Williams County Murders

The other night some friends and I had a conversation about local murders that have taken place in our county.  Because we are a rural county, murders here are few and far between.  A resident city council member who is also a local historian gives a yearly presentation, usually on Halloween, detailing the murders in Williams County, Ohio.  Because many people know everyone else, he doesn’t cover anything past the 1950’s, but I was able to find some information on my own.  For the incidents that did take place a long time ago, many of the circumstances are interesting as they reflect the moods and cultural attitudes of times past.  Being both a researcher of local history and a true crime buff, I’ve attended several of these presentations and decided to share the notes I’ve taken for those who are interested:

Williams County Murders

6/20/1847 – W. Unity – David Schamp murdered by Andrew F. Tyler and Daniel Heckerthorne.  Buried in German cemetary on Cty Rd. K.  Botched ransom kidnapping – family farm is 1/2 mi. W of US127.  4 pg article in Bryan Times on 150th anniversary.  In 1939, Ralph Gall wrote several articles in Inside Detective Magazine (June, July, Aug) about the crime.
3/23/1865 – Bryan – Conrad Rutman murdered by unknown – found hung in outhouse
12/1/1868 – West Jefferson – Unknown female infant by unknown
12/3/1873 – Bryan – Peter Himes by Ben Evarts
4/8/1875 – Bryan N. Main St. – unknown infant found in cigar box just N of RR trks
5/17/1877 – Denmark – unknown male infant
2/21/1878 – Bryan – unknown male infant
7/25/1878 – W Unity – Infant Loveless by mother, Lucy Loveless.  Father of infant was mother’s brother in law.
4/7/1880 – Edgerton – Unknown f infant
6/3/1880 – Edgerton – James Marshall by unknown
9/11/1880 – Bryan, dwntwn, N side of square – John Burchell, Jr. by William Everett – gut cut in fight
5/2/1883 – Melbern – Jacob Nihart killed with ax by mentally ill wife, Saloma Nihart.  Both buried in Brown cemetary.
7/21/1889 – Edgerton – Sarah Hoadley (71) and Christian Newman (72) by Hiram Hoadley, Jr. (45).  Murder / Suicide – in process of divorce, didn’t want to pay $2,000.  Divorce announcement in same issue of newspaper as the murders.
8/26/1891 – Montpelier – Milton Hogue by Perry Yoder
1/11/1892 – W. Unity – Infant Hayes – female, by Dr. Frank O. Hart
2/20/1892 – Bryan, SW corner of Beech and High.  Tom Murphy age 63 by unknown
5/4/1892 – Bryan.  Alley next to Christmas Manor went thru to High St. before Central School building was there.  Arthur Brown, about 22 yrs old, was at a saloon bragging about having a lot of money.  He was murdered by George and Michael Burchell, Walter Plummer, and William Elkins.  Witnessed by little girl from window of her house on W Butler.  Story featured in “Native Sons Gone Wrong” booklet.  Victim buried in Old Pulaski cemetery across from Winery.
5/8/1898 – Florence – Unknown Male infant
7/2/1904 – Bryan, just N of overpass.  Noah Schartzer shot by unknown.  Buried in Brown cemetery.  Case of mistaken identity.  Stopped and checked every train between S Bend and Toledo.
6/7/1905 – Montpelier – unknown infant
9/21/1905 – Montpelier, E of Bryan on RR trks – August Julius by unknown
2/7/1914 – Bryan, W side of Portland St. 2nd blk. Portland and Mulberry – murder/suicide – Blanche Stauffer by Charles Stauffer.  12 pg suicide letter – “She was a hard person to live with.”
11/10/1914 – Pioneer – Joe Varada by Joe Dohon.  argument over wheelbarrow, shovel over head, both Hungarians.
3/14/16 – W. Unity – Mrs. Andre by Wilson Andre
6/12/18 – Montpelier – Alex Grant by James Morgan.  Morgan (Afrcn/Amer.) wanted to get from Chicago to Detroit, didn’t have any $, so he hid in the btrm on a train where Grant was conductor.  Morgan was executed in Columbus, picture from OH Dept. of Prisons
9/29/27 – Montpelier – James Andrews (Afrcn/Amer.) by unknown
12/11/27 – Stryker – Celina Huber by Camiel Clark who was fined $125 for liquor violations.  Huber, age 39, was cut during fight, went to lay down, bled to death.
1/4/32 – Bryan – Fred Wonser, Jr. and Margaret Wonser by Lewis Wonser
12/28/36 – Bryan – Frank Lewis by William White
12/1/38 – Edgerton – Vern Eck, age 42 by Nona Goeltzenluchter.  Murder-suicide.  Having an affair, though both married to other people.  She was accusing him of seeing yet another woman.
6/14/45 – Pioneer – Murder/Suicide.  Mary Jane, Earl, Alice May, Betty Lou, Alva Stoner by their father, Alfred Stoner, age 38, just gotten back from WWII, distant cousin of Mark Kelly (murders in Wms Cty speaker).  Drove himself and kids into gravel pit S of Pioneer while wife was in hospital giving birth to baby 6.  Over 1,000 people showed up to watch the search for the bodies.
9/19/46 – Bryan – Emily Abernathy, age 30 by James Engle, age 21.  Jim was drinking a coke across the street at the bowling alley when the body of his victim was found in the library – rumor has it he watched them secure the crime scene as he was sipping his coke.   She had been strangled, beaten, and cut with a pen knife, died from strangulation.  Jim confessed – said he wanted to see what it was like to kill someone.  Paroled in 1974, moved to Bryan in 1989, currently resides in local nursing home.  Crime was chronicled in tv show “The Big Story”, but the show upset Bryanites.
5/5/1948 – Bryan – John (age 56) and Pearl (age 63) Gabriel by Ervin “Bud” Ingle, age 14, “King of 8th grade”.  They were his neighbors, and he wanted to borrow their car.  There is a rumor that Mrs. Gabriel liked young boys, and John did the killing.  Years later, Bud was a chauffer for the governor, and the governor thought highly of him and wrote a book.  There was a photo of Pearl’s body in the newspaper.
1/2/50 – Edgerton – Helen Bigger by Vernon O. Bigger – father in law of victim, possible molestation.
5/5/50 – Melbern – George and Evalina Fisher by their grandson, Jack Hartman.
9/12/51 – West Unity – Celia Walters by Edwin Walters
8/18/59 – Pioneer – James W. Elliott by unknown
9/11/59 – Blakeslee – William Bigger by Harold H. Bostater
12/29/61 – Blakeslee – Howard Tanner by Ned Eugene Tanner
8/18/63 – Montpelier – Dean Allen Nichols by David W. Nichols
6/22/64 – Pioneer – Dr. William Crall by Frank Patalon
5/21/66 – Montpelier – John McCamis by Raymond Burgess
8/31/68 – Stryker – Eben Henry Harney by William O. Bolster
10/12/71 – Stryker – John F. Meisner by Thomas E. Elliott
9/30/72 – Stryker – Judi Hagerman by Jon Garber
4/28/76 – Edgerton – Deborah Unger by Jeffrey Ailiff
3/15/77 – Bryan – Danny Hanisko by Lawrence E. Finn
6/19/90 – West Unity – Genieve Willene and Orlo E. Ansley by William Ansley
2/2/91 – Montpelier – Travis Pospeshil by Timothy Kelley.  Invol. mansltr. released from prison 9/11/06
2/7/92 – Montpelier – Torilyn Contreras by Jonathon Leggett – Invol. Mansltr.
9/30/96 – Melbern – Brenda Sue Kafai by Rocky W. Kafai – invol. mansltr. released 9/23/06
2/15/98 – Edgerton – Beth Garber by Shane Frisbie
12/6/98 – Edgerton – Terri D. Swearengin by William M. Swearengin
12/7/00 – Holiday City – Mary Kosier by Jason Crawford and James Jones Jr. – they kidnapped Mary who was an employee of Econolodge near toll road for robbery, killed her near covered bridge
6/30/01 – Bryan – Thomas G. Flint by Linda Ames (**NOTE** – a reader left a comment below containing additional info about this event.  I have not verified the source and am still in the process of research)

