New Jersey Mirror (Mt Holly) – October 20, 1920
The Authorities of Burlington county have another baffling murder mystery to solve.
On Saturday four duck hunters, William and James Cutts, and C. B. Inston, of Tabernacle, and George W. Duncan, of Audubon were passing through the pine forest at Irick’s Crossing, near Tabernacle, when their attention was attracted by an automobile track following an old and rarely used trail leading to a stream toward which the gunners were making.
As the car was miles off the nearest traveled road the tracks aroused the curiosity of the men and they followed them. In a short time they came upon a freshly made mound over which dead leaves had been thrown. Leading to the mound from the shallow stream nearby were tracks of men and also marks as though some heavy object has been dragged by the men making the tracks. Thinking perhaps that a deer had been shot and secreted there, one or two of the men scratched around the end of the mound with sticks and within six inches of the surface a human foot was unearthed.
This put an unexpected phase upon the situation and the gunners decided to let Sheriff Haines continue the investigation.
Word was hastily phoned to the jail at Mount Holly and the Sheriff and Detective Parker lost no time in reaching the scene of the tragic discovery. The new-made and crude grave was then opened under the Sheriff’s direction. The body proved to be that of a man, fully dressed except for his coat which was lying buried deeper and under the body. The feet were tied with a heavy rope such as is used in towing automobiles and they were resting upward and back over the dead man’s head. As soon as the features were uncovered Sheriff Haines recognized the dead man as David S. Paul, of Camden, a bank runner, who had been reported missing by the Broadway Trust Company of Camden ten days before, with $65,000 in cash and liberty bonds and $12,500 in checks besides a number of cancelled checks. The body was badly mutilated and it was evident that a brutal murder had been committed.
Apparently Paul had been dead but a few hours and the remains were in a good state of preservation when discovered by the merest chance by the gunning party. There was a deep gash on the head as though made by an axe or hatchet, and the forehead was crushed in. Another ghastly wound just above one ear, alone was sufficient to have caused almost instant death.
Every indication pointed to the man having been killed and buried within twenty-four hours of the discovery of the crime. The rigor of death had not yet set in and the victim’s face appeared to have been freshly shaven. The marks on the ground accompanying the feet tracks leading from the stream about a hundred feet away, were quickly explained when the body was unearthed. Evidently those who brought the body to the unfrequented spot had attempted to secret it in the stream, but finding the water too shallow to conceal the corpse, they had dragged it out again by the rope which bound the feet and pulled it to the spot where the grave was quickly made and the body of the unfortunate man shoved into it.
The clothes which Paul wore bore every evidence of being new. The shoes also had evidently just been purchased and the soles bore no evidence of wear. A search of the body failed to reveal any of the cash which the bank messenger is alleged to have taken when he so suddenly dropped out of sight while on his way across the ferry to go to a bank in Philadelphia to take the money, securities and checks for his employers. Only one cent was found in the pockets of the dead man. In the coat was a bundle of checks, said to have been cancelled.
There had been no attempt to conceal the identity of the dead man. His watch which had stopped at 9:37, was found in his pocket and a stickpin and in his tie and (as written) a pair of sleeve buttons remained in the cuffs.
How the dead man came to his untimely end and how his body happened to be buried in the far away spot in the pines miles from any human habitation, was a mystery when the body was first discovered and it seems to be as much so today, although the authorities here, as well as those of Camden and Philadelphia, are exerting every effort to run down the criminals.
It will be recalled that Paul, who was 59 years of age, enjoyed the confidence of the bank officials by whom he had been employed for many years. He was a recent visitor in Mount Holly where he had a son, Harry Paul, and other relatives.
On the morning of October 5 Paul started across the river to Philadelphia in company with another bank employee with a satchel said immediately afterward to contain $10,000 in cash and $12,500 in checks. This statement has since been revised and the amount of cash and Liberty Bonds that Paul carried is now variously stated to have been from $45,000 to $65,000. Upon reaching the other bank the other employee became separated from Paul whether by accident or through Paul’s design is not yet known and after an attempt to find him at the ferry house, he went at once to the bank and reported his companion’s disappearance.
The Central Trust Company was immediately notified and after all efforts to get in touch with the missing messenger had failed the Camden and Philadelphia police were asked to locate Paul. Nothing more was seen or heard of him until his hacked body was discovered in the pines near Tabernacle ten days after his disappearance. What the missing bank runner did during the interim, where he spent his time or with whom he associated while the police of the county were searching for him has not yet been learned but it is expected that the mystery will be solved before long.
One clue which seemed to put under suspicion the occupants of a yellow car turned out to be valueless when the owner, hearing of the authorities suspicions, came forward, gave his address as Haddonfield and proved that he drove a party in his yellow car inspecting some real estate in the pines shortly before the discovery of the body of the murdered man.
Detective Parker yesterday said that he had just picked up what he considered the first piece of valuable evidence in the case since he stated to work on it on Saturday. He declined to state what this evidence was for the present.
There are endless theories being advanced as to how the dead man met his fate and in explanation of his disappearance with the large sum of money entrusted to his custody. Some officials incline to the view that Paul was killed either in Philadelphia or Camden and his body taken to the lonely spot at Irick’s Crossing in the confident belief that it never would be discovered or at least not until time had obliterated identifying marks.
Another theory is that the murdered man was taken alive in the automobile and killed near the spot where his body and rifled clothes were found. There is no means of telling which theory is correct at this time, quite as possibly both theories are at fault.
The body was taken in charge by Coroner Isaac Clover who ordered it removed to the undertaking establishment of Cline & Sons, at Vincentown. There Dr. Longsdorf, of Mount Holly and Dr. Stein, of Camden, performed an autopsy, the result of which showed that Paul come to his death by wounds to the head, probably inflicted by a dull axe or hatchet.
There was a conference in Mount Holly on Sunday in which officers of Camden and Burlington counties participated. Those taking part were reticent after coming out of the room in which that meeting was held. In the discussion of the crime and the preparation of plans for running down the murderers, if there were more than one, were Sheriff Haines, Clifford R. Powell and County Detective Parker, of this county, and Prosecutor Wolverton, and Detectives Schregler and Doran, of Camden county.
A reward of $1,000 offered by the Broadway Trust Company for the apprehension of Paul shortly after his disappearance is to be increased now for information leading to the capture of his murderers. It is easily the most mystifying case that had come to the attention of the Burlington county officials for many years but they express confidence that it will be solved and the criminals run down.