Pearl Bryan didn’t deserve it! Part 3

Jadon Gibson

Sheriff Plummer felt strange. Traveling overland by train, tracking down leads to an inane murder back on his home turf… it was totally different from his duties leading up to this point in his police work. Upon arriving in Greencastle, Indiana, he and the two Cincinnati detectives, Crim and McDermott, set out for the Louis and Hays Department Store, hoping to solve another piece of the puzzle. Who was the deceased young lady who was found in his jurisdiction and what else could they learn to solve her atrocious murder.

They arrived not long after the doors were opened for business and was taken to the office of the store manager. He readily recognized the shoes.

“Oh yes, these are shoes we made, part of a special order we got from Drew, Selby Company,” the store manager iterated as he retrieved the store’s books. “We’ve sold nine pair of that order thus far…yes here’s the other three pair.” The sheriff could immediately see the similarity with the shoes he brought from Fort Thomas.

“Do you have information as to who purchased the ones you sold?,” the sheriff asked.


“We have some information on the buyers of the nine pair. It should be helpful but some of the young ladies may be away at college. Girls in this age group also have a greater tendency to move or change jobs,” the store manager replied.

Soon Sheriff Plummer, Crim and McDermott set out with three names each. They planned a lunch meeting and, despite McDermott being late, met near 1 pm. Crim found all three of the ladies he sought. All three were alive and well. Sheriff Plummer found satisfactory information on two on his list. McDermott found one on his list right away. After a diligent search, he finally found the parents of another. They said their daughter was alive and well. The men had accounted for seven pairs of the nine pairs that were sold. The sheriff was disappointed that two ladies who bought shoes had not been accounted for. One of the two was dead.. the deceased young lady whose identity was unknown.

The sheriff also brought the dead woman’s other items of clothing and a pair of gloves that were found at the murder scene. The lawmen methodically took these items to every dry goods merchant in Greencastle. Not one worker recognized even one solitary item. The lack of success, long work day and travel left them feeling very tired. They would soon find renewed energy.

News of the horrific crime back in Fort Thomas was spreading and the possible Greencastle connection had the local folks abuzz. Fred Bryan was concerned. His youngest sister had gone to Indianapolis to visit friends nine days before and he expected her to return by now, or at least to hear from her. He went to Western Union and telegraphed his concern. Her friends quickly wired a return message.

“Pearl has not been here,” it said. “We didn’t even know she was supposed to be coming. That’s causing us to be worried about her.”

Andrew Early was the telegraph operator and he knew Pearl Bryan and was a friend of her cousin, William Wood. It bothered him that Pearl Bryan, considered by everyone to be one of the nicest girls in Greencastle, may have come to a foul end. The ghastly, beheading murder near Cincinnati…. could that be Pearl Bryan?

It was after midnight when the wire arrived but the telegraph operator thought it was important enough to deliver it immediately. Soon he was at the hotel rapping on the lawmen’s door. Sheriff Plummer and detectives Crim and McDermott were asleep but they were open to any news about the case. Upon reading the telegram it brought them to full attention and they were “all ears” when Andrew Early said he had additional information for the officers.

“Gentlemen I am a good friend of William Wood, Pearl Bryan’s cousin. Two weeks ago he told me that Pearl had been in a relationship with a man named Scott Jackson, a dental student in Cincinnati. Will (Wood) told me she didn’t go to Indianapolis. She went to Cincinnati to see Scott Jackson.”

Despite the lateness of the hour the officers went to the home of Mr. Spivey, the manager of Louis and Hays. They wanted to know if Pearl Bryan had purchased one of the seven pairs of black cloth, button-top shoes. Spivey knew it was important to an important murder case so he accompanied them back to his store where he reopened the books.

“Yes, she bought the other pair of size three shoes,” he asserted. “Pearl Bryan bought them.”

Pearl Bryan

Finally, Sheriff Plummer learned the identity of the victim. It was Pearl Bryan. Copyright 2018 Jadon Gibson

Editor’s note: Still later this same night the three lawmen knock on the door of Pearl Bryan’s parents. Read more next week. Jadon’s stories are both historical and nostalgic in nature and can be read weekly in the Troublesome Creek Times. Don’t miss a single issue!

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