State v. Townsend, No. 33877.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtSTEVENS
Citation191 Iowa 362,182 N.W. 392
Docket NumberNo. 33877.
Decision Date06 April 1921
PartiesSTATE v. TOWNSEND.

191 Iowa 362
182 N.W. 392

STATE
v.
TOWNSEND.

No. 33877.

Supreme Court of Iowa.

April 6, 1921.


Appeal from District Court, Dubuque County; J. W. Kintzinger, Judge.

Defendant was convicted of the crime of murder in the first degree and sentenced to life imprisonment in the state penitentiary at Ft. Madison. From this judgment he appeals. Affirmed.

[182 N.W. 392]

Fabian Beckett, of Dubuque, for appellant.

Ben J. Gibson, Atty. Gen. and B. J. Flick, Asst. Atty. Gen., for the State.

[182 N.W. 393]


STEVENS, J.

Defendant was convicted of killing Frank Crees, his stepfather. The conceded facts are that Frank Crees lived in a boathouse on the Mississippi river in the city of Dubuque with his wife and several children. The defendant, who was the son of Mrs. Clara Crees by a former marriage, after his discharge from the army, went to Dubuque and resided with the Crees family until the night of August 17, 1919, when the boathouse was destroyed by fire. Frank Crees was an employee of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway Company, and was last seen alive by any one outside of the Crees family on the evening of August 14th, with his wife and children bathing in the river. His disappearance was observed thereafter, and on Sunday morning following the boathouse was totally destroyed by fire, leaving the Crees family destitute of money or clothing, except that worn by them at the time of the fire. The defendant and his mother stated that Crees had gone to Cincinnati to look after some property in which he had an interest, that he would then go to Clinton, and that the family intended to float down the river to that place and meet him. On the evening of August 20th, some parties on the river observed an object afloat on the surface a short distance from them, which they thought was a human body. They rowed out to the object, and discovered that it was the body of a man. They tied a rope around the arm and towed the body to the shore. When it was removed from the water, it was found that a rope was wrapped around the body several times, and also around the neck, and that a rock weighing about 100 pounds was attached thereto. The ankles were also tied together. The body, which was in an advanced stage of decomposition, was clothed in a shirt only. After the body was taken to the undertaker's, it was discovered that the skull was fractured in two places, either of the wounds being sufficient to have produced death. No one was called to identify the body. One witness testified that he had frequently seen the man in Dubuque, but did not know his name. The skin was badly discolored, and showed a tendency to slip from the flesh. Suspicion had already been aroused against the defendant, and on August 20th the defendant was taken in custody by the sheriff, and in the presence of Catherine Hibbe and the county attorney signed a written statement confessing that he killed Crees on the morning of August 15th with a window weight, by striking him several times upon the head; that he tied a rope around his feet and neck; that he rowed the body out into the river, and attached a rock weighing about 100 pounds to the rope, and sunk the body in the river. No testimony was offered upon the trial on behalf of the defendant.

[1][2] The first contention of counsel for appellant is that the corpus delicti was not proven. Frank Crees, according to the testimony, was about 6 feet tall and had sandy hair and mustache. Numerous witnesses testified that he did not wear a beard, but was usually unshaven. The testimony varies considerably as to his weight. The body taken from the river was decomposed and bloated to such an extent that it was difficult to estimate his weight. The description, however, corresponded in all substantial respects with the descriptions given of Crees. Two or three witnesses who resided near the boathouse testified that they heard noises therein about 2 o'clock on the morning of August 15th, and one witness testified that she heard a sound like some one falling on the floor; another witness testified that he heard some one rowing a boat shortly after he heard the noise.

Nothing appears to have been heard of Crees, nor was any testimony offered upon the trial to the effect that he had gone to Cincinnati, as claimed by the defendant and his...

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4 practice notes
  • State v. Saltzman, No. 47625
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • September 19, 1950
    ...evidence. State v. Novak, 109 Iowa 717, 734, 735, 79 N.W. 465; State v. Henricksen, 214 Iowa 1077, 1082, 243 N.W. 521; State v. Townsend, 191 Iowa 362, 364, 365, 182 N.W. 392; State v. Kelley, 193 Iowa 62, 66, 186 N.W. 834; 20 Am.Jur. 1084, Evidence § 1231; 23 C.J.S., Criminal Law, § 916 c,......
  • State v. Hofer, No. 46993.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • July 29, 1947
    ...on the ground they were involuntary as a matter of law. State v. Heinz, 223 Iowa 1241, 275 N.W. 10, 114 A.L.R. 959;State v. Townsend, 191 Iowa 362, 366, 182 N.W. 392;State v. Bennett, 143 Iowa 214, 220, 121 N.W. 1021, and cases cited. That exhibits 4 and 5 were given when defendant was a pr......
  • State v. Gilroy, No. 65184
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • December 23, 1981
    ...prejudice in the past from unanswered improper questions. State v. Barrett, 197 Iowa 769, 771, 198 N.W. 36, 37 (1924); State v. Townsend, 191 Iowa 362, 368, 182 N.W. 392, 394 (1921). Page 520 Contra, State v. Moon, 167 Iowa 26, 37-39, 148 N.W. 1001, 1005-06 (1914). In the present case there......
  • Mathews v. Mathews, No. 33802.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 6, 1921
    ...to wipe out the unjust accusations against his wife or defeat her right to a divorce. Some claim is also made on his behalf that upon [182 N.W. 392]plaintiff's return to her home after a brief separation she forgave the defendant, and thereby condoned all past offenses. The evidence does sh......
4 cases
  • State v. Saltzman, No. 47625
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • September 19, 1950
    ...evidence. State v. Novak, 109 Iowa 717, 734, 735, 79 N.W. 465; State v. Henricksen, 214 Iowa 1077, 1082, 243 N.W. 521; State v. Townsend, 191 Iowa 362, 364, 365, 182 N.W. 392; State v. Kelley, 193 Iowa 62, 66, 186 N.W. 834; 20 Am.Jur. 1084, Evidence § 1231; 23 C.J.S., Criminal Law, § 916 c,......
  • State v. Hofer, No. 46993.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • July 29, 1947
    ...on the ground they were involuntary as a matter of law. State v. Heinz, 223 Iowa 1241, 275 N.W. 10, 114 A.L.R. 959;State v. Townsend, 191 Iowa 362, 366, 182 N.W. 392;State v. Bennett, 143 Iowa 214, 220, 121 N.W. 1021, and cases cited. That exhibits 4 and 5 were given when defendant was a pr......
  • State v. Gilroy, No. 65184
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • December 23, 1981
    ...prejudice in the past from unanswered improper questions. State v. Barrett, 197 Iowa 769, 771, 198 N.W. 36, 37 (1924); State v. Townsend, 191 Iowa 362, 368, 182 N.W. 392, 394 (1921). Page 520 Contra, State v. Moon, 167 Iowa 26, 37-39, 148 N.W. 1001, 1005-06 (1914). In the present case there......
  • Mathews v. Mathews, No. 33802.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 6, 1921
    ...to wipe out the unjust accusations against his wife or defeat her right to a divorce. Some claim is also made on his behalf that upon [182 N.W. 392]plaintiff's return to her home after a brief separation she forgave the defendant, and thereby condoned all past offenses. The evidence does sh......

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