N&W in 1912--Murder

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Sun Jan 15 21:14:11 EST 2012

Bluefield Daily Telegraph
March 16, 1912

Considerable Mystery Surrounds Events Leading to Injury of Man Who Died Last Night

R. L. Varney, who was brought to the Bluefield Sanitarium yesterday morning from Eckman, suffering from a fractured skull, died last night about 7 o'clock. His remains will be taken to Williamson, his home, today for burial. There is considerable mystery surrounding the events leading up to the injuries which caused Varney's death. There is little doubt but that he was murderously assaulted, but as far as could be learned up to late this morning no clue to the men who committed the foul deed has been found. In view of the fact that Varney never recovered consciousness after he was found in a cab at Eckman yard it is almost impossible at this time to say how his death was brought about. Circumstantial evidence points to a dastardly crime which must have occurred between 2 and 3 o'clock yesterday morning; Who the men or women were who planned the man's death has not yet been found and inquiries last night failed to elicit information leading to the discovery of the identity of unknown persons who must have seen him during the previous night, or at least visited him on Eckman yard. The first discovery of the awful deed was made when Conductor C. W. Meade went to the cab, which was lying detached on the Eckman yard, to awaken Varney so he could start on his run. Capt. Meade found the man could not be awakened and after the usual methods of arousing a sleeping man had been resorted to it was found he was suffering from a deep gash in the head, which apparently had been made by a sharp instrument, probably a hatchet. The railroad authorities were notified and Varney was placed aboard train No. 4 and brought to this city where he was carried to the Bluefield Sanitarium, where he lay without regaining consciousness, and where it was found his skull had been cut through with some sharp tool or weapon. The theory which it is believed will eventually solve the mystery is that Varney was carried to the cab after he had been assaulted and left for dead. After this was done, it is believed the men who are guilty of the crime, and who undoubtedly possessed a cab key, went into the cupola of the cab and kicked out the cupola window to make it appear that someone had. broken in on the man while he was asleep. This fact is made more evident by the discovery that the window glass was broken from the inside, rather from the outside, as was first believed by those who thought that Varney had crawled into the cab through the cupola and then fell to the floor, where he was found, instead of on a bunk. The cab was locked when Conductor Meade opened the door and did not show, so far as he noticed, any signs of any visitors during the evening, showing that Varney must have been carried in, left on the floor, and the cupola window kicked out, after which the murderers left for parts unknown. Whether they were white or colored is not known, but it is likely that white men know more about it than the colored people. Varney is survived by a widow and two children. His widow was here last night, accompanied by J. J. Gearhart, her brother. They received a telegram at Bluestone Junction conveying the information that Mr. Varney had died at 7 o'clock, less than fifteen hours after he was found with his head split open.
Gordon Hamilton
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