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The Man From the Train, Part IV

May 28, 2012

This article is out of sequence with the series.   Chronologically, this event occurred after the murders of the Meadows family in Hurley, Virginia, but before the murders of the Zoos family in Byers, Pennsylvania, and before the murders of the Bernhardt family in Johnson County, Kansas.    I was unaware of this event until I stumbled across it while making another effort to find out more about the murders of the Zoos (Zaus, Saus, Czaus) family.


                Laurel, Iowa, is, we should note, not especially near the railroad; the railroad runs not through Laurel but through Gilman, about five miles to the east of Laurel, or through Marshalltown, which is to the north, or Newton, which is to the south, or Melbourne, which is to the west.   There may have been an old railroad spur that ran through the town at some point in the past; I do not know.   Laurel, Gilman, Melbourne and Newton are northeast of Des Moines, near Grinnell, Iowa, where there is a very good private college, and Marshalltown, which was founded by Cap Anson’s father, Henry Anson.

                James Hardy, aged 64, had a farm between Laurel and Van Cleve, Iowa, which was a yet-smaller town halfway between Melbourne and Laurel.   On Sunday morning, June 5, 1910, James Hardy and his son went to the barn and discovered that one of their horses, a bay horse named Old Kit, had been saddled and bridled, ready for a trip, although no one in the family had done this.   They were alarmed by the incident, which strongly suggested that someone had intended to steal the horse, and they decided to sit up that night and keep a watch on the barn.

Hardy’s 19-year-old son, Raymond Hardy, was planning to be married on the following Wednesday (June 8) to a lady named Mabel Starne, who lived three and a half miles away.   After supper on the evening of June 5, Raymond went to visit his fiancé at her home.  He told her about the bridling of the horse.   He was there until sometime after midnight, at which point he returned home, presumably on horseback.

Hardy reached his home about 1 AM.   The house being dark he struck a match to light a lamp.    In the match-lit darkness, before the lamp was lit, he saw a large pool of blood, and discovered the body of his mother, Lavina Hardy, lying half-way on and half-way off a couch.     She was 57, or not; differing ages are reported for all the members of the family.   Moments later he discovered the battered body of his brother Earl, aged 29.   He ran to the phone and cranked the handle vigorously, a distress signal to the neighbors who shared the party telephone line.  A neighbor, C. W. Preston, was the first to respond, sometime before 1:30 AM.  By the time Preston arrived at the Hardy farm Raymond had called the county sheriff, A. A. Nicholson, who lived in Marshalltown.    Sheriff Nicholson arrived at the farm about 4 AM, but before he did neighbors had found the body of James Hardy in the barn, where he also had been beaten to death.   A leaded gas pipe, taken from the barn, was discarded near the body of James Hardy, perhaps indicating that he had been the last to die.   According to the Cedar Rapids Gazette (June 6, 1910), the neighbors "found the bodies cold, as though they had been dead for some time.   All three had been killed with a piece of gas pipe and the brains beaten out."    The gas pipe, about 30 inches long, had been sharpened on one end; it was used in the winter for prying frozen manure off the ground.  The Waterloo paper says, yet more graphically, that their skulls had been beaten to a pulp; another newspaper ups the ante to "mashed" to a pulp.   All of the victims had been struck from behind on the right side of their heads, near the top of the head.    On the wallpaper above the couch where Mrs. Hardy died was a hand print in blood, the hand pointing toward the ground as if the killer had braced himself against the wall while beating Mrs. Hardy to death. 

                Raymond Hardy was arrested and held "on suspicion that he knows more than he has told" about the tragedy.    The sheriff’s first theory was that Hardy’s family had objected to his marriage, but this was shown to be untrue; the two families had known one another for years, and had co-operated in planning the wedding.   

                There had been "tramps" seen in the neighborhood, and an alternative theory was that the murders were committed in order to facilitate a robbery.    An Associated Press story dated the same day (June 6) states frankly that "a motive for the crime is lacking."

