April 10, 1895
Friday night a negro woman named Lena Johnson, who lived with her husband on the farm of Mr. J. R. Hall, three miles northeast of town, was brutally murdered. About ten o’clock of that night Mr. Hall was aroused from his sleep by the screams of the negro. He jumped out of his bed, seized his gun and ran toward the negro’s cabin, which was about a hundred yards from his residence. On nearing the cabin, he discovered the woman lying upon the ground in a dying condition, but could see no one near her. He tried to get her to speak and tell him who her assailant or assailants were, but she was unconscious when he reached her and was unable to tell him anything. He looked about the premises for the party or parties who had killed her but could discover no one and he then came to town and notified the sheriff. Dr. Barnes, coroner of the parish, went to the scene of the killing early Saturday morning, impaneled a jury and held an inquest, but the jury could get no evidence that would justify them in having any one arrested. Dr. Barnes informed us that the woman was in her night clothing when killed, and she had evidently retired for the night when the murderer entered her cabin and made the attack upon her. A large beech limb was found lying on the floor in the cabin and a large rock with blood on it was found near where she was lying when she died. He states that there were several bad bruises on her shoulder and arm, which undoubtedly were inflicted with the stick found in the cabin. On the back of her head the scalp was peeled off and from the ragged edge of the cuts he is of the opinion a rock inflicted that wound. In another place on the head the skull was crushed in and he is satisfied that was done with the large rock with blood on it found near her.
The negro woman’s husband, Henry Johnson, was not at home the night of the tragedy, but had gone to a quilting at the home of a negro neighbor.
Eight colored people have been arrested on suspicion and are now in jail to await the investigation of the grand jury which is now in session. This murder should be fully and completely investigated and the guilty party should received and deserves to receive the severest penalty of the law. The murderer should be discovered and punished for he is a menace to the peace of any community in which he resides.
Since writing the above we have been informed that Monday evening the husband of the murdered woman, finding the burden too great to bear in silence, confessed to the killing of his wife, giving as his reasons for committing the murder that he had grown tired of her as a wife and was determined to get rid of her. He claimed that he was assisted in the commission of the crime by two other negroes, Hal Baylis and Henry Thompson. These two negroes were put in jail. The grand jury, which is now in session, will investigate the case and undoubtedly return a true bill.