Tales from the Morgue series: Deadly road trip

August 21, 2014 11:45 am  • 

They offered a ride to a stranger, and surely regretted it.

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  • Did your mother ever tell you not to pick up hitchhikers? While the accused murderer in this case wasn't actually hitchhiking, he was a stranger who was offered a ride after meeting a couple in their travels. It turns out that may have been a really bad idea on the part of the driver.

    From the Arizona Daily Star, Thursday, Nov. 17, 1921:


    Man Taken in Auto Here Held in Connection With Killing



    Man Whose Name Is Unknown Was Picked Up in Tucson by Johnsons; Quarrel Regarding Route Being Followed Caused Shooting

    Said to have been taken aboard the death car at Tucson, a dentist is under arrest at Yuma in connection with the killing of Mrs. Peter Johnson, of Denver, Colorado, and the serious wounding of her husband, 40 miles east of Yuma yesterday morning, according to an Associated Press dispatch received by The Arizona Daily Star last night.

    At an early hour this morning, local police and sheriff's officers were without information as to the possible identity of the man, who is said to have accepted the offer made by Mr. and Mrs. Johnson to let him ride with them in their automobile to Los Angeles.

    In a long-distance telephone conversation with the sheriff's office at Yuma this morning, it was learned that the sheriff had not yet arrived with his prisoner. For that reason it was impossible to ascertain the man's name.

    The dispatch follows:

    Yuma, Ariz., Nov. 16.—Mrs. Peter Johnson, of Denver, Colo., was shot and killed and her husband seriously wounded while riding in an automobile 40 miles east of here today. A man who was riding with them when they were shot is being brought to jail here in connection with the affair, according to word received at the sheriff's office here tonight. Johnson was brought to this city for treatment. The body of Mrs. Johnson was left on the desert until tomorrow, when an inquest will be held.

    According to Mr. Johnson's story, he and his wife met the other man, a dentist, in Tucson and offered to let him ride with them in their automobile to Los Angeles. He shipped his trunks to Los Angeles, Mr. Johnson said. Today, Johnson declared, an argument arose over which road to follow and the passenger shot both Johnson and his wife. The passenger, Johnson said, was riding in the rear seat while Mrs. and Mrs. Johnson were in the front. Johnson says he doesn't know the name of the passenger.

    The passenger denies Johnson's story. He told local officers that the Johnsons were shot by two men who jumped out of the brush beside the road.

    The passenger was arrested a few miles east of here as he was walking along the railroad tracks.



    Denver, Nov. 16.—Peter Johnson, who was seriously wounded and whose wife was shot and killed near Yuma, Arizona, yesterday, is a Denver contractor.

    Relatives here said Johnson and his wife had left Denver a week ago last Saturday in an automobile for California.

    The second headline refers to the passenger as an alleged dentist. The Morgue Lady assumes the headline writer meant that the dentist was an alleged murderer, though his occupation was likely not yet firmly established since his name was not known.

    It may also be assumed that the "death car" refers to the car in which Mrs. Johnson was killed. Before that, it was just a car.

    From the Arizona Daily Star, Saturday Nov. 19, 1921:



    Passenger In Johnson Car Held In Connection With Killing of Mrs. Peter Johnson and Shooting of the Latter's Husband

    That the man giving his name as William S. Estaver, being held by the Yuma authorities for investigation in connection with the killing of Mrs. Peter Johnson and the wounding of her husband, has been identified by Johnson as the man he had picked up acquaintance with in Tucson, was the statement contained in the report received by the Southern Pacific railroad police from Special Officer T. S. Sullivan yesterday. Officer Sullivan's report contained a full account of finding Johnson and his murdered wife at Stovall and of later arresting Estaver on information furnished by the wounded man. The identification of Estaver by Johnson as the man he had given a seat in his car in Tucson, and who was in the car at the time of the shooting, followed, according to Officer Sullivan's statement.

    Sullivan, who works under Special Officer Joe Kelly, chief of the Southern Pacific police, and is located at Yuma, was making an inspection over the line to Yuma when his attention was called to the shooting. A railroad employee at Stovall accosted him, asking that he investigate the shooting, which had just been reported by Johnson. The injured man had driven with his dead wife in the car from the place of the attack to Stovall.

    He found Johnson weak from the loss of blood, Sullivan reports, and upon examination found that he had been shot several times. One bullet had entered his neck behind the left ear, emerging on the right side of the neck. The injured man told the officer of the man who had been in the car when the shooting occurred, and who had disappeared. Borrowing an automobile, Sullivan drove down the road and at a distance of two miles overtook Estaver. He later took the man before Johnson, who identified him as his passenger from Tucson.

    Estaver is described by Officer Sullivan as about 30 years old, of small stature, and wearing a grey suit. This answers the description given by C. S. Cox, proprietor of the Willard hotel, of the man who left Tucson in the car with Mr. and Mrs. Johnson. The man, according to Proprietor Cox, had registered at the Willard Monday night as J. C. Beck, of Los Angeles. The guest, Mr. Cox continued, became acquainted with Mr. and Mrs. Johnson at the hotel and was invited by Johnson to accompany them on their trip to Los Angeles. A Mauser .32 pistol was found by Sullivan in Estaver's pocket, the officer claimed.

    The murder and assault apparently enraged quite a few of the people of Yuma County. They gathered at the jail intending to lynch the accused man. However, he was saved so he could stand trial.

    From the Star, Friday, Nov. 25, 1921:


    Man Held in Connection With Woman's Death Brought Here



    Crowd Gathered About Yuma County Jail for Avowed Purpose of Lynching Prisoner; Man Being Held in County Jail

    Guarded by two peace officers, and with a murder charge hanging over him, a slender, medium-statured man with singular features and a few days' growth of beard, arrived in Tucson yesterday morning and ate his Thanksgiving dinner in the Pima county jail.

    His name is William S. Estaver. His home is in Detroit, Mich., and he is accused of the murder of Mrs. Anna Johnson, of Denver, on the Tucson-Yuma road, at a point five miles this side of the Pima-Yuma line. He will probably be arraigned before Justice of the Peace Oscar L. Pease some time today.

    Estaver was brought to Tucson by Sheriff J. M. Polhamus and Deputy Sheriff Pat Holland, of Yuma county, after a thrilling escape from a Yuma mob, which is reported to have formed for the avowed purpose of lynching Estaver.

    Spirited to Safety

    Sheriff Polhamus secretly removed his prisoner form the Yuma county jail Wednesday night when the mob began to form, whisked him away in an automobile to a point 30 miles east of Yuma, where he boarded the train to Tucson.

    Driving along the Gila bottom for thirty miles, part of the time without lights, Sheriff Polhamus finally managed to give his pursuers the slip and landed his prisoner safely aboard a train at Dome.

    "I was told that masked men stopped two or three automobiles on he road to Dome, thinking that one of them might be my car," Sheriff Polhamus told The Star last night. "Although I did not know that the roads were being watched by masked men, I had been informed to this effect, and I was determined to take no chances of having my man taken away from me. Innocent or guilty, he was in my safekeeping and I was responsible for him.

    "We left Yuma in an automobile at 9:15 Wednesday night, and reached Dome at about midnight. There was about a foot and one half of water in the Gila bottom, but we managed to pick out the driest places and were able to navigate without great difficulty, although we could not make much speed because of the necessity of turning our lights off at times."

    Estaver was shackled while on the train coming into Tucson, his fetters being removed shortly before his arrival in the city. Sheriff Polhamus said that the body of Mrs. Johnson was sent to Denver a few days ago. Her son, George A. E. Johnson, is at his father's bedside in Yuma.

    Finger Prints Taken

    Upon his arrival at the sheriff's office, Estaver's finger prints and other identification marks were recorded by Deputy Sheriff Dave. F. Wilson, identification expert for Pima county, and were telegraphed to the central station at Leavenworth, Kas. The man's height is five feet six and one-half inches, his weight is 135 pounds, and his complexion is described as medium fair, according to Deputy Sheriff Wilson.

    While his identification marks were being recorded, he at first denied that he had ever gone by another name, but upon being questioned further, he admitted that he might have registered at the Willard hotel here under the name of Buck, Deputy Wilson said.

    Peter Johnson, the dead woman's husband, who was seriously wounded at the time Mrs. Johnson was killed, is reported on the road to recovery in a Yuma hospital, Undersheriff Charles H. Pogue said yesterday afternoon.

    According to Johnson's story, the shooting, which occurred on November 16, was the culmination of a quarrel over which road to take. Estaver is said to have been picked up in Tucson by the Johnsons while they were on their way to Los Angeles.

    So much for the angry mob. Estaver would get his day in court.

    Next: Peter Johnson's grisly story.

  • Peter Johnson was seriously wounded and his wife killed when they were shot east of Yuma while on the road between Tucson and Los Angeles. Johnson accused their passenger, William Estaver.

    The Arizona Daily Star reported Johnson's story as told by the deputy county attorney, who pieced it together from witness reports.

    The Morgue Lady will warn you that this entry in the series is quite repetitive. Readers may skip to the second article reprint and miss very little. Both articles are presented because there are some differences that may be of interest, especially to true-crime aficionados.

    From the Arizona Daily Star, Saturday, Nov. 26, 1921:


    Graphic Story of Shooting of Johnsons Told Arizona Star


    Assailant Escaped After Crime; Estaver Arrested; Mathews Gets Story Through Report of Witnesses

    With three serious wounds in his body, and with his wife's bleeding corpse on his lap, Peter Johnson, of Denver, drove his car for an entire night over a poor and little travelled road between Ajo and Stovall, following an attack in the dark in connection with which William E. Estaver, alias J. C. Buck, is locked up in the county jail on a charge of murder.

    The first complete official version of the shooting so far published in Tucson was graphically give to The Star last night by Deputy County Attorney Ben B. Mathews, following the receipt of reports from witnesses.

    The shooting of Johnson occurred when Johnson protested to Estaver that after traveling 61 miles from Ajo, presumably toward Sentinel but actually in the direction of Stovall, "they had gotten no place," according to Mr. Mathews.

    Just as she was mildly chiding her husband for having taken a stranger aboard, Mrs. Johnson next was shot and almost instantly killed.

    Estaver will be taken before Justice of the Peace Oscar L. Pease and arraigned some time today, Mr. Mathews announced.

    Estaver, alias Buck, spent the night of November 14 at the Willard hotel. He left here the next morning in the car of Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, telling them that his wife was at Sentinel, about 60 miles west of Ajo, and that his car had broken down there.

    Estaver Urged Them On

    The party traveled all day on the 16th, reaching Ajo in the afternoon. The Johnsons wanted to stay over at the New Cornella hotel, but Estaver is said to have urged them to push on, saying that his wife's friends at Sentinel, at whose home she was staying, would have accommodations for the entire party.

    Mr. Johnson accordingly drove on from Ajo, Estaver directing the way, according to the deputy county attorney. He is said to have followed the road toward Stovall, which is south and west of Sentinel, instead of taking the Sentinel road. The road over which the Johnsons were driving was poor and little used.

    At about 9:30 that night, Johnson called Estaver's attention to the fact that the speedometer showed they had driven [unreadable number] miles and that they had "not gotten any place." Mrs. Johnson was holding her watch to see the time.

    Johnson, according to the story, then heard the report of a gun and felt a stinging sensation in his back.

    "Now you see, dear, what you get for picking up strangers," Mrs. Johnson is said to have exclaimed.

    Estaver then turned on her and fired, killing her almost instantly, according to Johnson's version, as related to Deputy County Attorney Mathews. The woman's body fell against her husband's.

    The defendant is then said to have leaped from the car and fired at Johnson twice again, wounding him in the head and in the neck. Estaver, according to reports, then disappeared in the darkness, and Johnson, holding his wife's corpse in his lap, drove on.

    Johnson reached Stovall on the morning of November 16, and reported the shooting to a tourist named Cronk, also from Denver, who, with his wife, was en route to El Paso. Mr. and Mrs. Cronk notified J. J. Sullivan, special agent for the Southern Pacific, and Signal Maintainer Jack Sleeths reported that he had seen a man walking east on the Southern Pacific tracks.

    Alleged Slayer Arrested

    Sullivan and Sleeths drove to a point about two and one-half miles east of Stovall, overtook Estaver, arrested him and took his gun, a .32 caliber Mauser, from him, it is said. Sheriff J. M. Polhamus, of Yuma county, is reported to have found several exploded shells in Johnson's car, also of .32 caliber.

    Estaver told Sullivan that Mexican bandits had attacked the party and shot the Johnsons, had held him until Johnson drove away and then turned him loose. He didn't know how the bandits got there or how they left, he is reported to have stated.

    Johnson was shot by .32 bullets, Mr. Mathews said. There were no tracks except those made by the defendant, according to the account said to have been given to the county attorney by the Yuma sheriff.

    Johnson was wounded in the right side of his back. According to Estaver's alleged version of the shooting, the bandits mounted the car from the left side, which is said to have been filled with luggage and other tourists' belongings. Johnson was driving a new Dodge car, and is said to have had about $1,000 on his person. The wounded man had no weapon except a small hatchet, which he kept in the car for "domestic purposes," it is said.

    Polhamus is reported as saying that he went to Sentinel and found that Estaver or Buck had no wife or no car there.

    The spot where the Johnsons were shot has been definitely fixed as being 37 miles west of Ajo, on the Ajo-Stovall road, and two miles north of Tony's Well, County Engineer W. C. Lefebrvre announced yesterday, following a joint survey made by him and Norman Conway, county engineer of Yuma county.

    After Johnson was shot the first time, his wife said "Now you see, dear, what you get for picking up strangers." Earlier in this story the line was described as "mildly chiding." Shouldn't she be screaming?

    At the preliminary hearing, the story would be heard directly from Peter Johnson, and perhaps Estaver would be able to tell his side.

    From the Arizona Daily Star, Saturday, Dec. 11, 1921:


    Estaver Pointed Out By Johnson as Slayer of His Wife


    Details of Auto Trip and Shooting Is Again Reviewed

    "Who shot you wife?"

    "Why, that fellow did."

    With trembling finger, Peter Johnson of Denver, his face twitching with emotion, pointed to William S. Estaver, charged with the murder of Mrs. Anna C. Johnson, on the Ajo-Stovall road, Nov. 15, during the preliminary examination of Estaver before Justice of the Peace Oscar L. Pease, yesterday afternoon.

    The accusation marked the climax of a four-hour session, held in a crowded courtroom during which the state, represented by County Attorney George R. Darnell and Deputy County Attorney Ben B. Mathews, presented its preliminary case-in-chief in an effort to have Estaver held to face trial for his life in the superior court of Pima county.

    Examination continued

    The examination will be resumed tomorrow morning at 11 o'clock when the defense, according to W. F. Timmons of Yuma, Estaver's attorney, will be prepared to announce whether if intends to present any evidence.

    On the stand about two hours, Peter Johnson never referred to Estaver by name, but invariably pointed to him, frequently adverting to him as "that fellow" or simply using the personal pronoun. Time and time again, the accusing finger was leveled at the defendant, sometimes several words ahead of any direct reference to him.

    On his part, Estaver looked straight ahead or down at the table in front of him. Only once did the accused man open his lips, and that was during a brief discussion as to the correct pronunciation of his name. The defendant pronounced it with the accent on the first syllable.

    Johnson is a man past 60, with scarcely a gray strand visible in his blond hair. He speaks with a marked Scandinavian accent, and his examination as a witness was further rendered difficult by the fact that one of the four wounds he received at the time his wife was killed has seriously affected his hearing.

    Defense Springs Surprise

    After the state had rested its case, shortly before 5 o'clock, the defense sprang a surprise by demanding that the prosecution produce all the exhibits it intends to introduce in the superior court, especially a piece of glass from the Johnson car's windshield and bullets and empty shells.

    While declaring that the request was unique in Arizona jurisprudence, Judge Pease said he was ready to listen to arguments, and would give the defense time to produce authorities in support of its contention.

    Carey S. Cox, one of the proprietors of the Willard hotel, was the first witness on the stand. He testified that Estaver had registered at the hotel under the name of J. C. Beck.

    J. N. McCain, a barber of East Congress street, testified that Estaver had entered his shop on Nov. 11 or 12 and that as he was getting a shave and a haircut, he told McCain that he had just walked in from Ajo, his car having broken down at the other side of that town. He said that he had started from Ajo at 7 o'clock in the morning and had reached Tucson about 3 o'clock, explaining the shortness of the time by saying that he had taken a short cut of 26 miles "across the mountains," according to the witness.

    Johnson Takes the Stand

    The third witness was Mr. Johnson. He said that he was [unreadable word], his home address being [unreadable number] West Twenty-ninth avenue, Denver, and that he was born in Sweden.

    After preliminary statements as to his trip to Tucson and his registering at the Willard hotel, Johnson told of his first meeting with the accused man, which he said took place across the street from an automobile agency. He said that when he stepped back to his car after leaving the shop, he found Estaver talking to Mrs. Johnson, having just introduced himself as "Burgmaster."

    Estaver told the Johnsons that his car had broken down on the other side of Ajo, and that service men wanted to charge him $73 to take parts out to the machine, according to the witness, who added that Estaver said his wife was waiting with the car at Sentinel.

