Lake County History, Chapter 112: The White Cap Murders, Part 3

Helen Riche was a fighter. Somehow, during the melee, instead of remaining where she was on the floor, she crawled to the front door and managed to grab the Winchester from behind the door. Before she could throw the rifle to her husband, one of the men saw what she had done and took the Winchester out of her hand, throwing the weapon out of reach. Making no further move, Mrs. Riche lay on the floor bleeding. Fred Bennett, the bartender, had disappeared into the bedroom, leaving Mr. Riche alone to deal with the situation. 

Riche stated, “I thought the best thing I could do was get right in the middle of them. That way, they could not shoot me without risking their own safety. I did, and they backed out of the room onto the porch. The last one in the room I kind of threw out. As I did, I heard more shots outside on the porch by the door.”

The shooters ran. They realized the thing had gotten out of hand.

Riche turned to attend to his wife.

“I locked the front door, picked up my wife, and carried her to the bedroom. When I pushed at the bedroom door at first, it refused to open. ‘Bennett,’ I called, believing he was behind the door. He was in the bedroom, and he opened the door. ‘Go for a doctor,’ I told him. He left immediately. When I knew he was gone, I locked the door again. One of my revolvers was not loaded, so I loaded it. Then I heard someone coming up on the front porch. I took a revolver ineach hand opened the door. ‘I’m ready for you now,’ I called. They were gone. Whoever it was ran away.”

In Middletown, three miles away, a political campaign celebration was going full blast. Most of the law enforcement officers of Middletown were there, and everybody, without exception, was having a rip-roaring good time.

Fred Bennett, after racing the three miles town, reined up and shouted his news to the crowd.

“Help me. Help me. There’s been a shooting at the Camper’s Retreat. We’ve been raided by a party of masked men. Mrs. Riche’s been shot. We need a doctor.”

In a minute or two, the doctor was summoned. A posse of townsmen, including the doctor, the Constable, the Sheriff, the District Attorney, and a half dozen citizens, guns at the ready, boarded a stagecoach, and galloped off to the scene of the crime.

The raiders had not escaped completely. When town men arrived, one of the White Caps, W. R. McGuyre, lay dead on the porch. Two more men, neighbors of the Riche’s, had also arrived at the scene of the crime and were waiting for the posse. One of the men was John Habishaw. Habishaw and his wife, neighbors, lived a short distance from the Riche’s. He told the Sheriff what he found when he arrived.

 “Last night, I heard three shots coming from the Riche place. Soon after, Fred Bennett came by my house. He said he was on his way to ask for help for Mrs. Riche. I told my wife to see if she could help Mrs. Riche, and we brought a neighbor with us. The three of us went to the Camper’s Retreat a mile off to see if we could help anyone.”

 Habishaw pointed to the corpse sprawled out on the porch.

“We found this body here,” he told the Sheriff. “His pistol was still in his hand. Mr. Riche was inside, and he opened the door when he saw it was me. I asked him, ‘Who killed this man.’ Riche was surprised to see the dead man. ‘I don’t know who killed this man. None of the shots that killed him came from inside the tavern,’ he told me. ”

Next episode; Death of Helen Riche


To enjoy and learn more about Author Gene Paleno’s books

visit Gene’s website; http://genepaleno.com/

Gene Paleno

Gene runs his life at a full sprint. In his ninety-three years he's dug ditches, painted signs, played semi-pro football, worked as a taxicab driver, an insurance agent, and a school teacher. He's been a technical artist, a marketing director, and a business owner. He served in World War II, raised four children, and was married to the love of his life for fifty years. He's an accomplished oil painter and skilled in ceramics. He's written fifteen books, including the definitive Lake County History, and doesn't show any signs of slowing down.

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