The Body in the Pasture: Murder of Elmer Penderson 1881

Murder Victim

Elmer Penderson
16-year-old Farmhand
1866-1881
Cause of Death: Undetermined
Motive: Unknown

Murder Scene and Date

Farm Field
Keota, Iowa
Keokuk County
August 1881

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By Nancy Bowers
Written July 2012

location of Keota, Iowa

location of Keota, Iowa

On Wednesday, August 24, 1881, a grim discovery was made in a farm pasture near Keota: a body with the flesh decomposed — or eaten by a hog or other animal — nearly completely off the bones.

The body was identified as that of 16-year-old Elmer Penderson.

Elmer — the hired man at the Euphenia and Stephen C. Pierson farm in Section 26 of Seventy Six Township in Washington County — had not been seen for nearly two weeks.

from the Le Mars Daily Liberal

No cause could be determined for Elmer Penderson’s death, but the circumstances were considered suspicious.

The 1880 U.S. Census records the victim’s name as “Elmer Anderson,” although newspapers referred to him as “Elmer Penderson.”
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Please note: Use of information from this article should credit Nancy Bowers as the author and Iowa Unsolved Murders: Historic Cases as the source.

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References

  • β˜› β€œIowa News Items,” Le Mars Daily Liberal, September 5, 1881.
  • β˜› U.S. Census.

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