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Posted By: Karyn
Date: 6/8/2023 at 15:03:03

Tuesday, May 7, 1912


Ross Gibson, Stripling of Fifteen, Held at Sidney Jail for Murder of His Own Blood Cousin

The Fremont County Jail holds today the youngest prisoner ever placed within its confines resting under so serious a charge as that of murder. He is Ross Gibson, barely more than fifteen years of age, whom a duly empanelled coroner's jury found to have inflicted wounds which resulted in the death of Alex Keys, Jr. called by all, even his own family Joe Keys. The tragedy took place about 6:30 o'clock Tuesday evening at the Keys farm near the Eastport school house, a mile or so east of the Missouri river bridge which connects travel from Iowa to Nebraska City. Penick Gibson, father of the accused boy, is an uncle of the murdered man and the two lived on farms only a short distance removed from each other.

The testimony at the inquest went to show that on this particular evening young Gibson went to the Keys home for the purpose of borrowing a spade, Keys had just returned from a twelve mile trip over into Nebraska, whither he had gone to purchase seed corn and was at the time caring for his team. He told the boy to take the spade, but enjoined him to return it when promised. One word brought on another, each accusing the other of negligence in returning borrowed articles, and in the heat of the discussion the boy says Keys, a powerful man six feet tall and weighing 230 pounds struck and knocked him down. The boy, to defend himself, picked up a board an odd shaped affair, shod on one edge with strap iron, having the appearance of a runner off a hand sled. Here the testimony differs, Della Miller a ten year old girl whose father was employed by Keys says Gibson struck the elder man across the breast with the board. The boy denies this. He claims that after being struck by Keys he struck at his assailant who in trying to grab him again fell, bearing him to earth and that it was necessary for him to crawl from beneath the body.

The evidence of others, however, is to the effect that Gibson after leaving the scene kept repeating that he was sorry he had hit him and asking them to go to the aid of the fallen man as he believed him to be dying. The wife of the dead man who had witnessed the
struggle from the kitchen door and who rushed to her husband's side as quickly as possible, declared the boy had said to her, " My God, Ollie, I'm sorry I ever hit him!" and offered to go for a doctor.

To off set the claim that the blow from the board was responsible for the death of Keys evidence was adduced to show that the dead man had been afflicted with heart trouble and had treatment for this ailment from Dr. Ginn of Nebraska City.

Many witness were examined and the testimony given by all was in the main very much the same. All averred the man had expressed sorrow for having struck his victim. Coroner McKitrick ordered a post-mortem examination and empanelled a jury of W. H. Luper, M. Dignan and W. H. Dignan. Dr. Richards of Hamburg held the scalpel in directing the autopsy and every
position of the man's anatomy was through explored. Though not an external bruise was to be found the doctor's research revealed to his trained eye that a blow had been struck over the solar plexus sufficient to paralyze the nerves centered at that point and stop the action of the heart.

After considering the testimony, both lay and expert, the jury returned a verdict as follows: 'We the jury, find that Alex Keys came to his death by a blow on the chest, supposed to have been struck by Ross Gibson. We do further find that he came to his death feloniously and that a crime has been committed on deceased and that Ross Gibson is the person this jury believes has committed it".

Immediately following this decision Sheriff Ryan took the boy into custody, brought him to Sidney and lodged him in the county jail. He was to have been arraigned before a justice yesterday afternoon but awaiting the arrival of counsel for Gibson who is absent on business
in Kansas City action was postponed indefinitely.

The murdered man was thirty-four years of age, having been born near the scene of his death on November 7, 1877. On January 5, 1898 he was married to Miss Ollie Mead. Besides the widow there are six small children ranging in age from two to twelve years. The Keys, Gibson and Mead families are all old time residents of the Missouri bottoms and are all prominent citizens.

Funeral services were held from the home yesterday morning at 10 o'clock and the body was taken to Nebraska City for interment. Sidney Herald.


Fremont Documents maintained by Karyn Techau.
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