Not Innocent: The Investigation (part 2)

The next day of the investigation, Tuesday, February 22, culminates in the arrest of Casper Oveross on the charge of First Degree Murder.  Here follows the day’s police reports, and a Wednesday morning newspaper article about the arrest.

Tuesday, February 22, 1955

Sheriff’s Deputy Amos O. Shaw:

8:00AM: On duty

8:45AM: At State Police office for Officer Riegel

9:05AM: Leave State police for Silverton

9:35AM: Obtained statement from Waldo Rue, see statement signed.

10:05AM: Statement signed, received from Mr. Riches.

11:40AM: Contact by District Attorney K. Brown, and Merle Grace Chief from Mnt. Angel.

12:05PM: Contact Chief of Police Buck Main Silverton.

12:35PM: Contact Chick Carter at home. Information received that he was talking to a service station attendant in Salem, and he may have information.

1:10PM: Contact Shorty’s Tavern, Shorty says that Casper was in Tavern at about 3:00 until about 6:00PM 2-17-55, and went to Town House and got a sandwich for Shorty. After bringing the supper, he said he was going to go home to eat. Returned about 7:00PM and Casper and Shorty played shuffle board until about 9:00PM or so. Possible witness Darlene Carter works Steelhammer Drug store, also Jimmy McEwen, works up Abequa in mill. Doesn’t think that Casper left until about 10:00PM or so.

1:25PM: Contact Darlene Carter, went to Shorty’s Tavern about 10:50PM 2-17-55 and never saw Casper Oveross at any time.

1:50PM: Contact S&M Trucking Company reg. Ray Ruscher, played shuffleboard, not at office.

2:10PM: Contact Mrs. Lois Ruscher at Mount Angel, on night of 17th. Of Feb. Lois was playing shuffleboard with husband, and the Carter girl and her friend. Fir.?. got done bowling around 10:00 of 10:15PM and went over to Shorty’s Tavern and played shuffleboard. Rodney Oster was at the Tavern and left almost immediately. Ray Ruscher went over to the tavern around 8:30PM. People in at Shorty’s Tavern when Mrs. Rusher got there as follows, 1-Gene Moore (married) Dolores Robbins, Charley Ertelt (Mount Angel farmer). Harold Flecht (has linoleum store in Woodburn.)

2:30PM: Contact Charley Ertelt, Mount Angel, only in Shorty Tavern about one half hour uncertain as to time. Doesn’t know Casper Oveross.

3:00PM: Contact Lt. Mogan State Police in Silverton.

3:30PM: Contact Sheriff Young and Sargeant Huffman, ordered to collect bullets from Oveross farm, and watch for Danny Gilham.

4:30PM: Requested to make time run from Ervin Kaser residence to Gilham residence. Mileage on speedometer 18938.0 Time of departure 4:40.0PM Time of Arrival at the Gilham home, 4:45 and 45 seconds. (Lost approximately 12 seconds due to traffic.) Mileage at Gilham residence 18943.3 TOTAL MILEAGE 5.3

Second speed check, at Gilham residence Speedometer 18943.3 Time of departure 4:51 and no seconds. Speedometer at Ervin Kaser residence 18948.6 Time of arrival 4:57 no seconds. Second speed check was with speedometer at approximately 60 miles per hour.

8:05PM: Place Casper Oveross under arrest, charge Murder on authority of Warrant, Casper was over at neighbors house, 1st. House north of Henry Oveross home which is 514 S Water. Present was Henry Oveross and others. Casper Arnold Oveross.

8:40PM: At state Police Patrol office with Oveross. He states he was at nieces home, Bob Moon’s residence when picked up, house number 512 S Water.

Description: Casper Arnold Oveross, 514 So. Water St. Silverton Oregon. Arrested 512 So. Water St. 44 yrs., 5’10”, 180 pounds, Brown hair, Blue eyes. Carpenter by trade. Born in Silverton 1911, Carpenter by trade. Complainant on warrant Denver Young Sheriff, charged with 1st. Degree Murder. District Court Warrant signed E Stadter. Dated 2-22-55. (Officer Riegel assisting.)

10:00PM: Take prisoner Casper Oveross into County Jail and book in.

10:50PM: Silverton. Attempt to gain permission to search the Henry Oveross home for rifle used in commission of felony.

11:15PM: Stand by while Officer Riegel talks to Mr. & Mrs. Henry Oveross

12:20AM: Contact Henry Oveross regarding activity and vehicle.

1:05AM: Impounded 1950 Ford Coach, Oregon 1A118 Property of Casper Oveross, vehicle was towed from 514 S Water, Silverton, to Moll’s Plymouth and Chrysler Garage North Water St. Silverton. Towing done by Mr. Moll.

1:20AM: Return to Salem.

State Police Private Lloyd T. Riegel:

On the morning of 22 February 1955 Deputy Shaw and the writer contacted Waldo Rue. Mr. Rue stated that he had attended a grange meeting in Silverton on the evening of 17 February 1955 and that he had left the grange meeting at approximately 10:45 P.M., and that he had driven staright home. Stated that he arrived at home at approximately 10:53 P.M. As he drove by the Ervin Kaser residence he did not notice any vehicle in the driveway or vehicles parked along the road between Silverton and the Ervin Kaser residence or between the Ervin Kaser residence and his residence, which is approximately two miles south on the Silverton-Sublimity highway.

The officers then contacted Robert Riches who had also attended the same grange meeting in Silverton. Mr. Riches stated that he had left Silverton between 11 and 11:05 P.M. 17 February 1955. He stated that it is possible that he could have met cars along the Silverton-Sublimity highway. At the Ervin Kaser residence he stated that he saw a vehicle parked in the driveway and the thing that he noticed most about this vehicle was that the headlights were on and the dome light was on. He further noticed that there were no lights in the house and there were no other vehicles parked near the Ervin Kaser residence. Mr. Riches stated that his residence is approximately three miles south and a little east of the Ervin Kaser residence.

Deputy Shaw and the writer then returned to Silverton and made a re-check at Shorty’s Tavern, relative to the activity of Casper Oveross on the evning of 17 February 1955. Shorty stated that Casper Oveross came to the tavern at approximately 3:00 P.M. in the afternoon and that about 6:30 P.M. that he had sent Casper Oveross to the Town House in Silverton, Oregon, to purchase a sandwich and Casper had returned to the tavern at approximately 7:00 P.M. Shorty further stated that at that time he talked Casper Oveross into playing three games of shuffleboard. While playing the three games of shuffleboard Shorty stated that he became quite concerned about his beer business and that he was sure that bowling tournament was to be held that evening in the adjoining building and that he went to the door several times and looked as to why no customers were coming in his place and then he remembered that this was the evening for the women bowling tournament and that there would probably be no men or very few in his tavern. Shorty further stated that a Jimmy McQuen and a girl known only as the Carter girl had come into his place and had played shuffleboard with Casper Oveross. Shorty stated that to the best of his knowledge Casper Oveross had not left his tavern until approximately 10:00 P.M. and that while at the tavern he had talked with a Rodney Oster and his wife and that he thought possibly Rodney Oster and his wife and Casper had also played shuffleboard. Shorty also stated that he was quite sure that Casper had not left the tavern between 7 and 10:00 P.M. He further stated that a Chareles Ertitle of Silverton and a Ray Ruscher had also been in the tavern at the same time Casper Oveross was there and that they had also played shuffleboard with Casper Oveross.

Charles Ertitle was contacted in Mt. Angel and he stated that he had been in the tavern, definite time unknown, and he had stayed there only a few minutes and left. Further he stated that he did not know Casper Oveross and that he could have been in the tavern and he would have not known.

Jimmy McQuen and the Carter girl, who is a clerk at the Steelhammer Drug Store, were also contacted and they stated they had come in the tavern after 10:00 P.M. and that they had not seen Casper Oveross, however, they did know him and were quite sure that if he had been in the tavern they would have noticed him.

Ray Ruscher was also contacted and he stated that he had stayed at the bowling alley, watching his wife bowl, until approximately 8:30 P.M. and that he had gone in to Shorty’s tavern and had a few beers. Stated that he was quite sure that Casper was in the tavern when he arrived at 8:30, but he did not know how long he had been there previous to that. Stated that he had talked to Casper only a minute and that he was not sure as to whether Casper had played shuffleboard or not, as he had not played shuffleboard with him.

At this time the writer and Deputy Sheriff Shaw were contacted by Sergeant Huffman and Sheriff Denver Young and Lieutenant Mogan. Deputy Shaw and the writer were sent to the vicinity of the Oveross residence on the Silverton-Sublimity Road and were advised to watch for Danny Gilham, and if he came to the Oveross residence to detain him and advise Sheriff Young and Sergeant Huffman. It was also requested by Sheriff Young that the writer and Deputy Shaw make a time run between the Ervin Kaser residence and the Danny Gilham residence. Two time runs were made. The time to drive between the Ervin Kaser residence and the Danny Gilham residence was five minutes and forty-five seconds, the mileage was five and three tenths miles. The second time run was made holding the speedometer as near as possible to sixty miles per hour. On this time run it took exactly six minutes, the mileage again checked at five and three tenths miles.

At 8:05 P.M. this date Deputy Shaw and the writer were advised that Denver Young presently held a warrant charging Murder in the First Degree for Casper Oveross and that Deputy Shaw and the writer were to pick Casper Oveross up, and proceed to the Salem patrol office and contact Sheriff Young and Sergeant Huffman. This was done at 8:05. Casper Oveross was picked up at 512 South Water Street, Silverton, Oregon, at the residence of his cousin and Mr. Noon.

At 10:50 P.M. the writer contacted Henry Oveross at 514 South Water Street and asked Mr. Henry Oveross’ permission to search his residence. His permission was granted. The writer searched the residence in the presence of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Oveross. A search of all bedrooms, clothes closets, pantries, living room, dining room, study, kitchen, wood shed, fruit room, garage and back porch of the house was made for any evidence of a rifle owned by Casper Oveross. There was no evidence of a rifle or any type of gun found at the Henry Oveross residence.

