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TERRIBLE TRAGEDY.

THE INVERCARGILL SENSA- , TION. OPENING OF THE INQUEST. [Bx Telegraph. — Special to The Post.] INVERCARGILL, This Pay. No motive has been suggested as the cause of yesterday's tragedy, in which James Reid Baxter attacked his wife and fivo children, liilled three of tho latter and then shot himself in tho head. BAXTER RECENTLY ILL. Baxter was relatively a newcomer to Invercargill. Ho arrived hero about twelve months ago, and set up in business as a florist and nurseryman. His business so far was necessarily small, but so tar as is known it was promising well, and thero was no reason to suppose that his mental state had been excited by business worries or financial tightness. • There are those who say now that Baxter's manner, as observed by customeis in his shop, was frequently queer and suggestivo of a mind distracted, but thero is no evidence of any indications of insanity, and statements made now may probably be fairly discounted. What is known is that recently Baxter hod an attack of influenza, on which supervened Brilish cholera, but just what effect these complaints may havo had on his mental balance it is impossible to say. HOW THE MATTER BECAME KNOWN. Mr. M'Lean, tho city missionary, who lives next door, and had heard nothing during the night, noticed yesterday morning an unusual stillness about the house, and going to the front bedroom ■window about 10.45, looked in and saw tho bodies of tho children lying in thft bed. He called up tho police, and, 'with Sergeant Malheson, entered the house. The victims were found in three different rooms. All had been wounded in the head. The baby, in its cot alongside the mothers-b ed, was conscious but dazed. Apparently it had been struck a slight blow, for the wound on its head ,was more a bruise. An ambulance was quickly obtained, and the three survivors — Mrs. Baxter, Phyllis aged 11, and tho baby — were taken to the hospital. J Baxter, who was found dead, shot through tho head, and lying in a bath full of water, had on his pyjamas, socks, and a coat and vest. THE WEAPON USED. In the bath also was found an ordinary iron stove scraper, about 30 inches long, and hooked after tho customary pattern. It is assumed (and the doctoi supports tho assumption) that this was tho weapon with which the murders ■were done. Except in tho case of tho boy Ronald, aged 2, one blow seems to have sufficed, and each was a terrible blow SOME EVIDENCE OF PREMEDITA TION. The Southland Times learns that tho gun with which Baxter shot himself was purchased on Monday from Smith and Laing, ironmongers. A 'few days before Baxter had purchased a 22-bo*re Remington rifle, but he brought it back on Monday, saying that it was too small to shoot rabbits with, and exchanged it for. the 12-gauge fowling piece. This is the only evidence so' far that may bo in any way assumed to indicate premeditation. ' It is not known what time the tragody happened, but it may be mentioned that the watch in Baxter's vest was found to have stopped at 2.50. On the edge of tho bath wns a candlestick, in which ,the candle had burned itself out. CONDITION OF THE SURVIVORS. The condition of tho patients at the hospital is critical. It, is, btlievtd that Mrs. Baxter may pull through, and that the baby may probably recover, but the state of Phyllis seems beyond all hope. EVIDENCE AT THE INQUEST. V [»r TELEGRAPH. — PEEB3 ASSOCIATION.] INVERCARGILL, Bth April. The inquest was commenced this afternoon beforo Mr. W. A. Stout, J.P. Sergeant Mathe3on, who conducted the enquiry for the police, said that tbo only evidence he proposed to call at this stage was that of Mr. M'Lean, who would identify the bodies. Ho would then ask for an adjournment to see whether Mrs. Baxter would be able to give any evidence. Archibald M'Lean, chief missionary in Invercargill, said : "I reside next door on the right to the house occupied by the deceasa!, and I was intimately acquainted, with him and his family. The two boys lying dead in the front room I are Basil and Roy, and the one in tho back bedroom is Ronald. I heard no noise or disturbance last night. My bedroom faces this house, and until 10.45 last night J was in a room precisely opposite the winflow of Mrs. Baxter's bedroom. I noticed nothing unusual in Mr. Baxter's manner lately. I know ho has been iU of late, and heard that he had British cholera. I believe Baxter was down at the Bluff one day during his illness, and fell off a rock. Between 10.45 and 11 this morning, I camo to the front window, raised tho blind, and saw the bodies of Basil and Roy. Prior to that I bad noticed that there was no life- or movement about the place. I saw that the blinds were down. When I went outside in tho morning, hearing someone calling out, I went to the window as stated. 1 ran straight across to tho SoutK Invercargill Police Station and telephoned for tho police, who arrived in ten minutes, followed immedi- 1 ately^by Dr. Ewart and the ambulance.' The police took possession of tha house, and 1 saw Mrs. Baxter, the baby, and Phyllis removed to tho hospital. I then accompanied Sergeant Matheson into the house, entering by the front window. We mado a hurried examination of tho two bodies in tho front room, and found life extinct. In tho room immediately behind it, Roy was dead in tho bod, and Phyllis wa3 on tho floor Alive, but unconscious. Wo next ontciicd Mrs. Baxter's bedroom. As, wo went in Bhe raised herself, turning towards tho doot, and I baid : 'What has happened/ She sank back unconscious. Tho baby was in a tot alongside. Having found that three of the inmates were alive, I hurried back to tho telephone, and hurried up tho ambulance and doctor. Wo then continued our Bcaich. Tho door into the scullery leading to tho bathroom was locked. We went outside and looked through tne bathioorn window. Seeing a -body in tho bath we burst open tho door, and found Baxter lying in the bath, which was full of water. Baxter was dead, and Was holding a gun in ono hand. The gnn contained ft discharged cartridge. The stovo scraper was also found here. Everything was done by the police with tho utmost despatch. The injured ones wero in tho ambulance within thirty minutes after my terrible discovery." Tho inquest was then adjourned till next Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the courthouse, but if Mrs. Baxter is not then in v condition to give evidence tho inquest will bo fuither adjoin ncd. Ladies' Tailors.— Tho okle<t, host, and target firm in Austniln«ia, ELon Gowns and Costumes from £5 5"), Skirts from iJI 10*. Nodina and Co., 30, Wollington-toi •• rtce.oJLdvt.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/EP19080409.2.3

Bibliographic details

TERRIBLE TRAGEDY., Evening Post, Volume LXXV, Issue 85, 9 April 1908

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1,162

TERRIBLE TRAGEDY. Evening Post, Volume LXXV, Issue 85, 9 April 1908

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