32 thoughts on “Williams County Murders”

  1. I remember the 2/15/98 incident. She was a manager at the Main Stop here in town. He went into the store; they went back to the office and… she was stabbed

  2. This was very interesting. I always had heard a librarian was murdered at the Bryan library years and years ago. Anyone know if that is true?

  3. Yes, Mary, that is true. In the notes, the following refers to the case in the library: “9/19/46 – Bryan – Emily Abernathy, age 30 by James Engle, age 21. Jim was drinking a coke across the street at the bowling alley when the body of his victim was found in the library – rumor has it he watched them secure the crime scene as he was sipping his coke. She had been strangled, beaten, and cut with a pen knife, died from strangulation. Jim confessed – said he wanted to see what it was like to kill someone. Paroled in 1974, moved to Bryan in 1989, currently resides in local nursing home. Crime was chronicled in tv show “The Big Story”, but the show upset Bryanites.”
    I hope that helps; thanks for your interest!

  4. Gretchen,
    I did a search on ODOC (OH Dept of Corrections) – found two records for him. It’s hard to tell exactly what happened, but it seems as though he was released on parole in 2002 but then escaped from supervision? I don’t know, but he’s currently incarcerated with a parole hearing due in Feb 2009. You can get to both of his ODOC records here: http://www.drc.ohio.gov/OffenderSearch/Search.aspx
    And I asked a friend who lives in the town where the murder was committed if he knows anything about it – check back for any more info. Thanks for commenting!

  5. I remember hearing of the 2/15/98 murder as well. Beth was just a little younger than me. Her family was my babysitter.

    1. Larry,
      Thanks so commenting! Most of this info comes from the presentation they give at the library every Halloween – it’s very interesting.

