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Williams murderer indicted 1946


Posted By: Cindy Lovell (deceased)
Date: 1/26/2005 at 22:49:09


Action Taken to Block Release from Life Term for Later Slaying.

Elkader. Ia. —(ins)— Nineteen years ago, Wilkes Williams, prominent Grand Meadow farmer, died after being brutally beaten in his farm home.

Authorities have been working on the murder since and this week the Clayton county grand jury indicted Henry C. Miller, 70, now serving a life term imprisonment in the state penitentiary at Fort Madison, for first-degree murder in connection with Williams’s death.

Williams, 66, was found bruised and bleeding and in a semiconscious condition on July 24. 1927 in his farm home a short distance south of Postville. He died ten days later without regaining his power of speech and his assailant remained unknown.

Authorities in reconstructing the crime had believed that the assailant entered Williams' office, a small building several yards from his farm home and found Williams sitting in a rocking chair. Williams, hard of hearing, did not hear the man behind him and was struck unconscious by a heavy weapon, the officers determined from the evidence.

The assailant then threw papers about the body and set fire to them, apparently in an effort to destroy the evidence of the attack.

Williams, however, recovered sufficiently to stagger out of the building to his home where he was found.

The murder remained unsolved until 1943 when State Agent D. O. Bender visited Miller at the penitentiary and obtained a signed confession that he had killed Williams.

Miller was serving a life sentence for the killing of Christian Ruckdaschel, retired Postville farmer, who was killed Mar. 9, 1940. It was the similarity of the two murders that led the state agent to believe that Miller was also the slayer of Williams.

In his confession, Miller said he had argued with Williams over the renting of some land.

County Attorney H. K. Roggensack explained the grand jury indictment as wanting to secure Miller's conviction for the Williams murder so that he would be unable to obtain a release from prison if he should be released for the Ruckdaschel murder.

source: Waterloo Daily Courier November 24, 1946


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