Publication: August 2007
Around noon, November 22, 1915, everyone in Stoutland, Missouri, who could walk or ride rushed to view the mortal remains of one of the area’s most prosperous farmers and leading citizens. Hidden in a brush pile on nearby Rouse Hill, the victim’s body displayed the marks of a determined and vicious killer.
Six years later, a dozen lawyers, four doctors, one hundred witnesses, four jury trials, a Missouri Supreme Court decision, and the only eyewitness—a Missouri fox-trotter horse named “Sam”—had not resolved the brutal murder of Jasper Jacob “Jap” Francis.
Alan Terry Wright’s suspenseful tale of greed, fraud, political influence, and cold-blooded murder will keep you riveted. His descriptions of the predawn killing, carried out in pitch darkness on a public road, and the agony of “Sam,” Francis’s prized horse, tied by the killer and left to starve, are both frightening and moving.
The accused killer, Charlie Blackburn, nearly lynched by townsfolk, died in his bed in a California nursing home in 1964 at the advanced age of 91. The victim, Jasper Francis, had been dead for 49 years.
Wright’s account of a young girl’s unwitting visit to the murder scene in 1928 is chilling. Her return there as a feisty 84-year-old accompanies events so bizarre and puzzling they verge on the paranormal.
Recent interviews with the accused killer’s family, the opinion of a renowned medical examiner, and the report of a handwriting expert shed important new light on this nearly forgotten case.
Wright’s skillful weaving of the story line with gently humorous vignettes of backwoods living sets this book apart from typical “true crime” stories. His love for the history and lore of Missouri helps craft a tale that rings with authenticity.
Includes 16-page photo insert
“Murder on Rouse Hill can be likened to an extended episode of Law and Order, bookended by eerie segments of The Twilight Zone. It is an intriguing read. Alan Terry Wright is a true history detective who left no leaf unturned in seeking the truth of this 1915 brutal murder in rural Missouri.” Al Wiman, former investigative reporter, KABC and KCBS, Los Angeles (He helped the LAPD break the Charles Manson cult murder case in 1969)
“Inspired by his mother’s reminiscence of a fearful childhood encounter on a country road, Alan Terry Wright brings to life a long-ago murder in another era: backwoods Missouri, in 1915. Murder on Rouse Hill is an absorbing tale of law and order and the vagaries of justice. Wright’s story is a tapestry of extravagant women, shifty bankers, sturdy lawmen, frustrated lynch mobs, clever lawyers, and survival of the only eyewitness to the gruesome crime—a horse! Was justice thwarted by cunning and well-connected defense attorneys, or was the impassioned prosecutor’s case against Charlie Blackburn just too thin? Wright provides a wealth of detail, but readers will have to make up their own minds.” Judge Robert H. Dierker, Jr., Missouri Twenty-Second Judicial Circuit (Author of The Tyranny of Tolerance)
Alan Terry Wright is an Investment Banker and General Partner of Edward Jones, an international financial-services firm based in St. Louis, Missouri. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri–St. Louis School of Business Administration and a fervent student of U.S. and Missouri history. Alan has been actively engaged in researching Murder on Rouse Hill since 2000.
Trade paperback, $19.00