The case of Jerome Keene, shot to death in his cabin, in bed.
"Late last Thursday afternoon, the people of Marmora learned with almost incredulous horror that Jerome Keene (63 or 64) had been found lying in bed in his shack just north of the village with two gaping wounds in his head, caused by of a shotgun in the hands of some unknown assailant. The discovery was first made by nephews, Charles and John Gordineer. They at once notified their brother, James, who was a County constable."
So wrote the Marmora Herald on Feb 24, 1927. The long, very descriptive articles outlined all the reasons of the delay in discovering the body, the layout of Mr. Keene's shack, the horrible details of his death, and the forensic details gathered to try and solve the mystery. "Who dunnit?"
"Jerome Keene had been living alone for a number of years, except when working in the lumber camps or for other persons. While always friendly with those he met, and respected and well liked by those who knew him, he was very quiet and retiring and seemed to mingle with other less and less as time went on. That, and the fact he was expected to be on a visit to relatives, was the reason his death was not discovered sooner."
The Clock that sat in Mr. Jerome's cabin now sits silently at the Marmora Historical Foundation in Marmora.
Jerome Keene was the son of Richard Keene and Miss Conley. He was twice married, his first wife being Miss Emma Weese, a sister of Mrs. Joseph Warren and the late John Weese. She died about forty years before the murder, leaving a son about 15 months of age. The son is Mr. James E. Keene, of Timmins, Ontario.
About 1900 the late Jerome Keene was married to Miss Kate Sheridan, who survived. One daughter was born to them, Miss Agnes Keene, who also survived him.
(Keene was also a witness along with Emma Reed at the wedding ofIsaac Briggs (32) and Caroline Reed (18) on July 3, 1882 at the residence of Daniel Reed in Marmora. The bride was the daughter of Daniel Reed and Barbara Keene.)
Unlike today's procedure, a jury was immediately round up, sworn in at the town hall, and taken to the scene of the crime to examine the body in place. Then, as the body was frozen, "it was taken to the Council chamber to thaw." Thereafter, Drs. Crawford & Thomson performed an autopsy.
" They found a number of fine shot in the wounds. The examination but confirmed what was so evident from the start- that it was a clear case of murder with no possibility of suicide. The condition of the stomach, which was empty, would indicate that the crime was committed late at night or in the very early morning. It is also probable that it was committed at a time when there was bright moonlight, so that it was possible to see inside the building. The manner in which the blood froze as it flowed from the victim would also indicate that it was very cold at the time."
Mr. Keene did not believe he had enemies, witnesses attested, but one incident proved the plot was thickening. He had taken a small amount of liquid to the druggist, Mr. Marrin, and wanted it analyzed. Mr. Keene had thought it was moonshine and had taken a very small amount of it.
"As a result of the small amount swallowed he claimed he had been in agony all night and thought he was going to die. He believed that someone had attempted to poison him. The bottle was given to Mr. James Gordineer." Later the analysis proved the bottle contained strychnine!
After a couple of postponements, the jury's inquest finally took place at the town hall, which was packed to the back doors and people turned away. The article of March 24, 1927 outlines thelist of witnesses and their examinations.
Referring to nephew, Charles Gordineer, "The witness was asked 'Did the deceased man, in his conversation, tell you he was suspicious of anyone?' His answer was to the effect that Keene had told him that John BeII (his neighbour) was acting funny- that BeII came to his shack with Iiquor, and he had never come before. Said he was suspicious of John Bell, but not in so many words. Deceased claimed he lost $35.00, but did not miss it until evening Bell came to shack. Had also lent other money to John Bell."
John Bell was put on the stand and examined. He was the tax collector. He had borrowed money from Keene, and in fact had bought his property from him, but he denied any involvement.
After hearing the evidence, the jury brought in the following verdict: "That Jerome Keene came to his death while asleep in his shack, lot 9, in the 4th con. of the Township of Marmora, on some date, after Dec. 20th, 1926, and before Feb. 15th, 1927, as a result of being shot in the head by two charges of a shot gun in the hands of a person or persons unknown."