The Bootlegger's Missing Head
On August 26, 1979, a family hunting for arrowheads inside the Civil Defense Caves in Dubois, Idaho found a torso stuffed inside a burlap bag. It was clothed in a white shirt with blue stripes and a red sweater It remained unidentified until January 2020.
Due to the cool temperature in the cave, the remains still smelled and the skin was well preserved. The coroner believed he had died no more than 10 years before.
The next discovery was a mummified hand, found On March 30, 1991 by an 11-year-old girl in the same cave system. Officials took up the search and later found an arm and two legs wrapped in burlap. Months were spent searching for his head but it never turned up.
Joseph Henry Loveless was born to Latter-day Saint pioneers Joseph Jackson Loveless and Sarah Jane Scriggins on December 3, 1870. In 1899, 28-year-old Joseph Loveless married Harriet Jane Savage. She filed for divorce in 1904, claiming desertion as well as failure to support their child.
On August 25, 1905, Joseph Loveless married Agnes Octavia Caldwell and fathered four children with her. In 1914 he was arrested several times for bootlegging. During this time he used different alias.
In May 1916, he was arrested for striking her with an axe after she returned from a dance in the city. She lingered 50 hours after the attack in agony before dying. It was their 8-year-old child who found her.
The murder of Loveless' common-law wife was described thus:
At their little tent on the outskirts of Dubois the ghastly remains of Mrs. Charles Smith were found Saturday morning, the head hacked to pieces with an axe, which lay at her side covered with her blood. Her husband, Charles Smith, is suspected of the deed because he has been missing since the body was found. His description is being sent broadcast, as follows: weight about 180 pounds; height, 5 feet, 10 inches; a peculiarity of his face is the absence of eye-brows; he is about 40 years of age.
During her funeral, one of her sons was quoted saying “Papa never stayed in jail very long, and he’ll be out soon.” It was suspected that the murdered woman aided her husband in his bootlegging activities which was banned in the county at that time.
The remains were stored at ISU until March 2019 when the Doe Project was brought in to help identify them. Very good DNA samples taken from the tibia of the remains were used for comparison to living relatives.
Loveless' grandson, age 87 was eventually found living in California as the researchers untangled the complex lineage of the family due to intermarriage and polygamy practiced by the Latter-Day Saints of the time.
The only mystery that remains and which will probably remain unsolved is the identity of the murderers and what they did with his head. Even though it is suspected that the crime was committed by Octavia's family in retribution.
Source - AlbertaPressLeader
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Stranger Than Fiction Stories by M.P. Pellicer