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W.C. Mitchell Shooting

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The Seattle Daily Times
Tuesday Evening, April 18, 1911
Page 1, Column 3

Third husband of Elvira Cavanaugh Roberts

Old Debt Leads To Shooting Of Local Attorney

W.C. Mitchell Shot Down in Alley Off Spring Street Between First and Second Avenues at Noon Today Assassin Contractor With Home In Victoria

Makes No Effort to Escape and Allows Driver for Department Store to Take Revolver From Him Both legs shot through, with the bones of one so badly shattered that amputation probably will be necessary, W.C. Mitchell, a lawyer, 50 years old, residing at 1500 Thirteenth Avenue, fell a victim to the anger of Joseph Groh, an Austrian contractor, of Victoria, British Columbia, at the alley off Spring Street, between First and Second Avenues, shortly before noon today. Groh, who was arrested a few moments after the shooting, tells of a debt Mitchell had owed him for a long time, as the cause of the shooting. His incoherence forces the police to believe that Groh is slightly demented.

E.F. Gannon, a driver for Frederick & Nelson, opposite the rear of whose store the shooting took place, was an eye witness to the affair and later arrested Groh and took his revolver from him. Gannon says he was backing his team into the alley when he observed the two men meet, Groh coming up from First Avenue and Mitchell proceeding hurriedly down the hill from Second Avenue.

Groh carried both hands in his overcoat pockets and after a few words, in which the latter evidently made some demand on the other, whipped his right hand out of the pocket and opened fire on the lawyer. The latter staggered into the street and while he was reeling away from his assailant, the later fired again, sending Mitchell prostrate to the pavement.

Assassin Captured

Leaping from his wagon, Gannon started up the alley after Groh, who had started off hurriedly walking north. As Gannon called to some workmen to stop the fugitive, the latter turned and advanced on his pursuer with his revolver pointed into the air. As he reached the driver’s side the latter reached up and took the weapon from him. Shortly afterward he turned Groh over to City Detective Lee Barbee and Patrolman Peter Mayberg, who were attracted to the scene form First Avenue and Madison Street.

Mitchell was hurried to the city hospital, where it was found that one bullet had shattered both bones of the lower right leg and the other bullet had passed through the calf of the left leg. The former leg may have to be amputated, as the bones are badly shattered. Mitchell was so badly shocked that he was unable to make any statement of the shooting or what led up to it.

Tells of Trouble

Groh was taken to police headquarters and wanted to talk about the affair. He said that he had recently left a sick bed at Victoria and came to this city to make a last attempt to collect a debt of $30 that Mitchell had owed him for a long time.

He was incoherent at times in his remarks and his story was badly disconnected. He tried to tell that Mitchell had introduced his daughter to him for the purpose of mulcting him of money. Later he amended this to say that the father had said that the daughter would pay the money.

Mitchell, the wounded man, lived at 1500 Thirteenth Avenue with his wife and daughter and has his office at his home. The family could not see him after he was injured on account of his condition.

It was evident to the police that but for the fact that Groh had a position below his victim on the street his shots would have evidently gone higher and struck Mitchell in the body. To this circumstance the lawyer probably owes his life.


The Seattle Daily Times
Tuesday Evening, May 9, 1911
Page 13, Column 1

Charge Against Groh May Be Made Murder

On the opinion of the attending physicians hangs the fate of Andrew F. Groh, the Austrian building contractor of Victoria, British Columbia, who shot Attorney W.C. Mitchell through the legs during a controversy on Spring Street, between First and Second Avenues, on the morning of April 18 last. Mitchell died at Providence Hospital last evening following the amputation of one of his legs. Groh had been formally charged with assault in the first degree, but the prosecuting attorney’s office will change this charge to murder if satisfied that Mitchell’s death was directly due to the bullet wound. At the time of the shooting Groh claimed Mitchell had collected money due to the contractor, but refused to turn over the cash to the owner.

Following the shooting the wounded man immediately was taken to City Hospital, but later removed to Providence Hospital. Infection set in and amputation was found necessary, the bone of his leg having been shattered, the bullet entering the fleshy part of the other leg.


