THE 1917 MURDER OF JANE BUXTON
Laura Jane Buxton
MURDER AT ELVINS
[Published January 19, 1917 - Bonne Terre Star]
The enterprising city of Elvins added to its fame Thursday of this
week by a scandal which culminated in a wife murder.
From reports to the STAR, it seems that William Buxton, 40 years old**, has an especially
good looking wife, or did have, also a bunch of seven youngsters ranging from 14 years to
8 months old.
Mrs. Buxton, it seems; should have been pretty well satisfied which she was not for it
appears that on Wednesday night she with a man by the name of Peam Pear attended a picture
show and the husband found it out and kicked up a row at the show, which was promptly
suppressed by the show owner.
Thursday afternoon at 2:15 had a quarrel with his wife and shot her, killing her
Buxton is in jail according to report.
If Buxton was going into the killing game he should have killed the other fellow too.
** Age in this article is wrong. He was 36 years old when he
committed the murder.
WM. BUXTON BLOWS WIFE'S BRAINS OUT
[The Desloge Sun, Friday, Jan. 19, 1917, Page 1]
Wm. Buxton shot and killed his wife at their home in Elvins [St. Francois County,
Mo.] Thursday afternoon [January 18, 1917] about two o'clock. Jealousy is said to have
been the cause of the tragedy. Several children survive. Buxton was arrested by the city
marshall and turned over to the sheriff who placed him in jail in Farmington. It will be
remembered that Buxton was the prosecuting witness in the case of State vs. Lon Florence
for selling liquor.
WIFE KILLED BY JEALOUS HUSBAND
Article is from Vol. 18, January 19, 1917,
Publication name is missing or too faint to read
Wm. Buxton shot and instantly killed his wife in a rooming house conducted by Fain
Pair in the Silsby block, at Elvins, about 2:00 o'clock Thursday afternoon. At the time
she was shot Mrs. Buxton was sitting on the bed holding her baby, less than a year old, in
her arms. As she fell over on the bed the baby fell from her arms, but was caught by its
sister, aged 9. The bullet entered Mrs. Buxton's head. She never spoke after the shot was
Buxton was placed under arrest by Marshall Gann, of Elvins. Sheriff Adams came out in
response to a telephone call and took Buxton to jail at Farmington.
Buxton and his wife had been having trouble for a long time. He had on several occasions
threatened to kill her. His wife had caused his arrest on a peace disturbance charge on
Thursday morning. He had only been released a short time, after having furnished bond for
his appearance for trial, when the shooting occurred.
Mrs. Buxton is survived by seven children, the eldest being only 12 years old.
BUXTON HELD WITHOUT BOND FOR WIFE MURDER
[Lead Belt News, January 26, 1917]
Wm. Buxton, who shot and killed his wife at Elvins Thursday afternoon of last
week, was given his preliminary hearing before 'Squire Martin Wednesday morning. He was
refused bond and was taken back to jail to await trial at the February term of the Circuit
Buxton was not represented by counsel, but he asked to be allowed to make a statement. He
said that he and his wife had quarreled on Thursday morning on account of her refusal to
cook for him and the children after he had gone out and purchased some "grub."
He later said he would cook himself, and she said if he did she would throw the food out.
He then told her he would force her to cook. He took down the pistol and loaded it with
two cartridges. His wife was sitting on the bed holding the baby. His intention, he said,
was only to frighten her, and that he thought he had loaded the pistol in such a manner
that it would snap when he pulled the trigger. He fired and the pistol exploded. His wife
fell over and the baby fell out of her arms. He picked the baby up and gave it to its
sister. He said he did not think he had shot his wife when she fell. He thought she was
trying to frighten him. Two of Buxton's children, a boy, aged 11, and a girl aged 7,
corroborated his statement in regard to his wife's refusal to cook.
Deposition before inquest
St of Missouri, county of St Francois
Inquest on dead body of Mrs. Laura J. Buxton before C.P. Prather, Coroner
Be it remembered that on the 19th day of Jan. A.D. 1919, before the undersigned coroner of
the County of St. Francois and State aforesaid, personally appeared Jim Gaines who being
duly sworn to give evidence and the truth say, concerning his knowledge of the manner and
by who Mrs. Buxton the person whose body was lately found at her residence at Elvins, St
Francois county, St Francois township, Mo., came to her death thereupon the said Jim
Gaines deposes and says as follows: I don't remember what time it must have been, maybe
after 1'oclock. The woman was sitting close to the head of her bed. The body was lying
flat on the back; no indication of struggle. Dr. Tidwell examined the body and while he
was feeling the pulse, this man Buxton showed up. He came in from another room. I could
see blood on the top of the head of the ?? when Buxton came into the room. I turned, and I
took hold of him, and asked him "Did you do this? He said I am the man the done the
work. I took him to the lock up. It seemed he wanted to talk to the Doctor, but I did not
give him time. I took the gun off of him. The children were crying and carrying on. I
don't think they ??.
