The Chariton Leader, Chariton, Iowa
Saturday, June 30, l877

One of the most bloody murders that has occurred since the organization of the State, took place near Leon, Decatur County, on Thursday of last week. JOE BURTON, a colored marble cutter of Albia, went to Leon on the Wednesday before, to collect some notes and accounts due him there, one note for $l00 being against JOHN SAUL, a young white man who had been in partnership with him at Albia. Upon arriving at Leon on Wednesday morning, BURTON was met by SAUL, and accompanied him to the country, returning on Thursday, and accompanied him home on that day. From the report of the inquest, it seems that BURTON and this SAUL slept together in the barn, and from all that can be gathered, there being no witnesses, it appears that SAUL killed BURTON while he was sleeping.

There were two blows given with an axe; the first as supposed, was struck upon the mouth. The second blow just above the ear with the bit of the axe, which must have caused death instantaneously. He then dragged the body to a ravine, and plunged it into a hole that was washed out by the water. The hole not being large enough, the murderer broke both thighs with the bit of the axe and crowded him in, and buried the body with brush and dirt to the depth of four feet.

The murderer came in on Sunday and gave himself up, and said that he had killed BURTON, but did so in self defense; but the coroner's jury think differently; think that he was killed while sleeping, the object being booty.

The body was buried yesterday afternoon on the poor farm, and the murderer is now in jail. The murderer has since confessed the whole transaction, stating that he killed BURTON for his money and also returned the sum of $l00, supposed to be the full amount taken.

Great indignation is felt at Leon, and strong threats of lynching were for a time made, and even yet the tumult has not entirely died out.

Copied by Nancee(McMurtrey)Seifert
November 25, 2003

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