Davis Murder

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Unknown Newspaper (probably either one in Jerseyville or the Carrollton, (Greene County) paper - 1933.


Robert Davis Victim of Tragedy in Calhoun County

Robert Davis, concrete worker and plasterer, formerly of Jerseyville, was found dead from a gunshot wound about ten o'clock Monday evening, January 2nd, in a house eight miles from Hardin, Calhoun County, near Indian Creek.

Joe Humphries, with whom Davis boarded, reported the tragedy to a neighbor, Harry Carnes and the former was taken into custody and held pending further investigation of the shooting. He was brought to Jersey County, Tuesday afternoon, following the inquest and placed in jail here for safe keeping.

Humphries had been employed at the Carnes farm cutting wood all day Monday. He left there about four o'clock in the afternoon and returned to the place about ten that night and told Carnes to "Call the Sheriff". When asked why he wanted the officer, Humphries said, "There is a dead man at my house."

Sheriff Joe Schmieder went immediately to the house where Mr. and Mrs. Humphries and the latter's mother, Mrs. Emma Wolibrandt lived, and where Davis boarded. There he found Davis' body lying on the floor in the kitchen with a sixteen guage shotgun by his side. Davis was dead when the officer arrived apparently having bled to death from a gunshot wound. The bullet entered the right side of the victim's face and coursed downard burying itself in the right shoulder. The direction the bullet took lead to the belief that it had been fired from above.

Claims Tragedy Was Suicide

It is understood that Humphries claims when he returned from his work and entered the kitchen of his home Davis was sitting on a wood box in the kitchen. That he went into an adjoining room to get a book and while there he heard a shot in the room where he had left Davis. Upon returning to the kitchen, according to Humphries he found Davis had shot himself and the former then went for help.

This took place about four-thirty that afternoon, but the Sheriff was not summoned until ten o'clock that night, it is said. The body of Davis had been lifted and a pillow placed under his head. It is also understood that great quantities of blood had flowed from the wound and had been tracked to various parts of the house.

Mrs. Emma Wolfbrandt, Humphries' mother-in-law, testified before the coroner's jury that the two men had been drinking, and during a quarrel Humphries picked up a single barreled shotgun of 16-guage and fired at Davis who was in a stooped position on the kitchen floor, having falled to his knees during the fray.

The charge from the gun struck Davis in the right breast, inflicting a large wound. Davis' right cheek was struck by some of the shot and a long gash was inflicted, indicating that the shot was fired almost parallel with the body.

The shooting occurred in the kitche. After the report of the gun, Mrs. Wolfbrandt inquired what had happened and Humphries answered, "Bob has committed suicide," Mrs. Wolfbrandt said.

Victim Former Resident Here

Davis was formerly a resident of this city, leaving here about six years ago for Calhoun County where he continued his trade of concrete worker and plasterer. He was about 49 years of age at the time of his death.

The deceased was born in Pearl, Illinois, the son of Mr. and Mrs. William Davis but spent practically his entire life in Jersey county. He is survived by his father, William Davis of Jerseyville; two brothers, Henry and Leslie Davis, also fo this city; two sisters, Mrs. Oscar Long of Jerseyville and Mrs. William McAvoy of Carrollton.

The remains were brought to the Jacoby Undertaking Establishment in Jerseyville following the inquest and then taken to the home of Mrs. Long, sister of the deceased.

Pike County Republican Newspaper, Wednesday, January 11, 1933


Robert Davis, 48, a farm hand on the farm of Harry Carnes, three miles southeast of Hamburg in Calhoun County, is dead and Joseph Humphrey, also a farm hand, is being held in Jerseyville.

The shooting occurred between 4 and 5:30 p.m., January 2nd at the Carnes farm home and Davis died instantly, the charge from a 16-guage, single-barrel shotgun tearing away part of his head and face and entering his body on the right side.

After he was taken into custody, Humphrey, in a statement to Sheriff Schmieder, declared that Davis shot himself while seated on a wood box in the kitche. He declared he, his wife and his mother-in-law, Mrs. Emma Wolfbrandt, were in the front room of the residence when they heard the shot. Davis had been living and working at the Carnes farm about a month.

Davis is survived by his father, William H. Davis, 85, of Jerseyville; two brothers, Henry and Leslie Davis, both of Jerseyville; two sisters, Mrs. Oscar Long, Jerseyville, and Mrs. Aimee McAvoy, Carrollton, and several children.

The inquest was held at Hardin Tuesday afternoon, January 3rd, by County Coroner, M. A. Imming of Brussels and a verdict was retured by the jury holding Humphries for the grand jury.

Mrs. Emma Wolfbrandt, Humphries' mother-in-law, who was a witness to the shooting, testified before the coroner's jury that the two men had been drinking and a quarrel followed and Humphries picked up a single barreled shot gun of 16 guage caliber and fired at Davis while he was in a stooped position on the kitchen floor, having fallen to his knees during the fray.

The shooting occurred in the kitchen and after the report of the gun Mrs. Wolfbrandt inquired what had happened and Humphries is said to have made the remark that "Bob has committed suicide." When officers arrived the gun was found lying near the body with the shell extracted.

A post mortem examination conducted by physicians found gun shots and wads embedded in the wound in the shoulder.

The body was removed to Jerseyville after the inquest and funeral services were held Friday afternoon with burial in Carrollton Cemetery.

Sheriff Schmieder removed the prisoner to Jerseyville for safe keeping because of the crowded condition of the Hardin jail. Humphries insists Davis killed himself.

The information below was extracted from the Archives and Special Collections Unit at University Library, Western Illinois University, Macomb, Illinois 61455, from the book "I Want To See A Lawyer: Murder in Calhoun 1821-1981"

Guilty Manslaughter.

"It wasn't until the spring of 1933, that another case of manslaughter or murder was before a county grand jury. The case did not geet wide attention as the parties involved had lived in the county for only a few years and were not widely known. According to newspaper reports, Joe Humphrey, a resident of E. St. Louis, had a small cabin or home on the ridge road between Hardin and Hamburg. On this particular evening, Joe was visiting with Mr. and Mrs. Robert Davis, who lived in the neighborhood. After drinking and playing cards for many hours, an argument started, and Davis was shot and killed.

"After his indictment, for manslaughter, Humphrey hired the late Paul R. Durr as attorney, and entered a plea of guilty. His attorney in his plea for a lighter sentence said that Humphrey did not remember much about an argument and nothing about the killing.

"The court sentenced him to one to fourteen years at the State Penitentiary at Chester, Illinois. Joe C. Schmieder, the sheriff, took Humphrey to the prison the next day.

Transcribed & Submitted by: Rhonda Miller