Friday, September 28, 2012

Covert, Kansas - a murder story

This is the story of Covert, Kansas  and its murder story. Pictured below is the barn that Fred Kaser shot himself before going on trial for the murder of his brother, his brother's wife and the couple's six children. To read more about Covert, check out other entries in this blog.

It was nearly 11 p.m. when H. A. Moore and Ray Cronk – returning home to Covert from Osborne – noticed a blaze of orange coming from the Albert Kaser farm. The mass of flames had engulfed the entire residence and the two began to notify residents in town with a call sent out on rural telephone line that summoned the entire neighborhood.
Water, however, was limited. The school had a water tower, but that was more than a mile away. Past control to even fight, residents watched the fire eventual burn out and began sifting through the ruins. There, they found the body of Albert near the front door of the home. His wife, Nellie Kaser, 30, along with their children, Raymond, 12; Alberta, 10; Iona, 8; Margarete, 6; Alvin, 4; and Katie Lee, 2, were all in what remained of their beds.
Someone found empty revolver shells outside the house, but no significance was attached to the discovery. They took the bodies to Fred Kaser’s home to examine. But murder wasn’t immediate on the minds of residents. They buried the family, blaming the horrific deaths to the tragic fire caused from a oil stove that the family left burning, causing a gas that overcame the family before the house caught fire.
But folks began talking soon after the funerals, Kennedy said. Some had witnessed a quarrel between the brothers just a few weeks before in the Covert general store.
The state fire marshal got involved and the bodies were exhumed. Albert Kaser was shot in the chest, is wife in the abdomen. The children had not been shot. Law enforcement found Fred had a gun using bullets similar to those found in the bodies.
Evidence was circumstantial, but they put the bullets in the Covert bank vault and the sheriff arrested Fred for murder. They planned to bring him to trial. Fred’s father, David, posted his bond.
Hundreds packed the tiny Osborne County courtroom to hear the preliminary hearings of the case that August. Throughout the hearings, Fred maintained his innocence.
“I’ve never seen a guilty man who talked so straight,” the judge later said. “He looked me straight in the eyes and said he was innocent. I did not want to him to talk with me about the case, but he insisted on it.”
His trial date was set for Oct. 24., 1928.
Within a few weeks of the trial, Fred’s attorney quit because Fred’s father, a well-to-do farmer, refused to bear the expense of the case. Maybe Fred had taken everything to heart as he wrote a last note to his wife and five children and to his father.
“Dear Wife and Children: I love you with all my heart, but this is more of a burden than I can stand, when I never had nothing to do with it. But forget me and enjoy life.
“P.E. – Dear Father, will you please give my share of the money to Vera (Kaser’s wife) to keep the children with. You would not help me, but please help them. Your son, Fred Kaser.

“… I am in the barn, call help before you come to the barn.”

Information taken from The Hutchinson News between June 1 and Oct. 24, 1928.Covert is a dead town in Osborne County. The ghost town's last post mark was in 1966. Today, not much is left of Covert.