The Oveross Ford, a 1950 Ford, Oregon 1A-118, was impounded by Deputy Shaw and towed to the Moll Chrysler-Plymouth garage in Silverton, Oregon, where it was held for evidence per request of Sheriff Young.

Sheriff Denver Young:

9:00 A.M. Received information from John Zabinski that an ex-Silverton woman by the name of Jaeske, had committed suicide and had been investigated by the City. She may have known Kaser. Instructed Deputy Sheriff Zabinski to check for any possible connection with Kaser case.

11:40 A.M. Ted Riches farm.

Contact Daniel James Gilham. States he is 19 years old and lives with his parents at Rt. 5, Box 417, Salem. 6-1, 180 to 185, brown hair and blue eyes. Gilham states that on night of February 17, 1955 he went to the Oveross home about 7:00 P.M. The only one home at the time of his arrival was Colleen, her mother came in a short time later with Karen. Mrs. Oveross left a few minutes later, in her car. At approximately 7:55 P.M. Casper Oveross arrived at the house and stayed until about 8:30. Gilham stated that he had planned on going to band practice that evening but decided that it was late anyway so he stayed at the house, with Colleen. They stayed there alone until about 10:30, then he left in his car and started home. He arrived home about 10:45 P.M. He stated that he went hunting with Bill Specht and Casper Oveross last year near Black Butte. He stated that he had a 30-30 Marlin rifle with him and was quite sure that Casper had a 30-30 carbine. States that he has been to Caspers cabin several times since the divorce and remembers seeing the shotgun standing in the corner and is quite sure that the rifle was there at that time. Gilham stated that on the afternoon of Feb. 18, he and Colleen were outside of her house when her cousin came and told them that Casper was at Henry Oveross residence. He took Colleen in and she and Casper Talked. He claims that he did not hear their conversation. Did not hear the gun mentioned at that time.

On Sunday, 20th he took Mrs. Ethel Oveross, Colleen and Karen in to see Cap.

Gilham also stated that on the 18th, he and Colleen went in to see Ralph Emmons who Colleen works for. Colleen stayed and worked and he and Casper went over and talked to Bruce Williams, on the recommendation of Emmons. He stated that he had not employed Mr. Williams to represent him in any way and he would be willing to answer any questions that he could in order to clear up the matter of Kasers death.

At this time Gilham stated (voluntarily) that there was something that he had forgotten to mention. That right after he went hom eand went to sleep, his folks called him and woke him up, and said that someone wanted to see him outside. He went outside in his night clothes and stayed on the porch. A car that he thought was Cap Oveross’s was parked in the driveway. The driver of the car came towards him and he stepped down to the gravel driveway and stood on the bottom step. He further stated that quote, “When I first went out Cap said Ervin’s got three slugs in him,” unquote. He said that Cap was very quiet about it and did not appear to have been drinking. He further stated that the person talking had on a cap such as Cap wore and he was sure that it was Casper Oveross. He also stated that when he was backing out of the driveway (Oveross) a car passed going north. (This was at 10:30 P.M.). The driver of the car honked the horn and he believed the driver of the car to be Casper. He later stated that he was not sure that the driver was Casper but the car looked like Caspers. He stated that he guessed any one passing by at that time would have honked.

1:30 P.M. Contact Mrs. Jennie Gilham. Took signed statement.

At 7:30 P.M. on February 22nd 1955 the writer secured a complaint against the above subject [EK_NOTE: Casper Oveross] from District Attorney Kenneth A. Brown. A warrant was secured from District Judge E.O. Stadter. Information was given to Deputy Sheriff Amos O. Shaw and State Officer Reigel who affected the arrest of Oveross in Silverton Oregon at 8:05 P.M.

Shaw and Reigel were instructed to bring Oveross to the State Police headquarters for interrogation. Due to reporters hanging around the front office they were instructed to bring prisoner through the back door so as to avoid any unnecessary publicity.

Both the writer and Lt. Mogan attempted to interrogate Oveross, however he refused to answer any questions even to giving his name and physical description. Lt. Mogan tried several times to question without success and asked him specifically if he would deny shooting Ervin Kaser. He received no answer.

At 9:40 P.M. Shaw and Reigel were instructed to take Oveross to the County Jail and the writer accompanied them in my car. Oveross was booked in the Marion County Jail at 10:00 P.M. Feb 22, 1955.

The writer then personally called Mr. Bruce Williams and told him that the prisoner had been booked and that eh would be welcome to come down and talk to him.

No further attempts were made to talk to the prisoner.

 State Police Sergeant Wayne G. Huffman:

On February 22, 1955, 11:30 A.M. Contacted and questioned Daniel James Gilham, 19 years, Rt. 5, Box 417, Salem. He stated on Thursday, February 17, 1955 he had gone to the Oveross residence and seen Colene Oveross. He arrived there around 7:00 P.M. he stated that at that time he was on his way to Silverton for band practice with the Old Timer’s Band. Band practice was around 8:00 P.M. he stated on his arrival that Mrs. Oveross, mother of Colene, had gone over to the neighbors to pick up her younger daughter, Karen and that she came back shortly after he arrived. He stated Mrs. Ethel Oveross about 7:30 left in her own car alone, where she was going he did not know. He stated Karen, the younger daughter had also left to go with the neighbors to a skating party in Salem. He stated he stayed there with Colene and that about 7:50 or 8:00 P.M. Casper Oveross came to the residence and that they had talked and that he had decided not to go on to band practice but to stay there at the Oveross residence, as he was late and did not want to get into band practice late. He stated that Casper Oveross left there about 8:30 P.M. and he did not know where he had gone. He stated that he stayed at the Oveross residence with Colene and he had left about 10:30 P.M. and the mother, Mrs. Ethel Oveross, had not returned when he left. He stated that as he backed out of the Oveross driveway towards the main highway a car came by going north towards Silverton and coming from the south towards Stayton. As this car came by it tooted its horn as if in recognition of his car. He stated that he looked and that it was a dark colored, which he thought to be black, Ford sedan, same model as Casper Oveross’. He though, but was not sure, that it was Casper in the car. He stated he backed out onto the highway and drove home going south towards Stayton and that he had arrived home about 10:45 P.M. and went in the house and went to bed.

He stated last fall during deer hunting season, he had gone with Casper Oveross deer hunting in the Ochoco mountains. They hunted near Black Butte somewhere near Prineville. He stated another fellow by the name of Bill Speck was with us. He stated he has a 30-30 Marlin carbine rifle and Casper has a lever action 30-30 or 32 rifle which he thinks is a Winchester. He stated he has seen this gun at Casper’s place in Silverton since they have been deer hunting last fall, but the exact date he does not know. He is almost sure he has seen the gun in the Holland Cabins since deer hunting season, but he would hate to say anything that might hurt Colene Oveross as he has been going with her for the past two years.

On Friday, February 19, 1955, he stated that Hank Oveross and his daughter came out to Colene Oveross’ place while he was there and said that Casper was at his cabin and would like to see them. He stated that Colene, Mrs. Ethel Oveross and Karen Oveross and he went to Silverton and visited with Casper Oveross. He stated Colene and Mrs. Ethel Oveross talked to Casper Oveross in a different room and he did not talk to him very much. He stated the last time he had seen Casper Oveross was at his cabin and this was on Sunday, February 20, 1955. He stated that he believed Mrs. Oveross was trying to prove Casper Oveross innocent now. He also stated on Friday, February 18, 1955 Colene Oveross and her father Casper Oveross rode into Salem with him and she talked to her boss, Ralph Emmons, concerning Casper Oveross and the shooting. He stated that Ralph Emmons suggested that they talk to Bruce Williams. He stated they all three, Casper, Colene and himself went over and talked to Bruce Williams that same day in his office. He stated he heard some of the conversation. Casper Oveross had denied shooting Ervin Kaser.

Sheriff Young and the writer questioned Danield James Gilham later that same day and under continued questioning he would add a little bit more than what he had previously told us. On further questioning of Daniel James Gilham he made the following statement: he stated that he had not told us everything and he wished to add something more.

Daniel Gilham stated that after he had arrived home on the night of February 17, 1955, he had gone to bed and gone to sleep. He stated the next thing he remembered his mother awakened him and told him there was someone in the driveway that wanted to talk to him. He stated he went out the front steps and down to the driveway in his pajamas and he observed Casper Oveross’ car parked in his driveway. Casper was standing by the car and as he went down the steps to the driveway Casper Oveross walked over to him. He stated Casper said to him, “Ervin had three slugs in him, I want you to be my witness. I was with you last night.” He stated Casper turned then and mumbled something else and walked to his car, got in and drove away. He stated he went back up into his bedroom and went to bed but he could not sleep thinking about what Casper told him. He thought in his own mind but was not sure what Casper had shot Ervin Kaser. He stated about 3:00 A.M. In the morning the telephone rang and his mother called him, said someone wanted to talk to him. It was Colene Oveross and she told him over the phone to come over something had happened and she wanted him right away. He stated he dressed and went over to her residence where he learned Ervin Kaser had been killed. Daniel James Gilham of his own free will was brought to the Oregon State Police District Headquarters, Salem, Oregon, by Sheriff Young and writer for further questioning.

