Henry Vasquez Murdered


Sibley Gazette - November 18, 1915


    The preliminary hearing was held Monday and Tuesday at the court house  before Justice Glover.  Attorney Clark & Dwinell appeared for the state and Attorney C. M. Brooks appeared for the defendant.  About a dozen witnesses were examined, furnishing a chain of circumstantial evidence, which satisfied the justice to bound the accused over to the grand jury without bail.

    During the examination of the witnesses, the defendant sat in the court room, with hands handcuffed, exhibiting as little concern as any spectator in the room.

    Among the witnesses examined were L. F. Glover who first discovered the trouble and was one of the first at the scene of the butchery. 

   B. C. Chambers and Geo. Marshall told of the condition they found the homicide, the butcher knife in his hand, etc.

    Marshal Adrean testified as to how the bloodhounds trailed the murderer, going direct to the bunk house, thence west across track, where it is presumed the defendant jumped on the south bound train.

    Marshal Palmer testified to certain conversations he had had with defendant, who admitted having a bad fight at Sibley, and thought he might have fatally hurt his antagonist.  Marshal O'Rourke of LeMars, corroborated Palmer's evidence.

    Pete Graves said he saw defendant and the murdered man in the saloon Saturday night about half past eight o'clock.  They took several drinks and Vasquez paid the bill.

    R. J. Lintner told of seeing the defendant in the barber shop Saturday night.

    Philip Ugardi, the Mexican who bunked with the defendant, testified that Martinez came to the bunk house about 9:30 p. m. through his keys in the door and said he was going to Sioux City.  It was the last he saw of Martinez that night.

    Other witnesses corroborated the evidence presented, in the chain of circumstantial evidence adduced, in the preliminary hearing.  The case will next be presented to the grand jury.


have proved fatal.  The spinal cord, windpipe and arteries were severed, a deep gash penetrated the brain, while the abdomen sustained fatal wounds.  The coroner's jury returned a verdict to the effect that Henry Vasquez died from stab wounds inflicted by Frank Martinez, with felonious intent.

   Vasquez had been working on the Rock Island section in Melvin and came to Sibley Saturday evening.  He intended to go south Sunday morning.  He fell in with Martinez, who treated him at the saloon.  Later they went to the bunk house.  When Vasquez left the bunk house he asked Martinez to go with him.  Trouble began on their trip and the murder of Vasquez followed.

    It is generally believed that Martinez, after he had cut up the homicide, placed the knife in the hands of the dead man.  A pail of bloody water at the bunk house, indicated that he returned there after the tragedy.  At Sheldon, it is claimed the accused presented a blood stained bill in payment for his ticket.

    Martinez takes the affair as a matter of course.  He stepped off the train with the sheriff, all smiles, and carried the air of a returning hero.  A Gazette reported saw the accused at the county jail Sunday afternoon.  "He (Vasquez) said he was going to get me," said Martinez.  In substance Martinez said: "We met in the saloon and shook hands.  He seemed friendly enough.  Later in the evening we went to the bunk house.  Vasquez said he was going to the Rock Island bunk house and asked me to go with him.  I started off with him, when he said he was going to get me.  He drew a butcher knife.  I fought with him and got the knife away from him, cutting my hand in the scrap.  Then I ran after him and got him down in the road, where I fought him."

    Martinez claims he did not know that Vasquez had any money.  Some believe robbery was the motive of the crime.

    However, Martinez's pay check was due here Monday.  It would seem as though he would have tarried for his check, rather then commit robbery.


Mexican Of Tampico, Mexico, Killed With Butcher Knife Near Omaha Railway.


Martinez Charged With Crime


Sequel of Mexican Feud.  Accused Former Soldier in Villa's Army. 

Both Mexicans Worked on Railways.


    Henry Vasquez of Tampico, Mexico was murdered late Saturday, near Willey & Greig's grain elevator.  Frank Martinez, formerly a soldier in Villa's army, Chihuahua, Mexico, is charged with the crime and is lodged in our county jail.

    L. F. Glover who rooms near the scene of the tragedy, heard voices and men running by his place, about eleven o'clock Saturday evening.  He arose, and through the window noticed the men running and suddenly come to a halt.  He awoke his father, Hon. J. F. Glover, and together they started up town.  They apprised Geo. Marshall and B. C. Chambers of the trouble and the quartet went to the scene of the conflict.  The ghastly sight of a dead man badly butchered, met their eyes.  The murderer had gone and had left a butcher knife lying in the hands of the homicide.