    Johnson said he told Estaver that he was already overloaded, but that later it was agreed that if Estaver would pay express charges on a trunk Johnson had in his machine, he would take him along.

    Mr. and Mrs. Johnson started out the next morning and reached Ajo at 4 o'clock that afternoon, Estaver riding in the seat directly behind Johnson, who was on the left side of the front seat, the witness said.

    "When we got to Ajo, that fellow said that Sentinel was 40 miles away, and that he wished we would drive on, since his wife was waiting for him there, and that the people with whom she was staying were good people and would provide accommodations for all of us," so Johnson said. "I told him that for his sake I would go on, thinking that I could make those 40 miles in two hours. He told me that the last 11 miles was hard road. We figured that my speedometer would show 70 miles when we reached Sentinel.

    "So we started out, at about 4 o'clock. Between 8 and 9 o'clock I noticed that my speedometer showed 60 miles. "I told him that my speedometer showed 61 miles and that we were still in the sand, although we had only 9 miles to go and the hard road was supposed to commence 11 miles this side of Sentinel.

    "Then I felt a stinging sensation in the back of my neck."

    At this juncture it was that Peter Johnson made his dramatic accusation against Estaver.

    After the first or second shot, Johnson said his wife screamed and exclaimed:

    "That's what we get for trying to help out a stranger."

    The witness said that after his wife was fatally wounded, he received three more wounds, and that he turned halfway round in his seat, and reached back to get hold of Estaver, but that he was gone.

    "He must have jumped out," Johnson said.

    The witness added that he drove on about 8 miles, stopped and turned off the lights, because he was afraid that Estaver would try to follow him and kill him in order to get the money that he and Mrs. Johnson had on their persons. Johnson said that his wife had expired by the time he stopped the car.

    The next morning the witness said, he drove into Sentinel and saw Estaver in the custody of the Yuma sheriff.

    The Accusation

    "What did you say to him?" Mr. Mathews asked.

    "You scoundrel, why didn't you finish me last night like you did my wife," Johnson quoted.

    The witness added that Estaver then replied that he had not done the shooting.

    On cross-examination, Johnson denied that during the conversation he admitted to Estaver that he was too excited to know who had shot him and his wife.

    Mrs. Eliza Cronk followed Johnson on the stand. She testified to the conversation between the wounded man and Estaver at Stovall, saying that Estaver had asked Johnson:

    Defendant Denies Guilt

    "You don't think I did the shooting, do you?"

    Mrs. Cronk testified that Estaver had reported that two men had jumped on the side of the car on the right and the other on the left but that later Estaver had said that he had only seen the shadow of the second man. The witness described the wounds of Mrs. Johnson saying that the dead woman had been shot three times.

    County Engineer W. C. Lefebvre testified that the spot where the shooting occurred was pointed out to him by Deputy Sheriff Pat Holland, of Yuma county, and that it was 3 and one half miles east of the Pima-Yuma county line and four miles south of the Maricopa-Pima line.

    Other witnesses who testified for the state were Walter F. Cronk, C. E. Middleby and Carmen Leon.

    County Attorney Darnell said last night that as far as the state was concerned, Estaver, in case he is held to the superior court, will be tried in Ajo, the shooting having occurred in that district. The defense may, however, produce good reasons why the trial should be held in Tucson, the prosecutor said.

    While we haven't heard Estaver's side of the story, surely it will come up sooner or later.

    Next: Battling attorney's.

  • Attorneys are paid to argue, so it should come as no surprise that they did just that when William Estaver's preliminary hearing continued. At least this argument didn't turn bloody.

    A note from the Morgue Lady: Stoval is spelled either Stoval or Stovall in the articles from 1921 and 1922. The spelling presented here is the same as in the original articles in each instance.

    From the Arizona Daily Star, Friday, Dev. 23, 1921:


    Estaver Will Be Held for Court Trial, Justice Indicates




    Attorneys Again Engage in Word Battle at Hearing


    Belief that the prosecution had established sufficient "probably cause," which, in the absence of further testimony by the defense, would warrant his holding W. S. Estaver on a charge of murder, was expressed to a representative of The Star by Justice Oscar L. Pease last night, following a stormy hearing in his court, during which "the short and ugly" was passed in the course of a tilt between the attorneys.

    Estaver is charged with having slain Mrs. Peter Johnson, of Denver, while riding in an automobile driven and owned by Mr. Johnson, on the Ajo-Stoval road, on the night of November 15.

    The preliminary hearing was continued to 10 o'clock, December 30, at the request of W. F. Timmons, of Yuma, who is representing Estaver.

    "If I were called upon to rule at the present time, I could do not less than hold Estaver to the superior court," Judge Pease said. "However, it is impossible to say what evidence the defense will introduce when the case is resumed."

    Attorneys Again Tilt

    The word-bout between Mr. Timmons and County Attorney George R. Darnell, who, assisted by his deputy, Ben B. Mathews, represented the state, occurred when the former made a statement that there seemed to be conspiracy between the county attorney and other officers to conceal and suppress evidence.

    "That statement is a lie," Mr. Darnell snapped back.

    Judge Pease poured oil on the troubled waters, and for a time the angry billows subsided into mere billows.

    Another squall came up, however, when the matter of a continuance came up. Mr. Timmons wanted the hearing continued to some time in January. Mr. Darnell stoutly opposed this sort of an arrangement, declaring that he and Mr. Mathews had other matters coming up in the superior court at that time, and that there was no reason for further delay.

    The dispute regarding the alleged suppression of evidence by officers arose when Mr. Darnell refused to produce certain exhibits and other evidence demanded by the defense attorney. Mr. Darnell contended that the state should not be forced to divulge its complete case at this time.

    "We have evidence that we have not brought out for the reason that we didn't want to put the county to an expense of $500 on the preliminary examination, to bring in witnesses from outside the county," Mr. Darnell said. "We shall have to bring these witnesses in when the trial is held on its merits in the superior court. We do not believe that the proper foundation has been laid for the production of these witnesses at this time."

    Judge Pease sustained the position taken by the county attorney, ruling that the prosecution could not be forced to produce such exhibits until a foundation for such introduction had already been laid by connecting the exhibits with the crime. This foundation, Judge Pease said, so far has not been laid.

    Mr. Timmons reported that he had been unable to get certain witnesses in Yuma county who had been summoned to appear, and gave that as his chief reason for being unable to proceed with the case. He also said that a preliminary examination in another case in Riverside, California, had taken up much of his time.

    After his clashes with the county attorney, Mr. Timmons said that nothing personal had been meant, that such tilts are not uncommon in the heat of argument in an important case, and that if he had said anything that had offended Mr. Darnell, he apologized.

    Accusing the county attorney of conspiracy to conceal evidence is likely to have offended him. However, anyone who holds a public office would be well advised to have thick skin.

    Mr. Timmons did not quite get his way. He want the hearing to be continued to January, but it was completed at the end of December.

    From the Star, Saturday, Dec. 31, 1921:


    Estaver Is Refused Bail When Held for Superior Court



    Case Probably Will Be Tried at Ajo in February

    After one of the sharpest and most protracted legal battles ever staged in the justice court of the Tucson precinct, William S. Estaver, charged with the murder of Mrs. Anna C. Johnson, on the Ajo-Stoval road on the night of November 15, yesterday was committed to the county jail to face trail in the superior court, Justice of the Peace Oscar L. Pease declining to permit the prisoner to give bail.

    County Attorney George R. Darnell, who with his deputy Ben B. Mathews, represented the state at the preliminary hearing, said last night that in the absence of any motion by the defense to have the case removed to Tucson, the trial would be held in Ajo, perhaps during the latter part of January or the first part of February.

    The preliminary examination of Estaver was commenced in the justice court 20 days ago, being continued on two different occasions.

    Yuma Men Called

    At yesterday's session, which began at 10 o'clock and lasted until about 4 in the afternoon, the defense called a number of Yuma witnesses, whose testimony dealt chiefly with the tracing, step by step, of tracks which the defendant was said to have admitted were his own, from Stoval to the spot of the alleged crime, three and one-half miles east of the Pima-Yuma line.

    H. H. Baker, county attorney of Yuma county, first took the stand, and told of his automobile trip from Stoval in the company of Sheriff J. M. Polhamus and Michael B. Hodges, of Yuma county. Mr. Baker testified that Estaver pointed out the stretch over which he had run for about 400 or 500 yards to overtake Peter Johnson, the dead woman's husband, who was driving the car at the time.

    According to testimony previously adduced in the case, the Johnson couple had taken Estaver aboard their car at Tucson to permit him to join his wife, who, he was quoted as having said, was awaiting him at Sentinel. Estaver's car, according to an explanation attributed to him, had broken down west of Ajo. It was during this trip to Sentinel that Mrs. Johnson was killed and her husband seriously wounded.

    Mr. Baker said he had nothing in his possession belonging to the defendant. The witness was on the stand about three hours, being examined minutely as to the details of the trip to the alleged scene of the shooting.

    Tells of Autopsy

    Dr. H. D. Ketcherside, also of Yuma, testified that he had held the autopsy over the body of Mrs. Johnson and had found two bullets in her head, one of which missiles, he said, was split. The bullets were of steel and of .32 calibre. The witness added that Mr. Johnson had been shot three times, once through the side of the face and twice through the body.

    Sheriff Polhamus corroborated the testimony of County Attorney Baker as to the defendant's admission that the tracks leading to the alleged scene of the shooting were his own, and regarding the location, which, he testified, was marked by the tying of rags to nearby bushes. The sheriff said that a .32 Mauser gun was turned over to him by Southern Pacific Officer J. J. Sullivan, who brought Estaver into Stoval. The witness stated that he had found empty cartridges in the automobile.

    County Attorney Darnell was next called to the stand by his "brother on the other side." Mr. Darnell admitted that he had in his possession certain grips, cartridges, a gun and a piece of glass, but that there was nothing to identify them with the case and that the objects had not been tagged.

    Asks for Articles

    Mr. Timmons then made a formal motion to have Mr. Darnell produce these articles in court. A long-standing legal campaign was renewed, Mr. Darnell having already refused to produce them at that stage of the proceedings.

    Judge Pease announced that after taking into consideration his own duties and that of the county attorney, he did not believe that a committing magistrate could interfere with the prosecutor's method of trying cases.

    Mr. Timmons then made a formal motion to have the case dismissed, contending that the state had failed clearly to establish both the county in which the shooting had occurred and the county where Mrs. Johnson had died.

    Judge Pease ruled that under the Arizona law a committing magistrate was not concerned with either of these questions, which could be threshed out in the superior court.

    "My duty is to ascertain whether a crime has been committed and whether the defendant was the man who probably committed it," the magistrate said.

    Judge Pease accordingly ordered Estaver to be held to answer to the superior court, denying Mr. Timmons' request that his client be allowed bail. Sheriff Ben F. Daniels and Deputy J. Lew Tremaine then locked the defendant up in the county jail.

    By late January, no date had been set for Estaver's trail. His attorney, Mr. Timmons, Withdrew from the case and another attorney was appointed to assist Estaver at his arraignment, at which he pleaded not guilty.

    Estaver himself was unable to find an attorney so, in late February, Judge Samuel L. Pattee agreed to appoint two attorneys to defend Estaver based on the seriousness of the charges. A trial date was not yet set.

    Next: The trial begins.

  • William Estaver went on trial in April 1922.

    Of course, there was much speculation about the trial, so when Estaver's testimony at the coroner's inquest was made public, The Arizona Daily Star ran most of it in the paper the day before his trial began.

    From the Arizona Daily Star, Sunday April 9, 1922:


    Estaver's Version of Killing of Woman Made Public Here




    Detroit Dentist Will Start Fight for Life Tomorrow


    For the first time since Mrs. Anna C. Johnson, wife of a Denver contractor, was shot on a lonely road between Ajo and Stoval on the night of November 15, 1921, an authentic statement of the version of the shooting given by William S. Estaver, Detroit dentist, who will face trial tomorrow in the superior court on a charge of first degree murder in connection with Mrs. Johnson's death, was obtained for publication in Tucson yesterday.

    It is expected that when Estaver takes the stand at the coming trial he will adhere to the story already told by him.

    His version of the shooting is to be found in the transcript of the testimony given by Estaver at the coroner's inquest that was held in Yuma the day after the shooting. Up to yesterday no part of this transcript had been made public in Tucson.

    To Blame Robbers

    Estaver's version of the shooting was that the automobile in which he and Mr. and Mrs. Johnson were riding was attacked by robbers who fired at the occupants of the car from both sides of the machine. In answering the fire, Estaver reached out of the side of the car and, his foot entangled in a grip on the floor of the car, he fell out, according to his version.

    He was dragged by one of the men, turned face downward in the sand and robbed of about $520, Estaver said.

    Estaver's trial will begin tomorrow morning at 9:30. That there will be a titanic legal battle was indicated yesterday, when counsel for both sides expressed confidence in the outcome and readiness to plunge into the fray.

    The prosecution will be handled by County Attorney George R. Darnell and Deputy County Attorney Ben B. Mathews, who have been working on the case for months. Estaver will be defended by John D. Van Buskirk and K. Berry Peterson, appointed by Judge Samuel L. Pattee several weeks ago.

    After one of the sharpest legal skirmishes ever fought out before a committing magistrate of this county Estaver was held to answer to the superior court, without bond, by Justice of the Peace Oscar L. Pease, on December 30, 1921.

    Held in Jail Here

    Estaver has been imprisoned in the county jail here since the latter part of last November, when he was brought here from Yuma, to which town he was taken after his arrest.

    Hints that there would be some surprises in store for the prosecution have been dropped by the defense camp, which, however, has maintained hermetic secrecy regarding details.

    The state already has given the public an inkling of its plan of attack, being compelled to reveal at least part of its case in order to hold Estaver at the preliminary examination before Judge Pease.

    According to Estaver's testimony at the coroner's inquest, he is "American and Spanish," 30 years old, and married. His wife's maiden name was Grace Gaynor, and their home address is 85 East Euclid avenue, Detroit, Michigan. They have one child, a boy. His father is dead. His mother lives in Jackson, Michigan, but he declined to give her street address.

    Was Oil Man Too

    Estaver testified that he had practiced dentistry for the last three years, and had "worked with oil leases" for two years.

    After considerable preliminary matter, in which he went into details regarding his movements before leaving Tucson with the Johnsons, Estaver gave the following account of the events immediately preceding and following the shooting:

    "I was just speaking to Mrs. Johnson at the time—that is, we were figuring on how fast we were going and what time we were making. She had a watch in her hand, and she told me we were making eight miles an hour, and the speedometer registered 61 miles; but he had not set it back at Ajo, so we could not tell how far we had gone.

    "While we were talking, I was wedged in the back seat. We had a heavy load of bedding and suit cases, and everything was piled around me and over me, and part of the back curtain was up. I could just squeeze in there—couldn't move at all, and was closed from view.

    "At this particular time when I was speaking to Mrs. Johnson, a man stepped up on the running board on the left hand side. He fired two shots at Mr. Johnson from the side, but the gun was very close. At that time, the car stalled, probably the shock or the shot made him take his foot from the accelerator. Anyway, the car came to a stop.

    "As it did, I reached for my gun in my hip pocket. When I left Tucson to start out in the desert I had this gun. I always carry it in my traveling bag. I had a package of cartridges in there. The paper or box broke, and they were wrapped up in my suitcase in front of me. I opened the grip, took out three of them. I never carry my gun loaded. I put three of them in the gun, the rest of them I left in the grip. I got out my gun as quickly as I could, and as the car stopped and Mr. Johnson went down, another shot came from the other side of the car.

    "About that time, I tried to get free action. I raised myself, and was reaching out to shoot at this man on my side, and as I did, my foot got tangled up in the grip, and I fell out on my back. As I fell, the gun dropped. It fell out of my hand. I had fired all the shots in it at that time. I fired one at the right hand side, and two on this side.

    Fell Out of Car

    "As I fell out of the car, a man immediately grabbed me, dragged me just a little to one side, behind one of those cactus shrubs, turned me on my stomach, and shoved me right down in the sand. As he was holding me there, he went through my pockets. In this pocket I had a roll of bills . . . He reached in there and got my watch . . . He couldn't get this chain loose, so he unsnapped the watch.

    "At this time, I heard Mr. Johnson blowing the horn, and he said 'Doc,' and I could not answer. It might have been a minute or two minutes. I heard the motor start, and after the motor started the car moved on down.

    "I don't know how far they got, not very far, as I could see the lights, and as the car moved on, this fellow said, 'I got it,' jumped up and ran back towards Ajo. I started to run after the car and hollered for Mr. Johnson.

    "Then I heard a car move off in the opposite direction, and from the distance it seemed to be a Ford."

    Estaver then told of his all-night walk to Stoval and his arrest.

    The prisoner stoutly maintained his innocence at the inquest.

    In answer to a question, "Don't you know you shot that woman?" he replied:

    He Denies Slaying

    "I certainly do not. I certainly did not have any malice against them—I only met them the day before."

    Again the question was asked him:

    "When you go out there and see that woman lying on the ground with her mouth open, and you think about shooting her last night, how do you feel?"