                The funerals of the Hardy family were in Marshalltown on June 8, the day that was supposed to be Raymond’s wedding day.   They were buried in Colfax, Iowa—yet another of the ring of small towns that surrounds the murder site.



It’s a map I created on a spreadsheet; don’t hold me to the details.   It is about sixteen miles from the Hardy farm to Marshalltown. 

Raymond Hardy was still in custody, and a newspaper reported that "he will be placed on trial tomorrow."   The "trial" was actually a proceeding of a coroner’s jury, presided over by Mayor Bollenbacher of Melbourne, who was acting as the county coroner.  Hardy was kept in custody after a search by the sheriff found bloody overalls and a bloody hat hidden on the property.   Hardy claimed that the blood was chicken blood, but acknowledged that he had hidden the items.   He did so, he said, out of fear that he would be accused of the crime.   (A different newspaper says that the Sheriff believes Hardy "made an effort to hide the overalls in the house, but was discovered and gave them up.")

                The Atlantic Evening News (Atlantic, Iowa) wrote that "the father’s body in the cow barn indicates that the murder took place early in the evening, probably about chore time", paralleling my own supposition about the murders of the Bernhardt family.   The sheriff also pointed out that the father, murdered in the barn, had not been carrying a lantern, which indicated that the murders had been committed in daylight, which had ended about 8:45 PM.   This, again according to the sheriff, pointed to the son as the assailant, although an equally plausible theory is that the murderer stole the lantern to help him make his getaway.    I do believe, however, that the murders may have been committed in daylight.   The murderer had probably been watching the family from a hiding place in an out building all day, trying to puzzle out—as in the Bernhard murders—how he would be able to overpower three adult men.   When the only one of those men who was strong and healthy left the farm about a half hour before sunset, he probably sprang into action almost immediately.

                Milk cans carried in from the barn were scattered near Earl Hardy’s body, as if he were attacked on returning from the barn.   The most likely scenario is that the murderer entered the house after Earl Hardy headed to the barn, and murdered Lavina Hardy in the otherwise-empty house, then waited for Earl Hardy to return.    After they were dead he went to the barn, and attacked the senior Hardy, who was a small man with severe arthritis in his left arm.   The article in the Atlantic Evening News, June 7, is worth quoting at more length:

Friends of the boy and family declare it is impossible that he could have committed the crime. The bureau drawers of the house were all opened and the contents strewn on the floor. Otherwise nothing about the house was disturbed. The bodies of the young man who was killed and the father had watches on them and money in the pockets.  This was undisturbed, so that robbery apparently was not the motive.  All the bodies were fully dressed and the father's body in the cow barn indicates that the murder took place early in the evening, probably about chore time.


                All of the members of the family had been in poor health, other than Raymond, who was described by all who knew him as likeable and good-natured.   The murders were the front-page story in the Des Moines News (June 7), which described the case as "the most profound mystery in the criminal annals of the state of Iowa", and reported that hundreds of people had come to Van Cleve to view the bodies of the slain family.  Here is a longer quote from the Des Moines News account:

The family was respected for the love and consideration shown each other.   Earl, the murdered son, was weak and not able to do heavy work, and the younger boy, always strong and rugged, did double duty on the farm to save his brother.  The family were renters and had but little means, but they had portioned the hardships, share and share alike. No trouble had been heard of in the family circle at any time. None had an enemy in the community.


                The theme of the impoverished family carries through the newspaper coverage of the case despite constant bubbling bits of information to suggest they were not all that poor.   Raymond Hardy was arrested with $35 to $40 in his pocket, which was six weeks wages at that time, and John Hardy apparently had more money than that in his pockets.   The house in which they were murdered was decent and substantial, rather comfortable, and they at times had hired help.    The family owned at least two horses, maybe more, and various other livestock, and we see constant references, in accounts of the crime, to things like pistols, telephones and carpets which were not things that everybody owned. 

