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A Look Back: The Jureller Murder

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By Jolene Hawkins

1936… A body was found on the Indian Reservation.  It looked like an open and shut case of a girl being killed by her lover… but it was far from that.

Some men had stopped for lunch and climbed up to the top of the bank to enjoy it.  The ground was damp from the recent rains so they headed toward a dry spot, when they saw something lying on the ground.  As they got closer, they saw the face of a girl, her lips were parted and she did not move.  There were also black and blue marks on her face and throat and they could see she was dead.

As the body was on the Reservation, they contacted the FBI.  The body showed signs of a severe beating, but there was no evidence of a struggle at the scene.  When the medical examiner arrived, it was determined that she had been dead for 36 to 40 hours, making it on or around the night of Oct. 7.  No bullet wounds were found; four broken ribs and one tooth had been knocked out. No ID was found on the body, but she wore two rings, one bearing the initials of CMJ the second ring SAS.  In her coat pocket were ruby Rosary beads and a small white handkerchief.  On the black silk dress she wore were two dusty imprints of a heel from a shoe or boot. Nothing else was found at the scene.

At the autopsy, it was found that she had a bluish mark on her throat, but she had not been strangled. There was a long gash behind her right ear, but no fractures. Her second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth ribs were broken, there was a bluish discoloration over the diaphragm, the liver had been ruptured AND she was six months pregnant! With no ID, the FBI released the description of  her to the newspapers and radio.

Leonard Jureller of Springville called to get more information.  He claimed his sister, Christina Mary, wore two rings—one from St. Aloysius School in Springville.

He arrived later with his two sisters, Mrs. Harry Prentice and Mrs. Sylvester Smith, and ID the body.  They told them that Christina had lived on Waverly Street with the Prentices.  Wednesday morning, Oct. 7, Harry Prentice had driven her to the train station on West Main Street as she was taking the 10:19 train to Buffalo.  She was going to visit her sister Ethel who worked in Buffalo, and then later she was going to Salamanca to visit another sister, Mrs. Flyod Kightlinger.  She only had a small bag with her.

Christina was described as a home girl, never going out with men.  She was home almost every night, only going to church, the movies or to visit a neighbor.  She was not known to date, or stay out late.  The news of her being pregnant was a shock.  When the family gathered together, Harry told how he had driven her to the depot, leaving before she got on the train.  Ethel said she never arrived in Buffalo.

Investigators went to train station next. Yes, she had been seen, and did purchase a one-way ticket to Buffalo and did indeed board the train, with five other people.  She should have gotten off in Lackawanna, but no one saw her get off the train. Thirty to 40 other people did get off that train, but not her.  At the eight stops between Springville and Buffalo, the baggage rooms were checked for any parcels that were left, and none were found.  Her photo was shown and no one remembered seeing her.

Miss May Yost said she had spoke to Christina on Wednesday afternoon, when they were both waiting for the train from Springville.  Mrs. Lagarda Bordmen said that Christina sat behind her on the 6 p.m. train.

A discovery was made less than a mile from where she was found.  A black leather bag containing night clothes, stockings, and toilet articles was found, all identified as being Christina’s.  A black purse was also found, with money and the contents being hers as well.

A very similar case of disappearance was brought up… that of  Helen Jureller, Christina’s older sister.  In 1930, Helen was rumored to be pregnant when she, too, disappeared.  Helen also lived with Mr. and Mrs. Harry Prentice … Harry drove her to the railroad station, and no one ever saw her again.  (Harry Prentice was a police officer at the time.)  The family received a letter where she claimed to have committed suicide, but the body was never found.  Now the FBI was wondering if the two cases were connected.   Stay tuned to next week’s Springville Times for part two of this Springville murder mystery from over 80 years ago.

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