    And Estaver replied:

    "If I shot her, I think I would feel mighty bad about it. I think I did everything any one could do."

    "What if Mr. Johnson positively says you shot him and you shot his wife?"

    "He will not say that."

    In brief, the state's case is approximately as follows:

    Mrs. Johnson, wife of a Denver contractor, was instantly killed and her husband seriously wounded just as she was mildly chiding him for having taken a stranger aboard.

    Estaver spent the night of November 14 at the Willard hotel in Tucson. He left here the next morning in the car of Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, telling them that his wife was at Sentinel, about 60 miles west of Ajo, and that his car had broken down there, it is alleged.

    The party traveled all day on the 15th, reaching Ajo in the afternoon. The Johnsons wanted to stay over at the New Cornella hotel, but Estaver is said to have urged them to push on, saying that his wife's friends at Sentinel, at whose home she was staying, would have accommodations for the entire party.

    Mr. Johnson accordingly drove on from Ajo, Estaver directing the way, according to the prosecution. The car is said to have followed the road toward Stovall, which is south and west of Sentinel, instead of taking the Sentinel road. The road over which the Johnsons were driving was poor and little used.

    At about 8:30 that night, Johnson called Estaver's attention to the fact that the speedometer showed they had driven 61 miles, and that they had "not gotten any place." Mrs. Johnson was holding her watch to see the time.

    Johnson, according to his story, then heard the report of a gun and felt a stinging sensation in his head.

    "Now you see, dear, what you get for picking up strangers," Mrs. Johnson is said to have exclaimed. Mrs. Johnson was then struck by bullets and died almost instantly. The woman's body fell against her husband's.

    The defendant is then said to have leaped from the car and fired at Johnson twice again, wounding him in the head and in the neck. Estaver, according to reports, then disappeared in the darkness, and Johnson, holding his wife's corpse on his lap, drove on.

    Johnson reached Stovall on the morning of November 16, and reported the shooting to a tourist named Cronk, also from Denver, who, with his wife, was en route to El Paso. Mr. and Mrs. Cronk notified J. J. Sullivan, special agent for the Southern Pacific, and Signal Maintainer Jack Sleeths reported that he had seen a man walking east on the Southern Pacific tracks.

    Alleged Slayer Arrested

    Sullivan and Sleeths drove to a point about two and one-half miles east of Stovall, overtook Estaver, arrested him and took his gun, a .32 calibre Mauser, from him, it is said. Sheriff J. M. Polhamus of Yuma county, is reported to have found several exploded shells in Johnson's car.

    Estaver told Sullivan that Mexican bandits had attacked the party and shot the Johnsons, had held him and had robbed him of $520.

    Johnson was wounded in the right side of his back. According to Estaver's alleged version of the shooting, the bandits mounted the car from the left side, which is said to have been filled with luggage and other tourists' belongings. Johnson was driving a new Dodge car. The wounded man had no weapon excent a small hatchet, which he kept in the car for "domestic purposes," it is said.

    The spot where the Johnsons were shot has been definitely fixed as being 37 miles west of Ajo, on the Ajo-Stovall road and two miles north of Tony's Well, County Engineer W. C. Lefebvre announced, following a joint survey made by him and Norman Conway, county engineer of Yuma county.

    It is an enthralling tale and might be entertaining if someone had not died or if the story were just a story.

  • William Estaver was on trial for the murder of Anna C. Johnson and wounding her husband while the three were traveling in the Johnsons' car.

    The first day of the trial was April 10, 1922, with the testimony of the doctor and the county engineer. The doctor, J. D. Ketcherside of Yuma, testified of the bullet wounds in Mrs. Johnson's body and said that the one that caused her quick death was one that entered the back of her head and split inside her head.

    Mr. Johnson's wounds were made by the same caliber of bullet.

    The county engineer used a map to identify the route the Johnsons took from Tucson to the scene of the shooting and told of the cartridges he found at the scene.

    The following day brought expert testimony about the bullet that killed Mrs. Johnson.

    A note: For the most part, these articles are reprinted as they ran in the Star in 1921 and 1922. The article were pulled from microfilm, and since some of the film has degraded or the original papers filmed — likely years later — had faded, there are occasional notations of unreadable words. There are also inconsistencies in spelling, especially of the name of the town of Stoval or Stovall.

    From the Arizona Daily Star, Wednesday, April 12, 1922:


    Bullet From Estaver Gun Killed Woman, Witness asserts




    Defendant Is Also Accused by Husband of Mrs. Johnson


    "In your opinion, was the bullet found in Mrs. Johnson's body, fired from the Estaver gun?"


    In these words, State Senator A. J. Eddy, of Yuma county, practicing attorney and, according to his statement, with twelve years' experience as a mechanic and machinist, yesterday furnished the surprise testimony of the day for the prosecution, at the trial of William S. Estaver, Detroit dentist, on a charge of murder in connection with the death of Mrs. Anna C. Johnson, who was shot and killed on the Ajo-Stoval road, November 15, 1921. The case is being tried before Judge Pattee in the superior court.

    Senator Eddy hurried from Phoenix, where he had been attending the state legislature, to testify as an expert for the state in one of the most celebrated murder cases that have been tried in Arizona in several years.

    He identified 20 photographs of bullets that had been shot by him, the pictures having been photographed in his presence, and part of them developed and printed under his own eyes. It developed that he had been at work on the case since November 17 or 18 of last year—two or three days after the shooting.

    During his examination, Deputy County Attorney asked Senator Eddy:

    "Do any two guns have the same rifling?"


    "Do any two guns of the same make have the same rifling?"


    It was then that the deputy county attorney asked Senator Eddy the question regarding the bullet that slew Mrs. Johnson, in the effort to weld another link in the chain with which the state is seeking to bind Estaver.

    Referring to another bullet offered in evidence by the state as "Exhibit [unreadable]" for identification—a bullet that had been found, according to previous testimony, by County Engineer W. C. Lefebvre at the scene of the killing on April 6 last, Senator Eddy testified that the missile was fired from the same gun which had fired the bullet that had killed Mrs. Johnson.

    The witness also testified that a bullet that had been found on the door of the Johnson car at Stovall on November 16, 1921, according to the testimony of Sheriff Polhamus, of Yuma, was from the Estaver gun, saying that it had the same peculiarities.

    Mr. Mathews then showed Senator Eddy another bullet, which had not been introduced in evidence, and asked him whether, after examination and comparison, he believed that it had been fired from the same gun.

    Senator Eddy declared that it had not, but that it had been fired from a gun of similar twist.

    Senator Eddy was the last witness to be examined yesterday. He will be cross examined today by John L. Van Buskirk and K. Berry Peterson, counsel for the defense.

    The prosecution is being conducted by County Attorney George R. Darnell, assisted by Mr. Mathews.

    Peter Johnson, husband of the dead woman, was also on the stand yesterday, and will be cross-examined today. Johnson's cross examination was deferred to today to give Senator Eddy opportunity to testify and return to Phoenix as soon as possible.

    Assistant County Engineer Charles Eaton, the first witness on the stand yesterday, testified to making a trip to the scene of the killing on November 22, 1921, and another trip on April 6 of this year, for the purpose of helping in the making of a survey of the scene.

    Peter Johnson was the next witness. He said that he and Mrs. Johnson had started out from Denver in the early part of last November, in a new Dodge car, their destination being Los Angeles and other southern California points. He said that before leaving the Colorado city he had extra strong lights placed on his machine—stronger than the regular lights on stock cars.

    When he and his wife arrived in Tucson, he parked his car near the agency of the Dodge cars, and went to the agency to see about storing his car for the night, he said.

    When he returned to the machine, he found Estaver in conversation with his wife, the witness testified, adding that he understood Estaver to say that his name was "Buckmaster." Estaver told him that he had a broken down machine at Sentinel, and that his wife was waiting for him there, Johnson said. The defendant said that he wanted to find some one with whom he could ride out there, since service car men wanted to charge him $75 for the trip, Johnson testified, explaining that Estaver had said that he had come to Tucson to get repairing materials and that he wanted to take them back to his car.

    The witness said that he informed Estaver that he had intended to go to the coast via Phoenix and Blyth, but that Estaver convinced him that the road by way of Ajo, Sentinel and Yuma was the better road, showing him a picture of a car stuck in the sand, which Estaver said had been taken on the Blyth road.

    Johnson testified that he told Estaver he could not carry anyone, since the machine was overloaded as it was, and that Estaver bent down and looked at the rear springs.

    Estaver recommended to Mr. and Mrs. Johnson that they stop at the Willard hotel, where he was stopping, saying that it was a good hotel and the Johnsons went to the hotel and registered for the night, according to the witness, who added that he searched the hotel record for the name of the defendant but that he could not find it.

    "At about 9 or 10 o'click that night, he came knocking to my door, having been sent there by the proprietor, of whom I had made inquiries regarding the man," Johnson testified, adding that he agreed that if Estaver would pay for having a trunk that was in the back of the car shipped to Los Angeles, he would take him along. Arrangements were made accordingly, and Estaver and Johnson procured a rope and tied up the trunk, taking it to the railroad station, where Estaver paid the expressage with two $5 bills, receiving $4.60 in change, according to Johnson. The witness detailed the trip to Ajo, saying that he was driving, on the left side of the front seat, with his wife sitting at his right, and Estaver in the middle of the rear seat with his luggage by him.

    Johnson said that they made a stop for Estaver to get some refreshments on the road, and that a second stop was made at Rowood, where a bottle of pop and some root beer were bought. Johnson said something about whether they had better go on to Sentinel that night, that Estaver looked worried and said that it was 40 miles away, that there was a good hotel there, and that the last 11 miles of the road were on hard ground, according to the testimony.

    Johnson then decided to go on to Sentinel, he said. From Ajo to the scene of the killing, Mrs. Johnson watched the clock and the speedometer, calling out information to Estaver, and Estaver directed Johnson from a road map that he said he had obtained from the Southern California Automobile club, Johnson testified.

    When they had gotten to a point where the speedometer registered 161 miles (Tucson reading), Johnson remarked that they were supposed to reach Sentinel when the speedometer showed 170 miles, that they had only 9 miles to go, and that they had not yet reached the hard ground about which Estaver had spoken, the witness related.

    Johnson then testified that he turned his head as he said this, and that the next thing that happened he was shot on the left side of the face. The car stopped, but the engine still was running, he said. As he reached around to feel and see what was wrong, he was shot a second time, this time in the back.

    His wife was then shot "by that man," Johnson declared, pointing to the defendant, and fell away from him, to the right side of the seat. While in this position, she said, according to the witness:

    "That's what we get for being good and helping out a stranger!"

    Johnson said that he reached around for Estaver, but said that he either fell out or jumped out of the car, that he "couldn't grab him, but felt his grip." Johnson got away as fast as he could, pulling his wife's body toward him so that it rested against him, the witness said.

    Johnson identified the clothing worn on the trip by him, consisting of khaki coveralls, trousers, khaki flannel shirt, vest and underwear. The coveralls, undershirt and shirt showed a bullet hole in the right arm.

    The witness said that when he had driven for some distance he stopped, took out some business cards from his vest pocket and wrote on them that he had been shot and his wife killed by the man that he had with him, and that the hotel man at Tucson would know who did it. Johnson said that he wrote statements to this effect on three different cards at three different times, putting the cards back into his pocket.

    Efforts by the state to introduce the cards into the evidence were successfully met by counsel for the defense.

    Drove to Stovall

    After the first stop, Johnson said he drove on some distance further, and stopped for the night, sitting in the car with the dead body of his wife leaning against him. In the morning he drove into Stovall and told the story of the night's tragedy to Mr. and Mrs. Walter Cronk, of Denver, Johnson said, adding that he and Cronk tried to get assistance from Yuma by telephone, but that they could not get telephone connection.

    Johnson testified that Cronk flagged an approaching train, that the conductor, brakeman and P. S. Sullivan, a special officer of the Southern Pacific railroad, got off, and that Signal Maintainer Jack Sleeths approached on a speedster. Johnson said that he described Estaver to Sullivan and Sleeths, that the two latter men got on the speedster and started east, and that in a few minutes they returned with Estaver.

    As Estaver approached, Johnson said that he said to Estaver:

    "You scoundrel, why didn't you finish me last night the way you did my wife, and put me out of my misery?"

    Estaver Had Gun

    Special Officer Sullivan, the next witness, testified that he was on the train going west on the morning of November 16, and that the train was flagged at Stovall at about 10 o'clock. Sullivan said that he had some conversation with Johnson, and that the latter described a man that he said had shot him and his wife the night before. Sullivan said that he and Sleeths took a gasoline speedster and went up the track in an easterly direction, and overtook the defendant, 2 1/2 miles east of Stovall, walking down the tracks away from Stovall, toward Tucson. Sullivan said that he ordered Estaver to throw up his hands, and that he did so. The special officer asked Estaver where the gun was, and Estaver replied that it was in his back pocket, according to the witness, who said he took the gun from Estaver. At this point Sullivan identified the state's exhibit "M" as the gun that he had taken from Estaver. The special agent testified that he heard Johnson say to Estaver, "You scoundrel, why didn't you finish me last night?"

    Sheriff J. M. Polhamus, of Yuma county, identified one bullet and five empty shells picked up by him in Johnson's car. The sheriff testified that he found four of the empty shells and the bullet at Stovall on November 16, and that he found the other shell at Yuma in the bedding back of the car several days later. All were of .32 caliber, Mr. Polhamus declared.

    Special Officer Sullivan delivered to him a .32 caliber Mauser as the Estaver gun, Sheriff Polhamus said, identifying state's exhibit "M" as the gun turned over to him by Sullivan. The state announced that Polhamus would be called again for further examination.

    Dr. C. E. Rooney, of Yuma, testified that he performed an autopsy on Mrs. Johnson on November 19, in collaboration with Dr. Hillary D. Ketcherside. He said that he found three bullet wounds of entrance and one of exit, and identified two bullets found in her body, declaring that death was caused by the bullet that entered her head and lodged in the brain.

    During the following day's testimony, Yuma county Sheriff J. M. Polhamus said that the only fresh tracks he found at the scene of the shooting a few days after the shooting were those of Estaver, probably indicating that he didn't find evidence of the robbers Estaver said had attacked the party.

    The defense cast doubt on Senator Eddy's expertise, especially when he was unable to identify an automatic pistol.

    Next: Mr. Johnson is cross examined.

  • William Estaver was on trial for the murder of Anna Johnson. Her husband, who was wounded in the shooting that killed his wife, had testified for the prosecution and would now be cross examined.

    From the Arizona Daily Star, Friday, April 14, 1922:


    Johnson Weeps In Detailing to Jury How Wife Was Shot




    Is Quizzed for Three Hours About Shooting Affair


    With tears streaming down his cheeks and his voice choked with emotion, Peter Johnson, Denver contractor, yesterday told of the efforts his dying wife had made to speak to him a few minutes after being shot on the Ajo-Stovall road last November.

    The dramatic recital was heard in the superior court where William S. Estaver, Detroit dentist, is on trial on a charge of murder in connection with the woman's death.

    Mr. Johnson, who is a vigorous man of about 60 years, had told the jury that he had been shot twice in quick succession, once in the left cheek and the other time in the neck. His wife said to him, "That's what we get for being good to a stranger and helping him out," Mr. Johnson testified.

    "Then he fired on her, and I grabbed back for him, but he was gone," the witness said.

    Mr. Johnson testified that he drove on for about ten miles and then stopped his car. As he drove, he put his arm around the body of his wife, which was leaning on the right side of the seat, and drew it to him, and as he did so her lips moved as if she wished to speak again, but she choked, the witness said.

    When he stopped the car the wife had passed away, Mr. Johnson continued. It was here that the witness broke down and wept.

    Judge Samuel L. Pattee order the courtroom closed yesterday when all the seats had been taken and additional would-be spectators tried to crowd in.

    The prosecution is being conducted by County Attorney George R. Darnell and Deputy County Attorney Ben B. Mathews and the defendant is represented by John L. Van Buskirk and K. Berry Peterson.

    During his cross-examination by Mr. Van Buskirk, which lasted three hours, Mr. Johnson admitted that he had made certain erroneous statements in the preliminary examination before Justice of the Peace Oscar L. Pease, explaining that he had just gotten out of the hospital, where he had been confined two weeks, and that he "was under a nervous strain."

    When the attorney for the defendant pressed Mr. Johnson for the number of minutes that had elapsed between the time the car stopped during the shooting and the time the machine started again, Mr. Johnson replied:

    "I didn't measure minutes at a time like that. I got away as fast as I could, before that fellow could follow me and shoot me again."

    "Where was the moon?" the defense attorney demanded.

    "In the sky, of course," Mr. Johnson snapped back.

    The defense lawyer asked Mr. Johnson whether he had not said, while on the operating table, at Yuma, that he did not know who had shot him and that he was in doubt as to what happened on the night of the killing.

    Mr. Johnson denied this.

    Mr. Van Buskirk then declared that a statement had been made by Johnson at the hospital, and called on the prosecution to produce it. As soon as Mr. Johnson left the stand, the state offered Mrs. Caroline Frauenfelder as a witness.

