Lancaster, MO Farmer Killed in House Fire, Apr 1921


Wealthy Young Missouri Farmer Believed to Have Burned Home in Plot to Defraud.

Special to The New York Times

LANCASTER, Mo., April 16.---Interwoven in the affairs of Orville Dooley, a wealthy young farmer near here, was a thread of finances creditable to a Wallingford. The burning of his $10,000 home, the finding of charred bones, presumably his own, and the subsequent discovery that they were those of an imported skeleton, have brought to light what is regarded here as an intricate plot to defraud.

Dooley was last seen about 9 o'clock Saturday night of last week by one of the tenants of his farm. At 10 o'clock his wife and 7 year old son returned from Queen City and found their home in ruins. Sunday human bones were found in the ruins. Every one accepted the theory that Dooley had perished in the fire.

A. D. Morris, Prosecuting Attorney for Schuyler County, began an investigation. Each of the bones was found perforated as if prepared for mounting. An anatomical specialist was called, and declared the bones were those of a negro, and had been strung on wires for study or surgical reference.

Dooley was known here as an energetic, ambitious youthful Midas, whose touch turned cattle and sheep into negotiable currency. The banks had loaned him money. His notes in the past were good and they thought nothing of making new ones. It was not until recently, when the Ricker National Bank at Quincy loaned Dooley $20,000, that other banks here became uneasy. It was learned that Dooley had given 260 head of cattle as security, when he had only ninety head, and that on these he had given notes to traders from whom he had purchased them. Recently he sold the cattle while they were still under mortgage.

It had been brought to light that Dooley's liabilities were between $75,000 and $90,000. The week previous to the fire Dooley had taken out $20,000 life insurance in two companies, stipulating double pay in case of death by accident. The policies were made payable to his wife and son. His home was insured for $10,000.

A net had been thrown out in an attempt to find Dooley. In all parts of the country creditors and constables are watching and the police in surrounding cities have been notified.

The New York Times, New York, NY 27 Apr 1921