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The Luther Turner Murder Case

Gravestone of Samuel Luther Turner, Mt. Taber Cemetery near Arno, Douglas County, Missouri.

Photo by Pat Carmichael, courtesy of Shirley Brier.
Gravestone of Samuel Luther Turner
Mt. Taber Cemetery near Arno, Douglas County, Missouri.
Photo by Pat Carmichael, courtesy of Shirley Brier.


Introduction:

Both Fred Loesch and Mrs. Luther Turner were acquitted of the murder of Luther Turner. More articles about this case will be added to this page soon.

A grandson of Fred Loesch wrote on 4 May 2006: "Grandpa was in a nearby town getting his car fixed the night it happened... he stayed over at a rooming house and left real early that morning. But he couldn't prove what time he left. My grandfather was aquitted in a court of law but convicted in a court of public opinion. He moved to Texas and married my grandmother in 1928. Grandpa always said he knew who killed Luther Turner..."

Research is underway on the man who Fred Loesch always said committed the murder with the aim of finding a newspaper article about a deathbed confession made by this man to the murder. A number of years apparently elapsed after this man's death before the confession made it into print. This suggests that it may have been a "recollections" sort of interview with a person who had heard the confession and was telling about it many years later.

If you have information about this case or have a copy of the article described above, please post a message on the Message Board or in the Site Guest Book.


From the Douglas County, Missouri, RootsWeb Message Board:

"Thanks for posting this information, Jerry. Sam and his sister Ada were cousins of my grandmother. I also believe they grew up in the same area of Williams Hollow as my grandmother did near Arno." -- Janie, 23 June 2006.


The Ashland Clipper, July 24, 1919.

LUTHER TURNER MURDERED

Was Shot With Shot-Gun While
Asleep in His Home
on the Farm.
HEAD WAS BLOWN INTO PULP
Blood and Brains Were Blown
Into Two Rooms by Force
of Gun Shot.
THE MURDER IS A MYSTERY
Work of Blood Hounds and Session
of Coroner's Jury Have
Not Caused Arrest.


Samuel Luther Turner was shot and killed early last Friday morning as he slept at the Fred Loesch farm, on which Mr. Turner was a tenant, about a half mile northwest of Sitka. His family, consisting of his wife and four children, was at home with him the night of the murder, and it is claimed no one else was there. The two oldest children, Virgil, 12 years old, and Lawrence, 8 years old, were sleeping in the granary, while Mrs. Turner and two daughters, Ruby, 7 years old and June, 2 years old, slept on a bed in the same room where Mr. Turner was murdered. The night of the tragedy Mr. Turner slept in a mattress on the floor with his head just inside the door leading into the house from the south side.

The mother of Virgil and Lawrence Turner is dead. Ruby and June Turner are the daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Turner. Mr. Turner was about 34 years of age and Mrs. Turner is about 32 years old. Mr. and Mrs. Turner were married about four months after the death of Mr. Turner's first wife.

It is thought the crime was committed about four o'clock Friday morning. The story of the tragedy as related by Mrs. Turner is about as follows: She and her two daughters were sleeping in the bed in the southwest room of the house, as was Mr. Turner, the latter sleeping on a mattress upon the floor by the door. The house door was open and the screen door was closed but not latched. The two boys, Virgil and Lawrence, slept in the granary Thursday night in a bed occupied by Fred Loesch when he stayed there. The boys had slept in the barn several nights when some extra hands were there and there was no room in the granary for them. Mrs. Turner was awakened by the report of the gun shot and her first impulse was that the cook stove had exploded, as it had done this on one previous occasion. She rushed into the kitchen, the adjoining room on the east, and upon seeing the stove had not exploded, she glanced back thru the door and saw her husband had been shot. She rushed to call the boys, first going to the barn, then to the granary. She saw nor heard no one about the place. The boys were sent for help. They notified Mr. Mayberry and Mr. Kumberg, and the sheriff was notified. While the boys were gone for help Mrs. Turner penned the family cat up in the milk house. As Mrs. Turner was walking about the yard while the boys were gone for help she noticed the screen had been removed from the window to the northeast room of the house, in which a shot gun was kept.

Mrs. Turner stoutly maintained that she did not know who killed Mr. Turner or why the crime was committed.