    Mrs. Frauenfelder testified that she was a stenographer in the office of County Attorney H. H. Baker. She testified that Johnson made a statement in her presence and the presence of two doctors and others.

    "What did he say?" the witness was asked.

    The defense objected to the introduction of the testimony. A recess was called for a few minutes, while authorities were looked up. When court was resumed, the state announced that it withdrew the question to give the court additional time to consider the law involved.

    Michael Hodges, a student at Leland Stanford Junior University, testified that he drove the car that took County Attorney Baker, the defendant, and a number of others to the scene of the killing, on November 17. He said that Estaver wore the same shoes that he had on when he came into Stoval on the morning of November 16. He said the only fresh tracks were those made by shoes that, according to the measurements taken, seemed to be Estaver's, and which Estaver admitted were his. The witness said that there was one deep indentation where the track started, to the left of the automobile wheel tracks.

    Hodges testified that a piece of the windshield of the car was found half a mile nearer Stovall than the spot where the killing is said to have occurred.

    Astronomer Testifies

    Dr. Andrew E. Douglass, director of the Steward observatory at the University of Arizona, who testified that he had been an astronomer for 20 years, said that on the night of November 15 there was a full moon. A motion made by Mr. Van Buskirk that Dr. Douglass's testimony be stricken out because it was "incompetent, irrelevant, immaterial and because the witness had failed to qualify as an expert," was denied by Judge Pattee.

    Dr. Douglass concluded his testimony by saying that there were no clouds that night, and that on the whole, he would "call it a brilliant night."

    County Engineer Norman B. Conway of Yuma testified that on the morning of November 16, while he was driving from Stovall to Ajo, he noticed some fresh tracks. He did not know that a murder had been committed, but the tracks attracted his attention because of the fact that there was very little traffic over that road, he said. The engineer testified that he traced the tracks to the point where they began and wondered where the man who had made them came from.

    Bruce Crouse, at present living in Douglas, but in November of last year employed as an automobile salesman in Tucson, said on the stand that Estaver, giving his name as Beck, had told him that he would like to get a car to take him to Sentinel, where his car has broken down and where his wife was waiting for him. Crouse told "Beck" that he had a friend who would let him have a car cheap, and Estaver inquired what kind of a car it was, according to the witness, who added that Estaver said he had a suit case with parts for the repair of a car. Estaver had a conversation with the auto service man in the witness's presence, and Estaver asked whether the car was in good condition, Crouse testified. The auto service man said that he would charge Estaver $80 for the trip, Crouse said.

    "Didn't Estaver show you a card from the Detroit Automobile club?" Mr. Van Buskirk inquired.

    "He did not," the witness replied.

    Mr. Van Buskirk repeated the question with additional emphasis.

    "I told you he did not," the witness retorted.

    G. R. McGaw, a telegrapher at Sentinel, testified that he towed Estaver and a woman companion whom Estaver referred to as his wife into Sentinel from a point 18 miles from town. Estaver told him that he was a dentist with offices in Detroit, and the next day he told him that his offices were in Chicago, according to the witness.

    "I looked at him and then he changed it to Detroit," McGaw said.

    The witness testified that the fare from Tucson to Sentinel was $7.40.

    As the woman got off the car when it arrived at Sentinel, she asked, "Have you got the gat?" McGaw said, adding that he did not know whether Estaver heard her or not.

    On cross-examination, the witness said that the couple had a Chihuahua dog whose general appearance might have suggested a "rat." Effort was made to show that "rat" might have been confused with "gat" in hearing the woman's question.

    The Morgue Lady is amused that the attorneys for the defendant want to have stricken from the record the fact that there was a full moon on the night of the murder. The objection was apparently because the witness didn't qualify as an expert, but wouldn't it be rather easy to determine the phase of the moon and the weather on a particular date a few months past? The Morgue Lady is no expert, but she knows a full or nearly full moon when she sees one.

    It is also interesting that the defense asks the prosecution to produce the statement made by Mr. Johnson in the hospital, but the stenographer is put on the stand to relate that statement, the defense objects.

    More testimony came the next day. From the Star, Saturday April 15, 1922:


    Prosecution Will Complete Case Against Estaver Today




    Was Ordered From Auto Park Here Before Killing


    Because William S. Estaver, Detroit dentist, "went from tourist to tourist trying to get a ride to the west," William Knelange, custodian of the Tucson auto park, ordered him out of the park a day or so before the killing of Mrs. Anna C. Johnson, of Denver, Mr. Knelange testified in the superior court yesterday at the trial of Estaver, who is charged with murder in the first degree in connection with the woman's death.

    After yesterday's session, court attaches said that no case tried in the superior court in years had attracted such crowds as have been in daily attendance during the Estaver trial. Yesterday, Judge Samuel L. Pattee [unreadable word] ordered Bailiff John Gardner to guard the courtroom door from the crowds that sought entrance after the seats had all been taken and after the aisles were partly occupied by standing spectators.

    County Attorney Darnell announced last night that the state would probably complete the presentation of its case by this afternoon. He is being assisted in the prosecution by Deputy County Attorney Ben B. Mathews, while the defendant is represented by John L. Van Buskirk and K. Berry Peterson.

    Pat Holland, deputy sheriff of Yuma county, testified that he was with the party of County Attorney H. H. Baker that visited the scene of the killing on November 18; that he noticed the tracks of a small car which had backed off the road a distance of 100 yards, and that he also noticed human tracks, some of which were made with a large shoe and some with a small one. In his opinion, the witness said, the tracks were not older than three days.

    County Attorney H. H. Baker, of Yuma county, testified that shortly after Estaver had been placed in the county jail at Yuma, the defendant was taken to the morgue where Mrs. Johnson's body lay.

    The prosecutor gave an account of a statement that Estaver is said to have made in the county attorney's office in the presence of Miss Caroline Frauenfelder, the stenographer, and Deputy County Attorney Thomas Molloy. Estaver was warned at the time that anything that he might say would be used against him, the county attorney knowing at the time that Estaver had employed two lawyers, W. F. Timmons and Attorney Kelly, of Yuma, the witness said.

    Mr. Baker testified that Estaver related that two men had fired at the car, one from each side of the machine, the one on the left side jumping on the running board and firing two shots. Estaver said that he had fired two shots at the man, that the latter fell off, reappearing in front at the left of the machine and firing two shots while in that position, according to the witness.

    The man on the right side, according to Estaver, also fired twice, County Attorney Baker said, adding that the defendant said he was dragged from the car by the man who had fallen off. Later, the Yuma prosecutor continued, Estaver said that he himself had fallen off the car.

    Mrs. William H. Johnson, for 13 years the proprietor of the St. Francis hotel, of Phoenix, said on the stand that the defendant, whom she identified, was a guest at the hotel on November 11, arriving at about 5 p.m. in the company of Elmer Becker, Mr. and Mrs. Powhatan, and the couple's daughter. A sheet from the hotel register was identified by Mrs. Johnson who also identified the name "August Pick" as having been written by the defendant in her presence.

    Mrs. Johnson said that the party came in dusty and dirty from travel, and that they left two days later, Sunday, November 13. Later, she said she received a telephone message from Tucson, asking her to forward some travelers' checks made out to William Estaver to the Willard Hotel, Tucson. This call, she said, was received on the afternoon of the day that the party left her hotel.

    The witness said that she cleaned up Estaver's room personally, and on examining the linen found a black folder containing for travelers' checks, made out to William Estaver.

    She said that she received a second telephone call on the following morning, asking her to send the travelers' checks to general delivery at Tucson.

    On cross-examination, Mrs. Johnson said that if the defendant, who was to stand up so that the witness might have a better look at him, have been wearing puttees while in the court and the same suit that he had on at the time he was a guest at her hotel, she "could positively swear that he was the same man," but that, as it was, it looked to her "to be the same fellow."

    William Knelange, of Fremont avenue, custodian of the Tucson auto park, testified that on November 13 or 14 he had to order Estaver out of the park "because Estaver was going from tourist to tourist trying to get a ride to the coast." Estaver told him that he had come to Tucson by train, but that he wanted to go on by auto, that he showed a picture of himself and of a woman he said was his wife in a car somewhere in the desert, that he said he had come in to get repair materials for the machine, and that his wife was waiting for him.

    On cross-examination, Mr. Knelange said that Estaver at that time had on puttees and a light coat, and that he believed he was wearing the hat that defendant had with him in court yesterday. Estaver was wearing a short mustache at the time. The defendant is clean shaven now.

    When pressed by counsel as to whether he was positive that Estaver was the man he saw at the park, Mr. Knelange declared that he was "certain" the defendant was the man.

    H. A. Plumley, a photographer at Yuma for four years, identified pictures of bullets and enlargements of photographs of bullets that had been introduced in evidence, as having been taken, developed and printed by him. He testified that the bullets photographed by him were those which Dr. C. E. Rooney of Yuma had constantly under his supervision and in his possession, and that Senator A. J. Eddy of Yuma was present at the taking of the photographs. Mr. Plumley declared that the negatives were developed without any alterations, etchings, pencilings or marking of any sort. The witness said he had not brought the negatives with him, but that he would mail them to the clerk of the court.

    Hotel Man on Stand

    Carey S. Cox, proprietor of the Willard hotel, Tucson, testified that Estaver occupied room 28 on the night of November 14, under the name of J. C. Beck. He said that Peter Johnson inquired of the witness regarding Beck, and that when Estaver came in, he, the witness, took Estaver to the door of Johnson's room, that Johnson opened the door and invited "Beck" to step in.

    On cross-examination, Cox was asked whether Mr. Johnson was anxious to get in touch with Estaver that evening, and the witness said that he was. Asked whether Johnson was glad to see him, the witness replied that Mr. Johnson seemed "friendly."

    Mr. Cox stated that the next morning, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson and Estaver left in the Johnson car, the man and wife occupying the front seat and the defendant the rear seat, where a roll of bedding had been placed on the right side.

    C. E. Middleby of Denver testified that on November 14 he was passing through Tucson en route to the coast, and that at about 5 o'clock in the afternoon, Estaver came up to him while he was sitting in his car in front of the post office, and asked him whether he was on the way to the coast. The witness said he answered that he was, but that he was not going for two or three weeks. Estaver said that he had come in to get some repair materials from El Paso, his car having broken down 28 or 30 miles west of Ajo, his wife waiting for him at Sentinel, according to the witness, who added that Estaver told him he was from Detroit. The defendant was wearing a Norfolk jacket at the time, had on a hat like the one he had with him in the court room, and that he wore a short mustache, Mr. Middleby testified.

    Elmer W. Toney, in charge of Brown's hotel at Sentinel between October 1 and November 15, testified that on October 22, Estaver and a woman registered at the hotel as man and wife, and that they had a roadster which had broken down and which they left at Sentinel for repair. Mr. Toney said that on November 14 and 15, there was no woman there registered as Mrs. Estaver, and that the woman who had been with Estaver on October 22 was not there.

    On cross-examination, Mr. Toney said that at Estaver's request, a cardboard box was sent in the car when the machine was shipped to Los Angeles after being repaired.

    O. F. Hicks, county agent, employed by the Pima county board of supervisors, and under the direction of the county attorney's office, testified that the capacity of a Mauser .32 was nine shots, eight in the magazine and one in the barrel. He exhibited a Mauser gun, No. 293,504, and testified that last Wednesday he gave a cartridge that had been shot by him to County Attorney Darnell. He produced two other cartridges in court.

    Deputy County Attorney Ben B. Mathews testified that he gave Agent Hicks three of the cartridges that had been delivered to him by Sheriff J. M. Polhamus of Yuma county, as cartridges taken from Estaver when arrested.

    County Attorney George R. Darnell testified that he had received the cartridge from Agent Hicks and that he gave it to Mr. Mathews. The prosecutor also said that he examined Senator Eddy as to this cartridge, which was the last one shown the senator during his direct examination a few days ago.

    The state didn't complete its case that day as the county attorney had predicted.

    The Morgue Lady searched her memory — and confirmed with a dictionary — for puttees. They are long strips of fabric wound around each leg from ankle to knee.

    Next: More state witnesses and some love letters.

  • Love letters to Estaver, written by a woman who identified herself as "Fairy" were entered into evidence. The state continued its case. 

    From the Arizona Daily Star, Sunday, April 16, 1922:


    Love Letters to Estaver Are Introduced at Murder Trial




    More Witnesses for State Are on Stand Saturday


    Love letters addressed to the defendant by a writer signing the name "Fairy" were the features of the evidence introduced yesterday at the trial of William S. Estaver, Detroit dentist, on trial in the superior court on a charge of first degree murder, in connection with the death of Mrs. Anna C. Johnson, who was shot on the Ajo-Stoval road on the night of November 15, 1921.

    In one letter, "Fairy" says that "it won't be long before I can have my divorce, and then – what do you want to happen?" In another portion of the same letter, the writer expressed doubt as to whether the recipient of the letter has found "another bobbed hair blonde."

    "Washed my hair this morning, and thought of you while doing it; it wasn't a nice shampoo like you gave me," Fairy wrote in still another letter.

    The missives were all addressed to "Dr. William S. Estaver" either at San Francisco or at Los Angeles, presumably a few days after the writer had left the coast last fall.

    Read to Jury

    The letters were read to jury by County Attorney George R. Darnell at the close of yesterday's session. Immediately afterward, a number of photographs, said to have been found among the defendant's effects when he was arrested on the morning after the shooting, were passed around to the jury for inspection. Some of the pictures showed the defendant and a woman in an automobile. Other photographs handed to the jury as being the defendant's were of ladies in distinct deshabille.

    County Attorney George R. Darnell said yesterday that the state would close its case early tomorrow morning. It is believed that the trial will last until the latter part of the week.

    Mr. Darnell is being assisted in the prosecution by Deputy County Attorney Ben B. Mathews. John L. Van Buskirk and K. Berry Peterson are defending Estaver.

    The letters were postmarked Jackson, Mich., and were dated the early part of November, a few days before the killing. One of them, dated November 5, and written on stationery of the Hotel Rosalyn, Los Angeles, but postmarked Jackson, Mich., read, in part, as follows:

    "Why did you do it? I'm afraid I shouldn't have left you . . .

    "I could be ready to come within a week—if you want me to, dear. Do you—or have you another bobbed hair blonde? . . .

    "Mary and Bud went to a charity ball last night, and mother and I went down and looked on. Oh, Billy, your Fairy had fits. The very same music we danced to every night in Juarez. And no Billy. I wanted to dance but didn't, 'cause you weren't there. I promised to tell you who (sic) I kissed. Took a taxi up to the house and was met by my brother—Bud, sister's fiance. He kissed me and I kissed he(sic), daddy and grand-daddy. that's all, dear—really. It won't be long now before I can have my divorce, and then? What do you want to happen? . . .

    "Billy, dear, get a hold on yourself, and be a good boy for me. Don't raise the devil, dear; you must not look dissipated when I return.

    "Billy, you DO want me to come back, don't you . . .

    "Lots of love and kissing dear,


    One letter was written on the California Limited train of the Santa Fe railway, and was dated November 2. Referring to certain "celebrities" that were on the same train, "Fairy" wrote:

    "Dear, that fat man you saw yesterday was Allen McQuay, the singer, and the woman is Helen Jackson, the writer. And Mr. Southern (sic) (E. H. Sothern?), the actor, is also on the train—quite a crowd of celebrities. Allen McQuay and his pianist invited Helen Jackson and I (sic) to the Grand Canyon with them, and then go to Colorado Springs, but I declined. I couldn't see it, even if he does make $1000 a performance.

    "Today Mr. Southern has treated us to lemonade, and entertained us royally. Helen and I breakfasted and lunched together . . .

    "Lovingly, Fairy."

    Another letter was dated Jackson, Mich., November 6, 1921, and was in part as follows:

    "Washed my hair this morning, and thought of you while doing it. It wasn't a nice shampoo, like you gave me. O, Billy, when am I coming home to you? Mama is ready to come any time, and I am more than ready. It won't take long to get Sonny. Then I just have to settle a few business affairs, and then—the devil himself couldn't hold me."

    Garage Man Testifies

    The first witness put on the stand yesterday was O. B. Anderson, who is engaged in the garage business at Rowood, near Ajo. He testified that on October 22 he got a call to go out to a point between Ajo and Sentinel to get a man with a broken down car, but that when he reached the spot the man had already been towed in. When he returned to Sentinel, he found Estaver and a woman who he said was his wife, already there, the witness said. Estaver and the woman left town on the night of October 23, going west to Los Angeles, Anderson said, adding that Estaver left instructions that Anderson was to drive the car through to Los Angeles when it was repaired, and collect his bill as well as that of G. R. McGaw, who had towed the man and woman into Sentinel. These instructions were followed, and Estaver paid him $130 in Los Angeles in settlement of both bills, Mr. Anderson testified, adding that Estaver sold his car to a dealer on November 2.

    James Sleeths, signal maintainer for the Southern Pacific, testified that he met Estaver on the railroad tracks one mile east of Stoval at 10- o'clock on the morning of November 16, that Estaver inquired where he could get water, and that he was informed Stoval was only a mile away, the witness explaining on the stand that the town was visible from where the conversation was being held. Estaver then asked what was the nearest point east where water was available, and was told that there was a section gang nine miles east, according to the witness. Estaver then turned away from Stoval and began walking toward the section gang, Sleeths said, adding that before leaving Estaver said he had been riding with a man and a woman and that they had been held up.

