County Free Press December 7, 1911
S. M. Pruitt
Confesses to Killing of E.C. Rucker
TO DO IT TO SAVE OWN LIFE
Tragedy Occurred Nov. 5th in
Remote Mountain District.
On last Saturday morning, Samuel M. Pruitt, a raw-boned mountain man, walked
into Sheriff Overman's office and stated to the sheriff he wished to surrender
himself to the authorities for the killing of his partner, E.C. Rucker on the
morning of November 5th, in a remote section of the mountains, forty-five miles
from the mining camp of Dixie. He stated to the officers that following a row
between the two men he had been attacked by Rucker and was compelled to kill him
to save his life.
According to the story of Pruitt he and E.C. Rucker had been in the mountains
since last May, prospecting and mining with more or less success and this winter
the pair established their headquarters on the Salmon river, in the wild section
of the country, the nearest human being being at the Eakin placer mine, located
eighteen miles down the river. The two men had prepared for a winter's trapping
and everything was agreeable until early in November when trouble arose between
the two. According to the story told by the man who surrendered Saturday, on the
morning of November fifth he was awakened by Rucker who arose and stated he was
going to secure the ax at the wood pile to the rear of the cabin and wreck
vengeance on his partner. Pruitt, realizing the state of mind of the man, jumped
from his bunk and grabbing his Winchester, fled from the cabin, hotly pursued by
Rucker, wielding the ax in the air, and shouting to the fleeing man that he
intended killing him. Pruitt tried to make his escape but was so hotly pursued
by the raving trapper that he turned and fired in self-defense, the bullett
entering the body from the left side, under his arm, and death resulting.
Growing frantic over his deed, Pruitt secured the body and tying a sack of rocks
to the same, cast it into an eddy of the Salmon river. Worrying over his act he
decided to seek civilization and inform others of the tragedy. He took a boat
and rowed down the river to the Eakin property where he recited his story to the
men of the camp and was accompanied back by a tourist by the name of Weider of
Payette and one Fenny, a miner. The river was dragged for several miles from the
point where the body was supposed to have been thrown in but without avail and
the party returned with Pruitt in charge, who was accompanied out by the two men
as far as Goff and left with the instructions to continue on his ay to
Grangeville and surrender to the officers which he did arriving here Friday
Pruitt, who is a man of forty-five years of age and was born in Oregon, states
he has no living relatives and has followed the occupation of ranch hand most of
his life. Previous to coming to Idaho county this year he worked for several
ranchers over a Lewiston, Montana, who have been communicated with by the
prosecuting attorney but up to the present time no reply has been received. He
is a tall, dark complected fellow and has an intelligent face. He has never had
a day's schooling but seems to have picked up a very fair education. He feels
mighty bad over the tragedy and when talking of the same breaks down. His story
told to the prosecuting attorney seems perfectly feasible and the
straightforward manner in which he talks convinces one of his honesty.
A search will be made by the officers for the remains of Rucker and if found and
the location of the wound as well as the description given by Pruitt of the
manner in which the body was clad and other statements made by him can be
substantiated he will be released. In the meantime he is being held in the
county jail waiting the outcome of the investigation by the officers.
Idaho County Free
Press, December 21, 1911
HE HAD TO SHOOT
Evidence Seems to
Justify the Killing of Rucker
RUCKER HAD BAD
Those Who Knew Him So State — Other Evidence
From information received by Sheriff Overman during the past week it seems
evident that the story told by Samuel Pruitt regarding the killing of E.C.
Rucker by him several weeks ago near the Salmon river is true and that Rucker
was an eccentric man and subject to melancholy spells if not a bad man.
Robinson of Dixie has been sent in by the authorities with an equipment with
which to drag the river and in all probabilities will secure the body of Rucker.
