Welcome back readers,
Today we are continuing the story of John M. Smith. They are many questions that remain from last time: What are the charges that he faces? Will he be proven innocent or guilty? Where did he get the body that he burned? Find out some of the answers to these questions and more today as we head toward the beginning of Mr. Smith’s trial!
The date is September 2, 1931, and shocking new information has come forward in the Smith case even before his court case officially begins. The newspaper that day read “Smith May Face Bigamy Charge.” According to the paper, Eauline Shaw of Chautauqua, Kansas identified Mr. Smith as the man she married on March 11, 1931. Mrs. Clayton, with whom Mrs. Shaw lives, saw a picture of Smith being fingerprinted at Garner and wrote to the sheriff expressing her suspicions. Her case was turned over to Sheriff Knee of Dallas County, and State Agent Myron Tullar (who had been on the case since it was discovered that the burned body was not Smith’s) started further investigation into the matter. Tullar went to Kansas with a more recent photo of Smith in order to confirm the identification.
According to Mrs. Clayton, the man who married Eauline Shaw used the name McJay Smith. He had arrived in town in February, and soon took an interest in Ms. Shaw. When he proposed to her, Mrs. Clayton began to ask questions. McJay Smith said that he had recently invented a “Miteless Chicken roost” and received $35,000 for the patent right. He also claimed to be a manufacturer of chicken stock food and disinfectant, and was fully capable of earning a living for a wife. The marriage was performed on March 11, two days before it was discovered back in Iowa that the burned body did not belong to John Smith. It is also said that upon his arrival in Chautauqua, McJay Smith was driving a yellow wheeled Chevrolet with a Minnesota license, which compares favorably with the car supposedly driven by John Smith on the night he met his wife near Black’s corner. Kansas officials say that no warrant had been issued for bigamy against John Smith, but a warrant had been issued for removing mortgaged property (an automobile) from the state of Kansas.
Upon positive identification, the charge of bigamy would be added to the charge of conspiracy to defraud. The defrauding charge is the one that Smith would face when he came before the grand jury later in September 1931. What will happen during this court case? Will the charge of bigamy be added? Join us next time, as John Smith and his wife, Mrs. Smith, face charges!
Welcome back to the Hometown Heritage blog! Once again, we will be continuing the story of John Smith today. Instead of looking forward to September 1931, we will actually be taking a brief look at the July 1, 1931 paper. Although not a major headline, it is still important to the plot of the conspiracy: “Smith Ordered to Clarinda for Treatment.”
At 8 p.m. on June 30, 1931, County Attorney George Sackett brought Mr. Smith before Judge E. W. Dingwell. George Sackett presented charges against Smith for “conspiracy to defraud.” Harry Wifvat, Mr. Smith’s attorney, entered a plea of not guilty. This plea was made owing to the question of Smith’s sanity, which was in question ever since he was found near Garner. Judge Dingwell ruled that Smith, because of his condition, would be order to Clarinda, a state hospital. He was to stay there for treatment, upon consent of Mrs. Smith, until the court reopened in September. It would be during September that the criminal charge would be sought if Smith had any improvement in his mental condition. If not, the question of his sanity will be brought before the court, possibly resulting in his confinement to a hospital for the criminally insane.
Mrs. Smith did consent to Mr. Smith’s admission to Clarinda. She also filed a petition, seeking appointment as the legal guardian for her husband. This was so that she would be able to control his property and collect pension payments from Mr. Smith’s service during the World War. After this, county officers took Smith to Clarinda, and placed him under the care of hospital physicians. His treatment seeks to return him to a normal mental balance.
Will Smith return to his normal mental faculties, if he really is insane at all? What surprises does his court case hold? Find out next time as we dive into September and the court case!
Happy Wednesday readers!
I hope that you are all ready for more John Smith and his baffling case. Is Smith insane? Was he kidnapped? On the other hand, is he simply faking it as an insurance swindle? Without further ado, let us find out what happens in today’s installment!
The date is June 26, 1931. Not much news has happened concerning the Smith case today, but there is a small article in the paper titled “Sackett to File Charge on Smith”. For the most part, the article discusses the charges that Smith could face and where he would be held. Unfortunately, the exact charge was not disclosed on this day, but County Attorney George Sackett did say he was ready to file charges. The thought was that charges could be pressed for conspiracy to defraud insurance companies. With these companies, Smith apparently carried policies totaling $50,000. With inflation, today that amount would be about $734,549.68. Other charges included could be related to the burning of his car and the body that he used as a decoy for himself.
The biggest part of this article, however, was about Mr. Smith’s mental state. According to the article, efforts were being made to place him in a prison for the criminally insane. Dr. George Donahoe of Cherokee, state hospital for the insane, recommended that Smith be committed to the state institution for the insane. According to him, a skull fracture (the same one that originally help authorities to determine the burned body was not Smith’s) that he received 8 years ago at Norfolk, Nebraska was the cause of Smith’s mental condition.
Do you agree with Dr. Donahoe? Do you think that John Smith really is insane, or is he plotting this in an attempt to get away with his crime? Find out next time, with the heading “Smith May Face Bigamy Charge”!
