Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Body found

On the afternoon of Saturday, October 21, 1916, Joseph St. Aubin, his son Fred St. Aubin and Errol Moore, were hunting on King’s flats, two miles and a half southeast of Ypsilanti, now under Ford Lake. At about 4:00 PM, the three found something they would have preferred never to have seen. Near the line fence dividing the John King and William E. Gotts farms, they found the nude body of a man hanging by his neck from a tree.
“The man had stood upon a stump, placed a rope around his neck, then shot and slashed himself and jumped from the stump. It was stated today that either the shot of the slashes would have been sufficient to cause death, the former piercing the body above the heart and the latter being inflicted in the abdomen,” reported The Daily Ypsilanti Press of Monday, October 23, 1916.
Coroner Burchfield, of Ann Arbor, was notified, as was Ypsilanti Chief of Police Cain. The two went to the site that evening to investigate. It was then they discovered the identity of the man as Edgar D. Slater, a former railroad worker and more recently employed at the Staib saloon in Ypsilanti.
“All of the suicide’s clothing had been removed, each garment folded and neatly placed in a pile near a stump. On top of the clothing, covered with the victim’s hat, was a bottle containing a note in Slater’s handwriting giving his name and asking that his children be brought up in the Christian way,” reported The Ypsilanti Record of Thursday, October 26, 1916.
“A bullet hole was found in his left breast, and suspended from the limb on which he hanged, and dangling at his side, was the revolver from which the shot had been fired, presumably when death did not result readily from hanging,” continued the account.
The remains of a fire were found near the body as was a loaf of bread, some bologna sausage and a razor.
Coroner Burchfield ruled that the cause of death was due to Slater’s own act.
It was said that Slater had been in ill health for two years, and his mind had been failing since July. He had been missing since Wednesday, when he left home for work as usual, but failed to return that evening or the next. It was on Thursday night that Mrs. Slater called her father-in-law in Mt. Pleasant. He arrived in Ypsilanti on Saturday, the day the body was found, to help in the search. There is nothing to show Slater’s disappearance was reported to the police until the body was found.
“his home was on South Huron Street, this city, and his family consisted of a wife, Ida A. and two children. Mrs. Slater is a member of Queen City hive, Lady Maccabees, and with her children she has the sympathy of a large circle of friends,” noted The Ypsilanti Record.
The body was taken to Mt. Pleasant, the old family home for burial.


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