May 3, 1905
Dick Craighead, the account of whose assassination in the Homer jail, appears on the first page of this issue, died the succeeding evening, despite every effort to save his life. The body turned over to his brothers and conveyed for burial at his old home near Athens, where he was interred last Friday evening.
Rev. Bowman, the Methodist minister at Homer visited the dying man shortly before the end came and in response to his solemn appeal, “to confess the crime, it he was guilty of the deed, and not to die with a lie on his lips,” Craighead replied with great earnestness “that before God he was innocent of the crime laid at his door, as it would have been impossible for him to slay the mother and her innocent child, and that he would leave it to time to reveal the true author of the bloody deed”. He also manifested a lively interest in the salvation of his soul and asked the minister to pray for him to the last, which he did until unconsciousness set in and the unfortunate man drifted into eternity leaving the revolting crime still shrouded in mystery.
His final utterances, with the full knowledge of approaching death, has led many to exonerate the man of the awful crime alleged to him and of which he was previously convicted, but nevertheless, our convictions remain unchanged and we still believe him guilty of the deed. The evidence conclusive of his guilt and his perverted nature sufficient to sustain him in his denials. Having all to lose and nothing to gain from his standpoint (an earthly one) by a confession, which would render his name odious in the minds of men and would cast a lasting stigma upon his family and surviving relatives. Who may now pass under the mere shadow of a doubt, and with the sympathy of many who will subscribe to the man’s innocence and who have accepted his pretended religion and his solemn death-bed abjuration. All of which was a part of a preconceived plan, as we have no faith in his religious pretensions uttered, as they were, with the hand of death upon him and in the hope of inspiring doubt and of attracting the sympathy and consolation, which would have been withheld from him otherwise. Besides he had strong promptings in the final stand taken by him, as it is said that his Spartan like mother, in taking leave of him in the Shreveport jail, appealed to him to stand firm in his denial of the crime and to make no confession that would bring discredit upon his family, which was noted for its nerve and strength of purpose. This and the counsel of other relatives likely to fall under the shadow of his disgrace, doubtless exercised a strong influence over his unsympathetic nature and served as a leading motive in sustaining the role of innocence assumed by him.
Almost any other man, mean enough to commit the heinous crime with which he was charged, would do likewise, provided he was possessed, like him, with the nature and nerve to carry out the role. And that Craighead had the requisite nerve and callous nature was proven by his actions from the start. The crime was fearful one and required no ordinary villain for its execution, and while we protest the lawless means by which he was taken off, still we cannot help but feel that his death was a merited retribution at the hands of as avenging fate.
It is now rumored that the mob which assassinated Dick Craighead in the Homer jail, captured and held Sheriff Kirkpatrick, while they shot the unfortunate culprit to death in his cell, which is alleged as the cause of his slowness in reaching the scene. It is rumored that considerable apprehension prevails in Homer, the prominence of Craighead’s family and the number of its members rendering an outbreak of trouble imminent. Every precaution has been taken and up to Sunday communication with Homer by wire was still suspended.
The situation at Homer remains unchanged. Sheriff Kirkpatrick refuses to talk about late lynching farther than to say he was not held up by the mob, but was ordered back by the guards when he reached the scene, as was Judge Moore and Deputy Ramsey, who were made to put out their lanterns and return home. The mob numbered 25 instead 75, as first given out, 4 men entering the jail while the balance stood guard. The Sheriff refuses to give the names of those implicated by the dead man and no arrests have been made and it is hoped for the public’s good that the matter will be left to rest until the grand jury meets, but earlier action may be ordered by the governor. The mob did not break open the armory of the Claiborne Guards as was first reported.