Not Innocent: The Investigation (part 3)

Casper Oveross was arraigned Wednesday morning.  The police often note in their reports that they received signed statements from various witnesses. Occasionally one of the officers will copy the statement into their report, but otherwise the statements were not in the police files.  My guess is that the statements were handed over to the District Attorney, and were in the D.A.’s case file, which I’ve not found, and it may no longer exist.  But I don’t know.

Wednesday, February 23, 1955

Sheriff’s Deputy Amos O. Shaw:

10:30AM: On duty.

10:45AM: Conference in Sheriff Office regarding contacts for the day.

11:20AM: Contact Elmer Floyd McMullen 41 yrs., regarding his having played shuffle board and drinking at Town House in Silverton.

12:10PM: Lunch at the Court House

12:45PM: Pick up tools at State Highway Maintanance for search for slugs at Oveross

1:15PM: Talk with Mrs. E. Oveross and gain permission to search area for slugs from guns found in area. Search area in and around house after permission granted by Mrs. Oveross.

3:35PM: Leave Oveross home

3:50PM: Contact Barnes residence, and make an appointment for tomorrow night at 8:00PM.

4:05PM: Contact Edith Kaser, wife of Harvey and receive signed statement.

5:15PM: Contact Ekman Funeral Parlor to pick up hat of Ervin Kaser.

5:30PM: Pick up Casper Oveross vehicle and return it to storage in Salem.

6:10PM: Put 1950 Ford, 1A118, at 123 So. 23rd. And lock garage.

6:45PM: Office and off duty to type up reports.

State Police Private Lloyd T. Riegel:

On 23 February 1955, Deputy Shaw and the writer were instructed by Sheriff Young and Sergeant Huffman to proceed to the Oveross residence and attempt to located bullets fired from the Casper Oveross gun while target practicing at the rear of the Oveross place. Tools were obtained from the State Highway offices and a thorough check was made in effort to determine from what position the shots could have been fired and into what area the shots at the targets would have been placed. This was very hard to determine as there appeared to be no definite spot for the shooting and no definite place for the placing of the targets. Several boards were found scattered throughout the field in which there is evidence that shots had been fired into the boards and on through. There were no actual bullets found and it is very doubtful if bullets could be found in this area due to the conditions.

At this time Deputy Shaw and the writer were contacted by Sheriff Young and Sergeant Huffman. The writer assisted Sergeant Huffman in a search of the Ethel Oveross residence. In the kitchen, behind the kitchen door, there were two definite marks on the wall which indicated that two guns had been leaned against the wall for some period of time. Ehtel Oveross stated that this was the spot where Casper Oveross had always placed his guns. With a tape measure and allowing for a normal lean of a gun, one mark measured thirty-eight and a quarter inches, a second was measured forty-nine and a half inches. It was quite definite on the walls where the end of the barrel and sight had marked the painted wall. Ethel Oveross stated that she did not know when Casper had taken the guns from the house, but that they had set there for quite some time before their divorce. A thorough search was made of the Oveross residence without any evidence of a gun being present.

Deputy Shaw and the writer then contacted Edith Kaser, the wife of Harvey Kaser. Edith Kaser stated that on the evening of 17 February 1955 at approximately 7:30 P.M. she had left home for Silverton, Oregon, to attend a Knights of Pythias lodge meeting. She further stated that she had left the lodge at approximately 10:55 P.M., 17 February 1955 and proceeded to her home on the Stayton-Silverton area. She stated as she approached the Ervin Kaser place she had noticed Ervin Kaser’s car setting in the driveway just south of the house and that the headlights and the dome light of the vehicle were on. She further stated that as she remembered there was no light inside the house and that she had wondered why the vehicle was setting with the lights on. She stated that it was possible, and that she had thought, that maybe Mr. Kaser had decided to leave and had forgotten something and had turned around to go back into the house and had left the vehicle setting with the lights on. She further stated that it was her impression that the vehicle was running, however, she could not definitely state that as she could see no exhaust smoke or could hear the engine as she passed. She further stated that about the middle of September 1954 that Oveross had come to their house one evning at approximately 11:00 P.M. and he had talked with her husband for some time then he got quite loud. She stated at that time she had got up and came to the front door with her husband and she heard Oveross state, “I’ll kill him, I’ll kill him, I don’t care if he is your brother.” She stated that she had threatened to call the State Police or the Sheriff and with this Casper Oveross had left. She further stated that evening Casper had been drinking and appeared to be somewhat quarrelsome.

