Democrat article dated April 30, 1902.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Second article from the Shelbina Democrat from June
of Lawless Men Broke Open the Jail. The Prisoner was Taken to
the Wagon Bridge Across Salt River and Pushed off.
DEATH WAS INSTANTANEOUS.
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.
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.
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.
The Paris correspondent to the Quincy Journal gives the
following statement from Monroe’s prosecuting attorney in
regard to the mob that hanged Witherup.
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.
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.’”