Saturday, April 18, 2015

April 18, 1932: Richard Read

Today we learn about a lynching in Kansas, but first we will read about the crime. The article comes to us from The Emporia Gazette (Emporia, Kansas) dated April 16, 1932:

Body of Kansas Girl Is Found

Eight-year-old Dorothy Hunter, Attacked and Slain, Discovered in a Haystack Near Achiles [sic] Today.


Richard, Read, 53, Confesses Crime—Thomas County Sheriff Seeks to Prevent Threatened Violence.


Colby, April 16 (AP)—After finding the body of Dorothy Hunter, 8-year-old Selden school girl in a haystack in Achilles today, Sheriff Ed McGinley returned to Colby without Richard Read, 53-year-old former convict who confessed he kidnaped, assaulted and killed the child.

McGinley refused to say where his prisoner had been taken for safety from a mob of Selden citizent [sic] in 50 automobiles who sought the slayer as he led officers to the hiding place of the girl's body.

Colby, April 16 (AP)—The body of Dorothy Hunter, 8-year-old Selden , Kan., school girl was found today concealed in a haystack two miles from Achilles, inland Rawlins county town by officers, led to the spot by Richard Read, 53, who confessed he kidnaped and later killed the girl.

As the body was discovered a mob of Selden citizens were in search of the sheriff and his prisoner in 50 motor cars. Scores of cars had trailed the party of officers and were halted nearby as Read revealed the hiding place of his youthful victim.

The county coroner and county physician immediately were summoned from Atwood.

Shortly after the body was found, the county attorney's office announced the girl had been attacked and then strangled.

As scores of cars were driven toward the place where Read had concealed his victim, the ex-convict was placed in automobile by Sheriff McGinley and driven hastily away to escape possible mob action.

Court officials at Burlington, Colo., today identified Richard Read as T. R. Read who pleaded guilty there April 18, 1916 to a charge of having assaulted 15-year-old Pauline Weissharr. Read, who testified at the time he was 37 years old, was sentenced to serve an indeterminate sentence in the Colorado penitentiary.

Read was described as a man of peculiar appearance, at least 6 feet tall, stooped and with arms so unusually long as to attract attention.

The girl, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Floyd Hunter, disappeared about 4 p. m. Thursday when she left three girl friends to return to the Selden school house for her dinner pail. One of her companions was a sister, Alice, 9.

A search was begun for her when she failed to rejoin her companions, or return to her home by nightfall.

Told a Weird Story.

Informed of the kidnaping Friday, Sheriff McGinley arrested Read on his farm near Rexford be---- the farmer, a few hours previously, had told him a weird story of having been kidnaped and driven many miles in a motor car over that area.

Read at first denied knowledge of the abduction.

News of Read's arrest brought a mob of 100 enraged Selden citizens to Colby. Some were armed, displaying a rope. The mob made open threats to storm the jail and lynch the prisoner. Sheriff McGinley persuaded them to spare Read because of information he might be able to give as to the girl's whereabouts..

After the mob dispersed at 2 a. m. today, Sheriff McGinley announced Read had confessed he kidnaped the girl, later killed her and concealed her body in a haystack.

The sheriff and G--do E. Smith, Thomas county attorney, immediately left in company with the prisoner on a search for the body. They were joined by officers of neighboring counties.

Read is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Jake Read, widely known family in this section of Kansas. They live at Rexford.

Several years ago Read was fined here for driving a motor car while intoxicated and having an accident.

The school girl victim was one of four children of Mr. and Mrs. Hunter. Hunter is employed by the state of Kansas in highway maintenance work.

Our next article comes to us from The Chillicothe Constitution (Chillicothe, Kansas) dated April 18, 1932:


Battered Down Jail Door and Takes Man Out Who Attacked and Murdered Girl


After Execution Mob Quietly Disperses Leaving Body Hanging to a Limb

TOPEKA, KAN. April 18.—(UP)—Richard Read, lynched near Atwood early today by a mob infuriated by the murder of 8-year-old Dorothy Hunter, was the nineteenth person to fall victim to a mob in the state's history, according to available records here.

He was the second white man to be hanged in the present century.

ATWOOD, Kan. April 18—(UP)—The body of Richard Read, who was hanged by a mob for murdering Dorothy Hunter, was brought to Atwood today to await instructions from relatives regarding burial.

ST. FRANCIS, Kans., April 18—(UP)—An infuriated mob of western Kansas farmers early today lynched Richard Read, 53, confessed abductor and killer of Dorothy Hunter, eight-year-old girl.

