On This Day

SEPTEMBER

At midnight on September 5, 1873, Alpha, Illinois, resident Robert McQuestian pounded on the door of a home at 18th and Brady streets in Davenport for help after being attacked at the Scott County Fair. He was taken to a hospital, where he died of kicks to the stomach and a stab wound in the temple. He was robbed of 80 dollars and his watch and chain. Click here to read “Too Long at the Fair.”
location of Davenport, Iowa

location of Davenport, Iowa

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What began as a high-spirited Labor Day trip with a stop at a county fair turned deadly for 22-year-old laborer Alexander McArthur when he was robbed and pushed from a train just west of the Davenport depot on September 5, 1899. Click here to read “Deadly Holiday Excursion.”

McArthur tombstone

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On September 7, 1925 — Labor Day — 51-year-old Myrtle Underwood Cook was shot to death through a window of her Vinton home while writing a speech for the W.C.T.U. The suspects were numerous, ranging from schoolboy house-eggers to bootleggers who resented her anti-alcohol activities to those who objected to her membership in the Ku Klux Klan, which conducted her funeral and burned a cross at her grave. Click here to read “The Teatotaling Klanswoman.”
Myrtle Cook

Myrtle Cook

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On September 9, 1904 — the day after his 52nd birthday — Osceola farmer Leonard L. DeLong died after drinking a whiskey during a family gathering. His suspicious sons arranged a secret exhumation of the body, which revealed strychnine in his stomach. However, the other evidence was not strong enough to prosecute the prime suspect. Click here to read “Poison in the Whiskey.”
Iowa Gravestone Photo Project

Iowa Gravestone Photo Project

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In the early morning hours of September 10, 1901, the body of 28-year-old Samuel R. “Sam” Anderson was found in the Merchants’ Saloon at 502 Brady Street in Davenport. Anderson was a porter and shoeshiner in the saloon. Although he was deeply stabbed twice in the abdomen and his throat was slashed ear-to-ear, the coroner’s jury ruled the death a suicide. Click here to read “Delirium Tremens.”
location of Davenport, Iowa

location of Davenport, Iowa

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Rose Z. Burkert

Rose Z. Burkert

Thirty-two-year-old telephone repairman Roger E. Atkison and his girlfriend Rose Z. Burkert, 22 — both residents of St. Joseph, Missouri — were axed to death in their sleep at the Amana Holiday Inn in Williamsburg on September 12, 1980. Bizarre clues were scattered throughout the room. The investigation of the brutal murders led to a number of individual suspects. Click here to read “Murder at the Morticians’ Convention.”

Roger E. Atkison

Roger E. Atkison

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In mid-September of 1920, motorcar garage employee John McGill, 28, was slashed to death in Sioux City in Woodbury County. Perhaps because McGill was African-American, his case received sparse coverage. Click here to read “Hacked to Pieces.”
location of Sioux City, Iowa

location of Sioux City, Iowa

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On September 16, 1905, a fisherman at the conjunction of the Des Moines and Raccoon rivers in Des Moines snagged the body of 41-year-old insurance agent George Griswold, who disappeared three days earlier. Just when it seemed the biggest controversy concerning the death would be whether it was murder or suicide, accusations of body switching and revelations of what was termed by newspapers as a “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde existence” rocked the investigation. Click here to read “Double Identity.”
George R. Griswold (photo courtesy Jane Hodges)

George R. Griswold, photo courtesy Jane Hodges

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Three would-be robbers were waiting for Des Moines businessman Bernie Grandanette when he returned to his Windsor Heights home with store receipts on the evening of September 14, 1958. As his 33-year-old wife Rose — a mother of three — opened the door to investigate the commotion, she was shot in the head by the muggers, who then fled the scene. Click here to read “On the Front Porch.”
photo by

photo by Katie Lou

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On September 14, 1976, a robber forced his way into the Waukee home of 80-year-old widow and recluse Emma Sophia Lewis and beat her so severely in the face and head that she drowned in her own blood. Neighbors were shocked that this gentle and cautious woman could be attacked so violently. Click here to read the “Shy, Quiet Victim.”
Emma Sophia Lewis

Emma Sophia Lewis

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On September 16, 1898, 23-year-old African-American barber George B. Carter was attacked by a sandbag-wielding assailant on the northern edge of the Newton city limits in Jasper County. He died of a fractured skull. Despite a dramatic arrest during Carter’s funeral, no trial or conviction was forthcoming. Click here to read “Sandbagged.”
photo by Carl Nollen

photo by Carl Nollen

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On September 17, 1980, the body of Sandra Jo “Sandy” Pittman, a 17-year-old Bettendorf High School dropout and runaway, was found in a Highway 30 roadside park near Clarence in Cedar County. She had been strangled and then bludgeoned to death with a pipe or tire iron. Authorities investigated possible links to the Burkert/Atkison double homicide on September 12, 1980. Click here to read “Thrown Away.”
Sandra Jo Pittman