    Ellis Malone, formerly justice of the peace at Rowood, testified that on November 15, at about 4 p.m., Johnson and a woman and Estaver drove up in a Dodge car and bought cold drinks, "except," the witness added, "they were not cold, but hot," while a ripple of amusement spread over the courtroom. Johnson paid for the refreshments, and the party drove eastward in the direction of Yuma, the witness said.

    George E. C. Johnson testified that he was the son of Peter Johnson, and that the woman who was killed was his stepmother. He said that her body was pointed out to him in the Johnson Undertaking company's parlors at Yuma on or about November 22, and that he identified it as the body of his stepmother. He saw the remains again in Olinger's undertaking parlors at Denver. Mr. Johnson testified that he drove the car through from Yuma to Tucson, in the same condition as he found it and its contents, except, he added, on cross-examination by Mr. Van Buskirk, that he took from the suitcase some articles of clean clothing for his father, who was in the hospital at Yuma, and except for two small pieces of windshield glass which he found on the left running board of the machine.

    On cross-examination, Mr. Johnson said that the car he was driving was equipped with stronger lights than the usual stock car of the Dodge make, adding that he himself had made the change before leaving Denver.

    J. N. McCain, a barber of Tucson, testified that on or about November 12, Estaver came into his shop at about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, and called for a haircut and shave. Estaver began the conversation as follows, according to the witness:

    Told of Long Walk

    "Well, I'm some walker."

    "How's that?"

    "I walked in from Ajo today. I got a car broken down west of Ajo, and I walked into Ajo for parts, and not finding any there, I walked on to Tucson."

    The witness said he had identified Estaver while the latter was in the county jail.

    Deputy Sheriff J. Lew Tremaine, of Pima county, testified that the car was turned over to Sheriff Ben F. Daniels by George O. Johnson and Deputy Sheriff Elias of Yuma, and that the car was then entrusted into the witness's care by the sheriff. Mr. Tremaine declared that he had locked the car up and that it was in the same condition as when he had received it.

    Mrs. Eliza M. Cronk, of Denver, testified that she and her husband. Walter F. Cronk, were in Stoval on November 15 and 16 of last year, en route to El Paso in their car, and that on the morning of November 16, Peter Johnson drove up with the dead body of his wife on the seat beside him. Johnson himself was wounded, she said, adding that efforts to get telephone connection with Yuma for help were unsuccessful. A passenger train was flagged, and Signal Maintainer Jack Sleeths and Special Officer P. S. Sullivan, of the Southern Pacific, stepped off, the witness said. The two men went down the track and in about 15 minutes returned with the defendant, the witness declared.

    Denied Shooting

    Mrs. Cronk testified that the first words she heard exchanged between Johnson and Estaver were spoken by the latter, who said:

    "I didn't shoot you last night. Didn't you see two men jump on the running board and shoot you?"

    Johnson replied in the negative, the witness said. According to her testimony, Johnson was put aboard the 12:30 train and sent to the hospital at Yuma.

    On cross examination by Mr. Van Buskirk, Mrs. Cronk asserted that Johnson said when he first drove up that he had been carrying a man in the back seat, and that the man had shot him while they were riding through the desert. Mr. Van Buskirk then read what purported to be a transcript of Mrs. Cronk's testimony before the coroner at Yuma, in which she was reported as saying that Johnson had stated he had picked up a man in his car, that he had become unconscious and that when he recovered the man was gone. Mrs. Cronk yesterday expressed herself as being positive that Johnson's first words were that he had been shot by the man who was riding with them, and added that she did not remember whether she so testified before the coroner.

    At this juncture, County Attorney Darnell announced that the state offered the Dodge car which Johnson was driving at the time of the shooting. The jury did not view the car until after the court session was over, late in the afternoon, when, in the custody of Bailiffs Joe Billings and G. E. Tuttle, the "twelve good men and true" inspected the car at the residence of Deputy J. Lew Tremaine, 245 North Main street. The examination consumed about half an hour.

    John G. Bostick, proprietor of a local auto stage line, testified that on November 14 last, Bruce Crouse introduced Estaver to him, and that Estaver wanted to hire an automobile to take him out about 20 miles on the other side of Ajo. The witness said that he told Estaver it would cost him $75, that Estaver replied he would try to catch a ride, and that the next morning the witness saw the defendant in front of the Willard hotel, standing by an automobile.

    F. F. DeMorse, assistant county engineer of Pima county, testified to the finding of two shells and a bullet at a spot west of Ajo, which had been marked by means of rags tied on bushes.

    O. F. Hicks, special agent for Pima county, testified that a Mauser discharges its empty shells to the right and to the back.

    Joe B. Kelley, special officer of the Southern Pacific railroad, testified that in November, 1921, two trains from Tucson stopped at Sentinel—No. 109, which leaves Tucson at 3:30 a.m., and No. 1, which leave this city at 5:25 p.m. and reaches Sentinel at 10:30 p.m. The latter stop is a flag stop, the special agent said.

    As the next week of testimony began, the state rested its case and the defense began.


    Defense Attacks Claim of State as to Spot of Crime




    Defense Opens Presentation of Testimony


    At what point on the lonely Ajo-Stoval road was Mrs. Anna C. Johnson, of Denver, shot on the night of November 15, 1921?

    Serious efforts to throw doubt on the location of the shooting were made by the defense yesterday at the trial of William S. Estaver, Detroit dentist, charged with first degree murder in connection with Mrs. Johnson's death. Estaver is being tried in the superior court, Judge Samuel L. Pattee presiding.

    W. F. Timmons, Yuma attorney, who represented Estaver at the preliminary examination before Justice of the Peace Oscar L. Pease last December, took the stand yesterday and [unreadable word] the scene of the shooting as being about a mile from the spot that the prosecution contends was the "locus in quo."

    The state closed its case-in-chief early yesterday morning, and the defense immediately proceeded with the presentation of its testimony. The indications last night were that Arizona's "celebrated case" would not be finished until well toward the later part of the week.

    As usual, more persons sought admittance into the courtroom than could be comfortably accommodated, and once more Bailiff John Gardiner had to "sit guard" outside the court in order to keep out the surplus would-be spectators.

    County Attorney George R. Darnell and Deputy County Attorney Ben B. Mathews are conducting the case for the state, and John L. Van Buskirk and K. Berry Peterson represent Estaver.

    Mr. Timmons said that on November 20 he went out to the spot where the shooting is alleged, by the defense, to have occurred, and, assisted by W. G. Keyser and Peter Russ, to have carefully surveyed and mapped the scene, remaining there all day and part of the following morning.

    The witness said that the party found one .45 empty shell, two 30-30 empties and four .32 special empties. At first Mr. Timmons said that the empties were .38s, but later corrected his testimony.

    The Yuma attorney said that he and his two companions found 10 to 12 cents on the ground, and that they saw tracks of a large cowboy boot and of Estaver's rubber heels, mingled in such a manner as to suggest a scuffle. There were also tracks of a smaller cowboy boot some distance away, to the right of the road, the witness said, adding that the alleged "scuffle ground" covered an area 5 by 10 or 12 feet.

    On cross-examination, Mr. Timmons drew a plat of the scene, in which he showed Estaver as walking from a mile toward Ajo, and then turning around and walking or running back toward Stoval. In this respect, Mr. Timmons' testimony differed from that of all the state's witnesses that had testified as to the movements of Estaver after the shooting, the prosecution's evidence being that Estaver's footprints ended at a point 29.9 miles from Stoval, where they were found by the party that visited the scene on November 18. 

    The witness produced a map that he said had been prepared by him or Keyser. When asked by counsel for the state whether some writing that appeared on the map had been done by him or by Keyser, Mr. Timmons said he did not know. When pressed as to whether he knew his own writing or not, Mr. Timmons replied that he did not write the same under all circumstances.

    Mr. Timmons said, on cross-examination that at the time that he visited the alleged "scuffle ground" he expected to be engaged as an attorney in the case and that he expected that the two men with him would be witnesses. Mr. Timmons also testified that he telephoned from Mohawk to Attorney Kelly at Yuma to send a car out with some witnesses.

    Mr. and Mrs. W. B. Powhatan, of St. Louis, Mo., testified that the man who was with their party at Phoenix a few days before the shooting was not August Pick, as was testified by Mrs. William H. Johnson, proprietor of the St. Francis hotel, but was August Rick; that Rick had some checks sent to him from Phoenix to Tucson erroneously addressed to "August Pick," and that because of the error the checks were a week late in reaching him and that Estaver was neither Rick nor Elmer Becker, another member of the party. According to the defense testimony, Rick was 19 years old, weighed 165, and "resembled Estaver as much as the county attorney does." Estaver is a man of slight build.

    The time had come for Estaver to explain his different names and possibly a few other things.

    From the Star, Wednesday, April 19, 1922:

    Estaver Claims Assumed Name Used to "Shake" Friend


    Estaver to Resume Stand Again This Morning

    To "shake" an acquaintance who wanted to borrow money, William S. Estaver, of Detroit, last November registered as "J. C. Beck" at two Tucson hotels, Estaver yesterday told the jury trying him in the superior court on a charge of first degree murder, in connection with the death of Mrs. Anna C. Johnson, of Denver. Mrs. Johnson was shot and killed on the Ajo-Stoval road, November 15, 1921.

    Estaver took the stand in his own defense at 3:30 yesterday afternoon. All the seats in the court room were taken, and a number of persons were standing.

    Today, Estaver will have to face a rigorous cross-examination by the state. The questioning will be done by County Attorney George R. Darnell, the direct examination of prosecution witnesses having been handled chiefly by Deputy County Attorney Ben B. Mathews.

    John L. Van Buskirk, who, assisted by K. Berry Peterson, is defending Estaver, said last night that his direct examination of the defendant would probably be completed by noon today.

    Estaver spoke in tones so low that frequently his counsel and Court Stenographer Harry C. Nixon had to ask him to raise his voice.

    The defendant was carefully attired in a light brown suit. He is sharp of feature and slight of build, weighing scarcely 135 pounds. He said he was 30 years old.

    Claims to Be Salesman

    Estaver gave his occupation as that of auto supply salesman, and said that he had engaged in that work for five years. He testified that he motored into Tucson with Miss Grace Gaynor, en route to Los Angeles from Detroit; that 18 miles east of Sentinel their car broke down; that they sent word for help to Sentinel, and were towed in by G. R. McGaw; that from Sentinel he called up O. B. Anderson and asked him to come to Sentinel and repair his car, and that Anderson did so. Estaver and "the young lady" as Estaver called his companion, during his direct examination, went on to Los Angeles by train, and Anderson drove the car through to the coast city on October 31, bringing with him certain belongings that had been left behind, according to the defendant's testimony.

    When Estaver and Miss Gaynor reached Los Angeles, they discovered that she had lost a black beaded bag containing $600, and when Anderson brought their car they immediately opened up a box in which the purse might have been placed in the hurry of packing, Estaver testified. The bag was not found.

    The defendant said that he and Miss Gaynor registered at the Hotel Rosslyn, in Los Angeles, and that when she left for her home in Jackson, Mich., he moved to the Hotel Hayward. He later went to San Francisco, he added.

    Estaver said that he left San Francisco Noveber 10, buying a ticket for Tucson because the Golden State Limited did not stop at Sentinel. He wanted to return to sentinel to look for the young lady's money, he testified.

    He arrived at Tucson on November 13, stopped at the Hotel Heidel for a night and then registered at the Hotel Willard, under the name of J. C. Beck, Estaver testified.

    When Mr. Van Buskirk asked the witness why he used an assumed name, there was an audible rustle in the court room, as jurors and spectators leaned forward to catch the defendant's reply.

    "While I was at the Hotel Hayward, in Los Angeles, I met a salesman named Lawrence Fitzgerald," Estaver began. "He invited me to supper, but when it came time to pay, he found that he did not have the money to settle for it, saying that he had not drawn his commission. I paid the bill."

    During the first part of the recital, efforts of the witness to detail to alleged conversation with Fitzgerald were repeatedly blocked by County Attorney Darnell, whose objections to the testimony as hearsay were sustained.

    "After that, Fitzgerald tried to borrow money from me," the defendant resumed. "The first day I was in Tucson I met him, and he wanted to borrow money from me again.

    "I had tried to shake him before. I registered under an assumed name because I thought he would search the hotels for me."

    Estaver identified a black bag containing a number of automobile accessories as belonging to him. These accessories, among them cement varnish, monograms, radiator caps and an automatic windshield cleaner operated by means of a cord attached to the motor, were shown to the jury.

    Estaver was then asked about conversations with a number of men in Tucson regarding having had a car broken down on the other side of Ajo. The defendant in part corroborated the testimony of a number of prosecution witnesses, but denied having made any reference to his car as still being stranded in the desert. He likewise denied ever having spoken to J. N. McCain in a barber shop at Tucson, or to William Knelange, custodian of the Tucson auto shop, who testified that he had been obliged to eject Estaver from the camp because the latter insisted on asking tourists for a "lift" to Los Angeles. Estaver asserted that he saw both men for the first time while he was in the county jail, when he was shown to them.

    Meets Johnson

    Estaver testified that he first saw Mrs. Johnson as she was dusting her clothing off after having stepped out of her car, which was standing by the curb on one of the streets here, on November 14. He said that he was the first to speak, opening the conversation with some remark about the dusty roads, and asking as to whether she was going to the coast. He then recounted his experience with the road west of Tucson, saying that it was in very bad condition and telling of the breakdown west of Ajo, Estaver testified.

    After Mrs. Johnson and Estaver had been in conversation for two or three minutes, her husband came up, and Mrs. Johnson said something about Estaver's having had experience with the roads, according to the defendant's testimony.

    "Doc, sorry we can't take you along, but we are overloaded already," Estaver quoted Johnson as saying, adding that he agreed with Johnson. Estaver said he recommended the Willard hotel to Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, and that when he returned to the Willard later in the evening he was told that some one had been looking for him. He was conducted to Johnson's room, and spoke in the hall, Johnson informing him that he had been thinking it over, and that he would take Estaver along if the latter would pay for having a trunk shipped to Los Angeles.

    Estaver agreed, and the next morning Mr. and Mrs. Johnson and Estaver started out in the Johnsons' Dodge car. Mr. Johnson sat at the left, driving, Mrs. Johnson at the right, and Estaver in the rear seat, according to the defendant's testimony.

    They stopped at Indian Oasis for lunch, and reached Rowood at 4 p.m., where they had some refreshments, Estaver said.

    The defendant claimed on the stand that he did not want to go on to Sentinel that evening, giving as his reason the fact that he wished to go over the road in the daytime, so that he might be the better able to look for the lost bag. Johnson insisted that they go on, however, and so the party proceeded, Estaver testified.

    The greater part of the morning session was taken with the cross-examination of W. F. Timmons, Yuma attorney, who had been put on the stand the day before by the defense.

    The only other witness examined was W. G. Keiser, a prospector, who substantially corroborated the testimony of Mr. Timmons as to the trip made to the alleged "scuffle ground," a few days after the killing. According to the defense, there were tracks tending to indicate that Estaver and a man wearing a large cowboy boot had engaged in a scuffle, the scene of the alleged struggle being enacted, three questers of a mile nearer Stoval that the spot where the state contends that the shooting occurred. About two hours of the time during which Keiser was on the stand was consumed in the identification of pictures and plats, which were passed to the jury for examination.

    It would appear that there are a few different stories of what happened. Both seem reasonable and believable at points, but they can't both be true. And until this article, Estaver had been labeled as a Detroit dentist, but perhaps he changed jobs.

    Next: Discrepancies.

  • William Estaver testified in his own defense at his trial. There were some differences from his testimony at the coroner's inquest.

    From the Arizona Daily Star, Thursday, April 20, 1922:


    Discrepancies Crop Out in Testimony of W. S. Estaver


    In the Main Estaver Adhered to Original Story

    Despite several discrepancies, which he explained in various ways, William S. Estaver, charged in the superior court with murder in the first degree, on the stand yesterday, in the main adhered to his original version of the circumstances surrounding the death of Mrs. Anna C. Johnson, who was shot and killed at a lonely spot on the Ajo-Stoval road on the night of November 15, 1921.

    Both in the direct and cross-examination, Estaver maintained that Mrs. Johnson was shot and killed by two men that fired into the car, and that, in returning the fire, he fell out of the machine and was robbed of about $500.

    The discrepancies between his testimony given yesterday and the day before, and that which he gave at the coroner's inquest at Stoval, November 16, 1921, Estaver explained as arising from the fact that he had not eaten for two days and had walked 30 miles the night before; that at the inquest questions were asked so rapidly that he did not understand them perfectly, and that the transcript of the proceedings before the corner was faulty.

    Estaver also assigned special reasons for varying in his testimony as to certain particular matters, and declared that there were certain questions of a personal nature that he had not wished to answer.

    The defendant was on the stand all day yesterday, the usual crowd being in attendance. The direct examination of the defendant by John L. Van Buskirk, who, with K. Barry Peterson, is conducting the defense, was completed at about 11 o'clock in the morning.

