm. They turned their car out a distance of three or four hundred yards out into the brush and slept there all night. The next day Miller took a walk thru the Duebbert woods and saw a tie hacker at work but did not allow himself to be seen. He and Tanner spent the day hiking until after sunset when they went forward ad committed their crime.
The prosecuting attorney inquired closely as to whether Miss Duebbert held a knife in her hand. Miller said he did not think she did. Asked if she held any object in her hand, he replied that he could not say. Miller said that he had no recollection of where they went or what they did after the shooting except that they found themselves in the car. He goes not remember seeing any glasses or does not know what became of the flashlight, revolvers and handkerchiefs. He said it is all a blank to him. He recalls that they drove to Wentzville and bought some (?) on the highway. That night about eleven or twelve o’clock they reached Boonville and slept in a hotel. Next day he drove to Osage City and drew $500 on a check on Hurt’s account. At the Boonville bank he drew $50 and at New Franklin he got $75. Of this money he said he gave Billie McDonald $250. That night he told her he was going away for good. The following day he left for Oklahoma.
It was only six weeks ago that the crime was committed. In less than five weeks Sheriff Grothe had the two guilty men behind the bars. If there ever was a murder mystery that led to (?) clews, this was one. The two men in question had lived in Defiance community a short time seven or eight months ago, but they were both on good behavior, and nobody suspect it was they who committed the crime.
Sheriff Grothe and W. F. Bloebaum have relentlessly pursued the meager clews until the criminals are known and the details are a matter of record. Mr. Hurt, their employer furnished the vital clew but it was a mere suspicion. It took hard work and sleepless nights on the part of the officials to achieve results.
The world is thereby given notice that no criminals can hope to enter this county and perform murderous deeds with a hope of dodging the law. The officials of St. Charles county have proved that conclusively many times in the past, and this last time should be conclusive warning to all men criminally inclined.

Sheriff and Prosecuting Attorney Receive Letter of Congratulations
From Attorney General Stratton Shartel

The prosecuting attorney and the sheriff have received a letter from the attorney general Stratton Shartel, congratulating them on their good work in running down the murderers of Pauline Duebbert. He said:

Dear Mr. Bloebaum:
I want to congratulate you and Mr. Grothe upon your splendid work in apprehending the murderers in St. Charles County. You both deserve a great deal of credit and I know that the people of your county must appreciate your splendid efforts.
Sincerely yours, Stratton Shartel

Mr. Bloebaum admits that he expects to ask for the death penalty. It is his opinion that Judge Woolfolk will not attempt to sentence the men without giving them a trial.
If they are without funds to pay an attorney, the judge will appoint an attorney who must accept their case without compensation.
The attitudes of the two men are entirely different. Tanner does not seem to be worrying and seems to be more or less carefree, while Miller is nervous and apprehensive. When shown the gun that was used in shooting Meyer, Tanner simply said, “That’s the baby.” When Miller was sown the gun he used he cringed before it and was noticeably affected. Miller asked the sheriff to do all he could for him. The sheriff replied “I have already done it.”

Dateline: St. Charles, Missouri
Thursday, January 30, 1930
St. Charles Weekly Banner-News

Juryman Dalgo Boettler Sickens and Becomes Separated from his Colleagues
When Defendant Not Present

From Thursday’s Daily:
Most atrocious luck seems to be infesting the case of the State of Missouri vs. David A. Miller, so far as the state is concerned, but good luck is smiling on the defense. At noon today one of the jurors, Dalgo Boettler had a fainting spell. He was taken away from the rest of the jury and on the advice of a physician was transferred to the hospital. Mr. Boettler is sick with a complaint of the kidneys, in which these attacks sometimes occur. The physician in charge says he will be able to go on with the case in six or eight hours.
In the meantime legal technicalities have arisen. Mr. Boettler was taken away from the rest of the jury when the defendant, David A. Miller, was not present. Will this circumstance result in a mistrial? There are legal opinions on both sides of the question. In the meantime the judge and the attorneys are delving into the statutes. What will be the outcome? Whether the trial will go on as usual can only be known when issues are finally placed on record.
Osmund Haenssler, before court was adjourned today, gave notice to the judge that tomorrow he would present a motion asking that the jury be discharged on the grounds of its having been separated while the defendant was not present.
Again the February term of court, starting Saturday is close at hand. Can a case being tried in one term be merged so that its conclusion comes in another? This question may also come up.
The progress of the trial is rather technical and hard to understand, especially by the large audience in attendance, who are more or less uninformed on points of law. They do not understand why the location of various buildings on the farm are of such vast importance, why the news that there are two wheels on the place instead of one, rather dramatically brought out by Attorney Haenssler, I his questions, should have any significance in determining who shot and killed Pauline Duebbert. Neither does our reporter and neither does David A. Miller who sits there surrounded by many people and still is a lonely figure with a face pale as death and forced calmness on his features, knowing only that Bloebaum is against and Haenssler is for him, and knowing otherwise nothing whatever of the meaning of the formal arguments and general procedure.
In the testimony of Dr. Belding yesterday he was asked if a wound on the forehead of Pauline Duebbert evidently produced by the knife which she held in her hand when she fell forward could have caused her death, he replied , “No.” A moment later Dr. Ben Brandt of Capeln was put on the stand. When asked the same question he said he thought I could. When the doctors disagree who is to decide.
In the testimony of August Meyer, who was present during the attack and who was left for dead with three bullet wounds in his head, he failed to say he identified either of the assailants. He was not questioned on that point however by either side. It is conceded that tho the prosecution is making a good case, it is almost entirely circumstantial. The defense has not yet shown its hand. Will Miller try to prove an alibi? Or perhaps will be own up to his presence there and explain in a plausible manner that his object was not of an unfriendly nature, perchance to borrow money, but that the argument and the killing arose in a manner unpremeditated? Not until the witnesses for the defense which are said to be four in number are laced on the stand can the theory of the defense be forecast.
One departure from the seriousness of the case occurred when Attorney Bloebaum pulled a practical joke. One of the witnesses referred to the fact that on the day the revolvers supposed to have been carried by the assailants was found, that Grover Hoffman visited the place and was playing baseball. Attorney Bloebaum objected to the statement and when asked by the judge to state his objection, he said such a statement must be wrong because Grove Hoffman couldn’t play baseball. The judge himself could not refrain from a smile, but Attorney Haenssler capitalized on the incident by declaring that levity was out of place in a trial for murder, where a man’s life was at stake, and demanded that Mr. Bloebaum be reprimanded with which request the judge complied.
Ed Joerling was the first witness this morning. He lives near the Duebbert farm and testified that he heard five shots about 7:40 p.m. on the evening of the crime. He saw a club with gray hairs sticking to it, but could not say they were the hairs of Pauline Duebbert.
Otto Brinkman, with whom Miller and his hired help had boarded when in the neighborhood cutting timber, was asked if he could identify the revolvers found near the scene of the killing. He replied that he could tell if they looked like the ones found. Haenssler objected to giving him a chance to identify them on the grounds that there were no identifying marks on them.
During Brinkman’s testimony a battle of raising objections occurred between Haenssler and Bloebaum, in which the court ruled that Haenssler had a right to ask leading questions, but that Bloebaum, as attorney for the prosecution, did not have a legal right. The outcome was that the revolvers were not admitted as evidence in this stage of the case.
Albert Joerling testified that he heard five shots jut about dusk on the date of the occurrence.
Dennis A Hennecke, residing two miles east of Femme Osage said he heard two shots. In the cross-questioning he contradicted himself as to the direction from which the shots came.
Thruout the morning and afternoon Haenssler presented numerous objects, nearly all of which were overruled. In the testimony of Hannecke he objected to the testimony on grounds that he had been subpoenaed in the name of David Hennecke instead of Dennis A. Hennecke but the objection was not sustained by the judge.