During Friday forenoon a single barrel shot gun which was kept at the farm house, was found lying in a cane patch about sixty yards from the house. The gun was loaded when found and the barrel was dirty, showing that it had been recently fired. Two boxes of shells were kept in the house, one of which on Friday morning had been opened and five shells were missing. The lid was partly off the box. A blank shell similar to those in the box and the one in the gun, was found in the yard not far from the door thru which the fatal shot had been fired. The shot gun is an old one and the trigger spring is either gone or broken and the hammer will not stay cocked unless the trigger is pushed forward, except possibly when the gun barrel is pointed downward and the trigger is pulled forward by gravity. Anyone unfamiliar with this gun would probably be unable to operate it safely.

The bottom panel of the screen door by which Mr. Turner was shot, had a shot in it apparently made by a discharge from a shot gun. The screen door was open it is said, when Messrs. Mayberry and Kumburg arrived at the house of tragedy Blood and clots of brain were scattered on the floor and walls of the room in which Mr. Turner was killed and the one east. There is a connecting door near where he was killed. A piece of skull more than two inches long found several feet from the corpse.

Two blood hounds, owned by J. F. Swafford, of Concordia, Kans., were taken to the scene of the crime, arriving about two o'clock Saturday morning. They were led to the door in front of which Mr. Turner was killed. They trailed about the house sniffed the shot gun and finally entered the room where Mrs. Turner and three or four other women were and approached Mrs. Turner and quit. About two hundred people had gathered to watch the dogs work.

The body of Mr. Turner was prepared by Mr. Peacock, of Protection, and shipped to Missouri, his old home, Saturday morning for burial. Mr. Ott Turner, brother of deceased, who lives near Protection, accompanied the body.

When the body was shipped away Mrs. Turner went to the home of her brother-in-law, Ott Turner, who lives on a farm near Protection, owned by John Loesch, a brother of Fred Loesch.

A coroner's jury held an inquest in the court room at Ashland, Tuesday, to ascertain, if possible, who killed Samuel Luther Turner. The inquest was held before Judge W. N. Wallingford, Justice of the Peace, Mr. C. C. Haile, formerly of Englewood, was elected coroner, but he does not now reside in the state.

At the inquest it was shown that the Turners lived in California a few years ago where Mr. Turner had some trouble with a Dago who made the treat that he would follow Turner to the ends of the earth to kill him. Later, the Turners returned to Missouri where Mr. Turner again had some trouble. One man shot at him and he was cut across the chest with a knife. The Turners came to Kansas early in 1918, and for ten months resided upon John Loesch's farm, near Protection, and this past spring moved to the Fred Loesch farm near Sitka.

Ruth Turner, seven year old daughter of Mrs. Coral Turner, and her dead husband, Samuel Luther Turner, was questioned. In childlike honesty and simplicity she said "mama was in bed with me when the shot which killed papa waked me up." Again she said "I jumped up in bed before mama could when I heard the gun."

Mrs. Coral Turner testified that she was innocent of the murder of her husband and that she did not know who killed him. She testified that she and her husband had a few quarrels, but they were not serious. That if she had not wanted to live with her husband she would have left him, but not killed him. That she is now without a home and without money.

Fred Loesch was questioned and he recited at length the different places where he was during the few weeks just previous to the murder of Luther Turner. He stated that last Thursday he was in Protection having his car repaired at a garage and, that it was not in good running order late Thursday evening and that he left it in the garage Thursday night. that he registered and stayed at a rooming house in Protection Thursday night, and slept on a cot in the hallway. That he arose next morning about six o'clock and after getting breakfast and having some work done on his car he left Protection about the time the passenger train went thru and drove to John Loesch's farm. That later in the day after learning of the murder of Luther Turner, he returned to Protection and secured some affidavits concerning his whereabouts Thursday night. That he wanted to get the affidavit while his whereabouts were fresh in memory.

The coroner's jury has not recommended the arrest of anyone, but will hold an adjourned session later, probably tomorrow.

(Article provided by Fred Loesch's grandson.)


Douglas County Hearld, Ava, Missouri, July 24, 1919.

FORMER AVA MAN MURDERED IN KAN.

Luther Turner Shot and Killed While Asleep on Pallet at His Home.
--- Gun Found Nearby.

BODY ARRIVED HERE SUNDAY

Luther Turner, a former resident of Ava, and whose mother resides at Arno, was shot and killed while he lay asleep on a pallet, in the doorway of his home on the Fred Loesch farm near Sitka, Kansas, at 4:00 o'clock last Friday morning.

The body arrived in Ava last Sunday accompanied by his brother, Oat Turner who happened to be in that section of Kansas at the time, and was taken to the Mt. Taber cemetery near Arno for burial.

