35-year-old Bulgarian National
Chicago and Northwestern Railroad
Cause of Death: Struck With a Hammer
Murder Scene and Date
Employee Boarding Car
January 10, 1910
By Nancy Bowers
At 5:00 p.m. on Monday, January 10, 1910, 35-year-old Chicago and Northwestern Railroad section hand Welio Tsnoff finished work for the day in the Marshalltown rail yards.
Written June 2015
He went inside an employee boarding car to light the stove to cook supper while the other two men who lived there with him — Bulgarian nationals like Tsnoff — walked downtown to buy food.Not long afterwards, two other railroad employees, described by newspapers as “Italians,” passed by and spotted a fire in the boarding car.
The men broke out a window and found a body engulfed in fire lying on the floor. They dragged it outside, where the snow on the ground quenched the flames.
Just then, Sergeant Goodwill of the Marshalltown Police Department came by on his way to work; he notified authorities of the crime.
The burned body was identified as that of Welio Tsnoff.Marshall County Coroner Dr. E.W. Jay ruled that the victim died from a blow to the head with a mason’s cracking hammer. The killer or killers then poured kerosene from a lamp over the body and set it alight in hopes of destroying evidence.
Tsnoff was known to have $150 in his possession. That money was missing, making robbery the likely motive for the homicide.
Some newspapers reported that law enforcement authorities were tracking Tsnoff’s roommates as suspects.
However, the Cedar Rapids Republican wrote:
“Officers have no clue, but are searching the country and notifying the surrounding towns.”
And the Perry Weekly Chief reported:
“There is absolutely no clue to work on.”
Little was known about Tsnoff except that he had a wife and five children living in Bulgaria.
Please note: Use of information from this article should credit Nancy Bowers as the author and Iowa Unsolved Murders: Historic Cases as the source.
- ☛ “Brutal Crime At Marshalltown,” Muscatine Journal, January 11, 1910, p. 1.
- ☛ “Brutal Murder At Marshalltown,” Cedar Rapids Republican, January 11, 1910, p. 1.
- ☛ “Brutal Murder At Marshalltown,” Iowa City Daily Press, January 11, 1910, p. 1.
- ☛ “Bulgarian Brutally Slain,” Fayette Reporter, January 13, 1910, p. 2.
- ☛ “Bulgarian Murdered,” Waterloo Evening Courier, January 11, 1910, p. 1.
- ☛ “Bulgarian Murdered,” Waterloo Semi-Weekly Courier, January 14, 1910, p. 2.
- ☛ “Murder At Marshalltown,” Fairfield Journal, January 12, 1910, p. 1.
- ☛ “Murder At Marshalltown,” Rolfe Reveille, January 13, 1910, p. 1.
- ☛ Perry Weekly Chief, January 12, 1910, p. 4.
- ☛ “A Terrible Murder At Marshalltown,” Atlantic Daily Telegraph, January 11, 1910, p. 1.