Sheriff Overman received a letter from H.W. Weider of Payette, who was hunting
in that section at the time of the tragedy and who went with Pruitt to the
scenes and assisted in dragging the waters for the remains. Weider states that
if he is any judge of human nature Pruitt told him a straight story relating to
the tragedy and then relates the story in detail which corresponds with that
told by Pruitt to the officers upon his arrive in Grangeville. A communication
was also received from a former employer of the deceased who states he was a
barber and subject to moody spells and a man who was most peculiar in some
respects. It seems he barbered for a while in Spokane and later joined a
geological survey party over at Salmon City and later went to trapping with
Pruitt. A letter from a hotel man at that place states there is no surprise over
there regarding the news as it was expected that on account of his disposition
he would meet with a violet death sooner or later. His father, a man of some
seventy years of age and a citizen of Ohio, has also written the sheriff and
regarding the affair. Judging grom the evidence in hand Pruitt had to shoot to
save his life and no doubt with the return of Robinson he will be released from
Idaho County Free
Press, Thursday, January 4, 1912
Edward Eakin, the gentleman at whose home Samuel Pruitt
made his way and
surrendered after the killing of one Rucker early in November, was in the city
Saturday last and made a statement of the case to Prosecutor Griffith which
matched up with the story told by Pruitt to the officers at the time of his
arrival in Grangeville. The facts as related by Mr. Eakin coincided with
Pruitt's story and were convincing enough that the prosecutor ordered the
release of Pruitt, who left Monday for Payette, Idaho, where he has secured
employment with a hunter who was present at Eakin's at the time Pruitt made his
way down the river and related the events leading up to the killing of Rucker.
Pruitt, who undoubtedly was justified in taking the life of his partner, and who
seemed to feel quite badly over the tragedy has offered to keep in touch with
Sheriff Overman and Prosecutor Griffith.
The story told by Eakin of the conversation he had with Pruitt at the time he
made his way down the river and told of the tragedy is practically the same as
the one given in the columns of the paper some time ago.
The only additional light thrown on the affair is that the tragedy occurred just
after the river from Lemhi county, the Salmon river forming the boundary and
that Rucker was a man with a mighty bad temper.
After relating the story Pruitt suggested that he be taken to Salmon City over
in Lemhi county where he had friends, but as it was evident that the crime was
committed in Idaho county, he followed the advice of Eakin and the others in
camp at that time to come to Grangeville and surrender to the Idaho county
"Billy" Robins, who was sent from Dixie to drag the river for the
body, and who
was assisted by Eakin was unable to find the same but as the river is filled
with boulders and the water is deep, that need not be a matter of
Idaho County Free
Press, May 14, 1912
WAS RUCKER'S BODY
Body of Salmon River
Trapper Found by Hunters
WAS KILLED BY PARTNER
Man Who Did Killing Gave Himself Up. Was Self Defense
The remains of E.C. Rucker, who was killed by his partner last winter and whose
body was placed in the Salmon river, have been recovered and given burial.
About two weeks as a party of bear hunters, composed of Rich Danforth, Jim
Loungee, and Matt Haynie were going up the river, pulling a boat, they
discovered the remains of a man, with a rope tied around his waist. A hasty
examination was made and it was discovered that the man had been shot through
the left arm, the bullet entering his left side and lodging in the body. The
remains were in a good state of preservation with the exception of the face.
It was at once recalled that last winter Samuel M. Pruitt went to Grangeville
and gave himself up to the authorities, and told of shooting his partner, and
placing his body in the river. Pruitt claimed to have tied a rope to the body
and anchored it to a rock. He also told that he shot Rucker through the left arm
At that time, while Pruitt was still held in jail, the sheriff sent a party to
make an investigation and see if the body could be recovered. The party that
went to the scene of the trouble could find no tract of the body, and there was
no sigh of any conflict, and on this report Pruitt was turned loose and his
story of self defense was considered true.
The place where the body was found is about fifty miles down the river from
where it was put in and it is supposed that the rock to which the body was tied
was not large enough to hold, and that it has been moving down the river, and at
last lodged in some boulders where it was found. —Mining News.
ALHN Idaho, Idaho County Index.
KILLING ON THE
Letter contributed by: Michael Pearcy regarding the
death of his grandmother's
brother. Mr. Pearcy has copied a letter from the Sheriff of Idaho County, Idaho
to his grandmother, Henrietta Rucker, relating the circumstances of her
brother's death at the hands of his mining partner.