The assassin, whose identity is unknown used a shotgun, the charge blowing Turner's head to pieces. Officers immediately started a search for the murderer. Turner's own shotgun was found only a short distance away in a cane patch, according to the brother's story; and bloodhounds secured to chase the assassin failed to find a trail leading from the scene. Strong suspicion is centered on Turner's wife according to the brother, although no arrests have been made. Another employee on the farm is also under close surveillance of the officers, he stated.

Turner is survived by his wife, formerly Miss Carol Kreiger of this Co., and five children. His wife and some of the children were in the house at the time according to news stories coming through the metropolitan press and were aroused by the noise from the gun. Turner's mother, Mrs. Celia Turner, and son Ray and daughters, Mrs. Winnie Stanfield and Mrs. Carrie Burr reside on the old farm at Arno. He is also survived by two brothers, Aus and Alta Turner who live near Oswego; and two other sisters, Mrs. Porter Haden of Oswego and Mrs. Ada Johnson of Coins, Calif.

(Obituary found and transcribed by Pat Carmichael, courtesy of Shirley Brier.)


The Protection Post, July 24, 1919.

SITKA FARMER IS MURDERED IN HOME
WHILE HE SLEEPS

S. Luther Turner Has Head Blown Off Early Last Friday Morning
At Home on Loesch Farm

TRAGEDY MYSTIFIES AUTHORITIES

S. Luther Turner a tenant farmer, eight miles west of Protection, was murdered in his home early Friday morning of last week while still asleep on a pallet in the door way of his home on the Fred Loesch farm which corners with the little town of Sitka. The crime evidently committed at about four-thirty o'clock in the morning as the family was awakened and the two little boys sent to a neighbor's home with the news and the sheriff called, and the sheriff says he was called before five-thirty.

Mr. Turner was evidently killed without a struggle as there were no signs of any and his body after the tragedy lay on the pallet in position which his wife had noticed him lying a little earlier in the night when she had been up with one of their little girls. He was killed by a charge from a shot gun which blew his head into a pulp and scattered blood, bone and brains over not only the bed room in which he and his wife and two little girls were sleeping, but over the kitchen as well, the door into the kitchen having been near the murdered man's pallet. The charge was to all appearances fired by some person standing on the ground just outside the door near which Mr. Turner was sleeping, and through the screen door as there is a large hole torn in the screen and the ends of wire in this hole which had not been in the door the day previous, were bent inward.

The shooting of Mr. Turner has been shrouded in mystery as no one had been seen prowling about the place and no one was seen or heard to leave the place after the tragedy, Mrs. Turner stated to Sheriff Chas. Watts and County Attorney H. R. Daigh that when she was awakened by the noise of the shot which killed her husband her first thought was of the stove having exploded, as she saw a glow and the house was filled with smoke, such as it had been upon a previous occasion when the stove had exploded. She stated that she jumped from the bed upon which she was sleeping and went to the kitchen to see about the stove, stepping over her husband's feet to go through the doorway between the two rooms. Upon seeing the stove was all right Mrs. Turner stated she lighted a lamp and set it on a table in the kitchen and that from the light of the lamp which fell through the door onto her husband she then first saw that her husband was dead. She stated that she then called Mr. Turner's two boys, by a former wife, who were sleeping in a granary in the bed which Fred Loesch had occupied while he had been on the place looking after the harvest, but which he had not occupied that night as he had been in Protection during the night. The boys carried the news of the shooting to a neighbor living in Sitka and the sheriff and county attorney were soon on the scene.

The testimony of Mrs. Turner in the inquest held Tuesday before Judge Wallingford in Ashland coincided with the story as she had told it to the authorities and that of the older of her two little girls, Ruby, aged 7, corroborated that of her mother so closely that it removed the suspicion that Turner had come to his death by the hands of his wife. Bloodhounds had been used on Friday night following the crime in an endeavor to find a trail or clue that would lead to the one who had committed the crime, and three times the dogs went to Mrs. Turner, but the testimony of the little girl proved that her mother was in bed at the time the shot was fired that killed the father.

