May 4, 1916

Ernest Pitts Dies of Wounds on Way to Hospital; Slayer Escapes.

With his throat cut from ear to ear by razor slashes inflicted by a Washington hotel barber, Ernest Pitts, a tailor, died in an ambulance on his way to the General hospital early yesterday afternoon. Charles Messer, the barber charged with killing Pitts, ran out of the barber shop before any attendants or customers could prevent him. he had not been captured up to an early hour this morning.

The attack on Pitts was without warning. It is said, as the tailor was sitting in his chair waiting for Messer to continue cutting his hair.

Messer, the police say, is known along Twelfth street, where he had held several jobs, as a "bad customer." His trouble with Pitts started last Sunday at the funeral of Fanning Pitts, the tailor's 3-year-old son, who died of pneumonia at the General hospital.

"Brace up, old boy," Messer is reported to have urged Pitts at the funeral, as the father of the dead boy was sitting with his head bowed. "Be a good sport. Your wife is not bawling away like a baby."

"Wit" Becomes More Pointed.

Pitts was overcome by grief at the loss of his boy and made no response to the bantering talk of the barber, whose wit, it is said, then became more pointed.

"You are acting like a dove of peace. I'm ashamed of you. Cut out that sob stuff and take a few drinks."

When Pitts entered the barber shop of W. W. Middleton, in the Washington hotel, he had not forgotten Messer's cruel irony at the funeral of his boy. He did not say anything to him at the time and the barber began to cut his hair.

Fred B. Prickett, another customer, entered the shop and seeing that it was crowded, started away.

"Come back here," Messer is said to have sh outed at him. "You'll get served pretty soon."

"I can't do it," Prickett replied, ""I'm due at the shop at around 1 o'clock."

Messer, witnesses say, roughly seized Prickett by the shoulder and shoved him to a seat. Pitts jumped out of the chair, his face white with anger at the way Messer was treating his friend, Prickett.

"Look here, Messer. I've had enough of this treatment you have been giving me and my friends."

Both men struck at each other and clinched, but were separated by the other men present.

Razor "Finishes Job."

Middleton, the owner of the shop, told his employe and customer to "smooth it over and let it go," according to several spectators.

Pitts smiled and got back into his chair.

"I'm in a hurry, Messer, finish this job quickly," he said.

Messer said, "All right, I'll finish the job," and he picked up a keen-edged razor.

For a fraction of a second he held it over his customers head and a mile played about his features. Pitts, suspecting the motive, raised his arm, but the barber's aim was true and Pitts fell out of the chair, bleeding and helpless The jugular vein had been severed.

Messer stood over the nearly lifeless body of the tailor. The spectators of the crime were too horrififed to speak. Messer seized his hat and coat and ran out the Twelfth street entrance of the shop.

Thomas Mason, house detective of the Edwards hotel, was walking along Twelfth street when he saw Messer run wildly out of the barber shop and east on Twelfth street. Mason followed him down an alley as far as Fourteenth and Broadway, when Messer's speed carried him out of sight.

Mrs. Pitts was soon notified of her husband's death. Still in mourning over her baby boy, who died on April 29, this last blow overcame her. She was placed in the care of neighbors at her home, 421 Landis court. Her five children are with her. They are Clarence, 14 years old; Gladys, 13; Pauline, 9; Ernest, 8, and Ralph, the 9 months old baby.

All Police Seek Slayer

Messer, who is being sought by every policeman in Kansas City, is married and lives at 431 West Fifteenth street. His wife is a waitress in a restaurant. Mrs. Messer told police three hours after the death of pitts that she had not seen her husband since morning.

Pitts was 41 years old and managed the tailor shop in the Mondamin hotel.

A dozen detectives from police headquarters marched the city in motor cars after the killing. Mesers description was telephoned to every station in Kansas City. Every house within a radius of six blocks of the Washington hotel is under the watchful eye of the police and many buildings were searched.

Policemen went to the Messer home, but found taht the barber was not at home. Messer owns a houseboat on the Missouri river near the foot of Main street and when the detectives heard of this they rushed in automobiles to the boat They thought Messer might have taken the boat down the river in effecting his escape. The houseboat was there but Messer was not in it.

The body of Pitts was sent to the Carroll-Davidson undertaking rooms.