Saturday, November 14, 2015

On This Date in Minnesota History: November 14

November 14, 1914 – Leaming Sharpless was stabbed to death this evening in his apartment on Yale Place in Minneapolis by a ceremonial sword of a fraternal order.

His wife Charlotte says she was reading an entertainment magazine in another room, when she heard her husband groaning from the couch in the living room. She rushed out, only to find her husband dead.

Mrs. Sharpless ran downstairs to the apartment of Fred Crisman, the janitor of the apartment building. Mrs. Crisman was sick in bed, but she ran upstairs to the Sharpness apartment. She then made a call to Dr. H. Jones from Eitel Hospital and notified the police.

When the police arrived, Mrs. Sharpless had on a clean nightgown. She told them that when  she heard her husband groaning from the other room, she’d rushed out and saw him fall from the couch on which he was lying, then picked him up and laid him on the couch, then ran to get her neighbor.

Mrs. Sharpless said that she had heard no noise until she was attracted by her husband’s groans, even though her couch in the next room was only six feet from where her husband lay. While she was telling her story to the police, a suit of bloody underclothes was found on the street, apparently having been thrown out of a window. A second later, a woman’s nightdress, a woman’s combination suite and pillowcases, all blood-stained, were found concealed behind other clothes in a closet adjoining the room Mrs. Sharpless said she had occupied.

The sword was found in one corner of the room about 10 feet from the couch. It was out of the scabbard and was covered with blood and several fingerprints.

In the right hand picture panel is shown the lodge ceremonial sword with which Leaming Sharpless was slain in his rooms at the Lowenhaupt Apartments Saturday night. Finger prints of the person who yielded it, impressed in blood, can be seen near the hilt. As a background there is some of the clothing worn by Mrs. Sharpless, the police say, when she was arrested. No. 1 shows a part of the living room where Sharpless was found, and the couch upon which he was asleep when stabbed to death. The sword stood in the corner behind the couch when the police arrived. No. 3 is Mrs. Charlotte Sharpless and No. 2 is that of her slain husband.1

Mrs. Sharpless was taken to the Police Station, where she remained emotionless and firm in her statements that she knew nothing about what had happened to her husband. However, when taken to the morgue and the sheet over her husband’s body drawn away, her emotions went into high gear. She shrieked and then threw her arms around the corpse. Sobbing, she was led back to the Police Station, where she was arrested. Acting Chief Galvin said he would charge her with murder, and was hoping to get a confession.

Louis Sharpless, the victim’s brother, told the police that he did not know of any trouble that had ever come between his brother and wife. However, the downstairs neighbor Crisman said that there had been a few quarrels between them, but he did not think they were serious.

Sharpless, 49-years-old, was an engineer on the Omaha Road, working for that company for nearly 25 years. His wife is 34 years old. They had been married for 11 years.

Sharpless’ wound indicated that the sword entered the back on the left side under his arm, coming out through the right chest. The body was unclothed and Sharpless may have been asleep when he was attacked.

Coroner Gilbert Seashore announced that he would hold an autopsy tomorrow and an inquest Monday morning.

The Minneapolis Morning Tribune; “Man Slain with a Lodge Sword; Wife Arrested. Leaming Shartless Stabbed to Death in Lowenhaupt Apartments. Mrs. Charlotte Shartless (sic) Is Questioned by the Police. She Says She Was in Next Room—Knew Nothing of Killing. Blood-Stained Clothing Is Found in Street and Hidden in Closet. Telltale Finger Prints on Ceremonial Fraternal Weapon.”; Nov. 15, 1914; p. 1.

1The Minneapolis Morning Tribune; Nov. 16, 1914; p. 1.

Blood-stained imprint of fingers on the sword that killed Leaming Sharpless may be the principal means of determining the murderer; see Nov. 15, 2015.

Mrs. Sharpless indicted by the Hennepin County Grand Jury for murder in the first degree in the killing of her husband; see Nov. 17, 2015 blog.

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