This is a collection of articles from the Indiana Evening Gazette during 1907 and 1908. They cover the time that the body of Joseph Wilmore Cline, who was murdered, was found until the time that his murderer was sentenced. He is mostly referred to as William Cline or Wilbur Cline in these articles. He was a brother to my great-grandfather, Garfield Cline.
From Indiana Evening Gazette, Indiana Pennsylvania (November 11, 1907)
WAYLAID AND SLAIN
William Cline of Bolivar, Pa., Victim of Atrocious Murder and Robbery
BATTERED CORPSE LAY IN FIELD, Where It Was Found After Search of Several Days - Victim Had Sold Sawmill for Cash and Was Returning Home With the Money.
Johnstown, Pa., Nov 11. - Badly mutilated and showing evidence of having been shot repeatedly and terribly beaten, the body of William Cline of Bolivar, Westmoreland county, was found a short distance from that town in a field. He had been murdered and robbed of a large sum of money.
Two weeks ago Cline sold a large sawmill he operated about three miles from Bolivar, obtaining the price in cash. He started at once to walk to the residence of relatives in Bolivar with the cash in his pockets and that was the last that he was seen alive. Although a vigorous search had been prosecated for the man it was unsuccessful notwithstanding that the remains lay in a field near a public highway during that time.
When found the condition of the ground gave signs of a terrible struggle. The earth was torn up over a space of a quarter of an acre and the doomed man had evidently made a terrific struggle for his life. It is not known what sum of Cline received for his sawmill, but it doubtless was large and someone who knew that the transaction would be closed that day lay in wait for the man, murdered him and made off with the coin.
Cline was quite well to do and was a prominent citizen of Bolivar. There is no clue to the murderer.
From Indiana Evening Gazette, Indiana Pennsylvania (November 13, 1907)
REWARD IS OFFERED FOR CLINE'S SLAYER
Father of Bolivar Lumbermen Will Aid in Search for Murderer
DETECTIVE NEAL AT INQUEST
County Detective Josiah Neal returned yesterday from near Bolivar, where he had attended the inquest held over the body of Joseph Wilmore Cline, who was shot down on Nov. 4. The authorities have no clue to the murderer, although a man of questionable reputation in that section is being watched.
John H. Cline, father of the dead man, has offered a reward of $50 for the arrest of the murderer. He is a well-known lumberman and says he will assist financially in running down the main who waylaid his son. Detective Neal will present the facts in the murder to the County Commissioners and they may offer a reward.
One of the chief witnesses heard at the inquest held on Monday by ‘Squire John Houston in the German schoolhouse, was Mrs. Robert Mack, of West Wheatfield township. From her home overlooking the valley, she testified on the forenoon of Nov. 4 she had heard at least seven or eight shots fired in fairly rapid succession. Upon hearing the first shot, she looked in the direction of the sound and saw two men fighting. Later she observed one of the men attack the other with stones. When she told Mr. Mack of the strange happenings he said several hunter had evidently quarreled, and the subject was dropped.
William Felton, of Pitcairn, was another witness. He was visiting relatives in that section last week and on Friday went hunting in one of the Cline Farms. He told the jury of his party discovering a badly mutilated body in an open field under a locust tree and their recognizing the remains as those of Joseph Cline, a neighbor. The father was then notified. Up to that time he believed his son was in South Sharon as he had left home on Nov. 4 saying he intended looking after business interests there.
The dead man was aged 34 years and was regarded as one of the most prominent residents of that section. Some weeks ago he sold a sawmill near there and it is thought by the officers that the man who committed the murder had robbery as a motive. The dead man had a large sum in his possession when he was waylaid and this is missing. Cline was a powerful man and from indications put up a terrific struggle before the murderer shot him to pieces.
Cline is survived by five brothers and three sisters, besides his father already named.
From Indiana Evening Gazette, Indiana Pennsylvania (December 7, 1907)
Chain of Evidence About Betts Caused His Arrest for Murder
Garfield Youth Mixed Up in Disappearance of Broken Shot Gun, Placed in Jail to Answer for Wm. Cline's Death
One of the promised arrests in the William Cline murder was made at Garfield on Friday, the prisoner being Emanuel Betts, a robust youth aged nineteen, who is a brother of an ex-constable in West Wheatfield township. Betts was brought to Indiana Friday night by County Detective Josiah Neal and Officer Stiffler, of town, and a detective from Pittsburg, the accused being handcuffed to the local officers during the ride from Bolivar to Indiana.
The arrest of Betts had been expected for some days and is the result of the public's having heard of a dispute Betts is alleged to have had with a brother. Betts was arrested Friday forenoon and during the remainder of the day the excitement ran high in Bolivar. When the party left there platforms in the vicinity of the depot were thronged with people. The trip to and arrival at Indiana were uneventful.
A few persons were attracted to the office of ‘Squire James A. Crossman, when they saw the quartette going there. An information charging murder was read to Betts and he was asked if he wished to have or to waive a preliminary hearing. He replied that he desired an early hearing, but had nothing further to say. Sheriff Wettling was then given custody of the prisoner and told to present him at a hearing at the Justice’s office on Dec. 19.
The murder of William Cline occurred on the Cline farm, near Germany church, on the forenoon of Nov. 4. Cline had sold a sawmill and was making the rounds of his brothers preparatory to starting on a business trip to Sharon that day. While passing a bit of woodland he was shot several times from ambush. Although desperately wooded, Cline did not fall at once but rushed toward the man who had attacked him.
A hand-to-hand struggle followed, Cline being killed by blows over the head from stones or other blunt instrument. His body was found a week later by John Felton and Clint Wakefield, who were hunting. As Cline had carried about $300 the day he was murdered, his near relatives, all of whom are well-to-do, decided that robbery had been the motive.
In working out this line, detectives from the G. B. Perkins agency, of Pittsburg, who were employed by Cline's father, John Cline, soon invaded the township and looked into the habits of a number of young men.
