McAllister Murder – Bell Set Free – Jan 28, 1925


Savannah Press
28 January 1925

BELL SET FREE BY RECORDER AFTER MURDER HEARING

EVIDENCE NOT SUFFICIENT TO HOLD HIM IN M’ALLISTER SLAYING

DEFENDANT GIVES RECORDER STATEMENT

William R. Bell, charged in a warrant with the murder of Edward L. McAllister, was dismissed by Judge Schwarz following a preliminary hearing in police court this morning. The recorder held that the evidence presented against Mr. Bell was not sufficient to hold him on a charge of murder, and he was accordingly set free. Col. Shelby Myrick, attorney, was in charge of the defendant’s case.

Bell’s Statement.
Making his statement to the court. Bell said on December 10 he got paid off in the morning. “Mr, McAllister told me he expected me to pay $5 on the amount I owed him that, pay-day. I told him it was Christmas and I wanted to buy a few thing for my wife and child. I told him. I had an insurance policy and that I intended to borrow some money on it and pay all 1 owed him,” he said. To this, Bell said, McAllister replied: “Bell, when I loaned you boys money I did not intend to punish you, but I want you to pay up, because I may not be abound here long.” In reference to the alleged charge that he carried a weapon after McAllister’s death, Bell said: “I had a pistol, but it was in the pawnshop.”

Preliminary to discharging the prisoner, Judge Schwarz commended the county police for the zeal they had shown in trying to solve a very difficult case, and said there was no reflection on the officers because of his Judgment dismissing the case.

Found Dead

Mr. McAllister was found murdered in his home on Thirty-ninth street near Ash a fortnight ago. He had been brutally slain with a hatchet. County police investigated and several days after the discovery of the murder Mr. Bell was arrested on a warrant sworn out by Joseph McAllister, of Pittsburg [sic], a brother of the dead man.

Showed No Apprehension.
As soon as he was set free Bell shook hands with his counsel, Colonel Myrick, and then went over to where his wife was sitting, just in front of the desk of J. F. Bernhardt, clerk of court. Mrs. Bell arose to greet her husband and the couple locked arms, in a loving embrace.

During the trial of the case Bell was alert, and at times prompted his counsel in an audible voice. When a telling point was made by Colonel Myrick in drawing out testimony favorable to him from a witness, Bell would smile and glance knowingly at Judge Schwarz. At times Belt seemed to enjoy the trial and at no time was any nervousness or apprehension apparent.

McCarthy Testifies.

Chief of Detectives McCarthy, the first witness in the case, told about finding McAllister’s body In the kitchen of his residence. The body was in a sitting posture, with the shoulders against the partition wall and the dead man’s head was leaning to one side. A bloody hatchet was on the kitchen table, A dish of rice and a bowl of coffee, without cream, but with the cream pitcher near, was on the table. McAllister had a fork or spoon in one hand, he said. After finding that McAllister’s house was outside the city limits, Chief McCarthy said he turned the case over to the county policy.

Brown Repeats Story

H. B. Brown told about the same story that he told before the coroner’s Jury. He said he and his wife went to McAllister’s home on the Tuesday the body was found. Looking through the window at the front of the house, he saw McAllister’s bed had been used. He then went around to the, rear of the housed and was then joined by a Mr. Carr, who asked them what they were looking for, and on being told, joined them in looking through the kitchen window. He saw McAllister’s legs. The window was not latched and they raised it up and saw that McAllister was dead, he said. He reiterated his evidence as to finding the hatchet and the position of the body.
Dr. George H. Johnson, the coroner  told about visiting the house and examining McAllister’s body. His other evidence was confined to the statement that he found the dead man’s watch was running, and that it continued to run until the next night at 8:45 p. m. Based on this evidence, be gave it as his opinion that McAllister was killed between 8 and 9 o’clock the morning prior to the finding of the body.

Alleged Threats.

M. H. Bagwell of 1911 Price street, who worked at the Atlantic Coast Line shops with Bell and the dead man, testified that Bell owed McAllister money and that on December 24, when the force was about to be paid off he (Bagwell) laughingly said: “Boys, you are not going to get any money today, I see McAllister here.” Bell replied, he said: “if the D — – – – ties up my money I’ll kill him.” The witness said that McAllister had loaned money to the men at the shops but had never garnisheed him, (Bagwell) and it was also admitted that he did not “tie up” the prisoner’s money.
Evidence intended to show that there may have been trouble between the dead man and Bell was limited to a remark. Bagwell said Bell made, to the effect that if McAllister broke up his home he would kill him.

Mr. McCain of 203 York street, east, testified that he was present when Bagwell made the remark about the boys not getting any money and heard the defendant make the remark that he’d kill McAllister if he tied up his money. He said McAllister loaned money to the men at the shops. Asked by the recorder if McAllister charged them interest, the witness said he did not charge him any.