Conatcted Mrs. Jenny Gilham, Rt. 5, Box 417, Salem, mother of Daniel James Gilham, who stated that on Thursday, February 17, 1955, her son, Daniel, came home about 10:30 P.M. and went right to his bedroom. She stated that she and Mr. Gilham were already in bed. She stated a short time later she heard another car come in the driveway and right after that someone started calling, “Danny.” She stated she got up and went to Danny’s room and knocked several times then went in and awakened him, and told him that someone wanted to see him downstairs. She stated he went down and out the front door and she looked out the bedroom window and saw a person whom she believed to be Casper Oveross sitting outside in his car. She said the dome light inside the car was on also the headlights. She stated about that time Danny came out the front door and stopped near the bottom step near the driveway. As Danny walked toward the driveway the man got out of the car and came back to meet him. She stated this man seemed to be very nervous and used his hands a lot. She stated he came up close to Danny and spoke something and then stared back towards his car and seemed to be talking as he went. She stated the man got into his car and drove away and Danny came back into the house and went to bed. She stated while Danny was dressing to go down and talk to this man who was parked in the driveway, Mr. Gilham asked me what time it was, and I looked at the clock and it was 11:15 P.M. She stated that they keep this clock in the bedroom 15 minutes fast and that would make it right at 11:00. She stated about 3:00 A.M. February 18, 1955, someone called on the telphone for Danny and that they talked and Danny came to the bedroom and told them that it was Colene that had called and she had stated that something had happened and she wanted him to come right now. She stated that before Danny left the house Mr. Gilham asked him “what Cap wanted” and Dan stated that Cap stated that he did not get the job and that he might to to Gold Beach. She stated that Danny left and they did not see them again until the next evening. She stated that the reason that they thought the man in the car was Casper Oveross was because last fall when Cap and Danny went hunting together Cap came late at night and called for Danny the same way as this person did on the night of February 17.

Wednesday, February 23, 1955 Oregon StatesmanNeighbor Charged With Murder of Silverton Man
Casper Oveross Jailed
By THOMAS G. WRIGHT JR. and BRUCE KIPP, Staff Writers, The Statesman

SILVERTON — Calm, gum-chewing Casper (Cap) A. Oveross native resident of the Silverton area, was arrested Tuesday night on a charge of first degree murder in the starlight slaying of his onetime neighbor Ervin Kaser last Thursday night.

Oveross, 44, who had blamed Kaser for breaking up his marriage was under suspicion from the moment of the shooting at Kaser’s Evergreen District home.

Cap Oveross arrested

SILVERTON–Casper A. (Cap) Oveross, 44-year-old Silverton carpenter, enters Marion County Courthouse Tuesday night in the custody of police officers after his arrest on a charge of first degree murder in the slaying of his one-time neighbor Ervin Kaser last Thursday night. Behind Oveross (left to right) are Deputy Sheriff Amos Shaw and State Policemen Lloyd T. Riegel, who made the arrest, and Marion County Sheriff Denver Young. (Statesman Photo)

Kaser’s slayer had apparently followed him the 2 1/2 miles home from SIlverton, pulled his car to the shoulder of the road fifty yards away and fired four shots into the victim’s car.  One of the closely grouped shots struck Kaser in the back, killing him instantly.

Oveross was arrested at the home of his niece, Mrs. Robert Moon of 510 S. Water St., Silverton, at 8:05 Tuesday night by Deputy Sheriff Amos Shaw and State Patrolman Lloyd T. Riegel, both of Salem.  Arresting officers said Oveross refused to accept his copy of the Marion County District Court warrant citing him for first degree murder.

Five Days’ Sleuthing

The arrest followed nearly five days of intensive sleuthing by sheriff’s deputies and state plicemen, led by Marion County Sheriff Denver Young and State Police Sergeant Wayne Huffman. Young said he credited Huffman, Shaw, Riegel and Patrolman Robert Dunne particularly with gathering information leading to the arrest.

Salem Attorney Bruce Williams, Oveross’ lawyer, stated there was no evidence against his client and said he will demand the earliest possible preliminary or, failing that, a writ of habeas  corpus to free Oveross from custody.

Williams also claimed that his client was questioned by the sheriff’s office for more than 10 hours Friday morning when he became the sheriff’s first suspect.

Oveross, born near Rocky Four Corners on Abiqua Creek north of here. He was living at 716 N. Second St., Silverton and has resided in the Silverton area all his life. He graduated from Silverton High School as did his wife, Ethel, from whom he was divorced last fall.  They had lived for 20 years in the Evergreen community, about a quarter mile from the scene of the killing.

Counter Suit

The Oveross divorce proceedings were started in Marion County Circuit Court by Oveross, but Mrs. Oveross, a twin sister of Mrs. Harvey Kaser, whoe husband is a brother of the slain man, filed a counter suit and was awarded custody of the couple’s two daughters.

Police indicated that Oveross blamed Ervin Kaser, himself separated from his wife, for the split up of his family. Mrs. Oveross had reportedly seen Kaser a few hours before the slaying.

Investigating officers said Oveross’ time for the night of the slaying had been accounted for, including an early evening visit with his daughter at his former home while his former wife was away.

They said three rifles “which Oveross has access to” were being checked by the Oregon State Police crime laboratory.  The bullet found in Kaser’s body and another one found in the car have been compared with bullets taken from a target range on Oveross’ Abiqua farm, police indicated.

Police were continuing the investigation early today.

Oveross, a 5 foot 9, 155-pound carpenter and part-time farmer, was clad in blue jeans and plaid wool shirt when he was taken into custody. Konwn as an avid hunter, Oveross is considered a crackshot.

Oveross is generally well-liked by his townsmen and neighbors and exhibited no traits that drew attention to him.

A 1950 black Ford coach, registered to Oveross, was impounded by police Tuesday night and stored in a Silverton garage.

Waited for Attorney

From the time of his arrest until the arrival of his attorney, Oveross declined to answer all questions by police, saying only, “I’m waiting for my attorney.”  He told Statesman reporters only his age, his birthdate and birthplace during the period between his arrest and his booking into the Marion County jail at exactly 10 p.m.  He was assigned to cell-block A, cell 4 in the jail by Deputy Thomas W. Brown.

Oveross will be arraigned in Edward A. Stadter Jr. District Court at 10 a.m. today on the murder charge.

Blogically yours,

Not Innocent: The Investigation (part 1)

Part 1 and part 2 of “Not Innocent: The Murder” covers the events of the night of February 17th and the following day, Friday, February 18th.  We pick up the story of the investigation the next day.  While the police have a firm suspect (Caspar Oveross), there are a number of other possible suspects including Danny Gilham (boyfriend of Ethel Oveross’ daughter Colleen), Harvey Kaser (Ervin’s brother, who had fought with Ervin), as well as men who may have had business dealings with Ervin and men who’s wives (according to rumor) may have been approached by Ervin.  The police have to try to determine the motive for the murder and hunt for witnesses and physical evidence–primarily the rifle used in the murder.  Based upon the bullets, they know it was a 30-caliber rifle, which was a common hunting rifle and owned by many men in the area.  They have to search ditches, creeks, and ponds, in case the weapon was thrown away as the killer fled the scene, and they also have to perform ballistic checks on all of the 30-caliber rifles they can locate in the area, in case the killer kept the rifle.  They know that Danny Gilham has a 30-caliber rifle, and are trying to secure it from his parents while he’s not at home.  However, their prime suspect is Casper Oveross, as the Silverton Police were aware before the murder of his marital problems and his placing the blame on Ervin Kaser, and Casper’s alibi of being in two Silverton taverns at the time of the murder has been denied by everyone in those taverns.

NOTE: As I’ve mentioned before, the police reports and newspaper articles are rife with misspellings.  In just this post, you will see Ervin spelled as Irvin and Erwin, Handy’s Hardware as Hanby’s, Colleen as Colene, etc.  I’ve tried to leave most of those as they were, although occasionally my fingers overruled me.

Saturday, February 19, 1955

Sheriff’s Deputy Amos O. Shaw:

9:00 AM: On duty

9:30 AM: Discuss case with Sheriff and get assignments.

10:45 AM: Leave office

11:50 AM: Check Gilham residence, boy at home, no effort made to contact father for gun.

12:10 PM: Philippi Motors Stayton, regarding Ethel Oveross. Hasn’t worked since night of incident.

12:25 PM: Contact Sublimity Cafe. No information available.

12:40 PM: Check at Oveross ex-wife’s house, Ethel Oveross, contact daughter Colleen says mother in Salem, and won’t be back until 3:30 PM

12:50 PM: Beverly Town said to Sheperd, stated he owns agun, and that Clyde Steigler may know all about the gun.

1:25 PM: Check on vehicle in Abiqua River no reference to this case.

2:00 PM: Contact Clyde Stiager at creek, known Oveross (Casper) for years, no information of value.

2:50 PM: Contact Mrs. Helen Timmons, at Town House in Silveron, whom stated she saw Oveross (Casper) leaving the tavern (Town House) at 1:05 AM 2-18-55.

3:20 PM: Check Schaar place, nobody home. Regarding information on Irvin Kaser supposed to have tried to take her by force.

3:45 PM: At John Seims place, contaced Doc. Simmons, Seims, and Chick Carter. Carter gave information that Charley Hopkins overheard Oveross state he had laid out in Kaser’s field all on night with his 30-30 and was going to kill Irvin Kaser. Supposedly made threats several times.

4:20 PM: Leave for Silverton

4:50 PM: Check Gilham place, boy still home.

5:10 PM: Check Oveross residence, yard full of cars

5:25 PM: Contact Silverton Police department, and Sheriff D. Young.

7:45 PM: Contact Chick Carter and Charley Hopkins and Otto Hanson. Latter part of September, Charley Hopkins saw Casper Oveross on street of Silverton. Casper told that he had laid a trap and had laid out in a field most of one night with some other fellow. After making some excuse to family about going to Klamath Falls. He said he saw Irvin cross the field and they stayed and watched all night. Casper spoke well of his wife, that she is a good woman, and blamed Irvin for trouble. Stated I’ve got a gun and was going to kill him and I think I should. Also mentioned friend of his in Pennitentiary for a similar deal, but he didn’t think it was worth it. Charley Hopkins tried to talk him out of it.

Sheriff Denver Young:

With Sgt. Hazelton, checked out one James Bonner near Silver Creek road. Eliminated as suspect, at 11:30 A.M.

Arranged for 2:30 appointment with Mrs. Mary Kaser at the office of Rhoten & Rhoten Attorneys. Mrs. Mary Kaser, wife of the deceased has been living at 2054 N. Capitol St. Has one daughter Phyllis Boyce, of 4810 Reimann road. She states that she was familiar with her husbands affair with Ethel Oveross. Was told about it for the first time last fourth of July when Casper came to her home and told her that Ervin was out with Ethel. She later confronted Ervin with it but he denied it. No further information was gained at this time and interview was terminated.

