“Crime in Clearwater County” is a monthly feature series consisting of crime stories published in past issues of the Clearwater Tribune, from as far back as the early 1920s.
Taken from the Oct. 4, 1951 issue of the Clearwater Tribune
Community Recoils from Brutal Murder
Lack of clues retards
hunt for knife slayer of
Shocked and disturbed over the brutal knife slaying of Lonnie Jones, innocent 12-year old Weippe lad last week, Clearwater County residents this week resumed pursuit of normal activities although law enforcement agencies continued a relentless pursuit of meager clues.
The bestial throat slashing murder of the seventh grade boy was perhaps the worst of three unsolved tragedies that have left their mark on this county in the past several years. Two others being the gun slaying of Neil Bonner by a shot fired through his front door window in 1945 and the unexplained disappearance of William Kingen, 83, in the Musselshell area this summer.
A coroner’s jury verified the major circumstances surrounding the death of Lonnie, and added medical testimony that fixed the probable time of death within four hours after the boy had last eaten, or in the early morning hours of Sunday, Sept. 23.
The finding of the body by Orrin C. Wood, Weippe logger about 5 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 27, was described at the inquest and Sheriff V. L. Holloway placed the scene of the murder at or near the spot close by the top of the hill a few feet off the Lewis-Clark highway four miles southeast of Orofino. Wood told how he made a rest stop and started down the bank. He discovered the body of the lad face down in the brush and rocks about 10 feet below the road. The boy was blindfolded with a handkerchief, later identified as his own and his hands were resting grotesquely on his back in a position as if they had been bound behind him at one time.
The medical testimony developed at the autopsy by Dr. Joseph Beeman, Boise pathologist, and Dr. R. T. Hopkins of Orofino indicated that the killer took two slashes at the lad’s throat, probably standing behind him and holding him as he committed the atrocity.
Bob Hill, 17 and Leroy Kidder, 19, Kamiah youths who had attended the Clearwater fair placed the time at five minutes past 12 a.m. when they picked Lonnie up at the Clearwater River bridge and offered him a ride eight miles to Greer on his way home in Weippe. Hill said that the lad appeared somewhat frightened when he thumbed them for a ride but was in better spirits when they let him out at the Greer Bridge. The youths said they were home in Kamiah by 1 a.m. and that there was a good deal of traffic along the highway at that time.
Mrs. Alex Spence, grandmother of the lad with whom he made his home, said she had given Lonnie $5 to spend at the fair when he came down Saturday morning with the Jack Jared family. She saw the boy about 4 p.m. and urged him to go home with her but he begged to stay and catch a ride later that night. She was sure that he had planned to go to the picture show.
Peace officers at the suggestion of Sheriff Holloway have correlated their work under Henry Savage, Colfax attorney and former FBI agent, who is spearheading an extensive investigation that is running down every possible clue in the search for the maniac. Assisting in the full scale investigation are Deputy Sheriff Ralph Schwartzkopf, Chief of Police William Philpot and Chief Robert Flood, Lewiston, as well as state and county officers from nearby areas.
Hundreds of persons have made reports that could have been a factor in the case but to date, most of them have had some other explanation, the officers said in expressing appreciation for the attempts to help out.*