The Reward Withdrawn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.
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:
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.
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
“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.”
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,
before Judge Samuel J. Harrison,
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.