    County Attorney George R. Darnell then took up the cross-examination, which continued until adjournment. The county attorney said last night that his cross-examination of Estaver would probably be completed by noon today. Mr. Darnell is being assisted by Deputy County Attorney Ben B. Matthews. Judge Samuel L. Pattee is presiding.

    With the announcement yesterday afternoon that the defense would not complete its case today, possibility that the trial would continue into next week loomed large. It is not believed that the rebuttal evidence, the judge's instructions and the arguments to the jury can be presented in two days.

    Estaver admitted on cross-examination that Grace Gaynor, with whom he was traveling, was not his wife, but that they had registered as man and wife at the Hotel Rosslyn, Los Angeles, and at the New Cornelia hotel at Ajo. At the coroner's inquest in Stoval, the defendant had testified that he was traveling with his wife and that her name was Grace Gaynor, according to the transcript.

    On the stand yesterday, Estaver said that his sole reason for wanting to return to Sentinel was to recover a black beaded bag belonging to Miss Gaynor, and that in the bag there was $600 of his money. The coroner's inquest transcript quoted him as saying that he wanted to get back to Sentinel to see whether a man to whom he owed $25 for towing him and actually received the money which the defendant said he had sent to him by a third person.

    Estaver explained this discrepancy by saying that he did not wish anyone to know that he had lost money near Sentinel.

    Asked by Mr. Darnell as to how the $600 had gotten into the woman's bag, Estaver replied that he placed it there as they were sitting in the desert, after their machine had broken down 18 miles from Sentinel. He said that he had been carrying the bills under the fold of his collar. When questioned by the county attorney as to where he had obtained the bills, Estaver testified that one of them he had gotten from a Detroit bank, the name or address of which he did not remember. Regarding the $100 bill the defendant's testimony was not specific.

    On cross-examination Estaver testified that he had given a Chihuahua dog, which, from the testimony given previously, had been called "The Rat," to Grace Gaynor, and that she had sold it to Lila Lee the moving picture star. The dog was bought in Juarez Estaver said, and was sold to Miss Lee by Grace Gaynor because the latter could not take it with her on the train from Los Angeles to Jackson, Mich., where she had been summoned by the illness of "her boy, "the defendant testified.

    Referring to his conversation at Rowood with Peter Johnson, husband of the dead woman, on their way to Sentinel, Estaver claimed that he did not say that his wife was waiting for him at Sentinel at the time.

    Estaver testified that during the trip from Rosewood toward Stoval, Mrs. Johnson read the speedometer and was holding the watch.

    Then without further preliminaries, County Attorney Darnell, snapped out:

    "Now just tell the jury how the shooting occurred."

    Instantly, Mr. VanBuskirk was on his feet with an objection to the form of the question. The objection was overruled.

    "Mrs. Johnson had just been speaking about the harder road that we expected to find near the end of the road to Sentinel," Estaver began. "I answered that the road must have changed since I have been over it last, and that I didn't understand why the going was still so rough.

    "Just then two shots were fired from the left side of the car. The man was either standing near the car or on the running board, but I think it was on the running board, because as he shot the car stopped and the man took a running step from the car that landed him three feet ahead of the car. Then he darted into the bushes. I took my gun from my hip pocket and fired two shots toward the spot. Mr. Johnson had fallen forward on the wheel. Suddenly there was one shot or perhaps two fired by a man on the right side, about 30 feet away, and a little ahead of the car. I fired in the direction from which the flash and the explosion had come. As I did so, the car started off again, I lost my balance, fell off the car and landed on my back and shoulders."

    Asked by Mr. Darnell as to whether the gun that he took from his pocket was loaded at the time, Estaver replied that it was, saying that he had loaded it as the Johnsons and he will leaving Tucson.

    The transcript of this part of his testimony at the coroner's inquest reads as follows:

    ". . . I reached for my gun in my hip pocket. When I left Tucson to start out on the desert, I had this gun. I always carry it in my traveling bag, and I had a package of cartridges there. The paper of the box broke, and they were wrapped up in my suit case in front of me. I opened the grip, took out three of them. I never carry my gun loaded. I got out my gun as quickly as I could, and as the car stopped and Mr. Johnson went down another shot came from the other side of the car."

    Estaver testified that he did not have a good look at the man that was firing from the left side, but that he knew he was a heavy man. He said that when he fell, the man dragged him, pushed his face into the sand and took about $500 in bills from him as well as his watch.

    The discrepancy in the testimony about Estaver's gun might be important, but one must wonder: how good would the memory be after a lack of food and a 30-mile walk?

    The Morgue Lady also thinks Mr. Estaver must be quite enterprising. He had $500 on his person — this was taken by the alleged robbers — and another $600 that he claims he had placed in Miss Gaynor's bag. That was quite a bundle in 1921, and all of it lost.

    Of course the prosecution would bring witnesses to cast doubt on Estaver's testimony.

    From the Star, Friday, April 21, 1922:


    Arguments in William S. Estaver Case Will Open Today


    Case Likely to Go to Jury by Saturday Afternoon

    Testimony flatly contradicting certain statements made on the stand by the defendant was introduced by the state in rebuttal yesterday, at the trial of William S. Estaver, charged with murder in the first degree in connection with the death of Mrs. Anna C. Johnson, who was shot and killed on a lonely spot on the Ajo-Stoval road, November 15, 1921.

    The defense rested its case-in-chief yesterday afternoon, and the state introduced the greater part of its rebuttal evidence. The defense may put on one or two surrebuttal witnesses this morning.

    It is expected that the arguments to the jury will begin this afternoon. Deputy County Attorney Ben B. Mathews will open for the state. He will be followed by K. Berry Peterson and John L. Van Buskirk, in the order named, for the defense. County Attorney George Darnell will close for the state.

    It is believed that the case will go to the jury tomorrow afternoon.

    One of the features of yesterday's session, at which the usual large crowd was present, was the testimony of Judge Samuel L. Pattee, who is presiding over the trial. Judge Pattee was called to the stand by the state for the purpose of refuting the defendant's implication that County Attorney Darnell had opened two letters addressed by W. F. Timmons, Yuma attorney, to Estaver, according to the latter's claim. Judge Pattee testified that the letters in question had been addresses to him, and not to Estaver.

    The rebuttal witnesses were examined by Deputy County Attorney Mathews, who is conducting the direct examination for the state, while County Attorney Darnell has handled the cross-examination.

    Estaver on Stand

    The first witness on the stand yesterday was Estaver, whose cross-examination by County Attorney Darnell had not been completed the day before. The county attorney completed his cross-examination at about 2 o'clock in the afternoon, and, after a few minutes of re-direct examination of Estaver by Mr. Van Buskirk, the latter announced that the defense rested.

    Tony Tsiamas was called in rebuttal by the state in the effort to impeach Estaver's testimony on cross-examination, in which the defendant had said he did not ask Tsiamas to get mail for him under the name of "J. C. Burke," and send it to the county jail. Tsiamas testified that he was a cafe employe, that he had been in the county jail from January 13 to February 16, of this year, and that on leaving the jail he was asked by Estaver to go to the postoffice and get some mail for the defendant under the name of J. C. Burke; that he did so, got two letters and sent them to the county jail to Estaver. The two letters were shown to Tsiamas, who identified them as the ones he had sent and who also identified a notation on the back of one of the envelopes, "Billy, how are you getting along?" as having been written by him.

    On cross-examination, Tsiamas said that he had been in the county jail on a federal charge.

    Kelley Takes Stand

    Joe B. Kelley, special officer for the Southern Pacific railroad, was called to the stand in an effort to impeach Estaver's testimony that a picture said to have been shown him by Officer Kelley was declared by Estaver not to be a photograph of the defendant's boy. Mr. Kelley testified that he showed the picture to Estaver and that the latter said that it was the photograph of his boy.

    O. B. Anderson was recalled by the prosecution. He testified that Estaver told him that the handbag said to have been lost by the woman who accompanied Estaver on his trip westward from Tucson last October, was not of much value, but was a present from her mother. This conversation was held on the street in Los Angeles, after Anderson had driven Estaver's car through from Sentinel, where he had repaired it, the witness said.

    Estaver had testified on the day previous that his sole reason for wanting to return to Sentinel from the coast was that he wished to recover a black beaded bag belonging to the woman, in which bag there was $600 belonging to him.

    Probe for Accuracy

    Miss Caroline Frauenfelder, stenographer and bookkeeper at Yuma, was on the stand for about two hours in the effort to establish that the notes and the transcript that she had made of the coroner's inquest at Yuma were accurate. At this inquest, according to the transcript, Estaver gave answers which varied from the testimony which he gave at the present trial.

    County Attorney Darnell went over question after question, read the corresponding answers and then asked her if each question had been asked and answer made as reported. Miss Frauenfelder was asked by Mr. Van Buskirk, whether she was testifying from her memory of what was actually said at the inquest or from her memory as to what her notes contained. She replied that she was relying on both.

    Mr. Van Buskirk then took the transcript and Miss Frauenfelder took the original notes, and as she rapidly read from them, counsel for both sides followed her reading, with the transcript before them.

    Otis Spaulding, dispatcher for the Southern Pacific at Tucson, testified that he was on duty on November 13, 1921—the day that Estaver had said he arrived in Tucson; that he recorded the arrival of trains; that the Golden state Limited arrived on time, at 3:20 a.m.; that the same train stopped at Yuma, Gila Bend and Maricopa; that the first train to arrive in Tucson from Los Angeles after daylight is No. 110, which reaches Tucson at 9:50 a.m., and that this train stops at Sentinel.

    On the stand, Estaver had said that he had bought a ticket to Tucson because the Golden State Limited did not stop at Sentinel; and, in explaining why he registered under the name of "J. C. Beck," he testified that he met Lawrence Fitzgerald immediately after stepping off the train which he said arrived after daylight, and that he used an assumed name in order to "shake" this acquaintance, who, he declared, had tried to get a loan from him.

    The Morgue Lady feels for Miss Frauenfelder. Transcription isn't easy. It's easy to blame the transcriptionist when facts or testimony don't match — and surely there are lapses since no one is perfect — but few discrepancies are the fault of the stenographer or transcriptionist (often the same person).

    Next: The case goes to the jury.

  • Arguments were completed and a jury would now decide William Estaver's guilt.

    From the Arizona Daily Star, Saturday, April 22, 1922:


    Estaver's Fate to Be in Jury's Hand This Morning




    Presentation of Testimony Ended Yesterday Morning


    "Coward" and "despicable, dirty murderer"—a man fit only "for the hangman's noose"— were the terms applied to William S. Estaver, charged with murder, during the arguments to the jury in the superior court yesterday.

    While the defendant's counsel conceded that Estaver had lied "here, there and everywhere," it was contended on his behalf that his version of the shooting was borne out by corroborating circumstances.

    The arguments were completed last night at 9:30. This morning at 9:30, Judge Samuel L. Pattee will give the jury its instructions, and the case will then be submitted to the "twelve good men and true" who have been listening to the case for the last two weeks.

    While good feeling has prevailed among the attorneys actually engaged in the trial, yesterday's arguments were characterized by unvarnished estimates of a number of the witnesses introduced by each side.

    The presentation of testimony ended at about 10:30 in the morning, and the rest of the day and part of the night were devoted to the lawyers' addresses to the jury.

    Deputy County Attorney Ben B. Mathews spoke first, and was followed by K. Berry Peterson and John L. Van Buskirk, in the order named, for the defense. County Attorney George R. Darnell last night closed for the state. Both attorneys for the prosecution demanded the death penalty for Estaver.

    George Zavalla, constable in Yuma county, was the first witness offered by the state in rebuttal yesterday. He testified that during the month of November of last year, he was confined in the county jail at Yuma on a charge of robbery, and that he was acquitted on December 4, 1921. Zavalla is still constable in Yuma county.

    Zavalla testified that he had a conversation with Estaver when the latter was first put into the jail; that Estaver woke him for a cigarette, and told him that the party with which he had been riding had been robbed in the desert.

    Zavalla said that he told Estaver that he had seen him before, near Welton, last September, and that Estaver agreed that he had.

    On cross-examination, Zavalla testified he had been acquitted, and that he did not give state's evidence in the case. He further testified on cross examination that he did not remember how Estaver was dressed, in September, or how the woman that was with Estaver was clad; that he did not remember whether Estaver wore a mustache; and that the car in which he saw Estaver in September was a red striped roadster, with two small separate seats, and with a tire rack containing three or four tires. When handed a picture of the Sheridan car that is alleged to have been Estaver's, Zavalla said that it was not the car in which he saw Estaver last September, adding that he did not know the make of the red car that he had seen.

    Says Questions Asked Slowly

    County Attorney H. H. Baker testified that at the inquest at Stoval on the night of November 16, the questions were propounded to Estaver in the ordinary manner, with the same speed as that used in propounding questions to others, and that these questions were given slowly. The witness said that the questions he asked Estaver in the county attorney's office were pronounced in an ordinary conversational style and in Mr. Baker's usual manner.

    The state then rested, and the defense offered Undersheriff Charles H. Pogue as its witness in surrebuttal. Mr. Pogue testified that according to the records of the county jail, there was a person confined in the jail from June 27 to December 24 of last year by the name of James R. Burke.

    The defense then rested, and the attorneys' arguments to the jury began.

    The first speaker was Deputy County Attorney Mathews, whose argument lasted two hours and 37 minutes. He made a statement concerning the efforts of the county attorney's office to produce all the facts for the consideration of the jury, so that the jurors, having before them all the evidence, might be fair judges of the facts of the case.

    The assistant prosecutor then traced the defendant's movements from Detroit, Omaha, Cheyenne, Denver, New Mexico, Juarez, and El Paso, and then to Tucson in October. From Tucson the attorney then followed Estaver's course to Ajo, thence to Los Angeles, with the woman who has been known as "Fairy," whom the defendant, Mr. Mathews said, had represented as his wife at the inquest. From Los Angeles Mr. Mathews traced the defendant's movements to San Francisco, and thence to Tucson. He spoke of Estaver's false registration, under the name of Beck, at the Willard and at the Heidel hotels, and then adverted to the defendant's various trips around Tucson, in which Mr. Mathews said the defendant interviewed six different persons regarding taking him to Sentinel in order to get his broken-down car and his wife, who was waiting for him at Sentinel.

    Questions Statements

    Mr. Mathews touched on the "falsity" of the defendant's statements to six different witnesses regarding the broken-down car on the desert, and the wife at Sentinel. He then spoke of the meeting of Peter Johnson, the dead woman's husband, and Estaver at Tucson; of Estaver's plans to "decoy" the Johnsons from their selected route through Blyth and Mecca on to the Ajo-Stoval-Yuma route. The assistant prosecutor referred to Mrs. Johnson's letter to her friend, stating that they had met a man with a car broken down on the desert, and a wife waiting for him at Sentinel.

    The deputy county attorney then adverted to the trip from Tucson to Ajo, and from there to the scene of the crime. Followed an analysis of the defendant's version of the shooting, and a comparison with Johnson's account. A comparison was also made of Estaver's statements with those made by other state witnesses, showing absolute contradiction.

    Mr. Mathews then read from the transcript of the defendant's sworn statement at the inquest in Stoval and also the statement made by the defendant in the Yuma county attorney's office, November 17, 1921. He then made a detailed comparison of this testimony and this statement with Estaver's statements made under oath during the present trial, pointing out to the jury many instances in which he contended that Estaver failed to agree with his former story, and many instances in which he said Estaver admitted he did not tell the truth, under oath and otherwise.

    "The theory of the prosecution is that Estaver lured and decoyed the Johnsons on to an unfamiliar road to Stoval, and that in the still of the desert, where no eyes could see, he led Mrs. Johnson to the slaughter, and like a coward, shot her in the back and took away her life," Mr. Mathews declared in ringing tones.

    "And like the same coward, he shot Mr. Johnson four times in the back, in order to obtain money from the sale of the car and to obtain money from the Johnsons, in order to have money to send again to the woman.

    "Anna C. Johnson had no trial for her life; she had no attorney; she had no time to prepare for her Maker. The defendant has had a fair trail. He has had an attorney. We think that we have shown beyond a doubt that the defendant led these old people into a lonely spot and killed Mrs. Anna C. Johnson on the Ajo-Stoval road on November 15, 1921.

    "Now we ask that you return a verdict of guilty against this despicable, dirty murderer, and assess the penalty of death."

    Mr. Peterson, the first to speak for the defense, began by reminding the jury that every man is presumed innocent until proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, adding that this presumption continues to the end of the trial.

    He then explained that the defense had no criticism to make of the conduct of the case as far as the county attorney's office of Pima county was concerned, but he objected to certain methods used by Yuma county officials. Specific objections mentioned by Mr. Peterson included an "inquisition," the alleged refusal to permit the immediate inspection of the scene of the crime, the alleged taking of the defendant to the morgue in the dead of night, and the alleged mentioning of the mob.

    "Was the defendant given his rights there?" Mr. Peterson asked. "His purpose was to protect himself and the girl. The questions had nothing to do with the crime."

