The most revolting crime ever committed in Wabaunsee county was the murder of Harry Tandy and Calvin Burger, at McFarland, on the afternoon of Wednesday, June 28, 1899.
On the following morning, about 9 o'clock, Henry Weaver's attention was attracted by the gesticulations and incoherent mutterings of a man at the foot of a high bank of Mill Creek, about sixty yards southwest of the ice house at McFarland. The man's lower limbs were submerged in the water drowning being prevented by projecting roots but for which the murderers may have escaped conviction and punishment.
It was found that the young man's skull had been crushed by a blow back of the ear, rendering the victim of murderous assault unconscious, in which condition the unfortunate young man remained till the time of his death, at 10 o'clock Thursday night.
The young man was recognized as one, who, the day before, had been seated with a companion on the platform in front of Winkler Bros.' store at McFarland. It was recalled that the young men had made inquiries relative to the country, the prospect of getting work, &c. At noon the young men bought some crackers and cheese for lunch. K Although both wore overalls, there was something about the young men that attracted more than ordinary attention. It was noticed that each wore a good suit of clothes under his overalls, and that one of the young men carried a gold watch and that his hands were as soft as a woman's. By letters on the body of the young man found in the creek, the body was identified as that of Harry Tandy, a druggist of Creighton, Mo."
Dr. O. S. Chester was called by telephone to McFarland, and immediately a message was sent to the young man's father. Starting
immediately the grief-stricken parent reached the bedside of his dying
son, but only to return on the saddest mission of his life the boy's
spirit had been wafted horrio.
So certain were the people that young Tandy's companion had also been fctiilly murdered that the creek was draggged for the missing body, but not until Saturday evening, July 8, was the second victim found in the orchard on the Tom Locke farm, nearly a mile west of McFarland on information secured from one of the men charged with tiu' murder he having furnished Sheriff Cook, of Shawnee County, witli a diagram that enabled the ollicers to go directly to the place where the body lay, in a badly decomposed condition.
After the finding of young Tandy's body, several parties recognized him as one of the two young men who had been seen playing cards witla two young colored men on the east side of the ice house the evening before the finding of young Tandy's body. A young colored man, named Williams, had called at Mr. Donnelley's. at McFarland. for lunch for himself and a partner, and before leaving had borrowed two fishing poles, leaving the satchel with the Misses Donnelley until his return.
Later in the day Williams returned the fishing poles and called for his satchel, his excited manner attracting attention to such a degree as to make a lasting impression. On leaving the Donnelley home he went the back way, going north of the store on his way to the stock-yards, near which place he met Render, the other colored man, who had called at the store to buy something for lunch. The two colored men left McFarland on a freight train for Topeka. going to Crook Wright's, where Tandy's gold watch was pawned. This was the first clue that led to the arrest of Williams and Render. At a barber shop, opposite the Rock Island depot. Render had
changed his bloody shirt, and at Kansas City, Williams had left his blood stained pants. Both showed considerable money at Crook Wright's.
At the trial Williams acknowledged to being present when both young men were murdered but said Bill Collins had killed Harry Tandy and "Souse" Hawkins had killed Calvin Burger Williams stating that he had been compelled at the point of a revolver to assist in the double murder. Williams told how Burger had been decoyed to the orchard to get chickens for supper and how Tandy was disposed of on his return how, on bended knees, he had plead for his life offering to give up his watch and money everything, if only his life was spared.
As neither "Souse" nor Collins had been seen at McFarland, and it being proven that they were in Topeka at the time the murders were committed. Williams' story was devoid of effect. It was regarded as a bungling effort at fixing a most horrible crime on innocent partiesâ€” innocent, at least, of the double murder at McFarland.
The recital of the brutal murder of Harrv Tandv created a heart rending scene in the court-room. Scalding tears coursed down the cheeks of the grief stricken mother and the excited condition apparent in the equally aggrieved father created the impression that the assembled spectators might be unwilling witnesses of a second tragedy as a sequel to the first.
The jury brought in a verdict of guilty at noon, and at 1:4-) p. m.
Williams and Render were on their way to the penitentiary having
been convicted of murder in the first degree.
Mr. and Mrs. Tandy and Mr. and Mrs. Burger, parents of the murdered boys, were in attendance at the trial, leaving on their sad home ward journey on the same train that carried Williams and Render to prison for life. Mr. Tandy is a leading physician and druggist at Creighton. Mo., and Mr. Burger is in the restaurant business in Kansas City, but until a short time before the murder had been a guard at the Kansas State penitentiary at Lansing. Two excellent families had been drawn together by sad circumstances that deprived each of two homes of a promising son.
Good detective work was done in bringing the criminals to justice. Messers. Barnes and Carroll received deserved commendation for their efficient work as prosecutors. Mr. Keagy exerted his best efforts to bring about the acquittal of the defendants and with nothing to base a hope on, he made the best possible argument in behalf of the prisoners who could have no cause to complain that their conviction was due to a lack of legal talent in their defense.
There were no shoes on young Burger's feet when the body was found, though an old pair was found near by. When Mrs. Burger came to Alma she identified the shoes Williams was wearing as having been worn by her son, Calvin, when he left home for a visit with his brother in Oklahoma.
Though robbery was the motive for the crime a five dollar bill was found in the lining of young Burger's hat. It was wrapped in a piece of a newspaper published at Minneapolis, Kas. where the family formerly resided.
The identification of Calvin Burger's body decomposed beyond recognition was established by the score book first and later by the pants that he wore at the time of the murder. Allowing that "T" in the score book stood for Tandy. "D" for Dick Williams and "R'' for Render, the other initial, "B"' represented the young man whose identity was in question. In their effort to fix the responsibility for the crime on "Souse" and Collins the prisoners had stated that the young man whose body was found in the orchard had been working with the asphalt gang in Kansas City. Attorney Carroll went to Kansas City and established the fact that Calvin Burger was young Tandy's companion at McFarland. The bit of cloth used in patching the pants worn by the murdered boy made the identification complete.
When on Saturday. July 8, the second body was found and the facts developed that the victim had been foully murdeied in the same identical manner as was the young druggist the excitement was intense and the conditions ripe for the infliction of summary punishment on any one whom the evidence might incrhninate. On Sunday when the train bearing Dick Williams, one of the accused, reached Alma the excitement which had not yet abated was heightened in the extreme and hardly had the outer door of the jail closed on the prisoner than the sheriff and his deputies were overpowered, the door broken down and in a trice the body of Dick Williams was being dragged through the street to the Mahan corner a block east of the court house and in another moment what was supposed to be a lifeless body was dangling limp and motionless from a telephone pole ten feet from the ground.
Six minutes later City Marshal Pippert lowered the body. Williams breathed but until midnight his life hung as by a thread. Twenty-four hours later, with the exception of an abrasion of the scalp, there were no indications that Williams had passed through the terrible ordeal that came near depriving him of the right of trial by jury for a crime without a parallel in the history of Wabaunsee County.