From Wednesday’s Daily:
The trial of David A. Miller on the charge of the murder of Pauline Duebbert on the night of August 21-22 is now in full swing.
The jury selected is as follows:
Edwin Schlueter, E. f. Jenkins, Dalgo Boettler, Martin Barklage, Louis Achelpohl, Louis Poese, Alphonse Orf, Emil C. Bull, Clem Schneider, Wm. H.Dyer, Louis Benne, Jos. Steinhoff.

Many Objections Overruled

At about 9:30 o’clock W. F. Bloebaum, the prosecuting attorney made the statement of the facts he alleged he could prove. He was frequently interrupted by Osmund Haenssler who with Claud Tuttle is representing Miller. Mr. Haenssler objecting to information which in his opinion did not bear on the case. Mr. Bloebaum I his statement attempted to build up sympathy and he referred to the murder of Pauline Duebbert by David A. Miller when at the present time the murder must still be proved. Mr. Haenssler objected to this and other similar pronouncements including the frequent introduction of the name of Norman E. Tanner in the light of an accomplice. During the opening statement Judge Woolfolk ruled almost completely on the side of Mr. Bloebaum. The judge sustained Haensslere’s objections to introducing the things that happened to Meyer, the companion of Miss Duebbert, after she was dead.

Recognized Near Farm

Bloebaum said that Miller was in the log business and two years ago roomed and boarded at the home of Otto Brinkman. While in the neighborhood, Miller learned that Miss Duebbert kept money about the house. While on a trip to Arkansas he had told a man by the name of Gowan about the old woman in Missouri and said that someone ought to take the money away from her and put it into circulation, and had made similar statements to other people. Two days before the killing Miller was seen in the neighborhood of the Duebbert farm and recognized.

Miller Wanted a Home

Bloebaum said that Miller was employed by Chester A. Hurts of Crocker, Mo., and that on June 13, 1929 he was buying trees in Hoard County with headquarters in Boonville. Miller, Tanner and Jim Gilmore slept at the same hotel, Miller having a separate bed. He told of Miller becoming acquainted with Miss Billie McDonald and proposing to marry her, not revealing that he was a married man. Further that they contracted to buy a home in Boonville, paying $100 down and that Miller said he had the balance of the money in the bank. He told Billie McDonald he was worth $50,000.
The evidence will show according to the prosecuting attorney, that Miller, Tanner and Gilmore drove to Columbia on August 21, where they ditched Gilmore and then went thru St. Charles, leaving their automobile and then on into East St. Louis where Miller bought an Iver-Johnson revolver. Miller went to a hardware store and bought a box of 38 calibre cartridges. After that they bought some overalls on Franklin Avenue in St. Louis. Coming back to St. Charles, they secured their car and drove to the Duebbert farm where they slept in the woods all night and hung around the next day until time to act.
From the woods they saw Miss Duebbert cutting up a hog and carrying its parts to the house.

Witnesses on Stand

The first witness was Dr. Leroy Belding, who was the first to officially examine Miss Duebbert and pronounce her dead. He described the condition of her body.
The next on the stand was August Ruth who was summoned by the prosecuting attorney to take pictures. He exhibited to the jury the photographs which he took.
The third witness was August Meyer, who was shot and left to be dead on the scene of the tragedy. At 3 p.m. he had started to detail the events to the jury, first entering into a long description of how the buildings on the farm were located etc., then following out the line of evidence predicted by the prosecuting attorney in his opening statement.