Some suspicion rested the next day after the murder upon a man who had harvested there with whom Turner had had an argument but the testimony developed at the inquest proved that this man had not been connected with the crime. In the effort to find some one who might have had a motive for killing Turner come old trouble of his and the idea that the killing might have been done by one of his old enemies was used. One of these was a case of trouble Turner had had with an Italian employ in a paper mill in California some seven years ago. Turner's older son and the Italian's boy had had trouble which was taken up by their fathers, with the result that Turner shot the Italian and fled. The Italian threatened Turner telling a friend of Turner that he would follow him to the end of the earth to get to kill him, but Mrs. Turner, none of the family or any one who had been about the place had seen an Italian about, and as the evidence at the inquest indicated that the crime had been committed by someone familiar with the premises this clue was dropped, as were also those regarding others with whom Turner had formerly had trouble, Turner had trouble in Missouri and bore the scar of a bullet, he having once been shot by a relative over a division fence, and a long scar made by a knife in the hand of a former neighbor with which Turner had lost a scrap.

The scene of the murder was visited by probably five hundred people Friday following the killing and Friday night when the bloodhounds were brought. The body of Turner was taken on Saturday morning to Ava, Missouri, where the family had formerly resided, accompanied by Oad Turner, a brother of the murdered man. Oad Turner and wife now live on the John Loesch farm north of Protection and work for John. Luther Turner came to this community seventeen months ago and before going to the Fred Loesch farm last spring they worked for Fred's brother, John Loesch, where Oad now works.

Upon first coming to Protection Luther Turner worked a short time on the Box ranch before going to the John Loesch farm north of town. He then moved to John's place and worked for him until he began work for Fred Loesch last spring on the farm on which he was murdered near Sitka. He worked for Fred Loesch a short time and then leased the farm and Fred held a public sale and began making preparations to leave for Canada. Fred Loesch had finished the harvest on the place a few days before the murder and expected to leave for the north as soon as he could arrange his business affairs. Turner had begun to list for his fall wheat crop a few days before the murder.

At the inquest held Tuesday it was learned that Turner and his wife had frequently quarreled. On this point the neighbors had differed. Fred Loesch testified that he had never known of any domestic trouble in the family but when questioned more closely he admitted that he knew of a few quarrels between Turner and his wife. Turner's older boy testified that Mrs. Turner had often threatened to leave his father and told of their numerous quarrels.

The inquest Tuesday occupied the entire afternoon and a session was held after supper. Although the testimony secured at the inquest eliminated some clues which had before been held and indicated that the crime had been committed by someone who was thoroughly acquainted with the surroundings at the Turner home, sufficient evidence to warrant any arrest was not secured. The inquest was adjourned by Judge Wallingford to Friday, when it will be resumed at ten o'clock in the forenoon. The authorities hope it will be possible to secure additional information and that evidence can be secured which will point to the person guilty of the murder of Mr. Turner.

The inquest held was before a jury of six of the men who were first on the scene after the murder, and there being allowed but those connected with the case and representatives of the Ashland Clipper and Protection Post.


The Protection Post, July 31, 1919.

TURNER'S MURDER STILL A MYSTERY

Investigation Fails to Reveal Any Clue
to Murder or Motive for Killing Sitka Man.

The inquest into the death of S. Luther Turner, which was begun before Judge W. N. Wallingford at Ashland on Tuesday of last week, failed to give the authorities any clue by which they could determine by whose hands the shot was fired which caused the Sitka farmer's death. The sessions of the inquest were continued into the night on Tuesday, and after nothing being brought before the jury and authorities which would reveal to them who had committed the crime, the inquest was adjourned until the following Friday, by which time it was hoped some clue might be discovered by which they could discover the person or persons who had taken the life of Turner, but after two whole days of investigation on Friday and Saturday of last week the authorities had no information which would give them even the remotest idea of who committed the murder.

The investigation revealed that beyond a doubt the murder was committed by a person or persons who were familiar with the surroundings of the Turner home, but failed to bring forth any information that would show who that person or persons might be, or even so much as reveal any motive which would lead to the killing of Mr. Turner.

The jury, composed of men who were first on the scene and acquainted with all the developments of the case were compelled to return a verdict that Turner had met death from a gun shot by unknown hands.


The Ashland Clipper, July 31, 1919.

THE TURNER MURDER STILL A MYSTERY.

The Coroner's Jury Completed Its Session
But Recommended No Arrests.

The coroner jury that had been investigating the murder of Luther Turner, whose head was shot into a pulp as he slept on the Fred Loesch farm just northwest of Sitka early on Friday morning, July 18, rendered a verdict last Saturday evening, after an adjourned session lasting for two days. The verdict was to the effect that Turner was murdered by an unknown person or persons. The jury, convened on Tuesday of last week and after working till late at night, adjourned until Friday, convening at 9:00 o'clock a.m., and continuing their investigation until Saturday evening. Those composing the jury were: Messrs. Lot Ravenscraft, Ross Appleby Fred Kumburg, Irvin Mayberry, Oscar Dewey and Tom McMinimy.