Sunday, February 20, 1955

Capital Journal, Monday, February 21, 1955
Find No New Clues to Solve Mystery of Kaser Murder

Pond Dragging For Rifle Used Proved Futile

SILVERTON–Funeral services were to be held for Ervin O. Kaser at 2 p.m. Monday as police continued their search for the person who shot him from ambush as he drove into the driveway of his home near here Thursday night.

Sheriff’s officers and state police who had dragged two ponds near the death scene over the week end were continuing their hunt for the killer Monday.

Widow moves into murder victim's home

Moving van which has just been unloaded by Virgil Boyd, son-in-law of widow Mary Kaser.

The dragging of the ponds which proved futile were in search of a .30 caliber rifle which was believed to have been used by the killer.

Kaser, a prominent hop grower in the district, was shot as he arrived home in his car. Four bullets went into the car, one piercing his body.

Mary Kaser and daughter Phyllis Boyd

SILVERTON–Mrs. Mary Louisa Kaser, estranged wife of Ervin O. Kaser, 49, who was slain by an unknown rifleman Thursday night at his home three miles south of Silverton, took possession of his home Sunday, as his sole heir. Mrs. Kaser is shown here with her daughter, Phyllis Boyd.

Neighbors who heard the four shots also heard a car which had stopped across the road being put into gear and drive away.

The killer is believed to have taken back roads to get into Silverton.

Mrs. Mary Kaser, who had separated from the murdered man and had filed suit for divorce, moved back into the family home Sunday. She had been living in Salem for the past few months.

Sheriff Denver Young had returned to Salem briefly at noon and reported that the officers working on the Kaser case are still without a definite clue. Two state police officers, two deputy sheriffs and the sheriff himself are working on the case.

Sheriff Young is in charge of the manhunt and directed activities over the week-end.

No crime in recent years has stirred the community as has the Kaser slaying, and the officers are sifting all information as well as rumors that come to hand.

Sheriff’s Deputy Amos O. Shaw:

9:30 AM: On duty

10:00 AM: With Sheriff at office discuss case

10:45 AM: Leave State Police Hdqs. With State Police Officer Riegel

11:15 AM: At pond by Kaser residence and drag pond for discarded rifle. Also assisted by Lloyd Riegel, State Officer Espley.

12:50 PM: Contact Mr. and Mrs. Alvin Hollin, whom report they went to bed about 10:30 PM night of murder, had been in bed for few minutes and wife heard two shots and heard dog barking. Shortly after heard 2 cars go by. Could have heard a car if it had turned east on Count Rd 735, or known as Golf Course Rd. Cars went on south toward Stayton. Mrs. Hollin got impression that dog was barking because one car stopped on hill by Oveross home.

1:30 PM: Contact Gilham residence no one homesteaded

2:45 PM: Contact Mr. Ervin Peer, whom stated he had gone to visit Mr. Kaser (victim) approximately one month ago. Irvin Kaser told Mr. Peer that he come home one evening and found a car sitting in his driveway. Irvin Kaser started to turn in and fellow backed car out and Irvin followed car clear to Sublimity and lost him there. Mr. Peer property joins property of victim on north.

3:30 PM: Sheriff advised that Mrs. Oveross is a relation of Roy Philippi, whom is a close friend of Casper Oveross.

4:20 PM: Off duty.


The Oregon Statesman–Monday, February 21, 1955
SILVERTON–Dragging operations failed Sunday to turn up the weapon which was used for the starlight slaying of Erwin Kaser at his home 2 1/2 miles south of here Thursday night. Dragging the irrigation pond on the Harvey Kaser place, half-mile from the murder scene, were (left to right) State Policemen Lloyd Riegel and Albert N. Espey, and Deputy Sheriff Amos Shaw, all of Salem. Police theorized the assassin may have tossed the gun into the pond as he fled from the scene.

State Police Private Lloyd T. Riegel:

On 20 February 1955 this officer accompanied by Deputy Sheriff Shaw and Al Espey, Oregon State Police, with the Oregon State Police boat and equipment drug a pond at the intersection of the Stayton-Silverton road and the golf course road [EK_NOTE: Now Finley Road, this was the pond on Harvey Kaser’s land]. This pond is directly below the Harvey Kaser residence. There was no success in locating the weapon supposedly used in the referred to homicide.

At 12:50 this date a Mr. and Mrs. Alvie Hollin who live at the intersection of the above mentioned road were contaced relative to any information of vehicles passing their place on the evening of 17 February 1955 after the hourse of 10:45 P.M. Mrs. Hollin stated that they had finished listening to television at approximately 10:30 P.M. and that they were proceeding to bed when she had heard two shots and momentarily afterwards two cars had passed going south on the Silverton-Stayton highway. It was Mrs. Hollin impression that the last vehicle had paused momentarily on the hill just north of their place, which would be almost directly in front of the Ethel Oveross residence. Mrs. Hollin further stated that she could not describe these vehicles as she had not actually seen them, but she was quite sure that neither vehicle had slowed down in the vicinity of the pond that was being drug or that neither vehicle had turned up the golf course road, which is directly in front of her road.

A continued check was made along the Silverton-Stayton highway leading from Silverton on south to the Hollin home. There was no information of value picked up by the door to door check. The bridges leading across Drift Creek in the vicinity of the Hollin home also on the Lardon Road were checked by the writer and Deputy Shaw for possibilities on the weapon being thrown from the bridge or from the road into Drift Creek. There was no evidence obtained relative to any rifle having been thrown in this creek.

Monday, February 21, 1955

Ervin's funeral

SILVERTON–An overflow crowd Monday afternoon attended the funeral service for Ervin O. Kaser, 49, in the Memorial Chapel, Ekman Funeral Home in Silverton. Photo shows casket being removed from the funeral home to hearse.

Sheriff’s Deputy Amos O. Shaw:

8:00 AM: On duty

8:30 am: Conference with Sheriff

9:30 AM: Meet with State Police Sergeant Wayne Huffman and Lloyd Riegel and Sheriff Denver Young. Plan days activities and checks.

10:50 AM: Gas car 1 for use

11:10 AM: Pick up Lloyd Riegel and rifle at State Police Office and take rifle to Sheriff office.

11:40 AM: At Philippi Motors in Stayton regarding Mrs. Oveross, and Roy Philippi. Roy doesn’t know much about case. Never saw Casper Oveross rifle, however thinks he has one. He received a phone call from Edith Kaser that Irvin Kaser had been shot, and the police are holding Casper. Stated that the family had gotten together about midnight and had talked the situation over, and wanted him to come over to Edith place and get in on the talk. Roy stated he did not go. Roy stated he had got a call last night from Ethel and she was returning to work tomorrow after the funeral.

1:05 PM: Contacted Mr. & Mrs. Julius Gehring, Rt 3 Box 98 Silverton. House sits on north side of hill and borders gravel road turning west towards Salem. Knows nothing referred to boys.

1:20 PM: Contacted Julius and Jerome Gehring regarding information. See signed statement.

1:50 PM: Contact Ann Kinsey, reports coming home from hospital in Silverton at 11:15 PM 2-17-55. Got home at 11:30 PM. Saw nothing of value.

2:15 PM: Arnold Briggs residence contacted, supposedly heard car by bridge that crosses Drift Creek.

2:20 PM: Check Bridge across Drift Creek, water and area.

3:00 PM: Take signed statement from Betty Hollan, see statement.

3:35 PM: Take signed statement and receive a 30-30 caliber rifle, serial no. J4464, from James W Gilham. Rifle belongs to son Danny. See statement of Mr. Gilham, signed, and receipt for rifle.

4:45 PM: Contact Carl Hande Hardware Store, and check on books with rifle sales dating back to 1950 Jan 1st. No rifle sale recorded to Casper Oeross. Personal check made.

5:00 PM: Check gun stores. No information of value.

5:20 PM: Contact Olson Drug Store Silverton. Casper purchased a box of 30-30 150 grain shells, in 1953, uncertain about 1954.

6:00 PM: Contact Kellerhals hom eand get signed statement as to what he and wife can testify to.

7:30 PM: Contact Finlay home and get a signed statement.

9:10 PM: Contact Mary Kaser wife of deceased. And she says she has been instructed not to talk without her attorney.

9:20 PM: Contact Mr. Monroe E HANSON, whom stated as follows, on 2-17-55, at 10:25PM Mrs. Monroe E Hanson picked up her daughter at Toney Cafe in Silverton and at 10:35PM arrived home. Mr. and Mrs. Hanson heard shots and remarked some one was shooting at dogs. Never heard car. And never got up and looked out. Doesn’t know if Casper Oveross owns gun. And had been neighbors for several years. Mr. Hanson and son had left home at about 7:15PM 2-17-55 for Silverton, had got about half way to town, and Ervin Kaser passed them, and they followed his car and saw him park and go into the Safeway store in Silverton. They went on to the Town House, and was in the Cafe until about 8:25PM. And they left and walked around by Alf Nelson’s Office across from the theatre, saw Ervin Kaser’s car going north on Water St. Was quite sure it was Ervin driving however never got a direct look at his face. Noticed that the drivers hat was shaped like Ervin’s hat is worn.

9:45 PM: Talk to Dick Barnes and Robert Barnes at the Police Department in Silverton. Rt. 3 Box 96 Silverton.

Richard Barnes states that I don’t think that Casper would ever throw his gun away. He has a 30-30 caliber carbine. I have never seen this gun but I am sure as he has compared it with fathers gun. He knows our place and may have hidden it there. Or at Brooder house at Hank’s place, near North Howell. Up the road a ways some old people live, Casper worked for these people and may have left the gun there. The people are deaf. W.J. Haberley’s on south of us on same side of road.


