William Leahy, Obituary/Death NoticePorter County obituaries and death notices . . . .

William Leahy

The Coroner Holds an Inquist, And Sends the Victim to His Grave With Heart Disease.
Citizens Kick, and Cause the Body To be Taken Up, and Proofs of Murder Found.
Bert Burns Held For The Crime.

VALPARAISO, Ind., July 9. -- Thursday evening the report was current that the dead body of a young man was found in Hamill's Grove, and was reported to the proper authorities. Coroner Coates held an inquest, and from the evidence elicited, reported death from heart disease. Later the report became prevalent that the finding of the coroner did not warrant or cover the facts in the case. Several of our citizens took the matter in hand, excitement for a time ran high, and an investigation was in order. Dr. A. P. Letherman ex-Sheriff Jones and Sheriff Herrick proceeded to the cemetery and exhumed the body. The coffin was raised and the corpse interred the day before was lifted, and a post mortem was conducted and a careful examination made into the cause of death. The heart was examined, and with the exception of a large quantity of water in the pericardium, was in all other appearances in its normal condition. There was a discoloration of the skin below the sternum and on cutting through the stomach the lower part of the pyloric orifice was considerably discolored. This turned the theory of death by heart disease, and those present came to the conclusion that death must have been caused by other agencies than paralysis or organic heart troubles. It seems when Coates held his inquest he neglected to even strip the body, and being in a hurry home, made a hurried examination.

The evidence of Mr. Lybarger's ten year old daughter was discovered and brought other facts to light. Her story is as follows: She and Lottie France were in a swing in Hamill's grove on the evening of July 4th. Leahy and Burns were there and had been regaling themselves with beer. It seems they were in a partially drunken condition. Leahy was swinging the girls when Burns advanced, said something which the girl could not understand, and truck Leahy in the stomach. Leahy fell to the ground, and uttered heavy groans, and Burns then dragged the prostrate and dying man ten or twelve feet and lay down beside him. The little firl then ran hom and informed her mother of the occurance. Mr. Pierce was the first on the ground and found Leahy dead and Burns in a drunken stupor.

The girl's testimony and the facts developed from the post mortem examination mad a strong case against Burns and he was arrested by Sheriff Herrick on the charge of murder.

In Saturday's Star McConahy devotes a column to the matter, scores Coroner Coates and says he did not have the nerve to do his duty. In other words, ridiculed his ridiculous position and said he placed himself before the public in an unenviable light as an officer, afraid and lacking nerve to do his duty. This riled Coates and he made a vow that he would go up and whip McConahy, but friends interfered, and no doubt sized Jim up, told the doctor that Mc. Was a big man with blood in his eye, and disuaded the man of the scapulum from his rush and hazardous undertaking. It is understood that McConahy will not retract the charges made against Coates and this is likely to end the armistice. If he persists in criticising Coates, the hatchet will again be dug up and as Dr. Coates outs it, he will resign, release his bondsmen and hve McConahy scalped before many moons. Saturday afternoon excitement ran high. The people gathered in knots on the street corners and discussed the leading feature of the murder. Many hard things were said against Coates, and the bungling way in which he handled the inquest. It would be hard to determine from the drift of conversation, which the coroner or Burns was most to blame. Coates when seen and interrogated, was nervous and thoroughly scared. He hesitated when asked why he failed to order a post mortem, seemed nervous and ill at ease. Burns took his arrest cooly and immediately employed counsel to take care of his defense.

Monday at 9 o'clock the case came up for preliminary hering before his honor T. J. Lytle. Jennie Lybarger, the little girl on whose testimony the prosecution based their strongest hopes, was again placed on the stand and testified to almost the same testimony above given. Lottie France who was present when Leahy died, was also sworn and rigidly examined. She denied that there was any quarrelling and flatly contridicted the Lyberger girl. Coates, the coroner was again put on the stand and his testimony and cross examination consumed the rest of the day. While on the stand Dr. Coates was restive and nervous and showed signs of trepidation. He glanced furtively around the room and seeing McConahy in the back part of the room he faltered, but braced up and braved it through. Though when pressed by Dr. Agnew for the defense, he admitted that there was an extranisation of blood on the lower part of the stomach, but the skin showed no signs of abrasion, and the indication of the stomach might be the result of some other cause with which he was not familiar. His testimony was not positive and though he showed professional skill, he would not swear positively that Leahy's death was the result of a blow. The case was continued after supper, but Dr. Ap. P. Letherman being absent, the court adjourned till Tuesday morning.

Newspaper: The Tribune
Date of Publication: July 11, 1889
Volume Number: 6
Issue Number: 13
Page: 1
Column(s): 8

Key to Newspaper Publication Locations:
    Newspapers Published in Chesterton, Porter County, Indiana
                Chesterton Tribune
                The Tribune
                Westchester Tribune

    Newspapers Published in Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana
                Porter County Vidette
                Practical Observer
                Valparaiso Practical Observer
                Vidette and Republic
                Western Ranger

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Obituary/death notice transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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