THE MANITO HISTORICAL SOCIETY   
SINCE 1978    

Martin Friedrich Murder

At 5:00 AM on Saturday morning July 8th 1922.  Henry Bartells who was on his way to work found the body of Martin Friedrich.  The body was sprawled ½ on the step and ½ on the sidewalk in the front of Beebe’s Restaurant.  When Henry checked for signs of life he discovered that the body was cold to the touch and that the marshal was obviously dead.

The investigators discovered a large smear of blood leading from the steps of the restaurant to another pool of blood 50 feet north near the barber shop used as a night watchman’s office.

At first it was thought that Friedrich crawled to the spot where he was found from the other pool of blood but investigators later realized that he had been drug. 

People living nearby had been awakened in the early morning by loud bangs that they thought were fireworks.  One person saw 2 men running south on Broadway before turning east on State.  A second witness saw a man running a block further south before turning east on Mason Street.   Both witnesses went back to sleep unconcerned.  One witness said that he had heard what sounded like a loud moaning but just assumed it had been Friedrich’s muffled yells as he shouted at kids who must have been shooting off  fireworks.

Dr. Wright performed an autopsy on Friedrich at the McJunkin Funeral Parlor a short distance away on State Street.  The autopsy showed that Friedrich had been shot 4 times.  1 bullet hit Friedrich in the upper right thigh and passed through. 1 bullet passed from his back, through his lung and out the front.  1 bullet, still lodged in his body, hit Friedrich in the back of the head.   1 bullet lodged in the left side of the marshal’s right shoulder.  Investigations showed that a 5th bullet was fired at Friedrich and missed and was lodged in the doorframe of Beebe’s Restaurant.  It was thought that the five shots were fired from two separate weapons. Three bullets were “hard nosed” and two “soft nosed”  but all five shots were thought to have come from  32 caliber pistols.

At a nearby building several footprints were found behind an ash pile.  It appeared that at least 3 men had been huddled together hiding behind the pile which separated them from the marshal’s line of sight across the street. 

A woman living on the corner of Washington and Orange Street told officials that in the early morning hours she had been awakened by 4 men running down the street.  The witness said that she heard one say, “Did we get him?” to which another answered, “Yeah he yelled like a stuck hog.”  Footprints from this location led out of town before suddenly totally disappearing where it appeared the gang entered a car and drove off.  One of the set of footprints revealed an oddity.  One of the runners apparently was wearing two different shoes and attempted to run in a way that the same foot always landed in the grass beside the street instead of on the hard packed dirt road.

The State’s Attorney and County Sheriff arrived and eventually came up with this theory.

Friedrich had left the barber shop to investigate something.  The marshal had his flashlight out but had not unbuttoned his coat to allow easy access to his weapon which was in his back pants pocket.  Friedrich did not feel that he was in danger.

Friedrich was shot first in the hip and then from close range in the back.  These two shots passed completely through Friedrich’s body and caused him to fall face first onto the sidewalk near the barber shop.  Then the men in hiding behind the ash pile came and together with the shooter they drug the badly wounded marshal across the sidewalk to be deposited face down on the steps of Beebe’s restaurant.  The pain of being moved resulted in the load moan the witnesses heard. As Friedrich lay mortally wounded it was then that the second weapon was used to fire three “rapid fire” shots.  The first shot carefully aimed at the back of Friedrich’s head killed him instantly.  The second shot, not as well aimed struck the marshal in the shoulder and the third missed entirely and lodged in the door frame.  It was all over in seconds.  The four men then ran away before meeting up again on Washington Street near the church and running together to their parked car to escape.

A month earlier, in Peoria, a policeman had been killed when he approached car thieves who fled on foot.  The next day curious kids messing around the murder scene witnessed two unidentified men drive up, look around in the weeds before carrying a “hidden” man with an injured leg to their car and sped away.  2 days after Friedrich’s murder a lime covered body was found near Havana.

 All three murders were thought to be linked and the Peoria and Mason County States Attorneys developed a plan to concentrate on trying the Peoria murder first, and holding the other cases as insurance against not getting a conviction.  After all if convicted, the suspect could only suffer one punishment.  In effect it was theorized that one  sentence would render justice for all three murders.  Friedrich’s murder was third on the “priority” list and was never brought to a Grand Jury for Indictment.  Because of this not much evidence specific to Friedrich’s murder was ever collected.

The suspect was convicted of the Peoria murder in 1923 and sentenced to life in prison before committing suicide in 1925.  Although indicted for the “lime” murder he was never tried for that case.