October 22, 1909


Believed Crime Was Carefully Plan-
ned and Deliberately Carried
Out -- Robbery Not Motive,
the Officers Say.

An important development in the case of the murder of Alonzo R. Van Royen, his wife, Margaret, and her sister, Rose McMahon at the Van Royen farm on the Reidy road, five miles west of Kansas City, Kas., last Tuesday afternoon, is expected when the coroner's inquest is held in the Daniel Brothers' undertaking rooms, Armourdale, at 9 o'clock this morning.

Following his visit to the home of the McMahons and the Van Royens yesterday afternoon, Joseph Taggart, county attorney, made an earnest request of the county coroner, Dr. J. A. Davis, to hold an inquest. Sheriff Al Becker, who obtained important information in two visits to the farms yesterday, also requested the inquest. Dr. Davis had announced that there would be no inquest, but he finally acquiesced.

Taggart made this statement to The Journal:

"The murder of these three persons was a deliberate one. It was not committed by a begging tramp, a wayfarer or a skilled criminal, but it was planned deliberately and executed by a man thoroughly familiar with the Van Royen home and the territory surrounding it; a man who knew the people that he murdered and a resident of Wyandotte county.


"That is my firm opinion of the case after reviewing the evidence at hand. True, the evidence is negative, but the man who committed this triple murder carefully formed his purpose and knew just what he was about."

Taggart, in company with Sheriff Becker and Henry T. Zimmer, former chief of police in Kansas City, Kas., made a visit to the scene of the tragedy yesterday afternoon. Sheriff Becker had made a visit in the morning and had reported his findings to the county attorney. In the opinion of Sheriff Becker there was not the slightest doubt that some deep motive lay back of the tragedy, and the uncommon circumstances, evident at every hand, convinced him that some person or persons, after long study, had formulated a plan that was so skillfully made to arouse the very suspicion that it had been aimed to divert.


Thirteen bullets were fired in the killing of the three persons, yet not an empty shell could be found, either at the place where Van Royen was killed or in the home where the two women met their death. There were at least nine shots fired in the home, that many bullets having been taken from the bodies of the two women. Unless the murderer carried two loaded revolvers he would have had to reload his gun and release the empty cartridges.

Another interesting and convincing point is that while nine empty purses were found in the Van Royen home and no money could be found anywhere, two trunks, filled with clothing and various articles, were not disturbed. A man with the sole intent of robbery, it is argued, would have ransacked the trunks and the cupboard.

The authorities believe that if a wayfarer had seized the opportunity to murder and rob, Van Royen, who was a full half mile from the home, would not have been killed, even though the robber would have been compelled to slay the women. The location of Van Royen's body, placed in the mouth of a small ravine, which was barely large enough to conceal it, indicated beyond reasonable doubt that the murderer awaited his chance when Van Royen should be a safe distance from the house, slew him and after placing him in the ravine and covering the body with dried leaves, proceeded to the home to slay the unprotected women. That this theory is beyond reasonable doubt is Sheriff Becker's opinion, after canvassing every part of the territory.


Many persons visited the home yesterday. James McMahon, a brother of the girls, was there in the morning, and Patrick McMahon, another brother, looked after the property in the afternoon. As on Wednesday, when the murder was uncovered, the brothers could give no tangible information as to what caused the killing.

James McMahon still thinks that the man in whose company he found his brother-in-law Tuesday may have been the slayer. His description of the stranger is not complete, as he says he paid little attention to him.

It is believed now that the mysterious stranger, who visited so many of the farmers in the neighborhood Monday afternoon, begging money from them, had no connection with the crime. The man was bound west, and inquiries from the farmers living several miles beyond the scene of the murder developed the fact that the stranger at sundown Monday night was near the Leavenworth county line.

The sheriff thinks the man would hardly return over the same route Monday with the hope of receiving more money.