Family History Help

Oberst Case Study - Contents


Example .22 calibre bullets


In the interests of separating fact from conjecture, my research has been confined to the interview of Owen Oberst; the preliminary hearing; the Coroners findings and partial witness testimony of the first trial.  Links to some newspaper coverage at the time have been provided where possible.

After you have read these testimonies and reports, together with the timeline of the day you may agree with three independent juries that concurred Owen did not commit these murders and therefore the court was right to have finally dismissed the case in October 1931.


2014: View from site of former Oberst House

Image courtesy of Ardath Lawson, Butler County Historical Society


Read An Overview of Communities & Landscapes of Clifford Township and Butler County 1855-1935


“Punctuating his story with the often repeated statement, “I’m telling the God’s truth”, Owen Oberst, the only surviving member of the William Oberst family, was given a three-hour questioning by county officers late yesterday afternoon and last evening”.

Enter Owen's Interview and Confession to the Sheriff



“McKnight said he saw Owen only once more before the boy made his confession, and that was in the Sheriff’s office here, where Owen was questioned regarding the affair.  The defence spent much time in questioning McKnight about the circumstances surrounding Owen’s confession”.

Enter the Preliminary Hearing



“Dr Dinsmore was next asked about locating the bodies in the fire.  The witness had never seen any of the heads of the victims.  Asked why he exhumed the bodies Dr Dinsmore said that he wanted to see what evidence could be produced.  “I thought if no bullets were found in the bodies, that the investigation would be as much in favour of the boy as the State”.”

Enter the Coroner's Testimony



The Confession:

“Next, Lundblade read the statement that Owen signed the following day, 11 June.  In this, Owen says that he killed his family because of continual fussing with them.  He said he killed his little brothers first in the yard, by hitting them on the head with a club, and that he shot his parents and two sisters with the rifle.  He then took $37 from his father’s clothes, the statement says.  Coal oil was used in setting fire to the house, according to the statement.  Owen said in the statement that he knew if he killed one of them, he would have to kill them all.  Herbert, his little five-year-old brother was the first one slain”.

Enter the First Trial At Butler County Court

Image courtesy of Butler County Times-Gazette

Click here to find out what happened to Owen



Click here for special thanks and acknowledgements



If, like me, you are left with more questions than answers why not join our discussion forum where theories of ‘who did it’ can be examined and explored in more detail.  This appears to be a ‘cold case’ but perhaps today’s forensic scientists, Law Students, practicing defence and prosecution barristers or even radiographers could offer more insight.

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