Thursday, April 3, 1922
We have never seen such an unhappy example of the effects of liquor than was developed in the trial of Roy Houchin, charged with murder, which resulted in a verdict against him for murder in the second degree.
Jeff Houchin, his father, was an old friend of ours, and he came to a violent death twenty or more years ago, being shot to death by a constable. His son, Roy, lived at the old homestead where the Houchins have resided for many generations. Last fall, three visiting hunters from Morgantown came to the upper end of the county to hunt, and put up at a hotel at Thornwood.
Houchin lived about a mile from town. Houchin was an old friend and companion and the regular program was to hunt in company, and to spend the evening at the farmhouse, the home of Houchin, and go back to the hotel at a late bedtime.
The end of the hunt had come, and the last evening was spent at the farmhouse drinking moonshine liquor, singing, feasting, dancing and having a good time generally. It grew late and Roy Houchin, head of the house, husband, parent and host, having been somewhat overcome by the use of liquor, got sleepy and went to bed, and the visitors prepared to leave.
Then Houchin woke up in a fighting humour. He said on the stand that he had been dreaming. Just what the dream was he did not say, but it must have been something like Ibsen tries to portray in his “Ghosts.”
Anyway, he came into the room he had left a few minutes before. When he left, he was in the best of moods, and when he came back, there was murder in the air. He tried to fight the three visitors, and they were amazed by the transformation that had taken place in the man in so short a time. They escaped from the house.
In front of the house is a noble group of sugar trees and by the time they had reached its shelter, Houchin was on the porch, firing at them, but they were safely behind the trees. Then Houchin called to them to return, and one of them, Lonnie G. Brandt, after talking to him for a while from the safe shelter of the tree, agreed to go back into the house. He did so and in a moment or two, two rifle shots were heard so close together that the witnesses were not sure whether it was one or two shots. A brother of Roy Houchin disarmed him, and Brandt was found on the floor of the kitchen with the calf of one leg pretty well shot away, from which wound he died during the course of the next twenty-four hours.
The brother, who disarmed Roy Houchin, left the county, after the occurrence, and was not a witness at the trial. And the grown daughter of the prisoner, who was at home, was not examined by either side. The prisoner himself was about as unhappy a mortal to judge, from the anguish in his face and his demeanor at the trial, as it is possible for a man to be. His wife was at the trial also. Talk about trouble, here was trouble for that family, but at the same time it was impossible to forget about that other family in Morgantown broken up by the killing of the head of the house.
The trial was conducted on a very high plane, and it seemed to us that while the jury was sorry for the defendant, they were not prepared to set so dangerous a man at large, and a verdict of guilty was brought in.
KILLING AT CASS
Roy Morris is dead, Reuben Coles is in the Marlinton Hospital with a bad gun shot wound in the leg, and John Brown is in the Pocahontas County jail on a charge of murder. This is the result of a shooting affair in the town of Cass on Monday afternoon, April 10, 1922…
The men were employed by the West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company in their pulp wood mill at Spruce, and had come to Cass for pay day. They had engaged in a little friendly game at Brown’s shanty. There was some liquor and a falling out. Brown claims rocks were thrown, and he went to a neighbor’s shanty for a shot gun. Meeting Coles on the street Brown put a load of shot in his leg; going on he came upon Roy Morris and shot him in the head. They were so close to each other that Morris fell upon the man who killed him. His brains were blown out. He lived a few hours after being brought to Marlinton Hospital. Brown claims Morris had a rock in his hand. Town Sergeant Warwick arrested Brown a few minutes after the shooting…
Word comes of a big panther on Williams River. The other night John Roberts was making his way home through the dark and came to the foot log across Little Laurel. When about halfway across he thought he could distinguish the tawny form of some large animal crouched on the other end of the log. As the man paused he heard the measured beat of the beast’s tail. Keeping his eye on the animal, Mr. Roberts began to back away. Just at this time his hunting dog came up, smelled the beast and dashed for it through the stream. With a blood curdling growl, it dashed off into the woods. Old hunters like Lum Riddle and Paris Hammond examined the track the next day and pronounced it a panther of the biggest kind.