Search for the Criminal
HERE were two negro women who lived in Hannibal at one time, but left
and went to St. Louis. They worked
for their living, but did not bear good reputations, although they worked in
good families. One was named Bertha
Miller and the other Esther Dick. Bertha
Miller lived in a dingy little house and Esther visited her frequently.
They occupied a front room. The
room back of them was rented to an old colored woman who took in washing.
The old colored woman was sitting in her room one night, resting after a
hard day’s work, and through the partition which separated her room from the
front room, she heard Bertha Miller and Esther Dick discussing the Stillwell
murder. The old woman put her ear
to the crack and listened to the horrible story of the murder.
Next morning she went to the house of a lady for whom she had worked and
told what she had heard. A negro
man by the name of Stanley Kendricks at that time lived in Hannibal and worked
as a servant or at anything he could get to do.
He fell sick and had no money. Dr.
Hearne gave him medical treatment, supplied food, lodging, in fact he supported
him during his illness. Stanley
Kendricks recovered slowly, and when he got well he came to see Esther Dick and
offered her inducements to assist him in committing a crime.
Kendricks knew this woman well. He
did not tell her exactly what he intended to do.
Securing her, he persuaded a negro who had been employed by Stillwell to
join him and through him he secured the assistance of Bertha Miller. Kendricks finally told them that he intended to kill Mr.
Stillwell. They asked him what Mrs.
[sic] Stillwell had done to him. He
replied nothing, but said that he had been asked to do it and was going to do it
for the man who had asked him. They
discussed their plans. Kendricks
told them that they would have no trouble in entering the house, as that would
all be arranged. They met about
midnight and sought the Stillwell neighborhood.
Kendricks stationed one of the women in the alley near Broadway, the
other in the alley near Church street. They
were to remain as guards to give warning in case any one approached.
Kendricks and Rhodes entered the yard and they saw no more of them for
some time. Then they heard their
steps; they were running; they called the women away.
Kendricks carried the bloody ax and was covered himself with blood.
He carried the ax down the alley and tore a board from the shed and threw
the ax in. They all hurried on to a
certain house and there they found spots of blood on Kendricks’ coat, which
were impossible to remove, so the women helped to destroy it.
Esther Dick says that Kendricks gave her a ten dollar bill and also gave
Bertha Miller the same amount. Esther
Dick kept her money, but Bertha Miller became frightened and tore hers into
fragments. Afterwards Esther
Dick became frightened and thinking she would be discovered she bought a
railroad ticket and went to St. Louis. Kendricks
Hunt for Kendricks
Stanley Kendricks has been up and down the Mississippi river and has
friends in all of the cities. When
a detective started on his track he was said to be in St. Louis, but when the
detective arrived, he had just gone. Some
one said that he had gone to Memphis. When the detective arrived at Memphis he had returned to St.
Louis. Later it was discovered that
he was at Cairo, but he had just left there and gone to Memphis.
He then left Memphis and went to New Orleans, and then to Keokuk, Iowa.
Finally he was heard of at Peoria. November
22nd Kendricks was located in a colored saloon, where he was preparing a coon
supper for the negroes of Coon Hollow. The
detectives entered the saloon and requested one of the proprietors to let them
see the coon they were cooking. He
consented and led the way to the kitchen. A
negro woman ran to the kitchen as soon as they asked permission to enter it.
A detective hurried past one of the men just in time to receive the
fleeing Kendricks in his arms. The detective asked the woman if she was Kendricks’ wife;
Kendricks replied that she was. The
proprietor and the woman said that she was not. Kendricks was placed in a cell in the city jail, and was
asked who his associates were in the murder at Hannibal. He pretended not to know where Hannibal was, said that he
never was in Hannibal, also denied having been in St. Louis.
He denied knowing Bertha Miller and Esther Dick.
A woman claiming to be Kendricks’ wife called to see him about an hour
after his arrest. In an interview
she gave an account of Kendricks from July, 1888, to the present time, except a
few weeks. She did not know just
where he was, but said that he was in the west and not in Missouri.
Stanley Kendricks, who has been followed from one part of the country to
another, is a light-complexioned, freckled-faced, colored man, who dresses well.
During the time he was pursued, he followed the profession of a gambler.
He is not known in Hannibal by the name of Kendricks.
Stanley Kendricks, who is under arrest, lives in Keokuk, Iowa, but has
been in Hannibal several times. Stanley
Christopher is a freckled-faced colored boy.
He has at different times been employed as a roustabout on steamboats.
The question is, did the colored woman in St. Louis mean Christopher or
did she mean Kendricks?
Sam Rhodes has been in the employ of Stillwell & Co. for over ten
years and bears an excellent reputation. Rhodes
is a married colored man and was
not accustomed to associate with such characters as Bertha Miller and Esther
Rhodes was interviewed by a reporter.
Rhodes was not averse to talking on the subject.
He stated that he knew Bertha Miller and Esther Dick, but had never
associated with them. He said that he knew Stanley Christopher.
Rhodes said that he would not have any trouble to establish an alibi, as
he could prove that he was at his home on North street after 7 o’clock on the
night of the Stillwell murder and did not leave the house, excepting when he
went for a bucket of beer.
Esther Dick was arrested in St. Louis.
She denied all knowledge of the murder.
She said she had not even heard of the Stillwell murder, until she was
arrested. She left Hannibal about
three years ago and went to St. Louis and has not been here since.
Strong Proof of Innocence
Bertha Miller was sentenced December 3rd, 1888, by a justice of the
peace at Canton, Mo., to thirty days in the county jail and a fine of $15 and
costs for stealing shoes. This
proves that she was in jail at Monticello December 30th. She says she was told about the Stillwell murder by the
jailor’s daughter. The jailor’s
wife brought her a paper containing
an account of the murder. She
afterwards went to St. Louis and boarded with the old colored woman and left
owing her a dollar and a half board bill, but left her trunk as security.
Dr. J. C. Hearne was indignant that his name should be used in such a
manner, and stated that he had placed the matter in the hands of an attorney,
with the expectation of bringing suit for damages.
Some people had an idea that the toughs of the levee knew something of
this horrible crime, but the good people of the town do not think for a moment
that any one as poor as those people living in squalid shanties along the river
bank would be so cold-hearted as to murder a man for his money, and then have so
little regard for values as to overlook them, and especially to throw $40 to the
winds, as they could easily have gotten away with their ill-gotten spoils, as no
outcry came from that neighborhood. Strange
that a burglar would depend on finding a weapon in the wood shed and would then
take the precaution to carry it out and hide it.
The Stillwell Mansion