Head Injury: A Reason to Kill? (The Andreessen story continues)

In my research into the Andreessen murders, I have found very little mention of the event aside from newspaper reports. However, a few months ago, I did stumble upon one book that mentioned the event in two brief paragraphs:

“Another farmer, Nanno Andressen, had fallen from a windmill ten years before 1932, leaving him unconscious for several days. That incident led to some sort of mysterious trauma, or perhaps the cause became ever-mounting financial difficulties, remaining the only reasons his brother could possibly offer to explain why Andressen killed his family and himself one winter day in 1932 . Andressen stormed into the kitchen that icy cold morning and shot his wife, her sister, and his two children as they ate breakfast before chores, and then he proceeded to drive to nearby Stout, leaving a message at a local garage: “Call at Nanno Andressen’s place and you will find five dead bodys [ sic ]. Everyone is dead.” 42

Ossian, Lisa L.. Depression Dilemmas of Rural Iowa, 1929-1933. Columbia, MO, USA: University of Missouri, 2012. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 23 February 2015. Copyright © 2012. University of Missouri. All rights reserved.

What’s interesting about that passage is that it alludes to a head injury the elder Andreessen sustained. Upon my review of local newspapers at the time (which, incidentally, go into amazingly specific detail of the lives of the local residents), I found only a brief mention of Andreesen’s fall and the resulting injury. However, I did not see any reference to this injury as a suggested reason for Andreessen’s violent behavior that day during my review of Iowa newspapers. Ossian’s note is the first mention of this as far as I can find. The footnote reveals the source for that information as the Des Moines Register, November 11, 1929, 1 which I will need to look into. My interview with my grandmother did not produce any mention of his head injury, but this is not surprising given that she was so young at the time of the event.

What Ossian’s second paragraph produces is more in line with part of the mystery I uncovered:

“When garage employee Harvey Dilger found the murderous note at 7 a.m., he immediately drove with Clarence Wilson, station agent, and Albert Neiman, mail carrier, out to the Andressen farm where they did in fact find five bodies. Two versions still remain to explain the last death. Nanno had either subsequently returned to the farm and killed himself with a shotgun as planned or his wife, barely alive when he returned, struggled with him and ultimately shot her murdering husband dead. Four murders and one suicide or five farmstead murders? Only the corpses carry the truth.” 43

Ossian, Lisa L.. Depression Dilemmas of Rural Iowa, 1929-1933. Columbia, MO, USA: University of Missouri, 2012. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 23 February 2015. Copyright © 2012. University of Missouri. All rights reserved.

Here is where many sources converge: What caused Nanno’s death? Was it suicide or murder? Certainly, he was prepared to die that day, whether that involved him taking his own life (given the cryptic message: “you will find five dead bodys”) or whether he died at the hands of another. Sources indicate his wife may have still been alive when he returned, yet that does not clear up the mystery of the hidden gun which was not found by others until days later…more on that to come.

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