From the Archives: Brutal Murder in East Jaffrey

  • An article about the Dean murder appeared in the Aug. 15, 1918 edition of the Peterborough Transcript. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—

Tuesday, July 31, 2018 10:8AM

This article was published in the Peterborough Transcript Aug. 15, 1918.

The community was stirred Wednesday by the discovery of the brutal murder of William K. Dean, a retired farmer, 70 years old, living about two miles from this village, who was killed sometime between midnight and morning. 

His wife, who is ill, reports that on his return from the village last night he went to the barn to do his milking. In her bewildered condition, she did not mind his absence until Wednesday morning, when she telephoned to friends in the village to come up and tend to the stock, as they needed attention.

Selectman William F. Coolidge and Acting Chief of Police Perley H. Enos, with George L. Stratton, went to see what the difficulty was, as Mr. Dean seldom left home except for trading visits to the village. 

After a long search the body of the farmer was found in a rainwater cistern about 200 yards from the house. 

Both hands were tied behind his back, with two ropes in six square knots. A heavy burlap bag was over his head and tied to his wrists. Within the bag was a horse-blanket, tied over his head, and a heavy stone weighing some 20 pounds.

Upon the removal of the blanket severe bruises on the head were disclosed, but the skull was not fractured, indicating that he had been struck on the head and stunned, but met his death by drowning. The legs were bound by the knees. In the barn nearby there were some bloodstains, and some on the piazza of the vacant house. 

Dean was a quiet man and had lived in town about 30 years. He rarely carried large sums of money with him, so the authorities are at a loss to know the motive. They are making a close investigation of the premises.