From Tuesday’s Daily:
The difficulties in selecting a jury are very pronounced. The average person to be examined either claims he has conscientious scruples about hanging anybody or he admits that he is prejudiced before he starts into the case. Less than half say that they could consider the case in the light of the law and eliminate their personal prejudices when it came to pronouncing the sentence. Most of them have read the local newspapers and are informed on the main contentions of the case. A number feel that their convictions are not deep enough in the matter to keep them from considering the case fairly. These are the jurymen whom the lawyers have chosen.

From Monday’s Daily:
A motion for severance was filed in the trial of David A. Miller and Norman E. Tanner, accused murderers of Pauline Duebbert, which is in progress at the court house today. The motion was granted. Miller will be tried first.
The trial of the accused men started this morning with a brisk attempt on the part of their attorneys, Osmund Haenssler and Claud Tuttle to disqualify the jury and throw the case out of court. Judge Woolfolk disagreed with their viewpoint of law and overruled their motion.
Osmund Haenssler, I his statement to the judge, pointed out that the order of procedure in criminal cases, as required by the statutes, had been grossly violated. First he said that the arraignment takes precedent over everything else. Instead of that, the call for the jury and the setting of the trial date had taken place on the fifteenth of November and the arraignment did not come until December 20. He denied the right of the court to order the venire before the arraignment. He also said the record did not make clear that the defendants were present during the whole time on November fifteenth when the venire was called and when the attorneys were named. If they were absent any of the time, the statute has been violated. He claimed that the sheriff testified that he himself chose the jury and went to the length of discharging one juryman after the notice had been served on the grounds that h was an undertaken and exempt under the law. This was in disagreement with the law, which provides that the judge shall have the sole power to discharge any juryman. Haenssler also contended that the sheriff had no right to summon any juryman without being sworn in by an affidavit in addition to his oath of office. He claimed that none of the jurymen were legally summoned. Again he said that the newspapers published the list of jurymen before they had been summoned and prior to the setting of the case and indicated it was done at the request of the sheriff.
William F. Bloebaum replied that the statute was not mandatory but simply directive, that this meant that as long as essentials were complied with, their order of time was not a material question. He said the publication of the jury list was no fault of the sheriff but indicated enterprise on the part of the newspaper men.
Bloebaum referred to a case in which several of the irregularities had occurred which Haenssler now pointed to, and showed that the court did not consider the contentions material.
Haenssler replied by saying in the case quoted the contentions had been put up in an argument in a motion for a new trial but in this case they were revealed in advance, before the case was tried, so that the judge could be forewarned in his knowledge as the case went to trial.
The judge in making his decision said that at one time in the history a law an arraignment was very important but now it was not regarded so, and that even without an arraignment the case could proceed. The manner of calling the jurors functioned well and with no harm to anybody. The publication of the jurors’ names was an immaterial fact. Moreover, the statute was directive in nature, and not mandatory therefore he overruled the motion.
The roll call of witnesses shows that Wiley McDonald and Mrs. E. L. Kamp of Cooper County were absent and therefore special summons were issued.
Following is list of witnesses: Dr. L. E. Belding, Dr. Ben Brandt, Aug. Meyer, August Becker, Aug. Webbink, Isidore Grothe, Lester Plackemeier, H. H. Hussler, Walter Backhaus, Alvin Joerling, David Henneke, Hy. Schuster, Otto Brinkmann, C. A Hurt, Ted McGowan, U.S. McGowan, Gus McGowan, John McGowan, David Caldwell, Wiley McDonald, M. O. Comann, R. M Thomson, Frank Logan, Oscar Bloebaum, D. B. Van Huffle, James Gilmore, Geo. Tuepker, August Ruth, Ed Joerling, Ed. Schuster, Gus Rawie, Delite DeSherlia, A. Markman, C. E. Hyde, W. B. Huckaby, Mrs. E. L. Kamp, H. C. Thoelke, Ardell Fluesmeier, John McGowan, Horatius Brown.

Continue Reading Part IV
Go Back to Part II

Murder of Pauline Duebbert 1929 Part II

Part I, Part III, Part IV, Part V
Dateline: St. Charles, Missouri
Thursday, April 16, 1930
St. Charles Weekly Banner-News


This afternoon at 3 o’clock Norman Tanner, accused on a severance with David A. Miller of the murder of Pauline Duebbert, announced that he was ready to turn state’s evidence He plead guilty to the charge of murder and threw himself upon the mercy of the court. His sentence was held in suspense until after the case of David a. Miller is decided.
Attorneys Haenssler and Tuttle objected to the fact that without consulting them, the prosecuting attorney had sprung the surprise in open court. Mr. Haenssler asked that they be discharged as the attorneys for Norman E. Tanner before Tanner’s confession proceeded. This request was granted.
Before accepting the plea Judge Woolfolk asked Tanner if he had been made any promises as to what kind of a sentence he would get to which Tanner answered “Yes.” The judge then asked “Did anybody claim I had given any such assurances?” to which Tanner replied “No.” The judge then made it plain that the sentence would be either death or life imprisonment wholly within the power of the discretion of the court and asked Tanner if with that understanding he wished to withdraw this plea. Tanner replied “I plead guilty.”
The trial of David A. Miller, accused of the murder of Pauline Duebbert, was in full swing at the court house today, the jury having been selected as follows: W. H. Hamilton, Fred T. Robbins, L. W. Schemmer, William Bergfeld, Oscar Linnemann, Ed. J. Leimkuehler, Charles Hallemeier, William Fink, Ernst Schulte, Clifford Goodfellow, Ed Burns and Henry Hinnah.
The morning was occupied by the statement of W. F Bloebaum to the jury of which he expected to prove. One variation from his former statement was the assertion that he would show how Miller wrote a note to Tanner, advising Tanner what kind of a story to tell the officers if he should be caught. Mr. Bloebaum said the note had been intercepted. Another assertion was that Miller made arrangements with some party to swear that Miller and Tanner were at a point a far distance from St. Charles County on the night of the murder.