    Reviews Estaver's Movements

    Mr. Peterson then reviewed Estaver's movements immediately preceding his arrival in Tucson, and declared that the defendant's explanation as to why he had registered under the name of Beck was logical. He analyzed the testimony of several state witnesses at some length, especially that of Johnson, who he said might be mistaken as to what occurred.

    Mr. Peterson referred to the bright lights on the Dodge car that Mr. Johnson was driving, and suggested that their very brightness might have interfered with Mr. Johnson's plainly seeing objects that were not within the radius of the lights.

    Mr. Peterson also contended that the fact that Mr. Johnson was stunned and dazed by the wounds he had just received militated against the accuracy of his testimony, and that, furthermore, he could not see what happened since he was stooping over the gears. Mr. Peterson declared that the events happened so fast that no one could tell just how they occurred, and that discrepancies were bound to creep in.

    "Why, if Estaver committed the crime, did he carry a gun into Stoval?" Mr. Peterson asked. "Certainly not to protect himself, for he had no shells. Was this the act of a guilty man?"

    Mr. Peterson said that sympathy should not enter into the case, and that Estaver was not being tried for other moral delinquencies.

    Mr. Van Buskirk began by complimenting the county attorney's office for its conduct of the case, but said that a number of the state witnesses suffered from "imagination."

    The defense lawyer said that he had known some good men and women who would use assumed names.

    Says Estaver Lied

    After paying his respects to a number of state witnesses, Mr. Van Buskirk continued.

    "Estaver lied from the time he came to Tucson until he came back to from Yuma. He lied about his name, and he lied about his money. I don't like the word, but he lied. Little lies—here and there and everywhere."

    The defense attorney paid a tribute to W. F. Timmons, of Yuma, who had been formerly employed by the defendant, and who appeared as a defense witness in the present trial.

    "Timmons has a greater grasp of detail than any other man I ever say," Mr. Van Buskirk said. "If County Attorney Baker of Yuma, or even his excellency, County Attorney Darnell, had had the same grasp, this case would have been handled differently."

    Mr. Van Buskirk said that the cross-examination of Mr. Johnson was not relished by him.

    "But they demand the life of my client, and it is my duty to defend him to the best of my ability," Mr. Van Buskirk asserted.

    "Poor Mr. Johnson! He will never again be the same man he was before the night of November 15, 1921—physically or mentally. He told the truth to the best of his ability.

    "No one will ever know what happened that night. You may convict my client—you may hang him—but you will never be able to clear up the mystery of what happened that night."

    The defense lawyer handed the jury some bits of glass that were said by the state to have been part of the windshield of the Johnson car. He declared that they were not of the same thickness. He also exhibited drawings made by the doctors, showing the location of the bullets in the bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Johnson. Mr. Van Buskirk argues that two of the wounds received by Mr. Johnson could not have been fired from within the car, either with the right hand or with the left hand.

    Van Buskirk Resumes Argument

    Mr. Van Buskirk resumed his argument at the night session. He went over the map prepared by W. G. Keiser, a defense witness, and argued that from the footprints found there, it was clear that there had been others at the scene of the killing besides the occupants of the Johnson car.

    The defense lawyer contended that a man would not advertise the fact that he was going to make a trip with the people whom he planned to kill. He adverted to portions of the testimony in which it had been stated that Estaver had told others that he was going to Los Angeles in the automobile with Mr. and Mrs. Johnson.

    Mr. Van Buskirk demanded that the jury either acquit his client or order him hanged.

    "But you cannot condemn him to be hanged until you can explain exactly what occurred on the night of November 15, 1921; for until you are able to explain those happenings, there exists that reasonable doubt that the law says must be given to the defendant," the defense attorney concluded.

    County Attorney Darnell closed for the state. He dwelt first on the motive for the shooting, reading two letters and a telegram from "Fairy" asking for money. He declared that despite the fact that Estaver had protested that he had money, his failing to send to the woman he cared for indicated that he didn't have it.

    Says Assumed Name Used

    The prosecutor declared that the defendant took an assumed name on his second trop to Tucson because he did not want to be connected with the W. S. Estaver of the first trip. He planned, Mr. Darnell said, to make away with the Johnsons, and then, for the purpose of selling the car, he would be George Johnson, for Estaver was the type of man that could easily put off an old name and put on a new one, the county attorney declared.

    "It is the first time in my brief experience as a lawyer that I have heard an attorney admit that his client, charged with murder, has lied about everything except the fact of the killing itself," the county attorney asserted.

    "It is a poor plea to say that a man has lied about everything except in telling how bandits came to the car [missing line of type in original] Mrs. Johnson and wounded Mr. Johnson; that makes an imposed on man of a fellow who appeared east of Stoval in a dapper condition without a scratch, and with the loss of only his watch and a roll of money that satisfied the bandits—who were men of discretion, who killed Mrs. Johnson, almost mortally wounded her husband, and let Estaver go on account of his riches!

    "Mr. Van Buskirk has eulogized the Dr. Cook of Yuma county, one W. F. Timmons, because he has taken the oath to support the constitution of the state of the United States, but he has not applied the same reasoning to County Attorney H. H. Baker, of Yuma, who went through the same process to become a lawyer. If Mr. Van Buskirk felt free to attack one brother lawyer, I feel absolutely unhampered in discussing Mr. Timmons, who knows Estaver's footprints by sounds and smell, but has failed to recognize his own handwriting.

    "Mr. Timmons is a Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes and a Doctor Watson in a composite form, and this master has disagreed with Keiser, his chief witness, F. O. B. Yuma—with a camera—in that Timmons testified that Estaver's tracks were quite indistinct at the 'scuffle ground,' while Keiser testified that they were quite plain and prominent. Between them they have managed to bring into court a photograph of a solitary Estaver footprint, showing in the 'scuffle ground,' as the result of a titanic struggle between Estaver and cowboy bandits!

    "A voice from the dead, evidences by a letter written by Mrs. Johnson, speaks louder than all Estaver's lies. The statements of Johnson, regarding who had shot him, which he testified he wrote on some cards in his pocket that night, on his ride from the scene of the shooting to Stoval, also refute the statement of the defendant's counsel that Johnson does not know who shot him.

    "If we are to maintain what is known as law and order, we shall have to clear the state of Arizona of men like the defendant. Too often during the trial of a murder case, maudlin sympathy follows the rule of 'Be tender with the living; the dead is dead.'

    "At such a time, only the defendant can be seen. Sympathy is oblivious to the dead. If sympathy must enter this case at all, it is certainly on the side of the woman who, when Peter Johnson drew her body over against his shoulder, gasped a few incoherent words, with her life-blood gurgling in her throat.

    "For the man that made the future a barren waste for Peter Johnson and sent this woman to her death without warning, there is only one thing left—that is the hangman's noose. Unless this penalty is assessed we might as well set the defendant free to kill, unhampered, as his fancy wills."

    The Morgue Lady wonders what the readers think. If you were a juror at this trial, how would you vote?

    No sure? The jury agreed with you.

    The term "hung jury" wasn't used even though it was a known term, but perhaps when the major form of execution was hanging, the jury didn't want to bring it up. In any case the jury could not reach a verdict after 12 hours of deliberation and was dismissed.

    Judge Pattee set a new trial date for May 15, 1922. The county attorney said Estaver would be tried as many times as necessary to get an acquittal or conviction.

    Estaver's attorneys asked the court to allow them to withdraw. Their reasons were financial. Arizona law did not provide for compensation for appointed attorneys. The court agreed and appointed Edwin F. Jones, Archie Conner and Louis R. Kempf. The names of the defense lawyers would change.

    Next: This story has a big twist, and here it comes.

  • William S. Estaver was charged with murder. His first trial ended in a mistrial when the jury was unable to reach a verdict.

    Should it surprise anyone that the accused man, who had used several aliases, was wanted under another name?

    From the Arizona Daily Star, Saturday, May 6, 1922:


    Estaver Rushed to Florence To Prevent Mob Violence




    Escaped From Oklahoma Penitentiary Over Year Ago and Had Not been Located Until Few Days Ago


    Graphic details of the murder of a Texas sheriff in Oklahoma in 1916 by Paul V. Hadley, said by Oklahoma and Arizona authorities to be the man who is known as William S. Estaver, charged with the murder of Mrs. Anna C. Johnson of Denver became available for publication last night, following Estaver's [unreadable word] for the state penitentiary yesterday afternoon.

    Estaver's removal to Florence was ordered by Judge Samuel L. Pattee as a precaution against possible attempts at violence against the prisoner.

    Finger print evidence is said to have established the fact that Estaver is wanted by the state penitentiary authorities of Oklahoma, and that under the name of Hadley, it is said that he was serving a life term on a murder charge, escaping more than a year ago.

    County Attorney George R. Darnell said yesterday afternoon that Estaver would be tried first in Pima county on the charge of having murdered Mrs. Johnson near Ajo before being sent back to the Oklahoma penitentiary.

    The county attorney recently received the following telegram from Fred C. Switzer, warden of the state penitentiary at McAlester, Okla.:

    "Finger print received is out man serving life. We want him badly. Answer."

    County Attorney Darnell said he answered that Estaver would first be tried a second time for the murder of Mrs. Johnson. Yesterday the date of the trial was put forward from May 15 to May 19 by Judge Pattee on motion of James R. Dunseath, senior counsel for the defendant, who has as associate counsel K. Berry Peterson and Louis R. Kempf. All three attorneys were appointed by the court. The jury was unable to agree when Estaver was first tried last month.

    Between the unromantic pages of a law book is to be found the official and unusual story of Paul Hadley's trial in Oklahoma. From this law book—the Pacific Reporter, volume 175, page 71—The Arizona Star, by courtesy of a member of the Pima county bar, is able to quote:

    "DOYLE, Presiding Justice. The plaintiff in error, Paul V. Hadley, and Ida Hadley, were jointly charged with the murder of W. J. (Jacob) Giles, alleged to have been committed in Muskogee county on or about March 24, 1916, by shooting him with a pistol. Upon their trial the jury rendered verdicts finding 'the defendant, Ida Hadley, not guilty on account of insanity,' and finding 'the defendant Paul V. Hadley, guilty of the crime or murder as charged in the information, and fix his imprisonment in the state penitentiary at hard labor for life.' From the judgment rendered in pursuance of this verdict, the defendant, Paul V. Hadley, appeals.

    Indicted for Assault

    "The evidence shows that Paul V. Hadley and Ida Hadley resided in Beaumont, Jefferson county, Texas; that Paul V. Hadley was indicted for assault with intent to kill in Jefferson county, Texas, and as a fugitive from justice was arrested March 20, 1916, in Kansas City, Mo., where he was going under the name of J. O. Kendrick; the W. J. (Jacob) Giles, sheriff of Jefferson county, Texas, was notified of his arrest, and in the meanwhile Hadley was incarcerated in what is known as the matron's department at the police station. While held there his wife, the defendant Ida Hadley, visited him several times, and had several conversations with him before Sheriff Giles arrived in Kansas City; that on the 23rd day of March, Sheriff Giles arrived in Kansas City with a requisition from the governor of Texas for Paul V. Hadley; that the defendant, Ida Hadley, met Sheriff Giles at the police station and requested the sheriff to allow her to return to Texas with her husband.

    "In response to that request, Sheriff Giles replied that she could come if she wanted to, but she would have to pay her owhn railroad fare. She then gave the money to Mr. Sanderson, who was present, to purchase a ticket for her, which he did. That Sheriff Giles with both the defendants left Kansas City at 6:30 p.m. on March 23, 1916, which train arrived in Muskogee just after midnight the next morning.

    "Before leaving Kansas City, Ida Hadley requested Sheriff Giles to remove the handcuffs from Paul V. Hadley, who had agreed to return to Texas with Sheriff Giles by signing a written waiver of formal requisition. The sheriff did not grant her request.

    "When the train left Parsons, Kansas, Ida Hadley was sitting on the right side of the chair car, and shortly after the sheriff, with Paul V. Hadley in custody, came out of the smoking car into the chair car, where Hadley sat down by his wife, and the sheriff sat down in the seat across the aisle; the defendants engaged in a whispered conversation, and Ida Hadley went to the ladies' rest room in the front of the car several times, and each time return to her seat by her husband.

    Handcuffs Removed

    "At that time the handcuffs had been removed from Hadley, and he was riding just as any other passenger in company with his wife. Sheriff Giles at this time was sitting across the aisle in the third seat from the rear, the back of which has been reversed, and he was facing the defendants.

    "When the train reached Muskogee, Ida Hadley said to Sheriff Giles, 'you might just as well go to sleep; Paul and I are going to sleep in a minute.' Within ten minutes after leaving Muskogee, Ida Hadley got up from her seat and walked to the ladies' rest room in the forward end of the car.

    "After staying there a few minutes she returned, carrying a satchel or package. Reaching the sheriff she drew a pistol and shot Sheriff Giles in the back of the head. The bullet passed through his head fell on the floor.

    "The train at that time was passing through the town of Oktaha, Muskogee County. Instantly, Paul V. Hadley jumped across the aisle and grabbed Sheriff Giles' pistol, and said to his wife, 'hold the gun on all of them; if they move blow their heads off.'

    "Ida Hadley said to the other passengers in the car, 'Don't a man or woman of you get up.' Paul V. Hadley, after taking the sheriff's pistol, proceeded to go through the pockets of the sheriff, taking papers out of his pockets and sticking them into his own pockets.

    "About this time the train auditor came into the car, and Paul V. Hadley, holding his pistol on him, said, 'Stop this train, ----- ----- you, or I will blow your brains out.' The auditor pulled the bell cord, but the train did not stop. The Hadleys then went out on the front vestibule of the car, and there kept their guns on the auditor and demanded that he stop the train.

    "The train stopped at Checotah, and the two defendants stepped off. They they walked about five miles south from Checotah and stopped at the home of Mr. Ennis, and asked permission to stop there until morning. They also arranged to have Mr. Ennis' son drive them to Briartown in the morning. Young Ennis started to drive the defendants to Briartown on Porum. After going about ten miles he left them at Mr. Stevens' place on Hi Early mountain.

    "Sheriff McCune, of McIntosh county, with a posse, arrested the defendants there that forenoon. Ida Hadley asked Sheriff McCune if Giles was dead, and he told her that he was, and she asked, 'What are you going to do with us?' and the sheriff said, 'We are going to take you to Eufala, the county seat of the county where you killed this man.'

    Equally Guilty

    "The defendant Paul Hadley then said, 'I am in it as much as she is, just as much to blame as she.'

    "It appears that Sheriff Giles never spoke after he was shot, and died two or three minutes after he was taken from the train at Checotah. The defendant Ida Hadley testified as a witness in her own behalf and as a witness on behalf of her co-defendant.

    "In rebuttal, R. H. Gaines, for the states, testified that he was in the hotel business at Checotah and was present, with others, where, when Ida Hadley stated in the presence of her husband, Paul V. Hadley, 'That her husband had shot a man down in Texas and that she expected that some time he would be arrested, and it was her intention to take him away from the officers when they started back to Texas with him; that she had put her gun in her grip, and had kept it there all the time since the trouble in Texas; that when her husband was arrested in Kansas City, she asked Sheriff Giles' permission to accompany him back to Texas; that her husband knew the gun was in the grip, and that they had talked the matter over several times; that is, the possibility of her taking him away from the officer, and when they got to a little city above here that had electric lights, a city of 15,000, 20,000 or possibly 30,000 people, she whispered to Mr. Hadley, 'When we leave this town I am going to take Jake's gun off of him, and you get ready to make your getaway.' And that she further stated: 'I asked Jake Giles to lend me his drinking cup. He let me have that cup, and I started back to the washroom. There I took the gun out and put it in my dress and I came out and down the aisle toward Mr. Hadley and Jake, and when I got near Mr. Hadley I gave him a nod to get ready to get up'; that she and Mr. Hadley had frequently talked over the subject that she would use the gun in taking him away from the officer; that they had talked it over after they left Kansas City while sitting in the car.' Other witnesses testified that they were present when Ida Hadley made these statements in the hotel at Checotah, and that at the time she and her husband were handcuffed together.

    Wife Convicted; 10 Years

    "We are satisfied from a careful examination of the record and of the proceedings had upon the trial with respect to its fairness that the defendant had a fair and impartial trial. While the jury by its verdict acquitted the defendant, Ida Hadley, that was its peculiar province. No one can tell what considerations enter a verdict returned by a jury where a woman is on trial. Nevertheless, if the jury made a mistake as to her, that is no reason why this defendant should not suffer the just penalty of the law. Upon the whole case we are satisfied that the verdict was neither against the weight of the evidence nor against the law.

    "Finding no error in the record, the judgment appealed from is affirmed."

    According to a dispatch received by The Arizona Star from The associated Press Thursday night from Muskogee, Okla., Hadley's wife later was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment when she broke jail. At the same time, she told authorities that she had no intention of fleeing, but wanted to commit an offense that would send her to the penitentiary so she could be near her husband.

    More than a year ago Hadley was granted a 10-day leave of absence to visit his sick mother. He never returned and his whereabouts had been a mystery until the alleged capture at Tucson.