The writer then contacted the Ekman Funeral Home in Silverton and picked up the hat worn by Ervin Kaser on the evening of the shooting. This request was made by Doctor Harris of the Crime Lab. The Ervin Kaser hat was sent to the crime lab at the request of Doctor Harris for further study at the laboratory.

The Casper Oveross vehicle, a 1950 Ford, Oregon 1A-118 was picked up by the writer, brought to Salem and stored at 123 South 23rd Street and locked up. The garage is in the possession of Sheriff Denvery Young. Denver Young presently holds the keys to the garage and to the vehicle.

Sheriff Denver Young:

10:30 A.M. Made check list with Sgt. Huffman. Ordered Oveross car brought in and parked at 195 S. 23rd St.

Removed Hunting license #297104 from Oveross property and placed in envelope.

1:15 Pick up Huffman

2:45 P.M Contacted Ethel Oveross at home, obtained permission to look over house. Measured marks in the house where she stated that Cap’s guns usually stood. One mark 38 1/4” from floor and one 49 1/2”.

3:40 P.M. Contact Jerry Hoyt bartender at Town House. Res at 119 Fiske St. Silverton. He has known Casper Oveross about 25 years. Recently purchased 20 acres from him. Thursday evening was not a busy night. He remembers when Rodney Oster and his wife came in about 10:30 and left about 12:30 midnight.

States that about 12:45 A.M. Feb 18, 1955 Casper Oveross came into the Town House and stayed until about 1:20 A.M. Then left. He noticed the time because the Silverton officers had been in earlier looking for Casper and had talked to him about Casper and Ervin Kaser. States that Casper drank one 7-up hiball and then went back to the restaurant counter and had a cup of coffee. Jerry talked to the Osters about the shooting just before they left the tavern.

5:00 P.M. Contacted Rodney Oster at Macks Place and took statement.

State Police Sergeant Wayne G. Huffman:

February 23, 1955, 4:58 P.M. Sheriff Denver Young and writer contacted Rodney R. Oster, 115 N. James Street, Silverton, bartender in Shorty’s Tavern, Silverton. He stated that he has known Casper Oveross all his life. On Thursday night, February 17, 1955, his wife, Margaret Oster, was bowling. He stated that he went to Mt. Angel and watched TV program, Dragnet, on TV at the Mt. Angel Hotel lobby and bar. He stated just a few minutes before the program was to end at 9:30 he left and drove to Silverton. He was rather in a hurry as he thought he would be late so he drove rather fast. He stated that he thought he arrived at Shorty’s Tavern around 9:35 P.M. He stated that on arrival at Shorty’s Tavern he saw Casper Oveross at the bar. Casper was not drinking and he talked with him for about ten or fifteen minutes. He stated Casper’s conversation was mostly about his family troubles and had made some statements “My wife is supposed to be at a lodge, but I suppose they are together.” He stated that he knew what Casper meant, that he meant Ervin Kaser but he did not mention his name. He also stated that Casper said, “I don’t think I will do anything about it as it isn’t worth it.” Oster stated that Casper had mentioned having a friend in the pen who is doing 99 years for killing his wife and boyfriend and that he knew when he was talking that he was thinking the same thing. He stated that Casper had talked to him before about his family troubles, he also used to talk to him about his financial affairs. He stated that he was at Shorty’s when his wife was through bowling and she came to the door and motioned to him and he left and when he left Casper was still there. He stated that he drove to the Town-House Tavern, he thought he got there about 10:30 P.M. and he and his wife stayed there for the next two hours. He thought possibly that they may have left there between 12:30 and 1:00 A.M. On February 18, 1955. He stated while they were there, he and his wife had some drinks and they played the bowling machine and Casper Oveross did not come into the bar while they were in there. Also he never saw him again that night. He stated that he was still there when the city police came in and motioned to Gerald Hoyt to come over to where they were standing at the front doorway of the bar room. He stated that Jerry told him the police had told him that Ervin Kaser had been shot. We both mentioned that we wondered where Cap Oveross was when we heard this. Oster stated after they left Town-House Tavern and went home they did not know exactly what time they arrived home.