At the session of the jury Friday and Saturday many of the witnesses who had been examined on Tuesday were placed on the stand again. A few new witnesses including a brother of the murdered man, who lives in Missouri, were called.

The six year old daughter of Mrs. Turner and her dead husband was placed upon the witness stand again and her testimony was almost identical with that she gave on Tuesday, both in word and action.

Mrs. Stark, proprietress of a rooming house in Protection, testified that Feed Loesch was assigned a cot in the hall-way of her rooming house and that he was there about eleven o'clock Thursday night, and at six o'clock Friday morning.

Mrs. Turner gave practically the same testimony, in substance, as she did on Tuesday of last week.

During his examination, Fred Loesch was asked, after stating that he did not commit murder, what he would do to solve the mystery. He said he would offer a reward of $1000 for the apprehension of the criminal, but that he would not do so now; maybe in a week, or a month, or at a later date. When asked what facts, if any, he wished to establish to help him find the criminal, he said he wanted to know who found the gun. When informed on this point he said "that is what I wanted to find out." He appeared to be nervous. He was very evasive in his answers to questions put to him and several times it was necessary for the court to compel him to answer a question. He had difficulty in remembering incidents that had occurred, and conversations he had with different people. When he learned over the phone Friday forenoon of the murder of Turner he did not make any inquiry as to how he was killed, or about the particulars. It was shown that the day of the murder he wanted to burn the mattress upon which Turner was sleeping when murdered and to destroy all signs of the crime about the place.

Mrs. Turner and Fred Loesch were seen together several times between Tuesday and Friday of last week.

Virgil Turner, 12 year old son of the murdered man was taken to the scene of the crime on Tuesday of this week, and questioned, but nothing new was learned.

Mrs. Turner and two daughters left yesterday for Oklahoma where she has relatives.

(Article furnished by a grandson of Fred Loesch.)


Warrant for the arrest of Fred Loesch for the murder of Luther Turner, issued 9 March 1920, at Ashland, Clark County, Kansas.
Warrant for the arrest of Fred Loesch for the murder of Luther Turner
Issued 9 March 1920, at Ashland, Clark County, Kansas."

State of Kansas, Clark County, ss.
THE STATE OF KANSAS to the Sheriff or any Constable of Clark County:

Whereas, Complaint in writing, under oath, has been made to me, and it appearing that there are reasonable grounds for believing that on or about 18 day of July, 1919 in Clark County and State of Kansas, one Fred Loesch did then and there unlawfully, feloniously, willfully, deliberately, and premeditatedly kill and murder one Luther Turner by shooting him, the said Luther Turner, with a shotgun, then and there loaded with shells containing powder, shot and cap, made and designed to explode and throw said shot with great force.

YOU ARE THEREFORE COMMANDED, Forthwith, to arrest said Fred Loesch and bring him before me, at Ashland in said County, to answer said charge; and then and there return with Writ.

WITNESS my hand, at my office in Ashland in said County, this 9th day of March, 1920.

W. N. Wallingford
Justice of the Peace.

(Copy of warrant provided by Fred Loesch's grandson.)


The Protection Post, March 18, 1920.
(From the Ashland Clipper)

MRS. LUTHER TURNER PLACED UNDER ARREST


Sheriff Watts and Mr. Darling, who is with the Glynn Detective Agency, arrived here Monday evening with Mrs. Luther Turner and her two months old baby. Mrs. Turner was arrested at Miami, Oklahoma, and is suspected of being implicated in the murder of her husband who was shot in the head with a shot gun while asleep in his home near Sitka last July. She waived preliminary hearing and was bound over to District Court, which convenes in May, under $10,000 bond, which she is unable to give. She is now in jail here.

Mrs. Turner was arrested last Thursday and placed in jail in Miami. She employed counsel who had expected to contest her removal from the state of Oklahoma, but sheriff Watts went into Miami by automobile with extradition papers and was soon on his way to Kansas with his prisoner.

Detective Darling has been working on this case since last fall. The crime is one of the most hideous and cold blooded that has been committed in the state and has received wide publicity. When the case comes to trial it gives promise of being one of the biggest trials that has been held here in many years.


The Wilmore News, March 25, 1920.

