Mrs. A. M. Whaylen Murdered
Posted By: Tammy (email)
Date: 9/6/2015 at 13:53:51
Cressy Whaylen Kills Step-Mother Friday Afternoon
Shot While Seated in Automobile at the Whaylen Farm Northeast of Reinbeck; Whaylen in Jail Here.
(From The Reinbeck Courier)
Mrs. A. M. Whaylen, sixty-eight years old, was shot and instantly killed about three o'clock Friday afternoon by Cressy Whaylen, of Waterloo, a foster-son of her husband. Charges from a 12-gauge shotgun entered her head and right shoulder, the second shot being instantly fatal as it ploughed diagonally through her chest.
The shooting occurred on the highway in front of the farm owned by Mr. A. M. Whaylen, three and a half miles northeast of Reinbeck. It is understood to have been the culmination of quarrels between the two which took place Sunday and Monday.
Present when the shooting occurred was Mrs. Cressy Whaylen, wife of the assailant. Andrew Whaylen, who had driven to the farm with his wife was in the yard of the farm house in which no one is living at present.
Mrs. Herman Bern, wife of the tenant of the other Whaylen farm, just across the road, was a witness to much of the shooting but was too far away to hear any of the words which may have led up to it.
Immediately after firing two shots into the body of his foster father's second wife, Cressy went to the Bern home and asked her to call the sheriff at Waterloo. In a voice choken with emotion he told Mrs. Bern, "I've lived in hell ten years and I couldn't stand it any longer from that woman. I've ended it all."
The weapon had been taken from his hand by his wife and she gave it into the keeping of Mrs. Bern. The latter invited them in until the sheriff could arrive, but Cressy said he was going to find Bert Watson, a friend who was cutting trees a short distance away, and would be found at Watson's home in Reinbeck when the officers wanted him.
The Bern family called Dr. H. V. Kahler from Reinbeck but he pronounced death instantaneous after the second shot. Bern's had been unable to get any officer by phone and Dr. Kahler called Sheriff Mamminga at Grundy Center. Meantime the Waterloo sheriff's office had been notified and Deputy Dilworth, a close personal friend of Whaylen, responded to the call. Since the shooting occurred in Grundy county, Whaylen was placed in the keeping of the Grundy county sheriff, Mamminga.
After leaving the Bern farm Cressy drove to where Bert Watson was cutting trees a short distance north. Watson, who was a friend of Cressy since boyhood, took the Whaylen family to his home in Reinbeck to await the coming of the officers.
Body Brought to Reinbeck
L. D. Coffman, Grundy county coroner, viewed the body, which was then taken to the Robinson funeral home in Reinbeck. A. M. Whaylen, who has been in very poor health for the past year, and suffers from a mental ailment, was taken to his home where he is being cared for at present by Mrs. Hattie Shear. Although prevented by his illness from realizing the full import of the tragedy, he is yet able to grasp the main facts.
Mrs. Whaylen, who was Mae Maholm before her marriage, has lived in Reinbeck her entire life. She was a daughter of the late John Maholm, one of the first settlers of this town. She taught in the Reinbeck schools for many years until in 1912 she was married to A. M. Whaylen.
Almost at once after that marriage trouble developed between her and the foster-son of Mr. Whaylen, Cressy, who was then a boy of fourteen years.
A few weeks later Cressy left the Whaylen home and made his home with the Geo. E. Watson family, where he was considered as one of the members of that family until he grew to manhood.
Always talented as a musician, he served in a band in the navy during his service in the branch in the World War, being discharged as a warrant officer in that branch. After the war he located in Waterloo, where with Leslie Hartman he operated a music store. Lately he has devoted his time to teaching instrumental music and for the last three years has been director of the Waterloo Municipal band and a leader in music circles there. He is married and the father of two children.
It was known that there had never been kindly feeling between him and his step-mother and sympathy of the community in that condition was to a great extent with the young man. He remained on excellent terms with Mr. Whaylen and a deep affection was held by each for the other.
Since the elder Mr. Whaylen's illness Cressy has been a constant visitor at his home and bedside and is believed to have resented what he regarded as failure of Mrs. Whaylen to care properly for the older man. This summer both families have had gardens on the Whaylen farm near where the shooting occurred and have been together considerably.
Had Quarreled Sunday
Sunday a quarrel developed between the two families which was of proportions to become known to the Bern family, who were intimate with both. An argument occurred over an old trunk which had been stored at the vacant house and which Cressy claimed Mrs. Whaylen had given him but which he was accused of having stolen. Monday the quarrel continued when they met at the farm.
According to Mrs. Bern, who was an eyewitness of much of the tragedy, Cressy and his wife drove from the north, parking their car in the driveway at the vacant house. Cressy left the car, went into the farm yard a few moments and returned, just as Andrew Whaylen and wife drove up and stopped their car in the road a short distance south of the driveway.
Cressy talked with the couple a few minutes and Andrew got out of the car and went into the yard to an old shed in company with Cressy. Mrs. Bern saw Cressy returning but did not notice that he was carrying a gun. She heard two shots and looked out to see Cressy with the gun in his hands, while his wife stood in the road screaming.
Both came to the Bern house to ask her to call officers. Her recollection is that Mrs. Whaylen handed her the gun on the porch.
