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.

Continue Reading Part II


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