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Stratford centennial

Stratford murder,   pp. 243-245

Page 243

The Jenny Riehle
By Dale Dooge
The timeless waiting, anxiety and the hope that any news
about a missing member of the family will be good ended on
a note of sorrow for a Stratford area farm family on the
evening of Sunday, June 30, 1907.
While returning to her home in the late afternoon, after
attending church in the morning and visiting with friends
during the afternoon; Jennie Riehle, oldest daughter of Mr.
and Mrs. John Riehle, rural Stratford, was found dead by a
neighbor in a lonely wooded area about a mile from the family
Miss Riehle, 16 years old, a modest and refined young
lady, left Stratford for her home on foot about four o'clock this
Sunday afternoon following the Northwestern railroad track
north towards her home located about three and a half miles
northeast of Stratford. Her father, anxious when she had not
returned by her usual time, galloped on horseback to Stratford
in search of his daughter, Jennie, along the way. Not finding
her and after inquiring about her whereabouts he learned that
she had been seen far down the road going towards home.
However, having found no trace of heron the way, he returned
home only to find that his daughter still was not home.
At about dusk on this Sunday evening, Rudolph
Fulweiler, Riehle's neighbor, was hunting rabbits with his
dog and came upon the body of a woman lying within a few
feet of the road. Startled by the finding, he remained on the
road and called out several times. Receiving no answer, he
then returned home for help. Fulweiler, together with others
whom he had told, returned to the body by the side of the road.
Upon arrival at the scene where the body had been found,
Fulweiler, along with the neighbors, observed that a struggle
had taken place a little farther up the embankment. The con-
dition of the body indicated that someone had done an
awesome and dastardly thing to the victim. Lifting the dress
that had been thrown over the victim's face by her perpetrator
they discovered that it was their neighbor's daughter, Jennie.
Without disturbing the body, the men returned home and
informed the victim's parents.
Having obtained additional assistance, Jennie's father
accompanied the three men back to the murder scene. Some
of the men remained at the scene and part of the group, includ-
ing Fulweiler took word to Stratford. News of this horrible
crime excited the people of this small, rural community and
so, little sleeping was done this night. The people were horri-
fied and outraged at the murder of one so fair and so well
known in the community. All night long till the gray dawn of
the next day the people of Stratford walked the streets in anger
and outrage and woe be it to the man that could have been
proven guilty of the crime in this tempered situation. Word of
the murder had been dispatched to the Marathon County
officials. Meanwhile, about eight o'clock that Sunday eve-
ning, two strangers came into town and stopped at Leiteritz's
place and ordered a drink. They asked for directions to
Marshfield and said that they had walked the railroad from
Fenwood to Stratford. The two tough looking characters then
went to Garbisch's saloon for more drinking. The arrival of
the two strangers had taken place before the murder news had
reached the community and so no one suspected the two men
of any wrong doings.
Marshal Dwaine Reed and his assistant happened along
at the Stratford train depot just before the north midnight
passenger was about to leave the station. Seeing two men
attempting to leave town by stealing a ride, they were ordered
to throw up their hands and were soon in the little jail near the
town hall. The strangers gave their names as Ive Bartlett,
Nashville, Tennessee and James Mackey, Pittsburgh, Penn-
sylvania. The questioning of the two men revealed that they
had leftFenwood on footat six o'clock and, if theirstorycould
be believed, arriving in Stratford two hours later would clear
them of any suspicion. The murder of Jennie Riehle had been
fixed as taking place between the hours of five and six o'clock
and probably no later than 6:30 as Mr. Fulweiler had indicated
that he had left home at about that time.
The time and place of the two strangers, however, would
need good evidence on their part to establish their where-
abouts when the Wausau authorities arrived to take up the in-
vestigation. A shoe worn by Bartlett and turned over at the
heel matched with a footprint found along the roadway and
also at the river bank where it was thought the murderer
washed after the crime had been committed. At the murder
scene a shirt button had been found and it was reported that
one of the arrested men was missing a button on the front of
his shirt.
The arrival of the 2:45 a.m. train from Wausau brought
Sheriff O'Connor, District Attorney Regner and Dr. W. C.
Dickens. The authorities concluded from the measurement of
Miss Riehle's steps that, after leaving the railroad track, she
was running to avoid her assailants whom she had met on the
railroad track or that were hidden in the woods in anticipation
of her coming. From the evidence they found, it is believed
that Jennie had been able to escape her pursuers for another
fifty rods farther up the road where her body lay probably at
the point of exhaustion from running. Fifteen feet off of the
road the grass and weeds were trampled and pieces of her
clothing were strewn about indicating her valiant struggle for
life and her honor. Also found were her prayer book, hat and
parasol. The murderer had left the victim with her hands
bound behind her back with a strong cord, clothing torn and
thrown over her head and left lying a few feet off of the

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