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The Reward Withdrawn

HE motive that led Mr. R. H. Stillwell to withdraw the $10,000 reward for the apprehension of the murderer or murderers of his father has been investigated.  Mr. Stillwell has experienced a change of mind.  He held tenaciously to the robbery theory, but recent developments have served to convince him otherwise.  He will now follow up a more plausible clew [sic] those who have been his most severe critics will soon applaud his course, as he is determined to bring the guilty to justice, no matter who they are.  A very important witness resides in Chicago, and this witness has hinted facts that opened the eyes of the murdered man’s son.  The murderer of Amos J. Stillwell is nearer to the gallows now than ever before.  Mr. Stillwell does not believe that it is necessary to expend $10,000 to catch the villain who murdered his aged father.  He will now take the matter in his own hands.

Hearne-DeYoung Libel Suit 

Dr. Joseph C. Hearne brings suit against the San Francisco Chronicle asking $200,000 damages.  Efforts to keep the separation of Dr. Joseph C. Hearne and Fannie Hearne secret cause the facts to be made public.  Following is the article Dr. Hearne claims to be libelous:

(Special Dispatch to the Chronicle)

San Diego, August 25: - It has just leaked out that a divorce was granted on the 10th inst. to Fannie C. Hearne from Dr. Joseph C. Hearne of this city.  The prominence of the principals in social circles here, as well as a certain incident in their career at Hannibal, Mo., makes the separation of more than passing interest.  Mrs. Hearne was at the time of her marriage to the doctor, four years ago, the widow of Amos J. Stillwell, a wealthy pork-packer of Hannibal, whose murder less than a year previous to her second marriage was one of the most exciting events in the history of that city.  The complaint was filed on July 25th by her attorneys, W. T. McNealy and Conkling & Hughes, but the matter was kept secret by mutual consent.  The charges were cruelty and failure to provide, and were made, it appears, on an understanding that no defense would be presented when the case came to trial.  Persons cognizant of the feelings existing between the doctor and his wife have long been looking for the institution of a suit for legal separation, their disagreement being of common report.  Indeed it was stated by friends of Mrs. Hearne that she had been deterred only by fear of personal violence from filing a complaint long ago, containing even more sensational charges against the doctor than that of cruelty directed against herself.  The couple have been residents of this city for some years, Dr. Hearne being one of the best-known physicians in this city.  They lived in a fine house at the corner of First and Laurel streets until the present trouble led to a breaking up of the family, since which time the doctor has made his home at the corner of Fourth and Ash streets, where his offices are located.  Mrs. Hearne, or Mrs. Stillwell, as she now is called, for she was permitted to resume the name of her former husband at the time of granting the divorce, is spending the summer at La Jolla with her daughter Mary and two sons.  Dr. Hearne’s two daughters, the fruit of a former marriage, are visiting their old home at Hannibal, where the marriage just annulled took place.  No children were born of the union.  At the trial evidence was elicited showing the doctor to be a man of most ungovernable temper, the use of profane and abusive language being one of the offenses charged, but such incidents as hurling of dishes at his wife when engaged in arguments were referred to by witnesses for the prosecution.  These wild outbursts are said, however, to be merely a suggestion of the evidence which it would have been possible to introduce in case there had been a contest.  Intimate relations alleged to have been sustained by the doctor with various women of San Diego, it is said, would have afforded material for racy charges.  The doctor wisely allowed the suit to go by default.  Mrs. Stillwell had been contemplating a trip to Europe for some time past, but has been prevented from leaving by the severe illness of her daughter.  Dr. Hearne insists that the principal ground of disagreement between himself and wife was incompatibility of temper, and he says that his wife’s daughter Mary has had a most disturbing influence in the household.  It is known, however, that he was averse to a divorce and certain threats of a sensational nature are said to have been made by him to prevent the filing of the complaint.  After the filing of the complaint by his wife, the doctor went to La Jolla and calling at the cottage occupied by her and her children, he was denied entrance.  He forced his way within and going to the door of Mrs. Hearne’s room, which was locked, burst his way in with an ax.