                Anyway, the sheriff continued to insist he had a case against the boy, mentioning inconsistent statements and that the boy had changed his story under questioning.  

                Such as?

                How he got blood on his hat.   He was wearing a grey felt hat when he visited his girlfriend.   The next morning the hat had blood on it.   He first said that it must have gotten blood on it when he hung the hat up on the south wall of his house, but there was no peg on the south wall, so he said he had hung it on the east wall, near where his mother’s body had been found.   He said that it must have fallen off and gotten blood on it, but the sheriff said that the peg was a good two feet from the sofa where the blood was.   Hardy finally said he didn’t know how the blood got there.   The county attorney thought that the inconsistent stories about the hat were critical evidence.    

                The sheriff now asserted that Hardy’s motive for the murders was to inherit the family’s property—their livestock, machinery, and household goods—and to have a place to live with his new bride.   

                The sheriff asserted that Hardy changed small details in his story about finding the bodies—but we will note that the sheriff himself has now changed the very essence of his story three times, alleging first that the murders were committed because the family opposed the marriage, then that Hardy had quarreled with his father over chores, then that he had committed the murders in an effort to inherit the family’s modest possessions.   And, oh yeah, what bride doesn’t want to move into a rental house that has recently been the scene of three grisly murders?

                It is immaterial how the blood got onto his hat, since a) the blood was not on the hat at the time he had visited his girlfriend, and b) the bodies were cold by the time they were discovered.     If Raymond Hardy committed the murders, he had to have committed them before he visited his girlfriend, not after.    That would mean that, if the blood got onto the hat as he was committing the murders, it would have been there when he visited his girlfriends’ family.   Since the blood had to get onto the hat after the visit, it cannot be evidence about the crime.

                A note was found in a drawer in Raymond’s room, giving $1,000 from James Hardy to each of his two sons, Earl and Raymond.   It was just a gag, said Raymond; the note was a forgery, but it was just a joke.   It had nothing to do with the murders.   The story about the bridled horse could not be true, said the sheriff, because he had found the bridle and saddle in the barn, covered with dust as if they had not been moved for some time.  Raymond Hardy was arrested with money in his pockets; he could not adequately explain, said the sheriff, where the money had come from.  Another spoke in the wheel of evidence surrounding him was a gun.   Earl Hardy’s pistol had been hanging on a peg near where he was murdered.    After the crime it was missing from its holster, but the gun was later found in a locked suitcase in Raymond Hardy’s room.   It wasn’t the same gun, said Raymond.   He and his brother had purchased identical pistols.   This was his.    

                The newspapers were now certain that Raymond Hardy had murdered his family.  The Watertown Courier reported on June 8 that "Developments since Monday.. ..have strengthened, rather than weakened, the belief of Sheriff A. A. Nicholson and his officers and County Attorney J. H. Egermayer that Raymond Hardy, the youngest and only living member of the family, committed the crimes."


Yesterday, the day before what was to have been his wedding day at Newton, Raymond submitted to a three hours' examination and grilling in his cell by County Attorney Egermayer.  Under the examination which at times, Egermayer said, was as racking as could well be imagined, Raymond stood calm, and unflinching.  Without, speaking figuratively, "batting an eye," and in a calm and even tone of voice he answered every question put to him. Cool and collected, without ever once losing his temper he told and retold details of the tragedy, of the Sunday it happened and of his past life and conduct. Back and forth, crossing and re-crossing and jumping here and there, first touching one detail then another, the prosecutor led him. But the lad faltered but little, although the county attorney said that in details he tripped in his story.


This, again, from the Watertown Courier.    On the morning of June 9, the day after the funerals, Hardy was found unconscious on the floor of his cell, bleeding heavily from the nose.   It appeared that he may have broken his nose in a suicide attempt, banging his head against the walls.   Hardy refused to explain what had happened to him, and the sheriff insisted there had been no suicide attempt.   A paragraph quoting neighbors in support of the beleaguered boy—and containing no other information--was headlined ominously "Raymond is an enigma."

