1875-xx Update


Archive - 1875

Homicide #1875-xx

Date - 1875-06-04

Victim - CORNEIL, Henry (??)
Accused - THOMAS, Louis aka "Iroquois" (38)
Charge - Murder

CONSIDERABLE feeling is manifested in the city regarding the murder of the man lately inquested at Rat River. The man was evidently a squatter on Halfbreed reserve, and had built a house and made sundry improvements. The house has been burnt down. The fatal shot was evidently received into his body from the rear, while he was in the act of stooping. It is now pretty well established that deceased was Henry Corneil who for two years had worked for Messrs Dick & Banning, of this city, and who was then understood to have gone a little wrong in his mind. Since leaving the city he has been on his claim at Rat River.

(June 6, 1875. pp3) Daily Free Press.

The Murder. There seems to be a disposition on the part of some of our citizens, to make an effort to ferret out the perpetrators of the murder at Rat River. The evidence taken before the coroner went to show that Cornell took up a claim at Rat River, in what is now a Half-breed reserve, before the transfer; that he had been persecuted by certain people; and had at one time been bound and some wood he had cut taken away.

(June 7, 1875. pp3) Daily Free Press.

The Rat River Murder.

It will be recollected that at the last term of the Court of Queen's Bench, the grand jury, on the deposition of Louis Thomas, an Iroquois Indian, then undergoing a sentence on conviction of larceny, found a bill against Isidore Tourond and Joseph Tourond, brothers, of Ste. Agathe, for the murder of Henry Corneil, found dead in his well at Rat River last spring.

The two Touronds were arrested, pleaded not guilty, and declared themselves in readiness to undergo trial. The crown prosecutor, however, was not ready with his case, and the prisoners were remanded until the February term. In the interval a minute inquiry into the facts and circumstances, in connection with the mururder, was made, and it was found, without doubt, that Thomas, the Indian accuser, was himself the murderer. Thomas subsequently admitted his guilt to some of his fellow prisoners in the jail. Last week he was brought before Judge Betournay, admitted the murder, and completely exonerated the two Touronds from any participation in the affair. Application for releasing the Touronds was immediately made and they have been released on bail.

(December 32, 1875. pp3). Daily Free Press.


Thomas' Partial Confession. - He is Prevented Completing It. Enough Said to Implicate Others.

On Tuesday, 18th instant, in compliance with the request of the condemned man he was visited by representatives of the FREE PRESS. Louis Thomas, alias Iroquois, was found half reclining on the floor of the corridor of the female deportment, with his legs ironed but his arms free. He appeared in good spirits, and seemed pleased to have visitors. He began by stating in his broken English that he wished to have all excuse him for anything bad he had said or done. He then stated that he was born at St. Roche, Quebec, in 1838, and was thirty-eight years of age. He came up to this country with the First Expedition in 1870, being a voyageur attached to the Quebec Battalion. He has been in the country ever since, with the exception of two short periods during which he visited his home. He was married in this country to a Half-breed, who now resides at Sugar Point, the issue being two children. He then referred to the crime for which he was shortly to suffer the penalty of the law, and said he was glad to die for what he had done. " He," referring to Corneil; the murdered man,"he tried to kill me, and I called to him three times not to do it, and at the last time I shot him. I then left the body where it fell, and went chopping cord wood at my place. I told Isidore Tourond that I killed Cornell, and that he could come to Winnipeg and inform the police. I worked at Stinking River till I was arrested. I never did anything bad before. I am prepared to die for what I have done, and am not afraid of death." He wanted the newspaper to say—he didn't care whether before or after his execution—that he asked forgiveness—" excuse" was the word used—of all for anything he had done.

He seemed to be reticent during the interview, and it was plain that he had not disclosed what he had intended to. This view was borne out by a subsequent message being sent to the FREE PRESS reporter that he wished to see him again. Application was made to the sheriff for an order, and this morning in company with that official, an interview was had with the condemned man. Thomas produced a document, written in the Iroquis language, by himself, which he translated, and of which the following will be found the substance, so far as it goes:—

" Two fellows were with ma when I killed Cornell; they were Isadore Tourond and Jerome Carriere. On the morning of the murder, Tourond came to my camp and promised me a pair of mocassins to go hunting for his horses with him. We started and went close to Corneil's house. I sat down on the ground and took out my pipe to smoke. Corneil was inside the house. We all saw him come out before we were done smoking. We all got up and started. The two—Tourond and Carriere—went towards the house and I walked behind. Tourond turned back to me and put his gun in my hand. He told me to shoot this man Cornell, I asked him "What I shoot him for? I never saw him before. This is first time I saw this man and he never said something bad to me." I didn't like to do it (i. e: to shoot.) He told me to do it. I asked him " What reason I do it? " Tourond told me he was a bad man. The other man (Carriere) told me he had a, fight with him. I asked him " What for you fight ? " He told me he was taking wood from Corneil's. I asked him if he cut the wood,and he said"No." Four men were there at the same time he was getting the wood. Corneil whipped the four. Jerome (Carriere) then put his gun in my hand too. I asked " What I do with gun in one hand each ?" Jerome told me to take which gun I pleased. I took the double-barrel gun. I asked Tourond what is in the gun. and he said there was shot in one, and ball in the other barrel. I asked in which side was the ball, and he said the left one. I, then lifted the hammer of the gun, raised it up, and pointed the gun towards Cornell, who was then standing in (or near) the door of the house. Cornell didn't seem to think I was going to shoot. I shot and he fell down ; but he was strong enough to get up and go in the house. The two fellows—Tourond and Jerome—went in the house, catched him on both sides of legs, and —

At this point, the sheriff, who had a short time previously left the room, returned and informed our reporter that it was unusual to allow the taking down of statements in cases like this, and that he would have to cease. The reporter stated that it was quite common, and nearly always done. To this the sheriff replied that he had taken legal advices on the matter, and he could allow the interview to continue no longer, at the same time requesting the reporter to give up the notes he had taken—and which he didn't comply with. The sheriff then stated that Louis had been making different statements in reference to the murder, and he was advised that the condemned man could make a deposition before a judge or magistrate, at which time it would be at the option of the magistrate whether the press should be admitted or not. The reporter then left.

Subsequently the sheriffs office was again visited by a representative of the FREE PRESS, with the object of getting further advice as to mode of procedure, if the assistance of a magistrate could be secured, but the office was found to be closed.

(April 26, 1876. pp3). Manitoba Daily Free Press.

More to come....