Three or four who seemed to have suddenly secured a surplus of funds were watched, and rumors of probable arrests became general. One of these suspects was Emanuel Betts, who had recently quit a job on the railroad.
The search for Betts' possible part in the Cline murder soon developed that on the day of Cline's disappearance, Emanuel Betts had borrowed a shot gun from his brother, Robert, announcing that he was going hunting. The next day Emanuel did not return the gun, and upon being asked about it by his brother, first said he had left it at home. Then he admitted that the gun was broken, saying he had fallen with it. This story reached the detectives through a cousin of Cline, who had learned it from Robert Betts.
The Perkins men also found that Emanuel Betts had taken the broken gun to the works at the pumping station at Roaring Run, near Garfield, and there trace of the weapon was lost. It is believed, however, that the gun was later thrown in the Conemaugh river.
That Betts had spent the night of Nov. 4 at the pumping station was evident from the fact that he and his brother Jesse went from there to Bolivar on the forenoon of Nov. 5, election day. The officers say that if Emanuel killed Cline, he tramped over the hills of Chestnut Ridge all that afternoon to the pumping station on the West Penn tracks.
Following the arrest of Emanuel Betts, Robert Betts and Mrs. Jesse Betts were apprehended. Jessie Betts was taken into custody on stepping off the evening train on his way up from the water works. Jesse Betts and wife and also Robert Betts were given a hearing before Justice McHale, of Bolivar, and were warned to hold themselves in readiness to appear as witnesses. Jesse was discharged on the count of being an accessory to the crime. Daniel Betts, father of the suspected youth, is a Civil War veteran and resides in Bolivar.
Detective Neal returned to Bolivar today to secure additional witnesses. One of those who will appear against Betts is Mrs. Robert Mack, who testified at an inquest that on Nov. 4 had observed a quarrel between two men near the scene of the Cline murder.
From Indiana Evening Gazette, Indiana Pennsylvania (December 11, 1907)
DIS-INTERRED CLINE’S BODY
Coroner Gates Performed Post Mortem on Murdered Man.
Coroner W. D. Gates is in Bolivar today holding a post-mortem on the body of William Cline, who was murdered on Nov. 4. The coroner is dong this so as to secure evidence desired by District Attorney Feit, and Judge Telford on Tuesday issued an order permitting the dis-interment of Cline’s body.
It will be remembered that Cline’s body was not found until a week after his death. At an inquest held by ‘Squire Houston, of Garfield, acting for Coroner Gates, witnesses testified that Cline had been shot a number of times and had also been struck on the temple with a blunt instrument.
District Attorney Feit in order to present his case against Emanuel Betts, now in jail here charged with Cline’s murder, decided he should know more about these wounds. He also wished to learn whether the gunshot wounds came from a rifle, revolver or shotgun.
From Indiana Evening Gazette, Indiana Pennsylvania (December 14, 1907)
COMPLICATES CLINE CASE
Since He Was Shot by a Revolver Prosecution Needs Evidence.
Coroner W. D. Gates found at his post-mortem examination of the body of William Cline at Bolivar on Wednesday that the murdered man had been shot with both a revolver and shot gun. The bullet from the revolver entered Cline’s head near the left eye.
It will be remembered that the chief clue connecting Emanuel Betts with the Cline murder rests on the alleged disappearance of broken shot gun.
From Indiana Evening Gazette, Indiana Pennsylvania (December 18, 1907)
BETTS HEARING GOES OVER UNTIL TUESDAY
Interested Attorneys Desired More Time in Order to Prepare Their Evidence
REVOLVER AND GUN FIGURE
‘Squire James A. Crossman has postponed the hearing in the murder case against Emanuel Betts from today until next Tuesday, the postponement being made in order to allow District Attorney Feit and Attorneys J. N. and William Banks, counsel for Betts, more time in which to secure evidence as the barristers have kept busy at court during the past few days.
According to interested parties no more arrests are expected as the prosecution believes it has a strong case against the young Betts. Their charges are built around a revolver found in Betts’ possession when he was arrested and a broken shot gun said to have been thrown into the Conemaugh river shortly after Cline’s death on Nov. 4.
The post-mortem held by Coroner Gates last Wednesday revealed that Cline had been shot in the left eye with a 32 caliber revolver, this being the kind of weapon found on Betts, and that Cline had also received a charge of buckshot in his back.
It is presumed the dead lumber dealer was first shot in the back and then when wounded was shot in with the revolver. As the scene of the murder indicated that a struggle had occurred and as Cline had been felled through the use of some blunt instrument it is figured that a shot gun was used to beat the wounded man.
Jesse Betts, Emanuel’s younger brother, is out under bail as a witness, it being charged that he advised Emanuel to dispose of the broken fowling piece.
From Indiana Evening Gazette, Indiana Pennsylvania (December 24, 1907)
Damaging Testimony Against Young Betts
Man Accused of Cline Murder Near Bolivar Was Given a Hearing Before Justice Crossman Today.
Before a crowd that filled the room, Justice James A. Crossman this afternoon head damaging testimony against young Emanuel Betts, the alleged slayer of William Cline, of Bolivar. One of the chief witnesses was Robert Betts, a brother of the defendant.
The hearing was for the purpose of deciding whether Betts should be held for court. District Attorney Feit conducted the investigation. He was assisted by Attorney Samuel Cunningham. Attorney John N. Banks was counsel for Betts, being assisted by his son, William Banks, Esq. The latter objected to a number of Mr. Feit’s questions but was frequently overruled by the justice. He continually said Mr. Feit was conducting a “pumping expedition.”
Coroner W. D. Gates, who held a postmortem over the remains of Cline, was the first witness. He said Cline had received a blow over the temple from some blunt instrument, which he believes was not a stone. Cline had been shot at close range with a revolver, probably of 32 caliber. The bullet entered the right eye, passed through the head and came out below the left ear, the course of the bullet indicating that the man who shot Cline stood above him when he fired the pistol.
