Thursday, July 31, 2008

Caldwell chiropractor’s widow and her cowboy boyfriend arrested for murder

(Editor’s note: Beginning with this Dec. 19, 1946 story from the Ontario Argus, that newspaper (which was yet to be combined with the Observer) tracked the arrest and trial of suspects in the murder of W.D. Broadhurst, a Jordan Valley rancher and retired Caldwell, Idaho, chiropractor. The story would grow into one of the most spectacular accounts of passion and murder in the history of Eastern Oregon, drawing national attention to what in the 1950s retained some of the wide open character of the old West. An abbreviated version of the case --- placed in a different year and seen from the perspective of my father, the editor of the paper at the time --- appears in my novel Farewell Bend. The full story as it unwound in the pages of The Argus will soon be available here in several short bursts, or for readers who prefer a longer option, in a single long take.)

Mrs. Gladys Broadhurst, recently indicted on a charge of being an accessory in the slaying of her late husband, R. W.D. Broadhurst, Jordan Valley Rancher, was brought into Oregon to fact the charged Wednesday night after District Judge Thomas E. Buckner of Canyon County, Idaho, had denied a habeas corpus petition filed by her attorneys.

Previously Mrs. Broadhurst had been held in the county jail at Caldwell, since her arrest shortly following the finding of her husband’s body in mid-October and the alleged confession of Alvin Lee Williams, 32, a cowboy and Mrs. Broadhurst’s part-time chauffeur. Williams told police that he had slugged and shot the former chiropractor who had been on his way from Caldwell to his ranch near Jordan Valley.

Gov. Williams of Idaho last week honored the extradition request but had instructed the Canyon County sheriff not to turn Mrs. Broadhurst over to Oregon authorities until her attorneys --- P.J. Gallagher of Ontario and Cleve Groome of Caldwell --- had an opportunity to file the habeas corpus petition.

Williams, who was indicted on a first degree murder charge in connection with the death Oct. 14 of Dr. Broadhurst, pleaded not guilty in circuit court at Vale.

Broadhurst trial set to begin

The trial of Gladys Lincoln Broadhurst for first degree murder of her husband, R. W. D. Broadhurst, is set for Feb. 24, at the county courthouse in Vale, Oregon, The Argus-Observer reported on Jan. 9, 1947.

Dr. Broadhurst was beaten and shot to death on Oct. 14, 1946 while traveling from his home near Caldwell to his ranch in Jordan Valley.

Circuit Judge M. A. Biggs, who set the trial date for Mrs. Broadhurst postponed the trial of her alleged accomplice from Feb. 3 to March 10.

Deputy District Attorney Charles Swan, who was about to take office as county district attorney, asked for the Williams trial postponment, which suggests that prosecutors hope Williams might testify against Mrs. Broadhurst.

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