Dateline: St. Charles, Missouri
April 17, 1930
St. Charles Weekly Banner-News

Miller Turns Pale When Verdict is Read and Rests Head on Table
Cries Like a Child When He is Returned to Jail

From Monday’s Daily:
After a four hour session last Saturday, the jury, through its foreman, Ernest Schulte, brought in a verdict that David A. Miller was guilty of the murder of Pauline Duebbert I the first degree, and that the death penalty by hanging should be inflicted. Immediately after the verdict had been read, the judge announced the penalty of Miller’s co-partner in the crime, Norman e. Tanner, declaring that he shall serve a life sentence in the penitentiary.
When the verdict of the jury was announced, outside of turning slightly pale, Miller gave little evidence of emotion. He stared rather blankly a moment or two and then leaned his head on the table by which he was sitting. After being taken back to the jail, however, he gave way under the strain by bursting into tears and crying like a child.
St. Charles is going to be treated to a hanging, no doubt, but before that event takes place, a year or perhaps a year and a half may go by. Undoubtedly the case will be taken to the supreme court, which is about two years behind on the docket. Cases of this kind are generally shoved ahead and a fair estimation of the period which the supreme court will take before the decision is handed down is as has just been stated.
The next step, of course, will be a motion for a new trial. This must be made immediately unless the judge is petitioned to grant further time. In event Attorneys Haenssler and Tuttle, representing Miller, desire time to analyze the situation and formulate reasons as to why a new trial should be granted, they may apply to the judge and at his discretion he has the power to extend the time about ten days. Whether this is done or not, he will name the date on which the hearing will be had for the new trial. After the hearing, providing the new trial is not granted, the judge will pronounce sentence upon Miller. At that, it is assumed that his attorneys will appeal the case to the supreme court. The expenses of an appeal will be considerable, but as Miller is a poor person in the eyes of the law, the state will put up the money for him.
The case has been admirably handled by the prosecuting attorney and the sheriff from the start. In the face of banters from the St. Louis papers and facing a situation that looked absolutely blank, they succeeded in running down the criminals and bringing them to justice. The world is again shown that it is a dangerous thing for lawless people to choose St. Charles County as the location for their activities.
On the other hand, the case was so well developed that Miller’s attorneys had almost an insuperable task to make any showing at all. They faced written confessions and finally the vestige of any chance left was knocked from under them by the fact that one of the accused men turned state’s evidence.

From Friday’s Daily:
The defense of David Miller will round itself about the assertion that he was mistreated by the St. Charles county officials and forced to make a confession to their liking. This became evident when the jury was sent from the room and Miller was put on the stand that the judge might decide whether or not to admit certain evidence. Miller, figuratively speaking, “went to pieces.” He asserted that he was tortured in every way they could think of, that he was put into solitary confinement for three days without sleep or food until he would make a confession. He said that they threatened to turn him over to a mob and that they punched him in the ribs with a revolver.
When asked other questions pertaining to other matters, Miller seemed unable to get away from his original subject, but kept declaring that he had been abused and tortured by the officers. He denied all the accusations against him. His general appearance was that of a crazy man, not of a man who was in control of his natural reason and sense.
Chester Hurt, his former employer, and the one who was really responsible for the clew that led to his capture, when put on the stand corroborated to some extent the testimony of Miller. Hurt told of a session with Miller just after his capture, in which the prosecuting attorney and the sheriff stayed with the prisoner, questioning him, from eleven o’clock at night tile eleven o’clock the next morning. Hurt said that he was with them only fifteen minutes as he could not stand for the things that were going on. He asserted he did not remember exactly what was said, but that he did remember that the words “mob” and “lynching” were used, and that a gun was poked in Miller’s face.
Mr. Bloebaum explained that the gun was used not to threaten Miller, but merely to present, the situation to him forcibly as to what the victim of the murder might have felt.
Still a third witness, a friend of Hurt, who was present with the latter, testified and more or less substantiated Miller.
In yesterday’s testimony August Meyer surprised the lawyers for the defense by positively identifying Miller and Tanner as the men who visited the farm on the night of the killing. At the last trial and on all previous occasions Meyer had declared that he had no memory of the faces of the men, seeming only to recall that in the dusk of the evening and general excitement he had failed to scrutinize them or had not the chance to see them clearly. The prosecuting attorney explained that at the other trial Meyer was a sick man that the wounds of the bullets in his head had interfered with his memory, but that now the tissues had healed so that his recollection has become plain again.
The case had barely started this morning, les Plackemeyer was on the stand when the question of whether the confession and al that related to it could be presented to the jury came up. The jury was sent from the room. Mr. Plackemeyer went on with his testimony, after which a number of other witnesses were summoned.
The judge ruled that all evidence was permissible and the jury was therefore permitted to hear it.
The trial will probably be continued this evening.