Stated he went to a Grange meeting at 8:05PM 2-17-55, picked up mother and she went along. Left there at about 8:10PM (mothers). Car came out of Mrs. Oveross place, and was going about 40 MPH, north towards Silverton. At Ervin’s house he slowed down and leaned over in car to look at Ervin’s house. The Barnes car slowed up to almost 15 MPH behind him and went on passed at about even with the house. Barnes never saw no lights on in the house, and never saw Ervin’s car there. On way home Bob went by Kaser home, and saw people in the vicinity, police, etc.

Bob stated that Waldo Rue had told Bob that he had been at Coop. Meeting and come home and never saw any lights at Ervin Kaser home. And Robert Riches had remarked to Bob Barnes that he had come from the Coop. Meeting and noticed a car with lights on and thought it odd. Robert Riches lives at 1st. Gravel road left past Barnes home.

NOTE: Casper Oveross came over to the Barnes House the day after he had signed the divorce papers and remarked to the boys, “Today I am free, the divorce papers were signed. If I ever catch the son of a bitch under the roof of any house I build I’ll kill him.” Robert Barnes and wife heard this statement. Robert said you don’t want to talk like that. He said, “By God, Bob, I mean it.” Casper has remarked about hunting deer up by Roy Hogg’s place up by Eureka.

11:10PM: Off duty homesteaded

State Police Private Lloyd T. Riegel:

On 21 February 1955 Deputy Shaw and the writer contacted Roy Phillippi in Stayton, Oregon. It had been previously learned that Roy Phillippi was a cousin to Edith and Ethel. Edith Kaser is the wife of Harvey Kaser, Ethel is the wife of Casper Oveross. Mr. Phillippi stated that at approximately 6:00 A.M. On the morning of 18 February 1955 that he had received a phone call from Edith Kaser stating that Ervin Kaser had been shot and that the police were holding Casper Oveross as a suspect. She requested that Mr. Phillippi come to her home as the family was having more or less a get together and discussing the situation and that Ethel Oveross was taking this quite hard. Mr. Phillipppi stated that he gave this some consideration and had decided not to go to the Edith Kaser residence. He further stated that another cousin, a Mr. Finlay, who lived between the Oveross residence and the Ervin Kaser residence had been called to the Edith Kaser home to assist with Ethel Oveross. He further stated that Mr. Finlay had lived in this position for quite some time and that he was quite sure that he would be able to throw considerable light on the entire situation. Mr. Phillippi was questioned as to his knowledge of any weapon owned by Casper Oveross. He stated that he had known Casper for several years, that Casper had done considerable carpenter work for him but as to any weapon he might own or to where he might have borrowed some weapon would be unknown to Mr. Phillippi. Mr. Phillippi further stated that Casper Oveross had never talked of his family troubles, that he had heard a rumor that Ethel Oveross had been seen with Ervin Kaser, but his had never been verified by either Ethel or Casper Oveross. He stated that he felt that he was in Stayton and the trouble was in Silverton and even though they were relation that he had no business involving himself in the incident.

[EK_note: the Lardon Road mentioned below is now called Kaufman Road]

Deputy Shaw and the writer then returned to the last place along the Stayton-Sublimity highway that the two vehicles had been heard on the evening of 17 February 1955. From this point they started working their way south along the highway in effort to establish the route used by the suspected slayer of Ervin Kaser. A Julius and Jerome Gehring were contacted. The Gehring residence is approximately a thousand yards south of the Hollin residence. Julius and Jerome Gehring stated that they had returned home at approximately 10:00 P.M. on 17 February 1955 and that they were upstairs in their bedroom reading and writing letters. At just a few minutes before 11:00 they heard four shots that sounded very loud. There was one shot and a short pause then three shots in quick succession. Jerome stated to Julius, “Man, I wonder who’s firing.” Shortly after this they heard two cars. One car turned and went west on the Lardon Road. They are not sure as to where the second car went. In an interval of approximately fifteen minutes they heard another car come south on the road and turn onto the Lardon Road. This vehicle they were quite sure was that of Anna Kinsey, a student nurse at the Silverton hospital.

The before mentioned officers contacted Anna Kinsey who lives on the Lardon Road. She stated that she is a student nurse at the Silverton hospital and that she got off work at 11:00 P.M. 17 February 1955. She drove to Water Street in Silverton and left another student nurse out at her home. As she was going over the south hill in Silverton a police car came behind her blinking its red light and sounding a siren. She stated she pulled to the curb and the police car went on by. As she reached the Ervin Kaser home she observed the police car and other vehicles setting in the road. She stated she did not know what had happened but thought they were looking in Mr. Kaser’s car. As she proceeded on south to her home Anna Kinsey stated that she did not see any cars parked along the road, any tail lights or headlights of any cars ahead of her. She is not sure whether she met any vehicles proceeding north or not.

Information was then received that a Mr. Arnold Briggs had related to a neighbor that a vehicle had stopped on a bridge just south of his place some time near 11:00 on the evening of 17 February 1955. The writer and Deputy Shaw attempted to contact Mr. Briggs but was unable to do so. A search was made of the bridge and the area surrounding the bridge for the possible weapon. No evidence was found relative to this weapon or any evidence that a car had stopped near or at the bridge.

Mr. James W. Gilham was then contacted by the above mentioned officers and Mr. Gilham surrendered to these officers his son’s rifle, a Marlin 30-30 caliber serial J4465. At this time Mr. Gilham also gave the statement that his son, Daniel James Gilham, age 19, had returned home shortly before 11:00 the exact hour unknown. Mr. Gilham stated that he placed this time by the fact that his wife had got up at 11:00 and when she looked into the driveway she saw her son’s car, a 1950 Ford. Mr. Gilham stated that he had no knowledge of the shooting and that he had barely known Ervin Kaser and that he had met Mr. Oveross a few times. He also stated that he understood that the weapon that he was surrendering would be taken to the Oregon State Police crime lab where it would undergo ballistic tests and any other tests seen fit by the laboratory.

After taking a statement from Mr. Gilham, Deputy Shaw and the writer proceeded to Silverton where they made a re-check on the various hardware stores, Handie’s Hardware, Johnson’s Hardware, Coast to Coast Auto Supply, Marshall-Well’s Store and Western Auto Supply for any record of a weapon having been sold to Casper Oveross any time since 1946. Records were checked back as far as 1950 with no evidence of a weapon having been sold. It was then requested that the records prior to 1950 be located so as to be checked by these officers at a later date.

A check at the Olson Drug in Silverton revealed that Casper Oveross had purchased 30-30 shells at this store several times. Cap had always asked for and preferred the 150 grain shell. This is an uncommon shell for 30-30’s, as most 30-30’s are produced in a 170 or 180 grain shell.

Deputy Shaw and the writer then contacted Emanuel Kellerhalls Jr. and Connie Kellerhalls. The Kellerhall residence is directly across the road west of the Ervin Kaser residence. The front door of the Kellerhall residence is in direct line with the Ervin Kaser driveway. The bedroom of the Kellerhalls faces the highway which runs between Ervin Kaser’s and the Kellerhalls residence. Mr. Kellerhall stated that he had been away from home since the early morning of 17 February hauling logs in the Silverton area and that he had returned home at approximately 5:30 P.M. From 5:30 P.M. on throughout the evening there had been no incident that had attracted his attention to the Ervin Kaser residence. They further stated that they had had company which had left about 10:20 P.M. on 17 February 1955, that they had went to bed at approximately 10:30 P.M. Mr. Kellerhall stated that he had just dozed off and Connie, his wife, was still awake, however had her eyes closed attempting to go to sleep. At approximately 10:45 P.M. they heard a vehicle drive up and stated, “Well, there is Ervin Kaser,” however they were not sure this was Ervin’s car. Shortly after, they heard a second car stop and then they immediately heard what they termed as shots. The first shot woke up Mr. Kellerhall, also woke up his daughter Anna Kellerhall. Mrs. Kellerhall, “Why, they’re shooting at Ervin,” and they jumped out of bed and looked out the window. Mrs. Kellerhall stood at the bedroom window and saw three blasts from a rifle or what they thought to be a rifle. Mr. Kellerhall was of the opinion that the shots had come from the window of a vehicle. After the shots had been fired they did not hear any vehicle door slam, and it also gave them the opinion, further, that the shots had been fired from the inside of a vehicle. Immediately after the shots a vehicle pulled away. It was a dark colored sedan or coach. The night of February 17, 1955 was a clear, cold night and the Kellerhalls were able to get a good outline of the vehicle. They were of the opinion that the car was a Ford and it had pulled away from the scene quite rapidly.

Immediately after seeing the vehicle leave Mr. Kellerhall went to the phone and phoned the Ervin Kaser residence. They were unable to locate or raise anyone at the Ervin Kaser residence so they phoned Marvin [EK_note: Melvin] Kaser at his residence and informed them that they believed someone was shooting at Ervin Kaser. After this Marvin Kaser phoned them in a few minutes and came over to the scene. The Kellerhalls were quite positive of the time as while they were talking on the phone their clock chimes struck 11:00 and they are quite sure that their clock is accurate. They were first contacted by Mr. DePeel after the officers arrived at the scene.

The officer then contacted Mr. Edward Arthur Finlay [EK_note: went by ‘Ted Finlay’] who lives in the second house south of the Ervin Kaser residence. Mr. Finlay stated that he had been home all evening and he had just turned off the light in his bedroom to retire when he heard shots being fired and he looked out the window. At this time he looked at his alarm clock and it was 10:55 and he was quite sure that the alarm clock was fairly accurate. Immediately after the shots being fired he heard a car heading south on the main highway. The car appeared and sounded to be an older type vehicle as the motor was laboring quite hard, however the speed appeared to be approximately 35 to 45 miles an hour. The vehicle had two headlights and appeared to be quite wide apart. He could not see the rear of the vehicle as it passed. Shortly after a second vehicle came by, but Mr. Finlay was quite sure this vehicle was that of Edith Kaser as he recognized the rattle of the old pickup that she drives. Mr. Finlay stated that he stayed in bed until 2:30 A.M. When he was called by Edith Kaser to come and assist with Ethel Oveross as she was taking the shooting quite hard. Ethel indicated that it was her fault of the shooting and that she was quite sure that Casper Oveross had shot Mr. Kaser. Mr. Finlay further stated that Ethel Oveross had told him that she had been out with Ervin Kaser on the evening of 17 February 1955 and that they had met somewhere on Abiqua Road and then had driven the back roads around Mt. Angel. She had also stated that she arrived at home at approximately 10:30 P.M. Her route to the spot of meeting and to her home from the spot of meeting was not divulged to Mr. Finlay.