Lived in Macon

Bell resided in Macon about four years ago. He was married to Miss Lillian Lucile McClain on June 19, 1918. Miss McClain resided at Cross Keys at Macon, Prior to her marriage she was employed as a stenographer in Macon. At the time of his marriage Bell was a soldier at Camp Wheeler. He and his wife both have relatives in Macon.

Sources: 
Savannah Press (Savannah, GA) January 28, 1925 – Pages 14 & 8 – microfilm via University of Georgia Libraries.


McAllister Murder – Expect Arrest Soon – Jan 19, 1925

EXPECT ARREST IN MURDER CASE SOON

The county police continued to work on the McAllister murder case today. An arrest is expected soon.

Relatives Here.
Joseph McAllister, brother of the dead than, and H. Lane, a brother-in-law, are in Savannah from Pittsburgh. They attended Mr. McAllister’s funeral yesterday.

Mr. Mcallister said he did not that his brother had been murdered until he arrived here on Saturday afternoon. Messages sent him had simply stated his brother had been found dead In his rooms. Edward L. McAllister was found murdered with a hatchet on last Tuesday.

Heard from Him.
Mr. McAllister had been away from Pittsburgh about two and one-half years, his brother, and he had been hearing from him in Savannah since last summer. His letters indicated that everything was “lovely” in Savannah, he stated when asked if hls brother had ever indicated he had enemies here.

County Administrable Wade is looking after the estate of the late Mr. McAllister.

McAllister Murder – Who Owns This Hatchet – Jan 16, 1925

The Savannah Press – January 16, 1925

Who Owns This Hatchet With Which McAllister was Killed?

This is a picture of the hatchet with which Edward L. McAllister, who was discovered murdered in his home on Tuesday, was killed. The weapon, stained with blood, was found on a table within a few feet of the body In McAllister’s kitchen. It is one of the most interesting pieces of evidence in the case, the question of its ownership being important. Whether It belonged to the dead man is not definitely known, but the county police believe it was used by McAllister for cutting kindling wood in his kitchen.

The instrument is a sharp, narrow, thln-bladed hatchet. It was sunk into McAllister’s skull up to the hilt of the weapon three times. This type of hatchet is commonly known as a lather’s ax.

The blade of the weapon is about four inches long. It is narrow, thin and is composed of steel tempered for intensive sharpening. The hatchet of this kind is used by carpenters for the breaking of laths.

It has a cleverly made handle, but unmistakably hand-made and not machine-made. The machine-made handle is smoothly beveled, whereas there are imperfections in the handle of the hatchet found blood-spattered on the McAllister table. It was evidently made by a mechanic, carpenter or someone well versed in woodcraft.

The following was found on page 28 of the paper.

Work on M’Allister Murder Progressing

The county police today continued their investigation into the death of Edward L. McAllister, who was found on Tuesday murdered. It is understood the police are well satisfied with the progress of the case and an arrest is not improbable.

McAllister was MURDERED – January 15, 1925


The Savannah Press – January 15, 1925

M’Allister was MURDERED,
     says Coroner’s Jury

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Inquest was held today; Witnesses tell of Discovery

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Brother of dead man on way to Savannah

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Arrest Probable in M’Allister Case

It is understood that investigations of the county police into the McAllister murder are coming to a focus, and an arrest may be made before midnight. There is no official announcement of this, but it is gathered the police believe the evidence in their possession may lead to the issuance of a warrant. The county police, under the direction of Chief Chapman, have worked night and day on the case. tracing every clue to its ultimate conclusion.

After hearing all the testimony submitted to it, the jury in the coroner’s inquest, at Sipple Brothers’ held over the body of Edward L. McAllister at noon today, found the following verdict:

“We the jury find that Edward L McAllister came to his death from wounds inflicted with a sharp instrument. In the hands of an unknown party or parties. and we consider it murder, the wounds being on the top of his head.”
The members of the coroner’s jury were Frank W. Williams, foreman; Dave L. Christian, Robert Beytagh, C. P. Abrams, Joseph Alexander, and Pratt Wright.

Besides Dr. George H. Johnson, the coroner, who, as a physician and witness, gave his testimony, there – were five Witnesses heard by the jury.

First Witness
The first Witness was H. B. Brown, Bee road and Victory drive.

Mr. Brown said: “Monday, Mr. Smith, the man that worked with Mr. McAllister, asked me to go and see what was the matter with him, as he had not come to work.

“Mr.Smith told me Tuesday morning that be had looked through the window and saw the bed torn up, as if he (Mr. McAllister) had gotten up and gone out.

“He suggested that I go over and see what I could find out. I went over and looked through the bedroom window and saw the bed torn up.  I, with another man, Tom Carr, looked around and saw that his car was in the garage.

