Blood Hatchet Found

Shelbina Democrat article dated April 30, 1902. 


Abe Witherup has (Confessed) the Murder of (Young) Will Grow. 

“There has been much excitement in Monroe and Shelby counties over the murder near old Clinton of Will Grow. The body of the man was found in Salt River, about 2 ˝ miles south of Hunnewell, by some fisherman last Tuesday afternoon. The skull was crushed in by half a dozen blows with a blunt instrument and one eye was knocked out.

The body was identified as that of Will Grow about 22 years old, who had been cropping with Abe Witherup on the (Widow) Long farm about two and one half miles south of Hunnewell. The two men lived together in little houses about a quarter of a mile back from the road. Witherup came to Monroe county from Kansas and but little is known of him, though it is said that he was suspected of a similar murder in that state, but the evidence was not sufficient to cause his arrest.

Will Grow was last seen on Thursday afternoon, April 17. On Tuesday, April 22, Witherup went to the home of Grow’s father, Steve Grow, near Paris and asked if Will Grow had been there. He said that he had not seen the young man since Thursday. Witherup remained at Grow’s, for his son. Steve came to the Salt River ford just as the body of his murdered son was drawn out of the water. He immediately identified it as that of his son. A telephone message was sent to Paris and Sheriff Clark and Marshal Masterson went out to the Grow place and arrested Witherup while he was sitting at the table with the family, eating the food cooked by the mother of the boy he had murdered.

A party under the lead of Deputy Sheriff Mart Clark went to the house on the Ford place to see what evidence of the crime could be found. They found blood stains on the floor, which had been painted over with red paint, and on the wall which had been scraped and washed. The bed of the wagon in which he had hauled the body to the river had been scraped with a sharp instrument, but there with blood on the coupling pole and the underneath side of the wagon bed. The broom handle had also been painted red. Part of the floor was taken up and blood, still moist, was found on the ground and on the under side of the boards. These boards will be used as evidence. The murder had evidently been committed with a hatchet while the victim sat in a chair.

A coroners jury which was impaneled Wednesday rendered a verdict that the young man came to his death on or about Thursday, April 17, by a weapon in the hands of Abe Witherup. Witherup confessed to Prosecuting Attorney McAllister last Thursday, but the latter would no make the statement public. It is known, however, that he told where he had hid the hatchet with which the crime was committed, for Deputy Sheriff Clark went to the spot and brought back the bloody hatchet.

The Paris Mercury thus describes the man accused of the murder: He is a tall, raw-boned man with short, stubby, blond bear of recent growth, and weighs 180 pounds. The first and final impression of a visitor is that the man is vicious by nature, a criminal from instinct, ferocious, brutal and unforgiving. His conduct is nervous, his face furtive and his light blue eye(s) evasive and restless.

He is said to bear a resemblance to Alexander Jester, and his crime has a strikingly similarity to that of the celebrated Jester. He came here from Kansas and like his prototype, Jester, is a pensioner and has been oft married. Like him also he displays the same cruelty toward animals and has the same ungovernable temper. Sexuality and cruelty are the predominant symptoms marked in the face and oblong head of both men. It has been known to the local authorities for several years that Witherup was suspected of murdering a boy near Medicine Lodge, Kansas, under almost identical circumstances, the two having cropped together. The evidence was never sufficient to demand his requisition, but his second wife, Mrs. Miller, who secured a divorce from him about a year ago, told Sheriff Clark that he had confessed to her. She also said he would go into insane rages at his horses and come for his gun to kill them. He is evidently a pervert with a diseased and ferocious desire to shed blood.” 

Second article from the Shelbina Democrat from June 1902. 


Mob of Lawless Men Broke Open the Jail. The Prisoner was Taken to the Wagon Bridge Across Salt River and Pushed off. 


Judge Eby Instructs prosecuting Attorney McAllister to Arrest the Lynchers Who Were Not Masked and are Known. 

“A lynching with less provocation has never occurred, that that which broke the Paris jail Saturday night or Sunday morning and Abe Witherup, who killed young Wm. Grow, put a rope around his neck and (then) pushed him off the wagon bridge, which spans Salt river. They told hem to jump. This he refused to do. Then he was pushed off.

The mob came from the country about midnight, and demanded the keys. This was refused, and for several hours the mob was kept off. The account says nine men overpowered the officers. This is not a reasonable story. Mr. Whitecotton did well in pleading for law and order, and he deserves commendation. Other citizens ought to have been there not only pleading but shooting (if) necessary. Why did the sheriff (not) have a posse? The jail should have been defended at all hazards. Lawbreakers must be shot when necessary to preserve prisoners from a mob.

The boy hung to the bridge until 8 o’clock Sunday morning when the coroner, Doctor Johnson, of Madison, arrived and took it down. The inquest will be held today. We hope the jury had courage to name the men guilty of this public murder. Judge Eby has notified Prosecuting Attorney McAllister to arrest the men guilty of this crime.  

Will Prosecute. 

The Paris correspondent to the Quincy Journal gives the following statement from Monroe’s prosecuting attorney in regard to the mob that hanged Witherup.

Prosecuting Attorney McAllister said: “I am in possession of the names of all the men who took active part in the hanging of Witherup. These names are given by two or three of the best and most pliable citizens of the county, who announced their willingness to testify upon a prosecution of the guilty parties. I shall at once institute an investigation and the guilty parties will be vigorously prosecuted.

‘The participants ought to be, and I believe will be, punished. The mob’s action is denounced by the better element of people. I am not at this time able to say just what course the investigation will take, but you may say for me that it will be pushed and the guilty parties prosecuted to the full extent of the law. I will at least convince the people of Missouri that this mob was not composed of the better element of citizens of our county.’”