Picketing A Cow


Daughter Accuses Father of Murder of Insurance Man and Infant


Steele, N.D., July 21.—James C. Clayton, a 60-year-old farmer, is accused by his daughter, Mrs. Frances Sheldon of Baldwin, N.D., of killing Ed., Leitzke, a hail insurance agent, and a baby born to her before she was married, In an alleged confession in the hands of State's Attorney George Muson, of Kidder county.

On Thursday Clayton will be placed on trial in the Kidder district court charged with rape. His daughter Laura, aged 14, is the state's principal witness.

Extensive digging operations in the Clayton farm, conducted within a few days, failed to disclose the bodies of Clayton's supposed victims.

Musson said that the investigation had extended not only to the case of Leitzke and the baby, but also to other cases of supposed disappearance of persons in the district adjacent to the Clayton farm. All inquiries, Musson said, had failed.

Roy Clayton, a 26-year-old son of James Clayton, is also under arrest and charged with rape, and will be tried following the disposition of his father's case.

Whole Section Excited.

The whole section of Kidder county about 20 miles southeast of Steele, where the supposed murders occurred, is in a state of excitement as a result of the case.

Officials who organized searching parties spaded up great areas in the hope of uncovering the skeletons of the supposed murder victims, operations being conducted in accordance with directions given by Mrs. Sheldon.

Mrs. Sheldon's story is in the hands of the state's attorney, and was given following the arrest of her father and brother on the rape charge. Laura Clayton's story, related by her to her married sister, Mrs. Sheldon, brought about the arrest of Clayton and his son.

Denies Additional Murders

Mr. Musson denied today that the Sheldon confession or statement covered supposed additional murders, though admitting that he and other officials had investigated beyond the Leitzke and baby case.

Mrs. Sheldon's story of the Leitzke murder is to the effect that there was a liquor party near the Clayton farm on the night that the insurance agent disappeared. Her father, Mrs. Sheldon asserts, had Leitzke's watch following his disappearance.

Officians have not confronted Clayton with the charges made by his daughter, Musson said today. Bismarck Tribune, 7/21/1920


Father, Accused of Murders, is Released on $1,000 Bail Last Night


Girl's Story Failed to Convict Son; Father Faces Her Story Only, So Far

Steele, N.D., July 24.—"Not Guilty" was the verdict brought in by the jury in the case of Roy Clayton, charged with criminal assault of his sister in the Kidder district court.

The jury went out at noon yesterday and brought in their verdict of not guilty at 4 p.m. Roy Clayton was dismissed and left for home with his father, James C. Clayton. The father is accused with the mirder of Ed. Leitzke and a child of his daughter and criminal assault of his daughter. He was released yesterday on $1,000 bail.

The trial of the father is set for the next term of court.

Search Keeps On

Meanwhile the search is still being made for the bodies of Leitzke and the baby, Mrs. Sheldon, Goy and Ted Sheldon, and J. C. Loerch, relatives of Leitzke, are leading in the digging operations.

So far no trace of the skeletons have been found. Unless they are discovered it seems extremely doubtful whether the case against the father can be made to hold water.

In the trial of Roy Clayton, just ended, the story told by Frances Sheldon was the main evidence presented by the state. Her "Confession" regarding the alleged murder of 26 people is at present the only evidence which state's attorney George Nusson will admit he has against the afther. {sp}

Frances Sheldon took the witness stand in the recent trial and made definite accusations against her brother. The state put her sister on the stand to try to strengthen and verify the evidence.

Jury Not Convinced.

But the jury was not satisfied that her brother was guilty, as she charged. Their verdict shows that they either did not believe the girl's story or else discounted it to a large degree.

The case against the father, James C. Clayton, at present rests on the accusations made by his daughter, the same Mrs. Sheldon.

She failed to convince the one jury that her brother was guilty. Whether she can make the jury believe her accusations against her father or not remains to be seen.

For these reasons the state is especially anxious to discover the skeletons of some of the people whom are claimed to have been murdered. With added evidence they believe they could go to court with some expectation of securing a conviction. Without it, only the bare story of Mrs. Frances Sheldon remains.

Residents of Steele seem to believe that the utterances of Frances Clayton (Mrs. Sheldon) should be taken with a good deal of "salt." Her story may have basis, but local people want to be shown additional evidence before they believe it.

Meanwhile the search is being kept up in the hopes of locating some of the bodies, if there are any, buried. The Sheldon family is leading in the search at the Clayon farm 7 miles southwest of here. An abandoned well is the center of operations now.

Bismarck Tribune, 7/24/1920

Snake Story

Posted 07/24/2015