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Murder In Clarke County


Posted By: Karen Brewer (email)
Date: 4/28/2020 at 07:41:44

The Osceola Democrat, Osceola, Iowa
July 9, 1896, Page 7


John Likens, a bachelor aged 36 years, shot and killed John E. Davis, aged 65 years, at the home of the murderer about a mile southwest of Leslie in Clarke county, between one and two o'clock Tuesday afternoon. Sheriff Jolley having gone to Clarinda with an insane man, W. W. Williams and W. E. Harper drove to the murderer's home and escorted him to Osceola. He is now in jail awaiting his preliminary examination in Justice Morrow's court tomorrow.

While his supper was being prepared in an Osceola restaurant Likens talked freely and frankly admitted his guilt to reporters by whom he was interviewed. He said that sometime ago he was employed on Mr. Daivs' farm and was mistreated by the family, that they gave him filth to eat and "tobacco tea" to drink, and that he had since ordered Mr. Davis never to come on his premises and had been ordered to keep away from Davis'. He says he is sorry the gun was at hand and that he killed Davis, but believes he did "Gods justice" in killing him as Davis murdered his father Samuel Likens, in 1863. He says that Davis came to his place and entered his house Tuesday afternoon about one o'clock and inquired whether he wanted a job, that Davis then began to abuse the republican party, saying it was responsible for hard times, the low prices for corn, oats, etc., and that he ordered him to leave the house. He says when Davis saw him getting the gun, a muzzle loading shot gun with a very short barrel, he stepped outside and when he (Likens) reached the door Davis turned around facing him and he shot and killed him.

After killing Mr. Davis the murderer went to the Davis home and informed Mrs. Davis, the aged wife of the murdered man, of the deed. He says he did this because he thought Davis "ought to have a decent funeral."

Likens, the murderer, is not perfectly sane and has not been for 15 or 20 years, if he ever was. It is said that his father whom he imagines murdered, left Clarke county to get away from debts. When he worked for John Hennessy on a farm several years ago the murderer imagined he had been poisoned by a member of Mr. Hennessy's household, and about 14 years ago he murderously shot at a man, but fortunately missed him.

Mr. Davis was a quiet, law-abiding citizen of Clarke county and respected by all who knew him.


Clarke Documents maintained by Brenda White.
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