Bud” at Marion County Sheriff’s Office: (apparently contacted Sears and Montgomery Wards for list of guns recently sold)

Sears Roebuck 30-30 rifles at $69.00 1946 to 1955, Silverton Area

Gus Herr Rt. 3 30-30 Winchester G-9412C

J. Beskeny Star Rt. 30-30 Winchester D-23762

N. S. Johansen 30-30 Winchester 1404372

Lester Fowler 30-30 Marlin E-37359

W. Shackelford 807 Bartlet 30-30 Winchester 1869114

Eldon Alt Rt. 3, Box 139 30-30 Winchester 1807469

Percy Dunn Rt. 2 30-30 Winchester 1876444

Vernon Mattox 936 S. Water 30-30 Winchester 2051738

Montgomery Wards.

Fred Allunbaugh 316 N. Church 30-30 Winchester No Number

Thomas Brown 30-30 Marlin G-7928

R. A. Sims 1528 Salem Rd. 30-30 Marlin H-13585

Sears Roebuck have charge account with Kasper Oveross, over a number of years, no recent purchase of gun on record. But they only have 1952 forward on books, are writing letter to main office, Seattle Washington, as he has done a lot of catalogue buying and could purchase gun through catalogue and they would not have record in main office, Salem, Ore. They will call this office if they receive any word from Main Office.

Oregon Statesman, Thursday, February 24, 1955
Oveross Hearing Ordered

Oveross being arraigned

Marion County District Court in Salem was a busy place Wednesday morning as Caspar Oveross, 44, of Silverton, was arraigned on a charge of first degree murder. The camera peeks into the courtroom over the shoulders of crowd and officers and shows District Judge Edward O. Stadter Jr. in background conducting arraignment. Facing him at attorneys’ table (with backs to the door) are Oveross (at left) and George Jones of Salem, who with Attorney Bruce Williams is defending Oveross. (Statesman photo)

Casper A. Oveross, arraigned Wednesday on a charge of slaying his ex-neighbor, Ervin Kaser, was granted a March 2 preliminary hearing in Marion County District Court.

Calm after his arrest and at his morning arraignment, Oveross later displayed the same unruffled composure in his Marion County jail cell where he is being held without bail.

Oveross, 44, was arrested late Tuesday in Silverton.  He is being held on a criminal information charging first-degree murder.

Kaser, 49, was killed Thursday night at his Evergreen district home near Silverton.  Four rifle bullets were fired by an assailant who sped away in an auto.

Answers Questions Calmly

Clad in blue jeans and a red-black plaid shirt, Oveross calmly answered questions put to him Wednesday morning by District Judge Edward O. Stadter Jr.  He appeared with Salem attorneys Bruce Williams and George Jones.

In Marion County probate court Wednesday, Kaser’s widow, Mary Louisa Kaser, was appointed adminstratrix of Kaser’s estate. Probate valuation was $10,000 in real property and $1,000 in personal property.

In Oveross’ native Silverton, several views of his alleged part in the slaying seem to have emerged Wednesday. Some adopt the attitude that sheriff’s office, will have to prove his case before they’ll believe it.

Oveross emerges from courtroom.

Oveross is emerging from the courtroom into circle of reporters, photographers and onlookers. Man facing camera at extreme right is Marion County Sheriff Denver Young. Photographer at left is Thomas G. Wright Jr. of The Statesman.

Rapitidy of Fire Cited

Others Wednesday expressed the view that, if Oveross fired the fatal shots, he did it to scare Kaser.  They cite the rapidity of the final three of four shots as proof that the rifleman had no intent to hit anyone.

Only sign of emotion shown during the brief court proceedings was at the end.  As Oveross left the courtroom, he recieved a warm hug and kiss from his sister, Mrs. Edward Schubert of Silverton Route 2.

Lasts Only Few Minutes

After juggling a few dates the hearing was set for next Wednesday at 10 a.m. in district court.  The entire proceedings required only several minutes.  The small spectators’ section of the courtroom was crowded with Oveross’ relatives, law officers, reporters and the public.

