Foot arouses suspicion of murder | Turning Back the Pages

One Hundred Years Ago

June, 1914

Foot arouses suspicion of murder

A sensation was caused at Bakers Mills near the last part of May, 1914, by the finding of what by some people believe to be a human foot in a strip of woods about 75 rods from the place where William Merrill was found dead in the ruins of his store. Many people believe that the foot once belonged to Merrill and therefore they contend that he was murdered. District Attorney James S. Kiley has been notified and will make an investigation. The theory of murder is scouted by other people at Bakers Mills who are positive that the foot is that of a bear.

William Merrill met his death a year ago, last April 8, 1913, when his store was burned to the ground. The building caught fire during the night and his body was found in the ruins. One leg was missing, but this aroused no suspicion and it was generally believed that the fire had been caused by the overturning of a lamp. Several other theories as to the cause of the fire was advanced by the residents of that section and at no time was there ever the slightest hint that the storekeeper’s death was due to anything but an accident.

A few days ago William Lackey found a foot near a stump in the strip of woods. Instantly the rumor spread through the place that it was the foot of Merrill. Dr. Lemon Thomson, of Glens Falls, declared that it was a bear’s foot and Dr. J.L. Fuller, of North Creek, was equally as positive that it was not the foot of a human being. Deputy Sheriff Charles Baker, of Bakers Mills, is firm in the belief that the foot is that of a bear and discredits the idea of Merrill having been the victim of murder. District Attorney Kiley, however, is of the opinion that it is indeed a human foot and is acting upon his belief. (Note – The story of William Merrill’s untimely death was told in this column in the April 20 and April 27, 2013 issue of the Adirondack Journal. Rumor had it that at the time of the fire Merrill had been walking around intoxicated in his store at one o’clock in the morning with a lighted kerosene lantern, but this was never proved. Mrs. Merrill and her nephew, Edgar Cole, asleep in the upper story at the time of the fire, barely escaped with their lives. If the foot was actually that of a bear, one can not help but wonder just what happened to the rest of the animal’s body.)

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