“I looked .through the kitchen window and saw Mr. McAllister’s feet. I then got a chair and looked down through the window and said: ‘Tom, look there, McAllister is dead.’

“I then called 88 and reported the case to the officers. The officers came and raised the window.

“I don’t remember whether I last saw Mr. McAllister last Thursday or Friday. I did not work on the same shift as Mr. McAllister. We worked at different hours.

“Mr. McAllister was a man who had very little company.

Was Well Liked.
The only time I went there was when his wife died. He was well liked and as good-hearted a man as ever saw In my life. He was a ‘lead man’ for a while and we worked together. It seems all the men thought the world and all of him. A negro woman worked for him a few days after his wife died. He was a man. that never did visit much. He had some good neighbors. He came around to see me once in a while, sometimes once a week.”

Mrs. H. B. Brown, the next witness, said: “My husband came in that morning and said to me, ‘I want you and me to take a walk over to the old place.  I asked why he wanted to go over. He said, ‘Mack hasn’t been to work in several days and we ought to go, and see about him.  We went over and looked around. We saw his chickens and his car in the garage. W e looked through the bedroom window and saw the clock had stopped, I saw his cap hanging on the back of a chair. My husband stepped over to the kitchen window and looked in.  Mr. Carr was there, and my husband said, ‘My God, Tom, the man is dead!’ One at a time, my husband, Mr. Carr and I looked in and saw him, with the upper part of his body leaning against the kitchen partition.

Saw Him Christmas Eve.

“The last time I saw Mr. McAllister was Christmas Eve. Mr. Carr saw us at Mr: McAllister’s house and came over and joined us.”

William T. Carr, 1415 East Thirty-eighth street, said: “The first I knew of it was when Mr. Smith and Mr. Anderson came out Monday afternoon and said they were looking for Mr. McAllister

“They said, ‘come on and go with us. I went with them to the corner of Ash and Thirty-ninth street.
We went up on the piazza, looked through the window and saw the bed. It looked, as if a man had
gotten up after having slept in it.

Monday Evening
“I saw his car in the garage. Mr. Smith went to the hack of the house and looked through the kitchen window. We couldn’t have seen Mr. McAllister at the point where we found him later.  It was about 6 o’clock and too dark to see very much in the kitchen. I went back to my house and lit my light. The thing kept me worried.

“Tuesday morning I was out in my yard when I saw Mr. and Mrs. Brown over at Mr. McAllister’s. I whistled and asked what they were looking for and told them Mr. Anderson and Mr. Smith were there Monday afternoon looking for Mr. McAllister.

Looked in Window.
“I went over and we went on,  the stoop.  Mr. Brown looked in the kitchen window and said: ‘he’s in there. ‘

He then got a chair and looked in again. Mrs. Brown looked in and said, ‘he is down on the door.’ I then looked in and said, ‘My *God: the man is dead.’ Mr. Brown wanted to go in the house but I said ‘let’s get an officer, don’t go in that house.  Mr. Brown then said ‘lets get a phone,’ and we went over 

to a house and waited, until Mr. Brown telephoned the barracks. I didn’t want to wait as I had left my house open. I was standing at 40th street when Lieutenant Hallford came. I directed him to McAllister’s house. It seems to me the gentleman with Lieutenant Hanford opened the door with a skeleton key. The last time I saw Mr. McAllister was Saturday night.

“On Tuesday morning I saw the hatchet, there was also a dish of rice on the table. I am not a married man.”

Sketch of Room

The witness showed the Jury a sketch or diagram showing the location of the dead body and the outline of the kitchen. “I looked through the southeast window,” The witness said.  “A’ man standing by the stove could have struck Mr. McAllister from that point.” 

When asked by the coroner if he could recognize the hatchet used by the murderer, he hesitated and said there were so many hatchets that he did not like to say. When shown the bloody weapon, however, he promptly identified it.

H. B. Brown, recalled, said in answer to questions of the coroner, that Foreman Carter at the Atlantic Coast Line did not ask him to look for Mr. McAllister. “It did not see Mr. Carter,” he said.

Shown the hatchet found on the table at the McAllister residence, Mr. Brown said it was the kind used sometimes, by carpenters—it was called a chop hatchet, he said.

Saw Him Monday. 
C. F. Smith, carpenter, 308 West State street, said he caught a car at Broughton and Habersham streets Monday morning. “When I got out to the canal, near Thirty-ninth street and Waters road, Mr. McAllister came along, going west toward town. He had on a khaki suit, raincoat and gloves. He had been passing along nearly every day and I knew him in that way.  He talked to Mr. Coleman usually when coming by every day.

Ask for Cigarette

R. L. Coleman, basement, 222 East Taylor street, said: “I saw Mr. McAllister, Monday morning. He was going west on Thirty-ninth street. He asked me for a cigarette.  He looked as well as usual. 
He said the street is too muddy, ‘I won’t come cross the street.’ I did not work that day. I stayed
around until akoue 8:30 and went home.”

