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May 18, 2016 / Joanne Yeck

EXTRA: Forbes Case Followed in Lynchburg!

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On April 6, 1904, the Appomattox and Buckingham Times reprinted an editorial from Lynchburg’s The News concerning the death of John S. Forbes. It revealed that he had a nephew living in Lynchburg who was a policeman. The report offers a gripping summary of the case thus far.

THE MOTIVE A MYSTERY.

But the Fire Was Certainly of Incendiary Origin

A few weeks ago, The News contained an account of the burning of the home in Buckingham of Mr. John S. Forbes, an uncle of Policeman Forbes, of Lynchburg. As stated that the time, Mr. Forbes had a very narrow escape from being burned to death. It is now known certainly that the fire was of incendiary origin. The Governor has offered a reward of $300 for the capture and conviction of the parties, and the Board of Supervisors of Buckingham county have offered $150 for a like purpose, and it is probable that the amount raised by private citizens will reach $150, making a total of $600.

No doubt a much larger sum can be raised if it is found necessary, but this is thought to be sufficient. The crime continues to be the one topic of conversation in Buckingham, and the more it is discussed the more the enormity of the crime is fully realized, the excitement is more intense. No arrests have been made yet, but there are strong suspicions against some parties and it is expected that some arrests will occur shortly.

Mr. Forbes’s dwelling was entered and robbed about three years ago. A fire was started in the woods near the house on a Sunday to attract the family from the house. Part of the family was at church, but those at home when immediately to extinguish the fire in the woods as soon as it was discovered, leaving no one at the house, and when they returned they found the house had been entered and a lot of clothing and $370 were gone.

It was several days before any arrests were made, but at last one of the parties who was suspected, confessed, and implicated the rest of the party. There were four of them. One was sent to the penitentiary for ten years; one for three years; one for one year; and the other, a youth, was acquitted.

The one who was sent for one year has served his sentence, and is at home, and it was first thought that he with the aid of others might be the party that did the last burning, but this theory has been thoroughly investigated and it has been found they were not connected with it in any way.

The motive that caused the fire is yet a mystery, as it seems strange that all buildings were fired to hide the robbery of the dwelling, and as the facts become more fully known, it is plainly demonstrated that the crime was committed by someone that was thoroughly acquainted with the premises, and some people have advanced the idea that the dwelling was robbed in the day; that it is impossible for anyone to open the trunk in the night and take money from the bottom of the trunk and leave it in the condition they found it. This remains a mystery, and it may require some shrewd work to clear it up.

Another mystery connected with the affair is, how did the party that did the firing know that there was no one at home but Mr. Forbes’s daughter and an old colored woman, none of them able to defend themselves. – Lynchburg News.

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