Another unsolved axe murder of five
August must be a bad month for homicide. Curiously enough, on August 3, 1877 the bodies of Mr. Lewis Spencer and his four children were found hacked to bits in the family home and barn. The Clark County, Missouri killings apparently occured on August 2nd and the bodies found by a family relative on the 3rd. Mr. Spencer was a deacon at the Bethlehem Baptist Church near Luray, Missouri, and was a tax collector. He often kept a large amount of cash in the home which was found to be missing at the time of the murders. It may have had something to do with the murders. The Spencer family had suffered the loss of Mrs. Spencer and two other young children prior to the murders. All are buried together in the family plot.
Two men were put on trial for the deed but were acquitted while another suspect from Keokuk was set upon by an angry mob and hanged for the killings even though there was no proof he did it. One suspect was the brother of Mrs. Spencer. The murder weapon was found at the back of the house covered in blood and there was the appearance that more than one killer might be involved. Each victim was hit one to three times in the head, a fact which contrasts widely to the 19 blows to Abby Borden and the 10-11 to Andrew Borden in the Lizzie Borden case.
http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=F50616F63D5A127B93C7A91783D85F438784F9 Link to New York Times Article
and an excellent detailed account of trials and crime scene here http://boards.ancestry.com/localities.northam.usa.states.missouri.counties.clark/722.214.171.124/mb.ashx
Good story. How could I have missed it?