The Murder of Lewis Collins

Welch Daily News
June 10, 1924

Merchant At Litwar Killed In Bed

Lewis Collins Murdered and Robbed in Bedroom Back of His Storeroom

Sheriff Hatfield and Coroner Camper Left on No. 29 for Scene - Effort to Secure Bloodhounds

Lewis Collins, 55, merchant at Litwar, widely known throughout the county, was murdered some time last night in his bed in the rear of his store, and robbed. The murderer had not been captured by 2 o'clock this afternoon.

Mr. Collins was late in coming to his breakfast this morning, and his son-in-law, Mr. Conley, who lives at the Collins home about 300 yards from the store, went to the store about 7:30 to wake him. Mr. Collins had been in the habit of waking early and eating his breakfast before 7 o'clock.

When Conley arrived at the store and knocked on the door he was unable to rouse his father-in-law. On investigation he found a window sash to have been entirely removed. When he entered the sleeping quarters back of the store he discovered Mr. Collins dead. He had been struck behind the ear with some dull instrument and death was apparently instantaneous. Mr. Collins' body was lying in the bed with the bedclothes scarcely disturbed.

Mr. Collins was known to have had $200 in cash in his trousers' pocket Monday night, and this was gone. No attempt was made to learn whether the store had been robbed.

As soon as he discovered the crime Mr. Conley hurried to Iaeger and notified Chief Cline, and the two returned to the store, where an investigation of the premises were made. A careful search failed to disclose the instrument which had been used to kill the merchant.

A guard was left at the store to prevent any one from disturbing the premises, and Sheriff W. J. Hatfield and County Coroner H. G. Camper were notified. Dr. Tutwiler, of Iaeger, was also notified and he made an examination of the body and pronounced Mr. Collins dead.

Sheriff Hatfield and Dr. Camper left on No. 29 for the scene of the crime.

An effort was made to secure bloodhounds. A telephone conversation with Tom Phelps in Bluefield disclosed the fact that his dogs were in Pulaski. No other dogs could be found.

The opinion was expressed at Litwar and Iaeger this morning that the crime was committed by some one living near Litwar.

Lewis Collins was a native of this county, and had many friends in various sections. Indignation was of high pitch among his neighbors when the crime became known. He was known as a man of the highest character, and was beloved by all who knew him. He is survived by his wife. Several children have passed away, one about two years ago. Mr. Collins' only brother died about three months ago.

The window sash to the store bedroom had evidently been loosened some time prior to entry so that it could be removed with little trouble and with a minimum of noise. A large butcher knife was found on the window sill, and this probably was used as a jimmy to remove the sash.

Mayor W. E. Vass, of Iaeger, brought the first word of the murder to Welch. He notified the coroner and the sheriff and was making efforts to secure bloodhounds. It was his opinion that the murder was committed by some one living in or about Litwar.

Crime and Punishment

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