These circumstances were well known to persons staying at La Jolla and led to an inquiry regarding the cause of disagreement.  The antecedents of the entire family were investigated, with the result that all the details yet known regarding the tragedy at Hannibal have become known to those interested.  It is  with reference to them that the greatest interest is felt.  The newspapers published at Hannibal and Kansas City at the time of the murder say that late on the night of December 29, 1888, Mrs. Stillwell is said to have appeared at Dr. Allen’s house barefooted and in her night clothes to give an alarm on account of the murder of her husband, whose body she said she had found in a pool of blood in a room adjoining her own.  Being awakened by a disturbance, she had arisen to  find that he had been killed with an ax while she slept.  That robbery was not the motive was evident from the fact that nothing of value had been taken.  The ax was one belonging to the place and had been observed a day or two previous by servants near the front doorstep in the yard.  Dr. Hearne was the family physician and one of the first to reach the house and assist in waking the servants.  The police made some startling discoveries.  One of the back doors was open, but the bolts showed no signs of having been forced.  On the steps leading to the first floor parlor matches were found as well as some pieces of silver money.  In the dining-room burned matches were strewn about.  The trail led out of the rear door into the back yard, where more silver was found; and a few steps from the house, at the door of a wood shed, were more matches.  The murderer seemed to have had a mania for burning matches, which was more unaccountable in that he had not used them to make light.   They seemed to have been ignited and thrown down ere they had sputtered twice.  A blood-stained ax with which the deed was committed, was found near by and close beside it several $5 bills.  Money was evidently no object to this murderer.  All evidence of the  crime was quickly cleared away.  The funeral of the rich packer took place on New Year’s day.  Before the following Christmas the wedding of Dr. Hearne and the widow was announced, and then it was recalled that previous to the tragedy the relations existing between the doctor and the Stillwell family had been of the most intimate nature.  Ugly rumors began to spread abroad, and up to the present time grand juries in session at Hannibal have had the matter under inquiry fifteen or sixteen times, but no indictment has ever been found.

The social relations of the family became unpleasant, and Dr. Hearne having secured the appointment of surgeon for the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad Company, they removed to St. Joseph.  The story followed them there and they soon came to Los Angeles, where they found that the report of the murder had preceded them.  They then came on to this city, where they have been living ever since.  Soon after the marriage difficulty arose and Mrs. Hearne took passage for Europe, but  was followed to the steamer by her husband and induced to return to him.  The daughter Mary then gave him a “tongue lashing” in public, which was very pointed, and helped to renew the inquiry regarding the Hannibal tragedy.  Nothing has ever transpired to fix the crime upon any one, but it is said that whenever a grand jury is drawn at Hannibal the whole matter is gone over afresh and an attempt made to unearth new evidence.  Any facts found pertaining to the case are sealed up in an envelope and left for the next grand jury.  

Hearne's Statement 

In the fourth paragraph it is stated that Mrs. Hearne testified during the divorce proceedings that she “feared personal violence and filed even more sensational charges than cruelty directed against herself.”  That is a lie made out of whole cloth.  And then in the seventh paragraph of the article it is stated that “evidence was elicited that I used profane and abusive language in her presence and hurled dishes at her,” which is villainously false.  In the eighth paragraph it is said that I was accused of “intimacy with various women of San Diego” - another baseless statement.  Then in the ninth paragraph I am accused of threats of a character to prevent the filing of the complaint.  This is absolutely untrue, as the divorce was mutually agreed to.  The statement that I burst my way into her room at La Jolla with an ax is also absolutely false.  It was my custom to visit my wife there every Saturday night and remain over Sunday.

Dr. Joseph C. Hearne

 “But,” asked the newsman, “didn’t you break open the door?”

“I found it locked and merely pushed it in.  There was not an ax about the house.  It is not necessary for me to call attention to the statement that I was the first person at the Stillwell house after the murder.  Even my earnest enemies in Hannibal admit that such was not the case.  I never located at Los Angeles, as alleged in the fifteenth paragraph.  When we left Missouri our tickets or passes read St. Joseph to San Diego.  These are the grounds of my suit against the San Francisco Chronicle and I am satisfied that I will get judgment for the amount asked.”  

In Hannibal

Dr. Hearne, of San Diego, Cal., accompanied by Judge Hendrick, of that state, arrived in the city on the evening of July 4th, 1895, and will remain in Hannibal until the work of taking the depositions in the  case of Dr. Hearne against the San Francisco Chronicle is concluded.  

Part of Depositions

The depositions in the libel suits of Dr. Hearne against the San Francisco Chronicle for $200,000, there being two  suits of $100,000 each, will be taken at the office of Hon. Geo. A. Mahan[25], before Judge Samuel J. Harrison[26], beginning July 9th, 1895.  Dr. Hearne and his attorney, Judge Hendrick, of San Diego, Cal., will be present.  The Chronicle will be represented by Hon. Geo. A. Mahan.  A. L. Clark, the personal representative Mr. DeYoung, of the San Francisco Chronicle, is in this city to represent Mr. DeYoung.  Mr. DeYoung is now in Paris.  Mr. Clark is a very bright young man and has spent a great deal of time on the Stillwell murder case.

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