The Seattle Daily Times
Thursday Evening, June 22, 1911
Page 1, Column 6

Error In Age On Birthday Postal Causes Tragedy

Groh Says Killing of Mitchell Result of Quarrel Over Congratulations Sent to Lawyer’s Wife on Anniversary Got Figures “84” Instead Of “48”

Defendant in Murder Trial Admits He Had Trouble With Attorney Over Money and Loved Stepdaughter

That the transposition of the figures “48” so that they read “84” on a postcard sent to Mrs. Walter C. Mitchell by Joseph F. Groh, congratulating her on her forty-eighth birthday, resulted in a quarrel that culminated in the shooting of Mitchell by Groh on April 18, will be one of the contentions of attorneys for Groh, who is on trial for first degree murder. Groh declared on the stand this morning in Judge Wilson R. Gay’s Department of Superior Court that he had drawn a revolver to frighten Mitchell away from him and that he had no intention of shooting him.

Groh, an Austrian, came to America three years ago. Most of the time since he has been in Seattle working as a fresco artist and where he has made so many friends that business men have contributed to a fund for his defense.

Important Witness Sought

Groh lived at the home of Walter C. Mitchell, a lawyer, 1501 Thirteenth Avenue. He fell in love with a stepdaughter of Mitchell, Nellie Tyler, whom both sides in the case are vainly seeking as a witness. For a while, according to the story told in Groh’s defense, Mrs. Mitchell smiled upon the suit. Then she learned that Groh was a Catholic and sought to break off the match, allowing Groh, however, to continue to live in her home.

Groh at first refused to marry Nellie Tyler without her mother’s consent. Later he went to Vancouver, British Columbia and he and Miss Tyler decided, since Mrs. Mitchell’s consent seemed as far off as ever, to elope.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Mitchell’s forty-eighth birthday came along. Nellie Tyler suggested that it might help matters for Groh to congratulate her. This he did by post card, but unfortunately got the figures “84” instead of “48.” This made Mrs. Mitchell very angry and a letter was written to Groh about it. He replied, it is declared, by post card again, stating that she was the worst teller of untruths in the world.

Groh had had many dealings with Mitchell in which, he asserts, he was wronged financially the details of which Judge Gay refused to allow to go to the jury. He decided that before eloping with Miss Tyler he would seek a settlement with Mitchell.

The men met and the fatal quarrel followed.

Groh testified that Mitchell told him that in sending the last post card through the mail to Mrs. Mitchell he had violated the international postal laws and was liable to a penitentiary sentence. Mitchell had at first demanded a check for $1,000, but had consented to accept $500 in cash. When Groh said he would not pay, Mitchell informed him that he was under arrest and had demanded that he go with him to the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney.

“On the way down the street I asked a man to make Mitchell let me go,” Groh testified, “but this man said that he had troubles of his own. I thought I would frighten Mitchell when we turned up a street off of First Avenue and I drew my revolver and pointed it at his feet. He kicked me and the gun was discharged. I did not know I was pulling the trigger and I did not even know that it was my gun that had gone off.”

“Had you any intention of shooting Mitchell when you took the gun out of your pocket?” asked Jerrold L. Finch, Groh’s attorney.

“Never! Never!” was the reply.


The Seattle Daily Times
Saturday Evening, June 24, 1911
Page 3, Column 1

Manslaughter Verdict In Joseph Groh Case

Joseph Groh, who on April 18 last shot W.C. Mitchell, a local attorney, was last night found guilty of manslaughter. Mitchell was wounded in the leg and died three weeks later from blood poisoning and Groh was charged by the state with murder in the first degree.

Groh stated to the jury that he and Mitchell had a dispute over Mitchell’s collection of a note and that on the morning of April 18, when he met Mitchell on Marion Street between First and Second Avenues, the attorney threatened to have Groh arrested for writing an alleged insulting postal to Mrs. Mitchell and that Groh pulled a revolver to frighten Mitchell, who was very angry. Groh said that Mitchell kicked him and the weapon was accidentally discharged.


The Seattle Daily Times
Wednesday Evening, July 5, 1911
Page 8, Column 3

Groh Sentenced

Judge Wilson R. Gay in Superior Court this morning sentenced Joseph F. Groh, a fresco artist, found guilty of homicide for shooting Walter C. Mitchell, a lawyer, to from seven to twenty years in the penitentiary. Earnest pleas were made for leniency by Groh’s counsel and it is expected that his friends will try to have him pardoned. Notice of appeal was given.