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Mysterious Murder in Tasmania.

A tragedy, which is exciting a great deal of local interest, happened near Mathinna (Tasmania) on August 30. There is a family in the district named Clayton, nearly all farmers, on the northern bank of the Esk, The father, Mr Henry Clayton, who is close on seventy years of age, has long occupied a farm of 290 acres in the parish of Talbot, belonging to his brother, Mr J. Clayton, of Perth; and in the same parish his sons Edward, John, and Albert have farms of their own, and James a farm at Foothill. Samuel held a lease of 500 acres of Crown land, and he and Albert lived together, working their two properties conjointly, both being unmarried. There is another son, William, in America, and an unmarried daughter, who resides with her father. The whole family bearthecharacter of respectable, honest, steady, and hard-working farmers, living on good terms with each other, and with their neighbors. " Samuel, who was about thirty-five years of age, and was the oldest son, went away to New Zealand when a young man, and had been engaged in mining and other pursuits, returning to Mathinna about four years ago. He is spoken of by those who knew him as a fine young man, very steady, and very goodtempered. Albert, the youngest son, who is about twenty-five years of age, and stands over 6ft in height, is also very steady, remarkably even-tempered, perhaps not over brilliant in intellect. Only three days before his death Samuel Clayton got his sister-in-law, Mrs Edward Clayton, to write a letter for him to the brother in America to notify the safe receipt of some money, and his remark to Edward when returning home together from Fingal on the following day, that anyone getting hold of his bank deposit slips could go> and draw the money, betrays belief in a popular delusion amongst imperfectly educated persons. At 4 a.m. on 21st August Albert reported to the police that onthet previous evening, about eight o'clock, hj« waß sitting on a chair with one arm Testing on a dresser, and saw his brother get kerosene and turps to mix with the paint, and then light the lamp to see what he was doing. Suddenly there was an explosiou, and the lamp went out, while he heard his brother fall. Rushing into the back room he got a light, and on return saw the room full of smoke, and his brother lying dead on the floor with the front of his skull blown away. He ascertained he was dead, and, leaving the door unlocked, rushed off to his brother Edward's. His conduct (says the ' Launceston Examiner') in acquainting this brother, in reporting it to the police, in rousing his sister at 4 a.m. to tell her the bad news and consult about breaking it to his father, was perfectly natural for a man startled oy such a sudden disaster. But it never seeniß to have occurred to the brothers, who vißited the place within a few h/>u», to, note the broken glass of the windows' scattered inside the room and not outside the house, as it would have been from an txplosion within the room; to examine whether the paint-pot bore signs of an explosion, or whether the contents were spilled, or were in an undisturbed state. The idea of foul play does not seem to have entered their heads, or they would have made an examination with Albert's aid to see whether the place had been entered by any person'-djiring Albert's absence after the murder. The polioe of Mathinna seemed to have entertained no suspicion that Albert's "report was a strange one, that paint is not an explosive substance, and that though kerosene and turps are inflammable, and when confined may cause an explosion, yet when brought in contact with a light in an open vessel there is more likelihood of the house being set on fire than of a man's skull being partially blown away. ... It would seem that the murderer fired from outside the window and close to it, and that the murdered man was inside the house and close to the window, for a wad was in the dead man's brain." [Albert has since been arrested and charged with the murder.]

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Bibliographic details

Mysterious Murder in Tasmania., Evening Star, Issue 8028, 3 October 1889

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Mysterious Murder in Tasmania. Evening Star, Issue 8028, 3 October 1889