Testimony from Pearl Buxton:
Mother was sitting on the bed when papa came home. She was sitting on the bed letting the
baby nurse. Papa pulled out his gun, and began loading it. He wanted her to cook, and she
said she would, as soon as the baby got through nursing . He pulled out his gun, and shot
her. He filled the gun up, but he only shot once. She was crying and he shot her. Mama
never spoke after she was shot. It hit her on top of the head. .....Pearl Buxton
I live around the corner from her door. He was cussing her, and I stopped to listen. I was
standing at her door. Mrs. Buxton was sitting on the bed with the baby on her lap. Buxton
had a pistol in his hand and some greenback money in his hand. I did not see him fire the
pistol. I heard him swear, and tell her he would kill her. I walked about 15 feet and I
heard the gun fire, and I turned and went back. She had fallen over on the bed. He just
said Miss Tucker..... and passed on and walked to the steps, and came back. She never
spoke. He came to the door and looked in, and turned and went back. He did not say
anything. The children were all in there. No one in the room when he killed her but the
children. The shooting was between one and two O'clock. .......Martha Tucker
VERDICT OF JURY
State of Missouri
County of Francois
We, the jury, Having been duly sworn in and affirmed by C.R. Prather coroner, of St
Francois County Missouri, diligently to inquire and true presentment make, in what manner
and by whom Laura J. Buxton, whose dead body was found at Elvins on the 18th day of Jan.
A.D. 1917 came to her death and having heard the evidence and upon full inquiry concerning
the facts, and a careful examination of the body, do find that the deceased came to her
death from a gun shot wound inflicted by William Buxton on the 18th day of January, 1917,
without any just cause as provocation. Given under our hands at Elvins, Mo., in the county
of St Francois aforesaid, this 19th day of Jan. A.D. 1917
Fred Schell, Foreman
James O' Leary
WM. BUXTON PLEADS GUILTY AND GETS LIFE
[Published March 2, 1917 Desloge Sun]
Wm. Buxton who shot and killed his wife at Elvins several weeks
ago entered a plea of guilty to murder in the circuit court Monday. His punishment was
fixed at imprisonment for life. Our readers are already familiar with the details of this
dastardly crime. Mrs. Buxton's death and the wreck her husband has made of his life can be
attributed to John Barleycorn. As the result of his nefarious work several children of
tender years have been robbed of a mother's care and their father will spend the balance
of his days in a felon's cell. And still some men, even in this community inveigh loudly
against any effort put forth to put John Barleycorn out of business.
FOLLOW-UP INFORMATION ON FATE OF WILLIAM BUXTON
From MO State Archives:
Name - William Buxton
Age - 38
Nativity - MO
Trade - Miner
Height - 5' 8"
Length foot inches- 10 3/4
Hair - dep bn
Eyes - brn
Complexion - m. sal
Whiskers worn - (blank)
Religion - Christ
Habits of life - Intemp
Education - none
Former imprisonment - none
Next of kin - parents
Weight - 179 lbs
Offense - P.G. Murder 1st
County - St. Francois
Sentence - Life natural, life from Feb. 26, 1917
Term of court - Feb 1917
When received - March 1, 1917
Expiration of sentence, full time, three fourths time - (both blank)
Discharged - Died in hospital, July 6, 1920
[There is no mention whether this was a prison hospital or a private hospital.]
Death Certificate #24165 from State of MO
Place of death - Cole County, Jefferson City, MO
Name - William Buxton
Male, white, single
Date of birth - July 6, 1881
Age - 39 years (blank) months (blank) days
Personal information all says - "no information obtainable"
Informant - Prison Records, Jefferson City, MO
Filed - 7/7, 1920 Florine Yorus, Deputy (hard to read last name)
Date of death - July 6, 1920
Attended from - March 10, 1920 to July 6, 1920
Last seen alive July 6, 1920, death at 3:55 p.m.
Cause of death - Asthma cardiac & mitral insuficiency [sic]
Signed - W. A. Clark, M.D. July 6, 1920
Place of burial - Flat River, MO
Date of burial - July 8, 1920
Undertaker - Oliver Heinrich, 106 W. High Str., J. City
So now you know the rest of the story ... William Buxton died in prison on his 39th