The coroner showed the watch found on the dead man’s person and said it wasrunning at 1:30 P. M. Tuesday night. The watch ran until 8:45 Tuesday night. “I timed the watch and found it runs about 36 hours, he said. The coroner said he found the dead man with his head against the kitchen partition.  There were four wounds on his head. There was a lathing hatchet laying on the table. There was $1.50 in small change and a Waltham watch on his person. 

Sipple Brothers, morticians, received a telegram yesterday afternoon from Joseph McAllister a brother of the dead man, asking that the body he held until his arrival in Savannah, He is coming from Pittsburg.

Man Investigated 

The county police yesterday afternoon temporarily detained a man for the purpose of clearing up what was believed to be a clue, but the man was released when it was found that he was in no way connected  with the affair.

Important Fact.
That McAllister’s watch was running at the time when the murder occurred and that it continued to run until 9 o’clock on the night when the man was found murdered at his home is an important factor in determining the time of the murder.  The watch, when fully wound and allowed to run its full time, was found have stopped about 36 hours after it was wound. This experiment was performed by Dr. Johnson, the coroner, yesterday. McAllister must have wound his watch according to this reasoning about 9 o’clock Monday morning.

Another important find at the house was that the back door key I was wrung off in the lock.

Source:

January 14, 1925 – M’Allister was Seen Alive Late as Monday Morning

The Savannah Press – January 14, 1925


The county police who are investigating all circumstances in regard to the murder of Edward L. McAllister at his home on Thirty-ninth street, near Ash, will present their findings at the coroner’s inquest tomorrow morning. This is the time tentatively fixed for the inquiry.

The county police also have direct evidence of the fact that Mr. McAllister was alive as late as early Monday morning. R. L. Coleman who gave his address as 222 Taylor street east, went to the county police headquarters at 10 o’clock this morning and gave out the information that he, a friend, C.F. Smith, and a negro saw Mr. McAllister about 7:30 o’clock Monday morning. He had on his raincoat, a chaki work suit, his gloves and was walking west on Thirty-ninth street, going toward the A.C.L. shuttle train, Coleman said. Mr. McAllister stopped long enough to ask Coleman for a cigarette.

Not Mistaken.

Coleman said he could not be mistaken as to the identity of the murdered man, as he worked with him for two years at the Atlantic Coast Line. He did not see the account of the murder until this morning, when he read it in The Press, he said and decided to tell the officers about it. He first went over and related his stor to Chief of Detectives McCarthy, but finding the county police were handling the case, went to their headquarters. The scene of the crime is about sixty feet beyond the eastern city limits.

Coleman said he lived in the basement at 222 Taylor street east. His friend Smith lives on State street west. On Monday he was working on a bungalow being erected by Charles Voss on Thirty-ninth street, just east of Waters road.

Closer inspection of the body of the dead man at Sipple Brothers’ mortuary disclosed that the murder was probably perpetrated in a cool and deliberate manner by the assailant of the lone man who was seated at his dining table when he was struck with the hatchet, according to the theory of the officers.

Wound in Temple.
A wound on the temple is believed to show that Mr. McAllister was first struck on the side of the head and knocked to the floor. He was then set upon, chopped on the head with the sharp blade and the top of his head then beaten to a pulp with the blunt end.

An examination of the dead man’s stomach is said to have disclosed evidence of decomposition believed to prove that Mr. McAllister had been dead at least forty-eight hours before he was found yesterday Morning.

Drew His Pay.
Other interesting details developed by the offices are that Mr. McAllister worked on last Saturday morning and early in the afternoon drew his wages for two ‘weeks, amounting to $84.75. He is said to have paid out only a small amount for groceries at a local store. When found Mr. McAllister only had 75 cents on his person.

Letter From Mother.
Among the effects of the dead man were found a letter from his mother, who lives in Pittsburgh, Pa., in regard to property there in which Mr. McAllister owned an interest. They also found a will in which proceeds of several insurance policies, amounting to several thousand dollars, and all the other property of the dead man was left to his wife. Mrs. McAllister died several months ago but the beneficiary under the policies had not been changed, it was stated.

Facts believed to be inconsistent with the theory that Mr. McAllister was murdered not later than last Sunday are that his watch taken possession of yesterday at 2 o’clock was still running. Two local jewelers have stated that the large “railroad” watches, the kind that the dead man owned, only run about 30 hours.

Although interesting, we didn’t learn much new about Edward’s life. We learned his mother was probably still alive. We also learned that his will not being changed to reflect his wife’s passing means that it probably went to probate. We also learned that there was several thousands of dollars of insurance policies, however, we know he was born in a pauper’s grave which is a reminder that your burial takes place long before your beneficiaries receive any insurance payments.