FRED LOESCH ARRESTED

Sheriff Chas. W. Watts, arrived here last Thursday from Lyons, Kansas with Fred Loesch, who had been arrested at Raymond, on Wednesday, by the sheriff of Rice county, at the request of the Clark county authorities. Loesch is charged with first degree murder. The warrant for his arrest was sworn out by Mrs. Luther Turner, who is in jail here, having been arrested in Oklahoma two weeks go, and who is also charged with first degree murder. Both Mrs. Turner and Fred Loesch were suspected of being implicated in the murder of Luther Turner last July. Loesch was visiting his parents near Raymond when arrested.

Mrs. Turner stoutly maintains that she is innocent of the crime and after she was placed in jail here she accused Loesch and had him arrested.

Loesch was held in jail, here Thursday night and was before Judge Wallinford Friday. His preliminary hearing was set for March 21 and his bond was fixed at $10,000. Fritz Kumberg, of near Sitkin, signed Loesch's bond and he was released. Mrs. Turner is still in jail, having failed to give $10,000 bond. --- Ashland-Clipper.


The Protection Post, April 1, 1920.

WILL TRY LOESCH
FOR MURDER OF LUTHER TURNER

Case Will Come up in the May Term of Court
- Mrs. Turner Waived Preliminary Hearing

Many people from Protection and vicinity were in Ashland Wednesday to hear the preliminary hearing of Fred Loesch, charged with the murder of Luther S. Turner, his tenant, while he slept on a pallet in the door of his home on the farm of Mr. Loesch, near Sitka, Clark county, last August. Fred Loesch was arrested at the home of his parents near Raymond, Rice county, Kansas, about three weeks ago on charges made to County Attorney Daigh and Sheriff Watts of Clark county by Mrs. Turner, wife of the murdered man, upon her arrest in eastern Oklahoma, about two weeks previous to the arrest of Loesch. No defense was made by Mr. Loesch's attorney, Mr. Jones of Lyons, in the preliminary examination and Loesch was bound over to the May term of court to stand trail and was released under $10,000 bail. Mrs. Turner, also charged with the murder of her husband, has waived preliminary hearing and is being held in the Clark county jail, unable to furnish bond for her release pending her trial which is set for May.


The Western Star, April 9, 1920.

FRED LOESCH HELD FOR DISTRICT COURT

The preliminary trial of Fred Loesch, charged with first degree murder, in connection with the death of Luther Turner who was shot near Sitka last July, was held at the court house here yesterday, before Judge Wallingford and Loesch was bound over to district court under $10,000 bond, which he furnished. The trial consumed the most of the day. The principal witnesses were Mrs. Turner, wife of the murdered man, and Sheriff Watts. Mrs. Turner is also charged with first degree murder in connection with the same crime and is held under $10,000 bond, which she has not furnished, and she is in jail here. Loesch was arrested at Raymond, Kans., March 11, while visiting his father there, upon a warrant sworn to by Mrs. Turner. He had been at liberty since his arrest, under bond. Loesch was represented by Sam Jones of Lyons, Glen Carter out of Attorney Amidon's office at Wichita, and W. W. Harvey, of Ashland. County Attorney, H. R. Daigh was counsel for the state. - Ashland Clipper.


The Protection Post, June 10, 1920.

Mrs. Luther Turner Is Being Tried

Is Charged With First Degree Murder
in Connection With Death of Her Husband.

CASE TO JURY TODAY

The central point of interest in Ashland this week is in the District court room, where Mrs. Coral Turner is being tried on a charge of first degree murder in connection with the death of her husband, Luther Turner, who was shot July 18, 1919, on a farm near Sitka.

District court was convened Monday afternoon about four o'clock with all court officers present. The Turner case was taken up first and examination of venire men was begun Tuesday afternoon; it was the middle of the afternoon before twelve men competent to serve as jurors in this case had been selected. A total of forty-one men were examined from among whom the jury was chosen. The following named men composed the jury: Clell Dodson, B. F. Wesner, A. Clinton Brown, Fred Degan, and O. A. Hankins, all of Ashland; B. H. Lyerly, Geo. McKinney and Edward Burr, of Englewood; J. D. Adamson, A. C. Keller and J. C. McConnell, of Minneola; and E. D. Hale, of Brown township.

County Attorney H. R. Daigh and Judge Stuart, a Circuit Judge of Missouri, are prosecuting the case and Petty T. Allen, of Springfield, Mo., and Fred Hinkle, of Wichita are conducting the defense.