Dr. Gates said a blow from the butt of a gun would have felled Cline, but would not have rendered him unconscious at once. Asked if it would have caused death, he replied in the affirmative, unless the patient had been removed to a hospital and had received excellent care.
Regarding the shot found in all parts of Cline’s back and legs, the witness said they came from a shot gun fired some distance away. He said the charges of shoe would not have caused death. Witness also believed several shots have been fired.
William Felton, of Pitcairn, and his cousins, J. C. and H. C. Wakefield, were hunting on Harry Cline’s farm in West Wheatfield township on Nov. 9, when Felton found the body or William Cline, a brother of Harry. The remains were about 600 yards from the Cline home and twenty feet from a lane leading to it. The body was lying covered in elder bushes and golden rod and would not have been seen from the lane.
Felton helped carry the body to the Cline home and was also there the next day. He said probably 250 No. 6 shot were lodged in Cline’s body and that it took two or three loads to produce this result. Loose shot rolled from Cline’s shoes when they were removed.
Robert Betts was the next witness. The young man was affected his being called as a witness and took some time in giving his answers. His testimony is summed as follows:
On Nov. 1 Emanuel Betts asked the witness for the use of his gun. Later the witness’s wife said Emanuel had secured the gun. One week later Robert met Emanuel on the streets in Garfield and asked for the gun. Emanuel said the weapon was at the pump house, one mile from Garfield. Emanuel promised to return the fowling piece, but failed to do so and some days later Robert went to the pump house. The gun was not there and witness could not locate it in the cupboard or other such places.
Upon returning to Garfield, Robert Betts met Emanuel at Fisher’s store and was again told the gun was at the pumping station. The witness replied, “It was, like the devil.” Emanuel then said that if witness would accompany him home he would secure the gun there. On the way to Emanuel’s home he told Robert he had fallen on the gun and had broken it. Clarence Johns was with him at the time. He said the pieces were at the pump house.
Two days later Robert again went to the pump house to “See whether his brother Jesse, who works there, had the gun.” This time it was found lying on a bench. The stock was broken near where the connection is made back of the barrel. New scars and scratches were noted on the stock and something that Jesse pronounced blood was visible near the outer end of the barrel. The witness said he believed the marks near the sight came from new mud. As the gun was no longer of use he left it at the pump house.
During this evidence Robert also said the gun had previously been broken a the stock but the he had fastened it together. On cross examination Robert told Attorney Banks that Emanuel was careless during his hunting trips and had fallen and broken two other guns. To District Attorney Feit, the witness then said the fowling piece could also have been broken if it had been used to strike a blow.
Just previous to this the prosecuting attorneys played one of their best cards when they finally induced Robert to say that Emanuel had given him something equivalent to the value of the gun.. This was a revolver and the exhibit presented by Detective Miller, of the Perkins Agency, Pittsburg, caused the witness to state that it was at least just like the one he received from his brother, Emanuel.
Before leaving the stand District Attorney Feit secured from him a statement that Jesse had thrown the broken gun into the Conemaugh river. Robert said he did not care as the weapon could not have been repaired.
County Detective Josiah Neal was called. Mr. Neal had several conversations with Emanuel Betts, both in the jail here and in Bolivar. He said Betts had told different stories. But the last one relating to his movements Nov. 4, the probable day Cline was shot, showed that he had toured the vicinity of the crime. According to Detective Neal, Betts left the pump-house early in the morning and then went to Muir’s sawmill, but returned at noon. While hunting he fell and broke the gun. It was then put away. Some nights later, “Upon the advice of interested parties,” Betts threw the weapon into the river.
Other witnesses and their testimony were:
John Cline, father of William, told of meeting his son on Harry’s farm at 10:15 a. m. the day of the shooting.
Mrs. Robert Betts corroborated the statements of her husband and examined the revolver alleged by the prosecution to be the one given her husband by Emanuel.
Mrs. J. B. Mack told of seeing two men quarrel on the Cline farm and of hearing shots.
L. H. Taylor said he spent the forenoon of November 4 at the pump-house and that Emanuel was not there.
Justice Crossman then decided that Emanuel should be held for court. The prisoner was returned to jail by Sheriff Wettling.
From Indiana Evening Gazette, Indiana Pennsylvania (March 19, 1908)
Emanuel Betts Will Soon Be On Trial for Cline Death
Large Array of Legal Talent Spent the First Day in Securing Jurors, the Examination of Talesman Being Especially Severe --- Accused Man May Plead Self-Defense.
What promises to be the most interesting murder trial heard in the courts of Indiana county for may years opened this morning with Judge S. J. Telford on the bench. The defendant, Emanuel Betts, or Robinson, this county, is charged with the murder of Wilbur Cline, a wealthy lumberman. The crime occurred on one of the Cline farms in the forenoon of Nov. 4, 1907 and the motive was robbery.
The prosecution is expected to produce what is said to be a confession made by Betts while a prisoner in the jail her. This statement it is said was made to Former District Attorney George J. Feit, Detective Miller, of the Perkins Agency, Pittsburgh, and Miss Annie E. Vogel, a stenographer.
As publicity had been given to this statement, it is understood the defense will make a plea that Betts was defending himself when Cline received the wounds that produced death.
Betts has taken on some weight since committed to jail four months ago, and presented a neat appearance when brought into court. He is a fair-complexioned youth, aged about nineteen, and bears up well under the ordeal of hearing the attorneys use the words “murder” and “death” in the questioning of prospective jurors.
His brother, Jesse, sits at this side at the counsel table. Attorney John N. Banks is senior counsel for the defendant. He is being assisted by his son, William Banks, and James W. Mack. Mr. and Mrs. Robert Betts are also here.
John Cline, the wealthy Bolivar lumberman, is her aiding in the prosecution of Betts. He is the father of Wilbur Cline, the murdered man. Harry Cline, a brother, of the deceased, is also present. District Attorney Elkin is being assisted by Former District Attorney Feit and Attorneys Cunningham & Fisher.
