Thursday, March 14, 2019

Druggist shot — Diamonds displayed too carelessly

Prominent resident since 1892, liquor dealer, and druggist, is victim of foul play


By Rob Carrigan, robcarrigan1@gmail.com

The advice that suggests, "if you got it, flaunt it," is perhaps not so sound as it seems. Otto Fehringer found that out the hard way about his flashy diamond jewelry, worn everyday, as he discovered himself on the wrong end of the of .41 caliber Colt revolver — and later died with a slug in his liver.
"About 6 o'clock on the evening of Feb. 19, 1908, Otto Fehringer, a well-known druggist and wholesale liquor dealer was taken by a stranger to Templeton Gap, about three miles north-east of Colorado Springs for the purpose of going to Austin Bluffs to clean up a deal for some wines and liquors wanted by an "uncle" of the man," reported Carl F. Mathews,  whose paper on unsolved crimes appeared in several public presentations in 1962,.
 Mathews had served as superintendent of the Bureau of Identification for Colorado Springs Police Department for more than 32 years, retiring in 1952.
"There Fehringer was shot in the right side, and grabbed his assailant's gun which was wrested from him. He was then slugged four times on the head." continued Mathews story of the crime.
"The stranger demanded his valuables and Fehringer delivered a roll of bills, his diamond stud, and a ring, valued at $1,000. The robber ordered him to remain in the ditch, jumped into the buggy and drove toward the city.  Though wounded Fehringer managed to walk to the electric power plant a half-mile wet, where the sheriff's office was notified and he was taken to St. Francis Hospital in the city ambulance.  The wound was not considered fatal by Drs. O.E. Zillman and C. F. Stough. Detective Burno and Patton were assigned the case and the entire department under the direction of Chief Reynolds began the search for the robber. The horse and the phaeton were found by police about 9:30 p.m. in front of Weber Hall, corner of Weber and Kiowa. The outfit had been rented at the Kentucky Stables by an unknown man," it was reported.
Mathews said police were able to put together additional information leading up to the robbery. On the Tuesday previous, Fehringer had gone into the drug store of Albin and Corey, where unknown man had 'spotted' him, on account of his diamonds and asked who he was, what was his business, and so forth, which at the time occasioned no particular thought.
"It was learned that the man had entered the Fehinger drug store, 118 North Tejon Street, asked for Fehringer, went to his desk to talk to him for several minutes; he returned about 4:30 p.m., apparently by appointment, an Fehringer put on his coat and hat, left without telling anyone where he was going., as was his custom."
Fehringer  was connected in the city of Colorado Springs at the time, and intact, the City Council and Mayor Heiser offered a reward for $500 to capture the assailant. Fehringer's brother Adolph also offered $200.
It also turns out, that Fehringer had managed to hide $500 in vest pocket, that had become soaked in his own blood during the robbery. The robber only nabbed $10 in cash and two $100 checks in addition to the diamonds.
Police also learned that the stranger had gone to Klein's Pawn Shop and had traded a .38  caliber Iver-Johnson revolver for .41 caliber Colt six-shooter, giving for boot a gold ring set with three garnets, valued at about $20. Klein filled the gun with six cartridges made in 1896 an sold the man six more.
"A suspect, William Bienapil, was arrested at Powell's Chili Parlor on the 22nd by Detective Burno and Police Clerk Poiner, and was identified by several people; the next day he was taken to the hospital where Fehringer failed to identify him, as was the case on the following day when he was again taken to the hospital.. It was learned that Bienapil had been rooming at Ed Reinhardt's home, 101 South Weber, for some fourteen mounts, in the company with his brother Louis, a printer in the employ of Gowdy-Simmons. According to Reinhardt the man had come from Mankato, Minnesota, and worked for a time for the Interurban Railway as  repairman.
"On the 26th, Fehringer's condition was still serious and an operation was planned; on the 27th Bienapil was charged with shooting Fehringer, on a complaint sworn to by his brother, Adolph. But in a hearing held before Justice Dunning on March 2nd, he was released." reported Mathews.
The story then took an unexpected turn toward murder, when Otto Fehringer died on March 11. Doctors determined from autopsy the death was cause by an obstruction one of the large arteries and an abscess of the liver resulting from the gunshot wound. A bullet was found embedded in his liver.
Fehringer was buried on March 13, and that same day, Sam Barkwell, armed with a revolver, entered the house of deputy Sheriff Scofield, 220 South Cascade Avenue, where he was shot by Scofield when he threatened to kill the later.
"At that time, it was thought he might be the man who shot Fehringer; except as to weight, he closely resembled the description of the assailant. He had a long criminal record, being identified as Barkwell,  alias Sam Allen, alias John McDonald.," Mathews wrote.




Photo Info:
Trolley car number 74 stops at the Broadmoor Depot, Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Colorado. Passengers come and go from the Colorado Springs and Interurban Railway line. The hip roof depot has an upper roofed observation deck.
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