  The authorities were immediately  notified.  Sheriff Gill wired towns north and south to apprehend the criminal.  Blood hounds were brought from Worthington.  However, the same train took out Martinez, who bought a ticket at Sheldon for Sioux City.  The police force in LeMars arrested Martinez.  Sheriff Gill and Street Marshal Palmer returned with their prisoner on the noon train.

    Coroner Cadwallader of Ashton was immediately notified, and convened a jury, consisting of Chas Williams, E. McManus and George Schreiber.  The coroner authorized Dr. Hough to make a post mortem examination.  He found twenty gashes on the face, neck, and abdomen of the homicide.  Either one of four gashes would
























Martinez Gets 30 Years

Sibley Gazette - February 24, 1916

to think, nor was there any visible signs of the intense nervous strain he must have been undergoing at the thought of what was about to take place.

   When the Judge asked in a loud voice if "Frank Martinez was present," the murderer immediately stood up and walked briskly to a position directly in front of the judicial bench.  When asked if he had anything to say before final sentence was passed, Martinez gave out the first public statement that the people had heard since his incarceration.  In a voice that neither wavered nor broke, he announced to the Judge in broken English, "All I can say is that I killed him, but did it in self defense.  We had a fight , and both of us grabbed for the knife.  If he got the knife, he would have killed me but I got the knife and I killed him.  That's all I can say, Judge."  He then walked back to his seat, and many were convinced for the first time that perhaps there were extenuating circumstances in connection with the killing after all.

    The Judge immediately called upon the Counsel for the defense to say a final word, and Attorney Brooks taking his place before the Court, in a quiet subdued tone, made as strong a plea for a defendant as was over heard in a court room in the history of Osceola county.  His voice neither raised nor lowered, carried to every corner of the big chamber, and so intense was the interest of those present, every word was heard throughout his appeal in behalf of the prisoner.  He admitted at the very onset that murder had been committed, that it was undoubtedly brutal to the ordinary observer, that no sentence was too severe in a general way for the commission of such a crime, but he then switched round to the conditions that led up to the murder and the extenuating circumstances connected with it.  He stated the prisoner first of all in the eyes of the community was nothing but "a foreigner from Mexico" where murder and brutality went hand in hand, and that the crime committed was only a natural consequence to such conditions no matter where they were found.  He pointed out that the sentiment of any community would be aroused over such a case and against such a man by people who knew nothing of the conditions existing in the individual case, and that on first sight the prisoner at the bar was nothing but a low-lived Mexican capable only of the worst form of brutality.  Upon investigation, however, Attorney Brooks states that he learned such was not the case, that the prisoner had, with one exception, always been a law-abiding resident of this country, and that the one exception was for his arrest for cattle rustling, when as a matter of fact he was simply marketing a load of cattle that had been rustled by the man who employed him.  He further stated that the prisoner owned property in Colorado which he gained through his own labors, and that today his mother and sisters reside in Texas, where they're considered not "low-lived Mexicans," but decent and respected members of the community.  This was brought out to show that Martinez was not a life long criminal with family instincts of criminality breaking out and culminating in the brutal murder of November 13th, and that instead of being a murderer at heart, he was a man, regardless of reports to the contrary, who had never before been connected in any court of the United States with fighting or bloodshed of any nature, to say nothing of murder.  And in that same lowered tone of voice, the Attorney defied anyone either in the state of Iowa or in the United States to bring one charge of this kind against the unfortunate prisoner.  He then narrated, as far as he was able to find them out from the handicap experienced in being unable to talk the language of his client, the exact circumstances that led up to the crime, and it seems that an old political controversy was at the bottom of the whole thing.  When the men met again on the evening of the crime, the Attorney stated, the old quarrel was soon maddened and aroused by the alcohol consumed, that their passions arose and their mutual political hatred sprung up again with fiery wrath.  A fight started, both grabbed for the murderous knife, and no one knows just how long the struggle lasted within the bunk house itself.  It was a case, evidently, of one or the other, and with blind passion urging them on and with no thoughts of consequences, the struggle went on to the death.  The prisoner's opponent, Attorney Brooks claimed, was a man with a bad reputation, who had on previous occasions shown his true character by the broils in which he had become entangled and by his ever readiness to wield a knife when the occasion in his estimation called for it.  And further, while it was reported that he was afraid of Martinez, this hardly seemed possible when he deliberately returned to Sibley and immediately took up with him after getting into town.  Their conduct on the night in question would lead one to believe that the murdered man feared his slayer in any way.  The attorney then summed up by saying that he was led to the conclusion by his late intimate relationship with his client that while everything seemed to be against him, stranger as he was in a strange land, he was not, as many seemed to conclude from the brutal facts of the crime, a criminal and murderer by nature and at heart, but a poor unfortunate foreigner standing at the bar of justice to receive sentence for a crime committed in the heat of passion against an opponent