Each side is allowed 20 peremptory challenges. Three men have already been discharged by the court and several challenges for causes have been recognized. Out of 21 jurors examined during the forenoon six were accepted.
After being sworn each talesman is quizzed as to his acquaintanceship with the Betts and Cline families: as to his occupation, age, father’s name, religion, vocation, and opinion regarding capital punishment; he is then asked concerning his knowledge of the crime and as to whether what he had read caused him to form an opinion and as to how far said opinion could be moved by evidence.
R. C. Cunningham was excused because he is the nephew of the Attorney Samuel Cunningham. John R. Smith was dismissed because of slight trouble in hearing. Lewis Conway did not understand question propounded by the attorneys and was allowed to return to the audience. Fred Downs, who is of German birth, does not fully understand all English phrases and was likewise excused by the court.
The jurors not accepted by either one side or the other because they had opinions regarding the crime and punishment follow: J. E. Smith, George Adams, John Malcolm, Charles Conner, J. A. Bogley, Dennis Peddicord, W. L. Barrett, A. R. Fyock, J. K. Altimus, J. F. Donahue, Cornelius Rowley, S. M. Cribbs, S. A Douglass, G. W. Colgan, R. W. Langham, John Huffman.
With the court being crowded, scores of women being in the assembly, a special venire for 20 jurors was issued early in the afternoon.
After 51 make men had been examined, the twelfth juror was secured at 3:15 p. m. Six jurors were taken during the afternoon. Two minutes later District Attorney Elkin opened for the commonwealth.
These men were found unsatisfactory to the interested attorneys at the second session; Wallace Irvin, C. A. Ginter, R. B. Calhoun, James Neal, Joseph H. Elkin, C. R. Piper, James Speedy, E. T. Anderson, John Shank, Isaac Billings, John Gamble, R. E. Coleman, Ben Jamison and James Barclay.
Thomas Hart, J. D. Thompson, and J. A. Cripps were excused by the court because of illness.
The Jurors Accepted.
A. C. Coleman, Farmer, Conemaugh twp.
T. M. Carson, Painter, 4th ward, Indiana.
Enos Dorr, Will Worker, Indiana.
W. C. Shields, Farmer, Rayne twp.
Harvey Balentine, Foundryman, Indiana.
D. H. Stephens, Farmer, Cherryhill twp.
John Russell, Lumberman, Indiana.
J. D. Cummins, Carpenter, Indiana.
D. L. Ralston, Bricklayer, Indiana.
H. K. Boucher, Woolen Mill Employe, Indiana.
I. W. Gibson, Hardware Dealer, Indiana.
J. E. Lewis, Farmer, White township.
Attorneys Cunningham and J. N. Banks agreed that they had secured a good Jury.
Messrs. Russell and Gibson served on the Jury in the Lindsay murder case.
From Indiana Evening Gazette, Indiana Pennsylvania (March 20, 1908)
Cline’s Kin Chief Witnesses Heard in the Trial of Betts
Father of the Murdered Man Was on the Stand for Two Hours, and a Younger Brother Was Under Fire Almost as Long – Dr. Gates Described the Wounds.
Following District Attorney W. F. Elkin’s address to the jury late Thursday afternoon, at which time he explained a map drawn by County Surveyor D. L. Moorhead in which all places connected with the Cline murder are shown, the Commonwealth opened its case against Emanuel Betts. The chief witness heard that afternoon was William (should be John) Cline, the father of Joseph Wilbur Cline, the murdered man.
William Cline (should be John) stated that his son left home the morning of Nov. 4 last, intending to call at his brother’s farm nearby and then go to Bolivar, where he would leave for Sharon. The father related details concerning his son’s business as manager of a sawmill and told of this mill having been sold during the last week in October to another son, Harry Cline.
Details were given regarding the clothes worn by Wilbur Cline and, before the witness left the stand, he identified a rain coat, sack coat, trousers and lumberman’s shoes as part of the apparel worn by his son when he bade the home folks goodbye the forenoon previous to this death. It is also declared that Wilbur Cline then had a large sum of money in his possession.
William Felton, of Pitcairn, took the stand to tell how he and his cousins, J. C. and H. C. Wakefield, happened across the body of Wilbur Cline lying in a small thicket while hunting on the Cline farm the afternoon of Nov. 9, 1907. After notifying the elder Mr. Cline and his sons, Mr. Felton went to Bolivar and secured Undertaker J. L. Vann. Mr. Felton was at the Harry Cline home when the remains were carried to the house, some 600 yards from where they were found. He remained while the body was prepared for burial, and described at length the wounds on the deceased.
Wilbur Cline had received several charges of buckshot in this back, the shot extending from head to feet. A scalp wound was noticed on the back of the head an a contusion was noted on the forehead. A revolver bullet had entered his left eye and had passed out the right ear. Loose shot were found in Cline’s heavy shoes and small leaden pellets dropped from the clothes when they were removed.
Although the Cline farm was “posted’ against hunter, the Wakefield boys had shot a rabbit before they met the senior Mr. Cline. The witness had found several of the four empty shells that are supposed to have held the shot sent into Cline’s body.
George Cline, a younger brother of the deceased, was heard this morning, after his father had been recalled to answer a few questions. George told many things related by his father and introduced a few new incidents connected to the case. One of these related to a strange rabbit dog he and his mother had noticed the day Wilbur Cline left home. This dog belongs to a Mr. West of Garfield and will figure in the trial.
Much of the testimony given by Mr. Felton was repeated by Undertaker J. L. Vann who had charge of the burial. He also related his part in the examination Fr. Gates made of the body two months after burial. The remains were exhumed and Dr. Gates, assisted by Detective Miller, traced the course of the bullet wound in the head and made a study of the blows on the skull. This post-mortem was conducted in a summer kitchen on the Lichtenfels farm.
