The Heritage Corner, Springhill Record

November 2nd, 2011

Murder/Suicide – Part 2

Nov. 5, 1943 Found Murdered Continued from last week

Gives Statement to Cpl. Gates

     Called to the home of Mr. Watson Campbell about 11 p.m. Saturday evening Mr. Campbell gave the following statement to the police.

     “My wife, Jennie, and I had planned to go to Pugwash tomorrow to visit our daughter, Mrs. Edith Stewart, and during the morning I was shingling a corner of the hen house.  My wife worked most of the morning carrying wood in the woodshed, she was anxious to get the wood in before it rained.  After dinner she complained some of her head hurting and I carried in a few armloads of wood. 

    Then she suggested that I go down to Collingwood Corner with the car and get some gasoline for the trip to Pugwash, instead of waiting until evening.  I suggested we go in the evening, but she said “I may be late getting the chores done.’  I carried in a few more armfuls of wood, and then decided I would go get the gas.  I asked my wife if she was going with me, but she said she had bread to bake, and may run over to see Beatrice, our next door neighbor. 

    I left home with the car about 2:30 p.m. and went to Bragg’s Gas Station in Collingwood Corner and arrived home again about 3 p.m.  I found the house locked up, and the key lying outside by the doorstep where we always left it when one of us went out while the other was away.  I did not go in the house but shingled awhile, and then went down to the pasture after the cows and upon coming back I looked at my watch and found that it was 4:30 p.m.  Suddenly I realized it was getting late and my wife had not returned home. 

    Then I hollered to Mrs. Beatrice Taylor’s little boy, who was on the road, to tell Jennie it was time to come home.  Then I went to milk the cows, and upon returning to the house about an hour later, I found she had not returned.  I separated the milk and then went over to Taylor’s to see why Jennie did not come home, and was told she had not been there, and they did not see her at all.  Then I took the car and went further up the road to my daughter’s, Jean Payne’s, and found that my wife had not been there.  I stayed at Jean’s and had supper. 

    Then I made further inquiries about the neighborhood, but I could not obtain any trace of my wife.  Then I sent word around that she was missing and about 8 p.m. the men gathered and we made a search of all the building, the river and nearby bush and woodlands, but we can’t find her.  There was none of her clothes missing and she was only wearing her house clothes and low shoes.  Her money to the amount of $77, ring and wristwatch are in her bedroom and nothing has been disturbed.  I have never had any serious trouble with my wife.  We had little arguments.  I do not remember when we had the last one.  It was quite a while ago.  But when I left home today she appeared in her usual good spirits. 

    She did have high blood pressure and was taking medicine from Dr. Simpson of Springhill, N.S.  I know she has been worrying a lot over our daughter Jean.  My wife is familiar with the country around here but she has never went away like this before.  She was talking about getting the apples off the tree up in the pasture, and she may have went up there, but we have search there and found no trace of her.  I do not understand why she insisted I go after the gasoline this afternoon instead of waiting until this evening, as she always wanted to go in the car with me.  I checked over her clothes and nothing is missing and she must have left just as she was dressed in the house.  She was wearing a black and white checkered house dress and low shoes with medium Cuban heels.  She did not even put on her rubbers.”

     On Sunday morning the Corporal organized searching parties and scoured the woods for miles but without results.  Sunday night a request for help went out to Col. A.G. McLellan, N.N.S.H., (Reserve) who called on his various companies and platoons scattered throughout Cumberland County to aid in the search Monday.  Early Monday morning the troops and neighbors again searched every nook of the area but found nothing until on one occasion Watson Campbell returned bearing the news he had found footprints of his wife and a piece of her dress in the woods.  He led parties to the spot but nothing developed, the footprints faded out and it was noted the cloth was perfectly dry, when it had been raining since Saturday.  This was the first inkling that something might be wrong with Campbell’s story.

Chief Buchanan on Scene

     During the morning Chief Buchanan arrived on the scene and offered his services to Cpl. Gates, R.C.M.P.  With a theory in his own mind the Chief began his search from the house outwards.  Prowling around he discovered an axe in the woodshed.  Its color did not seem natural.  He laid it away for more careful scrutiny.  New wood had been thrown into the woodshed which was attached to the house.  With the help of volunteers the Chief had the woodpile moved.  The ground underneath did not look natural.  All the time Watson Campbell himself stood in the doorway and when he saw the pile being moved he said, “Moving the wood, boys?”  As the ground was bared, however, and as the Chief began to probe around for soft earth with a stick and later a small bar, Campbell hurried into the house.  The ground seem hard and before the Chief had struck the newly turned ground he was called to the house by members of the family and asked to see if he could locate Mr. Watson, who had come in, but could not be found.  The Chief, too failed to locate him on his first search upstairs, but as he returned upstairs to the spare room he found the husband on the floor and blood pouring from the wound in his throat.  Hurrying downstairs, he returned quickly with Col. McLellan and it was then the Chief asked Campbell if he had buried his wife in the woodshed and Campbell nodded his assent.  Hurrying back to the woodshed the Chief continued his search and soon came upon soft ground.  As the earth was moved aside the body of the woman was revealed.

Struck on Head

     Examination showed bruises on the head and above the right eye.  It was evident, the police said, that Mrs. Campbell had been struck hard with a blunt instrument.

Coroner Called

     Dr. F.L. Hill of Parrsboro, the Coroner, was called to the scene in the afternoon.

     Mrs. Campbell was said to be 48 years of age and her husband about 52.

     A Coroner’s Inquest was convened on Monday evening upon the instructions of Dr. F.L. Hill, Coroner of Parrsboro, and upon hearing the evidence in connection with the death of Mrs. Jennie Campbell the jury brought in a verdict that the deceased came to her death during Saturday, October 30, 1943, through injuries received to her head by being struck with some instrument in the hands of her husband, the now deceased James Watson Campbell.

     In the inquest held on James Watson Campbell the jury brought in the verdict that the deceased came to his death on November 1, 1943, due to a wound in his throat caused by a knife in his own hands.”

     The double funeral was held from the Campbell home yesterday, Wednesday, with interment in the Millvale Cemetery.