                500 people crowded into Melbourne to learn what they could from the inquest; teams of horses were tied up along the street in every conceivable place.   Mabel Starnes was the first witness.   She was several years older than the accused, about 24, and in point of fact she was pregnant, although the newspapers never alluded to this, and always referred to her, throughout the ordeal, in very respectful terms.  She had worked on the Hardy farm, for Mrs. Hardy, in the past.   She said that the last time she had seen Mrs. Hardy, a few days before the murder, she had helped Mrs. Hardy feed the chickens, and Mrs. Hardy had told her that once they were married half of the chickens would be theirs.   Mrs. Hardy had never expressed any opposition to the marriage, and did not advise them not to get married.  She said that Raymond Hardy seemed in every respect normal throughout the evening.   Raymond Hardy was asked whether he sounded the alarm over the telephone before or after finding his brother’s body.   He said that he couldn’t remember; the entire sequence of events was like a dream to him, and he had no firm hold on it.  On June 10, 1910, the coroner’s jury failed to find sufficient evidence to hold Ray Hardy, and ordered his release.   

On June 11, Governor Carroll of Iowa offered a $300 reward for the apprehension and conviction of the murderer(s).   A Professor Macy of Highland Park College in Des Moines (now part of Drake University) examined the blood-stained clothes to attempt to determine whether the blood was human blood or chicken blood, but he made no public statement as to his findings.   The wallpaper with the hand print in blood was peeled off the wall; this also was to be submitted to experts in an effort to prove that it matched Raymond Hardy’s hand.   Experts concluded that there was insufficient ridge detail for the prints to be usable.

Within days after the murders, neighbors had moved in and scrubbed the crime scene clean, washing the blood off of and out of anything that could be cleaned.    Two days after his release Raymond Hardy returned to the scene of the murders and, assisted by his neighbors, boxed up all of his belongings and cleared out, going to stay with relatives in Des Moines.    Sheriff Nicholson was there as this was being done, and newspaper reporters.  

Another small town in Marshall County is Luray, Iowa; Luray is to the southwest of Marshalltown, which makes it to the northeast of Melbourne, and less than five miles straight north of Van Cleve; I’m sure you have all got that straight.  Anyway, a man named Frank Wickersham, who lived in Luray, came forward belatedly with the information that, on the morning of June 6, he was riding the train north toward Marshalltown, when two men got on the train in Melbourne.   No one knew them, and they spoke to no one.  One of them had a good deal of blood on his coat, and several of the other passengers remarked on it.   However, since none of the passengers knew that the murders had occurred the previous evening, no effort was made to identify the man, who rode the train on north when Wickersham debarked in Luray.  

By the end of June the reward fund for the apprehension of the murderers had been increased by donations to $885.    By mid-July Raymond Hardy had moved in with the Starnes family, and was helping the Starnes family to tend to the crops on his old farm.    Being only 19 years of age he needed the consent of a guardian to marry Miss Starnes.   A neighbor was named his legal guardian, and they were married in Newton on or about August 12, 1910.

On September 12 the possessions of the Hardy family were sold at a public auction.   Prices were inflated, as people turned out to bid on relics from the infamous crime.  Neighbors pressed for a grand jury to investigate the murders, but officials decided that would be a waste of money, since there was no new evidence to present.   

A baby boy, Otis Herbert, was born to Mabel in early October, five months after the murders.   The couple moved to Minnesota, where they had two more children and raised a family. Mabel Starnes Hardy died in 1951, and Raymond Hardy passed away on May 24, 1969. 

The house where the murders occurred still stands, and is occupied today.   The Web Site "Iowa Cold Cases" has a photo of the house, dated 2012.  




