Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Thriller Thursday - Wrapping Up the Villers Trial, Part 11

The Jamestown Weekly Alert, 20JAN1898, pg2
And on we continue! This week it's time to begin the prosecution's case against Villers.

"Said Villers Didn't Sleep at Comber's.

John Comber, recalled by the prosecution said he and his family and hired girl were at home the night of Sept. 14, and 15. Louis Villers reached the house between 2 and 3 a. m., sleeping behind the stove in the kitchen, M. J. Villers not sleeping in his house that night. On cross examination he said he fixed the date because that was the only night Louis Villers slept there. M. J. Villers left about the time the machine did and he didn't see him again that day. The crew slept at the bars.

While at the machine he saw a man going by, a stranger, the man called out to him but he, no knowing Mr. Tromer, could not say it was he. Carley came to his house to get Villers to thresh for him and the date, Friday, Sept. 14, was..."

The Jamestown Weekly Alert,
20JAN1898, pg2
Now this looks a bit disjointed, especially when you see the next clipping which is the top of the next column. It also doesn't appear that this would have continued anywhere on this page. The next title/subtitle looks like it could have finished this sentence. It certainly continues with the prosecution's case. Either way we'll continue...

"....Firmly Impressed Upon Him.

Didn't know any one called his attennion (sic) to the date - he knew when threshing was done at his farm. That Friday night - the entire week M. J. Villers was at his place - was the only night the prisoner did not sleep in his house and was the only night Louis Villers slept there in the kitchen.

Mrs. Jno. Comber had known Villers ever since he had been in Dakota and corroborated her husband's testimony except that she did not know at what hour of the night Louis Villers came to the house. On cross examination she said she was sick at the time but knew all that went on in the house, but not outside. Louis Villers left after breakfast the next morning. She was unable to do any house work, kept a girl, made no beds.

Said Villers Tried to Sell a Ring.

Ambrose Walsh of this city for fourteen years and acquainted with Villers for six or seven years stated Villers, in threshing season of '94, offered to sell him a plain gold ring, holding it out in his hand as they walked on Front street. He refused to buy it. On cross examination said the date might have been as early as August of first part of September; at time had not heard of Tromer's disappearance and didn't connect two events."

The Jamestown Weekly Alert,
20JAN1898, pg2
So from this testimony I'm assuming that when they said Villers slept at the house on the nights in question that information wasn't given by Jno. Cromer himself although that is difficult to tell with how the article was written. He did give some testimony so why the change now?

"The Afternoon Session.

The public was surprised at the unexpected termination of the trial without the appearance of Mrs. Villers as a witness. neither was Mrs. Tromer placed on the stand in rebuttal as at the morning session was stated would be done. The only witness was Mr. Villers and he but a few minutes.  A part of the testimony of Mrs. Tromer and other witnesses at the LaMoure trail was read by Attorney Ellsworth for the defense and made a part of the record.

There Mrs. Tromer testified she had seen Villers about the cows before they were taken back; Villers said he would send them to his place - didn't say her husband wanted that done; her husband had not stated anything about that.

The state, in its turn, also reading from a transcript of the evidence given by Joseph Villers at that trial stated when he went to his house that Sept 14, carrying Tromer with him on his way home, the witness found his wife baking pies and Frasier playing near the house. He then testified this was about 3 p. m. Tromer had left his oxen at the place that day intending to call for them later."

The Jamestown Weekly Alert,
20JAN1898, pg2
Can't make much out with the last paragraph. What transcript from which trial? The original one when he tried to kill the wife? More questions than answers in that paragraph!

"Ella Villers at that trial testified she saw Tromer sitting in the buggy with her father a little north of the house. Her mother, she thought, was digging potatoes. She did not remember where her father went after that; Tromer, she testified, went toward home on foot.

M. J. Villers was recalled to the stand in regard to the Haas letter; said he had a German friend, Victor Frecke, who lived in Milwaukee, who with two sons was thinking of coming to Dakota, northwest of LaMoure. Witness did not remember whether or not any mention of wife and children was made in the letter. The contents, the witness said, were about as follows:

'"Jamestown, North Dakota," I forget the date, "Mr. Victor Frecke, Dear Sir: If you wish to come on a visit to North Dakota don't fetch your sons with you now as the work is pretty well over but it will do about next July or so." For the business he wanted to put his son in I told him it would be riskey (sic) in this part of Dakota.'

I signed my name to it and sent it the next day, said the witness. I had further correspondence with him about his coming to the state but it was in French.'"

What exactly was the "Haas Letter" and why is it significant in this case? Was this the letter from the first trial that they claim Villers had written? It shouldn't be. That letter was alleged to be in English and the problem was that it wasn't written in German for Mrs. Tromer to understand. So what is this letter and why is there no better explanation? Hopefully it will be discussed in the newspaper later because it's a big question mark right now.

Until next Thriller Thursday!