Astoria Couple Found Shot To Death On Floor Of Their Home

This community was terribly shocked Sunday at around noon when the word was spread of finding the bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Elzie R. Lawver shot to death in their home.

Deputy sheriff Wallace Baumgardner, who made the investigation, expressed belief that Lawver had shot and killed his wife with a .22 calibre rifle, then ended his own life with the same gun. Both bodies were lying on the bedroom floor with bullet wounds in the temple of Mrs. Lawver and a bullet wound in the center of the forehead of Mr. Lawver. Lawver’s body was lying across the body of his wife, and the rifle was found lying at his side.

The bodies were discovered at 11:30 a.m. by a 17-year old son, Milton, and a nephew, Jackie Lawver of Moline, who was visiting at the home.

They summoned other members of the family and county authorities were immediately informed. Both bodies were clad in their night clothes and their death must have occurred around ten o’clock Sunday morning. It is reported that the shooting followed some family trouble. None of the children were in the house when the twin shooting occurred. The bodies were removed to the Cline Horton funeral parlors.

Darren Oaks, deputy coroner of Fulton county held an inquest at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Horton home, with the following jury: Wallace Baumgardner, Burley Shawgo, Orval Trone, Marshall Ward, Clyde Weese and Eldon Shawgo.

In substance, the verdict of the jury was as follows: We, the jury, find that Viola Lawver came to her death by a gun shot wound fired from a .22 calibre rifle inflicted by her husband, Elzie Lawver, with murder intent at approximately 10 o’clock a.m. Sunday, September 6, 1953 in the bedroom of their home.

We, the jury, find that Elzie Lawver came to his death with suicide intent by a gun shot wound in his head fired from a .22 calibre rifle; death occurring at approximately at 10 o’clock a.m., Sunday, September 6, 1953, in the bedroom of his home in Astoria.

Surviving include five children: Elmer Lewis Lawver, Mrs. Barbara May Stambaugh, Milton Lawver, and Joyce Lawver, all of Astoria, and Edsell Lawver, serving in the Army.

Mrs. Viola Lawver was born Nov. 3, 1913 in Smithfield, Ill., a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Milton Orwig. She was united in marriage to Elzie Lawver on Nov. 13, 1928. To this union five children were born, all above mentioned. Besides her children, she is survived by two sisters, Mrs. Allen Carson of Abingdon, and Mrs. Willis Parry of Browning, four grandchildren. At the time of her death she was aged 39 years, ten months and 3 days.

Mr. Lawver was born in Astoria on Aug. 18, 1900, a son of Samuel and Martha (Hopping) Lawver. Survivors including the children and grandchildren; three sisters, Mrs. Margaret Geiman and Mrs. Elva Foutch, both of Moline and Mrs. Pearl Gilson of Rawlins, Wyo.; and two brothers, Edgar of Rock Island and Clyde of Moline. Also the following half brothers and sister: Joe Lawver of Vermont; James Lawver, DeLong, Ill.; Mrs. Cora Dobbs of Abingdon and Mrs. Bessie Lafary, Astoria.

He was a coal miner by occupation, but it is said he had been out of work for three months.

Funeral services for Elzie R. Lawver and his wife, Viola Wave (Orwig) Lawver, were held Tuesday afternoon at 2 o’clock at the E. U. B. church, conducted by Rev. Fred Thompson. Burial in Astoria cemetery.


Published in the Argus-Searchlight on 9/19/1923


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