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THE DYEA TRAIL

Dyea, Alaska, May 7, 1898


WHO SHOT THIS MAN?


He Was Shot from Behind and No One Has Come Forward to Identify Him.



    Some one has committed murder.
    Away up on the mountain side, a few hundred yards north of the new townsite of Grand Falls, Phil F. Hardesty found the dead body of an unknown man on Tuesday last. He hurried back to town and reported his discovery to Mr. W. S. Levens, by whom he is employed. Mr. Levens organized a party to bring the body to Dyea, the party consisting of Attorney McEnany, Theodore Houseworth, Ed Welch, Messrs. Hardesty and Levens, a teamster and a representative of the TRAIL. After an hour's climb up the steep side of the mountain, asmall bench of level land was reached, and there, stark and stiff, in the midst of the timber, lay the body of a man who had been shot either accidentally or purposely, by some hand other than his own.
    There was no sign of a struggle, Except for the ghastly, blood-besmeaed face, there was nothing in the position of the dead man to indicate that he had not laid peacefully down to rest. His hands rested calmly at his sides, his left foot was placed in an easy position upon the right and a rifle lay diagonally under him between his hips and knees, as if he had placed it there carefully and gone to sleep upon it.
    The party silently gathered around the body, the thought of every one present being that it was a case of suicide. But this theory of the cause of the man's death gave way to a suspicion of foul play when upon an examination of the rifle it was found to be loaded. Further doubt was created by the fact that the man's gun was an exceedingly small one, being of 22-calibre, Winchester pattern, the doubt arising from a disbelief that the cartridge from a weapon of such a size could have made the wound from which the man died.
    A careful examination of the wound was then made. It revealed the fact that the man had been shot from behind. The bullet had entered squarely in the back of the neck and had come out at the left side of the mouth, shattering the bones and flesh of the left jaw mercilessly. The man's face, torn and covered with blood, presented a horrible and sickening sight.
    Stooping over the body, one of the party remarked that evidently robbery was not the motive of the killing as the man's watch was still in his pocket. That was the way it looked. The watch pocket in the man's pantaloons was bulged out and shaped just exactly as it would be with a watch in, but when touched it gave evidence that while a watch had been there it had been taken.
    The body was carefully wrapped in a large piece of canvas and tied to a pole. In this manner it was packed down the mountain, but only with great difficulty, several men with axes being required to cut a kind of a trail. The body was brought to Dyea and an autopsy performed by Dr. T. L. Price, who said the man had been dead from 24 to 48 hours, and that the wound had been made by a bullet of not less than 44-calibre, if not a 48. In the man's pockets were found a Canadian $2 bill, a pocket knife, a match box, a box of 22 calibre cartridges, a small key tied to a piece of r..?.ou and three pieces of pilot bread. In a small purse secreted in the hollow of his [?] next to the flesh and tied just above the ankle was $80 in gold and greenbacks. He wore a black slicker-hat and striped mackinaw coat, a white and black checkered flannel shirt, blue overalls, and rubber boots. He weighed about 160 pounds, was muscularly built, about 5 feet 8 inches in hight, had bluish gray eyes, brownish black hair, sandy mustache and was between 35 and 40 years of age. It is judged that he was an Irish-American.
    The body has been lying since Wednesday at Hart's undertaking rooms, in the hopes that some one would be able to identify it, but up to this time no one has recognized the dead man. This is exceedingly singular. The man was apparently out hunting when shot. Therefore it is very probable he lived in Dyea. If that is the case, why is he not missed, and why does not his partner, if he had one, come forward and identify him? If he had no partner, surely some one knew him. He could not have been such a stranger that no one misses him. It is a strange case, indeed. It is extremely probable that the man had a partner. Where is that partner? Was it he who did the shooting? If he did not, why does he not come forward and identify the body?
    Three theories regarding the man's death are held. One is that he was killed by his partner with robbery or revenge as the motive. Another is that he was shot by an Indian, and the third that he was shot by two Swedes who are said to own a rich mineral claim in the vicinity of the shooting, and who it is reported, have repeatedly warned every one to keep away. The two latter theories are unlikely. The former one is tenable. It looks as if he was killed by a partner, either accidentally or purposely. If the killing was accidental, the man who did it is too frightened to confess; if intentional, his absence can be understood.
    The body, which has been photographed, is still at Undertaker Hart's awaiting identification. Every person in Dyea should look at it so that, if possible, the man may be identified.
    A coroner's inquest held on Wednesday returned a verdict to the effect that the man had come to his death from the effects of a gunshot wound.





The man was buried in the Slide Cemetery at Dyea, with "Noscitur", Latin for "unknown," painted on the headboard. His grave may be seen here.