Sunday, November 28, 2010

Amanuensis Monday - The Villers Saga, Part III

The Bismarck Daily Tribune, 12NOV1897
"Remains Identified

Testimony was taken at the court house in Jamestown in the identification of the remains of August Tromer.  Mrs. Tromer was on the witness stand most of the time, and positively identified the body, or what remained of it, as that of her late husband.  She did so by a handkerchief found tied around his neck which she said was tied by herself, and a missing tooth in the upper jaw and the clothing that still remained in a fair state of preservation.  Several other witnesses remained to be examined.  There seems to be no doubt whatever of the identification of the body as that of Tromer.

While the identification of the body appears to have beeen satisfactorily established, it is stated that it will be a more difficult matter to fasten the crime upon Villers by evidence which will warrant a conviction.  It simply appears that Tromer was last seen with Villers, and surrounding circumstances point to the latter's knowledge of Tromer's death.  The fractured skull wound indicates that death was caused by a blow, and probably after a struggle.  in this connection, Mrs Tromer tells of a dream she had soon after his disappearance, in which her husband appeared with a great hole in his head, bleeding, and said he had escaped from a grave in the plowed ground.  She had a similar dream only a few weeks ago."

OK, now this is where I start becoming irritated with the reporting if not the investigation.  Does Mrs. Tromer's dream really have anything whatsoever to do with this investigation?  Knowing (or at least supposing) the science and beliefs of people at the time are a bit backward compared to modern times, how much of an impact did her "dream" have on the trial?  I hope not much.  That's not to say that I'm convinced of his innocence.  Despite what they say in this article about the challenges of pinning this crime on Martin Joseph Villers, they do a pretty darn convincing job of it.  They had some pretty damning evidence (that I will post in the future) and some extremely circumstantial and ridiculous evidence (will also post in future).  The overall impression I get is that they found their man and it was all about getting evidence to support that.  Perhaps that's how it works.  I just hope that the judge and jury were a bit more "innocent until proven guilty" driven!


  1. That is interesting that they mention her dream. I agree - I hope that they didn't consider it as evidence!

  2. Who knows! Maybe the media back then was as bad as some is now and they were just putting a slant on things. He was already in jail for attempted murder so I'm sure no one doubted his guilt. It is a bit ridiculous.