Deathbed Accusation Identifies Killer

As reported in the Riverside Enterprise – Friday, August 15, 1936


 John McNeill, Temecula, Denies Beating Woman In Fatal Fracas

Whispered statements from the dying lips of Mrs. Melvey McNeill branded her husband, John McNeill, Temecula blacksmith and deputy constable, as the “prowler” who beat her fatally in her Temecula home Thursday. 

Three times before her death, Mrs. McNeill repeated her accusations.  She told Undersheriff S.F. Lynch, her son John, and her doctor that it was her husband who attached her with the rubber covered roller from a clothes wringer and clubbed her into insensibility.  She was unable to state a motive for the deed. 

McNeill Adamant

Sheriff’s officers questioned McNeill Thursday night but were able to obtain from him only conflicting versions of his first story that his wife had been murdered by some “prowler”.

An inquest into the woman’s death will be conducted at 10 o’clock this morning by Deputy Coroner Seymer L. Cash at the mortuary of Acheson and Graham, Inc.  Findings of an investigation conducted by Sheriff Carl F. Rayburn, Undersheriff Lynch and deputies are expected to bring out testimony at the inquest which may assist in solving the murder mystery. 

A three inch fracture of the skull was revealed by an autopsy performed yesterday afternoon on the woman’s body, in addition to three rib-fractures on the right side of the body and numerous bruises and contusions.

Investigation at the scene of the crime revealed the death weapon carefully hidden on the porch on the home.  The house had been turned topsy turvy, bureau drawers had been emptied, but money lying in the home had not been disturbed. 

Checking Fingerprints

Fingerprints found at the house are being checked by identification officers in an effort definitely to link a slayer with the killing. 

Mrs. McNeill was discovered bleeding and unconscious, in the kitchen of her home in Temecula yesterday by her son John, 16, when he returned for lunch from the grocery store where he worked.  He immediately called the sheriff and the county ambulance which took the woman to the county hospital where she died at 7:45 last night.  A few moments after the boy had called, Mr. McNeill also called the sheriff and announced that a ‘murder had been committed.”

Published in: on August 26, 2010 at 10:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Murder of Melvey McNeill

As reported in the Riverside Enterprise, 14 August 1936


Mrs. Melvey McNeill, 53, Dies at Hospital Here From Brutal Beating

Succumbing to a brutal beating, thought to have been administered yesterday by a prowler in her Temecula home, Mrs. Melvey McNeill, 53, wife of John McNeill, blacksmith and deputy constable of the community near the Riverside-San Diego county line, died at the Riverside County hospital last night. 

The body of Mrs. McNeill was removed to the mortuary of Acheson & Graham, Inc., where arrangements are being made to hold an inquest.  Deputy Coroner Seymer Cash stated last night that the investigation by Sheriff Carl F. Rayburn, Undersheriff S.F. Lynch and deputies, now in progress, is expected to bring out testimony at the inquest which will help in solving the murder mystery. 

Found by Husband 

According to Investigator Lloyd J. Boller of the sheriff’s department, Mr. McNeill last night told officers that he came home about 1 p.m. yesterday and discovered his wife lying on the kitchen floor.  She was unconscious, he is reported to have said, and lying nearby was the bludgeon with which she had been beaten over the head and about the body – a roller from a clothes-wringer. 

McNeill also was quoted by the officers, who last night continued their questioning regarding the slaying of the Temecula housewife, as saying that a prowler had been seen leaving the home.  In this belief, officers said, he was upheld by his son, who aided in the investigation.  Two daughters also are left by Mrs. McNeill. 

First word of the tragedy reached the office of the sheriff in a telephone call, and Deputies F.F. Labrum and Paul Pierce immediately rushed to Temecula.  It was stated last night that the call came from Mr. McNeill. 

Brought to Hospital 

Mrs. McNeill was brought to the county hospital in an ambulance hastily summoned from Elsinore, arriving about 3:30 p.m.  Despite the efforts of attending physicians and nurses, however, she failed to survive the four brutal blows which had been struck by her assailant, dying at 7:45 p.m. 

She is reported to have partially recovered consciousness before the end came, and to have made a statement in regard to the attack, but this could not be substantiated last night. 

Photographs of the body were taken by investigators last night at the morgue, to be used in connection with the inquest.

Published in: on August 16, 2010 at 8:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

Horses, Thieves & A Sheriff


 LOS ANGELES – The following items are from the News of October 24th:

 On Wednesday last, Deputy Marshal Frank Baker obtained information that a gang of horse thieves were prowling around the neighborhood of Temecula, and as a horse had been stolen from John Wilson, of this city, Sheriff Burns was informed of the fact, who despatched (sic) Frank Baker in search of the thief and horse.  Thinking that it was more likely that the thief might be in the neighborhood of Temecula, he obtained the services of Deputy Constable John Roberts, and started in pursuit.  In crossing the Santa Ana river they obtained information that a band of horses with eight or ten men had come up from below, on the river, and had crossed at that place.  From other parties along the road, Frank learned that several other bands of horse-thieves, all going the same way, had been seen, with animals.  Some of these parties came from the direction of Jaurapa (sic) and San Bernardino, but no large numbers of parties had passed Temecula.  Upon arriving at the ranch of Juan Machado, he informed Baker that there had passed, three days before, three different bands of horses, all in sight of one another – the first band having about eighty head of horses and twenty-two men; the second band, fifty head of horses and about eighteen men; and the third about twenty horses and eight men, showing evidently that this is one of the best organized bands of horse-thieves ever seen in this county, and that they have a rendezvous in the Temescal range of mountains.

Blogger’s Note:  I wonder if that is how Horse Thief Canyon got it’s name that is located north of Lake Elsinore.

Published in: on August 2, 2010 at 11:22 pm  Leave a Comment