Killings Occur as Breakfast Lies on Table (The Andreessen story continues…)

“Note on garage door in Stout gives first intimation of tragedy–Officers believe farmer
shot women and children and was killed later by fatally wounded wife — Motive unknown
The once wealthy farmer was in financial straits–killings occur as breakfast lies on table.”

Waterloo Daily Courier,  Wednesday February 17, 1932

In my research into the Andreessen’s story, I have become mesmerized at the detail with which newspaper reporters wrote nearly 80 years ago. The articles I’ve read, those I received from my grandmother’s collection and those I’ve uncovered on my own, are much more descriptive than any modern articles written for modern papers. These writers were indeed storytellers, crafting a tale so vivid that the readers could not help but become a part of the story themselves.

“His wife, still living, fired at her husband with a .12 gauge shotgun when he returned,
killing him instantly, the officers believed. The top of Andreesen’s head was shot off.”


“Four empty shells were picked up in the room by Sheriff Mamminga.
The bodies of the children lay in the east corner of the room, faces upturned.
The bodies of their mother and aunt lay nearby on their backs.”

Waterloo Daily Courier,  Wednesday February 17, 1932

Gruesome as the details are, they provide an impeccable representation of the scene of the terrible event. Who needs crime scene photos when such detail is laid out before us? Writers of articles like these not only recounted specific details but even ventured as far as to give a retelling of the day’s events, pure speculation though it may have been.

“She apparently had bathed her face as a pan of water and blood
was at the edge of the table nearest her. A bloody cloth was in the pan.”

Waterloo Daily Courier,  Wednesday February 17, 1932

As readers, we become the characters in these stories, yet we needn’t have been there to be involved. I feel as though I , too, have become a resident of Stout, experiencing the shock and horror with the others, waiting, hoping the next article will rationalize the horrendous deed that took place during that cold February day in 1932.