I hope you are all ready for a ride, because we are continuing the story of the Smith Conspiracy today! This part of the story comes from the June 23, 1931 Perry Chief, which had the headline “Smith Must Face Trial in Dallas.”
Early in the morning of June 23, 1931, cries and whistles coming from the road near his home, near Wilson Highway No. 15 on a byroad, attracted Charles Grau, a Hancock county farmer. He went to investigate, and what he found was quite the surprise. Lying at the side of the road was John M. Smith. His hands and feet were bound together with wire, and were connected with a rope. There was no car nearby, and Mr. Grau had not heard any car in the vicinity, so how Mr. Smith ended up there was a mystery. Grau released him, took him to his home, and called Sheriff Hanson. When the Sheriff arrived, he found that Mr. Smith was in a dazed and semi-sane condition, bordering on hysteria or insanity, but physically seemed in good condition. He was unable to give details about how he got to the vicinity, any about the apparent attack, and only talked about his wife and the truck. Sheriff Hanson did indicate, however, that Mr. Smith’s bond were loose enough that it “might not have been impossible for the man to have wired and tied himself.” The sheriff arrested Smith that day, on a warrant charging him of “conspiracy to defraud” insurance companies.
Upon reaching Garner, Iowa, positive identification that this man was John Smith was provided. Harold Gesell, a fingerprint expert identified him using fingerprints from his army records. Unfortunately for authorities, Smith was not very helpful. He continually referred to his wife and his car, but appeared unable to talk about his disappearance or the incidents prior to and after the finding of the car and burned body. He claimed that three men knocked him unconscious with a blow to the head, bound him, and threw him to the side of the road, and that he had been kept in a basement for the past 5 and a half months. However, a physician failed to find any head injuries, casting doubt on the story. According to a Chief representative, Smith had lost considerable weight, was haggard in appearance, and seemed to have aged much in the five months he was missing. His mental state still appeared to be in disarray, as he was irrational and still semi-dazed. His reappearance resumed the investigation into his affairs by local insurance companies, and a question of where he was to be taken arose. The accident and burning of the other body occurred in Crawford County, but Dallas County officers carried out the case. County Attorney George Sackett stated that he would endeavor to have Smith brought to Dallas County to face charges unless Crawford officials decided to prosecute. As of the night of June 23, there was no decision on who would get custody over Mr. Smith.
As you can see, the plot of this story only continues to thicken. Was John Smith actually kidnapped and held in a basement? Is he just delusional and going insane? Find out next week as the charges are laid against him!
Good afternoon readers!
I hope that you are ready to hear more about the Smith Conspiracy, because there is much more to come! Today we are looking at the headlines from the March 21st Perry Chief. The headline for this paper is “Smith Escapes Officers and Wife.”
According to the paper, Mrs. Smith received a phone call from DeSoto at 6 p.m., in which a man identifying himself as a salesman of the Disintone company and asked her to meet him at 7 p.m. at the junction of highway 169 and 7. This intersection was more commonly known as Black’s corners, and is about 14 miles south of here. Mrs. Smith, thinking this was information concerning her husband, immediately notified local police asking for an escort. This opened an opportunity for the arrest of John Smith. Unfortunately, things were not going to go their way.
Shortly before 7 p.m. Mrs. Smith left Perry. A car driven by Deputy Sheriff McCarthy, who was accompanied by Deputy Sheriff Chase and Perry night officer Grant Herrold, followed her. Deputy Burger of Adel was also notified, and was accompanied by Dutch Baldwin, the Adel marshal. These two officers reached the point first and took up a vantage point where they could see the entire intersection. As they watched, a yellow-wheeled Chevrolet coupe arrived, but they were unaware of who was in the car. Mrs. Smith came from the north, maintaining a quarter mile ahead of McCarthy’s car. When she finally came to the intersection, the yellow-wheeled car met her. Mr. Smith was driving this car and as he approached Mrs. Smith’s car, he slowed down so that he could talk to her. Upon identifying him, Mrs. Smith yelled to the officers, and the chase began.
Smith took off, and Mrs. Smith and McCarthy turned to follow his car. Smith stopped his car just east of the end of the wide east turn, and Mrs. Smith stopped behind him. McCarthy stopped at the corner and picked up Deputy Burger, and Baldwin drove past both cars to stop in front of Mr. Smith. Noticing he was trapped, Smith again started east. McCarthy turned back in the road to head him off, and Officer Herrold got out of his car, but knocked a shotgun to the ground. As he bent to pick it up, Smith’s car blew past him, missing his head by about 8 inches and running over the gun breaking it at the stock. Because of this, McCarthy halted his car to avoid Herrold, and Smith was given the necessary room to make his escape to the north. Baldwin then got into Mrs. Smith’s car, and she started to give chase. When asked if she could drive, she replied, “I’ll drive it as fast as it will go to catch him.” Unfortunately, a driver in a passing Ford thought that the officers were chasing Mrs. Smith’s car, and so he blocked her car, causing her to go into the ditch. Mr. Smith then got away, and was still at large upon the printing of the paper.
What happens next? Do the police find and capture Smith? Find out next week, when the headline is “Smith Must Face Trial in Dallas”!