It is the opinion of Coroner W. D. Gates, as the result of this examination, that the blow on the head was received first and that the pistol shot followed while Cline was on the ground. Marks on the right hand of the deceased indicate that he had struggled valiantly for his life. Powder marks on the body show that the weapon was discharged at short range.
To the belief of Dr. Gates the blow on the head was inflicted with some blunt instrument, such as the butt of a gun or a very smooth stone. He said the revolver used was probably of .32 caliber.
Interest was a fever heat in the Betts murder trial this afternoon when, in the presence of a crowd that filled practically every available nook in the court room, Robert Betts took the stand to relate particulars concerning the shot gun Emanuel Betts borrowed from him bur failed to return. Robert Betts is but a year or so older than the defendant and is of a retiring disposition.
The shot gun episode related by Robert Betts started with his meeting Emanuel several days before Nov. 4 and granting him permission to use his gun. The weapon was secured by Emanuel but was never returned, the latter saying he had left it at the pump house with Jesse Betts, another brother.
In the interim between the death of Wilbur Cline and the finding of his body, Nov. 9, Robert grew impatient over the delay in securing the gun.
He therefore went to the water station, but although he looked in the place designated, could not find the gun. Later Emanuel said he had fallen while out hunting and had broken the gun. He also said the pieced were no longer of any use.
Following this Robert one day met Emanuel in Garfield and was told by him that he would give him a revolver to replace the weapon lost. A .32 caliber revolver was secured at the Betts family home and was turned over to Robert. The pistol was shown by Attorney Feit and was partially identified.
Mrs. Robert Betts corroborated her husband’s story
From Indiana Evening Gazette, Indiana Pennsylvania (March 21, 1908)
BETTS CASE IS AT CRITICAL POINT.
Detective Miller Testified Regarding Prisoner’s Contradictory Statements.
ATTORNEYS QUITE ACTIVE
Exceptions Follow Objections and the Court Reporter’s Task is Increased
MRS. MACK SAW ENCOUNTER
After proving a crime on Friday, the prosecution today, in the case against Emanuel Betts produced a witness to show that young Betts did not give a clear account of his travels on Nov. 4 and that he is implicated in the death of Wilbur Cline. That he alone committed the act has not yet been stated by the commonwealth, but the full extent of their case is yet to be shown.
T. N. Miller, a field operator for the Perkins Detective Agency, of Pittsburg, is the party who testified regarding Betts’ alleged connection with death of the former Bolivar lumberman. Detective Miller was engaged by the Cline family on Nov. 16 and on Dec. 8 he assisted in the arrest of Betts.
Previous to that he had visited the Cline farms several times and had found shells, stones and the “four end iron piece” from a Remington gun. All these exhibits were admitted after much parleying and figure in the case.
When Betts was arrested on Dec. 8 he was taken to the Bolivar station and kept in that vicinity for some hours. In the presence of Detective Miller, Detective Neal, and Officer Stiffler he is said to have told the first of a series of contradictory stories relating to his movements on Nov. 4.
One of these was that the prisoner spent the forenoon at the pump house with Jesse and that they played checkers. The second version was that Emanuel had been hunting on the day in question and that wile chasing a rabbit he fell on a stone. He received several bruises on his chest and hands that were attended by a physician. During this expedition Emanuel broke his gun. He changed this story by saying he had been hunting on Wednesday, Nov. 6.
The third story was secured two days after the prisoner was placed in jail here. Detectives Miller and White, of the Perkins Agency, and Detective Neal, were present. It was alleged by the defendant’s counsel that Miller had asked Sheriff Wettling to keep others away from Betts and not offer him counsel, thus securing this latest information under duress. After plenty of argument by both sides Miller was allowed to tell what was learned.
Upon this occasion Betts said he had hunted in the vicinity of Muir’s saw mil the forenoon of Nov. 4.
Detective Miller’s story was not altered in the least during the three hours Attorney Banks quizzed him. Many of the witnesses returned home this evening and will return for a forenoon session Monday.
Detective Neal with another Betts confession will then be the star witness.
Mrs. John H. Cline, the mother of Wilbur Cline, was the last witness heard Friday afternoon. Although still bearing signs of the suffering she experienced, Mrs. Cline readily answered the questions propounded by Attorney Samuel Cunningham. Her testimony related principally to the departure of Wilbur Cline on the morning of Nov. 4. She said that at that time her son had a roll of money as he had shown it when he gave here some money that day.
Mrs. Cline was given a brief cross examination when court opened this morning.
That Cline and his assailant struggled before the dead man lost the unequal battle was shown through testimony of Mrs. J. B. Mack, who lives about one-half mile from the Harry Cline home. Shortly after 10 o’clock on the forenoon of Nov. 4, she was in her front yard when she heard several rounds that seemed to come from the discharge of a shot gun. She heard four of these shots and upon looking in the direction of the sounds, saw two men.
They were about 2,200 feet from her home, but she could follow their movements because they were on higher ground. Later one man seemed to stoop over and the other hit him with a club and then threw three stones toward him. Mrs. Mack heard a number of moans at that time. The witness then re-entered her house and when she re-appeared outside a few minutes later she heard a pistol shot. That noon Mrs. Mack told her husband of hearing the shots and seeing the quarrel, but no investigation was made as the Macks though the parties engaged in the fight were strange hunters. Mrs. Mack is distant relative of the Clines.
Mrs. West, of Garfield, was heard. She formerly owned the white rabbit dog with black spots that is said to have been borrowed by Harry Betts, brother of the defendant, at 6 o’clock on the morning of Nov. 4, 1907. Witnesses “Knew it was one of the Betts boys when she received this early caller and was told later it was Harry Betts who borrowed the fog.” The canine wandered home late the same afternoon. Mrs. West said Harry Betts worked at the McGraw home that day. Asked how she fixed the date, witness said two of her children had been vaccinated on Nov. 4 and she presented a certificate from Dr. Alexander to better prove the date.
