Wife and Niece
Murdered by Robert Laughlin on a Farm Near Augusta, Ky.
The House Set on Fire to Hide the Crime
Laughlin at First Said Burglars Did the Deed, But After Being Placed Under Arrest Admitted That He Did It.
Augusta, Ky., Feb. 17. - The worst crime ever committed in Bracken county occurred about four o'clock Saturday morning.
Two persons lost their lives in the flames and a man was badly wounded. About three miles west of here Robert Laughlin and his wife, respectable country folks, reside. Saturday morning, Mr. Laughlin was aroused by feeling a knife upon his throat. He reached out and grabbed the man by the coat. The man made another stab and struck Laughlin's shoulder. It was light in the room and he saw two men, one with long black whiskers and a brown coat. Laughlin started out the door and one of the men started after him with a knife.
Mr. Laughlin ran down the road to the residence of Mrs. Lyde McCracken to give the alarm. When he arrived there he turned and saw his home afire. He never heard a sound from his wife, or from Mary Jones, 13, daughter of Charles Jones, of this city, who was spending the night with the Laughlins.
There were no men at the McCraken house, so Laughlin started back to the fire. There he met Lee Jones, a neighbor, who is a brother of Laughlin's wife, but the house was a mass of ruins. Laughlin has not an enemy in the world that he knows of and there was only about a $1.40 in the house.
The wife was about thirty-five, and her maiden name was Jones. Peter Laughlin, brother of the bereaved man, brought word to the town Saturday morning.
Marshal Sayers and Constable Martin and about three hundred men and boys at once went to the scene. The building was a four room log house, and sits back in the yard. The bodies of the two unfortunate women were found lying in the cellar, Mrs. Laughlin's in the western part of the ruins. She had evidently gotten out of bed.
A ravine runs just west of where the building stood, and some tracks were found in the soft clay. Marshal Sayers kept the crown back until the bloodhounds arrived.
E. W. Fitzgerald, of Covington, who is a special detective for the C. &. O. railroad, arrived here at 11 o'clock Sunday, and proceeded at once to the scene of the murder. Mr. Fitzgerald was in company with Marshal Wm. Sayers, of this city and in the name of Acting Coroner Louderback demanded the underclothing and outer shirt of Robert Robert Laughlin.
Laughlin objected to handing them over at his sister's (Mrs. McCracken's) house, about a quarter of a mile from the scene of the murder. Upon examination, the neck of the overshirt, which was of heavily checked cotton, was thoroughly saturated with blood. Just beneath the undershirt it was found equally as bloody, as both sleeves of both shirts were saturated with blood.
The front of the undershirt at its lower edge was also bloody. The drawers show the same signs. It is now current belief that Robert Laughlin knows more in connection with the murder of his wife and little niece than he has yet told, and detectives have him under guard.
Later - It was Robert Laughlin who killed his wife and little niece, May Jones, and burned their bodies. He is also guilty of having first assaulted the little girl in the presence of his invalid wife.
It is the words of Laughlin himself, uttered in the presence of a reporter, which thus stamps him as an inhuman brute, he having made a full confession to save himself from threatened lynching. He was at once arrested, but the fact of the confession having been made was kept from the public, lest he should meet justice at the hands of his neighbors.
Augusta, Ky., Feb. 27.-A little after 12 o'clock Sunday night Laughlin was secretly ushered into the Taylor house by Marshall Sayer and taken to room 9, on the third floor, where he immediately undressed and went to bed.
5 o'clock Monday morning Sayer quietly slipped Laughlin on board the steamer Courier, and before the people were awake he was on the way to Maysville, as the jail there is new and strong; besides he has intimated his fear of being quartered in Covington, on account of Jackson and Walling's probably being predestined for that sanctuary.
from the Hillsboro, Ohio News-Herald, February 20, 1896.