Saturday, January 22, 2011

NEWSPAPER TIDBIT: Argument Over Tomatoes Leads To Murder (1934)

An item found in The Republican (Danville, Indiana) – issue of Thursday, May 31, 1934 – page 8, column 5:

THOMAS COFFEY FATALLY WOUNDED
Former Pittsboro Man Shot Near New Augusta

Thomas Coffey, fifty-three years old, New Augusta farmer, who formerly lived at Pittsboro, was shot fatally by a Marion County farmer, Saturday morning, following an argument over some tomato plants. The slayer, Alonzo Van Deman, age 59, of New Augusta, was bound over to the Marion County grand jury, Monday, on charges of murder.

Coffey went to the home of Van Deman early Saturday morning, to purchase field tomato plants and after a heated argument the shooting occurred. It is alleged that Van Deman fired a shotgun twice into the heart of Coffey, killing him almost instantly. The slayer claims he shot in self defense.

A few hours after his arrest, Van Deman attempted to commit suicide by slashing his wrist with a broken piece of his glasses. After being treated at the City hospital, he was taken to the city prison where he is still being held.

The slain man was born in Kentucky and moved to a farm near Pittsboro in 1910, where he had lived until March of this year. He is a member of the Pittsboro Baptist Church.

Besides his wife, Coffey is survived by seven children, Mrs. Ethel Doty of Pittsboro, Mrs. Maude Odom of Danville, Mrs. Stella Kernodle of Lizton, Mrs. Marie Rieber of Lebanon, Mrs. Gladys Wiggam of Anderson, and Edna and Floyd at home. He also has three half-sisters and five brothers and six grandchildren.

Funeral services were held Monday afternoon, at the Baptist church with Rev. Williams and Rev. R.R. Blake in charge. Burial was in the Sparks cemetery.


from The Republican (Danville, Indiana) – issue of Thursday, June 21, 1934 – page 1, column 5:

WIDOW SEEKS DAMAGES FROM ALLEGED MURDERER

A suit to collect $10,000 as damages on account of the alleged murder of her husband, Thomas Coffey, has been filed in Marion County by Mrs. Margaret Coffey, formerly of Pittsboro, but more recently of New Augusta. The suit is filed against Alonzo Van Deman, a farmer living near New Augusta, who is alleged to have shot and killed her husband in May following an argument over some tomato plants.

Van Deman, who is held for murder, and a packing company were named defendants in the suit. It set out that Coffey had a written contract with Van Deman, who was an agent for the company, to raise tomatoes with plants and fertilizers provided by the company.

Some of the plants were defective, the suit said, and when Coffey went to Van Deman’s home to object, an argument followed. Van Deman was said to have obtained a loaded shotgun, killing Coffey.

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