Burlington Free Press

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Sat, 23 Apr 1898



Face Battered by the Ice and Almost Beyond Recognition – A Secret Autopsy Performed With the Chief of Police Guarding the Door.

The mystery attending the disappearance of Earl, the eight-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. F. M. Sheldon of King street was at least partially cleared up yesterday morning, when at an early hour Frank Oger, an employe of the Queen City cotton mill, walking along the lake shore, discovered the remains floating in the water near the little inlet formed by the entrance of the city sewer outlet just above the railroad drawbridge.  Oger went at once to Mr. Sheldon’s house and notified him of the discovery.  Chief of Police Smith, Constable Sails and Health Officer Crandall were notified and went to the spot.  The remains were removed to the undertaking rooms of C. F. Brown.

Oger found the body by a mere combination of circumstances and thereby earned the $50 reward offered when the boy disappeared on February 19th.  Going to the cotton mill to work, he was sent home because there was nothing for him to do.  He walked disconsolately along the lake shore and instead of a small day’s pay earned $50.

The body was clothed just as when Earl left his playmates at 3 o’clock that February afternoon to go to his home.  The winter cap was pulled well down over his ears, his mittens were drawn over the swollen hands, and upon his feet, over his shoes, were some new rubbers.  The remains were taken at once to the undertaker’s rooms, where Mr. Sheldon identified them.  The remains were in a terrible condition after being out of the water a short time.  The face had been bruised and jammed by the stones and ice so as to be beyond recognition.  The nose was torn away and the head battered into a sickening mass, which became swollen and presented a loathsome sight.  Identification was made complete by the discovery of the written spelling lesson in the lad’s pocket signed “Earl Sheldon” in the school boy handwriting and by means of a tiny anchor tattooed upon the left arm.

A short council of the officers present and Mayor Sutton terminated in a decision for an inquest.  This was held in the afternoon, when Drs. Jo H. Linsley and H. C. Tinkham, assisted by Health Officer Crandall, performed an autopsy which took from about 2 o’clock until after 6 o’clock in the evening.  The result of the autopsy was given to State’s Attorney Brown, but he refused absolutely to give out anything about it, as did the physicians who conducted it.  The autopsy was conducted with Chief of Police Smith guarding the door and not even the undertaker was allowed to be present.  A Free Press man was refused admission and when the reporter called to view the remains this privilege was also denied him.  These circumstances will around suspicions, although reliable information from an authentic source tends to show that the inquest was demanded by a theorist who has beliefs regarding the death of the boy which could not otherwise be satisfied.  The inquest furnished no positive evidence for foul play, although some further investigations will be made.  The remains will not undergo any other examination and were turned over to the undertaker last night.

To a Free Press reporter Mr. Sheldon has stated several times that he believed the boy to have been kidnapped.  The appearance of the body when first taken from the water would tend to show that it had not been in the water for so long a time as has elapsed since the disappearance but this may be accounted for by the extreme low temperature of the water for the greater part of the time.  The warm rains undoubtedly brought the remains to the surface.  There were several bruises about the body which may or may not have been there at the time of death.  It is more than probably that all were made by the ice and stones of the shore.

The funeral will be held this afternoon from the house, privately.  The burial will be in Lake View Cemetery

By |2023-07-22T22:38:43-04:00July 22, 2023|0 Comments

About the Author:

Dale has been studying genealogy heavily for over 30 years, since the age of 10. Although he does not seek professional clients, he has helped a family regain property lost during the Holocaust, and has assisted to obtain historical preservation status for a building in San Francisco. He is a co-admin of the ftDNA Sheldon DNA Project. He lived most of his life in California but has recently moved to upstate New York. He works in the travel industry.

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