|Death: ||Apr. 2, 1930|
Ritzville Journal-Times, Thursday, April 3, 1930, issue
Insane Man Suicides After Terrorizing Community
Luke Leon, Fearing Imaginary Foes, Locks Himself In Car And Take Own Life
As Officer Appears-Survived First Attempt Last Winter
Armed with a 32-20 revolver and barricading himself in his Chevrolet coupe at Cunningham early Wednesday morning, Luke Leon, Washtucna, trapper and rancher, after spreading
terror throughout the night, ended his life by placing two bullets near his heart.
Leon had been staying with his nephew, Nick Jutas, and family at Cunningham for the last month. The man had been unbalanced for some time, imagining that people were after him. Tuesday night Leon went completely insane, started threatening his nephew with a large revolver, but where he got the weapon no one knows. Leon spent the night driving around and had the people terrorized. Wednesday morning his nephew found him in his car, but he refused to leave
and as soon as Kutas had the revolver flourished in his face in a threatening manner, Leon remarking that he would never be taken alive, the nephew got away and phoned here.
Deputy Oestreich responded and at Cunningham, Walter Morach who was working on a road crew, was deputized, being the only one of a number of men who volunteered to accompany the deputy.
Driving to where Leon was seated in his car, Oestreich walked up to Leon and talked to him for half an hour, trying to reason with the occupant, but realizing that he had a crazy man to deal with. Leon had his revolver in his lap, partially covered with a coat.
Leon then tried to get the deputy to turn his back by asking "Pete" to "bring a book from over there." Thinking that Leon only wanted him to turn his back, Oestreich backed away and then sent to Ritzville for tear bombs, not wishing to harm the man if he could be taken otherwise.
Leon had lowered one of the windows in the door toward "Pete" and the latter with his eyes turned from the car an instant heard a shot. The officer uncertain whether he was the target or not, pulled his own gun, and fired two shots, but both were below the car seat level,
and did not stike Leon. The latter then shot again and it developed that he was pumping the bullets into his own body.
Leon then opened the door, slumped over the steering wheel, his hands partially extended through the door. The officer ran and grabbed the man, and Ed Tesch, special deputy, and Highway Patrolman Buehler, arrived and helped load the wounded man in the officer's car.
After starting toward Ritzville, Leon recovered sufficiently from the shock to put up a vicious fight with Oestreich, who was holding the man in the back seat. The official car headed for Lind but Leon died just as they were entering town.
The body was brought to Ritzville where an inquest and autopsy will be held Friday.
Leon is the man for whom an extended search was made last winter when he disappeared from his place at Palouse Falls, where he was a trapper and rancher. After a two-day hunt, Leon was found with his throat slashed, a gaping wound in his jaw where he had shot himself and three
self-inflicted wounds in his chest.
Leon was brought to Ritzville hospital more dead than alive. Later he contracted pneumonia from exposure. In spite of the combination of three sets of wounds and the pneumonia, he recovered and had been staying with the nephew most of the time since.
Leon is an Italian, about 50 years of age, unmarried, and lived in the Washtucna district
for a number of years.
Thank you Sue Gardner for this transcription.
Ritzville Memorial Cemetery
Created by: Paulette
Record added: Jul 26, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 74005642
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