Both the state and the defense have a large number of witnesses, from Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri. The Turner's old home was near Ova, Missouri, where they lived prior to moving to Clark county about two years ago. Mrs. Turner's mother now lives at Tar River, Oklahoma, and the defendant lived with her mother from soon after her husband was murdered until early in March this year when she was brought to Ashland and placed in jail where she has been since that time together with a son born January 1, 1920. Some of the witnesses are from Tar River. Mr. Swafford, of Concordia, Kansas, who took two bloodhounds to the scene of the murder after the crime was committed, was here as a witness.

The attorneys are making their pleas to the jury today and it is expected the cae will be placed in the hands of the jury this afternoon.

The court room has been filled with spectators throughout the trial.

A complete diagram of the place where the crime was committed, showing the house, the position of the doors, windows, furniture, etc., and all of the outbuildings about the place, has been upon the wall of the court room during the trial. The attorneys in the case were upon their feet much of the time objecting to the admission of certain testimony from some of the witnesses.

Later - The jury returned a verdict of not guilty this afternoon soon after they went to the jury room. Thus ends one phase of one of the cruelest and most dastardly crimes that has been committed in the state. Because of its glaring cruelty and methodical execution it was notorious.

Fred Loesch, on whose farm Luther Turner was living at the time he was killed is charged with first degree murder in connection with the same crime, and is now at liberty under $10,000 bond. His trial is to come up at the September term of court. - Last Week's Ashland Clipper.


The Ashland Clipper, September 30, 1920.

DISTRICT COURT IN SESSION

District court convened here Tuesday and work of disposing of the large docket was begun. Two criminal cases, the State vs. Dakin and the State vs. Fred Loesch, were continued. The civil case Alfred Ellsworth vs. Valentine Brokar and wife is now tried and will be in the hands of the jury today. It is expected the term will continue for the remainder of this week and next week.


The Protection Post, April 7, 1921.

Arrested for Horse Stealing.

Virgil Turner, son of Luther Turner who was murdered at Sitka in July 1919, is in the hands of W.B. Rankin, charged with horse stealing. Virgil had been working for L.H. Hemphill, who was arrested about four weeks ago charged with manufacturing and selling whiskey, northeast of Ashland. Wednesday, [Turner] drove a neighbor’s horse into Comanche County and attempted to sell the horse north of Coldwater. The prospective buyer became suspicious of the ownership of the horse and notified the sheriff of Comanche County. Upon investigation and finding that Virgil is not yet sixteen years of age, the Comanche County sheriff notified Clark County authorities and Sheriff Rankin and County Attorney Hayes went after Virgil and brought him into juvenile court [at Ashland] where he pled guilty to horse stealing. As Virgil is wanted as a witness in the Fred Loesch trial in April, Judge McNickle placed him in the hands of W.B. Rankin who will keep him until after court convenes. (reprinted from The Ashland Clipper. Article courtesy of Dave Webb.)


IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF CLARK COUNTY, KANSAS
THE STATE OF KANSAS, 
Plaintiff 
vs. 
FRED LOESCH, 
Defendant 
JOURNAL ENTRY. No 266A
Record courtesy of a grandson of Fred Loesch.
The hand-written notation at the top of the document is by a descendant of Fred Loesch;
it isn't part of the original court record.


IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF CLARK COUNTY, KANSAS
THE STATE OF KANSAS,
Plaintiff

vs.

FRED LOESCH,
Defendant

JOURNAL ENTRY. No 266A

This cause coming on for trial on this 18th day of April, 1921, the same being an Adjourned Term of the regular February, 1921, term of this court; that state of Kansas present by J. B. Hayes County Attorney and H. R. Daigh, its Attorneys; the defendant present in person and by his attorneys, Sam Jones, S. B. Amidon and W. W. Harvey; thereupon each party announced themselves ready for trial; there upon the defendant in open court waived arraignment and entered a plea of not guilty; there upon twelve jurors, residents and freeholders of Clark county, State of Kansas, being twelve legal and lawful jurors were duly an legally impaneled and sworn to try said cause, the names of which said twelve jurors are as follows, to wit: J. A. Allen, H. W. Esplund, W. Blazar, George Abell, J. E. Homan, E. H. Johnson, D. C. Chammess, F. G. Culp, C. C. McFarland, W. R. Gearhart, F. F. Wilkinson, and J. S. Bailey; thereupon H. R. Daigh for and on behalf of the State made a statement to the jury of the facts the state expected to prove in the trial of said cause; thereupon the state proceeded and introduced its evidence, and after the introduction of its evidence the State rested; thereupon the defendant filed a motion asking the court to instruct the jury to return a verdict of not guilty for the reasons set out in said motion, and for the reason that the state had failed to prove the defendant guilty of any offense under the information. At the same time the defendant filed his demurrer to the evidence introduced on behalf of the State. After due presentation of said motion by attorneys for the State and the Defendant the court after being fully advised in the premises, sustains said motion, and thereupon the jury were instructed to return a verdict of not guilty. And the jury returned into court their verdict in words and figures as follows, to-wit

State of Kansas, Clark County, SS,
In the District Court, 31st District
The State of Kansas, Plaintiff , vs. Fred Loesch, Defendant.

