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18. Closing Arguments and the Verdict

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eighteen

Closing Arguments and the Verdict

Before the closing arguments began, the attorneys argued as to whether the defendants could be found guilty of murder in the first, second, or third degree, or if it was to be first degree or nothing at all. The defense wanted only the latter option available to the jury.

Judge Parker ruled, “The court will submit the three degrees of murder to the jury.”1

The jury was brought in. Richmond Barnes opened the closing arguments for the prosecution. Barnes went through the chain of circumstantial evidence very thoroughly. He said that while one or a few coincidences might be explained, the whole chain could only be explained on the one hypothesis, that the defendants had murdered the Fountain child. His speech was described as “rather

flowery, and the figures of speech and quotations from The Pickwick

Papers probably went over the heads of the jury.” The interpreter had a difficult time translating some of this, and Barnes had to repeat his expressions. When speaking of Oliver Lee’s mother, who had testified as to Lee’s alibi, Barnes remarked that she had laid “a wreath of maternal duty on the altar of maternal love.” This was too much for the interpreter, and the prosecutor had to explain. Barnes spoke until the noon recess.2

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3. The Disappearance

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three

The Disappearance

On January 12, 1896, Albert J. Fountain left for Lincoln, but he did not leave alone. The rumors of an attempt on his life worried his family. Family members, especially Fountain’s easily alarmed wife Mariana, attempted to persuade him to cancel the trip, or at least not go alone. Family recollections disagree on whether it was

Fountain’s wife Mariana or daughter Maggie who had the idea that he take his youngest son Henry. Mariana certainly pushed the idea, thinking that no attempt would be made on her husband’s life when a child was with him. She finally won out and Fountain agreed that if Henry was home from school when he left, he would take him.

Henry returned home in time and went on what must have been an exciting trip for a young boy to take with his father.1

The Fountain family received a scare the first night when

Fountain’s horses arrived back home. Later, a miner who came to town delivered a note from Colonel Fountain saying that the horses had run away. Fountain’s son Albert, along with his father-in-law

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1. Albert Jennings Fountain

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one

Albert Jennings Fountain

Born Albert Jennings on Staten Island, New York, on October

23, 1838, Albert was the son of Solomon and Catherine Jennings.

The name Fountain came from his mother, who descended from a

French Huguenot family named de la Fontaine, which later turned into Fountain.1 Why Albert took the last name Fountain is unknown. One theory is that a mysterious murder in the Jennings family caused many members to take other names.2 Another suggests that Albert took the Fountain name so as not to give himself away as he searched in China for his then missing father.3

Fountain was educated in New York public schools and at Columbia College. It was said that during his Columbia days, at age

fifteen, he and five other students went on a tour of Europe and the

Far East. It was during this stage of Albert’s life that his father, a sea captain, was purportedly lost at sea. In Solomon Jennings’s last letter to his wife, written somewhere in the Orient, he wrote that food was running out and his crew was getting restless. He was never heard from again.

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7. Decision in the Sheriff’s Contest

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seven

Decision in the Sheriff’s Contest

A decision in the sheriff’s contest came down on March 19. Judge

Bantz ruled in favor of Numa Reymond and instructed him to take office the next morning. Unfortunately, it did not appear to be a given that Garrett would be made chief deputy, and subsequently sheriff. Reymond told Garrett that he had made several promises to Oscar Lohman and others for positions on his staff and was not inclined to turn the office over to him. Reymond offered to make

Garrett a deputy sheriff and to assist him all he could in the Fountain case. Garrett did not want to listen to this and walked out.

This situation obviously frustrated Fraser as well, who was eager to see this settled so that Garrett could concentrate on the

Fountain case and accompany him on his trip of the sites. Fraser wrote, “I spent most of the day and evening trying to get this matter straightened out so that I would meet with no further delay, but when I discontinued matters were even worse than in the morning.” Llewellyn told Fraser that he and John Riley would go see

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19. In Conclusion

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nineteen

In Conclusion

Who killed Colonel Albert Jennings Fountain and Henry Fountain?

In telling this story, I’ve attempted to lay out all of the surviving evidence.

Over the years, the more people spoke of this mystery, the more names have been added to the list of suspects. The following is a list of the men who have been mentioned as suspects or possible conspirators in this crime at one time or another: Oliver Lee,

James Gililland, William McNew, Ed Brown, Green Scott, Emerald

James, William Carr, Tom Tucker, Jack Tucker, Albert B. Fall,

Hiram Yost, John Yost, Frank Hill, Frank Chatfield, --- Thergood,

José Chavez y Chavez, Tom “Black Jack” Ketchum, Sam Ketchum,

Joe Morgan, William Gililland, Print Rhodes, Charles Jones, Jim

Miller, Randolph Reynolds, --- Brady, William Johnson, Fred

Pellman, --- Stiles, Bob Raley, Tom Priedemore, John Lynch, Jim

Lynch, --- Johnson (William?), --- Grady, Gene ---, Len Watts, Luis

Herrera, and --- Lillaret.1

Many of these men where not mentioned as suspects until years after the murders, because at the time no evidence was found linking them to the crime, and in some cases they even had an airtight alibi. Take José Chavez y Chavez, who has been cited by many over the years as one of the men believed to have killed the Fountains.

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