Saturday, January 17, 2015

Ardenwald: Details That Cannot Be Ignored

Dorothy Rintoul
It had been a week's worth of festivities and celebration with visitors flooding in from all over the Pacific Northwest. The 5th Annual Portland Rose Festival was in full swing and the major event of June 9, 1911 was the Decorated Horse and Buggy parade to be followed by the Military parade that evening. On that peaceful morning, as the parade route was prepared along Grand Avenue, it was Sarah Matthews, the neighbor of the Hills', who noticed the stillness of the Hill cabin. She often visited Ruth Hill in the mornings and William Hill was usually up and around by 5:30 a.m. With rambunctious kids in a small cabin a quiet morning was notably rare. Entrance into the cabin was through the back door, which dropped her into the north room of the house. The house itself was a two room affair. The north room being the kitchen and dining/living area and the south room being where Ruth and William slept. In this room were built small partitions to give some privacy to the family. The largest section of the room was where William and Ruth slept. Also inside of this section was a smaller partitioned area where Phillip was sleeping. In the living area, on the sofa, is where Dorothy slept. Near her was a table and on this table was a new clock, purchased a few weeks prior to the murders. The house was dark; the windows were covered by clothing and pieces of cloth. Even in the dark, Mrs. Mathews could see a form under the blankets on the sofa. Dorothy's feet were the only part of the girl's body not covered. Sarah Mathews went in to check if Dorothy was okay then she saw the axe resting against the sofa. She then looked into the parent's room and saw only a form on the bed. Sarah went back to her house, where she and her husband lived, next door to her son and his wife. She informed her family that that Dorothy was dead.

Friday, January 16, 2015

CSI Iowa Featuring Dr. Epperly

Dr. Epperly's book on the Villisca crime is scheduled for release in 2015! Here is an interview he did back in 2012. Enjoy!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Delving Deeper into Ardenwald

Phillip, Ruth and Dorthy
 Six years ago I wrote this article explaining the differences between the Ardenwald crime and the Colorado Springs crime. Go read the article; I'll wait...

I hope you enjoyed the article. You will note that I made this bold statement:
So were these crimes done by the same UNSUB? IMHO, no.
I based that statement on what I knew at the time, which, again is detailed in the linked article. But now, after digging deeper into the Ardewald crime, I am compelled to think otherwise. I will also admit that I was reaching that conclusion because I believed there was a pretty good suspect for the murders already...

Friday, November 14, 2014

Victimology: William Hill

William L. Hill
After the murders, nearly all of the attention was given to the Cowing family and, what would become, a very public and bitter fight between the Clackamas County prosecuting attorney's office and the Clackamas County Sheriff.  The focus was entirely on Ruth Hill and her family. This seems natural since Ruth had grown up in Oregon City and her father and brother (all her brothers, really) were respected businessmen in the area. William Hill's entire family lived in Washington state as did his ex-wife and her new husband and before you ask, no, she was never a suspect. At the time of his death, William was a pipefitter for the Portland Gas Company in the community of Sellwood, just a few miles west of Ardenwald. Generally, not much was known about William. He was new in the area having just recently moved his new family into the little cabin by the woods. Neighbors would note he was a hard worker but not much else could be said. Let me add a bit more information about Mr. Hill...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Another Mystery Solved? Jack The Ripper

With the news coming out a few days ago that DNA may have finally solved the Whitechapel murders of 1888 along with PBS possibly solving the Servant Girl Annihilator case it seems I am way behind in solving history's greatest crimes.  So I'll just go ahead and say this: Elizabeth Borden was totally guilty. There. Take that... other historic crime... people.  However, this may not be the final word on Saucy Jack. The DNA testing method used has not been studied and the results of the tests need to be independently verified. Like many amature crime sleuths, I first discovered the world of historic true crime through Jack the Ripper. In 1988 the murders were 100 years old and TV (that's what we used to watch back in the day) was awash in Ripper specials...even an awful made for TV movie starring David Hasselhoff. But one show I really got into, The Secret Identity of Jack the Ripper , was hosted by the great Peter Ustinov and featured a panel of experts who were given information on five suspects and asked to give their assessment as to which of these was most likely the killer. I grabbed a notepad and a pencil and parked in front of the TV to studiously take notes. The only reason I remember this at all is because at the end of the program, when the experts revealed their most likely suspects, they all said what I had written down...Aaron Kosminski. One of the experts on the panel was FBI Special Agent John Douglas, one of the FBI's first criminal profilers. I am an admirer of Mr. Douglas' and find his insights into the criminal mind to be quite interesting. You can read a brief write up about the recent Ripper Revelation TM on his website and I highly recommend you read his books.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Victimology: Ruth Cowing Hill

Thomas F. Cowing, Sr.
Thomas (Tom) F. Cowing emigrated from England as a child with his family and grew up in Wisconsin on his parent's farm. He enlisted in the 2nd Infantry of Wisconsin in 1861 and was wounded  and captured at the 2nd Battle of Bull Run on August 28th, 1862. His wound was considered fatal and the Confederates released him. However he recovered and was transferred to the Veterans Reserve Corp in December of 1863 until his term of service ended in June of 1864. He returned to Wisconsin and married Abby Bennett a month later. Eventually he moved to the fledgling town of Alexandria, MN and, with a partner, opened a hardware and implement store. Selling hardware and farming implements paid well and Thomas built a new house for his family. This is the house in which Ruth would spend the first 11 years of her life and it still stands today. Thomas Cowing was a well respected and prosperous member of the town, and Douglas county, when he passed the Minnesota Bar exam in October of 1889, but he promptly moved the entire family to Oregon City. He was named Notary Public of Clackamas county and passed the Oregon Bar in December of the same year. By February of 1890 he had opened a partnership with his oldest son Eugene, arguing land grant cases. It seems this early business venture may not have worked out because he was soon working for J.B. Brockenbrough's land agency. I don't know why Mr. Cowing decided to leave a prosperous life behind and move his whole family to Oregon but it worked out for him financially. Mr. Cowing, and his family, would prosper in the West.