                Some information from the web site was useful in wrapping up the last two or three paragraphs of this article, and I appreciate their help.   The site identifies the mother as "Mary" Hardy, which is apparently the name on her gravestone, at least according to  Her first name is hardly ever given in accounts of the case, in which she is generally referred to only as Mrs. Hardy.   I saw her name given as Lavina, Levina, Nevina, and in other variations; however, in reviewing all accounts of the case that I could find, I never saw her referred to as "Mary".  

The Cold Case web site states, incorrectly, that Raymond Hardy found the saddled horse that night, when he returned from visiting his girlfriend.   The Web site ticks off all of the newspaper allegations against Hardy—failing to note that most of these were clearly demonstrated to be baseless—and basically suggests that Raymond Hardy was guilty of the murders:

The community wanted and needed another explanation for the murders.

The web site then states, incorrectly, that Hardy was released in large part because of the story of the bloody stranger on the train.   In fact, the story of the bloody stranger on the train never surfaced until several days after Hardy was released.    The first printed report of this account specifically notes that this might have been something the coroner’s jury would have wanted to know about.   Hardy was released because there was no real evidence against him, and there is virtually no reason to believe that he committed the crime. 

Some newspapers said that the funeral services for the Hardy family were held in Marshalltown; others, that they were held in Van Cleve.  I do not actually know which is correct. 

In many of the cases which are a part of this series, the first line of attack for investigators was to bring in bloodhounds.    In most of these cases, this could be described as a futile gesture.   Not only did it never lead to the identification of the murderer, but in many of these cases it is extremely difficult to understand how authorities could have imagined that it would.

This is the one case in the series, however, in which bloodhounds might have been useful, had they been employed.   This is true for two reasons.   First, the murders were discovered within a few hours, unlike most of the others in the series, so the murderer had less time to get distance between him.    And second, the railroad was a little bit further away this time, so the murderer had further to go before he reached the safety of the rails.  


COMMENTS (19 Comments, most recent shown first)

Really interesting series, Bill. Given the number of articles you've mentioned this ended in with, this reads almost like a potential book if you wanted to run with it.
5:04 PM Jun 6th
I'm still suspicious of the guy in the courdoroy suit. Courdoroy? Over dressed to steal chickens, but just right for some axe murdering'.
6:57 PM Jun 1st
Man, I am jamesing (like jonesing, but more specific) for Part V. This series is fantastic.
3:40 PM Jun 1st
Speaking of Waterloo (I see that I got it right the first time, then screwed it up the next two). . ..the Iowa newspapers covering these cases are substantially better than the other cases I have written about. The Virginia papers (Hurley case) are difficult to work with; the area was moutainous, inaccessible, and backward, and the newspapers print a lot of stuff that is just absurdly wrong. The Pennsylvania papers were bizarrely disinterested in their case. The Kansas papers were better--some of them very good--the Iowa papers generally cogent without an excessive amount of suspect material.

It's really interesting, researching this stuff, trying to put together a real understanding of what happened. In the Hardy case there is ONE newspaper--and only one--that printed a real description of the murder weapon; length, weight, etc. A different newspaper--just one--explained what the tool was used for. One newspaper (just one) specifies how much money Raymond Hardy had in his pockets at the time he was arrested, rather than just saying he had some money on him. One newspaper (just one) gives us the name of the horse that was bridled and ready to run on Sunday morning; a different newspaper gives us a cogent account of that event, whereas the other newspapers post sort of semi-intelligible narratives about the horse. One newspaper gives the first name of the sheriff; the others refer to him as "Sheriff Nicholson" (the same in the Kansas case.) You have to read all of these papers that you can and then you have to decide who you believe you can trust, and who you think has the facts straight.

Some newspapers in this era just invent stuff, and I don't mean LITTLE stuff; in several of these cases there are newspapers hundreds of miles from the scene of the crime that tell remarkable stories that don't match anything printed by anyone who had been within 500 miles of the scene.
4:18 PM May 29th
Waterloo/Watertown. . ..thanks.