J. C. and H. C. Wakefield, cousins of William Felton, told of their hunting expedition on Nov. 9 and of the finding of Wilbur Cline’s body. Much of their testimony had already been given by Mr. Felton.
One of the first persons to reach the scene after the finding of Cline’s body was John F. St. Clair. He related incidents connected with the taking of Cline’s remains to Harry Cline’s house. Mr. St. Clair described at length the wounds received by Cline, his evidence corroborating testimony given by Coroner Gates and others.
J. A. Walbeck, one of the well-known Walbeck twins and a distant relative of the Clines, was summoned to Harry Cline’s home the evening of Nov. 9. After the clothes were removed from the deceased, Walbeck instituted a search. He found a small package of tobacco. Several pockets were turned inside out.
County Surveyor D. L. Moorhead identified the map he had made of the Cline land and the scene of the murder.
J. B. McCartney, a Bolivar barber, stated that he had shaved Wilbur Cline the day previous to his disappearance and that at that time the deceased appeared to have plenty of money.
From Indiana Evening Gazette, Indiana Pennsylvania (March 23, 1908)
Plea of Self-Defense for Betts; Commonwealth Closed at Noon
Defense Claims the Accused After He Was Attacked by Cline, Who Had Ordered Him from the Place
In the opening address to the jury this afternoon, Attorney William Banks, of counsel for Emanuel Betts, stated that his client has killed Wilbur Cline, but the tragedy had been committed in self defense. Mr. Banks spent a half hour in explaining the testimony the defense would introduce. The crowd is larger than at any time since the trial started.
The defense hopes to show that Betts was hunting on the Cline farm on Nov. 4 and that he was ordered off by Wilbur Cline; that because Betts would not go readily Cline calling him some vile names: that Cline pursued Betts and then threw stones at him; that Betts discharged his shot gun; that other stones were hurled; that Betts again shot Cline; that Betts a mere boy was defending himself from a powerful man when Cline received the wounds that caused his death, and there was no robbery as Cline had but a few dollars.
Preliminary testimony was introduced to show that Harry Betts was not with Emanuel on Nov. 4. Conductor James L. Horton, of Derry, stated that Harry worked for him that day. Timekeeper E. H. Cassidy, of Pittsburg, identified reports showing that Betts was on the road Nov. 4.
Harry Betts appeared and said that it was Oct. 25 when he borrowed the West dogs and that on Nov. 4 he was in Derry, taking his breakfast that morning with John Betts, another brother.
Emanuel Betts took the witness stand on his own behalf about three o’clock. In direct examination he admitted the killing of Cline, claiming it was done in self-defense. He denied that he had robbed the body of his victim. He is still on the stand as this report closes.
Stories related by Betts figured largely in the testimony presented by the Commonwealth this morning. The accused showed that he laid many pitfalls for himself by his freedom of speech, as four witnesses appeared who told of damaging statements they had heard Betts utter.
Constable Findley Barr, of town, had a brief conversation with Betts early in January, that was introduced. Here is the way Barr repeated the conversation.
Mr. Barr said, “What are you in for, young man?”
For the killing of Cline,” said Emanuel Betts.
“You didn’t do that, did you?” asked Barr.
“Yes, I did: I had to’” was the reply.
“He would have killed me had I not shot him” said Betts.
“Did you use the shot gun or revolver first?” inquired Barr.
“With the shot gun” said Betts.
Asked whether any others were present at the time, Betts said no one was “near or handy.” Barr stuck to his story on cross examination.
John Williams, a young man from Smith Station, made six visits to Indiana for the purpose of interviewing Betts and then secured interviews with the accused. He said that Betts at one time had said he had killed Cline and that he secured $4,300. At another time Betts stated that $2,200 was the amount taken from Cline’s pockets.
According to Williams, Betts had given a part of this money to his sister living in Johnstown, had handed $1,500 over to his mother, and had presented his brother, Jesse, with a portion. Young Betts had also taken a Bolivar to Johnstown and they had spent money rather freely there.
The watch found on Cline’s person was sold for $8, according to Williams. During one his six visits Williams was asked by Betts to bring a saw and a revolver with him on his next trip. Williams replied that Sheriff Wettling would not allow.
County Detective Josiah Neal testified regarding another Betts confession. His story is similar to that given by Barr.
Charles W. Hammond, of Bolivar, and Detective John Williams, both of whom worked under Detective Miller, told of articles found at the scene of the murder. Hammond also presented the revolver he had secured at the residence of Robert Betts. This is the weapon Emanuel gave Robert after he broke the shotgun.
The commonwealth closed it case a few minutes previous to the noon hour today when Robert Boyle and Amos Bossinger were called. These men work on the Conemaugh Division and were employed in the vicinity of the pump house, below Garfield, on Nov. 4 and Nov. 16.
Shortly after 1 o’clock on the afternoon of the first named day they saw Jesse and Emanuel Betts walking on the opposite track. Emanuel was showing Jesse some money and was fingering a few bills. On Nov. 16 the witnesses saw the Betts brothers again, and upon this occasion, Emanuel carried a shot gun that seemed to be wrapped with a shoe lace.
Mr. Boyle also learned that early in November Jesse Betts made a trip to Pittsburg. This was one or two days after he had seen the brothers with the money.
From Indiana Evening Gazette, Indiana Pennsylvania (March 21, 1908)
Emanuel Betts, on Trial for His Life, Relates His Version of the Fatal Quarrel with Wilbur Cline
STATE STRONG IN REBUTTAL.
Endeavored to Show that the Murdered Man was Incapable of Throwing Stones Because of Physical Infirmities.
Arguments by the attorneys this afternoon and Judge Telford’s charge will bring the Betts murder trial to a close by night.
The twelve jurors, who have been on duty since Thursday afternoon, will hardly complete their work before tomorrow.
As the Commonwealth closed its taking of testimony in rebuttal at noon, the opening hours this afternoon were devoted to addresses by counsel.