whose former reputation for knife-play was well known, and who would perhaps have done the same thing had he gained the upper hand.  The attorney then made one final appeal to the mercy of the Court, and concluded by saying that if the sentence was such that the prisoner might one day again take up his life amongst his fellow men in the world, he would undoubtedly show in a different way the many good traits that were in him. 

   At the conclusion of Attorney Brooks plea, the Judge called upon County Attorney Clark for any final words he might have to say before sentence of the Court was passed.  The County Attorney then arose, and went over in minute detail the facts of the crime.  He stated to the Court the circumstances leading up to the finding of the mangled body, and the various facts known of the two men.  He described particularly the twenty wounds upon the remains of the murdered man, and showed clearly where any one of four mentioned particularly  were instantaneously fatal.  He proved that the cutting was done deliberately from the fact that the prisoner sat upon the corpse of his victim for over ten minutes slashing away at his mangled form, and that the sight met by the eyes of those first on the scene was ghastly beyond description.  He told of how the brains were gouged out, the vertebrae hacked apart, and the large blood vessels and windpipe in the neck entirely severed.  He concluded by willingly leaving the punishment of such a brutal crime to the unbiased judgment of the Court, knowing that the sentence would be in keeping with the crime committed. 

    With the prisoner then called before the bench, and with the last word spoken by all concerned but the Court, the Judge learned over in preparation for his own final word of sentence.  There was an intense stillness in the room as the Judge began his address with the murderer standing directly in front of him, not three feet away.  The Judge, for what seemed a full minute, riveted his eyes upon the prisoner, who stood unflinchingly before him waiting for the final judgment.  Then intones that could be heard by all, he said, "Murder has been committed!  A knife!  Night!  Darkness!  Anger!  Hate!  Alcohol!  Blood!  Murder!  The fight began; your passions were aroused; your anger sprang up; your hatred took control.  You seized the knife, you followed your victim with murder in your heart, you struck him from behind, he fell, and you fell upon him!  You drove the knife into his brain, you drove the knife into his body not once, no, but twenty times!  Twenty wounds, and any one of four absolutely fatal!  You sat there upon that corpse, and again the murderous knife ascended and descended Twenty times!  And still your lust for blood was not satiated!  The blood of a fellow man!  You took away a life!  The life of a human being, and regardless of the passion within you, regardless of the alcohol, you committed a foul crime, the taking away of human life!  Twenty wounds!  The victim dead, bloody, mangled, and yet the knife dripping with human blood sinking again and again into you murdered victim!  You have plead to murder in the second degree, and the sentence for this may be ten years, and it may be life!  It is within the jurisdiction of this Court to take away your liberty, to take you away from intercourse with your fellow men, and put you behind the walls of the state prison during the remainder of your days, but it is a question with me whether or not you have aught within you that would influence the judgment of this Court in imposing such a sentence as would one day allow you your liberty again, and let you associate once more with your fellow men!  I have studied carefully the findings of the jury, I have listened to the arguments as presented to the final words of the County Attorney, as well as the final argument of your attorney, and I have decided:

    "It is the judgment of this Court, then, that you be sentenced to"--court room was on edge for the final word that would decide the prisoner's fate, but the Judge went on slowly--"the state penitentiary at Ft. Madison for"--and here again the Judge stopped for a moment while the crowd scarcely breathed--"thirty years!"  The sentence rang like a shot throughout the Chamber of Justice, and all eyes were fixed on the murderer to see what effect this final judgment would have upon him, for it had already been stated that he was about 40 years old, which added to the thirty year sentence would practically mean life imprisonment, or releasement only at the age of seventy.

    The prisoner undoubtedly moved by the arraignment of the Judge, kept silence for an instant, as if striving to grasp the full meaning of the sentence imposed, and then, keen enough to seize its true import, raised his eyes and said to the Judge, in a tone mingled with grief and dejection as the appalling enormity of the sentence dawned upon him, "Make it life!"

