Baby's Dead Body Found in Harris

Sibley Gazette - May 31, 1932


was approximately eighteen inches below the surface of the ground.  Closely wrapped in portions of a sheet and a woman's dress, the bundle was externally wrapped with oil cloth.

    Following the findings of a cloth belt tightly knotted about the infant's throat, suggesting the probability of murder, an autopsy was conducted by physicians to ascertain whether or not the child had ever breathed.  The autopsy showed the lungs fully inflated and a slight hemorrhage near the heart which indicated that the child had breathed and lead to the belief that it apparently had been killed by strangulation.

    The body was taken from Harris to Ocheyedan for the performance of the autopsy and was left there to be prepared for burial.

were arrested near Holstein, Iowa, Tuesday night by the sheriff of Cherokee county and were brought to Sibley about two o'clock Wednesday morning by Sheriff Homer Ramsey.  Further action awaits the verdict of the coroner's jury.

    Judged by physicians in attendance at the opening session of the coroner's inquest, to have been but a few hours old at the time it was secreted, the body was uncovered Tuesday morning by searchers who had received a 'tip' as to the fact that a baby's body had been buried during the latter part of December, 1931, beneath the flooring of the garage, located two blocks east and one-half block north of the post office building in Harris.

    The three searchers found two loose boards in the flooring and by lifting these found a portion of the ground which yielded more readily to their spades.  The body



Murder Indicated as Coroner Conducts Inquest



    An adjourned session of a coroner's inquest will open at nine o'clock in the courthouse in Sibley, Thursday morning, June 2, to continue an investigation begun Tuesday of this week following the finding of the dead body of an infant girl baby in an improvised grave beneath the plank flooring of a small garage building in the town of Harris.

    Two persons; a young woman and a young man, both in the early twenties, are being held for questioning in the case.  The two, Vera Leckband and Henry Immens











Henry Immens Freed By Jury

Sibley Gazette - November 3, 1932


Leckband Case

Set For Trial

On November 14


Judge Asks Petit Jurors to

Postpone Appearance

One Week


    Hearing in the case of Vera Leckband, on a charge of murdering her infant child, will open Monday, November 14, in the district court of Osceola County, it was indicated this week when Judge C. W. Pitts completed a partial calendaring of cases for the October term of court which convened in Sibley Monday.











    Held as a murder suspect in connection with the finding of the dead body of an infant child in Harris, Henry Immens was ordered released by the grand jury Wednesday afternoon in a report made to Judge C. W. Pitts.  No indictment was returned by the jury after considering the case.







    Miss Vera Leckband, 21, was released from custody Saturday afternoon after the jury returned a directed verdict finding her innocent on a charge of murder.



Vera Leckband Found Innocent in Murder Case



Action is Abruptly Closed

Saturday on Motion

of Defense



    The Leckband case was terminated abruptly Saturday afternoon when Judge C. W. Pitts directed a verdict in favor of the defendant who was held on the charge of murdering her new-born baby.

    The state, represented by George Gill, Osceola county attorney, completed the introduction of its evidence and rested its case at ten o'clock Saturday morning.  Immediately thereafter counsel for the defense I. R. Meltzer and George Vogl, dictated a motion asking this judge to direct a verdict of acquittal for the twenty-one year old girl.

    The motion was accepted by the court with the jury returning the verdict as directed to see the girl freed early Saturday afternoon.

    The first three days of the week were used in the selection of the jury with Thursday, Friday and a portion of Saturday morning being used by the state to present testimony from eleven witnesses.  No witness for the defense was called to the stand.


Testimony Entered

    The Sheriff of Osceola county, H. I. Ramsey, testified that on June 2 the defendant, while confined


Sibley Gazette - November 24, 1932



in the county jail, identified the belt which had been found around the child's neck but said she thought the child had been still-born and did not know exactly what had happened.

    Other than the sheriff's testimony covering the admissions of the defendant, the state relied largely upon medical testimony and circumstantial evidence.

    An expert medical witness, who had aided in the conduction of the autopsy, stated on cross-examination that in all of his experience he had never observed a mother, giving birth to her first child, who, in his opinion, would have been mentally or physically able to tie the belt around the throat of her baby in such a manner as was found about the neck of the child upon which the autopsy had been performed. 

Defense Doubts Crime

    The defense claimed that the law presumes a child to have been born dead unless it be established beyond a reasonable doubt that the infant possessed independent circulation, respiration and existence.  The counsel for the defense argued that the state had failed to prove that the umbilical chord had been severed before the strangulation had taken place and that if the chord had been placed about the child's neck before the umbilical chord had been severed and independent respiration and circulation established that it was a fetus and not a human being within the meaning of the law of Iowa.
















Gives Birth to Child

    Miss Leckband gave birth to a daughter in a local hospital Monday night, the 21st of this week.  Both the mother and child are reported as recovering satisfactorily.




     Statements of Evidence Before Grand Jury    

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