History | Did Shelley murder Shoup? | Back

The following is an edited transcription of a page 1 article of 20 May 1915 Simcoe Reformer.

Did Emerson Shelley murder Christian Shoup?

Coroner's Jury at Walsingham Centre yesterday
concluded he did, and so did the large crowd 
that heard the evidence

"We, the coroner's jury re the death of Christian William Shoup, find that he came to his death on May  11th, inst. from a bullet wound, and from the line of evidence produced we believe the shot was fired by one Emerson Shelley."

That was the verdict rendered by a jury of Walsingham farmers at the town hall there, after listening to the evidence that County Crown Attorney T. R. Slaght placed before them.

Coroner Dr. Meek of Port Rowan, presided. The jury was composed of  the following: Ansley Woolley (foreman), Chas. Wingrove, Chas. W. Bowyer, James Craig, J. Alvin Woolley, James Hill, Roy Marshall, Whitfield Wingrove, Robert Hines and Charles H. Moore.

A large gathering of people of both sexes packed the hall beyond the "standing room only" sign, filled all available windows, and overflowed into the surrounding fairground.

Dr. W. A. Broddy of Port Rowan, being sworn, testified that he had performed the autopsy. He founded the deceased to have been a well nourished, normally healthy man, who had died from a bullet wound.

The bullet, produced in court, was a .32 calibre. It had been fired by someone standing higher than the victim. It entered the right cheek two inches from the mouth. Its course was down, back and to the left.

It had severed two arteries, scraped the spine, and was found loose in the left pleura, which was flooded with about two quarts of blood. It was of necessity fatal. Shoup could not have lived more than a minute.

Mrs. Mary Shoup, a neatly dressed, refined looking woman, told in quiet tones a most circumstantial story of what happened, so far as she knew, on the fateful afternoon.

She and her husband had lived at her present home for about ten years. Both of them had been married twice. Mr. Shoup had two sons by his first wife, and she a son and daughter by her first husband. All four, however, were doing for themselves, and the couple lived alone.

Shoup was 57 years of age on the 6th of February last. He conducted a mill where he did chopping and sometimes make stone flour. He bought grain from other farmers and prospered.

He usually had money for use in his business handy to get at. He did most of the work of 60 acres of farm land, was a teetotaller [sic], of a most kindly disposition, enjoyed the esteem of the neighbors, and so far as she could learn had no enemy in the world. 

On the day of the murder he had his dinner, took a short rest,  and about two o'clock went to a field to gather up roots where he intended to plant potatoes. After finishing her work she went to her vegetable garden, to plant seeds. To do this she passed close to where her husband was working and spoke to him.

"When I got back to the house it was 3:30 o'clock," she said. "When I was busy with my planting I glanced up and saw a man walking towards my husband. I paid so little attention that I cannot describe his person. I saw my husband walk towards him, and went on with my work. Coming back I did not see Mr. Shoup, but gave it no thought and felt no uneasiness until six o'clock. 

Shortly after I saw the man, about three o'clock, I heard a shot, but it did not even cause me to look up as I thought it came from the neighboring gully, It was not unusual to hear shots, where many come to hunt.

There is a deep ravine between where I was and the spot at which my husband was working, and the ravine is bordered by trees.

Returning home and finding the mill shut up, I concluded Mr. Shoup had gone to his son's who, unable to work, had phoned his father at noon to come over and fix his pump.

I stayed there an hour or more, and on my return home did some chores, and was thinking of getting supper, when I saw Mr. Hagan's man coming down the road. When I did not find Mr. Shoup at his son's, I had concluded he was at Hagan's. So I called: "Jim, is Chris up at your place?" He said he didn't think so. It was then that I became uneasy, and started to look over the place. 

As I passed through the house the clock struck six. Passing out at the back of the house, I came to a rise that overlooked the field where I left my husband, and I saw him lying on the ground near the fence, where I could not see him as I came along the road. 

I went up to him, knelt down and took his hand. He was quite dead. I saw the blood and the bullet wound. I returned to the house and phoned Mr. Wheeler, a near neighbor, and John Kreiss, the postmaster at Ambrose, Mr. Shoup's cousin: also Dr. Meek. They were all soon with me.

My husband always carried money about with him in a blue duck sack I had made for him. but he never took any great quantity on his person unless we were both going to leave the house. That day there was $112 in the house, and he probably had between eight and ten dollars in his pocket

On the ground beside his body were two or three small pieces of tobacco that he carried in the same hip pocket of his overalls as the money. I put my hand on his pocket and found that his money bag was gone."

William Wheeler testified to having been summoned to the Shoup's about six o'clock on the 11th, and that he found the dead man lying on his back, his feet to the southwest, his legs crossed, his left arm under his left leg, and his right arm lying on his knee. He was dead.

"I saw the tobacco as described by Mrs. Shoup, and heard her say the money was gone. I have lived in the neighhborhood all my life and would think it an easy matter for a man to get away unseen from the place of the murder by keeping to the ravines and the woods."

John Kreiss testified: I was called to Shoup's. I have heard Mrs. Shoup's testimony; also Wheeler's, and corroborate both as to the finding of Shoup's body.

