October 28, 2017 – Meeting

“Murder and Mayhem in Morrow County” presented by Stan Sipe

Stan Sipe told of seven incidents, beginning with the 1870 murder of Thomas McCurdy by his father, Abram McCurdy. In spite of eyewitness testimony and Abram’s confession, the jury returned a “not guilty” verdict which led to a public outcry and the publishing of the names and addresses of the jurors in the county newspapers.

In 1882 Valentine Wagner was found guilty of murdering his brother-in-law, Daniel Sheehan. He was sentenced to be hanged at the county jail, but before his execution could take place, the state legislature passed a law requiring all executions to take place at the Ohio Penitentiary. Morrow County Sheriff Dawson was given the dubious honor of pulling the lever at the hanging.

Details surrounding the 1912 death of a baby girl near Marengo read like a soap opera. The case involved an older father, Frank Piatt, married to a much younger “showgirl”, Stella, who had an affair with the hired man, John Morrow, who slept in the same bed as the baby. Though Morrow admitted to smothering the baby, he was later pardoned. Stella was convicted of killing her second husband and then hung herself.

When Lewis Yeoman died suddenly in 1924, his autopsy revealed he had ingested rat poison. His wife, who had been married seven times, was convicted. While in jail, she wrote a letter pleading that she was a changed woman. She was given a second trial and allowed to plead guilty to manslaughter, for which she was sentenced to twelve years in prison.

Stan told of two sensational murder-suicide cases. The first, in 1946, involved Robert Pearson, who shot waitress Martha Smith three time when she rejected his advances. He then took his own life.

The most tragic event was a planned murder and double suicide in 1958 in which Doris Truax killed her ten-year old daughter before she and her lover, Foy Goodrich, killed themselves, leaving their bodies to be found by their pastor.

The final case Stan related was the Thanksgiving Day murder of Rebecca Seaburn, a nurse who was stabbed to death in the restroom of the local laundromat. Gary Chandler was convicted based on his fingerprints found at the scene. He appealed the verdict and was granted a second trial which resulted in a “hung jury”. He was freed after a third trial.