From Saturday’s daily:
The outstanding feature of the David Miller trial this morning was an attempt on the part of the attorneys for Miller to throw the case out of court. The action was based on the discovery that Henry Hinnah, one of the jurymen, is the husband of the daughter of William Duebbert, who is a second cousin of Pauline Duebbert. The judge ruled that this face would not disqualify Mr. Hinnah and ordered the trial to proceed.
It is understood that the trial will be completed today, even tho an after supper session till midnight is necessary. The jury have had two nights of good rest. Breaking away from the former custom of putting them on cots in the courthouse, the plan this time was to take them to the new St. Charles Hotel, where they obtained the best accommodations they could desire.
Miller Wrote Note
The surprise of Norman E. Tanner turning state’s evidence aside, it seems as tho the trial has gone along in the expected manner. Chester Hurt identified the handwriting of Miller on a piece of newspaper. The note was alleged to have been written by Miller at the time he was captured; and went something like this: “Norman, Justice of Peace turned me in at Buffalo. Give girl candy. Don’t tell anything until the trial. (Signed) D–.”
Another one of the state exhibits was a letter from Miller to Les McGowan postmarked West Virginia. It read something like: “I will never live with Sarah any more. I am going to South America.” Sarah is supposed to have been Miller’s wife.
Hurt said that when he visited Miller at the jail before the January trial, Miller said, “I hate that I robbed you more than I do the killing.”
Hurt Asked For Ring
When Billie McDonald, the woman whom Miller was courting at Boonville went on the stand, she testified that Miller did not tell of his wife and children. She said also that Hurt had called on her before the January trial and asked for a ring which Miller had given her. Hurt explained that Miller owed him cash and he thought it would be right for the ring to become his property.
Miss Hortense Brown of the Dave Hoffmann Jewelry and Pawn Shop of East St. Louis, went on the stand and produced records of the sales of guns, recognizing Miller as the purchasers.
It will be recalled that Miller and Tanner are alleged to have bought the guns in East St. Louis, after which they drove to the Pauline Duebbert farm, where they secreted themselves until the following night. About dusk they are alleged to have advanced from the woods. Tanner undertaking to cover Pauline Duebbert with his gun, and Miller going to the milkshed where he found August Meier. Miller compelled Meier to walk in the direction of the farm and near the gate he met Tanner and Pauline Duebbert. Miss Duebbert began to speak in German to Mr. Meier, a scuffle occurred, the outcome of which was that Miss Duebbert was shot and killed and that Meier was left for dead on the premises. This is the gist of the confession which Judge Woolfolk yesterday decided to permit to go before the jury.
Tanner’s Testimony
When Tanner was put on the stand, he told his story with the utmost candor, outlining the trip to St. Louis and East St. Louis, where they bought supplies, and going into detail concerning the actual murder. Concerning the murder, he said that he went to Pauline Deubbert, and that Miller took charge of August Meier. He says she struck at him with a knife and that he hit her over the head with a gun. She then ran up towards Miller and Meier shouting and screaming, with the knife still in her hand. When they were close together, Meier started back and he (Tanner) followed him. At that moment Tanner heard a shot and, looking back, saw Miss Duebbert falling. Meier lowered his hands and Tanner shot him in the head, at which the victim fell to his knees, and Tanner put another bullet into his head. He said he rolled the body over and saw that he (Meier) was still alive and groaning. Miller called out, “Shoot him again so that he can tell no tales.” Tanner said he obeyed the advice. About that time they thought they heard a shout on a hill nearby. The witness said that Miller wanted to search the house for the money they came down there to but, but that he (Tanner) said “Let’s get out of here,” and they hurried towards the blind lane where their car was parked.

Dateline: St. Charles, Missouri
Thursday, May 15, 1930
St. Charles Weekly Banner-News


Judge Woolfolk Overrules Motion For New Trial
But it is Understood that Lawyers Will Appeal Case to the Supreme Court Tomorrow

From Monday’s Daily:
This afternoon Judge Woolfolk denied David A. Miller a new trial and sentenced him to be hanged until dead on Tuesday, June 17. It is likely that his attorneys, Osmund Haenssler and Claud Tuttle, will file a motion tomorrow to appeal the case to the supreme court.
When the sentence was pronounced Miller took in everything that was said with respect and calmness. During the preliminary remarks of the judge his face showed interest, but no emotion was perceptible except by the fidgeting of one of his feet.
The argument relating to the new trial centered principally on the alleged act that Henry Hinnah, one of the jurymen who convicted miller, was within the fourth degree of consanguinity. Were the fact established that this consanguinity or blood relationship was near enough, a new trial would be compulsory. The critical line is the fourth degree, about which there seems to be great difference in opinion, the prosecuting attorney holding that Hinnah’s relationship was in the seventh degree, while Miller’s attorneys claim it is well within the fourth degree.
Pauline Duebbert, it is fairly well established, was a granddaughter of Fritz Duebbert and Mrs. Henry Hinnah was a great-granddaughter. When being questioned as witness at the Miller trial, Henry Hinnah admitted that he did not say that his wife was a Duebbert, but alleged that he was not asked that question. On the stand today he said he did not know he was any relation to Pauline, but since the trial he felt that he was distantly related.
John Duebbert of St. Charles was another witness. He said that his father, also named John, was a brother of Fritz. Pauline Duebbert was the daughter of Christopher, a son of Fritz.
Judge Woolfolk declared that he had not the slightest idea that the relationship of Miss Duebbert to Henry Hinnah was within the fourth degree. He would not sustain the motion if the thought there existed such a possibility. On that ground he overruled the motion for a new trial.
If the case is appealed to the supreme court, the hanging will probably be delayed for a year, or in event the decision is in Miller’s favor, then a new trial will be compulsory.