Sandra Jo Pittman

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Frank Callahan, a 34-year-old Peosta resident, was last seen on September 19, 1905 at Des Moines’s Rock Island Deport after he arrived there from Colfax, where he had taken treatments for a “nervous disorder.” His drowned body was found in the Des Moines River at Levey in Polk County on September 24, 1905 and identified by a watch fob, medicine bottle, and small Bible. His pockets were slashed and his watch and money were missing. Click here to read “Taking the Waters.”
Frank Callahan’s headstone, photo by Mustafa

Frank Callahan’s headstone,
photo by Mustafa

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On September 23, 1935, Charles Englehart, a 70-year-old retired barber and businessman, was found critically injured in his automobile in an alley in the 700 block of Davenport’s Main Street. He later died at a local hospital of a skull fracture. His wallet had been stolen, but authorities doubted robbery was the motive for the attack because diamond jewelry was left behind. Click here to read “The Gentle Man.”
photo by Jim and Lori Rowe

photo by Jim and Lori Rowe

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On September 24, 1856, as they were traveling a country road near Montezuma in Poweshiek County, Andrew J. Casteel, 24, and Nancy, his 22-year-old bride of two weeks, were set upon by thieves, robbed, murdered, and hidden under a strawstack in a nearby farm field. They were buried beneath a common stone inscribed: “Murdered by Highwaymen & Concealed in the Cornstalks.” Click here to read “Highwaymen.”
Casteel tombstone, photo by Squeekie

Casteel tombstone,
photo by Squeekie

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The body of Iowa City resident Jared Ham, a 56-year-old retired house painter and paper hanger, was found floating in the Iowa River near Indian Lookout in Johnson County on September 24, 1911. He had been bludgeoned to death. Authorities believed Ham was attacked and robbed of the large amount of money he was carrying, but did not rule out fractious family dynamics in their investigation. Click here to read “He’s Got a Roll!”
location of Iowa City, Iowa

location of Iowa City, Iowa

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On September 25, 1872, 72-year-old farm wife Esther Alger was shot and then clubbed to death at her home near Calamus in Clinton County while her husband attended a prayer meeting. Suspects were multiple in the large, extended family; but most doubts fell on the grandson who discovered her body and another relative. The grand jury, however, failed to indict them. Click here to read “Blood by Lamplight.”
photo by Bill Fatchett

photo by Bill Fatchett

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The body of 42-year-old Irish-born carpenter William Martin, a Miles, Iowa, resident, was discovered under a bridge in Clinton six weeks after he was last seen during a September 26, 1885 trip to that city to purchase lumber and supplies. He was bludgeoned and thrown in the Mississippi River. Because he was found with a good deal of money on his person, the motive for the murder was unclear. Click here to read “The Irish Carpenter.”

location of Clinton, Iowa

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On September 27, 1893, 63-year-old William Asbury Hunt — a one-armed man who served as Des Moines’s first Police Chief — was assaulted in an alley in the 600 block of Locust Street in downtown Des Moines. He was bludgeoned with a blunt instrument, pushed down a stairwell, and robbed of his Civil War pension. Click here to read “The One-Armed Man.”
photo by Melody Kirk

photo by Melody Kirk

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Fifty-nine-year-old widow Mary Ann Green, a retired bookkeeper, was stabbed to death in her home at Oskaloosa’s Spring Creek Mobile Park on Highway 23 South in Mahaska County on September 27, 1987. She attempted to write a message in her own blood on a mirror before she died. A stepson and a California man were charged with murder-for-hire and tried three times before they were acquitted. Click here to read “Hired Killer.”
Mary Ann Green

Mary Ann Green

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On September 29, 1897, 47-year-old Calhoun County farmer Friedrich Wilhelm “Fred” Quade was shot through a window as he sat dozing in his dining room. The shotgun wadding was made from a paper dress pattern, which turned suspicion on his unmarried daughter Mary, who recently told him she was pregnant. A grand jury failed to indict her because of a lack of evidence and the existence of other possible suspects. Click here to read “The Clue in the Dress Pattern.”
Fred Quade’s tombstone (photo by Kimberly Albrecht [Nims])

Fred Quade’s tombstone,
photo by Kimberly Albrecht (Nims)

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Robert M. Clary, a 48-year-old unemployed pipefitter, was shot to death in his mobile home at 419 1/2 14th Avenue South in Clinton on September 29, 1982. Investigators were able to trace his activities on the day of his death but were unable to locate a viable suspect. Click here to read “When the Dogs Didn’t Bark.”
Robert M. Clary

Robert M. Clary

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On September 30, 1947, the body of Margaret Treese, a 34-year-old sideshow performer and laundry employee, was found near the entrance to Davenport’s Credit Island. She had been bludgeoned, stabbed, and run over by a car. Although a confession was made by a man in California, authorities determined he only wanted a ride back to Iowa. Click here to read “The Tattooed Lady.”
location of Davenport, Iowa

location of Davenport, Iowa

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