A review of a new book by Jon H.Ringelberg
Thou shalt not kill: Exodus 20:13
It’s one of the 10 Commandments and even people who don’t read the Bible know of that one. Sadly, it’s also a commandment that has been broken since the dawn of time (like so many other commandments).
A new book by local historian, attorney, and former District Court Judge Jon H. Ringelberg shows that that this specific commandment has been broken in Clare County at least 69 times going back to 1877, not long after the county was founded, and that doesn’t even mention poor Rover, whose story is also covered within the book’s 222 pages. Appropriately titled Clare County Murders 1871-2020, large paperback book details every recorded manner of death that occurred within the county’s borders including the who, what, when, where and why, and of course, the how (as one might imagine guns are the most frequent method but the reader learns of the other imaginative ways Clareites have found to eliminate those they despised).
Along the way the reader meets men like Owen Feeney whose death led to the naming of Deadman’s Lake near Farwell; a 12-year-old girl who killed a younger sibling due to jealousy; and a case in 1903 that could have been right out of a current episode of CSI as it includes a exhumation of a body to prove poisoning.
Of course, the most well-known murder in the County, that of Isaiah Leebove at the Doherty Hotel in 1938, is included, although Ringelberg gives readers just a summary of that murder, directing readers instead to the book Mystery Man, a biography of Leebove by Robert Knapp.
One of the interesting items that Ringelberg includes in his book is a look at what he calls the “speed of justice,” over last 150 years. He might of more accurately called it the “lack of speed of justice,” since the amount of time has more than doubled in most cases.
Oh, and if you’re wondering, murders have occurred in all but one county township: Hats off to you Summerfield. One more thing, be extra nice to people in the middle of August, that’s the month with the most murders and Ringelberg adds that most murders seem to happen in the middle of the month. Not sure what to make of all that, but it may be worth keeping in mind when the dog days of summer roll around next year.
Clare County Murders is available at Cops & Doughnuts in Clare, the Clare County Cleaver office in Harrison and through Amazon. Let’s just hope there’s no need for a revised edition of the book with even more murders, but with human nature being what it is that may be wishful thinking.