William Rouse Killed by Unknown Assailant

[From the Monroe City News of March 1, 1883.]

There was considerable excitement aroused in our city last Sunday a  little after one o'clock, when. Al Adams came riding in from the south, with the intelligence that he had found a man lying dead in the road, near a vacant house on John 0. Wood's farm, about a mile and three-quarters south-east of town. A number of men and boys at once procured horses and started for the place, accompanied by Squire T. J. Griffith. When. they arrived at the spot where the dead man laid, an investigation disclosed the fact that the dead man was J. W. Rouse, better known is "Billy," or "Little Will Rouse," a nephew of John W. Rouse, the merchant. Squire Griffith, acting as coroner, at once impaneled a jury consisting of W. P. Bush, J. A. Peirsol, J. T. Umstadt, Frank Elliott, S. S. Hampton and Mr. Gibberson, who viewed the body and decided that death resulted from a gunshot wound. The body was then brought to town and laid out in Wilson's undertaking establishment, while the inquest was adjourned until Monday. A report having been brought in that a man had been seen with a gun near the place where the murder was committed, a number of our citizens armed themselves and went out after him. They hunted until dark, but found nothing and abandoned the search.

Tracks had been found leading in the direction of the house where the body was found, and a colored boy named Frank Smith was arrested on suspicion, and held until sometime Monday when he was discharged there being no evidence to show that he made the tracks. It was further proved he had been in town all the forenoon. The murdered man had been working for- J. H. Sullivan, who lives a mile north of town, and had been since last October. He attended Sunday school at the Methodist Church Sunday morning, and after it closed (which was a few minutes before 11 o'clock) he went to his grandfather's in the south-west part of the town, where he remained about five minutes, leaving there about half past 11 o'clock, to visit his brother, Robert L., who lives three or four miles south-east of this place. He was riding a pony belonging to Mr. Sullivan.

At Sunday-school in the morning, be took out his pocket-book and grave something when the contribution was collected. Some of those in the class with him say he had $2 or $3 in his purse. When the body was. found, both purse and money were gone, showing  that the murderer's object must have been robbery. When the body was found, it was lying in a fence corner, face downward, the hat, which was riddled with shot, a few feet away, and the pony standing in the road about fifty yards from the body. J. F. Elder, of Ralls county, was the first man who saw the body. He was coming to town after a doctor, when he saw it lying there, but supposing the man to be drunk, and being in a hurry, did not stop. Soon afterwards, G. W. Gallaway and Al. Adams passed along the same road going east, and noticed the body. Their first impression was, the man was drunk, and Mr. Adams called to him several times. Receiving no answer, Mr. Adams got off his horse and bent over the body, when he noticed blood on the back of the head. He took hold of the shoulder and found the man was dead. Adams then brought the news back to town while Mr. Gallaway rode on to Robert Cranston's and notified him and his brother William. The murdered man was a widower and leaves two children, who have been living with some of their relatives, since their mother died. He was of a quiet, retiring disposition and is not known to have had an enermy in the world. From the fact that he was robbed, it is believed that he was mistaken for some other person. This is only speculation, however, and the truth may never be known. One thing is certain, a cowardly murder has been committed and all hope that the perpetrator may be identified and awarded the full penalty of the law. The murdered man's remains were buried Tuesday at the Moss Chapel.

Below, we give the main points of Dr. McNutt's testimony: --found four shot-holes penetrating the brain, one entering the head just under the left ear and ranging in the direction of the nose; eleven holes in his body and one through his right arm. From the course of the holes he was shot from the left side and from behind; one or two shot had struck his head and not entered his skull; several shot bad discolored the skin of his body, but had not entered. I cut one shot from the back of his neck and it was pronounced by several parties as double 00 in size; some of the holes seemed to have been made with larger size shot, I think buckshot; I think any one of the five shot entering his brain would have killed him.

As above stated, Frank Smith was arrested, tried and acquitted. No arrests have since been made, and the foul murder remains a mystery to this day.