Leon Reporter, Leon, Iowa
Thursday, June 30, l904


Mollie Stuteville, a Decatur County Girl, Kills Her Lover at St. Joe and Tried to Commit Suicide.

In a rooming house at 323 North Third Street, in St. Joe, a terrible tragedy was enacted last Saturday night, in which the principal figure is MISS MOLLIE STUTEVILLE, daughter of the late GEORGE STUTEVILLE, who lived about a mile north of Pleasanton and who died a couple of years ago, the woman killing her lover, WILBERT N. BOWMAN, a street car conductor, by shooting him with a revolver and then made a desperate effort to kill herself, shooting herself in the abdomen with a 38 calibre revolver, and inflicting a dangerous wound, although the chances are that she will recover.

The story is another of the many of man's perfidy and a trusting woman. Up to about two years ago, MISS STUTEVILLE, who comes from a highly respected family near Pleasanton, was a pure and simple country girl, being raised on her father's farm. Two years ago she went to Davis City during their re-union and secured employment as a waiter in a hotel, where she worked for some time. Here she met E.O. VANBEEK, and after a short courtship the couple were married, but did not live together very long before they were separated. In Nov., l902 she brought a suit for divorce and attempted to garnishee the wages of her husband who was a brakeman on the railroad, but before the case came to trial she dismissed the case and went to St. Joe. In March, l903 her husband brought suit for divorce alleging statutory grounds, but she made no appearance and he was granted a decree of divorce on default.

After going to St. Joe, MRS. VANBEEK resumed her maiden name, MOLLIE STUTEVILLE, and secured employment as a waitress in a hotel where she worked for a year and four months. Then she went to a restaurant to secure employment in the same capacity. Here she met WILBERT N. BOWMAN, a street car conductor, who came from Kent, a small town just south of Creston, and an intimacy sprung up between them. A girl friend with whom MISS STUTEVILLE roomed said that BOWMAN boasted frequently that he had ruined the girl, who insisted that he had promised to marry her and implored him to keep his promise. But after a time BOWMAN tired of the girl and at the time of his death was engaged to marry another girl, the date of the wedding being in the near future. Alone and almost destitute the girl was driven frantic and purchased a revolver from a St. Joe dealer. She kept after him and insisted that he marry her, and last Saturday night he accompanied her to the rooming house where the shooting occurred. When the room was entered BOWMAN was found dead, apparently having been shot while lying on the bed sleeping, and the girl had a dangerous wound from which it was thought she could not recover. She said that BOWMAN had shot her and then killed himself, but the police doubt her story, and say that everything points to her as the one who did the shooting. There was no indication of a struggle, and the police insist that BOWMAN could not have inflicted the wound which killed him. The clerk who sold the revolver to the girl has identified her as the woman who bought the revolver, and had on a previous occasion sold her a revolver which she afterwards brought back and tried to sell to him, but he sent her to a pawnbroker who bought the weapon. It was learned from the lady where BOWMAN roomed that MISS STUTEVILLE had written him notes threatening to kill him, and had appeared at the house hunting for him.

Only a couple of days before the shooting, MISS STUTEVILLE had received a letter from her sister at Pleasanton imploring her to come home if she wanted to see her aged mother alive, as she was dangerously ill, and the girl had arranged to come to Pleasanton that day but evidently changed her mind and sought BOWMAN with the evident intention of forcing him to marry her or of killing him, and then ending her own troubles.

Great sympathy is expressed at St. Joe for the girl, who is now in the hospital and the physicians say will recover unless blood poison or pneumonia should set in. Her associates speak of her as a well behaved and hard working girl, although she had been very despondent for some weeks. Her room mate testified that BOWMAN had boasted of ruining her and then offered her $10 to let him alone. Her sister and brother are with her at St. Joe. The St. Joe police express but little sympathy for her and are weaving a network of evidence around her with the intention of prosecuting her for murdering BOWMAN. Owing to her critical condition she has not yet been placed under arrest, but will be arrested if she recovers.

Copied by Nancee(McMurtrey)Seifert
May 28, 2003

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