  6. Taylhis,

    Reading this brought back a lot of memories. It’s funny that some things I had not thought about in 30 years suddenly seem as though they happened just yesterday. Hearing the news really affected me because I used to play with Beth and her brother and sisters. I remember some things so vividly that I could even tell you the layout of their home. Anyway, thanks for posting.


    2/2/91 – Montpelier – Travis Pospeshil by Timothy Kelley. Invol. mansltr. released from prison 9/11/06

  8. Please try to remember that these people who are now in prison for their crimes have famiies who wil always love them .

  9. Is there anymore information on Jeffrey Alliff? I have tried to locate him on the offender search and am unable to locate him. Do you know how long he served? I am currently working on a case involving the victim’s sibling

  10. @Sarah – thanks for commenting on my blog. Sorry it’s taken me so long to reply to your comment; I must have missed it somehow. Unfortunately, I don’t have any more info about the Bigger murder – I printed everything I know. I will probably be attending the lecture again this year, providing it doesn’t coincide with taking my kids trick-or-treating, so I will update this post if I learn anything new. I have the victim down as William Bigger, am I wrong and his name is Thomas? Thanks for expressing your interest.

  11. Thank you very much that was most useful. Do you know where I could find any details of the crime – is there a local newspaper I could look through online? I am located in Oklahoma.

    Many thanks!

  12. I am trying to find out information about Jack Hartman who murdered his grandparents, the Fishers. Does anyone know the story? Thanx

  13. Hello LuAnn, and thanks for your comment. The only info I have about the incident you mentioned is this:
    5/5/50 – Melbern – George and Evalina Fisher by their grandson, Jack Hartman.
    If the speaker had mentioned more about this murder in the presentation, I would probably have taken note, however I was unable to attend the presentation this year, so all of this info is about years past.
    If you are a local resident, perhaps you might check at your local library for newspaper headlines around that date that would have more info. Best of luck in your search; feel free to update me about anything you can find, and thanks again for reading and commenting!!

    1. @Laura – The Williams County Library in Ohio usually sponsors the speaking event near Halloween. You can call the library for details: 419-636-6734 or email their director, Jeff Yahraus: yahrauje@oplin.org Thanks again for your interest in my blog!

  14. Marcia Wanser

    Hello: I am looking for more information regarding: 1/4/32 – Bryan – Fred Wonser, Jr. and Margaret Wonser by Lewis Wonser. In the article if I am making it out correctly indicates that Lewis/Louis Allen Wonser was not married. I found information from ancestry.com that he was married but divorced. Part of the problem is I can not get the article print large enough to read. I really hope I can get this cleared up.

  15. Hi Marcia,
    Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and leave a comment. I don’t have any further info regarding the ’32 Wonser murders. It would be nice to build up my notes, but I was not able to attend the Murders in Williams County lecture last year, and I don’t know that I will be able to go in 2011 either – but I highly recommend the lecture, especially if you are looking for further info. You might also want to try doing research at the Williams County library if you don’t live too far away. They have a very nice new building that’s redone and accommodates local history and genealogy. The woman in charge is the wife of the man who presents this lecture, so I’m sure she would be happy to help you. Let me know if you find anything out, and thanks again for your interest!

  16. I have Information on the 1892 murder of Arthur Brown As it related to Walter Plummer – he escaped the Ohio State penitentiary and relocated to another State… I have a Mariage Record, Census reports for 1910, 1920, & 1930 along with tombstone photographs of he & His wife. Interested in Learning more?… Please Contact me! He got Away with murder.

  17. Linda Ames did not murder Thomas Flint. Forensic experts who worked on the Kennedy assassination and the O.J. Simpson case proved it was suicide, not a murder. This should be removed and/or corrected

    1. Thanks Josh for your feedback. I was wondering if you have any link to documents containing this info (newspaper articles, etc.) I just posted the info of which I was aware; most of the info on the recent murders is incomplete since this presentation only covers events taking place before the 1950’s or so. The rest of the info I posted is taken from a handout given at the Murders of Williams County presentation. I have added a note to direct readers to your comment. Thanks!

  18. I thought there was a murder in Montpelier, Ohio back in the late 80’s where a guy with the last name Kreischer was found dead uptown. I remember reading something in the paper back then about a fight this guy was in and he was left there on the street by The Bar and died?

    1. I’m not sure about that, Judy. The lecture about murders in Williams County only covers events that happened more than 4 or so decades ago. I didn’t come to the area until the early 00’s so I don’t know. If you find any further info, feel free to post it! Thanks for your comment!

  19. Noah Schartzer is my great great great great great uncle. I was shocked to learn of his murder when I ordered his obituary. Such a sad story!

    1. WOW Savannah, what an interesting twist to learn in your family research. Very sad story indeed. Thank you for sharing!

  20. I was wondering if anyone has more info on the torilyn murderer. Does anyone know anything about the man that did it? I cant find him in the system is he still locked up or am I spelling his name wrong?

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