Casper Oveross emerges from court

Casper (Cap) Oveross, 43, calls cheerful greeting to friends as he leaves District Judge Edward A. Stadter’s court room Wednesday where he was arraigned on a first degree murder charge for the slaying of Ervin O. Kaser, 49-year-old Silverton farmer. Oveross is a former neighbor of the victim. Behind Oveross at right side of photo is Sheriff Denver Young. Unidentified woman is in left background. Oveross was remanded to jail without bail pending his preliminary hearing at 10 a.m., March 2. (Capital Journal photo)

Attorney Williams appeared satisfied with the early date set for the preliminary hearing. He had earlier declared there is no evidence against Oveross.

Meanwhile, the county sheriff’s office and state police continued their investigation. Police said three rifles “which Oveross has access to” were sent to the state police crime laboratory for checking and that bullets found at the murder scene have been compared with bullets taken from a target range on Oveross’ Abiqua farm.

Work Delayed

Sheriff Denver Young said much of his laboratory work — notably on the victim’s and Oveross’ impounded cars and on the guns — has been delayed because the crime laboratory experts have been called to testify at Burns in the Clinton Anderson murder trial.

At next week’s preliminary hearing the state will be required to present sufficient evidence linking Oveross to the crime.  The judge will either bind Oveross over to the grand jury for possible indictment or dismiss the case.

Oregon Statesman, Thursday, February 24, 1955
Ervin Kaser, Mrs. Oveross Accused in Divorce Actions

In seeking the conviction of Casper A. Oveross as slayer of his former Silverton neighbor Ervin O. Kaser, Marion County authorities are apparently taking into account an accusation by Oveross that Kaser was responsible for breaking up his marriage.

County circuit court records of the Casper Oveross’ divorce complaint and of a divorce action filed by Mrs. Kaser both refer to their spouses as associating with other persons of the opposite sex.

On Aug. 6 Mary Kaser, wife of the Silverton hop farmer Oveross is accused of ambushing, filed suit for divorce.  She charged, among other allegations, that “The defendant does associate with and keep company with another woman or other women from time to time.”  She does not list names.

Scandal Claimed

On Aug. 20 Casper Oveross, Silverton carpenter, suing his wife Ethel for divorce, alleged “That for the period of several years, the defendant has associated herself with other men, and particularly one other man to such an extent that such association has become public scandal and gossip in the community in which the plaintiff and defendant live.”  Neither does he list names.

Forty-nine year-old Kaser’s death last Thursday leaves the Kaser divorce mute. Trial had been set for March 17.

Granted Divorce

The accused Oveross on Oct. 8 was granted his divorce, a 20-acre farm and the newer of the two family cars.  Mrs. Oveross won the family homestead of eight acres, on which sets the house they lived in and an unfinished dwelling.  Under terms of the divorce decree, Oveross and his ex-wife are prohibited from marrying within the next six months.

The defendants of both divorce actions — the deceased Kaser and Oveross’ former wife — entered general denials of the allegations listed in the two complaints.

Casper Oveross did not appear personally for the final divorce hearing before Circuit Judge Joseph B. Felton, but was represented by Attorney Thomas B. Bagriel.  Mrs. Oveross appeared in the company of her attorney, Ervin W. Potter.

Married in 1935

The Oveross couple were married Dec. 5, 1935 in Vancouver, Wash., and lived during their marriage in Silverton’s Evergreen district, about a half mile east of the Kaser residence.

[EK_note: it was very common at that time for couples to drive to Vancouver, Washington, about an hour’s drive north, just across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon, because there was no waiting period in Washington, you could get married the same day.]

Ervin and Mary Kaser were married Oct. 21, 1939 in Salem.

[Recounting of the murder deleted]

Mrs. Oveross gained custody of the couple’s two daughters in the divorce.  She and an older daughter [EK_note: Colleen] were in the courtroom at Oveross’ arraignment Wednesday.

A life-long resident of the Silverton community Oveross is generally well-liked by his townsmen and neighbors.  He and his family had lived for 20 years in the Evergreen community about a quarter-mile from the killing.

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