The following is the second of a two part series about newspaper coverage of the murder and trial.
Go to PART 1.
News story about the murder of Elizabeth A. Jones, Indianapolis Journal of 16 Jun 1869.
THE COVINGTON MURDERS
Further Particulars of the Double Murder on Saturday — Probable Causes of the Rash Act — Whiskey at the Bottom of It.
(Correspondence LaFayette Courier.)
Monday Morning, June 14, 1869
Our usually quiet city was the theater of a most terrible tragedy on Saturday evening last, resulting in the almost instant death of Mrs. Elizabeth Jones, aged 73 years, and the mortal wounding of Miss Clarissa Beckelheimer, both by pistol shots from the hand of one Frederick Remster.
The unfortunate victims of this terrible tragedy were of the highest respectability and standing. Mrs. Jones was the mother of John R. Jones, founder of the People’s Friend, and Representative from this county to the State Legislature, and of William Jones, Esq., formerly Mayor of Vincennes.
Miss Beckelheimer is the only daughter of Levi Beckelheimer, a worthy and esteemed citizen of this place.
The facts pertaining to the tragedy are in substance as follows :
Remster, who was married to an estimable young lady of this neighborhood only three weeks ago, and was occupying a part of the house owned by Mrs. Jones, (Mrs. Jones occupying the other part of the house) came home about six o’clock, Saturday evening, apparently laboring under some mental excitement. It does not appear that there was any quarreling. But Remster remarked, in presence of his wife and Mrs. Jones, that they would all be killed that night, or that there would be bloodshed, at which Mrs. Jones becoming alarmed, remarked that she would go to her daughter’s, who lived near by, and stepped out of the door. Remster followed, caught her, and putting his pistol to her head, fired, killing her almost instantly. The act was witnessed by four or five ladies in the neighborhood, among whom was Miss Lillie Knight, grand-daughter of Mrs. Jones, who raised the alarm, and all ran to the assistance of Mr. Jones.
Remster who had gone back into the house as it is supposed for the purpose of killing his wife, hearing the cries of the ladies, started toward them in a threatening manner. They all ran for life, he pursuing them, and all succeeded in escaping except Miss Beckelheimer, who fled across the street, through her own door yard and back toward her father’s shop, situated on the next street, and when within twenty feet of where her father was standing, Remster caught her, and putting the pistol to her head fired, causing a mortal wound.
Before Mr. B. could realize the terrible truth, the murderer fled on in a northerly direction, attempting an entrance in the house of Mr. Donaldson ; Failing in which, he next met three gentlemen, among them Mr. Fausler, at whom the murderer snapped his pistol. Mr. Fausler immediately grabbed him and with the assistance of the other gentlemen tied him. Thus was the murderer captured, and is now in jail heavily ironed.
When the murderer started in pursuit of the ladies, his wife made her escape to the house of Mr. J. H. Spence, on the adjoining lot.
Remster claims to be insane, but of this there is much doubt in the minds of our citizens. Upon no other ground can the mystery of the terrible crime be based, else he must be a fiend incarnate.
Mrs. Jones will be buried to-day. Miss B. is rapidly sinking and can not possibly recover. The friends of the victims of the monster, have the heartfelt sympathy of the entire community, in their great bereavement.
Of the murderer we know little, except that he is of good family, many of whom reside near here. He was a resident of this county, but for the last eight or ten years, has been wandering over the western territories, and doubtless has been thrown much into the society of desperadoes. Since his return here, he has been associated as an auctioneer with Mr. Dodd, of LaFayette.
After a preliminary examination before Justice Rawles yesterday afternoon, he was committed for murder in the first degree.
We learn this morning that the murderer disclaims insanity, and said that he killed the ones he desired to kill.
We refrain from giving an opinion as to the motive that prompted the terrible deed, and will await the truth.
News article about the murder of Elizabeth A. Jones, New Albany Daily Commercial of 17 Jun 1869.
THE COVINGTON MURDERS
Preliminary Examination of the Murderer — Idea of Insanity Abandoned — Funeral of Mrs. Jones — Remster Found Guilty of Murder in the First Degree — Interesting Particulars.
Correspondence of the Lafayette Courier.
Covington, Ind., June 14, 1869.
Before he murdered Mrs. Jones, his wife and he were in the front yard of the house, talking in a loud tone of voice, evidently in disagreement — the wife being in tears. Mrs. Jones, who was sitting in the doorway of her own part of the house, mildly reproved him for the harsh language used by him, and urged them to go into their own apartment, and settle their disagreement without a public exposition of their quarrel, or words to that effect, upon which they both went, not into their own apartment, but into hers, and it was then that he said there would be murder in that house before morning, and then, when Mrs. Jones attempted to leave the house he shot her, the ball taking effect, not in the mouth, but in the neck. The wife seeing this fled out at the back door across the lots, to the shelter of a neighbor’s house. Miss Beckelheimer, who had been standing at the front gate, seeing Mrs. Jones fall to the ground after being shot, also fled across the street toward her father’s house, thus going in an opposite direction to that taken by Mrs. Remster.
It appears that Miss B. and Mrs. Remster were both about the same size, and not unlike in figure.
Remster, whose attention was occupied in murdering Mrs. Jones, had not seen his wife go out at the back door. Seeing Miss B. flying across the street he mistook her for his wife and pursued her. Coming up behind her he pushed her forward, when she fell upon her face, and he stooped down, placed his revolver close to the back of her head and fired.
Miss Beckelheimer is still living, but is said to be in a hopeless condition, hovering as it were between life and death.
The idea of insanity is abandoned, and the murder stands as the cowardly act of a man of a low revengeful nature, maddened by losses at the gambling table, and by repeated potations of bady whiskey. When taken into custody he supposed he had shot his wife, not did he know different until informed that he had murdered Miss B. in his blind fury.
Mrs. Jones’s funeral is now going on while I am writing. She is a most estimable lady, beloved and respected by all, and has resided in Covington for thirty years.
The examination resulted in the committal of the prisoner on the charge of murder in the first degree.
Of course, a man can not help his looks, but a bad life impresses a man’s countenance with a bad expression, and I must say that I never have seen a worse looking face, or a worse expression upon it.
As the idea of his insanity loses ground, the agency of whiskey in this most bloody deed is gaining belief. This man has recently (some few months ago) returned from Idaho. Hints which he himself has furnished for the grounds of various rumors as to deeds of rapine and blood committed there. Such rumors are not entire fabrications, as his own words afford sufficient grounds for strong suspicions of crime committed on the plains.
News clipping about the murder of Elizabeth A. Jones, Indianapolis Journal of 6 Sep 1869.
Last Tuesday the trial of Frederick Remster was commenced at Covington, Indiana, for murdering in that place, last June, an old and highly respected widow lady named Mrs. Jones. The trial closed yesterday in the finding of murder in the second degree. During the progress of the trial much interest was manifested, and able lawyers were employed on both sides. Since the commission of the deed Remster has pretended to be crazy, but it is understood he has got out of similar scrapes on the same plea. The verdict gives general satisfaction.
The young lady he shot at the same time is still living, though at the last accounts the ball still remains in her brain.
Murder of Elizabeth A. Jones; 20 Sep 1869; Daily Sentinel, Indiana.
Remster, while in charge of Sheriff Brown, on his way to the Michigan City Penitentiary, made a full confession in regard to his insanity. He stated that he had only behaved so in order to obtain a mitigation of his punishment, and implored forgiveness for the rude manner in which he had conducted himself during his confinement in jail. He confessed everything except the motive which prompted him to kill Mrs. Jones and wound Miss Beckelhymer. — Covington