    Publication of this dispatch from Muskogee was withheld by The Arizona Daily Star yesterday morning at the request of County Attorney Darnell, who asked that this be done for official reasons.

    Estaver was taken to Florence by Sheriff Ben F. Daniels, Deputy Sheriff J. Lew Tremaine and Deputy Sheriff Pat J. Sheehy.


    Deputy Sheriff Dave E. Wilson and Louis Ezekials, finger print expert, were given due credit last night by County Attorney George R. Darnell for the identification of William S. Estaver, charged with murder in Pima county, as Paul V. Hadley, who escaped from the state penitentiary at McAlaster, Oklahoma, more than a year ago.

    Estaver's finger prints were taken by Deputy Wilson and were photographed and classified by Mr. Ezekials, according to Mr. Darnell.

    As the result of the work of these two Tucsonans, a telegram from the warden of the Oklahoma penitentiary was received by County Attorney Darnell, saying that Estaver was "their man."

    Estaver was later identified by a fellow Oklahoma penitentiary inmate as Paul Hadley. At the time he made the identification, Charles Fletcher was an inmate at the Arizona state penitentiary in Florence, serving a life sentence for highway robbery. He was able to see Hadley in person at Florence to make the identification.

    One may well wonder if the jury would have deadlocked if this news had been known before Estaver's first trial in Tucson.

    Next: Another trial.

  • William Estaver, aka Paul Hadley, went on trial for the second time in Pima County, for the murder of Anna Johnson.

    This trial was faster because much of the testimony from the previous trial was read into the record since those witnesses were not available again.

    The articles from the second trial will not be reprinted here because they are so similar to those of the first trial. We will go directly to the verdict.

    From the Arizona Daily Star, Sunday, May 28, 1922:


    Jury Asks Death Penalty for Estaver




    Case Goes to Jury Late Yesterday After Closing Argument; Judge to Pronouce Sentence Saturday


    After deliberating for only 15 minutes the jury in the case of Paul V. Hadley, alias William S. Estaver, returned a verdict yesterday afternoon of first-degree murder and recommended that the death penalty be imposed. Judge Samuel Pattee will impose sentence on the prisoner next Saturday at 9:30 a.m.

    Deputy prosecutor Ben B. Mathews finished his argument to the jury yesterday morning. Attorney Louis R. Kempf opened arguments for the defense and the closing statement was made for the defense by attorney James R. Dunseath. Prosecutor George R. Darnell closed the arguments for the state.

    Immediately after Prosecutor Darnell had closed his argument at [unreadable] p.m., the fate of the defendant was given into the hands of the jury. The jurymen retired to their room, and after deliberation of 15 minutes sent word that they had reached a verdict. Only one ballot had been taken.

    Judge Pattee instructed that the jury be brought to the court room. The defendant was brought to the court room in the custody of a deputy sheriff. Although the calm appearance that had characterized his demeanor throughout the trial was still apparent in the bearing of the defendant when the jury filed into the court room, it was noticed that his face was much whiter than usual. This was the only sign given by the prisoner that he was deeply moved.

    During the reading of the verdict the defendant sat unmoved.

    The verdict of the jury, which was signed by Foreman J. W. McDonald, follows:

    "State of Arizona, plaintiff, vs. Paul V. Hadley informed against as William S. Estaver, defendant – we the jury impaneled and sworn in this above entitled cause, upon our oath do find the defendant Paul V. Hadley informed against as William S. Estaver, guilty of murder in the first degree, and fix the penalty at death."

    The names of the jurors in the case follow: J. W. McDonald, foreman; R. Roy Rist, Albert C. Lent, Eugene F. Enrique, Ed S. Wells, John A. Harris, O. Z. Kane, L. B. Williams, Alexander McAdams, C. M. Lincoln, Pedro P. Lopes and Ernest E. Hughes.

    Prosecution of the case against the defendant was conducted by County Attorney George R. Darnell and his assistant Ben B. Mathews. Attorneys James R. Dunseath, K. Berry Peterson and Louis R. Kempf comprised the defense counsel.

    Charged With Murder

    The defendant was charged with the slaying of Mrs. Anna C. Johnson, who was shot and killed at a lonely spot on the Ajo-Stovall road on the night of November 15, 1921. The woman's husband was also shot, but recovered from his wounds.

    The defendant was tried on the same charge under the name William S. Estaver several months ago, but the jury failed to agree and was discharged. It took 12 days to try the case.

    It required just eight days to re-try the case. One reason for expediting of the proceedings was the fact that owing to the absence of several witnesses it was necessary to only read transcript of their previous testimony. Night sessions were also held in the last trial for the purpose of winding up the case as soon as possible.

    Both the prosecutor and his assistant during their arguments laid stress upon the discrepancies in the defendant's testimony. The prosecution pointed out that on a number of instances during the cross-examination during the last trial, the defendant had admitted that his testimony in the first trial was untrue.

    The attention of the jury was particularly called by the prosecution to the testimony of Hadley that Mrs. Johnson was shot by a man from the front and right of the car. In reality the woman was shot from behind, the bullets entering her back and left side. Hadley occupied the rear seat of the Johnson car and was sitting on the left side, while Mrs. Johnson was seated in the front seat of the car on the right side.

    In commenting last night on the verdict brought in by the jury in the Hadley trial, Prosecutor George R. Darnell declared that he was perfectly satisfied. He declared that from the study of the case he was convinced that there was no question of the guilt of the convicted man.

    A. J. Jedlicka, assistant warden of the state prison at McAlester, Okla., in commenting on the verdict said that after hearing Peter Johnson's story of the crime, he was confident Hadley would be convicted.

    Mr. Jedlicka declared further that during his conversations with Tucsonans regarding the Hadley case, the belief was invariably expressed that the man charged with the murder of Mrs. Anna C. Johnson was guilty.

    Today Assistant Warden Jedlicka will leave for Oklahoma City, Okla.

    Following the reading of the verdict yesterday James R. Dunseath, one of the members of the counsel of the defense in the Hadley case, declared that he had worked with diligence in defense of his client, but that the jury was the final court and its decision as to the guilt or innocence of the accused must be accepted. K. Berry Peterson and Louis R. Kempf, also defense lawyers, made similar statements.

    The judge did sign the death warrant the following Saturday and set the execution date for Aug. 18, 1922.

    It looked as if the penitentiary in Oklahoma might not get their prisoner back after all. 

    Next: The rest of the story.

  • Paul Hadley's execution date was set for April 13, 1923, and efforts at a commutation were appearing to be unsuccessful. Hadley, known throughout his first trial as William S. Estaver, still proclaimed his innocence.

    An Arizona Daily Star reporter interviewed him the day before the execution. Hadley also made an "eleventh hour" statement.

    From the Arizona Daily Star, Friday April 13, 1923:


    Hadley Resigned to His Fate

    Scheduled to Hang Today at 5 A.M.; Maintains His Innocence in 11th Hour Statement to Star Reporter

    Hadley Maintained Nerve Despite the Approach of End

    (By Special Correspondent)

    Florence, Ariz., April 12.—Separated from death by a bare eight hours, knowing that it was incontrovertible, beyond the range of the smallest chance that he would be alive after five o'clock of the following morning, what would be the inmost feelings of a strong man?

    Iron will quavers eight hours from the death that they know no option or appeal of theirs alone can avert. A strong man, convicted of a crime for which death is impending frequently has at this point reached the decision that they dare not face an unknown hereafter burdened with a crime unconfessed.

    Paul V. Hadley, recognizing that death faces him at eight hours distance; that he is helpless to combat it; that it is inevitable unless the efforts of an indefatigable attorney to call together the Board of Pardons and Paroles and present his case in a favorable light, is tonight a remarkable psychological study. The prison authorities and the one newspaper correspondent whom he saw on the last day preceding that set for his execution, were puzzled at the demonstration of either a stoical cynicism or the exemplification of a conscience free from any memory of a crime.

    Tomorrow morning at five o'clock, Paul V. Hadley will march to the death chamber watched by several witnesses. Convicted to die, he will be asked whether he has any final statement, a hood will close the world from his view, and the man whose stoicism has excited an unprecedented attention will face a hereafter where he declared tonight he has no accounting of crime to make.

    Starting with the beginning of what he termed his troubles in Beaumont, Texas, Paul Hadley tonight gave an account of years of misfortune which he holds to have been a visitation not merited by intentional criminal conduct of his own.

    Stoicism would be an unsuitable term for the demeanor of Paul Hadley on the last day before his sentence, for stoicism perhaps implies cynicism. Paul Hadley is not cynical. Visibly affected, his eyes glowing or dry in turn, Hadley was helpless in the face of his sentence.

    "I try to keep my last thoughts off the people whom I believe have wronged me," said Hadley to the representative of the Arizona daily Star. "Vengeance, I think, would be an unsuitable sentiment for my last hours of life."

    Hadley related the circumstances of the death of Mrs. Anna Johnson, told his version of the story of an attack by bandits and assaults upon himself, and finally his own puzzlement when arrested the following morning.

    "Peter Johnson I do not hold a vengeful spirit against. If I believe a man had killed my wife, I would be just as vengeful. Mr. Johnson has been misguided from the start; made to believe me guilty without actually knowing that I was."

    Told by Warden Sims that the last word from Phoenix was not encouraging to his opportunities for a commutation of sentence and that he regretted being forced to bring sad news, Hadley replied with resignation: "You can't bring what you haven't got."

    Hadley thanked the prison authorities for courtesies and declared his treatment has been above reproach. That he holds immeasurable gratitude for the long fight waged by John L. Van Buskirk, Tucson attorney, for his freedom, was expressed by Hadley who declared the lawyer had done so because he believed in his innocence.

    Peter Johnson, husband of the woman of whose murder Hadley was convicted, was in Florence tonight accompanied by Ben B. Mathews, assistant prosecutor in both trials, and intended witnessing the execution.

    Hadley declined to see the representative of another Tucson newspaper, with the declaration that that publication had been distinctly unfair to him and that he did not care to assist one definitely unjust toward him. An exclusive interview was given a Star representative, together with a written communication to the public prepared by the doomed man on the last day before his sentence.

    Prison authorities and those in Florence in connection with the execution had tonight virtually given up expectation of action by the government or parole board, although word reached here at a late hour that attempts were being made to call the board together. Among those who would be present at the execution will be: Peter Johnson, husband of Mrs. Anna Johnson; Ben B. Mathews, Tucson attorney; John C. Haynes, Tucson attorney; A. J. Upham, Tucson business man; R. B. Sims; T. A. French; Mr. Hart, assistant Maricopa county attorney; Mr. Duffy, representative of the attorney general's office; Sheriff Chappell of Yuma county; a representative of the Arizona Daily Star; Ira Rickerson, and several guards.

    On the final day before his execution, Hadley spent practically the entire day in his cell and did not take his usual walk about the prison grounds.

    Below is Handley's statement, which ran in the same edition of the Star:




    Editor's note—The following is an eleventh hour statement of Paul V. Hadley, condemned man, who was scheduled to meet his maker at 5 a.m. today. At The Star's request, Hadley typed the final statement to the public last night on a typewriter furnished him by some person interested in his case. Hadley characterized it as his final statement.


    Florence, Ariz., April 12, 1923.—To whom it may concern: I have only a few more hours to remain in this world, for all hope of receiving justice at the hands of the law have vanished and my doom is certain; but I have a few words that I would like to leave behind for the citizens of this country to consider. First, I want to say that I believe in God and that if a man does not confess his sins and ask and receive God's forgiveness he is forever lost and I do not want to take my chances of going into his presence with a lie upon my lips. But my words now and my last words will be that I have been convicted of a murder upon circumstantial evidence of which I am not guilty, and on that conviction I have been sentences to hang, which sentence in a few hours will be carried out.

    Now I wish to state a few things about capital punishment and these follow: that as long as capital punishment remains in your laws, other men eill without doubt be put to death on circumstantial evidence who are not guilty but have been found so at the hands of a prejudiced jury. Capital punishment is not justifiable in the eyes of God under any conditions, and this according to our New Testament cannot be argued.

    If the citizens feel that for their own protection this capital punishment law must remain, let them make it the duty of the county attorney, the judge and the jury to conduct and execute the condemned man themselves in the counties where the man was sentenced. If this were a part of the law there would be fewer ambitious prosecutors arguing to bring in a death penalty unless the evidence was positive and direct, and no doubt then the crime would have to be one of great enormity for them to even ask for a death sentence for it is easy for a man to say, "Hang him," if they know that someone else must bear the responsibility of the hanging.

    While no man wishes to give up his life, death is not a penalty, for if a man is prepared to meet his God, you are just relieving that man of his troubles and placing him in a peaceful rest.

    My only wish is that before the murder of Mrs. Johnson has been forgotten, that the true facts of the murder will come to light, for the good of all men as well as my children which I am leaving behind, for I believe if it does, it will be the direct result of forever banishing from this state as well as perhaps others, this custom which is only a relic of the past barbarous stages.

    Very respectfully submitted by

    The was no last-minute reprieve. Handley was executed on Friday the 13th — April 13, 1923.

    From the Star, Saturday, April 14, 1923:



    Marks Last Chapter of Thrilling Murder Case


    Held to Claim of Innocence Until Lips Sealed

    "I am innocent of a murder: this might happend to any man here. But I am going to my God. I am ready to go."

    No plea for mercy from his fellow man; no indication that he bowed in spirit beneath the death decree imposed upon him first by the Pima county superior court, marked the final utterance of Paul V. Hadley.

    Protesting to the ned, without a qualification, his innocence od that crime for which he was sentenced, Paul Hadley dies yesterday morning a few minutes after 5 o'clock.

    Rumors that Hadley made a statement while standing upon the trapdoor which lowered him to eternity, which implied a confession, namely, "I am an innocent murderer," were without foundation or verification, and witnesses declared that no outward indication of a reversal in his stand was apparent.

    Scorning to accept assistance in walking up the flight of stairs from his own cell to the death chamber, Paul Hadley briskly, yet without show of overconfidence, walked directly to the death trap. Halting here he awaited the prison officials as they firmly strapped his arms and legs preparatory to his execution.

    It was then that Rev. James Hunter of Florence, Hadley's confidant in the lastr hours of his life, stepped to him, placed his arm about his shoulders, and delcared:

    "Gentlemen, an innicent man is to hang this morning. I know it."

    Died in Eight Minutes

    Eight minutes were required for death to come to the stricken man after the trap was sprung a physician awaiting the cessation of pulsations of his heart before he was removed and his remains placed in the bare wooden box, in which he was interred yesterday morning on the prison grounds.

    Statements that Hadley had declined to look above his feet while making his final statement were without confirmation.

    The false charge was made last night by a Tucson newspaper that Hadley had become angry, threatened to have thrown from his cell a representative of the Arizona Daily Star, on the ground that he had testified against him.

    Drawn from the imagination, perhaps, of a disgruntled newspaper correspondent whim Hadley declined to see, this story was without foundation. Hadley had on the previous day requested the presence of a representative of the Arizona Daily Star, to whom he desired to make his last statement.

    When the Star corespondent approached Hadley's cell, seen in dim light through the bars, Hadley mistook for a moment the representative for a reporter whom he declared had testified against him. When assured that the correspondent was an accredited representative of the Star, Hadley offered a sincere apology and admitted his own error, inviting the representative within his cell for a final interview which last for one and one-half hours. This correspondent  was the only one whom Hadley consented to see on the final day of his existence.

    Hadley Lauded Star

    "The Star has been fairer to me than any other paper," said Hadley. "I could not see a representative of the Tucson evening newspaper because it was unfair to me."

    Peter Johnson, husband of the woman for whose murder Hadley was convicted, yesterday presented likewise his heartfelt gratitude to the Arizona Star, before leaving Tucson permanently.

    A final statement, typed on a machine provided by the prison authorities, with his own hand, was on the night previous to the execution given the Arizona Daily Star by Hadley. This declaration of his innocence and his feelings, was exclusively the Star's But one copy was prepared for the convicted man and this given a representative of the Star, although it was copied as an official statement made public in another Tucson newspaper.

    A broken confidence of one purporting to be a friend marred the last hours of Hadley. But a few hours after his death there appeared in the Tucson evening newspaper under sensational headlines, facts of the conversation of which he had asked secrecy but a few hours before his execution.

    Having not read the Tucson Citizen reports of the murder, trial and execution, the Morgue Lady has no opinion on the matter, and she is only assuming this is the "evening newspaper" to which the Star reporter refers. Competition for a story was often fierce and may have led to hard feelings. The Star reporter does come off as being a bit smug about it all in the Morgue Lady's opinion.

    One may never know if Hadley truly met his maker with a clean conscience or if he did, indeed, shoot and kill Anna Johnson. We can only say what evidence was brought out in his trial and judge whether that was conducted fairly.

    The deed is done, and the story is ended.

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About this blog

"Tales from the Morgue" is a way for the Star to share stories from the treasure trove of information held in its old files.

Johanna Eubank, aka the Morgue Lady, was a research assistant in the Star Library — also known as News and Research Services — for 18 years before becoming an online content producer. She has had her share of sneezing fits after digging into dusty old files, so she's sure to find a few old stories to re-examine.

If you have suggestions, comments or questions about this blog, e-mail jeubank@tucson.com

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