Continue Reading Part III
Go back to Part I

Murder of Pauline Duebbert 1929 Part I

Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V
Dateline: St. Charles, Missouri
August 29, 1929
St. Charles Weekly Banner-News

Miss Pauline Duebbert and August Meier Victims of Unidentified Assailants
Blood Hounds Put on Trail This Afternoon

From Friday’s Daily:

Pauline Duebbert, age 48 years, was brutally murdered on her farm at Femme Osage last night at 7:30 o’clock by unknown assailants, and August Meier, an uncle of the slain woman was shot three times. According to the testimony at the inquest held this morning, Mr. Meier was working at the house and Miss Pauline Duebbert was in the field cutting up a hog when he heard her shout and on going to her, he was intercepted by a man with a gun. The man ordered him to throw up his hands and then forced him towards the barn where he found Miss Duebbert and another man with a gun.
The four then started for the house and on the way Miss Duebbert told Meier that she had been hit on the head with a club. With that one of the gunmen with Meier suddenly turned and shot him, then shot Pauline Duebbert and then shot him again. Meier was shot twice in the head and once in the left hand. The woman was shot through the mouth and in the hand. Several lower teeth on the left side were broken and the bullet came out the back of her head.
The back of her clothes were torn off and her head, arms and chest were badly bruised.
August C. Becker of Femme Osage and Otto Webbling were the first people on the place after the shooting and he said as soon as others arrived they found Miss Duebbert lying about 200 feet north of the house, dead.
The victims were not robbed, neither was the house ransacked.
At the inquest there this morning the jury composed of Benjamin Brandt, Arthur Schemmer, Wm. Joerling, Walter Backhaus, Edw. Joerling, Herman F. Bolman returned a verdict of “Death due to gunshot wound in head from gun in hands of unknown men with intent to kill.”

Sheriff Grothe Called

isadore grothe2
Last night at midnight Sheriff Grothe was notified of the murder and he and deputy sheriff Les Plackemeier left immediately, and upon their arrival notified Corner Belding and Dallmeyer.

Les Plackmeyer

Les Plackmeyer

The officers found a club with human blood on it and it is believed that this is the club that was used when the unfortunate woman was struck down. No other clews have been found as yet.
Blood hounds from East St. Louis were put on the scene this afternoon.
Meier told the sheriff that as soon as he was shot he fell to the ground and remained motionless. After the men left he was afraid they were in the house and he waited until midnight and then crawled around thru a creek and to the other side of the house and finding everything still he went in and called a doctor.
The doctor came and dressed his wounds and then called the sheriff..
The dead woman is reputed to be worth approximately $50,000 and is the owner of the farm on which she resided. She is a distant relative of John Duebbert of this city and a daughter of the late Christopher Duebbert. August Meier was her uncle and farmed the land.
Meier underwent an operation this morning at the St. Joseph’s Hospital to remove the bullet from his left hand. The bullet was found to be that of a 38 calibre.

From Saturday’s Daily:
The funeral of Miss Pauline Duebbert, 48 years old who was murdered on the old Fritz Duebbert farm near Femme Osage Thursday evening took place from the Femme Osage Church at 2 p.m. today.
Burial was made in the Duebbert private cemetery about four hundred yards from where she was killed.

From Saturday’s Daily:
Sheriff Grothe and Deputy Les Plackemeier returned to the scene of the Duebbert murder near Femme Osage about 9:30 this morning, where they expected to continue their search for evidence which might lead to the solution of the mysterious murder, Thursday evening.
Bloodhounds, which were brought from East St. Louis yesterday and placed on the trail, after searchers had found handkerchiefs tied, together to form a rope, in timber near the Duebbert house, lost the trail about a mile distant from the scene of the murder.
The following materials were found in the woods, and are believed to have been used in the murder: One pair of brown overalls, a new pair of clean blue and white cotton gloves, a Winchester nickel plated flashlight, bearing the price $1.50 in white letters on the front lens, a white handkerchief, and two of blue and brown striped variety. The authorities are making every effort to ascertain where these articles were obtained, as they may lead to a definite clue.
At least two residents of the Femme Osage district heard shots about 8 o’clock Thursday evening. They were sitting on porches at their homes approximately one half mile from Fritz Duebbert’s old home place. One man said he heard four shots, another said that he heard five, two in rapid succession and an interval, then three in rapid succession.
At the hospital yesterday an X-ray was taken of Meyer which showed four bullets lodged in his head, two of them in the center of his brain and one in the base of the brain and the fourth one located just back of the wind pipe. This shows that with the wound in his left hand he was shot five times.
Mr. Meyer is in a more or less semi-conscious condition.. If it is hard to tell what his chance for recovery is.

Ford Roadster Seen

Early today, a neighbor of Miss Duebbert reported that a Ford roadster was seen going up a blind road overgrown with weeds, and leading up towards the Duebbert barnyard, a short time before the fatal shooting occurred. A party of searchers found the place where this car turned around. Near this spot, the handkerchiefs, flashlight, etc. had been thrown away.

From Monday’s Daily:
Still another piece of evidence used by the assailants of Pauline Duebbert and August Meier, was uncovered yesterday afternoon in the timber near the scene of the tragedy, when Edw. Schuster, a neighbor found a U.S. Steel Gray revolver, with five discharged cartridges and six unused ones close by. A deputy of Sheriff Grothe was of the opinion that it had been purchased from some mail order establishment.
Three suspects ere arrested in St. Louis yesterday, who had in their possession a 32 caliber Iver Johnson revolver. Two of them are known as convicts.
Sheriff Grothe in company with Deputy Les Plackemeier returned to Femme Osage this morning to continue the search and to obtain the gun found by Brinkman. Brinkman used good judgment and picked up the revolver with a handkerchief. Grothe will take the revolver to St. Louis and have it examined by experts for finger prints.
There is some talk of offering a reward for information leading to the arrest of the guilty parties, but at noon today, a reporter was unable to learn whether the county court had taken any action.
It appears to be fairly, general consensus that a reward would help in locating the guilty individuals.
Meanwhile the condition of August Meier at St. Joseph’s Hospital becomes more serious and he can receive no food by mouth..

