We are called upon to give record to the saddest event that has ever clouded the history of Coldwater. On last Sunday evening, between the hours of 5 and 6 p.m. Dudley Murphy of our city, who for about two years was city marshall, started from the drug store of Lockwood & Morrison, to go to his home. As he was crossing the street on the walk between the corner of the Comanche County Bank and the Hotel building formerly occupied by Mr. Crow, and when about one half of the way over, Dr. J. E. Sombart came out of his drug store and walking to the edge of the pavement, raised a shot gun to his shoulder and fired both barrels of his gun at Mr. Murphy, who it is thought, was unaware of Sombart's whereabouts, until he was stricken to the earth. Parties who witnessed the shooting, say that after Murphy fell in the agony of death, that Dr. Sombart reloaded his gun and fired two more loads of buck-shot into his body and then drawing a revolver, shot at him some three times with it. After the firing ceased several parties went to where Mr.. Murphy lay and found him unconscious and the death glaze upon his eye. The dying man was examined and found to be unarmed. He was carried to his home, still breathing, but died in a very short time. The reasons that prompted Dr. Sombart to the commission of his deed, are unknown to the public. In time, we suppose, all will be known. Many rumors are afloat and much will be said that were better left unsaid. THE STAR does not believe that any man is ever justifiable in taking the life of his fellow man, save possibly under two conditions: One of these, is strictly in self-defense, and the other, is, to preserve the purity of his own home. We regret, with deep sorrow, this sad tragedy. We lament the untimely death of Mr. Murphy; we sympathize with all his friends. Of Dr. Sombart, we can only say, we leave him in the hands of the law, and ask for him an impartial trial.
The Western Star, 1 February 1890.Was born in Clearmont county, Ohio, on August 15, 1859, consequently was thirty years and about six months of age. He has been quite well-known in this community since the first organization of the county. He came here first about five years ago, proved up a claim, and has been engaged in various business enterprises. Under appointment of the mayor he was city marshall of Coldwater for two years. In the fall of 1885 he returned to his old home in Clearmont county, Ohio, and during his absence he was married Jan. 2nd, 1886, to Miss Carrie Mahan. With his wife he then returned to Coldwater where he has lived continuously ever since until last summer he became interested in Oklahoma, where he spent a portion of his time, leaving his family here. At the time of his tragic death he had been here about three weeks, but we are told expected to return to Hennessy, Oklahoma, soon. The deceased leaves a wife and one child, a little girl about 3 years of age. His relatives in this city, besides his wife and child, are two sisters and a brother-in-law, viz: Miss Sarah Murphy, Mrs. and Mr. Whiteneck. The deceased has brothers and sisters in Ohio, but we learn they will not be able to be here to the funeral.
WILFORD D. MURPHY
The funeral takes place today (Saturday) at 10 o'clock from the M. E. Church. The services will be conducted by I. O. O. F., and K. of P. Lodges, of which organizations he was an honored member.
Looking North on Central circa 72 years ago
(Source: Diamond Jubilee booklet, published 1959. Note the "J.E. Sombart, Druggist" building.)
STATE vs. SOMBART The Western Star, 21 June 1890.
The Not-So-Gay 90s by Evelyn Reed. An overview of the killings of Murphy by Sombart and Prichard by Miles, with the outcome of their trials.
SOLOMON W. MILES KILLS DR. G. W. PRICHARD The Western Star, May 10, 1890.
Obituary of Dr. J.E. SOMBART The Western Star, 10 July 1908.
Gravestone of Wilford D. Murphy.
Crown Hill Cemetery, Comanche County, Kansas.
Photo by Bobbi Huck.
Thanks to Shirley Brier, who transcribed and contributed this article for this web page, online since 15 August 2003. This website is being created by Jerry Ferrin.