Ed Rucker, left
, to seek his fortune mining in the
west. This letter has also been published on the Lawrence Register (Lawrence
County, Ohio's Genealogical and Historical Website)
Office of Sheriff of Idaho County, Idaho
Grangeville, Idaho, June 10th, 1912
Miss Henrietta Rucker
Southern Bell Tel. & Tel. Co.,
Huntington, W. Va.
Dear Miss Rucker:
Your letter of May 25th, last, reached this office in
and has not been answered before on account of the writers absence from the City
until now. I Hardly know how to begin to tell you of this sad affair, but will
in my own way, give you what information I have at my command.
The body of your Brother was found about May 1st, by three men, R. S. Danforth,
E. S. Lougee, and J. M. Haynie, all of Dixie, Idaho, being in the water on the
East side of the Salmon River about a mile below what is know as the Sam Myers
Ranch. This place is about 18 miles from Dixie, Idaho, and about 75 miles down
the river from where it was put in. This part of Idaho County is a very rough
and mountainous country and very inaccessable at any time of the year, and
almost impossible to get into during the winter months. The body was buried near
where it was taken from the water by C. H. Prescott and T. H. Thomas, also of
Dixie, Idaho. I am informed that the body when taken from the water was fairly
well preserved, but when taken out of the water decomposition soon set in, and
it was impossible to keep the body but a few hours or perhaps a day at the most.
At the time the body was found it would have been almost impossible to get it
out to the railroad and even now I doubt if it would be practical to bring out
the casket as it would have to be carried on pack horse for some 18 miles to
Dixie and then 25 miles to Elk City, and then by stage some 65 miles to the
nearest railroad point.
Sam Pruitt, the man who took your Brothers life, came down the Salmon River in a
boat to Riggins, Idaho, and from there to this place to tell his story of the
awful affair, and surrendered himself to us long before the story of the killing
could have reached us had he not taken that method of coming out. Pruitt was
immediately confined in the County Jail, and I immediately sent three men into
where the killing had occured to make an investigation, and if possible to
locate the body, and spent several hundred dollars in investigating the matter.
We held Pruitt here in Jail for over a month, and finally, in the absence of
sufficient evidence to bind him over to the District Court, and upon the
direction of the Prosecuting Attorney released him. Pruitt has kept this office
posted as to his whereabouts ever since and I could locate him by wire in a few
hours at this time.
The Prosecuting Attorney and this office have carefully considered every word
and act of Pruitt and have found everything, even to the gunshot wound in the
body and the rope with which he tied the rock to the body with which it was sunk
into the water, substantially as he stated. So far we have not a single thing in
the way of evidence that would justify any Court or Judge in binding him to the
The worst feature in the statement of Pruitt, and this
is the one on which the
Prosecutor and I worked, was the fact that after the killing Pruitt sank the
body into the river. This statement naturally would lead one to think that there
had been foul play, and both the Prosecutor and I acted on this presumption
until we had made an exhaustive investigation.
In writing this letter I have not gone into detail for it would take hours to
write you everything concerning the case, and even then you would never believe
anything but that your brother had been foully murdered, but I have attempted to
tell you what had been done in a general way. You have unjustly criticized me
when you say that I have been "trying to shield the slayer rather than
the slain" and when you know more of the case you will regret having
them. On the contrary we did everything within our power, regardless of expense,
to secure the facts and so far have failed to find sufficient evidence to hold
Pruitt for trail.
There is no need of my going into the question of your brother's sanity for I
realize as well as anyone that it is next to impossible to convince anyone as
near and dear as a Brother or Sister that such would be possible. I do not know,
and perhaps no living person knows positively. However I have letters to this
effect, and while I do not know who your Spokane, Wn. Informant is, have little
doubt but that it was from one who wrote me in substance that Mr. Rucker was of
a morbid disposition.
In conclusion Miss Rucker will say that I have done all that I could see
possible in regard to this sad affair, and feel that the Prosecuting Attorney
would not have authorized his release had there been any possible chance of
holding him to the District Court. I will be glad to give you any further
information concerning your Brother if you make it possible for me to do so.
J. I. Overman