The murder of Grac Jones: Chapter 6

Published 9:19 pm Friday, July 31, 2015

 The investigation

EDITOR’S NOTE: On the evening of Oct. 26, 1908, five shots rang out in the village of Holland. Tiberius Gracchus “Grac” Jones lay dying on the ground inside the gate leading to his home. “They have killed me and killed me for telling the truth,” he told a friend as his life ebbed away. This is the sixth in a series of articles about the Jones murder case. Suffolk historian Kermit Hobbs Jr. compiled the 18-part series from personal accounts, newspaper stories and court records he has studied from the period.

By Kermit Hobbs Jr.

By the early morning of Tuesday, Oct. 27, 1908, the town of Holland was buzzing with the news of the night before. Arrangements had been made by telephone in the early morning hours to have bloodhounds brought in from Portsmouth, and they arrived on the morning train.

Email newsletter signup

An autopsy was performed, revealing that Grac Jones had been shot with two shotgun blasts and three pistol shots, all at close range.

I. A. Luke

I. A. Luke

The shotgun blasts entered his lower left abdomen and the right side of his chest. Bullet wounds were found on his chin, right temple, and right shoulder. Either of the shotgun blasts was deemed to be serious enough to cause death.

In one of the wounds was found paper wadding labeled “U.M.C. Co.” and “No. 6 shot, 3 drams powder.” The bullets were not found in the body, but when Jones’ clothes were washed, a .32 caliber bullet fell out into the wash tub.

Jones had been shot just inside the east gate of the fence that surrounded his house. A few yards south of the gate, a hog trough had been propped up against the fence, presumably to provide a hiding place for the gunman.

Sheriff A.H. Baker directed a search of the site for any kind of evidence that might prove useful. The gate pin was found near the gate. Just outside the gate lay Jones’ hat, and in the path from town there were footprints leading toward the gate. Those footprints, it was later determined, matched the shoes of Grac Jones himself.

The search yielded one other very important bit of evidence. The forearm of a double barrel shotgun was found lying on the ground near the presumed position of the gunman. The underside of the forearm was engraved “Ithaca Gun Company” and the number 140444F.

All during the day, people of the community came to the site to offer their condolences to the bereaved family and to visit the scene of the crime.

One exception was I.A. Luke, mayor of Holland, whom Jones had named as a suspect as he lay dying. Grac Jones’ brother, Bunyan Jones, later complained that Luke took the news of Jones’ death with as much indifference as if someone’s horse had run away or that a dog had died. On the day of Jones’ funeral, Luke attended a church conference in another town.

Perhaps because of the 20 to 30 people who had walked over the site the night before, the bloodhounds were unable to pick up any scent they could follow.

On that day, Sam Hardy was conspicuously absent from his store but was seen riding a farm cart out of town with a local farm laborer. There was speculation among some people that Sam Hardy’s leaving town could have been an effort to evade the bloodhounds.

TOMORROW: The inquest

Previous: Chapter 5