James W. Mack discussed the points of law as they should apply to Betts’ case and Samuel Cunningham reviewed the statutes for the Cline side.
Former District Attorney George J. Feit spent an hour in delivering an able review of the case the Commonwealth had woven around Betts.
William Banks spoke on Betts’ behalf, his contention being that the accused acted in self defense and that he had not robbed Cline.
Messrs. Mack and Cunningham will also further address the jury before the Court’s charge is delivered.
Following the testimony of Jesse Betts the defense rested at 10 o’clock this morning. As the defendant, Jesse and his mother, had related incidents to show that Emanuel was injured in his encounter with Cline, thus endeavoring to establish the self defense theory, the Commonwealth on rebuttal started out to explode this testimony.
It was shown that some eight years ago Wilbur Cline was injured in a sawmill accident and that he had since been slightly muscle-bound in the right fore-arm. Three months previous to the death of Wilbur Cline he was burned on the right hand and some weeks later and the forefinger on his hand amputated. This wound was almost healed at the time of his death. Cline was a right handed man and, it was claimed, was not able to pick up small object or throw a stone more than a few feet.
Those heard regarding Cline’s injured hand are, John H. Cline, Harry Cline, George Cline, J. A. Walbeck, and Dr. Updegraff.
Squire James McHail, of Bolivar, was heard and was asked to identify statements made by Jesse Betts in which alleged contradictions regarding Emanuel’s hurts were set forth in writing.
Miss Annie Vogel and County Detective Josiah Neal, of town, and Perkins Detective W. J. White, of Pittsburg, were the last witnesses called. They spoke concerning confessions made by Betts. This closed the testimony.
Several members of the Betts family testified today. Mrs. Carolyn Betts, mother of the defendant, who was called Monday afternoon, stated that shortly after Nov. 4 she gave Emanuel some salve to apply locally to bruises he received while out hunting.
Jesse Betts told that Emanuel had described his bruises to him at length and that he had dressed them. This was not until after Cline’s body had been found. Jesse told the assembly that Emanuel had informed him that the broken gun had been thrown in the river. John Betts, of Derry, another brother, stated that on Nov. 4 Harry Betts was at his home.
The only other testimony introduced by the defense was that Emanuel Betts had borrowed a hunting dog from Russell McLain, who testified to that effect.
Emanuel Betts was on the stand three hours during Monday afternoon. He confessed practically everything shown by the prosecution, either stating that the testimony against him had been correct or that he was so confused when visited by detectives and others that he could not remember what he said. The only witness he flatly contradicted was John Williams, who “sprung” the $4,300 story.
Betts’ voice was weak in direct examination and Attorney James W. Mack had (unreadable) the boy to express himself. When Attorney Samuel Cunningham took up the cross examination, the defendant deliberated before making his answers and usually said he did not remember the full details of any special incident when asked to make matters plain.
Despite a number or questions propounded by the opposing counsel, Betts did not at any time tell where he had secreted the broken shot gun that is said to have been used over Cline’s head. Betts said any injuries on Cline’s head came from the deceased being kicked when they were fighting. Another denial made by Betts was that he had ever tried to purchase a Remington gun in order to replace the one borrowed from his brother, Robert.
In brief Betts’ story is as follows:
Last month the defendant was nineteen years old. On Nov. 4 he took Robert’s shot gun and his revolver and went to the pump house. Leaving there at 7:30 a. m. Betts hunted through the Jenkins, Henderson, and other fields and finally reached Harry Cline’s. After being there 15 minutes, he saw Wilbur Cline on the road.
The accused knew the deceased by sight, but did not speak to him as he was in the field and probably 100 feet distance from Cline. Wilbur Cline said “Get off this land you --- (here Betts repeated the vile name is said to have uttered). Or I will kill you.” The defendant stated that his reply was, “I’ll get off.”
Cline picked up three or four stones, each about as large as a tennis ball, and began throwing them at Betts. One missile hit Betts on the neck. Betts then drew his shot gun and shot at Cline’s feet, Cline turning his side and throwing his arm in front of his face in order to shield it.
More swearing by Cline, some additional stone throwing and another shot from Betts followed. This time young Betts also aimed at Cline’s feet.
Cline had gained on Betts by this time and the defendant was making for the top of the hill. Cline again threw a stone and it struck Betts on the back. For the third time Betts turned and shot at Cline, this time aiming at his hips. Cline was still able to run and Betts turned again, but the gun would not go off and Cline caught up to Betts.
Although Cline had received at least three charges of buckshot in his back, according to Betts, he was able to fight and pulled the gun from the latter’s hands. While they were tussling for the weapon, both went down, Cline securing the gun. Cline struck at Betts with the gun, but hit the ground instead, breaking it at the breech. Owing to numerous wounds, Cline was not able to pursue him, but he still had sufficient strength to rise. While Cline was standing below him Betts fired the revolver in Cline’s face. Cline then fell to the road and Betts hurried away.
He went to the pump house and spent an hour with Jesse. Shortly after the noon hour the brothers started to Garfield. On the railroad Jesse asked Emanuel for a loan, saying he was intending going to Pittsburg. Emanuel was showing his money, about $15 that remained from October pay as a brakeman on the Conemaugh Division, when they passed Boyle and Bossinger. Seeing that Emanuel’s funds were not large, Jesse did not negotiate the loan.
For two days following the encounter with Cline, Emanuel remained at his home. He never told any of his people that he had killed a man and he did not explain why he desired some ointment for his bruises. He never at any time explained the disappearance of the gun, and did not make any confession whatever until after the preliminary hearing at Crossman’s the last week of December. Betts also said he had not searched Cline’s pockets and knew nothing concerning his watch and money.
From Indiana Evening Gazette, Indiana Pennsylvania (March 25, 1908)
GENERAL PUBLIC EXCITEMENT
Wide-Spread Discussion of the Finding of the Jurors --- No New Trial is Anticipated
“Guilty of murder in the second degree,” was the verdict of the jury in the Betts murder trial. The jury went out at 9:30 o’clock, last night and returned at 9 o’clock this morning.