    The Judge, with one wave of his hand, ordered the murderer led away, and placed bail in case of appeal at $10,000.  The prisoner was taken back to the county jail, and on Saturday, the final chapter in Sibley's most sensational murder trail was closed when Sheriff Gill took the self-confessed slayer to Ft. Madison to begin what will undoubtedly prove to be a life sentence for the killing of Henry Vasquez.  Walter Doolittle accompanied Sheriff Gill and assisted him with the prisoner.


Murderer of Vasquez Taken to Ft. Madison Penitentiary



"Make It Life" Said Martinez



Dramatic Scene In Court Room When Judge Hutchinson Pronounced Sentence Friday Afternoon. 

Martinez Unaffected.



    Before a crowd that taxed every inch of available space in the Chamber of Justice at the court house.  Frank Martinez, self confessed murderer of his fellow Mexican, Henry Vasquez, in Sibley, on the night of November 13, 1915, was sentenced by Judge Hutchinson to thirty years imprisonment in the State Penitentiary at Ft. Madison last Friday afternoon.

    It was a case that owing to the fact that both men were known in this community, and on account of the brutality of the crime, that aroused intense feeling hereabouts, and caused nearly every one in the vicinity to be present when the final scene at the trial was enacted.  One postponement from the last term of court had only increased the interest, and nearly the entire community awaited with eagerness the closing chapter in Sibley's most sensational murder case.

    The crime itself, it seems from testimony brought out in the statement of the county attorney, resulted from a political feud of long standing between the two men.  It is thought that Martinez was a Villa sympathizer, while Vasquez was opposed to the deposed Mexican leader and sided strongly with Carranza or some other "Generals" of the insurrection.  Both men were employed as section hands on the railroads, and their work naturally brought them together and gave them an opportunity to fen up the names of political hatred each one bore towards the other.

    The "feud" finally became too warm for Vasquez who decided it was safer to separate from his fellow laborer, and as a result he left for Melvin, where he procured a job with the section gang of that place.  On the night of the murder, he came to Sibley for some reason unknown and not stated in the evidence, and soon fell in with Martinez.  They were seen together all evening, seemingly on friendly terms again, and noticed particularly in the saloon about 9 p. m.  It was thought they then left for the bunk car in which Martinez stayed, and whether or not they consumed the entire bottle of alcohol purchased by them at the saloon, thus starting hostilities, will never be known.

    The next thing heard of them was when Mr. Glover saw two men running from the direction of the stock-yards towards the Omaha depot.  The one in advance was shorter than his pursuer, and just in front of the elevator the taller one caught up with the shorter man, and a struggle in the snow ensued.  Mr. Glover tan to arouse some of those living in the house with him, and by the time the scene of the struggle was reached, one of the men had fled while the other was lying in his own blood with twenty knife wounds all over his body.

    The coroner was immediately called, and evidence at the midnight trial seemed to show that the murdered man was Vasquez, and that in all probability his slayer was the man with whom he had been seen in company previously in the evening.  Search was made, and after a pail of bloody water was found in the bunk house where Martinez stayed, the officers were convinced that he was undoubtedly the murderer.

    Bloodhounds were then procured, and traces of the murderer led round the railroad yards to a spot where the blind baggage of the early morning passenger usually stopped.  It was here, as afterwards learned, that Martinez jumped the blind, and rode in this way to Sheldon, where he jumped off, driven to do so by the intense cold which had already frozen his ears, and bought a ticket to Sioux City.  The conductor of the train, notified by wire of the presence of the murderer on his train, soon recognized the man from the description given, and was ready to turn him over to the authorities at LeMars.  Sheriff Gill and Officer Palmer went down and returned with the prisoner the following afternoon.

    Attorney Brooks was appointed by the State as counsel for the prisoner, and when the case came up at the January term of court, postponement was asked and granted.  Conjecture ran high as to what kind of plea the prisoner would make, and while many were convinced that it was nothing but murder in the first degree, deliberately planned and with malice aforethought, others doubted as to whether the State could sufficiently prove from the circumstantial evidence at hand that it was a case of first degree homicide. 

    An expectant crowd was present Tuesday morning when the case was called, and it was here Attorney Brooks surprised those interested in the proceedings, by withdrawing the former plea of "not guilty" and changing it to one "guilty of murder in the second degree."  This was accepted by the court after county attorney waived objection, and Friday afternoon was set apart as the time of imposing sentence.

    With the court room crowded to overflowing, the prisoner securely handcuffed, walked into the presence of the Judge shortly after two o'clock and took his place near his attorney.  There was no sign of braggadocio about him as some seemed






























































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