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July 6, 2015 / Joanne Yeck

The 1909 Buckingham Murders: Part XI

11_Murder_Star Witness


“Willie Jackson, Star Witness”

The September 5, 1909 issue of The Times-Dispatch reported that Willie Jackson proved a “star witness” in the trial of Dallas Wright. According to Jackson, Wright threatened to kill him if he didn’t go along with the murderers. The newspaper quoted Jackson’s testimony:

“I went,” he continued, “and saw them kill Thomas Stuart. They found $150, of which Dallas Wright got $50. Richard Perkins $50 and Ed Jones $50. I did not get a cent. I went home after the money was counted, and did not tell of the murder because I was afraid Dallas Wright would kill me. . . .”

“Richard Perkins chopped the head of one of the Stuarts off at one stroke. Ed. Jones was sitting on his feet and Dallas Wright on the middle of his body.”

Jackson also stated that he stood in the door while the killing was going on and that he saw Aylett Johnson peeping through a crack in the house. Bill Stuart, he said, was shot in the forehead and lay dying on the bed. The money was discovered under a rock of the hearth. Someone threw a gallon of coal oil on the bodies and, according to Jackson, Ed Jones started the fire.

If Willie Jackson stood at the door during the killing of Thomas and William Stewart and Aylett Johnson was peering into the house, watching the murders, these two men were not merely acting as comparatively innocent and “coerced” sentinels standing by the road. At this point in the proceedings, the testimony of the prosecution’s star witness was beginning to show signs of being unreliable.

Jackson concluded his testimony, saying, “I went to Sunday school Sunday morning and I was scared. It looked like I could see folks after me. I did not tell anybody about it at Sunday school because I was scared.”

During Wright’s trial, others testified concerning evidence found at the site of the burned cabin. McKim Wright, Dallas Wright’s cousin, stated that he went to the cabin at sunrise the morning of the murders and saw the decapitated body. John Staffer, who knew both of the Stewarts, stated that the brothers and Dallas Wright had had “a difficulty.”

Staffer’s indication that Wright and the Stewart brothers had a less than friendly relationship did not help Dallas Wright’s case.

Coming Next: Bolton’s Dream Revisited

Need to catch up on The 1909 Buckingham Murders? Part I: June 1, 2015



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