From Tuesday’s Daily:
The Duebbert murder case developments seem to remain in status quo today so far as the public is concerned, although Sheriff Grothe and the prosecuting attorney made a trip to the neighborhood this afternoon possibly impelled by a new clew. It is said the Pinkerton detective who made an investigation yesterday failed to find fingerprints that he hoped would be in evidence.
A general conviction has settled on the community that the criminals are still in the neighborhood. The murder was carefully planned. Revolvers and even gloves had been purchased new. It is believed the gloves were never worn. The criminals intended to wear them while searching the house, but after the shooting evidently took alarm and hurried away. Officers claim that the house was never searched, although Meyer, who was wounded, feigned death all of two hours under the conviction that the house was being ransacked, believing that if he moved the criminals would finish him.
Today Meyer is much better and seems cheerful. He believes the murderers were white men but the shooting came after dark in the glare of a flash light held in the hand f the assassin, so he is not certain of all that he saw.
At first it was thought Meyer had four bullet wounds in his head but it turns out to be three only. Meyer dimly recalls that he saw a certain suspicious character in the neighborhood earlier in the day. Sheriff Grothe acting on this clew made the trip to the neighborhood today.

Dateline: St. Charles, Missouri
August 29, 1929
St. Charles Weekly-Banner News

$250 For Each Conviction
Sheriff Says He Has Finished the Neighborhood Investigation

From Wednesday’s Daily:
The county court has offered a reward of $250 each for the apprehension, arrest, and conviction of each those taking part in the murder of Pauline Duebbert of Femme Osage. It is said that relatives and friends are also solicited to further reward to make it worthwhile for detectives to work on the case.
The county court offered the reward as the result of requests from numerous citizens who believe that a crime like this reflects on the whole county and criminals should learn that they cannot get by with such a crime without inviting the strongest kind of attempt at retaliation.
Judge Weinrich yesterday conferred with Judge Ohlms in regard to the matter, and they both made a trip to the house of Judge Fulkerson rear Defiance, where the agreement to offer a reward was decided on.
It is said that two people are under suspicion for having committed the murder, but that no tangible evidence is at hand to warrant their arrest.. Until some clues leading to a direct indication of their guilt is obtained, no arrests will probably be made. In the last day or so it said that the officers have lost trace of their suspected individuals.
Sheriff Grothe says that he has spent five days with his deputies in the neighborhood and that he has searched out all possibility of direct clues without obtaining any, and unless something else develops, he will not spend any more time in the neighborhood.
One of the recent finds was a second revolver which had been thrown from the path not far from where the other revolver was found. It was an Iver-Johnson of 32 calibre. It contained four cartridges and one empty place. Like the other gun, it was practically new.

Dateline: St. Charles, Missouri
Thursday, September 19, 1929
St. Charles Weekly Banner-News

Hot Trail Lasting a Week Leads to Evidence that convinces Grothe
and Bloebaum of the Guilt of Two Buyers of Timber
Reward Offer Mailed Today

From Saturday’s Daily:
After a bind search of several weeks Sheriff I. Grothe and County Attorney Wm. F. Bloebaum have at last come to the conclusion as to the men they believe to be the murders of Pauline Duebbert. Warrants have been issued for their arrest and circulars offering $500 for their capture are being printed and will probably be in the mails tonight.
The two men are David A. Miller and Norman Tanner. They are buyers of timber and were in the vicinity of Femme Osage several months. They bought timber from Miss Duebbert and others of the neighborhood.
The trail which finally led through a tangle of clues pointing unmistakably to these men was obtained by the sheriff about a week ago. He was enabled to obtain the information that they went from St. Louis to Indianapolis in a Plymouth car and police of Indianapolis had a straight tip but the men somehow eluded them. The evidence is so strong that both the prosecuting attorney and sheriff said this morning that when they caught the men conviction was inevitable.
Miller is 44 years old, 6 ft. tall and weighs about 165 pounds. Besides the sum of money of $250 fixed on his head, for the alleged murder of Miss Duebbert, the Mo. Bankers Assn. is offering $200 reward for his capture on the charge of obtaining cash on checks under false pretenses.
Norman Tanner is about 21 years old, 5 feet 11 inches tall, weight 150 pounds and his nickname is “Gander.” He has no criminal record. The reward on his head on the charge of murder is $250, totaling $500 for him and his partner.
The men were not recently in the neighborhood in pursuit of their calling of buying walnut timber. Until the clews developed they were not suspected. Just previous to the murder they were in Northern Missouri.
Miller and Tanner are not the same men who were previously questioned by the sheriff and the prosecuting attorney. Grothe and Bloebaum never talked to them but they have no doubt of their guilt.
We are publishing a picture of Miller today, which photograph the sheriff obtained from a circular offering a reward for his arrest, sent out by the Mo. Bankers Association. It was taken from a Kodak snapshot and is not very distinct. No picture could be obtained of Tanner.

Dateline: St. Charles, Missouri
Thursday, September 26, 1929
St. Charles Weekly Banner-News


Sheriff and Prosecuting Attorney Arrive About 8 A. M. Today
With Miller. Tanner Captured at Pitcher, Oklahoma

From Friday’s Daily:
The offices of the sheriff and the prosecuting attorney experienced a flurry of unusual excitement this morning about ten o’clock, when a telephone message was received from Clarence e. Hyde, sheriff of Dallas Co., Mo., stating that he had captured David A. Miller, one of the men wanted on the charge of murdering Miss Pauline Duebbert. He added that he had located Norman Tanner, a suspect with Miller in the crime, and would have him in jail within a short time.
Starts at Once
Sheriff Grothe, who was at the telephone replied that he would start at once I his automobile for Buffalo, the county seat of Dallas county, and asked Hyde to have the men ready to deliver to him as soon as he got there.
Immediately Grothe conveyed the information to prosecuting attorney. They looked up Buffalo on the map and found it located about 30 or forty miles north of Springfield. They reach is over a state highway either by going direct to Springfield and then doubling back, or by taking a zig-zag route thru Jefferson City and Linn Creek. It is probably they will take the direct route to Springfield. The distance will be about 250 miles each way, and will probably not have their men in St. Charles before tomorrow evening. Deputy Sheriff Les Plackemeier accompanied them.