The mob overpowered Sheriff A. A. Bacon of Cheyenne county, seized Read in his jail cell, took him to an isolated rural spot near Atwood and hanged him from a tree.

As he stood beneath the tree with the noose about his neck, Read, a former Colorado convict, again admitted his crime and told the mob:

"You are lynching the right man."

He said he was intoxicated at time he kidnaped the little girl at Selden, Kan., Thursday afternoon, asaulted [sic] her and held her captive for more than 24 hours before he killed her.

Nearly 200 men were in the crowd that drove in automobiles to St. Francis when the carefully guarded secret that Read was held here spread across the western Kansas prairies.

Forty of the men approached the court house, where the jail is situated, and overpowered Sheriff Bacon. 

The mob entered St. Francis quietly and surrounded him before he had opportunity to prepare to resist it, the sheriff said.

"The men came running up as I was standing outside the courthouse." Sheriff Bacon told the United Press, "before I had a chance to run inside and lock the doors behind me, I was overpowered and carried about 200 yards, where there were other members of the mob.

"I pleaded with them to allow the law to take its course, assuring them it was certain Read would be sent to the state penitentiary for the rest of his life.

"Cries came from members of the mob to lynch Read. Its leaders hunted through my pockets and found the keys.

"Then the crowd ran to the jail, unlocked the outer door, went to Read's cell, and opened it."

Read was dragged from his cell, pleading for mercy.

"We'll give you the same mercy you gave that little girl," one of his captors answered.

He was shoved into the automobile, and it drove eastward from St. Francis, with other members of the mob falling in line behind it in their cars.

The procession continued east across the Kansas plains into Rawlins county.

Between McDonald and Atwood, it stopped near the banks of Little Beaver Creek.

Read was hustled out of the car. A rope was thrown across the limb of a tree, and the noose was placed about his neck.

Facing his captors in the glare of automobile headlights that formed a circle of light in the night, Read said:

"I am guilty, you are hanging the right man. I was drunk when I took Dorothy. If I had been sober, I wouldn't have done such a thing."

A moment later he was hoisted up. The crowd stood watching silently as he died.

Then it melted quickly away, and the scene was left in darkness.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Bacon had returned to St. Francis. Word was telephoned to officers of nearby counties that the mob had Read and was thought to be enroute to Seldon.

Before deputy sheriffs could organize any attempt to rescue the prisoner, word came that he had been hanged.

Dorothy Hunter disappeared while on her way home from school at Seldon Thursday afternoon.

Read was arrested late Friday at Rexford. He was intoxicated at the time. He was taken to jail at Colby, and Sheriff Ed McGinley of Thomas county decided to question him regarding the missing child.

Continued investigation brought from Read the admission that he had kidnaped and killed the child, but for hours he refused to say where the body could be found.

Early Saturday a mob formed at Selden and went to Colby. It surrounded the jail and prepared to storm it. The leaders brandished a rope.

Sheriff McGinley went out and talked to the men and told them the child's body might never be found if Read were lynched.

The crowd quietly [sic] down. Sheriff McGinley went to Read's cell and the terrified man agreed to lead officers to where he had hidden Dorothy's body.

As soon as the crowd dispersed, McGinley took his prisoner under heavy guard to a farm east of Colby, where Read pointed to a haystack and said:

"There she is."

The officers searched under the haystack and found the body of Dorothy. She had been killed by a blow that crushed her skull.

The above caption reads:

ATWOOD, Kans., April 19. (AP)—Speedy completion of an investigation into the lynching of Richard Read, 53, confessed slayer of Dorothy Hunter, 8, was in prospect today. Governor Harry H. Woodring, and Roland Boynton, attorney general were here for an inquiry into the abduction of the ex-convict and bachelor farmer who was hanged by a mob of 200 men yesterday for attacking and killing the girl.

Thank you for joining me and as always I hope I leave you with something to ponder.



  1. My dad witnessed the hanging of Richard Read when he was 14 years old. He passed away in 1998. My mom gave me this information, she is 97.

    1. Wow. It's always interesting to have a connection with an event in history. It seems to make the event more relevant and helps build a connection to it.

  2. My folks lived in McDonald KS and I still have relatives living there. My mom only gave me a little bit of information to go on, I was thrilled when I found this story. Her memory is amazing!!

    1. I am glad to be of service. I agree, your mom does have an amazing memory!