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As It Was: Methodist Preacher and Wife Killed En Route to Church

In April 1916, a Southern Oregon hog farmer was convicted of second degree murder and sent to the Oregon State Penitentiary for what the Rogue River Courier newspaper described as one of the most cold blooded slayings ever committed in the Rogue Valley.

Luther Akers, a 64-year-old Methodist preacher, and his wife, Elsie, were headed to church when their neighbor, M.D. Bousman, rose out of the roadside brush and shot Elsie. Akers grabbed a board to defend himself, but was shot four times.

After their bodies and the bodies of the two horses pulling their wagon were found, Sheriff Will Smith went to Bousman’s home, where he admitted killing the couple for filing a complaint accusing his hogs of destroying their crops along Bull Creek.

Bousman said that after the shooting, he tried to commit suicide by drinking a whole bottle of laudanum. The newspaper said the sheriff was skeptical, suspecting Bousman was no stranger to the strong opium and alcohol painkiller.

The sheriff jailed Bousman in Grants Pass, while other Wilderville residents mourned the loss of their highly esteemed neighbors.

Source:L.B. Akers and Wife, of Wilderville, Slain in Cold Blood by Neighbor." Rogue River Courier, 28 Feb. 1916 [Grants Pass OR], p. 1+. Historical Oregon Newspapers, oregonnews.uoregon.edu/lccn/sn96088180/1916-02-28/ed-1/seq-1.pdf.

Lynda Demsher has been editor of a small-town weekly newspaper, a radio reporter, a daily newspaper reporter and columnist for the Redding Record Searchlight, Redding California. She is a former teacher and contributed to various non-profit organizations in Redding in the realm of public relations, ads, marketing, grant writing and photography.