I grew up in a small town in Kansas, not too different from many of these towns. Mayetta had just a spur of a railroad, not a main line. You could go north or south, no east/west intersections. I believe that in 1950 there were eight stops a day, 4 going north and 4 going south. The rail service was discontinued about 1954 (I was born 1949), so I don't really remember. But in 1950 there were people who worked in Topeka (23 miles away) and rode the morning train to work. I think there was a 7:30 train (more or less), a train about 10 o'clock, and two in the afternoon.

But that's a SPUR; almost all of these little towns were near a MAIN LINE; Hurley is, Downington, PA is (obviously), Mason City was on a main line, and I THINK that was a main line that ran through Melbourne, Iowa (not sure.) So then you would have more trains going through (relevant for a person who was hopping a freight in the middle of the night) but not necessarily a lot more trains actually STOPPING.

Although Mayetta didn't have passenger service after about 1954, we had freight service as long as I lived there (until 1967). I don't know how many trains a day came through there. . ..a dozen or more.

Hurley, Virginia is on a mountain, so that would make it easy for a train-jumper to get on, since the train slows to a crawl going up the mountain.
4:02 PM May 29th
By the way, as a minor point of information, I think the newspaper from which you referenced the Hardy interrogation was the Waterloo Courier. There is currently no Watertown in Iowa, and if the historical reference that I found is accurate, it is considerably further away from Marshalltown than Waterloo is.

I found no indication that there ever was a newspaper called the Watertown Courier. But there was (and still is) a Waterloo Courier. I delivered papers for it as a kid.​
1:18 PM May 29th
I was wondering that too Trailbzr. Was the witness in this case who reported he man with bloody clothes in a passenger car or just a train jumper (don't know the proper term) on a freight car? Wouldn't it be hard to purchase a ticket and ride in a passenger car with blood covered clothing?

11:43 AM May 29th
Bill, how frequently would passenger rail service stop in a town like Marshall or Hurley, Va, in 1910? (These stories do a have theme of passenger rail stations nearby; you don't think this was the work of a hobo hitching boxcars?)

10:09 AM May 29th
It appears that you are connecting all of these crimes to possibly a single drifter who rode trains. Would you say then, that you think that the Howard Little who was executed for the first crime was not guilty?
8:48 AM May 29th
Senrad. . .the Butcher of Kingsbury run. Very unlikely there's a connection. a) No one knows how the Butcher dismembered his victims, but an axe would not be a good guess. b) There's a 20+ year gap. c) The Butcher was stationery, killing within a condensed area. d) If they are connected, then ALL of my suppositions about the Butcher are dead wrong.

I haven't done any series like this before. And thanks for subscribing. BIll
11:34 PM May 28th

I'm really enjoying this series, being a fairly recent subscriber to the site I'm wondering if you have done others like this previously?

I remember in your book the case that disturbed me the most was the Cleveland killer who was never found. Or perhaps found but not identified is the proper phrase. Didn't he use an axe to decapitate his victims? Weren't train tracks a common area where his victims were found? Is there any connection here? I'm hoping so.

11:19 PM May 28th
Responding to hotstatrat... .I don't actually know, but I have in each case quoted someone--a governor, a newspaper, someone--saying something along the lines of "this is one of the most terrible crimes in the history of". . .Iowa, Kansas, Virginia, whatever. These quotations are included to discourage people from believing that these are common events. There are not normally a great many unsolved axe murders of entire families.

in 1914, many of you probably know, Frank Lloyd Wright's family (7 people) was murdered in Wisconsin; I am assuming THAT was an unrelated crime. There were also several families murdered with an axe in the same time frame in Louisiana, murdered by a religious cult in what are called the Holy Roller Murders. That's an unrelated crime. But . . .it's pretty unusual.

Sprox. ...I ESSENTIALLY agree with what you're saying; your perceptiveness is pushing the discussion ahead of my pace. There ARE cases of people who have murdered their loved ones in a violent, very personal manner, but. . .well, to take the Virginia case for example. A robbery? Really? What about the whole cutting off the person's head with an axe thing? Is that really a normal sort of robbery-motivated crime?