The jurors took the first ballot shortly after midnight and the final one at daylight. For six hours two jurors stood out for a first degree verdict.
Betts was overjoyed when he learned the death penalty would not be inflicted and he shook hands with his attorneys and then turned to receive the relatives who were present. The aged father and mother, whose plight had been noted by many and who were greatly pitied, were not present.
Mr. and Mrs., John H. Cline, George and Harry Cline, Mrs. J. H. Mack, William Felton, the Wakefield boys and several others were present. An audience of several score was in attendance.
Betts’ punishment for the killing of Wilbur Cline may be twenty years in the penitentiary, that being the maximum penalty.
Discussion of the verdict was heard in all quarters about town today. Those who argue that the jury should have found Betts guilty of murder in the first degree, and they are many, believe there was a robbery and that Betts was the aggressor in the fight. Others, however, claim that robbery was not proved and that the commonwealth did not show that the shooting was premeditated. These persons state that the only possible verdict would be the one returned.
In round figures the Cline case has already cost over $2,000. The 35 witnesses presented by the commonwealth were here from five to seven days and received $744 from the county. The pay of the jurors was $210. Then add to this the salaries of the court officials, district attorney and county detective. The Betts family must meet the expenses of the eight witnesses they provided.
John H. Cline engaged the Perkins Detective N. B. Miller and three assistants for some weeks and expended a large sum in addition to clear up the mystery of his son’s death. The body of Wilbur Cline was found Nov. and Miller was engaged Nov. 14. He worked on the case almost constantly until the arrest of Betts late in December, and made four visits to Indiana after the prisoner was placed in jail.
After the jury was excused today, Judge Telford ordered Court Crier Youngblood to adjourn the court until next Monday afternoon when the Smith cases from Glen Campbell will be heard. The trial of Dimity Dorasehoof, an Ernest foreigner, accused of murder, is postponed until June.
Attorney Samuel Cunningham addressed the jury Tuesday night. He spoke for eighty minutes and his excellent review of the case against young Betts was heard by a large and attentive audience. He claimed that any boy who could play checkers an hour after he left a person dying in a field could commit deliberate murder.
In the mind of Mr. Cunningham, the fact that Cline was literally filled with buckshot, was shot in the head with a pistol and had received a fractured skull, showed that he was murdered for a purpose. That motive, said Mr. Cunningham, was robbery, as the deceased had on his person when he met death a roll of money and a watch that were not found.
The charge delivered by Judge Telford lasted an hour. He reviewed the testimony at length and stated that it was for the jury to decide where contradictions occurred. He stated that the burden of proof rested on the commonwealth.
It was his opinion that the motive should be ascertained by the jury and that if all reasonable doubts were cleared away and a willful murder had been committed, the defendant was guilty of murder in the first degree.
The Court outlined the law regarding the rights of a man to act in self-defense saying that when a person was in danger of losing his own life and had tried every possible means of escape, the defendant has a right to check the aggressor. Under these circumstances the defendant should be acquitted. The grade of crime recognized as second degree and the statutes recognizing man-slaughter were also outlined.
Jesse Betts told a Gazette reporter that he was taking treatment for trouble in his nose from a Pittsburg specialist during November and December and that he visited the doctor on Nov. 5, the day brought out by the prosecution the he spent in Pittsburg.
From Indiana Evening Gazette, Indiana Pennsylvania (March 30, 1908)
Judge Telford Gives Garfield Youth Extreme Penalty of the Law.
COMMENTS UPON VERDICT
Court Stated That the Prisoner Was Fortunate in Escaping First Degree.
ATTORNEYS DISCUSSED CASE
That Emanuel Betts deliberated before he took the life of Wilbur Cline in a field in West Wheatfield township last Nov. 4 and that Betts had a motive for his act is the belief of Judge S. J. Telford. The Court’s position regarding Betts was made quite plain in his charge last Wednesday, but all doubts as to his opinion were cleared when the Garfield youth was called this forenoon for sentence. After hearing pleas by interested counsel, Judge Telford said in part:
“We are indeed sorry that we have to pass sentence for such a terrible crime. The evidence in the case was reviewed carefully before the jury.
“Those men have found you guilty of murder in the second degree. In our opinion you are indeed fortunate that it was not first degree. Your counsel states that it is you intention to live a careful life and fit yourself to become a better citizen when your tem of imprisonment expires. We hope this may be true and that later in life you may be a useful citizen. The sentence of the court is that you pay a fine of $100, pay the costs of the prosecution and undergo imprisonment at the Western Penitentiary, Pittsburg, for a term of 20 years.”
Previous to passing sentence the Court asked the prisoner if he desired to make a statement. Emanuel nodded to Attorney James P. Mack, one of his counsel, and the lawyer made a few remarks in which he reviewed promises the defendant had made to live down his present disgrace. Attorney William Banks made a plea for clemency, stating that the prisoner suffered from a diseased mind.
District Attorney W. F. Elkin in his talk gave it as his opinion that the question of insanity did not enter into the case. Former District Attorney George J. Feit declared that the attorneys for the Commonwealth held nothing against the young Betts, but that little mercy should be shown him because of the atrociousness of his crime.
Following these remarks, the Court stated that the question of insanity raised by Mr. Banks should have been presented before the trial. He then again requested Emanuel to stand up in is presence and delivered a short talk, part of which is quoted above. The prisoner grew quire pale when he realized that the limit allowed by the law has been passed upon him. Betts was then escorted to jail by Sheriff Wettling.
Betts will have his term of imprisonment cut down about one fourth by good behavior. Should he be unable to pay the costs, about $1,000, and the fine, it is probable he will then be asked to serve one day for each dollar owes the county, In the event of Betts then declaring that he is insolvent the sum would not be asked and his discharge would follow.