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 Kenneth Ray Petersen

Kenneth Ray Petersen

Murray, Salt Lake County, Utah, USA
Death 8 Mar 1927 (aged 2)
Murray, Salt Lake County, Utah, USA
Burial Murray, Salt Lake County, Utah, USA
Plot 01 103 5
Memorial ID 128015 · View Source
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Kenneth R. Peterson and Margeret Bateman of Murray, Are Victims.

Children Die After Partaking
Evening Meal;
Officers Probe Mystery.

Two babes are dead at Murray from eating meat and a plot is believed to have been on foot to wipe out an entire, family.

The children who died Tuesday are Kenneth Ray Peterson, 27-month-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Bernhardt Peterson, and Margaret May Bateman, about eighteen months old, daughter of Henry Bateman. The Bateman child had lived with the Petersons practically ever since the death of her mother in childbirth.

Chief Criminal Deputy L. L. Larson of the sheriff's office is seeking clues to the fiend who barely missed killing an entire family of six.

The poison, believed to be strychnine, was apparently placed on meat. The babes being first served, started eating before the others received their food. When the two elder Peterson children, Sina, 10 and Melba 9, attempted to eat the food they complained of the meat and gravy being bitter and pushed away their plates. Their father, on tasting the food, put it away and took the portions from the two babes, the family finishing the meal on potatoes, bread and butter.


On completing the meal the father, a smelter worker who keeps a cow at the family home, 439 Anderson avenue, started for the barn with Kenneth following him. Before he got far from the house his wife called that the Bateman girl was sick. When his wife insisted, he hurried in, finding the girl in convulsions. As he placed her on the bed. one of the older girls screamed that baby Kenneth also was sick.

He hurriedly brought him in and sent the oldest girl to a neighbor's for help, and then called a doctor. He also sent word to the sheriffs office that an attempt had been made to poison the family.

One of the neighbors administered a mustard solution as an (unable to read-emetic?) before the arrival of Dr. A J. Hosmer of Midvale and Dr. H. N. Sheranian of Murray, who used stomach pumps in a vain attempt to save the babes. When Douglas S. Naylor, C. T. Taylor and Charles Larson arrived they immediately advised the sheriff's office of the nature of the crime and Chief Criminal Deputy Larson, with Deputies S. D. Beckstead and Fred Lee. hurried to the scene.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Peterson, when questioned separately, told the same story of the happenings of Monday night and Tuesday, which were corroborated by their two daughters.


According to Peterson, after putting the children to bed Monday night at 7 o'clock, he and his wife went to visit his elderly mother, returning at 10:30 o'clock. He went to the front door, while his wife went to the rear door, waiting for her husband to come through the house and let her in. As he opened the door he mentioned that the house was cold and he found the pantry window partly open. His wife then went into the pantry and declared someone had been in the house, as dishes were not in the same position she had left them. They say they thought nothing in particular of this, as a prowler might have been after food.

Peterson noticed, when he went out Tuesday morning to do his chores before going to work at the smelter, that someone had removed the screen from the pantry window and had laid planks from the garage up to the house so as not to leave any tracks. Due to the heavy rains of Monday night and Tuesday there were no finger-prints on the window
or screen.

Mrs. Peterson, who has undergone several operations, was indisposed Tuesday morning and a young neighbor girl, Kate Antzallas, who helps her, came to the house about 9 o'clock and after doing the houswork ironed until afternoon, when she peeled potatoes for the evening meal and left about 3 o'clock. Mrs. Peterson got out of bed about 4:30 and placed two sirloin steaks from the pantry into the oven after seasoning them and then returned to bed. She says she noticed what appeared to be water on the steaks.

Her husband returned from work a short time later, and, after cleaning up, placed the food on the table, when Mrs. Peterson got up and dressed for the evening meal.

Neighbors declare the Petersons are a very congenial couple and worship their children. Inquiries in the locality reveal no enemy of the family.

About the first of the year a search of the Peterson house revealed some liquor and Peterson, when brought into court in Salt Lake, admitted possession and paid a $100 fine.

There has never been any poison in the house, members of the family aver. Samples of the meat and gravy were taken by Deputy L. L. Larson and will be turned over to State Chemist Herman H. Harms on Wednesday, for analysis.

Source- The Salt Lake Tribune, WEDNESDAY MORNING, MARCH 9, 1927.


Motive for Poisoning Two
Utah Tots Is Not

(Special Dispatch.)
SALT LAKE, March 16.

Whether Mrs. Bernhard Peterson of Murray will face trial on a murder charge or be sent to the Utah Mental hospital will be determined in the next day or so.

She confessed that she placed the poison which caused the death of Kenneth Peterson, two years old and Margaret Bateman, 18 months, at the Peterson home in Murray eight days ago.

Her motive is indefinite. First statements to the effect that a lover was urging her to get rid of her husband and family and go with him remains unsubstantiated.

A desire for insurance upon the lives of her husband and children is looked upon by sheriff's deputies as a possible motive.

Whether the woman is sane or insane has not been decided definitely by physicians examining her.

Source- The Ogden Standard Examiner, OGDEN CITY, UTAH, WEDNESDAY EVENING, MARCH 16, 1927


Sentenced After She
Pleads Guilty to Murder Charge

(Special Dispatch.)
SALT LAKE, April 11-After waiving preliminary hearing in the city court, Mrs. Ila Peterson of Murray was taken into the district court this afternoon where she pleaded guilty to a charge of second degree murder and was sentenced to a life term in the Utah penitentiary. She will be taken to prison today.

Mrs. Peterson was charged with murder following the death by poison of her small son, Kenneth Peterson, and a foster daughter, Margaret Bateman, on March 8.

It was believed Mrs. Peterson poisoned food to kill her entire family but the others escaped because they objected to the bitter taste in the food and refused to partake.

Source- The Ogden Standard Examiner, OGDEN CITY, UTAH, MONDAY EVENING, APRIL 11, 1927

Family Members





  • Maintained by: Anne
  • Originally Created by: Utah State Historical Society
  • Added: 2 Feb 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 128015
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Kenneth Ray Petersen (15 Dec 1924–8 Mar 1927), Find A Grave Memorial no. 128015, citing Murray City Cemetery, Murray, Salt Lake County, Utah, USA ; Maintained by Anne (contributor 46788213) .