Omer Thomas, Obituary/Death NoticePorter County obituaries and death notices . . . .

Omer Thomas

Convict Harry Jones, Without Warning or Provocation, Murders Convict Omer Thomas -- Revenge was the Incentive.
Michigan City News.

Those who attended chapel services at the prison north Sunday forenoon, were witnesses of a sensation such as seldom occurs during church services. The sensation was brought in by an assault with intent to commit murder. The parties in the case were convicts Henry Jones, colored, a twenty-one-year man, sent up from Indianapolis in September, 1895, for murder, and Omer Thomas, colored, sent up from Indianapolis in February, 1896, for five years, for burglary. It appears that Jones was convicted of murder upon evidence offered by Thomas, who turned state's evidence, at the trial in Indianapolis. Later Thomas was convicted of burglary, and came to prison as above stated. Jones has been heard to swear vengeance against Thomas since the latter's arrival in prison, and has apparently been watching his opportunity to "get even." Thomas knew this, and was afraid of Jones.

Sunday, it so happened that the two convicts were seated near together during chapel service, Jones sitting just behind the victim. Thomas knew he was there and kept an eye upon him, even crowding over partly onto another seat in order to be able to partially watch the man he was afraid of.

The chapel services were nearly over and the chaplain was making his closing remarks when Jones rose from his seat and dilberately stabbed Thomas, first in the shoulder, but the knife-blade failed to penetrate the bone. Thomas arose and turned half around, in time to receive a stab in the left arm and another in the right side of the abdomen.

The convicts were seated in the rear part of the chapel, in what is called the "colored rows," and fortunately, not many of the inmates could see the affair, while the visitors in the gallery, by their position, were also shut off from view. Had the assault occurred in full view of the convicts and the audience there would, no doubt, have been a stampede or a riot. As it was, as soon as the guards near at hand saw the convicts rise they hastened to the locality of the fracas and commanded the convicts who had arisen to be seated, and their commands were obeyed. Thomas, who had climbed over a row of seats in his efforts to get away from his assailant, was led out and assisted in the hospital, and Jones was taken to the dungeon. Not a word was spoken between the convicts, the chaplain did not cease speaking, and before many knew there had been a disturbance the two men were out of the chapel and quiet had been restored in the vicinity where the trouble occurred. The excellent manner in which the affair was handled and a riot averted, speaks words of the highest praise for the discipline of the prison, and the perfect control the officers have over the inmates.

An examination of Thomas' wounds, by the prison physician, Dr. Spinning, found them to be dangerous and probably fatal. Thomas remarked to the physician that he guessed he was "done for." The man lived until this morning and died about six o'clock.

Deputy Coroner Dr. Wilson held an inquest over the remains this forenoon and will render a verdict in accordance with the above facts as brought out at the inquest.

Jones will probably be tried for the murder at the next term of the circuit court, and unless a jury that is prejudiced against capital punishment gets hold of the case, he will probably "swing" for his rash act. He is said to "have it in" for other about the prison, and given an opportunity will "do" some one else.

The state senate prison committee who were in the city over Sunday and were attending chapel services, were witnesses to the assault, having a view of it from the chapel rostrum, where they occupied seats.

A post mortem examination was held over Thomas' remains Monday, after which they were taken to Earl's undertaking rooms and will probably be sent to Indianapolis where is folks reside.

A letter arrived at the prison this morning for Thomas, from his mother, but it was not opened until after Thomas' death. His mother had also sent him a box of food and other articles, which arrived this afternoon.

Newspaper: The Westchester Tribune
Date of Publication: July 18, 1896
Volume Number: 13
Issue Number: 14
Page: 1
Column(s): 4 and 5

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

The obituaries and death notices appearing on this website have been transcribed exactly as they were originally published in the newspaper. Please note that we do not provide photocopies or digital scans of obituaries and death notices appearing on this website.

Obituary/death notice transcribed by Steven R. Shook


CSS Template by Rambling Soul