As the shooting was reconstructed by the doctor and officers, Mrs. Whaylen was seated at the right side of the front seat. Cressy approached from the left firing the first shot from the heavy shotgun at her head. Turning at his approach, Mrs. Whaylen's face was toward him and the shot struck her on the upper right side of the face. As she twisted and slumped in the seat following that first shot, the second charge from the gun struck her under the right shoulder blade, ranging through her chest. It appears certain that death came at once with the second shot. The window in the right door of the car, next to where the dead woman sat, was blown out and several shot from the first charge scarred the upper part of the left hand door.
Mystery in Birth
The mystery of Cressy Whaylen's birth and his connection with the man who has been his foster-father before the world for thirty-four years is now being discussed by older residents of this community.
In November, 1897, a woman appeared at the Whaylen "ranch" which is the location of the present tragedy. She was taken in and made at home there neither Mr. Whaylen nor his wife (who was not the woman killed today) would tell even intimate friends who she was nor from where she came.
January 28, 1898, she was the mother of a son and when she left a year later that son was taken by Mr. and Mrs. Whaylen. The mother told of being a widow and described her husband's death in an accident but never said why she had come to the Whaylen home. The opinion of old friends of the family was that in some way Cressy was a grandson of an older brother of Mr. Whaylen. No one knows except Mr. Whaylen and after keeping the secret all these years, he will not now tell.
The young man was reared in the Whaylen home, and given all the love and care that a son could have received, until on his tenth birthday, January 28, 1908, Mrs. Whaylen died. While it was then suggested that Andrew Whaylen find the boy's mother and let her have the boy, he clung tenaciously to the sole family tie left him and the two were together constantly the next four years.
In June, 1912, Andrew Whaylen and Miss Mae Maholm were married and it was only a few weeks later that Cressy left their home, "driven from home" friends of the family claimed, by the step-mother.
The above story, from the extra edition of the Reinbeck Courier, covers the Whaylen tragedy pretty thoroughly. A reconstruction of the evidence and interviews with members of the Bern family give a clearer conception of what took place before and during the actual murder of Mrs. Whaylen.
The Whaylen farms are located on both sides of a north and south road with a set of buildings on each side of the road. The buildings on the west side are occupied by the Herman Bern family. The other set of buildings are on the east side of the road and about a 100 yards south. This set of buildings are unoccupied. The driveway to the barnyard of this place is about midway between the two places with a large machine shed directly east of the gate. The house is about 70 feet from the roadway and there is a four-strand barbed wire fence separating the yard from the roadway.
Previous to the murder members of the Bern family had noticed Mr. and Mrs. Cressy Whaylen around the place on the east side of the road and about an hour previous to the time Mrs. Whaylen was shot heard the report of a gun. Daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Bern also stated that just previous to the murder they had seen Cressy and his wife drive by the house in their car three or four times at short intervals, finally coming from the north and parking the car in the driveway to the unoccupied set of buildings. In a few minutes Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Whaylen drove by and they stopped and parked their car on the west side of the road directly in front of the empty house.
It was at this time, as stated above, that Cressy got his foster father and took him to the machine shed and was seen by Mrs. Bern returning alone. Mrs. Bern stated that she didn't pay any more attention at that time and when she next saw Cressy was when she heard the shots and saw him standing beside the Andrew Whaylen car with the gun up to his shoulder and the gun barrel inside the car window. She states that she heard two shots in rapid succession while a neighbor lady, Mrs. Rickert, states that she heard the shots and that there was a short interval between and that they had a different sound, one sounding loud with vibrating echo and the other dull and muffled which bears out the contention of the officers that one shot was fired from a distance and the other with the barrel of the gun pressing against the body.
It is evident that Cressy, after leaving his foster father at the shed, went directly to the unoccupied house, got the gun and went around the south end of the house. Mrs. Andrew Whaylen was sitting in the car, which was headed south, and Cressy was approaching on her left. Officers believe that she saw him approaching with the gun and expected violence and tried to get down below the window line, before he shot. Only three shot hit her, the first shot and these all high up on the head above the right ear, showing that she had turned around and was facing in the opposite direction to that of the car when she was hit. This shot was fired from inside the fence, a distance of about 55 or 60 feet from the car. The empty shell was picked up 28 feet from the fence. This shot went into the open window on the east side of the car and shattered the glass in the opposite window. Whether the first shot stunned the murdered woman or she was trying to get below the window and out of range will never be known. The second shot was fired with the gun pressing against the body as the wound was clean and the size of the barrel of a 12 gauge shotgun. There were powder buns on the clothing and flesh a few inches from the wound.
When officers arrived they found the body in a kneeling position, the knees on the floor boards and the upper part of the body slumped over the cushion. The empty shell from the gun was at the side of the road opposite the car. The shot heard by the Bern family earlier in the afternoon was evidently a shot to test the gun as it was fired into the end of an old wagon box which was standing in the yard a distance of about 30 feet from the rear door of the house. The shot penetrated the wood and made a pattern 11 inches in diameter. Officers fired the gun using the same sized shot as those that entered Mrs. Whaylen's body, and found that at a distance of 55 feet the shot would spread 18 inches, which from shot marks on the murder car they judged to be the spread of the first shot at the murdered woman.
Bound to Grand Jury
Cressy Whaylen appeared in Mayor Wilson's court Wednesday morning where he waived preliminary hearing and was bound over to the grand jury without bail.
--The Grundy Register (Grundy Center, Iowa), 7 July 1932, pg 1, 4
Grundy Documents maintained by Tammy D. Mount.
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