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VANDERVOORT, Riley J., Rev. 1866-1925


Posted By: Tammy (email)
Date: 3/22/2015 at 11:29:56

Son of Parkersburg Minister Kills Father and Injures Mother

17 Year Old Son Of Rev. R. J. Vandervoort Commits Shocking Crime

Expect Mother's Recovery

Funeral of Murdered Minister Held at Reinbeck Yesterday Afternoon

Warren Vandervoort, the seventeen year old son of Rev. R. J. Vandervoort, pastor of the Methodist church at Parkersburg, shot his father and mother at their home last Thursday night. The father was killed instantly. The mother was seriously wounded and for several days it was feared she could not get well. She was removed to the Allen hospital at Waterloo on Tuesday for an X-ray examination. The examination showed that the bullet which struck her in the jaw had traveled to the back of the neck and was lodged there. This bullet was removed yesterday. The bullet which struck her at the base of the brain is lodged in the skull and it will not be removed unless it threatens her life. Rev. Vandervoort was shot twice; one of the bullets entered the brain and caused instantaneous death.

The shooting was done with a .22 calibre rifle which was bought by the boy at Parkersburg Thursday afternoon.

The boy was sleeping in a tent in the yard. The father and mother had gone to bed. It appears that the father got up when he heard the son enter the house and that he was shot down in the door of his bedroom. After killing his father the son fired two shoots at his mother, who fell to the floor in an unconscious condition. When she regained consciousness she dragged herself to her bed and lay there moaning when she was found early Friday morning.

Tells Story of Murder
-unreadable- father and mother young Vandervoort took the family automobile and started toward Reinbeck. The boy was familiar with the territory, as he formerly lived at Reinbeck.

When three miles east of Reinbeck, at about 2:30 in the morning, near the farm of Henry Unrau, who was a good friend of the Vandervoorts, the boy ran the car into the ditch and then awakened the household.

Unrau recognize the youth, who appeared greatly excited and told him that a man had shot his father and mother and that he was being forced to drive the man to Cedar Rapids. He also said that the man had "beaten him up" and that in order to get away from him he had run the car off the slippery grade.

Unrau, thinking that perhaps young Vandervoort had been injured by the supposed culprit, called Dr. A. E. Bartruff, of Reinbeck.

Doctor Becomes Suspicious
Dr. Bartruff hastened by automobile to the Unrau home. He, too, knew the Vandervoorts well when Mr. Vandervoort was pastor at Reinbeck. He heard the lad's story, but found no bruises upon his person. Dr. Bartruff became suspicious and put in a telephone call for the Vandervoort home in Parkersburg. He received no response, and called again. Still no response. Then he called James Mitchell, marshal of Parkersburg, telling him of young Vandervoort's story of his parents being shot. Marshal Mitchell and Mayor James Spain went to the Vandervoort home to find the story only too true.

Turned Over to Officer
Dr. Bartruff, altho not knowing the result of the finding of the Parkersburg marshal, took young Vandervoort into Reinbeck and turned him over to Henry Willert, marshal of Reinbeck. This was about 4 o'clock. Later, when word came from Parkersburg verifying the shooting, and with the word also that Mrs. Vandervoort had moaned thru her semi-delirium that "Warren did it," the boy was taken to the county jail in Grundy Center. Before leaving the jail at Grundy Center the boy admitted that he shot his parents.

At about 7 o'clock Friday morning Vandervoort was turned over to Sheriff H. W. Burma, of Butler county, by Sheriff George Diehl, of Grundy county.

The Boy's Written Confession
The young man prepared a written confession of the crime which is not generally accepted by the people of Parkersburg and vicinity. The statement follows:

"For the last four years our private home life has been one of constant and continual bickering between my father and mother and this sometimes included me. At first it was not so bad, but it has grown worse until we were all very nearly crazy. I believe that my mother's mind was diseased and this made her quarrel with us nearly all the time.

"My father and I have been good friends and I know that this continual fighting was undermining his mind also. I know, too, that that is what it did to me. My whole moral being was gone, I think because of our practice of deceiving my mother in things that we knew were for the best yet which we also knew she would object to.

Objected to Rifle
"For some time my father and I had been contemplating the purchase of a rifle and last night I went down to the store to get it. I carried it home and did not let my mother know I had it. At supper she suspected something and she and my father and I had a very heated discussion in which she declared she wished she was dead and my father said the same thing. I know that that is not my reason for my act, but is simply a fact.

"Then last night I woke up, that is, I got up and dressed and went upstairs and shot my folks. I was not fully awake to realize what I was doing and when I had done it I woke up and my first thoughts were to get away from these horrible figures on the floor.

Now Sincerely Repentant
"I rushed out to the garage, put the chains on the car and started. Then, when I was in the state of wanting to get away I told the story about the man, then I thought I must stick to the story until you said to make a clean breast of it, which I did.

"I was not really in my right mind but that is no excuse for my act and I have followed Dr. Lockwood's advice and am sincerely repentant and ready for anything you may do to me.

"P. Warren Vandervoort."

The crime is the most shocking that has ever been committed in this community. The boy's confession does not furnish a reason or excuse for it. He could not have been in his right mind. He must have been demented or asleep when it was committed. The mother believed that he must have been asleep. The sentiment of the community, while it is united in the belief that the boy should be punished, does not favor capital punishment, though it is as revolting a murder as ever has been committed here.

Warren was the only child of the family and his parents idolized him. He had been regarded as a good boy and was a bright student. He graduated from the Parkersburg high school last June and was to have gone to Cornell college next month.

Rev. Vandervoort was pastor of the Methodist church at Reinbeck for four years. A year ago he was transferred from Reinbeck to Parkersburg where he was beloved by his people.

The remains of Rev. Vandervoort were taken to Reinbeck from Parkersburg where funeral services were held at the Methodist church. It was one of the largest attended funerals ever held in Reinbeck. The officiating ministers of the funeral were Dr. R. J. Bockwood from Waterloo, Dr. Frank Cole from Cedar Rapids, Dr. J. H. Billingsby from Traer, Rev. A. W. Gable from Albion, Rev. W. W. Lemen from Cedar Falls, Rev. Geo. Woodall from Grundy Center, Rev. Mr. Pollock, Presbyterian minister from Reinbeck and Rev. Mr. Schmidt, pastor of the German M.E. church at Reinbeck.

--The Grundy Register (Grundy Center, Iowa), 13 August 1925, pg 1


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