The sheriffs in these cases were missing the obvious: whoever did this was effing nuts. I'm not saying that he couldn't have presented himself as normal the next day, but. . .these are extraordinary crimes. Treating them as ORDINARY crimes, ascribing them to ordinary causes, is a way of refusing to come to terms with what you're really dealing with.
9:42 PM May 28th
This may be getting ahead of the story, but how often do multiple ax murders occur on semi-remote midwestern farms? 50 years ago? 150 years ago?
8:40 PM May 28th
heaven help the poor soul who is falsely accused of a serious crime. every fact is dissected and reassembled in a way that is presented as further evidence of his guilt, and every fact is examined only from the perspective of how it may further implicate the accused. should he be so foolish as to talk without a lawyer, there is no person so intelligent and articulate as to escape the accuser's conclusion that his answers had seriously implicated himself in the crime.
it's not about justice; its about notches on their belt. if they can get a notch, then the legal system, and justice, has been served, in their mind.
8:04 PM May 28th
Hi Bill

Maybe I'm just quite dull or maybe I lack sufficient credentials in psychology or human behavior ... but ...

The murders in this series seem to be vicious and brutal enough to suggest only a truly deranged psychopath could have possible committed them.

Every case I've ever read about "otherwise normal" people murdering their families (or neighbors or landlords) - they ALWAYS seem to be relative clean, painless, and bloodless. Bullet wounds to the head, Strangulation, drowning, etc. You NEVER hear of someone murdering their families by bashing their brains to a fine pulp.

Just doesn't happen. Ever.

How could the police or other law enforcement or even newspaper reporters fail to comprehend this?

I find myself waiting for the first person to actually say something intelligent like "This is clearly an example of a particularly deranged violent criminal who very likely has a exhibited a long history of anti-social and psychopathic behavior."

Am i wrong here?
7:48 PM May 28th
Thanks for the quick and insightful answer, Bill. I can't wait for the next article.
5:46 PM May 28th
Forgot to finish answer. . .No, the police were not likely to have caught him even had the investigation been good. The "cost" of the not-very-good investigation is that an innocent young man was hounded and harassed, in the wake of a horrific tragedy which had cost him his family. That's a terrible thing, and that's a high price to pay from a botched investigation. But I don't think they were going to catch the murderer no matter what they had done.

I'm getting ahead of myself, but in most of these cases not only did they never catch the murderer, but honestly, they were never in any danger of catching him. They were never close. It's kind of like asking "If Mike Sharperson had hit a double in this situation, rather than a pop out, would he be in the Hall of Fame today?" No; Mike Sharperson was never that close to the Hall of Fame.
5:43 PM May 28th
Well. . .it wasn't the WORST of the investigations, but it was toward the bottom end. They got hung up on the idea that Raymond Hardy had committed the crime, and put forward implausible theories as to why he had committed the crime, rather than looking at the possibility that maybe he didn't. They jumped to a conclusion about what they were dealing with, and were very stubborn in pursuing that angle. That's not one point against them; it's two.

I also believe, although I wouldn't EXACTLY say this in print.. .I hope you know what I mean; there is a difference between off-the-cuff comments and the narrative of the case. . .but I believe that they ruined the handprint in the process of peeling it off the wall, and then lied to cover up their mistake. People who saw the handprint on the wall thought that it was clear. It's a tricky thing, peeling wallpaper off a wall, and when the wallpaper got to the "lab" (there weren't forensic labs in those days, but when the wallpaper got to the fingerprint expert) the expert said there were no legible prints.
5:22 PM May 28th
Hi Bill. Thanks for another great article. In your third article you mentioned that the police investigating the Bernhardt's murders did the best job out of any of the cases you are focusing on. Where would you rank the investigators in the Hardy's murders? Had the police not been so sure that James Hardy was the murderer do you think they could have caught the real murderer?
4:48 PM May 28th
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