Sergeant Huffman, Deputy Shaw and the writer then attempted to contact Mary Kaser the wife of the deceased. Mary Kaser stated that she would not give any statement or desired not to talk about the incident unless her attorney, Mr. Ray Rotten, was present. Mr. Rotten had advised her not to make any statement to police or any other persons who might question her regarding the incident.

The officers then contacted Monroe E. Hanson, Rt. 3, Box 112, Silverton. Mr Hanson lives across the road from the Finlay residence and the second house south and on the west side of the road from Ervin Kaser’s residence. Mr. Hanson stated that at approximately 7:15 P.M. on the evening of 17 February 1955, he and his son had driven into Silverton. As they neared the Ervin Kaser residence they observed Mr. Kaser back out of his driveway and head towards Silverton. They stated that they followed him into Silverton and into the Safeway store where he had purchased some groceries. Mr. Kaser had left the Safeway store before Mr. Hanson had completed his purchase. At approximately 8:30 P.M. that evening Mr. Hanson stated that he and his son were walking north on Water Street in the vicinity of the Alph Nelson’s law offices. At that time they had observed Mr. Kaser’s car going north on Water Street. They were quite sure of Mr. Kaser’s vehicle, they were also quite sure that the gentleman driving the car was Mr. Kaser. They further stated that he was accompanied by a lady who they were not definitely sure but had the impression it was Ethel Oveross. They stated they last saw the vehicle in the vicinity of the Budget Market, which is north of the Alph Nelson law offices.

Sergeant Huffman, Deputy Shaw and the writer then contacted Richard Barnes and Robert Barnes, Rt. 3, Box 96, Silverton. The Barnes boys stated that they had known Casper Oveross for several years and that they were quite sure that Casper had a 30-30 carbine as he had compared this gun with their fathers gun several times, however they had not actually seen the Oveross gun. Robert Barnes further stated that Casper Oveross had worked at their place building a silo and a shed. At the day that his divorce became final Casper Oveross came to their place and stated, “Today I am a free man as I have signed my divorce papers, but if I ever catch that son-of-a-bitch under a roof of any house that I built I’ll kill him.” Robert stated to him that, “You shouldn’t talk like that, Casper.” But Casper replied, “So help me God, Bob, I mean it.” Robert further stated that on the evening of 17 February 1955 he had left home at approximately 8:05 P.M., had driven by his mother’s place, picked up his mother and left there at approximately 8:10 P.M. his mother’s place being the first house south of the Oveross residence on the Silverton-Sublimity highway. [EK_note: no, that would be Harvey Kaser’s. Probably the second house south of the Oveross place.] As they neared the Oveross residence they saw Casper Oveross’ car back out onto the highway and proceed north towards Silverton. Robert Barnes stated that he followed the car up the highway north at approximately 40 miles per hour. As the car neared the Ervin Kaser residence the car slowed down to approximately 15 miles per hour and the driver leaned over to the opposite side of the seat and seemed quite interested in the Ervin Kaser residence. Robert Barnes stated that he was quite well acquainted with Casper Oveross and the vehicle that he drove and that he was sure that the occupant and driver of this car was Casper Oveross, and that the vehicle was Casper Oveross’ vehicle. Robert Barnes further stated that he attended a meeting in Silverton that evening and on his return home he noticed police and other people about the Ervin Kaser residence. He further stated Casper Oveross has not worked at his place since the completion of the silo, which was sometime in October of 1954. Richard Barnes had no information of value to add to his brother’s statement.

State Police Sergeant Wayne G. Huffman:

Pursuant to instructions from Captain R. G. Howard on February 21, 1955, the writer accompanied with Sheriff Denver Young contacted Colene Oveross, 19 years, daughter of Casper Oveross. She is presently employed by Ralph Emmons, Public Relations Office, Salem. She stated that her father on February 17, 1955 came to their house at above address where she is residing with her mother and younger sister, that he arrived there at 7:50 P.M. or thereabouts and remained at the house until approximately 8:35 P.M. and left without saying where he was going. She stated the only discussion they had was how the children were getting along and just other routine family talk. She stated her boyfriend, Danny Gilham, was there at the time. Also she stated that her mother, Ethel Oveross, had left the house about 7:30 P.M. to presumably go to a club meeting, but that she did not say where she was going when she left the house. She stated her younger sister, Karen Oveross, 9 years, had gone with the neighbor girls to a skating party in Salem, Oregon. She stated that she and Danny Gilham stayed home that evening and that he left the house for home at approximately 10:30 P.M. She stated that he had not been gone but a very short time before her mother arrived home and she was alone, but prior to her other returning home she had gone to bed. She stated that her sister, Karen, arrived home shortly after her mother came in, she thought approximately five minutes after her mother had arrived. She stated shortly after her mother had gone to bed, which was about fifteen minutes after she had come in the house, that the shots were heard, but she did not pay any particular attention to them, nor did she get up out of bed. Colene stated her father had a rifle but she did not know the make or description of the gun only that it was a rifle. She stated she did not pay too much attention to them only that at times they were in the way when they wanted to clean house. Sheriff Young and the writer did not question Colene Oveross any further as she was rather upset and she had a luncheon engagement.

Contacted Mrs. Erma Moore, Rt. 3, Box 111, Silverton, who is a neighbor to Mrs. Casper Oveross. She stated that she has known the Kaser family and Casper Oveross for the past seven years. She stated on the night February 17, 1955 that she and her husband and one of the daughters was home the entire evening. She stated one of her twin daughters and the older daughter had gone to Salem to a skating party and they had taken Karen Oveross, neighbor girl, with them. She stated the girls returned from the skating party at 10:35 P.M. as she looked at the clock as they came in the house. She stated that none of her family had heard any of the shots as there was probably noise in the house and the walls are pretty well sound proofed. She stated her neighbor across the road, Mrs. Hanson, had been to Silverton that evening to pick up her daughter, Deloris, who had also gone to Salem to the skating party. She stated the first she knew of the shooting was around 7:15 A.M. On February 18, 1955, when Mrs. Edith Kaser had telphoned her and told her that Ervin Kaser had been killed and to tell Wayne Moore, her husband, before he left. She stated Mr. Casper Oveross since the divorce comes to his home to visit Ethel Oveross his ex-wife quite often. She has seen him there numerous times. She also stated that on Thursday, February 17, 1955, that he was there around 11: A.M. In the morning, but she had never seen him there at any other time that particular day. She also stated that Casper Oveross has a 30-30 rifle, make she did not know but she does remember that when he bought it it caused quite an argument in his family as he had to pay $69 for it and his wife thought that was just too much. She thought that he had purchased this rifle about three or four years ago or possibly longer. She believed that was purchased at Hanby’s Hardware Store in Silverton. She stated Mrs. Ethel Oveross came over to her house the next day, February 18, 1955, and talked about it. Also she stopped at her house on the day of the funeral in the morning on her way back from the funeral parlor, at that time Ethel Oveross had told her that she thought Casper Oveross had killed Ervin Kaser, also that he had wanted his daughters to come into Silverton and visit him Sunday, which they did. She stated that Casper Oeross had not been doing any target practising on his place since August of 1954 or since the divorce.

Contacted Mrs. Ethel Oveross, Rt. 3, Box 110, Silverton, ex-wife of Casper Oveross who stated that on the evening of February 17, 1955, she was at the house at the above address and her daughter Colene and Danny Gilham were there and that her other daughter, Karen, had gone with the neighbors to a skating party in Salem. She stated she had a pre-arranged meeting with Ervin Kaser at 7:45 P.M. north of Silverton on a county road that crosses the Abiqua Creek. They were to meet at the bridge. She stated she left the house approximately 7:30 P.M. to keep this appointment, she left alone in her own car. She arrived at this meeting place and Ervin Kaser pulled up behind her there shortly after she arrived. She stated that Ervin was alone and that she got out of her car and into his car and they drove on towards Mt. Angel and parked on a side road and stayed there until the time they came back to her car. As they were coming up to where her car was parked, another old model car was proceeding them on the same road. She stated they passed her car and did not want to stop so they went on up the road and then turned around and came back after this other car had gone out of sight. She stated she got out of Ervin’s car and into her own then drove back down the road towards Silverton and through Silverton on James Street crossing on the lower bridge and then back down south of Silverton on the road towards her home. She stated she never went by Shorty’s Tavern and that Ervin Kaser did not follow her down James Street but she though he turned up 2nd Street. She stated she arrived home at approximately 10:30 P.M.

Ethel Oveross stated she has been going with Ervin Kaser for about two and a half years. She stated Casper Oveross knew about it almost right away and that he would accuse her of it, but every time that he accused her she would deny it. She stated it lead to fights but she does not remember at any time he threatened her or Kaser’s life. She stated her husband, Casper Oveross, moved out on August 21, 1954 and that was when sexual relations ceased with him. She stated he has been back to the house after the divorce several times but has never made any advance towards her. She stated Casper Oveross has a 30-30 rifle but she did not know too much about it other than he had bought it about five years ago or maybe longer. It was at the time when guns were hard to get and he had placed an order at several different places. She stated he goes hunting considerable and some of his hunting partners are Floyd Stagger who lives up on the Abiqua Creek and Danny Gilham has gone hunting with him.

She stated on her arrival home on the night of February 17 at 10:30 P.M. she had just gotten into bed when she heard the shot. She stated there were four of them. She stated she did not hear any cars go by the house after the shots. She further stated that her sisters pickup, her sister being Edith Kaser, came by after the shots and she recognized it from the noise it made. She stated sh never heard her dog bark when the shots were heard but she did hear the neighbors dogs barking. She stated that Danny Gilham was not home when she arrived home and she believed that he had gone to Silverton for band practice. A question and answer recording was taken from Mrs. Ethel Oveross at that time in the presence of Sheriff Young, Mrs. Ethel Oveross and the writer, this is of record at this office.