Mrs. Shoup said his money was gone. I saw the tobacco. I am familiar with the locality. A man could travel five or six miles from the scene through woods and gullies and keep out of human sight." Walter Kreiss, son of the former witness, confirmed his father's statements.

William Lambert lives in Simcoe, and certainly provided something of a sensation with the extraordinary story he related.

"I know Emerson Shelley, not intimately, but by sight. I met him in Simcoe on Thursday, May 6th. I was with Lew Weaver and a fellow named Wilson. Shelley was with a tall, slim, dark man, with a light cap, who I did not know. We were all on the Melbourne corner.

Shelley said he had got into trouble over a lady in Norwich, and that he had hooked [stolen] a wheel [bicycle] there in the garage. 

He proposed that we help him with some jobs. One was the robbery of a mail driver in Walsingham. He also proposed shooting a hog buyer and the murder of Shoup, a miller.

He said the hog buyer generally carried six or eight hundred dollars on his person, and that we might count on getting $200 and his jewelry from Shoup. He proposed these three jobs for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. My reply was "Nothing doing." Weaver and Wilson heard all the talk."

Richard Heath -- I live near Forestville. The Sunday before the shooting I was at my mother's house two miles west of Walsh. I know Emerson Shelley; went to school with him.

Shelley came to my mother's house at noon Sunday on a bicycle. He said he was nearly broke, only had $2.00 left. He had to have money, and I bought the wheel for $5.25. He showed me a revolver. It was nickel-plated, and broke down from the top. It was of .32 calibre. He had cartridges -- I saw them. He stayed until five o'clock. When he left he said he was going to his uncle's.

Rash Laforge -- I am a farm laborer, live in Charlotteville; keep house. I remember the Sunday afternoon before the shooting. Shelley came to my house. He got there between 7 and 8, and stayed all night.

He showed me a revolver and some cartridges. He claimed to have hooked it. Told me the make, but I have forgotten. It was nickel-plated, and broke open in front. He took it out of his hip pocket, and as he did so exclaimed: "That's the boy that'll fetch 'em." He said he had to get some money and that he guessed that was the only way to get it. Before the week was out I would hear of some man being killed. He mentioned no particular man to me.

Next morning two men drove by, each with a load of hogs, and evidently on the way to Delhi. He wanted me to go with him to a woods north of Pine Grove church and hold the two men up on their way back.

I know George Halliday. He came along immediately after, and Shelley made the same proposal to him. He said if a man didn't stop when he hailed him he would shoot him.

Shelley, Halliday and I left my place together, and walked to William Mater's, where Shelley turned back and left us. We went on north; and this was the last I saw of him. That was about 10:30 Monday.

Mrs. Phoebe Underhill, housekeeper for Laforge, corroborated much of his story. Shelley told her he took his revolver off a man. He said that he had made $3.00 that day and wanted to make more. He told her he would just as leave shoot a man as a dog. 

He told us we would hear of a man around there being shot some day soon. When I asked if he wouldn't get caught, he replied that among so many ravines and woods they could never get him.

George Halliday who lives on the 5th concession of Charlotteville said: "I have known Laforge since last fall; went to school with Shelley. Monday preceeding shooting I passed Laforge's place about 9 a.m. and stopped in. He and Shelley were cutting wood. The farmers with the hogs had passed before I got there, but Shelley told me about them, and wanted me to help him hold them up on their way back.

I asked if he would shoot them. He replied: 'If I tell a man to hold up his hands and he doesn't, he goes down.'

He said he did not want to be seen about the neighborhood as he had some jobs to do. I took it he meant jobs of stealing. We parted at Mater's at 10 or 10:30, and he went south which would be in the direction of Shoup's."

John Carr lives on the 7th line of Walsingham. He owns a farm there and lives alone with his wife a long way from the road. He has known Shelley ten years, and he came to Carr's place between 4 and 5 o'clock the day before Shoup was shot. He remained until noon the next day. When he left he said he was going to Jim Alexander's.

Shelley had in his possession a revolver that looked like a .32. He brought it out of his hip pocket with a handful of cartridges. Carr did not hear him say anything about a job, but he talked of being in trouble over a girl in Norwich, and Carr thought he was trying to keep out of sight. He left about one o'clock Tuesday.

The road cannot be seen from the house, but he took the direction through the woods that would take him to Shoup's mill. He would find it easy to keep hidden in the woods and gullies of the vicinity.

Mrs. May Carr, wife of last witness, confirmed her husband's story. She gave Shelley his supper, breakfast and dinner. He flourished his revolver and talked about his trouble in Norwich. She took it he was hiding.

James Alexander who lives on the 8th of Walsingham, testified he knows Emerson Shelley, but Shelley had never been to his place in his life. There is no other James Alexander.

The corner and the crown attorney summed up the evidence, laying stress on the fact that although Shelley was in an excellent locality to hide away, he set out the afternoon of  the murder for Woodstock, where he was wanted for the Norwich offence, and practically gave himself up, pleading guilty and asking for a severe sentence.

The jury, after a short consultation brought in the verdict printed above.

Copyright 2007-2012 John Cardiff