The Fort Dodge Messenger: April 5, 1904

Fatality May Follow Demand for $1,000

Wealthy Lumberman Threatened Unless He Puts Money in Hay Stacker.

Package Placed in Stacker

And When it is Taken Out by Young Farmer He is Perhaps Fatally Shot.

Graettinger, April 5 – Henry Deeter, a farmer living one mile southeast of this place, was probably fatally shot Sunday by Conrad Wigman, who is also a resident of this community. The circumstances leading up to the terrible tragedy are as follows:

J.A. Spies, a wealthy lumber dealer and the owner of several farms, received a threatening letter a few days ago in which he was asked by the unknown writer to place $1,000 in the “freight box” of a hay stacker that during the winter had been left in a meadow just easst of the Des Moines river and about a mile from town. The writer threatened Mr. Spies with great violence unless his demands were met not later than the morning of April 2.

On the evening of April 1 Mr. Spies placed a worthless packages in the weight box and arranged to have Conrad Wigman, the son of one of his tenants, and a deputy sheriff concealed in the top of a stack of hay which stood near the hay stacker. A careful watch during Friday night developed nothing of the author of the letter and at daylight the deputy sheriff, thinking further vigilance was unnecessary, proposed that he and Wigman return to town. Young Wigman thought differently and allowed the deputy to return to town alone.

A short time afterward, probably about 6 o’clock a.m., Henry Deeter approached the stacker from the direction of his home, carrying a shotgun and seemed to be hunting ducks and other game. Upon arriving at the stacker he went to the weight box and picked up the package Mr. Spies had placed there.

Young Wigman arose from his hiding place on the stack and demanded that Deeter lay down his gun. Deeter seemed much surprised at Wigman’s presence and before a satisfactory explanation was made by either both being well known to each other, Wigman fired a heavy charge of B.B. shot into Deeter’s body, which was facing the stack on which Wigman stood. The charge took effect on the right side and arm. Deeter fell and lay in a fainting condition for a short time during which Wigman came down from the stack and stood near him. when Deeter had partially recovered from the shock, Wigman compelled him to pick up the package and walk to town with it, the distance being fully a mile. When the true condition of the wounded man was learned he was given medical attendance and later taken to his home, where he lies with the chances of recovery somewhat against him,.

Mr. Deeter has always enjoyed an excellent reputation as a law-abiding citizen and his neighbors are certain that his explanation of the affair is the truty. In fact public opinion seems to be strongly in his favor. He says the hay stacker was his own property, and that he went to the weight box to get a wrench to take the stacker apart that he might take it to his home.

He saw the package and naturally being surprised at finding it there, was examining it when accosted by Wigman. He denies any knowledge of the letter received by Spies and the fact that he carried a gun is nothing peculiar, as he has always done so during the hunting season and while at the weight box did not in any way threaten Wigman with it.

Conrad Wigman is an intelligent young man from a good family, and it not of a vicious disposition. He undoubtedly was somewhat excited and being deeply impressed with the importance of capturing his man did not realize that he could be mistaken in the matter and acted rashly. Wigman was placed under bonds for his future appearance.

(Editor’s note: I will investigate further to see what followed – whether Henry Deeter lived or died, whether Conrad Wigman was charged, and if anything further was discovered about the threatening letter. Any more information will be added to this post.)

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