Contacted a Robert and Richard Barnes, R. 3, Box 96, Silverton, who are brothers and who live on the same road south of the Kaser residence. Robert Barnes stated that on Thursday evening, February 17, 1955 he left his house around 8:05 P.M. to go to a grange meeting. He stopped on the way and picked up his mother, Mrs. Barnes, approximately one half mile from the Oveross residence and this was around 8:10 P.M. He left her residence headed north and as he neared the Oveross residence a car pulled out ahead of him and as he caught up with it he could see that it was Casper Oveross’ car and that Casper was driving. He stated he followed this car at a speed of approximately 40 miles per hour north towards Salem [EK_note: Silverton]. As it neared Ervin Kaser’s place, Casper Oveross slowed down and very diligently looked over at the Kaser residence, continuing to do so as he drove down the road. He stated he slowed his speed down to about 15 miles per hour. He stated that Casper seemed quite interested in the Kaser house as he drove by. Also shortly after they had passed the Kaser residence, Robert Barnes stated that he passed Casper Oveross and definitely knows that it was he that was driving and that he was alone. He stated that he went on to the meeting and on returning that same evening passed Kaser’s residence he noticed police cars there and several people around. The first thought that entered his mind was that Casper had shot and killed Ervin Kaser. His reasons he stated for thinking this was that at one time on the day of the Oveross divorce, which was August 21, 1954, Casper had told him that, “If I ever caught that son-of-a-bitch Kaser under any roof that I built I would kill him.” Robert stated that he had told him not to talk like that as it would get him in trouble. He said that Casper said, “By God Bob I meant it.”

Richard Barnes stated that he had known Casper Oveross for years, he has worked for him and that he has a 30-30 carbine rifle. He did not know the make or where he purchased it. He stated that on Thursday, February 17, 1955, Casper came to his residence about 11:00 A.M. He thought possibly that Casper may have hid the rifle around his place as he is quite familiar with the buildings. He also stated one time his wife had picked up the telphone to use it when a ring was heard in her ear. He stated she listened and heard a voice, whom she thought to be Ethel Oveross’ and which stated “Wrong number,” she heard another voice whom she though was Ervin Kaser’s say “South of town” also this same voice whom she though was Ethel Oveross state “1:00,” she stated two receivers were hung up. This was all Richard Barnes could supply.

Sheriff Denver Young:

Writer with Sgt. Wayne Huffman contacted Mr. Ralph Emmons at his office in the Oregon Bldg. In an effort to obtain an interview with Colleen Oveross who is working for Mr. Emmons.

Miss Oveross agreed to answer some questions and was quite agreeable during the interview. She stated that she and Danny Gilham were home alone on the evening of 2/17/55 after her mother had left the house and that her father came to the house about 7:40 P.M. and stayed until approximately 8:20 P.M. She stated that Danny stayed at the house after her father left until about 10:30 P.M. and then left. She also stated that her father owned some guns but that she did not know enough about guns to say what kind they were. She only knew that he kept them standing in the kitchen usually and that when she cleaned house they were always in the way, and she would have to move them.

3:30 P.M. Contacted Mrs. Wayne Moore, Rt. 3 Box 111, who states that they have lived next door for 7 years. She was up until after 11:00 PM 2/17/55 but was looking at TV and did not hear shots. She was up because one of her twin girls was out with Karen Oveross and some other girls to a skating party in Salem. The girls arrived home about 10:37 P.M.

The first that she knew of the shooting was about 7:00 A.M 2/18/55 when Mrs. Harvey Kaser called her. About 11:00 A.M. She saw Casper Oveross on the back end of the Oveross place. Mrs. Moore stated that she had heard about Ethel since 1953, when Casper asked Ervine Kaser to keep his eye on Ethel and Alvin [EK_note: Alvis] Brunner. She thinks that Ethel Oveross is convinced that Casper killed Ervin. She states that Wayne Moore owns a 30-30 rifle which has been standing in the woodshed for some time. Any one who knew of its whereabouts would have had access to it. She stated that we would be welcome to take the gun for any tests that we would care to make. She could not remember of Casper doing any shooting around the place lately.

4:20 P.M. Contacted Ethel Oveross at the Harvey Kaser place. She repeated her story of meeting Ervin Kaser about two miles north of Silverton on the night of the shooting and getting into his car. They drove to a side road on the east side of Mt. Angel and parked until about 10:00 P.M. when they stared back towards her car. She stated that she had started going with Ervin about 2 1/2 years ago and has seen him about one or two times a week since then. Colleen is anxious to see a reconciliation. Casper has been back several times to try and take her out. Casper took his rifle with him when he moved out in August. She stated that Cap bought the gun after the war when they were still hard to get. Showed us picture of Cap and Floyd Staiger with large deer and two rifles leaning against it. She and Colleen and Karen and Daniel Gilham visited Cap 15 or 20 minutes on Sunday [EK_note: Feb 20]. She heard shots but did not get up. She made a remark to Colleen about them. She did not hear a car go by right after the shots, but did hear her sisters pickup go by a little later. Did not hear her dog bark. Thinks Danny may have gone to Silverton for band practice after he left the house. (Record made of this interrogation by Sgt. Huffman)

6:28 P.M. Contacted Charlotte Moore, Delores Hansen, Ila Moore who stated that they came back from Salem to Silverton about 10:25 and dropped Arles Steinberg off at her home and then came home. They saw no suspicious cars and no car in Ervin Kasers driveway on the way home.

Mr. Wayne Moore contacted, at his residence, he states that Casper Oveross did have a 30-30 rifle (carbine) about the first of last October. He thinks that the gun was purchased about 1st of October 1948.

Mr. Moore also states that an informant tells him that Casper always purchased 150 grain bullets. Casper has a reputation of being a good fast shot, and has hunted with Bill Specht and Danny Gilham. Moore states that Cap told Harvey Kaser that if he ever caught Ethel and Ervin together he would kill them. He also believed that Cap had caught Kaser hiding in the basement of the new house which he was building. (unconfirmed) Mr. Moore stated that his own rifle had stood in the woodshed back of his house for some time and he kept it there so it would be handy for shooting dogs that might get in the sheep. He turned the gun over to the writer and State Officer Huffman for ballistics check. It is a long octagon barreled Winchester rifle, serial number 118533. The writer removed one live cartridge from the chamber (corelokt). Shell sent to laborotory for examination.

Blogically yours,

Not Innocent: The Newspapers (part 1)

I told you up front that this story is being posted “off the cuff” as I write it, and it will definitely need to be edited and re-arranged, once it’s all down on … well, electrons.  So, don’t be surprised if I jump around a little, and if things feel a little disorganized. It will end up being a multi-pass process to get everything the way I want it, and you’re only seeing the first pass.

So far, we’ve seen the intitial events from the point of view of the police and a few memories of family members.  But how did things appear to the general public?  All they had access to was the rumor mill (and, oh my, was it working overtime!) and the newspapers (remember, in those days there were no big TV stations with remote satellite-feed trucks).  Since the murder occurred near 11:00 Thursday night, and morning editions of newspapers were usually “put to bed” not too long after that, it was too late to make it into the newspapers the next morning.  Silverton had a weekly paper, the Silverton Appeal-Tribune, so the story didn’t appear there until a week later on Friday, February 25th. Portland’s Oregonian newspaper was a morning paper, as was Salem’s Statesman-Journal.  The story first ‘broke’ in Salem’s afternoon paper, the Capital Journal, on Friday afternoon, February 18th.  The story took up half of the front page:

Mystery Shrouds Murder of Silverton Farmer by Rifle Fire
Ervin O. Kaser Shot at Garage On Hop Ranch


SILVERTON—An unkonwn assassin Thursday night followed Ervin O. Kaser, 49, to his home in the Evergreen district three miles south of Silverton and killed him with a high power rifle.


Deputy Sheriff R. C. Boehringer pointing to bullet holes in side of Ervin O. Kaser’s Plymouth sedan fired by a mysterious killer Thursday night. State Police Officer Stan Barron is seated at wheel of car. Bullet hole in the door window below Officer Barron’s chin is believed to have been made by the fatal shot that pierced Kaser’s aorta, a large artery that leads from the heart.

The burst of rifle fire was heard by Mr. and Mrs. E. Kellerhals, Jr., who lived directly across the road. They told Sheriff Denver Young and State Police Officer Robert Dunn that they heard Kaser turn into his driveway and stop his car. At the same time, they said, they heard another car stop across the street 50 feet north of Kaser’s driveway, and then came the first shot.

Rushing to the window, the Kellerhals saw three more muzzle blasts from the rifle. Then the driver put his car in gear and drove off to the south.

No empty cartridge casings were found at the scene of the shooting causing officers to believe that the slayers purposely fired from inside his car and not left as a clue.

The Kellerhals immediately notified the sheriff’s office and Deputy Sheriff R. C. Boehringer who was in the Mount Angel area was dispatched to the scene. He was joined soon by Sheriff Young, District Attorney Kenneth Brown, Dr. Homer Harris of the State Police crime laboratory, and others.

Efforts were made immediately to trace Kaser’s movements the evening before the shooting, but this stage of the investigation remained indefinite. Several persons were questioned in an effort to establish a motive and to trace Kaser’s movements. No suspect was under arrest, although it was established that several threats had been made against the man’s life.

One witness advanced the theory that the killer circled to the west on a country road south of the scene and returned to Silverton over Paradise alley that connects with Silverton road, west of the city. A car was seen leaving Paradise alley and heading towards Silverton 15 minutes after the shooting. It was driven slowly, but was noticed because the driver failed to make a boulevard stop. A full description of the car was given police.

Kaser, according to investigators, was living apart from his wife, who separated from him some time ago.