At Cousin’s Home

In a long distance telephone conversation this afternoon, a reporter of the Banner News was told that Miller has a cousin by the name of Emery who lives in Buffalo. It was learned that the accused man stayed at his cousin’s house all night last night; so bright and early this morning Sheriff Hyde went there and effected the arrest. Miller did not put up any resistance. The deputy sheriff whom our reporter interviewed said “He talked awful nice and denied that he knew anything about the murder; told us he was not afraid to face the charge.” Miller claims that he can offer complete alibi for the time in which the murder was committed. The deputy sheriff says that as soon as Sheriff Grothe takes charge of the prisoner, Sheriff Hyde will leave to get Norman Tanner. The latter who is likewise accused with Miller is at present residing in another state.
The Deputy Sheriff says that Mr. Emery at whose residence Miller was found is a good clean citizen. Emery’s wife holds the commission as Justice of Peace at Buffalo.

From Saturday’s Daily:
David A Miller. Accused of the murder of Pauline Duebbert, is safely in the St. Charles county jail and with that incident comes the news this morning that his partner, Norman Tanner, has also been captured and is the jail at Springfield , Mo., awaiting delivery to Sheriff Grothe. The sheriff and prosecuting attorney expect to make the trip to Springfield and return with him Sunday.
Tanner was captured at Pitcher, Oklahoma, where he and Miller have been staying for the past two weeks.
The sheriff ad prosecuting attorney located their men and placed Pinkerton detectives on their track. The detectives have been following Miller, but have remained a few days behind him at the time. The Sheriff placed on his head by the Missouri says that if Sheriff Hyde of Dallas County had not located the two refugees, he, Grothe, would have had them anyway by this time.
The downfall of Miller seems to have been a woman with whom he was infatuated at Boonville. Knowing this, the officers watched the mails and were enabled to find out in which part of the United States Miller was staying. By one device or another, they also obtained a letter that Miller had written to his homefolks in another state, advising that his wife need never hope to see him again, and recommending that she get a divorce.
It is learned that in the last few weeks Miller has been the owner of four cars, abandoning them in succession. The last one was a Ford, which he bought at Pitcher, on which he paid $180 down and gave his note for the balance. At Boonville, he abandoned a $1900 Victory Six, having paid $800 down on it. The Plymouth car, in which he and Tanner made the trip to Indianapolis and return, was also abandoned and there is a record of his having purchased another car.
Miller obtained $1200 in cash by a fraudulent transaction in which he cheated his employer, Mr. Heath of Crocker, Missouri, out of that money. For this fraud a reward was placed on his head by the Missouri Bankers’ Association. Sheriff Grothe says that all the money the man has left seems to be $3, the amount found in his pockets yesterday.
Miller indicates to associates that he intended to go to South America. He got as far as Indianapolis, but the theory is that there was a magnet in Boonville that drew him back to Missouri.
When the St. Charles officers reached Buffalo, Mo., yesterday, Miller told them that he left Pitcher, Oklahoma, with the idea of coming to St. Charles and giving himself up and he was on his way when arrested by Sheriff Hyde. He explained that he had just heard he was wanted and, as he was innocent, he desired to be thoroly questioned and released. The officers, however, accept his story with a broad margin of incredulity.
At Buffalo, there is no jail. Sheriff Hyde had the prisoner at the sheriff’s office under guard.

From Monday’s Daily:
Norman Tanner, accused jointly with David A. Miller of the murder of Pauline Duebbert, was secured by Sheriff Grothe and Prosecuting Attorney W. F. Bloebaum, at the jail at Springfield, Mo., yesterday and brought to St. Charles. John Steele drove the car.
Tanner is 21 years old. Evidently he and Miller are pretending to tell the same story, but the officers, after a lengthy conversation, feel in a very optimistic mood. They believe they have secured the men who committed the murder.
Both men are Missourians, having come from the same section of the country in the Ozarks, in and around Sweedsburg and rocker. Miller, the older man, has the dominant personality. He also has as criminal record, while the other suspect has not.
In accordance with investigations of the prosecuting attorney, Miller served a term in the penitentiary, in which he was accused of taking money from some one by force. He says he was innocent of the charge, but was talked into accepting a three year term rather than let the case go to a jury.
The trial of Miller and Tanner will come up next term of court, which convenes October 28. The officers are not communicating the evidence they have obtained against the two men. Both Miller and Tanner will be held strictly as prisoners of the state; no reporters or curious persons will be allowed to interview either one.

From Tuesday’s Daily:
The prosecuting Attorney and sheriff are saying little concerning the two prisoners, Miller and Tanner, now held in the St. Charles County jail on charge of murdering Pauline Duebbert. Outside of the statement that they believe they have found the right men, little has been said by the officers.
The statements of the two prisoners are at variance somewhat but follow a trend which lead to a possibility of alibis having been prearranged. No confessions have been obtained to date. The older man is known to have served a term in the penitentiary and a criminal record always gives color to circumstantial evidence. It is said that Miller is known to possess quite a temper. At one time while living in this county he had a violent quarrel with his father-in-law. An argument sprung up about how to wind a rope around a tree so that the rope would not crinkle. Miller had the right theory and the old man had the wrong theory but instead of reasoning it out, hot words and a physical encounter resulted.
It is popularly rumored that Tanner has established an alibi for the night of the murder. On that night he is said to have sought to talk to the man for whom he works. The latter was away from home and was looked for at any time. Tanner is said to have called him up six times.
Another rumor, not verified in an official way is that another arrest may be looked for.

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