VERDICT

We, the Jury impaneled and sworn in the above case, do upon our oath, find the defendant Not Guilty.

F. G. Culp, Foreman.

Thereupon the court received said verdict and approved the same and ordered it to be filed with the Clerk of said court, and the jury was discharged.

Wherefore it is by the court ordered, adjudged and decreed that the defendant be and he hereby is adjudged not guilty, and that he go hence without day (sic), and that his bondsmen be and they are hereby released. To such order and ruling and discharge the State duly excepted.

L. M. Day
Judge

(Document contributed by a grandson of Fred Loesch.)


The Ashland Clipper, April 21, 1921.

DISTRICT COURT IN SESSION THIS WEEK

District court convened in Ashland on Monday of this week. The first case called was the State vs Fred Loesch, on a charge of murdering Luther Turner, in July, 1919. The jury was secured and the hearing of evidence begun some time Monday. Tuesday morning about ten o'clock the State had presented all its evidence and the court ruled that there was not sufficient evidence to continue the case further and instructed the jury that a verdict of not guilty be returned which was done without the jury leaving the jury box. Attorneys for the defense were: W. W. Harvey, of Ashland; Col. Amidon of Wichita; and Sam Jones, of Lyons. County, Attorney J. B. Hayes and H. R. Daigh represented the State.

Luther Turner, age about 33 years, was murdered near Sitka early Friday morning, July 18, 1919, by being shot in the head with a shot gun as he lay sleeping in the door of his home, on a farm owned by Fred Loesch. His wife, Mrs. Coral Turner, and four children, the oldest one, Virgil, being about 12 or 13 years of age at that time, were the only other persons who were sleeping there that night. Fred Loesch, a single man and owner of the farm, had lived with the Turners for about three months, or practically all of the time they had occupied the place except some two or three weeks. The night of the murder Fred Loesch stayed in Protection, according to testimony at the trail.

On Tuesday, July 22, 1919, an inquest was held at the court house before Judge Wallingford and six jurors, conducted by the county attorney. Mrs. Turner was questioned but no arrests followed. In the fall of 1919 a detective agency was employed to work on the case, and in March, 1920, Mrs. Turner was arrested in Oklahoma, where she was then living, and placed in jail here. A few days thereafter Fred Loesch was also arrested and was released on bond. Mrs. Turner's trial was held and she was cleared in the district court here last fall.

Immediately after noon, Tuesday, the case of the State vs. John Dakin, on a charge of having had illicit intercourse with Edna Potter, was begun. Attorneys in this case are: Judge Price and R. C. Mayse, of Ashland, and Col. Amidon, of Wichita, for the defense, and W. W. Harvey and J. B. Hayes for the State. The jury is composed of R. L. Mills, K. C. Chelsey, C. H. Clapper, H. W. Esplund, W. B. Grimes, H. C. Smith, J. A. Allen, Charles Hardesty, S. G. McInteer, W. Blazer, Leonard Cox, and J. E. Homan. The jury was completed Wednesday morning and the hearing of evidence was begun, and is still in progress as the Clipper goes to press. A large number, probably twenty-five or fifty, of witnesses are to be called by each side and it is probable the trial will not be finished before Friday or Saturday. Thruout the week the court room has been crowded with spectators.

This session of court is to continue thruout this week and next week. There are a number of cases yet to be tried and the prospects are that some of them will have to be continued for lack of time, but it was hoped that the docket would be cleaned up at this session.

(Article contributed by a grandson of Fred Loesch.)


WWI Draft Registration card for Samuel Luther Turner of Protection, Comanche County, Kansas.
Draft Registration card: Samuel Luther Turner of Protection, Comanche County, Kansas.

United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls.


Thanks to Shirley Brier for finding, transcribing and contributing most of the above news articles to this web site! Thanks also to the grandson of Fred Loesch who has contributed articles and documents to this page as noted beneath each of those items.

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