Phyllis Boyd, Mary and Ervin Kaser

Kaser with his wife, Mary, center, and her daughter Phyllis.

The victim is survived by his mother, wife of the late Fred Kaser; three brothers, Orville, of Tillamook; and Harvey and Melvin of Evergreen district; a sister, Mrs. Venita McMorris, Buena Vista; his wife, Mary, and a stepdaughter, Phyllis.

The body was taken to the Ekman Funeral Home pending an inquest.

Hopefully you’re wise enough to know that there’s no “absolute truth,” all truth depends upon its context, who’s telling it, and who’s listenting to it.  Whether it’s something you’ve seen with your own eyes, something reported by reliable and trustworthy sources, or something you’ve read in the newspaper, keep a healthy supply of salt grains at hand.

We have several things working against the newspaper’s account: the writer was rushing to meet deadline, his official sources (the police) weren’t telling him everything they knew and the things the police knew weren’t necessarily even close to the truth, and his unofficial sources (family members, neighbors, and random people wandering by) were prone to the usual rumor-mongering and wild speculation, all presented as the God’s-honest-truth.

For example, the Kellerhals didn’t notify the Sheriff’s Office, they called Melvin Kaser, neighbor and brother to Ervin.  They didn’t even know that Ervin had been shot, and it was Melvin who went over, saw his dead brother, and then called the Silverton Police, who sent out officers, and then they called the Sheriff’s Office.  Finally Deputy Boehringer was dispatched to the scene. The big theory from “one witness” that the killer had circled back to Silverton via Paradise Alley was a case of pure speculation, and the car that was supposedly seen leaving Paradise Alley without coming to a full stop was never mentioned in any of the police reports.  The list of survivors included three brothers, but missed entirely my father, Calvin Kaser, Ervin’s youngest brother, and they misspelled Orval’s and Veneta’s names.  But you knew better than to trust newspapers, right?

The next day, Saturday, February 19, 1955, the morning paper, The Statesman-Journal, ran these two articles:

Police Seek Slayer of Silverton Hop Grower
Rifleman Kills Ervin Kaser in Front of Home

Statesman News Service

SILVERTON—Police Friday were searching for the killer of 49-year-old Ervin Kaser, who was shot to death Thursday night at his hop farm located on the Silverton-Stayton Highway, two miles south of here.


SILVERTION–Angle at which the killer of Ervin Kaser fired is shown. Position of the killer’s car, left, is circled. Kaser was shot to death as he sat in his auto which was in the position of the car marked X. Behind the car is Kaser’s home where he lived alone.

Police questioned a 43-year-old Silverton man until early Friday and released him for lack of evidence. A ballistics test showed Friday that the murder weapon was a .30 calibre rifle.

Followed Victim Home

Ralph Prouty - windsheild

Ralph Prouty, state criminologist, is pointing at one of the holes in the death car. Kaser was shot by a killer with a .30 caliber rifle who apparently followed him home from downtown Silverton Thursday night.

The murderer, said police, evidently followed Kaser home, parked 50 yards away across the highway and fired four quick blasts after the Kaser car rolled to a stop. One bullet only struck Kaser in the left shoulder and lodged near the heart. He died almost instantly, said District Attorney Kenneth E. Brown.

The other bullets, said state police, all tore through the car only a few inches apart. Three, including the death bullet, went through the left door post. One of these and a fourth went through the windshield.

Field Searched

None of the other bullets was located, police said, although an adjoining field was searched.

When police arrived soon after the slaying, headlights of the death car were still burning as was the inside dome light, which Kaser had evidently turned on as he was reaching for the grocery bag in the back seat.

Neighbors directly across the road from the Kaser place, Mr. and Mrs. Emanuel Kellerhals Jr., said they first heard Kaser arrive, then heard a car door slam and one shot. It was 10:55 p.m.

Three Flashes

Arising from bed, Kellerhals said he saw three flashes from successive shots and saw the killer’s car, parked a few feet from his driveway, start off toward Stayton.

He said the car looked and sounded like a Ford and was dark in color. From the sequences of sounds, Kellerhalls said there was a possibility that Kaser had emerged from his car and stared to his doorstep, then, becoming alarmed, re-entered his car where he was found on the seat on the side away from the steering wheel. Police late Friday had not located the murder weapon.

Lived Alone

Kaser, according to Kellerhals, had been living alone for about six months, his wife having instituted divorce proceedings against him.

The wife, Mary Kaser, lives at 2045 N. Capitol St., Salem.

Kellerhals, after establishing that something was amiss, summoned Silverton Constable Harley DePeal, who was the first law official on the scene. Later, the Marion County sheriff’s office was notified and state police.

Kaser was known as a good neighbor, said Kellerhals. He seldom had visitors and the few who called were usually men he worked with and they came at night, Kellerhals added.

(Additional details on page 2, sect. 1.)

[page 2, sect. 1.]

Robbery Said Not Motive in Farm Slaying

Statesman News Service
(Story also on page one.)

SILVERTON—Object of a wide search in this area Friday was the killer of Ervin Kaser, hop grower on the Silverton Stayton highway two miles south of here.

Kaser was shot Thursday night in his car as it rolled to a stop in the driveway of his home. The killer fired from another car parked 50 yards away across the highway.

Police said it was apparent that robbery was not a motive. The man’s house had not been entered and nothing was missing from his person.

A post mortem performed on the body Friday showed that the death bullet, which had “mushroomed” badly after crashing through the door post, cut off the flow of blood to the heart. Dr. Homer H. Harris, director of the state crime detection laboratory, made the examination.

Kaser was born Nov. 16, 1905 at Silverton, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Kaser. The father is now dead, but the mother, 74, still lives on a farm located near the scene of the tragedy.

Other survivors beside the estranged wife are four brothers, Orval, Bay City; Harvey, Melvin and Calvin, all of Silverton, and a sister, Mrs. Venita McMorris.

The body is at the Ekman Funeral Home here. Funeral services will be held Monday at 2 p.m. At Ekmans.

Mannie Kellerhal’s theory that Ervin had started for the house is certainly wrong, as Ervin wouldn’t have left the lights on in the car or the groceries in the back seat.  More likely Ervin had opened his door to get out and get the groceries from the back seat, but saw the killer’s car and maybe even the rifle, as the nearly full moon was lighting the night.  His hand still on the car door, he probably moved back into the car, slamming the car door, as that would have been his nearest and only protection.  But before he could move across the seat to get out the far side, the first shot pierced the door post, mushrooming the bullet, which then slammed into his back and sliced his aorta, killing him.

The second article gets the list of survivors right and even the correct spelling of Orval’s name, although they still misspelled Veneta’s name.

Here’s a third sample, the Capital Journal from Saturday afternoon, February 19, 1955:

Search Reveals New Clews To Solve Silverton Murder
Sheriff Active But Silent on Developments


SILVERTON—Sheriff Denver Young and State Police today moved a step closer to the rifle slayer of Ervin Oren Kaser, 45-year-old Silverton farmer, as they uncovered some of the victim’s movements Thursday night shortly before he was shot to death in the driveway of his home in the Evergreen district.

The sheriff said that investigators have found the place where Kaser spent most of the evening before he was killed, but declined to elaborate on the statement. He hinted strongly, however, that this information has provided officers with a strong clue.


SILVERTON–District Attorney Kenneth E. Brown points to bullet holes in windshield of Ervin O. Kaser’s automobile made by unknown slayer Thursday night when he killed the Silverton farmer with rifle fire in the driveway of his home. Oregon State Police Officer Bob Dunn, left, and Sheriff Denver Young are standing beside Brown. The killer is believed to have fired the shots from his car in the vicinity of the utility pole that may be seen over top center of Kaser’s car.

Numerous witnesses also were questioned as part of the investigation. Kaser’s estranged wife, Mary Louisa, was scheduled to be questioned, the sheriff said, but merely as a matter of routine.

The investigation also included perusal of Mrs. Kaser’s divorce action which is pending in circuit court and was scheduled for trial March 17.

The divorce complaint charges cruel and inhuman treatment and accused Kaser of staying out all night occasionally, sometimes remaining away from home for several days without explanation; of failure to support her; refusing to buy food or clothing for her; refusal to associate with her friends; of locking her and her daughter out of their home; of associating with other women (who are not named); of refusing to speak to her; of refusal to share with her any information about family finances; of striking and beating her.

Mrs. Kaser’s action asks for an undivided half interest in his property or a cash settlement of $15,000.

In his answer to the suit Kaser denied all of his wife’s charges and in counter charges accused her of cruel and inhuman treatment in their home life in that she:

  1. Accused him falsely of associating with other women.
  2. Cursed and berated him privately and publicly.
  3. Refused to prepare meals and perform other duties of a housewife.
  4. Concealed from him her inability to bear children.
  5. Assaulted and struck him.
  6. Urged him to obtain a divorce.
  7. Frequently expressed lack of affection or regard for him.
  8. Counseled her daughter by a former marriage to disrespect him.
  9. Removed most of the furniture from his home without his approval or consent.

These charges are denied by Mrs. Kaser in her answer.

Attorneys for Mrs. Kaser are Rhoten, Rhoten and Speerstra.

Kaser was shot to death by an unknown slayer who followed him from Silverton and opened fire as Kaser drove into the driveway of his home and stopped.

Funeral services will be held in Memorial Chapel, Ekman’s Funeral Home, at 2 p.m. Monday. Burial will be in Belcrest Memorial Park, Salem.’

Obviously, the ‘clews’ in the headline indicates that the writer had spelling problems or else was a sailor, but typos and misspellings in the newspaper are rarely the largest grievances.  But other than Ervin’s age (he was 49, not 45), this article seems to be reasonably factual within the limits of the facts that they had available to them at the time of writing.

The newspapers kept running articles daily for weeks, covering the developing investigation as best they could within the limits of the information released by the Sheriff’s Office, and they provide a complimentary counterpoint to the police reports, but the police reports definitely contain much more information about the day-to-day investigation, so I’ll return to them for a while.

Blogically Yours,