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Newspaper Page Text
the; leading witness
By Frank Filson
(Copyright, 1916, W. G. Chapman.)
Old Mrs. Susan Jenkins' murder
had horrified the town. Suspicion
pointed at once to Frank Jenkins,
her nephew, who, after being re
peatedly cut off in her will, had dis
appeared from the scene for sev
eral years until the week before.
Frank Jenkins struck me as weak
rather than criminal. I could not
see him murdering his aunt in cold
blood. But sentiment was strongly
against him. His 'only friend was Ma
bel Armstrong, who had helped to
keep the ne'er-do-well as straight as
it was possible for him to go.
The evidence seemed extremely
strong. Frank had been living with
his aunt for a week. The old wom
an, who was irascible, had threat
ened him again with the loss of her
property. So much Jad, the Polish
farm hand, had volunteered through
an interpreter. Jad was a sullen, un
gainly lout, who could not speak a
Tvord of English. He had been em
ployed about three weeks and had
come from an immigrant bureau.
The Reeses, who lived next door,
had heard cries during the night, but
had thought the old lady was mere
ly angry and scolding her nephew.
At 6 in the morning Frank had burst
into their home, shouting that his
aunt had been murdered. She had
been strangled with a piece of tape,
arid there were sign of a struggle in
her room. She clutched a lock of
hair in her hand. It was obviously
Frank's hair. The boy was arrest
ed as soon as the police came on the
Jad, who had slept in the loft over
the barn deposed that he had heard
The absolutely damning evidence,
however, was Phineas. Phineas was
Mrs. Jenkins' parrot. He was swing
ing on his perch when the detectives
entered and he cocked his head and
looked at them. "Oh, Frank!" he
shrilled. "Don't Frank!"
Mabel Armstrong came to me. I
promised to do what I could, but
Frank had already been committed
for trial and public sentiment was
furiously against him. If it wasn't
Frank it was Jad, of that I was cer
tain. But I had nothing to work on.
I mistrusted the Pole; I knew that
he was a frequenter of low places in
town, and I knew that his knowledge
"Oh, Frank!" He Shrilled. "Don't
of English must be more than he pre
tended. That helped me nothing.
I went to Frank in the jail and be
came convinced of his innocence
from the moment he opened his lips.
"I've been a mucker," he said, "but
I never stooped to murder."
"Where were you on that night?"
I asked. "How is it you didn't hear
your aunt cry if she was in the next
Frank looked me straight in the
face. "I was drunk," he answered.
"She -had been nagging- me until I
couldn't stand it any longer, and I
went out and had a glass of whisky