Blood in the Barn: Suspicious Death of John L. Rogers 1915

Murder Victim

John L. Rogers
31-year-old Laborer
Cause of Death: Slashed Throat
Motive: Unknown

Death Scene and Date

Rogers Family Barn
Afton Township
Afton, Iowa
Union County
August 3, 1915


By Nancy Bowers
Written 2011

Location of Afton, Iowa

Location of Afton, Iowa

On Tuesday, August 3, 1915, a young boy discovered 31-year-old laborer John L. Rogers dead in the haymow of the Rogers family’s barn in Afton Township of Union County.

His throat had been cut. In the hay near the body lay Rogers’s own blood-stained knife. Investigators found his hat and coat outside the barn.

Several newspapers reported that bloody prints were found on the victim’s throat as well as on his trouser legs, by which he appeared to have been dragged.

Unconfirmed stories circulated about fingerprints on the outside door to the barn and on the ladder to the haymow.

from the Oxford Mirror

from the Oxford Mirror

Money from a check cashed in Creston was still in Rogers’s pocket, which ruled out robbery as a motive. A man named Kirt Wilson was briefly taken into custody and then released.

The Clearfield Enterprise reported:

“[Rogers] had no enemies, was not robbed, and there [was] no evidence to connect anyone with the crime if it was not suicide.”

However, in mid-August a coroner’s jury returned an open verdict, declaring they were unable to determine if the death was suicide or homicide.

☛ The Life of John Rogers ☚

John Rogers tombstoneJohn L. Rogers was born March 6, 1884 in Union County to Susan Ann Wiles and Civil War veteran Charles R. Rogers. He had four siblings: William, Amos, Fred A., and Minta M. Rogers.

He worked as a laborer performing odd jobs.

John L. Rogers is buried in Afton’s Greenlawn Cemetery.


Please note: Use of information from this article should credit Nancy Bowers as the author and Iowa Unsolved Murders: Historic Cases as the source.



  • ☛ Clearfield Enterprise, August 19, 1915, p. 6.
  • ☛ “Iowa News,” Elgin Echo, August 26, 1915, p 7.
  • ☛ “Iowa News,” Oelwein Daily Register, August 21, 1915, p. 2.
  • ☛ “Iowa State News,” Correctionville News, August 19, 1915, p. 2.
  • ☛ “Iowa State News,” Postville Review, August 27, 1915, p. 7.
  • ☛ Murder Proved To Be Suicide,” Cedar Rapids Republican, August 8, 1915, p. 1.
  • ☛ “Open Verdict Returned,” Oxford Mirror, August 19, 1915, p 2.
  • ☛ U.S. Census.

Comments are closed.

Tags: , , , , ,