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


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